Truth Joy Beauty

Just my thoughts and reflections about living and loving in the post-post modern age.

Archive for the tag “love”

Why new relationships suck balls*

*Originally posted on the now defunct truthjoybeauty.blogspot.com

I have recently entered into a new relationship. The relationship is with someone I know very well and have loved for a long time and I guess, this new phase of our friendship has just a natural progression. And, in retrospect, this is not like any other relationship I have entered into. It is not based on lust or sex, although both are present. We are already past the first flush of romance because we kind of never had that stage. Our love moved from friendship to intimacy via confusion and distraction in a kind of circuitous route but somehow, I always felt we would get there.

Well now we are here. Well, almost here…just a few more stops before we reach destination; Happy Ever After Land! Who knows. With any luck, that’s where we are heading. But, for some reason, now that I am almost at where I dreamed I would be for so long I am having a rash of anxiety. Maybe it’s because we are not out of the woods yet. Maybe it’s because I have not been this close to something this good in a long time and I am afraid that someone or something is somehow is going to take it away from me, just as I’m getting used to the idea.

Maybe because it took us so long to get to this point, that this new reality seems unreal to me. I don’t quite trust it, not quite yet and perhaps, understandably so. The irony of it is however that I was so sure of it before. He was unsure for so long, or not quite ready to take that leap and I was the one who reassured him that it would be fine, time and time again but now, I’m the one needing the reassuring. I was so brave, confident and ready to dive in before but now… well to be honest I’m an anxious mess! Logically I know I should just relax and accept this fortuitous turn of events.  He is finally saying the words I have longed to hear him say for so long… and I am hearing them, but they just don’t seem really real, yet.

Love. It is such a scary, freaky ride. I keep telling myself to get back in the “Love Zone” and just trust my intuition which has got me this far. Logic is also telling me to chill the f**k out; This man loves you and has told you so. He has not rushed into things or taken this union lightly so what does that tell you? He is a measured and thoughtful man. A rare breed who does not take matters of the heart lightly. This is why you love him. This is why you waited for him, because you knew he was worth waiting for.

When everyone was telling you to give up, when all reason and sense told you to give up and even when you finally did, (on several occasions) you didn’t really. There was always a kernel of certainty inside that told me he would not let you down when it really mattered. You were always certain hat he wanted this as much as you did.

But. There is so much that can go wrong. We have all been hurt and have hurt in turn. I admit, I am as frightened as I’ve ever been. But too proud to admit as much, to him and until now… to myself. To almost have something you want so badly is almost as worse as having no chance at it at all. Still, is not risk the nature of love? It is a risk. There are no guarantees, no contracts (apart from marriage and even that is not nearly as firm as it used to be) and there is always a risk associated with putting all your eggs in another man’s basket (ha, pun wasn’t intended but I’m going to leave it in). Bottom line is I have no choice but to trust this. I chose him and he has chosen me. We are both pretty smart people, nothing to worry about. Nothing at all….

Relationships..they suck balls but where would we be without them!

However it’s entirely natural to feel anxious at the start of a new relationship. New relationships involve change and all change, even positive change is anxiety provoking. Especially if we have been hurt before. But it’s generally a good anxiety. The anxiety of stepping out of your comfort zone in order to pursue something which will possibly and hopefully enrich your life with meaning, joy and love. Now isn’t that something worth going out on a limb for?

John Lennon sums up this feeling in this song, Don’t Let Me Down. from The Beatles album, Let it be.

Porn addiction – it’s not just you. Truth, reality and hope for addicts and partners.

About a year ago, I wrote a serious article with a slightly tongue in cheek heading called  Is internet porn the beginning of the end for the human race?  Now while I admit, I may have been exaggerating slightly, the premise of the article was clearly not entirely without justification. It may seem a little farfetched but if, as I saw tonight while out at dinner, parents are using screens to placate/regulate a child’s behaviour out in public then what does that mean for that child and their ability to engage with other humans later in life? What happens when as a culture, we are more comfortable relating to a screen or another human being through the medium of a screen than we are when faced with a flesh and blood human. One that you can’t simply swipe away when convenient?

How does this relate to porn addiction? Well for many years the debate on porn was centred around the notion that succumbing to the temptation of porn signified some kind of moral failing. From a religious/Christian point of view, it was a question of sinfulness.  A sign that one has allowed oneself to become infected with one or more of the seven supposed deadliest of sins, lust and/or gluttony. Or, from a feminist point of view, porn is seen as the vile exploitation of women as sexual, one dimensional objects with no humanity other than form. Yet as Naomi Wolf points out in her article, The Porn Myth in actuality, the end result of too much exposure to pornography has had the effect, not of turning men into sexually ravenous beasts, but the complete opposite; sexual and emotional anorexics who can no longer relate authentically to a real life woman or get aroused by one. As it turns out, excessive viewing of pornography in this digital age turns men off, not on.

As numerous studies now show, repetitive and compulsive viewing of internet porn by men, (and a growing number of women) induces the opposite effect than one might expect, and just like a person who is addicted to a substance grows increasingly desensitized to the drug whilst continuing to crave it more and more, a person who is addicted to pornography finds he/she ends up on pretty much the same, well trodden treadmill. Intensely wanting something that can no longer provide the temporary relief and stimulation it once did.

Recent research implies that internet pornography is as addictive as certain drugs and affects the brain the same way. But, porn’s special hook is that it taps into that human need for attachment, connection and belonging even more than addictive substances by adding into the mix hormones that are normally associated with bonding, love and connection. In effect, a porn addict becomes more attached to porn than anything or anyone else in their life. As a consequence, relationships, marriages, work and soon enough, the relationship with the self begins to suffer.

Porn addiction, like any addiction goes through stages – however, unlike most other addictions, the physical effects of porn addiction are virtually invisible, and the psychological and emotional effects are quite subtle, at first. In-fact, many porn addicts may seek treatment of a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, OCD, as well as physical ailments, stress, other addictions and finally sexual performance before anyone thinks to ask about their porn viewing habits.

But more and more studies clearly link issues related to sexual performance, including as I mention in my previous post, erectile dysfunction in men in their late teens and early twenties, (something that was almost unheard of 10 – 15 years ago) back to extensive viewing of internet porn. It is only when they can no longer get an erection, or ejaculate even with porn that some men start to make the connection between their excessive viewing of porn and other issues in their life. Often this is the only thing that eventually get’s their attention. (Their partners, if they have partners, may have known for some time that something was happening, or rather…not happening!)

This sorry state of affairs is bad news for both porn addicts and partners of porn/sex addicts. Many who spend night after night lying in bed next to a partner that never seems to be ‘in the mood’ for sex. The result can be devastating to marriages, relationships and the self-esteem to both parties. The secretive nature of most men’s porn addiction may also mean that some partners may not know that they are in a relationship with a porn addict or even if they are aware of their partner’s porn habit, they may not make the connection at first either. Or they may not know the extent of their partner’s porn viewing. The damage this causes relationships is thus far unmeasurable.  One site states that 56% of divorces in the U.S. involve one party having an obsessive interest in pornography among other staggering statistics.

So, is the news all bad? Well, no. Latest brain research shows that the brain is actually very flexible, and  malleable, kind of like plasticine. In-fact the term for the way the brain can change itself, based on what is experienced is called neuroplasticity. This is good news. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the same way you get yourself into a sticky situation is largely the same way to get yourself out of it. While the allure of internet porn may have lost its charm many clicks ago, the habit that it has created will be hard to break. Hard, but not impossible. For men who have lost the ability to relate to women, emotionally and physically, and for partners of addicts there seems little alternative, other than to dissolve the relationship, which let’s face it, is fairly likely. It can’t be much fun to be in a relationship with a porn addict. However, chances are that if you leave a relationship with one porn addict, you are more than likely to run into another just as addicted, or on his way to being so, seeing as in America at least, sex addiction (which porn addiction is a form of) has reached epidemic status, according to this 2011 News Week article.

So, how do you beat a porn addiction and reverse its affects on the brain? Well the answer is simple, if not easy and this is simply to stop it. Stop all contact with porn and masturbating to porn and give your brain a chance to rewire itself and re-learn, or rediscover what comes naturally.

That is the only solution. I did say it was simple, but not easy. Recovering from porn addiction (for addicts and/or partners) takes time, courage and commitment and it is not easy to do without support. There are some very good websites now that can assist, (which I shall list below in the resources) but the assistance of a therapist who is aware of the nature of porn and sex addiction, one who will take it seriously can be fundamental to long lasting recovery. At least, having a close friend or understanding partner (if that is possible) that you know and trust is also important. The reason being that porn and sex addiction most likely mask other issues. Issues such as fear of intimacy, abandonment fears, attachment disorders, and perhaps even trauma. Once the defence of porn has left the building, then there is nothing to protect your unconscious and chances are some deeply buried emotional wounds may re-open.

It’s important to be aware of this possibility as many who try to ‘re-boot’ as it is called on websites such as Your Brain on Porn and Fight the New Drug often try many times and fail because they are inadequately prepared or lack support.

If you are experiencing porn addiction or are the partner of a porn addict, seek help from a qualified therapist and/or see some of the websites listed below for more information.

SOURCES
http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/
http://fightthenewdrug.org/get-the-facts/#sthash.ubb4Ty3m.dpbs
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050060/
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2013/05/the-prevalence-of-porn/
http://yourbrainonporn.com/cambridge-university-brain-scans-find-porn-addiction
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125382361
http://newsok.com/the-five-stages-of-pornography-addiction/article/5407775/?page=2
http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/13/a-letter-to-my-ex-husband-who-preferred-pornography-to-me
http://www.newsweek.com/sex-addiction-epidemic-66289
http://globalchristiancenter.com/mens/overcoming-temptations/16765-pornography-in-the-church-a-new-epidemic
https://www.lds.org/tools/print/article/narrow/?lang=eng&url=/topics/pornography/audiences/youth/teenagers-and-pornography-addiction-treating-the-silent-epidemic
RESOURCES
http://www.covenanteyes.com/ (Internet filtering service)
http://yourbrainonporn.com/
http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/
http://www.posarc.com/ (Partners of sex addicts resource center)

Impermanence

I used to write a lot of poetry. Especially in my angsty late teens and early 20s. (Those that know me won’t be surprised to hear this.) Somewhere, there is a folder containing all those old poems, some on loose bits of paper, napkins, wrappers etc. Some torn out of the pages of whatever notebook I carried around with me at the time. I always had a notebook and pen with me wherever I went. Most were typed on an actual typewriter. (Yep, I’m that old). How I sometimes miss that clack, clack sound. (I don’t miss making a mistake and ripping the page out in frustration to start all over again though!)

Sometimes, at random times, some lines come back to me from poems I’d written so long ago. Lines that have stuck with me for some reason, for example this one:

Where are you my love that will understand me, not just for my hair, my skin and my teeth?

You don’t fucking exist. It’s me, all alone. I don’t need anyone. I couldn’t care less. 

I wrote that when I was 19. Teenage angst much? Yeah, well. I also wore a lot of black at the time… I remember that line because for me it was triumph of independence and powerful rage. And so, so transparent in its ache for just the opposite. Of course I cared. I cared a lot. Of course I needed love and connection, we all do.

Another line of poetry that sometimes floats back at me, is this:

Constant flux. Constant. Flux.

Is all we can rely on. 

That was the last two lines of a longer poem which I can’t recall right now. But, I marvel at my insight. I think I was 17 when I wrote that. And it came back to me the other day when I was having a conversation with someone who said, and I am paraphrasing here but it went something like this:

“At the heart of it all I think is a desire for permanence, for certainty. Everything changes, and can change in an instant. Nothing lasts forever, and you can’t really rely on someone to be there for you because from one day to another, everything can change. I find it hard to go all in because….well, what’s the point? At one point or another, you’re gonna get hurt.”

There-in lies one of the great existential challenges that we all face as humans on this small, blue planet that we call Earth. Nothing lasts, everything changes. Impermanence is built into the nature of existence. Yet, we try and resist this essential quality of being with all our might. We resist loving completely because, we will – not may, WILL lose that love one day. It’s inevitable.

Buddhism has a name for this. It is called Annica, and is considered one of the three basic facts of existence. The other two are suffering (Dukkha) and non-self (Anatta). The last one is kind of hard to define and calls for a whole other post, and more so let’s just leave it alone for now.

But, and perhaps the one thing that I wish I had said to my friend, because at the time I didn’t say much. Or what I did say didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, and it’s been playing on my mind. What I wish I had said was this,

What’s the point?
What’s the point of loving or giving yourself completely to another human being, a cause, a passion or an animal even? When there is no guarantee that those things will last? Well, that is the point. That is precisely the point.

Revisiting Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability

This morning I felt in necessary for some weird reason to re-visit Brene` Brown’s now infamous talk, The Power of Vulnerability. I first watched it during a week long Counsellor Development Workshop (almost a year ago now) and remember being moved by it then, but I also remember thinking….wow, it took 6 years of research to work out that out? It took 6 years to figure out that you cannot receive the love and connection you want without first allowing yourself to be at risk of losing that love?  But as the talk progresses and Brene` shows her own vulnerability, (which let me tell you is often synonymous with allowing others to see your own faults) you can see why this was the case. Brene` was herself absolutely petrified of being vulnerable. A self confessed control freak that wanted to measure everything, break it down, crack it open and basically, control everything found out, through her own scientific research that basically, you can’t control anything. Not really. Life is not perfect.  To love is to embrace our limitations and imperfections – in ourselves and others. That is what it means to be whole hearted, to live with courage and authenticity. To really connect with others and to be loved as you are in return, imperfect, broken and scared as that may be.

So that being said, I still found myself taking notes because regardless of Brene` personal reaction to the data as she called it, this did not detract from the truth of what she has to say in any way. In-fact it, the hard evidence that her own research uncovered was the cause of her personal breakdown. Revolutions are seldom peaceful.

So, here are my notes from Brene’s “Vunerability Ted” talk – for my own benefit more than anything else, in point form none the less.

  • It starts with connection (or attachment if you like). The ability to connect it’s who we are, and why we are here.
  • Shame thwarts this ability to connect. Shame thwarts intimacy, closeness, love.
  • Shame is the fear of disconnection. “There is something about me that is so terrible that if anyone found this out, it would render me unworthy of love in their eyes.” Or to put it more simply, “I am not worthy of love and affection”.
  • Vulnerability – allowing  yourself to be seen, to be who you are, faults, imperfections, but still and completely lovable.
  • Vulnerability – loving something or someone else with all your heart even when you know there are no guarantees. (How terrifying is that! Pretty terrifying.)
  • The rub – People that have a lot of shame detest the feeling of being vulnerable. Vulnerable to what? Exposure, rejection, exclusion, disconnection. However, in order for connection to happen we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. (Sucks, doesn’t it.)
  • Brene’ really freaked out when she worked out, from all her painstaking hours of gathering qualitative data, that the one thing that separated ‘those’ people, the people who were able to love wholeheartedly and experience true joy, connection and love versus people who wore their shame like armour and therefor where unable to connect boiled down to this: a sense of worthiness.
  • People who have a sense of love, connection and belonging in their lives simply believe they are worthy of love, connection and belonging.
  • People who are able to love this way do so from a place of vulnerability. That is, they love even when they know that their love may not be returned, that love is not perfect, that life can throw you the most horrible curve-balls.
  • Vulnerability involves – Courage, Compassion, Connection.
    • Courage – the courage to be imperfect, to be as you are, to be authentic
    • Compassion – for yourself and then you are able to show kindness and compassion for others.
    • Connection – we arrive at true connection through authenticity. Letting go of who you should be, and embracing who you are.
  • Vulnerability involves risk. It’s saying, “I love you” first, it means possible heartbreak, rejection, loss. It is a form of surrender, allowing your feelings to just exist, to make no apologies for who you are, and for the fact that you feel shit. It involves exposure, being emotionally naked and present with all your glorious faults, mistakes, imperfections and darkness.
  • This next point deserves a block quote:

Our vulnerability lies at the core of our shame, fear and struggle for worthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, love and connection.

  • Why do we struggle so much with being vulnerable? Well the world is full of uncertainty. So we deal with this fear of uncertainty, (existentialism’s void) by numbing ourselves.
  • Rub number 2: You can’t selectively numb emotions. You can’t say, “See this bad stuff, fear, pain, shame, grief, disappointment… well I don’t want to feel that shit so I’m going to damp it down with this (insert numbing device of choice: needle, drink, food, porn, etc) because, when  you numb the bad stuff, you also numb other emotions as well: you numb joy, happiness, gratitude, connection etc.
  • Brene’s final words: We can’t make everything that is uncertain, certain. There are no guarantees, nothing is perfect, we can’t pretend that our feelings don’t exist and that what we do doesn’t affect other people. To love wholeheartedly is the only way to get the love we need. Here are her three suggestions:

Love with all your heart, even though there are no guarantees

Practice gratitude, joy and connection

Believe that  you are worthy of love, just the way you are

What I learned about love and relationships from watching The Bachelor finale last night

Love is not only a many splendid thing, but its also damn hard to define, as Blake so often mentioned, it’s about the “intangibles”.

In my opinion, and many people I have spoken with this morning(o.k. three people) , Lisa would have been the sensible choice for Blake. Mature, together, assured, poised and all round lovely Lisa. But in the end he went for the awkward, socially inept, down to earth and girlish Sam.

Now, I am going to say it, I knew it would be Sam about half way through, (yes I admit to becoming addicted to the drama that was The Bachelor) even while being equally appalled by the whole premise of the show however, I tell myself, hey it’s not that different to real life now is it?

Truly “eligible” men are damn hard to find. By eligible I mean a man that is kind hearted, respectful, has manners, has his shit together financially (or a steady job at least) and who knows what he wants and how he feels and is able to articulate it. A rare creature indeed. Most of us have to settle for maybe two or three of the above in a guy so to find a man that has them all, and is into you and vice versa, well that’s the fairytale jackpot now isn’t it?

But yeah, it was something about the way Blake looked at Sam, the way he found everything she did adorable, the way he kept trying to convince her or how awesome she was….all those things gave it away for me. Although, I must admit, there was a time during last nights final show when I thought, maybe he will pick Lisa. Maybe he will think with his head and not his heart as the things he said he wanted in a woman described Lisa to me more than they described Sam. But, on that final date with Sam it was written all over his face. Sam, Sam, Sam…his heart was drowning out his head 10 – 1.

But, I have to say it, proposing to someone after around half a dozen dates is just plain stupid. How can you truly know someone well enough after 6 dates and while you’ve been dating 30 other women at the same time.

It’s obvious, that Blake is in love, and love… it make no sense!

The thing that a show like The Bachelor is that it highlights both the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to love and relationships. It’s like a neat, controlled social and psychological experiment. Part of the reason why I find it so fascinating I guess. The show is set up like a cruel round robin of a game, which I guess is what love is in a way, as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, and as such in the immortal words of ABBA:

OMG UPDATE!

The news is all over social media, Blake and Sam have, gasp, broken up! There are conflicting reports as to why…however, just goes to show, well I’m not sure what goes to show, or proves for that matter. Should he have picked Lisa. Should I even care? I don’t know anymore! Nothing makes sense….least of all The Bachelor!

OMG UPDATE UPDATE!!

Now I am totally confused, and not sure why I even care but the lastest news is that The Bachelor, Blake is that his name? Anyway, apparently he has now gone and hooked up with third place contestant Louise. Well, you know what. This is it. I give up. I need to focus on studying more anyway…

Why I stopped talking to my friends so much about my relationship

I love my friends. And, I am very lucky to have some very supportive ones at that. However, I also love my partner, my ‘boyfriend’ for want of a better word but we have had a roller-coaster ride of a relationship, in a way. My friends, bless their hearts have been there for me whenever my relationship has taken a slight detour and I am so thankful to them for that. They have been the ones I have turned to when things have gone pear shaped. They have listened to me cry and been such wonderful shoulders to lean on when I needed them, and for that I am so very grateful.

But. Love is not only a many splendid thing it is also a rather complex one. And relationships, well, complicated is just par for the course there. Is it not? I dare anyone to argue the contrary. Ask anyone who has been in a long term relationship about it and I am sure they will tell you that it was not been one long, happy every after. Real relationships hit snags here and there, and real relationships challenge you and are challenging by virtue of their very nature. It’s how you meet those challenges which both define you personally and your relationship.

Recently my relationship hit a bit of a rough patch, but we have come through it surprisingly unscathed. And I attribute the trajectory of our ascent in part, and the increasing smoothness of the journey onward and upward to my ceasing to run to my friends and report back every little bump, or conversely even small gain made, on the way. Notably, the less I blabbed, the less I had to blab about. It struck me that this was perhaps, not just a coincidence.

A bit of history. In a sense, in the beginning our relationship had felt like it was not our own. Perhaps this is normally the case when two close friends, who are part of a larger circle of friends and acquaintances become romantically engaged. This has never happened to me before, so I guess I was not aware of the dynamics involved in such a scenario. In retrospect, it seemed like our blossoming relationship was as much the property of our friends, as much as it was our own.

But, that is ‘ancient history’ now, as they say. However, I found that our relationship carried the legacy of its shaky beginning for a long time. And for a long time the ghosts of that unstable period would haunt me and continued to cause fissures to form that ever threatened to become impassable canyons if it weren’t for the love that continued,  somehow, to grow and thrive in what now seemed like such a hostile environment.

Fast forward two years and we have been through quite a lot and I must say, our relationship has strengthened and deepened I think, because of it. There were times, I admit, when our differences seemed insurmountable and so for a while we would separate and walk alone. These were the times when I turned to my friends for comfort, and support. But soon enough, we found ourselves back on the same road, side by side, and eventually holding hands again.

But after our last wobbly patch, I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of informing my friends of our progress, of every kind word, deed from him or otherwise, I decided to just keep things to myself. I had to examine my motives, and when I did, I did not trust them. Why did I feel the need to report back to my friends? What did I hope or expect to gain from doing so? Did I do so out of habit, or just some childish need for instant emotional gratification and validation in the form of well meaning friends sympathizing or expressing happiness for me as the case may be.

Having done a fair bit of ‘soul searching’ during our last rocky patch, I came to realize the part I had played in the journey that is our relationship not going as smoothly (or progressing as quickly) as I had liked.  I had come to realize the fault, if fault is to be lain anywhere, was as much mine as it was his or anyone else’s. For my part, I had allowed others’ opinions and viewpoints to inform my own thoughts and emotions to a degree. I had allowed my own insecurities to reign, unchecked at times, and had turned to others instead of turning to the one person I should be sharing my thoughts and feelings with, the object of those thoughts and emotions himself. I allowed myself to be consumed by what soon became a cacophony of voices, past and present, internal and external, so much so that I could no longer hear my own voice or intuition. (And I guess, although I wouldn’t admit it out loud, I was perhaps engaging in a little bit of futurizing…. I will post an explanation of this term presently.)

Yes, friends can be supportive and caring, but friends can also become judgmental and critical, often without meaning to. They say they are seeing things objectively, things that you cannot see because you are ‘emotionally involved’ but by very virtue of their involvement with you, this objectivity they claim is impossible. Don’t just take my word for it, counsellors come across this perplexing phenomena all the time, as this marriage therapist has noticed, Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that one should keep their cards firmly to one’s chest at all times when involved in a relationship but perhaps, this writer is also onto something.

The premise of the above article is that while men tend to share their emotions too little, women on the other hand sometimes share too much. Both have their disadvantages. Men tend to keep their emotions so closely contained that they often don’t know what they feel or even how to begin talking about it. Women, as I have personally experienced, can be guilty of over sharing with their girlfriends and family and the result can be equally problematic if for different reasons. Yes, it is can feel nice and cathartic to ‘get things off your chest’ and everyone needs to just ‘vent’ once in a while, but is it just possible that venting to your friends about your relationship is just a way of avoiding real intimacy with your partner, or an easy way out. You know you really need to discuss things with him (or her) but isn’t it just easier to just pick up the phone and offload to one of your girlfriends?

The trouble with this bandaid solution is while it is a temporary fix for your ‘problems’ allowing you to let off much needed steam, it can put you off from discussing, or broaching the subject that’s troubling you with your partner directly. So, while you might ‘feel better’ you really haven’t resolved anything at all, because the only people really involved in your relationship is you and your partner. Not your family or friends, no matter how much they may care about you.

Your friends and family are not therapists, so if you truly feel the need to vent, do it to someone who is trained to listen with empathy and without judgement and the closest to objectivity that you can find, please do see a therapist. Give your poor friends a break!

There are other issues that may come into play when talking of friends and relationships. Ideals such as ‘bros before hos’ or ‘sisters before misters’ can sometimes be raised and used as value judgements, emotional manipulation or criticisms. Jealousy may sometimes come into play, or simply some friends that have grown close when the two are single may experience a shift in dynamic when one finds a partner and this may cause the friend to feel left out. These are all complicated issues, probably cause for another post altogether, but suffice to say there is often a lot more going on than you realize when you confide in the people you know.

The main point of this post is that while friends are wonderful and we all need someone to talk to, and that is very much a good thing, sometimes however it is worth remembering that a romantic relationship (generally speaking) usually involves just two people. And yes, sometimes, there is such a thing as over sharing.

Boy, this post turned out to be quite a lot longer than I intended but for those of you who would like to read further, this is another good article I came across: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2215867/Dont-share-marital-woes-friends–talk-divorce–tips-saving-marriage-relationship-counsellor-Andrew-G-Marshall.html

 

When sex becomes a loaded gun (Nov, 2011)

Picture this. Three healthy, reasonably attractive but otherwise very different people sitting at a pub having a beer, or two. Two are male and one is female. One is in his twenties (just,) one in his thirties and the female in her (very early) forties. What do they all have in common? They have all decided, for different reasons to abstain from sex for the time being. 
While each situation is different and the reasoning behind their decisions are different, it was a surprise to each to discover that they had all come to the same decision quite independently . While, I don’t want to divulge personal information of the parties involved, I can still talk about myself and only truly speak for myself anyway, and as this blog is all about me I will share the reason behind my decision to embrace chastity. And I’ll admit to being the female in her (very) early forties here (in case you were wondering who she was.)
We live in a highly sexualized society. Sex is used to sell everything from toothbrushes to cars. And these days, thanks to the internet, you can hop online and arrange to meet up with someone for nothing but sex like it’s no big deal. And maybe it’s not. In the sixties everyone was banging on about “free love” and sex without attachment like it was going to revolutionize human relationships. And, I guess coming from the 50’s where relationships and associations were so rigid, it was to some extent revolutionary. 
Nowadays, it seems the pendulum has swung all the way and we have situations like, “Friends with Benefits” – where you are mostly friends with someone except sometimes, you have sex. Trouble with that scenario is that the FWB situation only every really benefits one party at a time, and that is usually the male. The feminist in me hates to admit it, but I have learned through painful experience that as a woman, I am not wired that way. Maybe there are women out there that can have sex “like a man”, but I’m not one of them. If I like a man enough to want to have sex with him, it’s because I see him as someone I want to be in a relationship with pretty much. Which brings me to my next point.
I was in love with a man a little while ago and while the relationship started off in a sexual way, it soon changed into more of a friendship. Basically I wanted more, he didn’t. We still did everything together, except have sex. For a while, it frustrated the hell out of me, but eventually I came to accept it. For him, it was the right thing to do. Very honourable, I must admit and unusual for a man to make the decision that if he didn’t want to commit to a relationship with me then it would be wrong to continue to have sex with me. (As much as he obviously enjoyed it when we did. Had to put that part in. He is no prude!) 
So, on we went being friends and I went back on the dating scene but found that something had happened to me. I had changed. I don’t know if it’s because I was still had feelings for this man but I found myself turning men down who, to my mind, obviously just wanted to have sex with me and while I did not blame them (they are only men of course) and was flattered to a point, the thought of having sex with someone just because I could no longer appealed to me. Even when I was attracted to them as well. I figured, if he is really into me, he will continue to pursue. Or, if he is really into me he will take the time to get to know me. In the meantime, I can wait. I’d like to get to know a person before having sex with them, not the other way around. 
Now, I’m not advocating the hard-core Christian route which advises to wait until marriage before having sex with someone but I can see were this thinking is coming from. Sex can be a special, beautiful, fun and hot thing with someone that you trust and respect and love, or at the very least, like a whole lot. And while sex without attachment has its place and value and I repeat, there is nothing wrong with that kind of sex, it’s just not where I’m at right now. Hence my decision to abstain until further notice. 
I’m not saying I won’t get tempted and maybe I will have the odd slip up or two, and if that happens, I won’t beat myself up about it but the intention is there. And that to me is a huge step forward, into the unknown. There is life without sex, go figure.

It’s a Love-lution!

Ever notice that Love is the word Evolve backwards but with another EV tagged on the end. That is EVLOVE. (Evolve spelt backwards.) Interesting? Maybe. Significant? Possibly? Who knows. But, it did get me thinking. Love…is kind of like evolution. In that, in order to truly love another we must be pretty evolved creatures. Only humans show this kind of love. Yes some animals mate for life, and perhaps, that is a kind of primitive love, but I am talking mainly however about the kind of love, and there are many kinds, that binds us to another person and makes us feel that they are worth sharing our lives with intimately. We meet so many people over the course of our lives, what makes one person stand out from the others, what makes us say…Hey you. I like you. I love you. I choose you. It starts with feelings, emotions…those intangibles that have us scrambling for words when we are asked the question, What do you see in him/her? 
Love, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder for sure. It is a question worth asking yourself however when faced with overpowering emotions such as attraction, lust, desire, delirium and intense like. Never underestimate the power of liking someone or something. Likeability is an underrated quality in a partner. How often have you heard the question posed, You love them, but do you really like them? If you are looking for a long term partner, you are very smart to want to like them a lot before you decide to love them. 
I guess that’s where love truly starts. Liking someone. You know, you just like (and I don’t mean Facebook like!) them. Want to be around them, talk to them, spend time with them and interact with them. It can sometimes be a little thing that just makes you go ‘wow’. I knew a man once and one of the things I used to love about him was the way he spoke, kind of slow and measured. He would drawl his thoughts into existence with every word chosen very carefully. It made want to just sit there and talk to him for as long as I could. The thing I like the most my favourite person of all time is the way he always makes me laugh, despite myself. No matter how dire, or how depressing something is, he will always find a way to make me laugh about it. I love that about him. 
But going from just liking someone a lot to deep love and attachment is another thing altogether. To do that, I think, one must evolve from a single minded, basically selfish entity to one that has the other’s best interests at heart before anything else. Not that easy, let me tell you. I have heard it said, many times, one must love themselves before they can truly love another person so perhaps that is what is needed in order to move up the ladder of love-volution.
Love thyself, or know thyself, and then you can move that love outward into the world and love someone else. And when you find the one you love, there is nothing like time spent with that person. Time spent together in the world is more precious than any gift, word or token of affection. After all time is all we have to give when all is said and done, the most precious gift we can give another. Our time and attention. Love is built on those two simple things.

Working title – On truth

I have attempted to write about truth on this blog, both of truth and my own. I have tried to not hold back, not shy away from my all to human frailties, failures and emotions. Errors of judgement, inability to see what was really going on, clarity when it did finally rain on my rose-tinted parade. Fierce defiance and defence of my reasons for going where I knew I probably shouldn’t. All in the name of love, truth and beauty.

Sometimes, I despair. Where has all this following my heart led me? If not to my own undoing? What have I gained from loving so hard? Was it all a big, mistake. Am I wrong to love the way I do? Do I pick the wrong people to give my heart to?

These questions taunt me at night, now that I have once again run out of fuel to burn. Alone in my car, at night, on some highway, in the middle of nowhere, lost once again. No reception whatsoever.

But then, sometimes, I am reminded…. love is never wasted.  The more you give the more it comes back to you. That the life I have led thus far has been mine and that when all is said and done, no-one else painted this picture for me. I chose integrity, and yes, higher consciousness instead of certainty and safety and truth be told, I would do it all again.

My mother once said she admired my fearlessness. I never thought about it that way before but I guess she was right, in that I faced the void with nothing but my pen and brush and did it anyway. I chose an authentic life, not so much the easy life but it is mine and mine alone…Which reminds me of an earlier post, which I will re-post subsequently.

Still, no amount of philosophy, rationalization, therapy, humour, stiff-upper-lippedness is gonna make the truth of the matter dissipate in a hurry. When you love someone with all your heart, and they just can’t/won’t love you back, that shit hurts. Now ain’t that the truth.

Mix-tape

I am a pretty straight forward sort of person. When I like someone I simply like them. I am there without reservation or discourse. I don’t play games or hard to get. I don’t play by ‘the rules’ as such and I don’t tease or act like I am not interested if I am just to make a man ‘want’ me more.

I have watched movies like ‘He’s just not that into you’ and have heard of books like, ‘The Rules’ but I’m sorry but a lot of that stuff just sticks in my throat.

What those sorts of pseudo psychological narratives imply is that men are basically stupid and that human relationships can be reduced to a set of simplistic rules or do’s and don’ts that if followed, will lead to every woman’s ultimate goal… the entrapment of their ‘ideal man’. Excuse me but what a crock of shite!

Firstly, the implication that a woman is innately desperate for a man to ‘complete’ her is simply untrue. And what a lot of these sorts of books, and films do is imply that a woman without a man is somehow lacking. That to be a ‘single’ woman is to be less than whole. That all women want to be in a relationship with the first available, financially stable man they can stand the thought of having sex with.

That women all desperately want commitment, marriage, children, and they want it all straight away. And that women have, as their highest priority, the desire to trap a man, mate for life and live the rest of their lives with said man in domestic, blinkered bliss.

Bull-crapola.

While, there is truth to the notion that we all need and want love and to be loved by another human being. That the desire for physical and emotional intimacy is inherent in our biology and psychology. As is the need for acceptance, understanding and acknowledgement. But relationships, and love between two individuals is not something that can be easily reduced to a formula. If it were, then we’d all be living happily ever after with our perfect matches and no-one would ever break up and there would be no such thing as divorce or broken hearts anymore.

The reality is these days, human relationships are far from simple. The days of marriages lasting ‘til death of either spouse are from a time and galaxy far, far away. And even when they were it was hardly ever a ‘happy ever after scenario’. Nowadays, divorce today is as common as… the common cold. Both men and women are becoming more and more cynical about love and relationships and are staying single longer, not through necessity it seems, but by choice.

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that the fastest growing household type is single person households. This is projected to grow an average of 2.2% per year from 1.9 million in 2006 to a projected 3.2 million in 2031. That’s a lot of Lean Cuisines.

It’s actually easier to be single. There are a lot of social reasons why staying single longer is now a viable option for many people. Marriage is becoming more of an option then a necessity, people are getting married later, if at all, and relaxed moral codes mean that sex without strings, or attachment – let alone commitment, is seen as normal, and even expected.

There is no reason to get hooked up or shack up with someone in a hurry these days, none at all. ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free’, is a mantra I’ve heard repeated often, vulgar as it is. Both men, and women, can get a lot of the benefits of marriage and relationships it seems, without the responsibility, commitment or drama. But it all seems rather shallow and…somewhat hollow to me.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, holding on to some ideal that no longer exists, trying to wedge my mixed tape into the cd drive of my laptop. Maybe love is just an outdated technology?

Does it have to be that way…do we either have to be single or attached? Relationships between men and women (or same sex couples for that matter) relationships that involve love, friendship, attachment and sexual chemistry are in a state of flux such as the world has never seen before. The “Rules” just don’t really apply anymore. But, in their absence we are left floundering and anxiously trying to negotiate our way through a virtual mind-field of connections and misfires blindfolded. In-fact, we are all breaking new ground, hatching our way through uncharted territory when it comes to human relationships and yes, the future belongs to us…So what will we make of it?

 

Lana Del Ray says it so poignantly and beautifully perhaps expressing the sentiment of our age when she sings the words, In the name of higher consciousness I let the best man I knew go,

Coz it’s nice to love and be loved but it’s better to know all you can know. But are we choosing higher consciousness over intimacy? Or are we giving in to our (justifiable) fears and limitations?

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