Attitude Adjustments

Hello, my name is Rose, and I have Impostor Syndrome. This is not a new experience for me, nor a surprise for many of you. Lots of us experience it! It’s another of those mental phenomena that seem easy to address, but which doesn’t necessarily respond to “logical” arguments. Luckily, I think it’s one that has a lot less stigma than our old friend depression. Unluckily, it’s one that can also stand between me and the things that I need to get done.

One premise of our book project, and one of our driving life philosophies, is that expertise is less important than well-applied energy. I can’t speak to or instruct anyone else on how they should best go about putting their energy to work. What I know about myself is this: I am easily disheartened, and I let little bumps stop my progress. It doesn’t take much frustration for me to be ready to give up, and that is a problem that only I can address. And it’s one that has become a major problem for me with regard to taking care of the business of writing our book, and writing at all.

I keep hitting little bumps and letting them throw me completely off track. One of the things that I need to do to keep up my momentum is write about things that are not directly related to the book. I need to write about food again, and knitting (and, for that matter, do some knitting), and toddler behavior, and I don’t know what else. Craft projects! Things that are bullshit.

So, here we are, at the place where I am facing down some intimidating tasks, and without the luxury of giving up. For me, that means that I’m probably going to need to do a lot of pep-talking and reminding myself that I’ve got this under control. The good news for you is that this means more content! More pictures of things! More semi-nonsensical ramblings about craft projects gone awry! Probably more pictures of That Kid adorably interfering with whatever I’m trying to accomplish! And probably a lot more talk about process. Oh, and definitely some ranting about children’s television. I’ve got a lot to say about that.

While that is happening, most of the book-related writing is probably going to be a little more behind-the-scenes. I don’t really like sharing my unpolished work, and more importantly, I don’t want to give everything away. I think I also need to invest a little energy into reminding myself that I am, actually, competent. Impostor syndrome is the balls, guys! But I don’t feel like an impostor when I’m talking about food, or crafts, or things that are bullshit.

As ever, thanks for reading. I’m happy to have you here!

 

 

In Defense of Rules in Relationships

Recently there has been a renewed discussion among poly bloggers about the place of rules within relationships. Wesley Fenza has written a fairly reasonable take on the role rules (or agreements) play in intimate relationships. His premise is that we agree to rules within our relationship to compensate for deficiencies in our own in-the-moment decision making. He described a rule as “a thumb on the scale, weighing the analysis in favor of the prior commitment.” I think that this is true in many situations, but it’s not a comprehensive explanation of why partners agree to rules, or what purpose they serve. Franklin Veaux has written a response to Fenza’s post that is so absurd that I can’t even believe it’s meant to be real. In general, he is heavily scornful of rules in relationships, though, and it’s that general approach that I take issue with.

First, let’s do a little disambiguation: Fenza and Veaux both use “rules” to describe two kinds of agreements, those negotiated and agreed-upon, and those unilaterally handed down. I’m not going to defend unilateral rules – if they make sense in the context of your relationship, that’s fine, but they frequently serve as an ultimatum or a wedge to coerce behavior from one partner. Negotiated agreements, though, are an entirely different creature, and they deserve more examination.

Agreements negotiated between partners serve a couple of important functions. First, they give each party an opportunity to communicate honestly about fears, expectations, past experiences, and other factors of real life that affect the functioning of relationships. We are all in agreement about the importance of communication, and especially when trying to move ethically through changes in our relationships. Fenza says we agree to rules on the expectation that a time will arise when we want to act in ways inconsistent with our prior agreements. Veaux says, “All you really need to do is communicate what you need to feel taken care of, and your partner will choose to do things that take care of you, without being compelled to.” In both cases, they acknowledge that the rules have (or have not) arisen out of communication and negotiation between partners.

Veaux argues that making agreements about how to handle new relationships before the “newcomer” has arrived is equivalent to hobbling them once they do. I disagree. Especially in situations where a previously closed relationship is being opened, I think it’s critical for the existing partners to be honest with themselves about the pitfalls that they can foresee, and open to the likelihood that there will be challenges they haven’t imagined. Negotiating agreements about how to handle such situations makes us better prepared to handle those situations carefully when they do arise. We are not all birthed full-formed as competent executors of open relationships. It takes practice, and often, guidelines. Negotiating and adhering to agreements helps us learn the ropes while minimizing the potential for damaging our existing environment.

Secondly, negotiating agreements with new and existing partners allows us to establish trust in one another. This is important when opening an established relationship, and when building new ones. We agree to terms that ensure each party’s comfort is protected. We continue to build our relationships, being mindful of the boundaries that our partners have set, and in so doing, demonstrate that we are playing on the level. Especially in the world of complicated polycules, agreements (gasp, rules!) give us guidelines for treating other people’s existing relationships with care. Just as we respect the boundaries that our own partners have communicated are important to them, we share our bonafides with metamours by treating them, and their boundaries, with respect.

Despite the way Franklin Veaux and others write about them, most relationships are not founded on immutable, written-in-stone rules. Certainly this isn’t the case in relationships where partners are ethically and honestly working to find a path forward together. Describing a relationship as “rule-based” is as truthful as religious conservatives describing gay marriage as “sodomy-based.” Don’t mistake a tool for a foundation. Agreements are made to help the relationship move in the direction desired by all parties involved. Sometimes rules are necessary, not because parties can’t be trusted to act ethically, but because they serve to bring everyone to the same page.

 

image courtesy marsmet549

On Why We Have Been Gone

 

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Part of the reason that we have been quiet here lately (me especially) is because of the unfortunate events of last year. I am hurt and angry, still, and fundamentally offended at having been given an ultimatum to choose who gets to be my family.

I have been angry, and I have used it as an excuse to hide. That was wrong of me, and I am sorry. Writing for this blog has been incredibly difficult while working on sorting out the turmoil of the last year’s occurrences. We have spent countless hours talking about love, and the lessons we have to learn in this. I love having the outlet that this blog provides. It’s just a little hard to write about love while your own wounds keep bleeding.
It hasn’t all been terrible feelings, though. Part of why we have been quiet has been really good stuff. We came to Columbus, Ohio, and we fell in love. I saw it all the time, but when Carlos suggested Columbus, I thought, “there’s no way this little city far from the ocean is going to be as cool as he says.” Naturally, I was totally wrong. It turns out that I have a dormant love of rust-belt architecture, and there really is a difference in how people interact with strangers here. We have been actively engaging in finding and becoming part of our community. We’ve been practicing the skills needed to make friends in a city where we knew exactly no one.

As to the question of how long we’re planning to stick around here: we bought a house, which came with a whole assortment of new challenges. We own a basement! We also have tenants, and with them an opportunity to walk our talk. We spend a lot of time on house projects, on creating a space that is ours and that is welcoming and inclusive of the people who are already here. We have new loves, new draws on our time, and, oh yeah, an adorable-as-all-get-out two year old with his papa’s energy and his mama’s tendency to run away when asked “what are you doing?” A lot of the energy that might have gone toward writing about the ways that people love has been diverted into putting our beliefs into practice, especially giving our kiddo the best of ourselves.

All these things, they take up time and energy, and I have let myself let them push this project out of priority. Carlos has kept us moving forward, taking on a lot of the childcare burden while I’ve been working, ripping the hideous pink carpets out of our house, keeping up his own work. This blog, and the associated project, have been my responsibility, and I have been laying down on the job. I owe it to you, to Carlos, to Rock, and myself to do better on this thing. Thanks for sticking with us. I am incredibly lucky to have such a community of support, and I am eager to get back to doing my part in it.

 

Love In Rebirth

Most of 2013 has been about rebirth for me and my wife. We revisited old places in our life and set out to establish a place that is wholly ours. After thousands of miles of travel, difficult events, deep discussions of love we have found where we want to restart.  That place is Columbus, Ohio. It is a place that is giving us an opportunity to slough parts of our life that weren’t intentional. Columbus has given us a chance to test our truths and try things again.

This year M Rose and I changed places. Instead of throwing a party for my birthday and having a quiet night for her’s we did the opposite. For my birthday dinner we went to one of the first places that we ever went when we first came to Columbus. Just the three of us and some very nice craft beer.

M Rose’s birthday started as soon as she got off work on Friday and kept going until Sunday at about 10pm. We had lots of food and drink and adult merriment. We had people we knew and new people over to the house. M Rose went on a big adventure, mostly with strangers, for much of Sunday. This is the kind of social extroversion that she rarely launches into of her own free will, but it was very exciting to see. For three-entire-days she had this excited aura for each new, slightly out-of-character event.

On Sunday we were eating some very good barbecue with our friend Laurie and I heard M Rose from the other room:

“I really like it when Carlos does [redacted] with me. He only ever does [redacted] when I am happy. He never really wants to otherwise.”

I really couldn’t help but smile when she said that. It was a funny moment that I never expected. As I thought about it I agree with her observation, but I had never thought about how differently I behave when my wife is happy. There are whole genres of behavior that don’t occur to me when she is grumpy.

Love’s Reward

It ends up being a little feedback loop. I spent a couple days encouraging her to do a bunch of things for no greater reason than self-care/celebration and the payout was not at all what I expected. Of all the thank you expressions that came from M Rose, that was the one that was the most touching. She was excited less about feeling happy than she was about the little things that state draws out of the world.

I like making/seeing M Rose happy, she usually does a lot of nice things for me when she is happy (like when we first started dating). But, it turns out that I do some things that make M Rose happy, because she is already happy. Even though, may be because, there have been very difficult moments and decisions this year we have rediscovered some of the little joys that we had when our love was young.

Love Means Helping

When I say that love means helping I don’t mean acts of service. Acts of service are easy. The object of your affection off-handedly mentions something wistfully, or pointedly, and you go out and take care of business. Simple, right?

But, that isn’t real help, that is doing. It fills the time of life and rarely accomplishes much more than that. Love as helping means hearing what is being asked as a concept, not as an action. One of my mentors from many years ago said that most interpersonal communication is either a request for or expression of desire.

When your loved one asks they are looking to be desired. When you listen, listen for the part that isn’t said. When you speak, you should do your best to leave nothing out.

If you want to be near your partner, don’t ask them if they want to move, tell them you want to be near them. If you want to spend time don’t ask what they want to do, tell them you want to do something with them. Desire is met with desire, and words of love encourage acts of love.

If you love someone, help them see it in your words, and they will return it.

Love is a Drug

Love (particularly the romantic variety) acts the same as a drug cocktail. Just like cocaine it is going to introduce you to a huge spike in dopamine and norepinephrine, just like Ketamine it is going to numb your pain, cause change in perception, and disassociate you from your conscious self. The result is a feeling of euphoria, energy, and intensified consciousness. On the negative side there can be intense feelings of withdrawal when love ends. The intense period where we produce everything that is needed to make the object of affection perfect only lasts a few weeks to two years. After that love-halo ends, love that lasts has to transcend merely biological processes and pass into social, psychological, and practical.

In my last post on The Philosophy of Love I discussed the four common philosophical, logical approaches to love as Union, as Robust Concern, as Valuation, and as System of Emotions. Across the philosophical models of love there are themes that can help to connect them and solve some of the weaknesses.

  1. At first Love is a hallucination.
  2. Ultimately, Love is a disassociation of Ego.

Try thinking of love not as the instigator of how you feel, but rather as a description of how you change under its influence. Your fantasies of the future, your decisions that favor the object of your affection, your drive to protect the magical feeling, your vulnerability with the object of your affection–these are not feelings that describe love, these are feelings that allow love to happen.

During the hallucination period, we make the decisions that establish our patterns and build the portions of our life that allow us to sustain ourselves in a state where the object of our affection is seen as an end unto themselves. We work to build a state where we share their emotions not because we have anything to gain, but because we are empowered by the connection. We work toward moving into the next state, the dissociation of our Ego as an act of Love. This brings us to, perhaps, the most important value brought by Love: the feeling of co-joy and timely support (compersion and loving kindness). Long lasting love means reaching a state where you no longer consider how the object of our affection reflects upon you.

Love is one part always remembering the best of our loved one (a dream of the past), one part always believing in their potential (a dream of the future), and one part allowing their presence and connection to be an excuse to ignore the rest of the world’s demands (a dream in the present).

Love is better than a drug because the more places it is applied, the more you can act in ways that are not driven by fear. Love becomes the practice of doing what is right for the moment and accepting the outcome. It may seem scary, but it becomes the rising tide that makes all of life richer, rather than comparing now to the peak hallucination.

Philosophy of Love

Up to this point we have been avoiding talking about love on the blog from the standpoint of philosophy. Today I am going to correct that and walk though the academic side of love.

The first thing that I want to clear up is that this is all going to be centered around interpersonal love, so don’t expect this to explain your love for Harley Davidson motorcycles or mid-century modern architecture. This is all about how one person loves another person, primarily.

When boiling love down, we tend to end at one of four elemental concerns:

  1. Love as Union
  2. Love as Robust Concern
  3. Love as Valuing
  4. Love as Emotion

I am not going to mention specific philosophers in the following descriptions because I want you to address the ideas based on their individual merit, not the people that presented the ideas. If you do want to see a version of this with quotations and citations to individual philosophers visit Stanford.edu

Love as Union

love exchange

Love as union is a primarily community based model of love. It is the model that is most at play in a marriage (legal or otherwise) or adoption. Love is the culmination of desire, reciprocation, and social conjunction. Love is the resultant state of subsuming individualism into partnership. The union of two people into joined concern can be both metaphorical and literal. Some adherents to this philosophy believe that only literal, apparent-from-the-outside union constitutes love. Once two people become (or desire to become) We, instead of individuals, they exist in a state of love. Some adherents to love-as-union have described the We as a separate entity from the people that form it, others believe that individuality is in conflict with the state of love.

One of the problems in this philosophy is it has trouble accounting for non-transactional love. If I have to be joined to you in a literal sense it requires reciprocation, which clearly is not always the case. Love as union has gaps in explaining love without goal, or love for the sake of the person, not for their outcome.

Love as Robust Concern

concerned cat

Love as robust concern is a logic based model for love. Person X feels love for Person Y because Y exhibits Virtue π sufficient that X sees the benefit and presence of Y as an end, not a means to reward. This model sees love not as a creation of We, instead it is my concern and volition that put me in a state of love.

Because love in this model sees a person’s love as driven by the individual’s internal motivation and preferences, it better accounts for unrequited love and loving your beloved for their own sake. Robust concern is potentially a very individualistic love because it is based on internal motivations, both known and unknown, so it allows for synergy of personal values. However, autonomy presents a logical hazard.

If your goal in love is to support your beloved’s best interests, how do you enact love when your beloved is acting against what you perceive to be their best interest? If you act in a way that counters their goals you would steal their autonomy. In taking autonomy from them you would be undermining them in the big picture, and so, be disrespecting the model for loving action. This would be a no-win situation in which both action and inaction are against the overall well-being of the beloved. Similarly, how could you love someone whose best interest you don’t want to support because of conflicting desire?

Some theorists on love as a robust concern give it a higher degree of interdependency, that the lover is transformed and beholden to concurrences with the beloved. In taking on empathy and emotional parity with the disappointments and windfalls of the beloved, the lover declines in autonomous identity. Love would then be a vulnerability to the beloved and a submission of personal identity.

Continued love after death, or prolonged separation, also present challenges for a logical valuation, because once a person is beyond your sphere of control, for harm or benefit, how can love be enacted? My personal view on this particular problem is that love for those that are no longer in our life can be handled through applying the formula in the past tense, but that creates an unfortunate line of argument that love is a form of fantasy–which is unpleasant for most people to think about.

Love as Value

Mimi Eunice

Credit: Mimi&Eunice

Within the philosophy of love there are two buckets that love as value falls into: appraisal of value and bestowal of value. Appraisal of value means: you have value, so I love you. Bestowal of value means: I love you, so you have value.

In a recent post on the price of love I discovered that people have a strong aversion to economic metaphors of love. I am going to make a distinction that many other philosophers make between price and dignity. Price is applicable to material goods, like 3 chickens are equal to 1 goat. Exchange of combinations of goods with equal price should be considered as value exchange without loss, because price is interchangeable. People are not interchangeable. Exchange of one person for another results in both incomparable gain and incomparable loss of value, so we will use a different word for value that is not interchangeable; we will call it dignity.

Love as Appraisal of Value

Person X appraises the dignity of Person Y and comes to one of three conclusions: respect, love, or neither. If Person X assess Person Y’s dignity such that Person X values acting in support of Y’s well-being, then X exists in a state of respect. If Person X also lowers emotional protection and reduces drive for self-protection in regard to Y, Person X exists in a state of love. Otherwise, Person X feels neither love nor respect for Y.

Love is the disarming of personal defense to offer vulnerability and accessibility to our beloved based on their display of dignity. This view allows for a clear understanding of depth of love and change in depth because it can be seen as proportional to dignity. Love as appraisal of value also allows for individualism because it is relative to the lover’s personal values and can hold feelings like attraction, protectiveness, etc. as expression rather than cause of love.

Where love as appraisal starts to become strained as a model is when we try to account for selectivity. Discernment of why you love one person and not another with the same qualities, and if you can love a person at one time and not another starts to erode the fundamental idea that human qualities are incomparable. In this model, is it ethical to deny love to someone who displays sufficient dignity? Also, can you have continuity of love even when a change in situation causes a temporary failing of dignity?

There are emotional caveats that can be added to the appraisal of value model to deal with selectivity, but they will take you into realms that are better described by robust concern or emotional models of love. The other option in bridging the gap is to attribute some degree of fantastical thinking to mitigate these issues, either crystallization of appraisal that is held as truth, or a forward projection of potential appraisal.

Love as Bestowal of Value

Bestowal is an a priori view of love. Love exists both before and independent of justification. The bestowal model addresses love in a mystical and ethereal way. It is constituted of unnamable stuff and results in recognition of details to condone itself. With bestowal it goes without saying that the beloved is worthy.

Unlike the appraisal model love is independent of the qualities of the beloved. Constancy is less of an issue because appraisal is descriptive of love, rather than prescriptive. Likewise, selectivity is easily solved by the fact love exists without justification.

Bestowal gives the best accounting for love of community, family, and affiliates. If love is simply projected upon its recipient, many questions posed in the other models are moot, but it creates different difficulties. If there is no reason in love, then there is also no responsibility and no action inherent in love. Bestowal is the model that is most susceptible to construction as delusion and manipulation as it puts the lover in a subsumed state with no agency against love. The lack of practical connection makes being the beloved an arbitrary state that can be evoked and revoked without apparent cause. Potentially this puts both the lover and the beloved in a position of question at all times.

Love As Emotion

Emoticon

The most concise description of an emotion is an intellectual and physiological state precipitated by internal valuation of an entity or object that produces a motivation. Emotions have an input and a response, they have a body feel and a mind image. Emotions are greatly affected by chemical presences (hormones, drugs, etc). Your mind can deduce an emotion from the chemicals the body produces, and your body can produce chemicals as a response to the mind’s images. Emotions are considered to have a target (sometimes called formal object). Both rational responses, like desire to flee, and arational responses, like slamming a door, are considered resultant expressions.

Love as emotion is confounded by the question of whether love should be seen as an emotion proper, like fear and anger, or as a compound emotion that describes the combined effects of proper emotions and their subsequent reactions and interdependencies.

Is Love a Proper Emotion?

If love is a proper emotion, it would require some form of specific target. It is often difficult to distill what this target would be in the many cases; particularly in cases of both positive and negative parts like feeling love for a family member that you don’t like being around. Additionally, love as a proper emotion would require enriching the definition of an emotion to account for some kind of differentiation of resultant expression that doesn’t require the introduction of another emotion to explain sexual and non-sexual love. Clearly if love is an emotion, it isn’t proper.

Is Love a Compound Emotion?

If love is an emotion, it is much more likely a system of proper emotions, or an arational resultant expression of that kind of system. This would allow for a very comprehensive understanding of selectivity and receptivity that includes intellectual and biological interactions with less stress to the model. Discernment becomes a knowable quantity for a person because it is a simple comparison of feeling a greater quality of yes than you feel quality of no.

A compound emotion model can allow for a wide variety of contextual values for continuity of love because it can address depth of love as the summation or synergy of several concurrent emotional responses. Likewise, a compound emotional model can allow for physical and community desire to be separated–this means that romantic and sexual can be seen as separate, but potentially compounding. If love is seen as a system of emotions you can also account for love being projected onto future or past. Compound emotion model allows for contributions of interconnectedness to influence the love as a resultant state.

If love is a system of emotions resulting in a state of empathetic response and supportive desire, then love can be seen as a historical narrative instead of an attitude. Each emotional response can be seen as additive, leading up to the eventual summation of love. Specific events, both positive and negative, can collect as a whole within the system. A wide variety of manifestations can then be covered under the umbrella of love: pleasure, frustration, hurt, etc.

If love is an emotion, then you need to account for external forces, fungibility, and irreparable loss of self. Because emotions are intimately linked to biological substances, that would mean that love could be fabricated, manipulated, and eradicated through external means. Further, regardless of the constituent parts, love can then be measured as biological processes, which makes people interchangeable and chemically reproducible. If love is an emotion and results in empathetic response, then you as lover are both bodily and mentally beholden to your beloved.

The gap that I see in love as an emotion is that the model allows for a passivity that acts against the general account of love as requiring expression.

What Does it Mean?

I can’t encapsulate all of love in a single model. Each of the distillations of love clearly has pieces that supplement and compliment the other models. The reality is that to adequately describe all of the qualities and actions that we associate with love would require, in some degree, to see love as being all four (Union, Robust Concern, Value, and Emotion) simultaneously.

To this end I have been working on two different approaches to a more unified conception of love that openly ignore the boundaries described above, and instead seek to connect their common themes.

The Real Cost of Love

It is expensive

 

When people talk about love it is often in poetry and songs. I do it a lot through writing lately. So, I am going to write about how the songs are lies: you can buy me love.

Love isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you give.

We each pay for love with some resource. Some of us pay with our bodies: with our hugs and kisses, our soft touch, our slap on the butt, the high-five, and the held hand. Some pay with our service: the ride, the extra trip to the store, the computer check-up, showing devotion, and free work. Some pay with our words: the poems, the songs, the please, the thank-you, and the love words. Some pay with presence: the wave from the stands, the full attention, making space, and being there in body and spirit. Some of us just fork over some bills: I got you tickets to that thing you like, you would look nice in this, and I bought my wife a George Foreman Grill on our second date.(I did buy my wife a Foreman Grill)

But, we all pay. If we don’t pay our love goes away.

by 呱呱

I guess that sounds really cynical, but it is sadly(?) true. Every interview I have performed for the 50 Love Project has boiled down to how the person pays for love, and how their love was bought and maintained. Some of the stories are sad; they are about how someone stopped paying the bill and love faded away.

We have talked about great dates, and broken down moments. We have talked about the a priori love of an infant you have just met and the enduring love of a partner that you can’t live with anymore. I have talked to people wearing collars (figurative and literal), and people holding leashes, deeply religious people, polyamorous people, monogamous people, and just a guy eating a hotdog at Costco in Oregon. And the theme is always there: the cost of love.

The stories are perhaps hardest when they involve loss. One of our interviews was with a man, Otto, who was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witness church. For him there were very powerful positive effects from his ex-communication. Among the many emotional moments that were required for him to find a new church that he loves, there were two other important stories of love—his ex-wife and his father.

Through the process of disfellowship Otto was offered support from his wife, to some degree understanding, and opportunity for repentance. Here he was faced with a many layered problem of what the lose of love for his wife’s community meant for their love. He had to make a hard decision about what was the most loving action, try to bring her out or make it easier for her to stay.

For decades Otto would have told you that the love of his father was anemic and strained. But, when Otto came to the point where his devotion as a Witness ended, where he no longer had love to express for the church, he in many ways saw how deeply his father has always loved him. During a crushing moment of losing the love of his church and leaving the love of his wife, Otto came to recognize the devotion of his father. Once Otto tested the limits of his expression of love, devotion, he saw what his father had paid for love.

In our interview Otto described this moment with his father as the single most loved he had ever felt, when he realized that his father didn’t have ego about who Otto is. As a Witness, as a husband, as a man, his father took him for what he was. Otto’s father had paid a frequent price by not being prideful in the face of conflict over the church that they didn’t share, over life decisions that were at odds.

The price that you have to pay for love is Ego and Pride.

Every resonant story of love that we have heard has involved people who don’t invest their ego into who their lover is. When we hear about what makes people feel loved, many of them are about times when they see that lack of fear and pride in how someone is there, what another person does.

Communication is often claimed as the heart of a successful relationship. To communicate well you will often have to overcome fear. Fear that you will hear something you don’t want to, or fear that you will be chastised, or fear that you may lose something in your openness. Communication can help us work out the particulars of of our expressive price of love: the right date, the right words, the right presence. But, the real cost of love as a feeling is not being too proud to ask for help, not being afraid to ask what your partner needs, not letting your ego define your child’s life.

The price of love is letting the ones you love be what they are without letting it be a reflection on you.

For the Men I Miss During the Holidays

Today is a turning point for me. But, not a big one. It happens every year. I am on the 30-day countdown to my birthday. In spite of my general excitement about having an excuse to have a party and engage in a couple of personal traditions it isn’t a happy time of year for me.

This is the time of year that I miss my dad the most. Even though he has been gone a very long time he is still with me on a regular basis. Many of the things that I feel are important in my life are modeled after thinking about what I liked most about him. It really shows when I am around certain people.

I think that there was some positive in not having him around over the last decade. It has been easier for me to be the parts of me that he didn’t like. And, it has been easier for me to separate myself from the parts of him that I didn’t like. I can pare away the parts of him that I don’t aspire to without ever worrying about offending him.

Robert Bly’s Iron Johnalong with the writing of Joseph Campbell, were helpful in understanding that I was literally experiencing something that I would have to do, at least metaphorically. You have to bury your mentor. Obi-wan, Gandalf, Dumbledor, and Mom&Dad all of them have to be laid to rest before you can emerge as your own whole person.

I know the conflicts that I would have had with him over the years, but as I come into this part of the year he is the person that I want to have around. To share my weird problems with.

Our family trouble from the summer has left us with less to worry about when making plans, but also brings some weight. I’m used to feeling that there is an empty place at my table, but this year I miss Joe (my brother-in-law) too.

I after having him as a central part of the family Rose and I are building I miss sharing our weird problems with him too. Particularly, I miss sharing Rockford’s weird moments. Today I want to express my sincere thanks to the men that have been important to my life: Sean, Birger, Chris, Andrew, Eric, Joe, et al. but most of all my Dad.

Survey Responses: The Best Things About Your Relationship

How about a little unadulterated positivity for your Monday? One of the questions we asked on our dating survey is “What’s the best thing about your current relationship status?” I’m sure you won’t be surprised to discover that there are lots of things making people happy.

“After almost 20 years we make each other better people, and we make each other laugh.”

 

“security and acceptance of who I am”

 

“Having a partner in life makes facing challenges less frightening. I love having someone to make plans and work towards goals with. At the end of the day, and at the beginning and all the way through, knowing that we have each other and our love.”

 

“That it’s not unrequited. That we tell each other everything, and we remind each other that we’re awesome even when we’re not feeling awesome.”

 

“Openness with each my husband about ways we can each have our needs met while taking care of our relationship.”

 

“I can enjoy different aspects of people I care deeply about. I can have my needs met, without sacrificing areas that are important to me.”

 

“We met after both having children and broken relationships. In a way it made us more aware of what we really wanted in a relationship , versus being in love with the fantasy of one. Theres excitement but also this calm . We met in our 30s and just in that makes it so much better.”

 

“I describe myself as a “solo polyamorist” because I live independently and have three partners. I love living on my own – I need a lot of alone time and to be in charge of my own space. But I get to spend plenty of time with my lovers. I am able to get exactly the balance of alone time and company that works for me.”

 

“The connection and laughter I share with my partners”

 

“Watching my (non-live-in) boyfriend care for my (live-in) boyfriend and his wife’s daughter with love and compassion.”

 

“Dependability, with freedom. No need for secrets.”

 

“I am able to be with my wonderful loving husband and still be able to fulfill my needs for additional partners. We are love each other very much but understand that we cannot be everything to each other. That we want/desire other people and that we love and trust each other enough to recognize that it doesn’t diminish our relationship in the least.”

It has been a rough summer over here in delRioLand, and this autumn is not taking it easy on anyone either. You know that I can lose perspective, and I know that others can as well. I feel like many things in our life are not going exactly the way I’d like them to, which is frustrating. All these responses about the best things in people’s relationships feel like a shot in the arm, like an antidote to some of the bumps in our road.