Unconditional Relationships? *cough cough* BULLSHIT!

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


Back in 2016, I read an article by Mark Manson about how unconditional love is the highest form of love there is, and that many people never grow up enough to reach that level of relationship selflessness and nirvana. (link)

He talks about how people get “stuck on conditional relationships,” and says:

When our relationships are conditional, we don’t really have relationships at all.

and

Unconditional relationships are the only real relationships. They cannot be shaken by the ups and downs of life. They are not altered by superficial benefits and failures. If you and I have an unconditional friendship, it doesn’t matter if I lose my job and move to another country, or you get a sex change and start playing the banjo; you and I will continue to respect and support each other.

And I agree with the points he’s making, in the way he’s making them. After all, he’s taken the idea of conditional relationships and defined them to mean something very specific within his writing that gets narrower and narrower as he goes on—because it has to, to make his point.

In doing that, though, I think that he misses the real truth by a country mile.

Continue reading “Unconditional Relationships? *cough cough* BULLSHIT!”

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

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


“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”

The Red Flag Diaries: How Do They Respond To Your First “No”?

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This is a new series on red flags to watch out for when meeting and dating and connecting with others in kink and elsewhere.

What is a red flag?

Red Flags are called this because a red flag is a well-known warning of danger or a problem ahead, like difficult seas or perilous conditions in the road ahead. The idiom has been in use since the 1800s.

The red flag is not the danger itself.

It’s important to understand that.

An overreaction to a “No” is rarely itself going to be dangerous. At least not the first time. It’s just a warning that things may become perilous moving forward. Emotionally, physically.

And they may not.

Continue reading “The Red Flag Diaries: How Do They Respond To Your First “No”?”

“I’m DONE Talking About This”

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


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””

You Can’t Even Get ONE Relationship Right! (Poly Is Not, Part XXII)

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Someone said in response to one of my writings about polyamory:

But if you have trouble maintaining one relationship well, is the good idea to involve more people in that?

While polyamory is an exponential issue, it is not a direct extension of every problematic relationship you’ve ever had.

After all, it depends on WHY you are having trouble with one relationship, doesn’t it?

First, is it you? Or could it be your partner?

I’m a BIG fan of taking personal responsibility in relationships. Thing is, sometimes people are just assholes.

It is, however, my fault for choosing an asshole. But they, in that case, would be the primary issue.

Choosing someone else, maybe not an asshole, might lead to a better chance of relationship success—whatever that looks like for you.

Continue reading “You Can’t Even Get ONE Relationship Right! (Poly Is Not, Part XXII)”

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.

In Life And Love, VALUE Is The Key

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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.

Please Send…

He texted:

“Please send me some photos of you and some of us for me to share with my mother.”

He added:

“No strap ons.”

LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

I can just see it. “And here we are in Madrid. She sent me one this while I was camping a few weekends ago. And this, oh! This is my girlfriend’s dick, Mom. Isn’t she a peach?”

I love my life.

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