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My sweetie zaiah is in town for the week, and last night I slept curled up beside her with a young kitten sleeping under the covers on my hip.

The kitten is actually zaiah's reason for being here. She went to her new home this afternoon; she was bought by a family here in Atlanta. zaiah arrived in town yesterday, kitten in hand, and met the kitten's new family today.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Ruby. Ruby is a sixteen-week-old, aqua-eyed bundle of fluffy, fuzzy joy in a convenient carrying package.

I immediately fell in love with her. She is inquisitive, curious, happy, eager, and above all else, she is absolutely, utterly fearless. Ruby lives in a world where everything from the box on the shelf to the mysteries beyond the closet door are filled with delight and wonder. In her world, every person is her friend, and she takes charming delight in meeting new people. Every other animal wants to play with her, every change in her environment is cause for celebration.

It didn't take Ruby long to make herself right at home. She bounded out of her carrying cage, checked me out enthusiastically, and rubbed against my hand for a while. Then she bounced around the apartment with unrestrained glee, heedless of Liam following her about like a shadow. She played with David for a while, checked out his Bowflex (surely the world's biggest and most entertaining kitten amusement park, when it comes right down to it--lots of things to crawl under, lots of dangling things to bat at). Finally, when she reached that kitten stage of "Noo! I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open any more, but I want to keep playing!" she bounced back into my bedroom to curl up under the covers with me for bed.

There's a lesson we could all learn from Ruby, about how our perceptions of the world shape the reality.




Many New Agers like to think that the principles of quantum mechanics prove that the world is created by our perceptions. This isn't true in a literal sense, at least not the way they think it is; one of the problems of science is that it uses a highly specialized vocabulary, and words like 'observer' when used by a physicist don't mean what they do in the common vernacular.

Nevertheless, our assumptions, expectations, and beliefs do change our experience of the world.

I've written before about the phenomenon of confirmation bias--the natural, unconscious tendency of human beings to see and give special weight to anything that confirms our beliefs, and to disregard things that contradict our beliefs. People who believe that psychics can predict the future will remember occasions when a psychic has seemed to make a prediction that comes true, but forget the dozens of predictions that didn't come true. People who believe that women are poor drivers will remember the woman who cut them off in traffic, but forget the man who did. And so on.

Scientists have to deal with confirmation bias all the time. Medical tests are set up as double-blind tests, so that not even the doctor or the researchers know which is the placebo and which is the real drug, to help prevent confirmation bias. Researchers will intentionally look for evidence that proves their hypothesis wrong, rather than evidence that proves their hypothesis right, in part because confirmation bias makes it far too easy to see evidence that seemingly supports a hypothesis. (This is one of the ways you can spot flim-flam artists and pseudoscience, by the way.)

As strong as confirmation bias is when you're dealing with intellectual beliefs, though, it's a thousand times more devastating when you're dealing with emotional responses.




On another forum I read, the subject has come up about relationship agreements, and specifically about relationship agreements in polyamory.

Often, people who choose to explore any kind of non-monogamous relationship face a great deal of trepidation. We're told, daily, from the moment we're born, certain things about relationships, like "if your partner really loves you he will never want anyone else" and "if your partner has sex with some other person, your relationship is doomed."

Folks who know, intellectually, that these things are not necessarily true may nevertheless feel emotionally threatened by the reality of a partner taking another lover. And, quite commonly, one of the ways they seek to address this is to sit down and negotiate a set of rules to help them feel more secure and help guide them through the perceived hazards of non-monogamy. This is probably the single most common approach I've personally seen amongst folks, especially married couples, new to polyamory.

This does have something to do with Ruby the kitten. Hang on, I'm getting to that.

These contracts are sometimes quite detailed. This contract, for example, is a 7-page PDF that specifies, among other things, what pet names an 'outside' lover is and is not permitted to use, what words an outside lover is and is not allowed to use to describe a relationship, and what kinds of sex ann outside lover is an is not allowed to have.

It's nothing, however, compared to another contract I've seen, which I seem no longer have a link for, that spells out (in over 40 pages of single-spaced type) all of the above plus the positions an outside lover is permitted to have sex in, the number of miles a member of the primary relationship is allowed to drive to go on a date, what restaurants a member of the primary couple is not permitted to bring any other partner to, and so on.

And I can't help but marvel, as I read these contracts, at how brilliant they are as testaments to fear and insecurity.






Now, I'm not trying to say that people in a relationship should never make any rules or agreements. As I've said in the past, I think there are some rules that are not only valuable but necessary. Rules about joint ownership of property and children, for example. I also think it's wise for non-monogamous--and monogamous, for that matter--sexual partners to negotiate safer-sex boundaries.

It seems to me, though, that many of the agreements people make about non-monogamy, particuarly when it comes to things like amount of time that people are permitted to spend with other partners and the activities people are permitted or forbidden to engage in with other lovers, reveal a great deal about the assumptions they make.

And none of what they reveal is good.

Rules of the sort you'll find in the contract I linked to above seem predicated on one very simple assumption: "Polyamory is a threatening and scary thing, and if I don't keep my lover on a very short leash, my lover is going to stomp all over me and then destroy our relationship." That assumption is in turn resting on a deeper assumption, like the elephant standing on the world-turtle's back: "My lover doesn't really want to be with me. I'm really not all that great. There's nothing particularly special or desirable about me; my lover would really prefer to be with someone else. If I give my lover free reign to do as he pleases, he's going to realize that and leave me."

Now, I used to have a cat named Snow Crash. Snow Crash is in all respects the polar opposite of Ruby. He found changes in his environment to be frightening and upsetting, and would hide under the sink when things changed. He was deeply suspicious of strangers, and tended to run when someone new came over.

Snow Crash and Ruby live in the same world--a world where some change is good and some change is threatening, where some people are kind and some people are not. But their experience of the world is very, very different.




Your experience of the world depends to a great degree on the assumptions you make. The machinery of confirmation bias assures it.

If you believe that your partner really does not value you and does not want to be with you, you'll find confirmation of your worst fears in everything you see. Do you feel like you aren't special? Then if your lover calls his other lover by the same name as he calls you, or takes his other lover to your favorite restaurant, you will feel replaceable. Do you feel like your lover doesn't value your relationship? Then if your lover is ten minutes late coming home from a date, your mind will go to visions of all the fun he's having without you and the revulsion and disgust he feels at having to return to someone as worthless as you, rather than to the idea that it's raining outside and the traffic must be a mess.

These assumptions become particularly insidious and particularly toxic when they are incorporated into your self-image. Do you think "I am a jealous person" rather than "I am a person who sometimes feels jealousy"? Do you think "I am an insecure person" instead of "I am a person who occasionally feels insecure"? Then your jealousy or your insecurity will become mountains made of stone, because changing your sense of self is always difficult.

So naturally, confronted with these immense mountains of stone, you will be tempted to go around rather than through. Nobody likes to feel unloved or valueless in the eyes of a partner. If oyu start from the assumption that these things are true, and you make that assumption a part of your self-identity, then you can become quite helpless in the grip of these feelings, and it can start to feel reasonable to keep your partner on a short leash, if only to make yourself feel better.

But here's the thing, and it's a point I've touched on before:

If your assumptions are true, and your partner really would rather be with someone else, then rules will not save your relationship. If your assumptions are false, and your partner does value and cherish you, then rules are unnecessary.

Think about what it means to start with a different set of assumptions. Think about what it means to start with this: "My partner loves and cherishes me. My partner is with me because he wants to be with me, and because I add value to his life--value that nobody else can ever add. If I have a problem, then my partner will want to work with me to solve it, because my partner cherishes me and wants to honor our relationship. I am a person, unique in all the world, who my partner chooses because he sees that value in who I am."

When you start from that assumption, your perception of the world changes. You will tend to see things which confirm your assumptions, good or bad; start with positive assumptions and you will see the truth of them, just as if you start from negative assumptions you will see evidence to support them.

The same is true for the assumptions themselves. Start from a place that you are a jealous, insecure person and that's just the way you are, and it will become your reality. Start from the assumption that you are a person who sometimes feels jealous or insecure, but there are things that you can do and choices you can make to address these insecurities and jealousies, and that will become your reality.




It does not bother me if my lover goes to my favorite restaurant with a date, or if a lover calls someone else by a pet name that she uses on me. I do not write contracts forbidding these things because they can not challenge my sense of self. I know that my lovers value and cherish me, and make choices that honor our relationship, because they want to be with me.

It is a simple thing, to start with a different set of assumptions. Not always easy, perhaps, because assumptions become well-worn grooves in your brain, and creating a new track takes work. There is comfort in the familiar, including in familiar assumptions.

But who do you think is happier, Ruby or Snow Crash?


Comments

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the_xtina
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
Oddly, this is really helpful.  "Oddly" because I usually try to say "I am a person who is feeling $thing" rather than "I am a $thing person", but this combined with recent events to point out an area in which I don't do that.

Specifically, being insecure.  I know that I get insecure when a partner of mine starts dating someone new, and I have a workaround in place ("I'll ask for reassurance, usually in these ways"), but I've been calling myself "an insecure person", which is vastly different.

So thanks.
dawnd
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
If your assumptions are true, and your partner really would rather be with someone else, then rules will not save your relationship. If your assumptions are false, and your partner does value and cherish you, then rules are unnecessary.

This is true if one is assuming that the agreements are for the people in the relationship already. I find, however, that our written agreements are at least as much about setting expectations for people coming *into* the relationship (whether short-term play partners or longer-term lovers), as they are for the people in the relationship. Agreements can be helpful when in the initial stages of a relationship as well, to reveal assumptions about that relationship. In sitting down to MAKE the agreement, you will often discover that you don't actually agree on what "sex" is, for instance. This sort of discovery is invaluable, IME.

It's certainly true that if your partner is really out the door, then no amount of writing and re-writing the agreements will help.

Conversely, believing that your partner is trustworthy and is keeping an agreement when they are NOT, is not useful either. That's delusional.

What's helpful is having an accurate view of reality. That takes both partners communicating with each other about changes in their internal landscape, as much as about changes in status. One way that they can do this is by writing out agreements, or listing their values, or anything that actually gets them communicating truthfully. Agreements are merely one possible tool for this, and YMMV.
edwardmartiniii
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
"In sitting down to MAKE the agreement, you will often discover that you don't actually agree on what "sex" is, for instance."

Why is this important?

If, as you say, these agreements are for the new person, then it's the responsibility of one of the veterans to already know what's verboten, and steer the relationship appropriately. This is not the responsibility of the new person.

On an even more granular level, what does or does not constitutes "sex" is a red herring. If there are verboten behaviors, then spell them out, without trying to worry about whether or not they are included in the cloud-shaped drawing called "sex" for this particular new person.

(no subject) - dawnd - Dec. 13th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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you really don't get this, do you? - dawnd - Dec. 15th, 2008 07:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: you really don't get this, do you? - tacit - Dec. 15th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: you really don't get this, do you? - dawnd - Dec. 15th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: you really don't get this, do you? - tacit - Dec. 15th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dawnd - Dec. 19th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
re: the "anarchistic" comment - dawnd - Dec. 19th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC) - Expand
re: the anarchistic comment - dawnd - Dec. 24th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - edwardmartiniii - Dec. 15th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC) - Expand
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edwardmartiniii
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Assumptions outline the insecurities under the blanket.

Insecurities outline the self under the blanket.

It seems better to turn the heat up and throw the blankets off anyway. Muahaha!
zaiah
Dec. 15th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
Assumptions outline the insecurities under the blanket.

Insecurities outline the self under the blanket.


Like this! :)
(no subject) - cheerilyxmorbid - Dec. 15th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - edwardmartiniii - Dec. 15th, 2008 04:53 am (UTC) - Expand
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ashbet
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
This is beautifully-written. Thank you :)

-- A <3
tacit
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
roguebaby
Dec. 13th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I get insecure sometimes... ok, maybe a bit more than sometimes.. but it helps to think of it all that way.
heart_open
Dec. 13th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)

"It does not bother me if my lover goes to my favorite restaurant with a date, or if a lover calls someone else by a pet name that she uses on me. I do not write contracts forbidding these things because they can not challenge my sense of self. I know that my lovers value and cherish me, and make choices that honor our relationship, because they want to be with me."

That is exactly how I feel about Polyamory and my approach to relationships. Would you permit me to quote this?

tacit
Dec. 13th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! :)
(no subject) - heart_open - Dec. 13th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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tacit
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Hee! Ruby's actually a Tonkinese; zaiah breeds them for show.
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writerspleasure
Dec. 13th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
the other side of the coin is to answer the question honestly: do people have horrendously bad experiences not because of not being "open" or "trusting" enough, but because they don't to a certain extent stake territory?

the answer, of course, is yes. which renders the reading of fears and insecurities as some manner of personality failing very questionable.

having said that, i do find contracts personally unpalatable. if it has to be put in writing like that, there are deeper problems. but one of the absolute falsehoods of the poly world is the ascription of doubts and limits to personality defects in the less "open" person. the annals of poly are too filled with people who acted in perfect good faith and who were betrayed by lovers they trusted. this is insufficiently dealt with, and makes your sweeping psychological claims unfortunate.
tacit
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
the other side of the coin is to answer the question honestly: do people have horrendously bad experiences not because of not being "open" or "trusting" enough, but because they don't to a certain extent stake territory?

Of course they do, but...

he annals of poly are too filled with people who acted in perfect good faith and who were betrayed by lovers they trusted. this is insufficiently dealt with, and makes your sweeping psychological claims unfortunate.

...I'm at a bit of a loss to see how a person entering a relationship with assumptions of mistrust and insecurity will help with that situation.

Yes, it is true that not everyone in the world operates in good faith, and that some relationships aren't good. But what I don't see is how building a relationship on the idea tat one's lover doesn't really want to be there is going to help with that. If your lover can not be trusted to keep your best interests at heart, and to treat you with compassion and respect, I fail to see how any list of rules, no matter how carefully constructed, can change that.

If your lover does love you and does respect you, then it seems to me you don't ned a list of rules that tell your partner what to do. You don't need to say "You are permitted to spend only three hours with your other lover only once per calendar month" (to use a real-world example of a rule I've actually seen); instead, you need only say "I need more time with you; how can we make that happen?"

If, on the other hand, your lover doesn't love and respect you, then it seems to me that all the edicts in the world will have no more effect than a sneeze in a hurricane.
(no subject) - writerspleasure - Dec. 15th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
dilettantiquity
Dec. 14th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
This post brings out my inner Crazy Cat Lady!

Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts on contractual arrangements. The boy and I have had many, many challenges in moving from a monogamous marriage into an open one, but when it came to discussing contracts we both agreed that - for us at least - they were drama-creating mechanisms, encouraging a situation where we were more worried about policing technical violations than building love and trust.

I appreciate that contracts have an upside for some people, but in our situation, we found that soft guidelines, open to interpretation and context, were much more suitable than hard rules. The guidelines and ideals that came out of our initial discussions were written down and have since been useful in giving potential lovers an overall understanding of our agreement, but they're not the sort of thing that can be violated in an act of 'you put that bit there and then she did that, and YOU BROKE A RULE'. :)

In short, go Ruby!



Edited at 2008-12-14 02:21 am (UTC)
tacit
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Yep. It definitely seems to me that rules lawyering is not a path to happiness.
skitten
Dec. 14th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
started to skim through the contract- interesting stuff.... I'm so glad I added you to my flist so long ago- you really have greatly contributed to my understanding of polyamory & sexuality... thank you! *hug*
& on to the most importamt thing: Kitty!!!!! soooooo cute!!! :)
tacit
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

And kitty!!
(no subject) - skitten - Dec. 14th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
lynellex
Dec. 14th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
wow. such a thought-provoking conversation. thank you.
wish i'd read it *before* shifting from a happy monogamous marriage to a renegotiated marriage. i now have two people as my best-friends (superlatives shouldn't need to be exclusive), with a wish and intent to have them both in my life throughout my life ~ "married in my heart" to both of them. the transition has been smooth with my husband, and seemed to be working for my other love and his partners for several years ~ he's in a poly marriage of three people for about 25 years. but we hit bumps and it's being quite an educational learning experience.

before these experiences, i never thought of marriage as a "contract" and would not have considered creating a written agreement. the limits shared as examples in this discussion and in the PDF file agreement hurt my stomach. literally. quoting Franklin, this concept has always felt true to me: "If your assumptions are true, and your partner really would rather be with someone else, then rules will not save your relationship. If your assumptions are false, and your partner does value and cherish you, then rules are unnecessary."

thus, contracts for romantic relationships have not fit my paradigm. (franklin's ponderings on this topic fit my own confirmation bias. smiles...) if i was presented with a document that listed what i can't do, have, say, or where i can't go with someone else, i would also say thanks, but no thanks, even if i didn't want those things anyway. i strongly relate to the concept that i want to be in a relationship with people who are adults and treat me as an adult, capable of shaping a relationship together, while also being respectful and supportive of existing relationships.

in my romantic relationships i value communication. a lot. i've been lucky or delusional enough to believe that the results of ongoing talks have led us to usually know when, if, and where my husband and i are on the same and different pages, and so far, we consider that the areas where we differ are acceptable differences to both of us.

wandering into a situation where other people thought they were on the same page about other love, but in actuality weren't (either in general, or just about me) has been hugely surprising. so now, with painful experience as an outsider, i can see reasons that a written agreement could be a useful tool to know what i'd be getting into, if i chose to proceed.

in spite of my mainly negative views about written agreements, my other love and i have one now. based on the bumps we hit on his end, it seemed to become almost "necessary" as a way to put his intentions about his spouse in writing to address some of her fears.

our "giving list" focuses on what we'll GIVE to our spouses and to each other. it wasn't a pre-determined agreement about what isn't available to me ~ that would have been an instant "no" on my end; i value strongly being with adults who treat me as an adult, capable of co-shaping my relationships. it was based on the shared premise that we both DO love and value our spouses and we both want and plan to continue living with, parenting, and providing financial support with our spouses. it's not about what we can't do, be, have with each other, and yet what we'll give in our marriages might have an inherent result that some things are not available in our relationship, and vice versa (but less so).
lynellex
Dec. 14th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
and brevity isn't my strength...
after reading these ponderings, i checked back in with my husband to see what value, if any, the giving list was to him. his input was that it wasn't necessary, he didn't need it, he barely remembers it, he doesn't want or need any written agreement, but the *concepts* were useful as confirmation that loving someone else in a way that i wish for a life and future with both of them doesn't mean that i plan to spilt my time 50/50, have my other love move in part time, or spend half my time at his house leaving my husband to be a single parent 50% of the week, or give 1/3 of our retirement funds to my other love, or, or, or. since we'd already discussed those things verbally and were on the same page, the agreement wasn't necessary for my husband, but an occasional verbal update is useful for him. the giving list just gave me one more opportunity to share a verbal update that we'd have done anyway.

i don't believe that rules or limits can preserve or save a relationship. i believe that feeling loved and valued comes from a core internal part that isn't dependent on words on paper. even if actions demonstrate the words, the sense of self-value needs to come from within or words and actions will still lead to confirmation bias of un-special-ness. yet realizing that it might work differently for different people, i hoped that the giving list confirmed our expectations for/with/about each other in ways that also showed what is wanted,desired, intended, and implemented to give to our spouses. what we each want to give to our spouses DOES inherently limit aspects of us, and we hoped that the written giving intentions, with its inherent limits would provide some security and safety to his spouse. unfortunately, that has not been the case. i don't think you can get "there" from agreements, but i hoped to be wrong about that.

i'm ambivalent about agreements, and very appreciative of this conversation ~ thank you. personally, i don't want or need agreements. yet if i'm going to consider joining another established relationship, i don't necessarily believe anymore that people will know what *they* signed up for among themselves. since verbal discussion has turned out to be less than effective based on very different communication styles, life paradigms, perceptions, and definitions, i now can see value in having something tangible, in writing. something to review to see if we're on similar pages; to see if they shape their relationship focus among themselves and towards others on GIVING vs. taking away and limiting; to see if they are like Ruby or Snow Crash or some other cat; to see if the things they intend to give each other leaves enough "room" for me to co-shape a relationship i'm considering.

if i could start again....

i'm probably in a pendulum mode of temporarily over-compensating for a rough experience. if i were really to try this again, i'm likely to swing back into a balance that reflects my principles and not my fears ~ reverting back to communication about what people want to give to each other, and to me, and identifying if their relationship concepts fit closely enough to my own. temporarily though... seeing their agreements in writing sounds like a really good plan! a deeper part of me realizes that written words cannot create safety.
thanks again...
tacit
Dec. 15th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
Re: and brevity isn't my strength...
i'm ambivalent about agreements, and very appreciative of this conversation ~ thank you. personally, i don't want or need agreements. yet if i'm going to consider joining another established relationship, i don't necessarily believe anymore that people will know what *they* signed up for among themselves. since verbal discussion has turned out to be less than effective based on very different communication styles, life paradigms, perceptions, and definitions, i now can see value in having something tangible, in writing. something to review to see if we're on similar pages; to see if they shape their relationship focus among themselves and towards others on GIVING vs. taking away and limiting; to see if they are like Ruby or Snow Crash or some other cat; to see if the things they intend to give each other leaves enough "room" for me to co-shape a relationship i'm considering.

I think that's interesting, because I think the kind of written agreement you're talking about is quite a bit different from the "contracts" I'm talking about.

It sounds like you're talking about written agreements that are used as a tool for communication among all the people involved, rather than a list of "thou shalt nots" such as "thou shalt not use this pet name" or "thou shalt not drive more than 17 miles on any one date," which is what the contracts I've seen and linked to have been about.

It seems to me that the latter sorts of contracts aren't really tools of communication (well, except perhaps in the sense that a hammer is a tool of communication), whereas the sort of agreement you're talking about seems very different.
Re: and brevity isn't my strength... - lynellex - Dec. 15th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
and jellybeans... - lynellex - Dec. 15th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: and jellybeans... - edwardmartiniii - Dec. 15th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: and jellybeans... - lynellex - Dec. 16th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
cheerilyxmorbid
Dec. 15th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
You suck me in with kitties and then jump into deep discussions of interesting things. Sneaky, sneaky man.
Relationship contracts also make me go, "Eh, no thanks." I don't want to be in a relationship with someone who feels the need to dictate how I should and shouldn't behave.
All in all, I think Ruby is the happier kitty. We should all try to be more like her.
indywind
Dec. 15th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Tried to comment once, looks like LJ dropped it, so here's an attempt to re-create.

I'm in favor of explicit discussion with a 'shared-problemsolving' attitude toward mutually-agreeable outcomes in relationships as elsewhere. Such discussion might be initiated by, or result in, a written version of the understandings folks hold either going in or coming out of the discussion. I like those written understandings best when they are concise, demonstrable, limited (with the expectation of continuing discussion and adjustment), and positively framed.

When discussion is temporarily* not working, my preferred alternative is to clearly and calmly state what I will do or permit done to me in the relevant situation, so others may choose how they wish to act in light of that information. Examples: "I'm willing to go on a date where some activity is planned other than sex; here are my suggestions, feel free to choose among them or get back to me with some of your own." "I'll accept genital contact from a date who can show recent STD-free test results; til then my pants stay on."

It's sometimes difficult for me to set my limits firmly like that. It requires that first I know them clearly myself, and that the stated limit be important enough, and myself confident enough, that it is worth holding my ground through the very common pressure to yeild to someone else's preference. I do find it more successful than trying to get someone else to do what I want, or convince them that my way of thinking is more correct.

Ultimately each person is the best authority on him or herself, and can only control him or herself.

I think that hits the high points.

Also, Awww, adorable kitty!
lynellex
Dec. 15th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
who am i?
"The same is true for the assumptions themselves. Start from a place that you are a jealous, insecure person and that's just the way you are, and it will become your reality. Start from the assumption that you are a person who sometimes feels jealous or insecure, but there are things that you can do and choices you can make to address these insecurities and jealousies, and that will become your reality."

this is *such* an important concept to me. i wear a bracelet every day ~ a silver band with an engraved quote: "with our thoughts, we make our world." in my own life and with our kids, it's been important to me to maintain that distinction between what i feel or do and who i am.

if i think of myself as a fencer, and something dramatic happens and i lose both my arms, it seems i'd have the recovery of the physical loss, pain, and adjusting to new ways of doing things *as well as* significant internal work to not lose my sense of self... to figure out how to re-define myself now that i cannot fence anymore. if i think of myself as a mom, what happens to my self-perception when my kids don't need much -mom-ing? if i think of myself as a wife, who am i if our happy-ness paths diverge and we divorce?

if i think of myself as a sad or insecure person, in some sense, it seems that i need to re-define myself before work i do to address my sadness or insecurities will be able to have a positive effect.

even for positive things, if it seems like something that can become how my kids or i perceive our self-ness, but the thing might be temporary or not what i'd wish to base a sense of self-ness on, i try to find different ways to say it ~ not saying my daughter is cute or a great cook, but telling her that a particular outfit happens to look cute on her, or the meal she made was delicious.

(but maybe i'm a little extreme about this topic.)
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