Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hodgepodge, Part One

There are some things Twitter is good for - sharing links, witticisms, promotion. It's not grand for anything over 140 characters that isn't hosted somewhere else, though. A blog is nice for those long, thought-out ideas that have some meat to them. What to do with those random thoughts and ideas that are too big for Twitter and too small to blog, though? Or those after-the-fact thoughts that could add to a previous post, but would just get lost in the comments section at this point?

Stick 'em all in one big post, of course!

Every so often, I'll be posting a hodgepodge entry, to collect some of these random thoughts and postscripts that don't really warrant posts of their own (and get these things out of my brain and onto "paper" once and for all!).

Things Mono People Say, Part One:

Before I get whacked upside the head with the "you don't speak for ME" stick, no, I'm not speaking for all mono people here. I'm speaking for THIS one (points thumbs at self). Your mileage may vary.

That said, I know a lot of Poly folks get really REALLY irritated when they explain their relationship preferences to people and hear, "Oh, I could never do that," in return. It feels judgmental and condescending, and I get that.

But here... come on over and check it out from this angle...

I tend to try to really relate to people's experiences. I'm one of those folks who'll respond to a friend's story with one of my own, not in a spirit of one-upmanship or competition, but to illustrate that I can sympathize, or that I've been through something similar in my own life. I realize that this habit can look like one-upmanship, though, and I try to be mindful of it (although I'm not always successful).

As someone who tries to relate my own experience to others, if I can't relate, then I say so. I think it's a good thing to know where your communication gaps are. I believe saying, "I could never do that, " is some peoples' means of doing just this.

Basically, you're being told, "I don't understand this," but without those exact words. Maybe under the right conditions, if you're interested in bridging the gap, it could lead to a real, in-depth conversation as you dig into the "why" behind it all. Maybe just knowing that there's a gap is good enough.

Of course, it certainly can be a dismissive comment, in which case you should certainly feel free to dismiss their opinion right back.

Postscript: On Trust (And Bad Automotive Analogies):

Postscript 1 - Trust and Potential Game-Changers:

A day or so after I posted this, I realized that this ties in somewhat with Franklin Veaux's latest (in-process) book/memoir and the concept of game-changers in relationships.

While I don't care for unilateral veto arrangements (IMO, they seem to only breed resentment, not actually fix the problem), I am looking for reassurance here. That the next person my partner falls in love with won't irrevocably change our relationship. A game-changer here could destroy our relationship if it dilutes it past the point where it doesn't feel like a "relationship" anymore.

I like Franklin's words in his post, though:
the next step is to say "Even if things change, I have worth; my partner will seek wherever possible to make choices that honor and cherish our connection, whatever changes may come, because I add value to his life. 
The following part about doing it without doubt and fear? Well, I'm not there yet. I'm not sure if I ever will be, but at least it's good to have goals. I do trust that my partner values our relationship. The fear comes in when I wonder if he'll find another relationship he values just as much, and what happens then?

Being brave, though, is not the same as being fearless. It's moving forward despite the fear. And I do that every single day.


Postscript 2 - Self-nurturing, and a reference to the "Balance" post:

Another thing that popped up after I posted this came out of a conversation with my metamour. Her method of dealing with the occasional worries is to do some self-nurturing - to take some quality time for herself and therefore make herself healthier and happier outside the relationship. In turn, that helps her feel stronger and more confident within the relationship.

I was all set to write something about how, being an extrovert, it's difficult for me to enjoy solitary activities, unless it's something I can really get lost in - and those activities are few and far between.

That's all true, but it felt off. I realized I was using that as an excuse, to hold myself back and explain why I can't, or don't, and that's crap.

Yes, I'm an extrovert. A big, ol' blinkin' neon-sign extrovert. I will gladly talk your ear off (especially after a glass of wine), or I will be just as happy to listen to your stories. I love being around people. Yet, I too used to enjoy certain solitary activities.

Yard work is a big one I still enjoy, although a snowy February in the Northeast US doesn't lend itself to much yard work. Shoveling, perhaps, but that's less soothing to the soul. Splitting firewood (with the aid of a log splitter) isn't so bad, but the lack of daylight is a bit demotivating.

I've pretty much forsaken the rest, and I think my propensity to just save the "need-to" activities for when my partner is away is part of the problem. I don't exercise that much any more, and I know that running used to be something that kept me grounded. I enjoyed doing it. I felt good, I was healthier, I had more energy, and I felt better about myself. It's also something I enjoy doing by myself.

I mentioned this in my review of the Poly Weekly podcast (which I link to below) - do something self-nurturing, because distracting yourself doesn't really work all that well otherwise. You'd think I'd follow my own advice.

It's all part of finding that balance. Taking time (QUALITY time) for myself is just as important as quality time with my kids or my partner, and I need to realize that taking an hour here or there isn't going to dramatically screw anything up. It can, however, remind me that I'm important as well.

Postscript 3 - Trust versus Taking for Granted:

My partner and I had a followup conversation as well. He feels that we don't trust our cars as much as we take them for granted. We don't celebrate the fact that our cars get us from point A to point B, we just take it for granted that they will.

I'll start off by saying that, as good as any analogy can be, it's limited by virtue of the fact that it's an analogy. It's not exact. I'm not attaching too much weight to my car analogy (although I've been having fun with it).

However, the conversation gets me to wondering where that line between trusting and taking something/someone for granted really is. I'd like to invite comment here, since I find that line extremely blurry and confusing.

I trust that my partner loves me and wants to be in a relationship with me, but I can never take it for granted (see above Postscript 1) - while I know he's committed to me, there's always the possibility, given his nature, that he will grow to care for someone just as much as he cares for me, and it may lead to changes in our relationship (whether he wants that or not right now). It's not doubt of his love for me, but the awareness that his love for others can become a game-changer. I am always aware of this possibility. I cannot take our relationship or an idea of having a future together for granted. Does this mean that I don't trust that we have a future together? I don't know. It means that I certainly don't have blind trust in what that future looks like, although I trust that my partner wants a future with me. 

Clearly and concisely communicating levels of trust (and what it is you're trusting in!) can be extremely difficult when you only have one word for it.

When we think of taking something or someone for granted, it connotes a lack of appreciation, and I understand that this is a negative thing. I find that part negative, myself - having someone just hang around in the background because they'll always be there? Meh. Why not just have a cardboard cutout of the person if you're not appreciating them? However, there is also an ease that comes with being able to just relax and not always be vigilant of the things that may pull the rug out from under me. How do I get to that level of trust without some level of taking things for granted?

My partner finds nothing positive in taking something for granted. I find this constant vigilance when something pops up to be tiring. I would like to not feel this concern every single time something could potentially change our relationship. I would like to take THAT part of our relationship for granted - that it'll take moving mountains to change it to a point where it's irreparable, regardless of how much he grows to love someone else, as long as we still share the love that we do. Is that distrust, then?

I don't know. Maybe we need better words in English for these concepts, because somewhere in the middle, you get a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a mess when you try to discuss it.

More food for thought.

Postscript: Addendum to the PolyWeekly podcast review:

Just something that was kicking around in my drafts, and I figured I'd do some cleanup...

During the "Distract" portion of the podcast (not really "Distract, Distract, Distract" but "Discuss, Distract, Do" - I should probably just go back and edit that blog post), Lusty Guy advises the letter writer to go out on a date herself in order to pass the time.

If you and your date are on the same page, that's great, but things are going to become lopsided really fast if your date wants to move toward a relationship with you, but to you, they're a distraction when your partner is away. My recommendation is to think long and hard about this one, and to be fair and honest to the other person.


Okie dokie... hodgepodge over. New post coming soon. Northeast-type folks, stay warm and stay safe!