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Some thoughts on specialness...

...taken from a reply in a thread in polyamory, borrowing in turn from a similar conversation thread on a mailing list I read.

Many, many people feel special in a relationship because of the things their partners do. For example, some people feel special by exclusivity--"I am special because he does not love anyone else," "I am special because he only does thus-and-such with me."

The danger in doing this is that if you're not careful, sometimes what happens is you end up placing your sense of worth, your sense of value, and your sense of "specialness" on things outside of yourself.

If you need certain exclusive things in order to feel secure with your lover and in order to feel unique and special and valued, then you will never really be secure and you will never really feel unique and special and
valued--because you will always know that these things can be taken away from you.

I feel secure in my relationships because I know, deep down in my heart, that nobody else is like me and nobody can ever take my place. If my partner Shelly does everything with her other boyfriend that she does with me--if she goes to the same restaurants, watches the same movies, has sex in the same positions--it does not bother me and does not make me feel jealous or insecure, because I know that the things that make me special and irreplaceable are inside myself, not outside.

My specialness does not come from the exclusive things we do. My specialness comes from *who I am.* Knowing that makes me secure, and it also means I don't need tokens of my specialness, like exclusive things from my partners; my specialness is assured, is concrete, and can never be taken away.

It's been my observation that the more you place your sense of value and worth on things outside yourself--the more you need, and rely on, tokens of exclusivity in order to feel special--the more you will struggle with jealousy and insecurity. Real security, in the end, can come only from within.


I think that many problems people have with their partners' behavior, especially in polyamorous relationships (but sometimes in monogamous relationships as well), come from the need to have their partner make them feel special. If you are in fact special to your partner, then there should be no need to set boundaries or controls on your partner's behavior in order to feel it; it will shine through in everything your partner does, all the time. If, on the other hand, you are not special to your partner, then controlling your partner's behavior isn't going to make you special.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
alem
Jan. 5th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
I agree with most of what you're saying here. While I can see myself having sex with someone who is not Himself (after all, I did before he and I got together), it would be completely different even if whomever and I did the same things. The feeling and meanings would be different. Himself consistantly makes me feel special just by doing his thing.
lynne_laughs
Jan. 5th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that in the early stages of a relationship, I don't know that I'm special because the other person doesn't really know me yet. He/she has only seen the skin of who I am. The basis of the relationship at that time is so shallow that I want something unique to assure me that the future will also have something unique. At the beginning of my primary relationship with E, I really wanted a couple of unique things. Now, those seem so silly, but at the time they defined the relationship.
dawnd
Jan. 5th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
Yup. On the money again. :^)
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous)
Apr. 5th, 2015 06:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Ding.
i feel the same. i dn know what to do. its no fun to keep going mad over it. if i want to continue i have to accept her ideas. let her believe whatever she believes. i try to make myself understand it is not in my control and there is no point fussing over it.
indywind
Jan. 5th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
I make distinction between how I know I am special--which is internal and independent of others' actions; and how I wish my SOs to show me they recognize my specialness--which is generally best spontaneous and organic, but sometimes there are things I want to request. After all, they can't be expected to guess everything; if there is some manner by which I would be especially pleased to have them demonstrate how they value me, it seems only fair to let them know. And I certainly want to hear about it if there is some unobvious way I can let my sweeties know they matter to me.

The Great Lingerie Discussion with the new bf is one such conversation, and it seems to be working out very positively for us both.
(Deleted comment)
starletfallen
May. 5th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
Re: Consider the opposite
Well, it depends on why you're doing it.

If, for example, you want to do it because you want to have something special that JUST you share with the partner in question, out of all your partners. That they KNOW that you don't do it with anyone else. That you make a point of making sure they know that. Then I'd say it's a sign of insecurity.

But if it's just because you want to do something special for them, to make them smile, maybe because they're the only one of your partners who'll truly appreciate it, or because you like having certain things that belong to the two of you - while not making a big deal of making sure they KNOW that it's just for the two of you... I'd say it's just something that some people do.

It can go either way, basically, I think.

That's just my two cents, though. ^^
surelars
Jan. 6th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
Spot on. Being special, like respect, accept, and so on, start with yourself. If you want other to respect you, you gotta respect yourself. Ditto being special.

I've had huge problems with low self-esteem, and to some extent still have. It has been very important for me to realize that whatever it is I need, I have to find it in me. It's the only source of self-esteem. Getting someone from outside me will increase my self-confidence - but I have lots of that.

I grew up in an environment where I was something because of what I did and what I was. Never because of who I am. Learning to find a sense of value inside myself has been a lot of hard work. And I've found that along the way as I have learned that I no longer need sources of worth outside of me, that some things I do or did, and even people I see or used to see, are suddenly not very important. Once you learn that you are special because of who you are, that partner that made you feel so special, well, you might find there's not much left in that relationship.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )