Successful Relationships: 3 Critical Questions

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


Do I like this person?
Am I better for spending time with this person?
Are they better for spending time with me?

Three simple questions, which can mean everything.

Do I like this person?

If the answer is not yes, then there is zero need for a relationship—at least a personal relationship (versus a professional one).

How much you like them might help determine the kind of relationship you shoot for, but that is in many ways a superficial thing, not necessarily related to success.

Am I better for spending time with this person?

Not, “Do I feel good around this person,” but are you a better human?

Do you strive to do and be better? Do you tell more truths? Are you kinder? More efficient? Take better care of yourself? Do you feel better, overall in your life, not just in the moment?

Are they better for spending time with me?

A deep human need is to feel appreciated and valuable. Knowing that the person we like is a better person with us in their lives is a profound satisfaction. It’s a security blanket of the highest order. It creates a feeling of contentment.

And, in power exchange relationships, is a foundation for all that we do, from either side of the slash.

If you are able to answer all three of these questions in the affirmative, then you have what it takes to create a successful relationship.

Will you? Maybe, maybe not. After all, one of my favorite quotes is:

She did observe, with some dismay, that far from conquering all, love lazily sidestepped practical problems. — Jean Stafford

But without these, I cannot imagine your relationship having any chance of being a successful one, and I see them as an excellent measure of how things are going.

What are your thoughts?

Have you asked yourself these questions, or questions like them before? Do your successful relationships meet these criteria?

Let me know!

It’s Only Romantic When You Still Love Them

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


While we were in Madrid in September, we took several tours through AirBnB experiences (I highly recommend them!), and as we strolled through Lavapiés, our guide pointed out some modeled lips just randomly sticking out from a building.

She explained that there were 700 or so of these lips all over the neighborhood, modeled and placed by a man whose girlfriend had left him.

He created a pair of lips for every day he was without a woman in his life (or so the story goes).

I think we saw maybe a double handful of them.

Our tour guide was in her twenties, and she said, wistfully, “I told my boyfriend he could be that romantic.”

I replied, “My ex-husband once convinced a local comedy group to allow him to get on stage and declare his love for me during a performance.”

She sighed a bit.

I said, “It’s only romantic when you still love them. If you don’t still love them, or worse, you barely even know them, it’s creepy. It’s stalkerish.”

Her eyes opened wide, as she thought about it. And she got it. She agreed. Then went on to talk a bit about the things he does NOW, while they are in their relationship that are romantic, and took us meandering further in our tour.

I could have continued the story instead of letting it go.

I had broken up with him. He was an alcoholic with mental issues and had emotionally abused me. The show was something I had taken to doing for myself, with my friends, as I put my life back together as a single woman.

And I was mortified.

EVERYONE in the audience was looking at me. Wanting me to give him a positive response.

Except I couldn’t.

I couldn’t do anything for too long. I was just…frozen.

It was yet another attempt to manipulate me, to ignore what I had said over and over that I wanted—to be left alone.

Finally, I was able to say, “No,” and walked out.

He tried to meet me as I left. People tried to stop me, to allow him to show his love—all well intentioned, I’m sure.

I felt trapped. Panic-y. And for a short while, hopeless that this constant stream of trying to get my attention, trying to convince me that he knew better for me than I knew for myself would ever end.

“Marry a guy who will email you when you block him.”

This morning, I saw this meme on FB.

Woman:

“Marry a guy who will email you when you block him.”

Man:

“Fellas, marry a woman who doesn’t play these kinds of games.”

Leaving aside the second point for another writing—because I feel it needs to be addressed, just not to dilute today’s topic—let’s stop glorifying, even to ourselves, the actions of violating consent.

Let’s choose partners who, if blocked, will realize you’ve just withdrawn consent to be contacted, and who WANT you to have the time and space you need to figure things out.

Let’s love those who make us feel like we can simply say, “give me some time to think about this,” without having to go tot he extreme of blocking them.

Let’s glorify people who make their feelings known day in and day out without screwing things up so much that they have to stand outside a window holding a boom box playing Peter Gabriel.

Marry (or don’t marry) the person who celebrates you for who you are, encourages you to be whoever you want to be, and respects you when you say “No,” however you do it.

In Life And Love, VALUE Is The Key

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


I’ve said loudly and often that the best relationship, in my view, is one where both people feel like they get FAR MORE from the relationship than they put in.

‘Far more’ being value.

It doesn’t matter how nice you are or how good you look on paper if you provide no value.

Everyone has worth.

Not everyone provides value.

This isn’t about victimhood.

It isn’t about validation.

It’s about value.

Not what YOU value—at least not at first.

It’s about what everyone else values.

When you have an attitude of providing value—volunteering, helping, solving problems—you will give people something they believe they can use, and they might do cool things with it.

Some of those people will share those things with you.

And that’s important. Because you are not a bottomless well of awesome. You need replenishing. You need value returned to you. Some will come from those you give it to. Some will come from unexpected places, if you’re open to it.

People who love you will give you back value of their own. I’d go so far as to say that if you want to surround yourself with people who provide value, then ruthlessly cut off anyone who does not offer you value in return.

Of course, those people will be doing the same, so you will need to put your value out there to attract them in the first place.

Bait, if you will.

And just as in fishing, the bait you use will influence what you catch.

Value will attract people who look for value. Some will provide value in return. Keep these to be proud of and to fill you up. Some will be leeches or lampreys, and will need to be thrown back to suck others dry.

I’m not advocating tit-for-tat.

In fact, even in it’s most positive form, tit-for-tat is a crappy relationship paradigm.

That’s what I mean by getting far more value from the relationship than you put in.

But that’s further long than in the attraction phase.

Because in the beginning, we need to see something in another human that attracts us. That’s the value.

And we need to see enough of it to spur action, multiple times, to get to a point where we can really take whatever this is seriously.

But what is value?

To many it’s simple: beauty or physical attraction of some sort.

That is one kind of value, sure. But there are more we have to offer:

  • physical attractiveness
  • humor
  • insightfulness
  • caring
  • kindness
  • competency
  • appreciation
  • understanding
  • knowledge
  • sadism/masochism
  • skills
  • helpfulness

There are hundreds more. And each person’s value image is slightly different than others, I’d guess. Like a fingerprint of what we desire.

And when someone exhibits one of our top values, we’re drawn to them.

When they continue exhibiting those values AND (as importantly) show appreciation for the values we exhibit as well, bonds form, and we create relationships—play connections, friendships, and love.

And that is where the value is key.

Because when we are exhibiting values that are natural to us, it’s not hard. And when people reflect back to us that they appreciate those values, that’s a value in itself. Add to the values they exhibit (hopefully as naturally as breathing to them), and voilà! We feel we are getting FAR MORE than we give.

Which is just right.

Languages Of Self-Love

So, we talk a lot about love languages in discussing how we can treat our partners and friends, even kids.

However, I saw a meme going around talking about how our love languages might be tied into the kinds of self-care we practice as well, which is an intriguing thought.

Touch

Physical wellness. Things that make your body feel good and provide sensation.

  • Get a massage.
  • Wear sensual clothing that feels good to you: cashmere, silk, etc.
  • Exercise, moving your body.
  • Spa treatments.
  • Body positivity.
  • Masturbation.
  • Smile and stand up straight.
Continue reading “Languages Of Self-Love”

Have You Ever Wanted To Kick A Puppy?

That was one of the questions I asked last night in a lively debate about love and sex and kink.

I had been talking about not ever wanting to hurt someone I love, and going out of my way to avoid doing it intentionally.

They countered with the claim that it was never intentional. It “just happens,” when people are upset and cannot control their emotions.

So, I said, “Have you ever wanted to kick a puppy? Or punch your child in the face?”

They looked horrified and said, “No.”

I asked if they had done those things.

They said “No” again, this time as if they were looking for the trap.

I pointed out that they did not do those things because to them, those things are anathema. Repugnant. Wrong.

They agreed.

Then I asked if they would do those things when they were REALLY REALLY angry.

They said they would not.

So, I asked, “Then why would you hurt someone you love with your words? Unless deep down in your heart you want to? Unless in the core of your mind you want to? You want them to hurt like you are hurting, to prove they love you or feel for you, or something.

“Because if you really believe that hurting someone you love is 100% wrong, and there is NO REASON TO EVER do it, you won’t.”

Humans will human.

I was very clear in the ensuing conversation that I am not perfect. I do sometimes want to hurt someone I love the way I am hurting, deeply and instinctually, and sometimes it slips out.

However, I mostly don’t. And when I do, it horrifies me.

There is no reason, ever (sure, prove me wrong—I can’t think of any though) to emotionally attack someone to cause them pain just because I am hurting.

Just like there is no reason (for me), ever to:

  • abuse animals
  • abuse children
  • abuse people
  • rape
  • cheat

And so on.

And so, I never have. Not on purpose—on purpose.

Yes, I’ve said some hateful things. Never with a conscious intent to hurt. But definitely with a subconscious intent to.

And because I realized that was wrong for me, I do that MUCH less often as well.

There is NO WAY that I can avoid hurting people accidentally, through misunderstandings or thoughtlessness or just being me. I accept that, and do my best.

And I am every day, in small and large ways also teaching myself that hurting people I love on purpose is wrong.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Why Don’t They Spend More Time With Me?

I’ve heard this in so many variations over the years. In sad tones, in frustrated ones, in anguish.

Indeed, it’s incredibly hurtful when the people we want to spend time with/eat with/snuggle with/whatever with don’t want to do all that with us, or with us as often.

Thing is, the hurt people usually feel asking this question is often turned into resentment and anger, towards the person not spending the time, like they are intentionally withholding themselves when the original asker has A RIGHT to their time.

And don’t tell me you’ve not made this mistake before.

A LOT.

Thinking you have the right to someone’s time and energy and love and snuggles and whatever, because…why?

Sure, if you have both agreed to a date/time, you are generally ok expecting that someone will fulfill that. However, are you entitled to it?

No.

And I’m not, either.

And I make this mistake a lot. At least in my head, where sometimes I can catch it before it flies from my fleeting thoughts to actual entitled behavior—and sometimes I can’t.

Sure, I fall into the trap of saying, “Why don’t they want to spend more time with me,” or “They never seem to make me a priority…”

Of course. It’s human.

And I see it in everyone I know. Some more than others, of course.

However, I realize that it’s up to me to put in the effort that will inspire the people I want to spend time with to want to spend time with me…

—OR—

…realize that we are not a match, and let us both move on.

It really is that simple.

Which, does not equate with easy.

But it’s simple:

The people who want to spend time with me will, or they’ll make it clear that they want to, even when life gets in the way.

The people who don’t, won’t.

And that’s OK.

It’s their right.

And if I get to spend time with people I love and enjoy, I am thankful for that time. Grateful. Happy. And appreciative.

Because I know they want to spend that time with me.

And I feel the same way about a text reaching out. Or a call. Or a message. And when I reach out, I expect people to know I’m doing so because they are on my mind, and I care, even when I’m crazy busy and failing at balancing life.

It’s simple.

And at some point, we’ll find a way to spend some more time.

Image by Monoar Rahman Rony from Pixabay

Just One Of those Things—The Ethics Of Hope & Denial

A friend of mine that enjoys challenging me with writing topics sent me this, and I’ve been mulling it over a while.

I have a friend. When he starts dating someone, they are literally engaged to be married by the third date. Yet he has never been married, these relationships always fall apart before that happens. His friends point out that perhaps he should take things slower; he is unmoved, and says he has to be all in.

I don’t know him to be kinky, but in kink terms he has a fetish for falling in love. To make that work, clearly he has to tell himself that things will be different this time every time he starts a relationship. Basically he has to lie to himself. People lie to themselves all the time, so that in itself isn’t so shocking. The problem of course is by extension he has to lie to his partner.

My question for you is this. How many times can he have an engagement fall apart before it becomes unethical to put another person in this situation? How many times can a person get divorced before it becomes unethical to promise to be with someone forever? How many times can you cheat on someone before it becomes unethical to make commitments of monogamy?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. Believing things can be different is the definition of hope. Believing you can do the same thing and get different results is the definition of stupidity.

I had to think on this for while.

Because ethics in this case are dependent on whether the person in question (repeating patterns over and over) is self-aware enough to realize they are heading down the same path again.

Do they sincerely hope and quite possibly believe that THIS TIME will be different?

And if not, the ethics can be quite convoluted.

It’s my position that as long as this person is 100% honest (and that means honest as they can be, considering the force of their denial) with their new partners, they are being ethical.

Thing is, no matter how ethical they are, people can be hurt.

Which is why I suggest that everyone take their time and get to know people, even if it feels fuckballs amazing right from the get go.

Ask questions about previous relationships.

Not because you think your relationship will be the same. All relationships have the potential to be unique and different.

But for two reasons:

  1. To spot patterns from previous relationships when they start to happen with you.
  2. To learn how they have processed and grown from the previous relationships in how they talk about them and in how they interact with you.

And maybe one more reason:

  1. To determine whether the person who has these sorts of issues is one you want to continue building a relationship with.

That last one may get me some flak, and I’m ready for it.

EVERYONE has a right to choose who they want to engage with, and that includes people with specific past relationship issue that they may have been hurt by before, or that they just don’t feel they are compatible with.

I always think it’s a good idea to ask these questions BEFORE you have gotten in too deep.

But that’s me.

And I could be wrong.

On all of this.

What do you think?

Do you think that anyone can be ethically held accountable for things they may not even be aware of themselves? For how their relationship patterns play out (assuming no actual abuse), or the things they have denied as issues?

I bet you can come up with examples that would be “yeses.”

I bet you can also see where there are many examples where the answer is a resounding “no.”

I look forward to your thoughts.

The Myth Of Results—At Least Visible/Obvious Ones

Thinking In Bets, by Annie Duke is an amazing read.

Annie is a professional poker player. She’s won millions. And she wrote a book about how to make decisions when you don’t have all the facts.

The biggest take away I had from the book is the idea that the right decision will always lead to the right results is a myth.

Which, of course, we all know.

But, we don’t KNOW it, until we think about it. Like, really know it.

For some reasons, we are stubbornly addicted to the idea that the “right” decisions should get us the “right” results.

Which, as Duke points out, works in chess—a highly logical game with no elements of luck.

Not so much in poker, or in life, where there is luck aplenty.

And as in life, so in kink.

Today’s writing prompt was “Why put in the effort if it’s pointless?” I had a link to a comment that no longer exists on this writing: Hello FetLife Newbies!

While I don’t have the comment, I have experiences of that comment over the years from many people, and I have a pretty clear idea of what I meant to write about.

And it perfectly ties in with the myth of results.

You see, in that writing, I mentioned how to send a “cold” message to someone on FetLife. It takes a bit more effort than “hey wyd?” or copy-pasta. It’s designed to be genuine and make a connection beyond gasp sex.

I usually get two objections:

I only want sex.

Ohhhh-kay then. Keep on wit ya bad self. I got nuttin for you.

But why put in all that effort when I STILL don’t get many replies?

This is the one I’m writing about.

Let me give you a few reasons:

  1. Because those people who might be inclined to interact with strangers are MORE inclined to do so when it seems like the experience will be pleasant.
  2. You don’t get a shitty reputation of messaging every woman in a 100-mile radius the same thing (yes, we do share).
  3. Because it’s the right thing to do. Being a good person is it’s own reward. Just like being a jerk becomes a habit, so does being a genuinely awesome person.

That last bit, that’s important.

Like lifting weights, you probably won’t see results the next day (except negative ones, like stiffness or aching muscles), or event he next week, but over time, you will build your strength and functional ability.

It’s a cumulative process.

It’s the same with putting in effort, being kind and authentic, and striving to do what’s right, even without immediate results. Or, even with immediate negative results.

Face it, some people are going to reply with assholery no matter what you write. Some people aren’t going to reply (they may not even be online). Some people are not going to like you, even if you like them.

But it’s not about a 1:1 ratio of do-right-get-right.

After all, sometimes, you’re going to be the asshole having a bad day, and someone will do right for you and get shit in return, or ask for nothing.

And of course, this isn’t just about connecting with people by Fet message. It’s also about meeting kinky people at munches and sloshes and on other sites. It’s about offering to help out at events.

It’s also about walking down the street, working with people, and, of course, playing poker.

Is Love Learned Or Innate?

“You have to love yourself before you can love others.”

“The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.”

There is truth in both of these statements. And there is a lot misleading in both of them as well.

I believe love is naturally occurring in humans and animals (and what I’ve read backs me up in this). Love for others. And it grows out of need and desire. From the moment we are born.

Our first self-love is modeled after how others love us. And if that’s shitty, then our love for ourselves is also probably shitty.

Continue reading “Is Love Learned Or Innate?”

I’ll Say The “C” Word Whenever I Want!

And I’ll be right.

You see, I read this piece a while back:

Please, not the C word

Where the author says that if they never hear the “C Word,” chemistry, in reference to relationships again, they’ll be happy.

“Like, ever.”

Then, they go on to give six banal reasons someone might feel chemistry.

Except for, you know, actual chemistry.

Continue reading “I’ll Say The “C” Word Whenever I Want!”