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CYC-Online Issue 75 APRIL 2005 / BACK
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Lovers and supervisors: Same things – just different?

Jocelyn May

Do we really want the same things in a lover as we do in a supervisor ... just different?

Is a good supervisor any different than a good lover? Well, in some ways, it certainly is – we don’t get to choose our supervisor! We respond very differently in our interactions yet so much is the same. Is there a point of intimacy in these two relationships that becomes interchangeable? What about the power differences ... surely we must feel a level of equality in bed, don’t we? I am acutely aware that my supervisor wears the pants in our relationship ... is anyone wearing any pants in bed?

Do we want to be stimulated, supported, cared for, nurtured, accepted, trusted, relied on and challenged? Do we ever really reach our climax in bed or in our profession? Hmmm, supposing we do, what happens next? Do we look for more and if so, what is it we look for? Doesn’t a lover provoke and excite when signaled to do so and remain silent when not? How great would it be if our supervisor did that, too? There exists a “rhythm” which allows our communication to flow easily with a lover, yet we often remain guarded and protective, even suspicious, with our supervisor. It is almost like a brand new romantic relationship that lasts forever, isn’t it? We start by showing only what we want the other person to see and, so, is this what we do with our supervisor, as well? What happens when our supervisor sees the “real me”... or, does she/he ever? Does our lover ever see the “real me”? Are we always “acting”, just different depending on with whom? Who are we, really?

Honesty, well that’s a funny one, isn’t it, because we say we want honesty but, do we really? We are supposed to be honest, aren’t we? We throw this word around as though we are superior beings who would never speak anything but the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and when we ask for honesty from our lover and our supervisor, aren’t we really asking for praise, looking for someone to make us feel good and telling us only what we want to hear? I would hope that there is a point in these relationships where we do feel secure and safe enough to be honest and accept the truth ... I am still wondering when this happens?

Lying in bed naked beside a lover ... is there another time when we feel so vulnerable? I say YES! What happens when our supervisor finds out what we don’t know? The jig is up! Isn’t it? To what degree do we let a supervisor in? Do you remember that time when you realized what you were “entrusted to do” was entirely different from what you did do? Perhaps the allotted time frame was just too short, too complicated, or that was the day you simply weren’t into it. Remember the time that happened with your lover? Painfully embarrassing ... both ways. Isn’t it about gentle guidance, awareness and feeling appreciated? Being recognized for what we do is instrumental in wanting and giving more, is it not?

We even play the same mind games with both our supervisor and our lover ... just different; usually not really saying what we want or what it is that is bothering us ... we always find another way to communicate, be it through humour, saying nothing, deflecting, skirting around the issue until, say, ten days later because some other issue gives rise to the earlier issue, and because we always just assume the other knows exactly what we are thinking by the often ridiculous innuendos we employ in our guarded discourse.

Are the consequences of our actions the same in bed as at work? Having a fulfilled, satisfying, lasting relationship with a lover is a lot of work; at times too much work for many of us. Being fulfilled, loving what we do, being satisfied and having endurance at work is equally difficult ... just different. When we stop loving it, being fulfilled and satisfied, and lose the necessary stamina, it truly is over; sometimes we just don’t know how or when to end it. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that it is over. It makes our life much easier when someone else ends it for us, regardless of whether we are able to recognize the significance in that moment, a year from that moment or even ten years later!

Isn’t it great when you arrive at work and your supervisor is playful, creative and full of spontaneity? Just as we love the same things in bed. It makes you want to come back for more, doesn’t it? Something fun, someone interesting and an opportunity to learn something new is always welcome and energizing.

What happens when a supervisor leaves and a new one takes over, are the feelings the same as when we do our dance around a new lover? The anxiety of whether I will be accepted, will he/she see the good in me ... same questions we ask ourselves ... just in a very different way. The awkwardness feels rather similar, does it not? We all want to be liked for all the right reasons. Do we invest in the same way? When is the right time to show our level of commitment?

The more thought I give this question, the more I believe we do want the same things in all of our relationships ... just in different ways. Don’t you agree?


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