It’s My World. You’re Just Living In It

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“perceptual information is shaped by natural selection to reflect utility, not to depict reality.” (source)

Donald H. Hoffman, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that not only do we all perceive reality differently, but that it’s natural and necessary that we do so.

A perspective of the world that keeps us alive is more important than one that is objectively accurate.

It’s been said that our minds build our worlds.

So, each of us has a world of our own making that we live in.

Our worlds are a story we tell ourselves every moment, based on our senses and our lived experiences.

How you see the world will likely be similar to how I see the world, and yet, different in some pretty critical ways.

I once turned a man down on OK Cupid, and he said, “But we have a 98% match. That means something.” I replied that humans share 98.8% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and that it’s the differences that matter.

Continue reading “It’s My World. You’re Just Living In It”

“I’m DONE Talking About This”

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Last week, a friend and I were talking about the frustration of someone saying in an argument, “I’m done talking about this,” and how it feels to be cut off without recourse.

Like there needs to be some sort of agreement in place when this happens, so it’s not quite so one-sided a “solution.”

I have a Conflict Resolution Protocol that I use often to good effect, and I’ve written about it.

But when I was talking with my friend last week, I realized that there’s another that is so natural to me that I forget it’s even a thing, sometimes.

My ex-husband and I got a LOT wrong. We did get a few things right. One thing was when one person “called” the argument (ended it for ANY reason), the other person got two minutes to speak their mind without any interruption.

The other was that the issue was always revisited within a 48-72 hour time frame, so that it didn’t fester.

It’s simple. And effective.

Continue reading ““I’m DONE Talking About This””

Successful Relationships: 3 Critical Questions

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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

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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.

Communication: Conflict Resolution Protocol

Communication: Conflict Resolution Protocol

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


I’ve been quiet lately. My last writing just over a month ago.

My Fall has been a series of loops and WTFs I didn’t see coming, traveling to teach, flakes, and stress up the wazoo. I’m WAY behind on everything.

I’ve TRIED to keep up with my messages as I can. I have over 91 I’ve not yet read.

BUT… there were I few I worked very hard to stay on top of, and that is those from people who were in my classes over the last few months, because I said they could follow up with me with questions.

Today’s writing is inspired by one of those questions.

Continue reading “Communication: Conflict Resolution Protocol”

It’s Like Toilet Paper Bondage…

Just a roll of toilet paper on a white background, slightly unrolled.

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


Behavior modification, that is.

It’s not like handcuffs or chains, where you do something once, and they are bound by your directive, until you free them.

It’s far more subtle.

Gossamer.

Like restraining someone with toilet paper.

One layer of toilet paper wrapped around their body is real enough to feel, to KNOW, but not enough to hold them.

However, once you’ve put in enough layers (reinforcement) in enough ways (places), their reality is constrained to what you desire.

Behavior modification is like that. It’s not one and done.

It’s not something that is set into place, then sticks forever.

It takes tending. Cultivating. Encouraging. More and more layers.

It’s like toilet paper bondage.

I Hurt You BECAUSE I Love You.

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Because you want it.

Need it.

Crave it.

Not because I am a sadist (I’m not).

In fact, aside from the joy we share when we play spanky, floggy, whippy games together, I could spend my whole life not hitting anyone.

And be happy.

However, because I love you, your happiness contributes to mine.

Your needs are important to me.

What you crave matters.

So I will hurt you.

Because that is your happy place. Your floaty place. Your catharsis place. Your dancing-among-the stars-as-they-whirl-around-you place. Your expiation place. Your after-it’s-all-done-I’m-peacefully-centered place.

And I will join you there, in that place.

As you sometimes join me in my geeky place as I try to work out a complex UI. As you traipse from antique shop to antique shop, with me in my hunting-for-that-thing-I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it place. As you go rollerskating with me in my nostalgia place. As you bring me flowers and romance me, court me and pamper me in my I-need-to-feel-your-adoration place.

I’ve heard, “I can’t beat so-and-so like I used to. I love them too much.”

I just can’t comprehend.

I don’t beat anyone I don’t love, at least a little. I don’t hit someone to see that look of taking it, holding on, handling it, and suffering unless I adore them. I don’t beat anyone hard, until they weep and cry and break down for me unless I am deeply, wonderfully, crazily in love with them.

Because it’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about us.

I hurt you because I love you.

And if you want to just cuddle, I’ll do that, too.

Any Problem You Can’t Discuss In Your Relationship…

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!

Any problem you can’t discuss in your relationship is two problems. Or more.

  1. The problem itself.
  2. The problem of not being able to discuss it.

Lately, the topic of relationships black holes has come up in several conversations. I take that as a sign I need to write and think about it.

Let’s say you have a problem. You talk about it, and it doesn’t work, so you put it away, and avoid talking about it again. (1)

Now, a new problem pops up, and you start to talk about it. Unfortunately, too late, you realize that it’s related, and the topic comes back to THAT WHICH WE DON’T DISCUSS. You put it away, too. This problem has just become a part of the relationship black hole. There will be multiple problems like this. (2)

Relationship Black Holes. 

Shows four concentric circles. The inner is labeled "original problem." 

The next is labeled "Related, but ultimate separate topics from the PROBLEM."

The third is labeled "Topics that touch on topics related to the PROBLEM."

The outermost ring is labeled "Completely unrelated topics that just piss you off and trigger your resentment."

Unfortunately, the nature of a black hole is to suck things in. Now, even a problem that wasn’t related to the first problem, but is related to the related problem is now a potential powder keg. Luckily, by this point, you’ve gotten more savvy, and you avoid talking about it, just put it away as soon as you see it. (3)

And, then, the final stage, when the black hole takes over your whole relationship. This is when anything that pisses you off, causes resentment, or makes you feel sad brings you right back to the original problem, because it’s been festering so long. (4).

Let’s look at this in an example:

You forgot my birthday. It’s a BIG deal to me, and I get upset. You are intractable, and I feel like you just don’t understand. We have a huge blow-up. No one gets what they want, no resolution is found, and it just gets put away. (1)

Unfortunately, two weeks later your bestie throws a surprise party for their partner, which sets us off again. That’s when we realize that every mention of birthdays will be an issue. We pack it away, dry our angry tears and go to the party with our friends. It’s not brought up again. (2)

A few months later, when a sort of truce on birthdays has been created by just not talking about them or acknowledging the issue at all, I see an over-the-top romantic video online for an anniversary. I send it to you, suggesting that MAYBE you won’t forget our anniversary, too. It’s only three months away. Now every celebration of love, affection, and appreciation is a part of the relationship black hole. (3)

The relationship goes on, limping along, until a few weeks before my next birthday, when you forget to take out the trash, and it becomes, “You never remember anything that makes me happy! That’s why you forget my birthday!”

Now, everything that upsets me or pisses me off brings up that core hurt (and possibly others) because it’s never been resolved, and because I’ve gone over it again and again in my mind, so I’m familiar with the pain, and can access it instantly. (4)

So, would you rather have one problem to talk about or two problems that multiply exponentially?