Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Honesty: The Impossible Key

Breakups are never easy, they in short suck.  But here is where I am stumped, why is the breakup moment the time where the truth comes out?  This nothing left to lose expression fits so nicely, aside from the one fact that you are actually breaking up.  This isn’t a last ditch effort to salvage the joy you once had, this is the honest moment when you find out why your partner is no longer happy.  Not surprisingly it took a phone call late last night from a very dear friend to bring this idea to light for me.  The moment in my relationship that was the most honest from his perspective was the moment we broke up.  That point in time where he figured he might as well let me know he had known for a while this wasn’t working and that he should have done this sooner.

I explored the idea of open relationships because of all that it had to offer for me.  I am still convinced that this is the best type of bond in which my needs get met, and I have the lock and key firmly in place.  I get complete and total honesty in the places that matter most to me, and that is about sex, and feelings for other people.   I am convinced that the opportunity exists for two people to be honest with themselves and with their partner in an open relationship.  I firmly believe that this can and does enhance my happiness specifically and negates the need for the word cheat to even enter into the equation.  That deadly sin is removed, and people can learn to grow and be much more honest and open in the things that matter most to them.

Unfortunately for me, my first experience in an open relationship still ended as a result of cheating.  The physical cheating, although was kept secret from me for months upon months, it really is the emotional breach of trust that is slowly eating away at me.  I learned a hard lesson with my ex of 8 plus years in that I am a fixer.  I hate regret so much that I will seek out and repair any and all issues that I come into contact with.  I thrive on looking back and knowing that I did everything that I could do.  This is really important to my character, I am the giver of chances.  This is why entering into an open relationship really appealed to me.  I could take the opportunity to focus on myself and not be consumed by the ever present nagging suspicious feelings.  In truth this is much easier said than done, and it easily took me a full year and writing of this blog to maximize this amazing opportunity.  But looking back, I would say that my success was overwhelming. 

I was cheated out of two things.  One was a partner who would drop even a date to be with me in times of grief.  And two, a partner who was willing to open up and work out his problems with me.  I firmly believe that we are all responsible for our own happiness, but as I have written before, the joy for me came out of having two people in charge of their own lives who could share in each other the joys and sorrows.  I am grieving the real loss of that opportunity, as he became depressed, rather than work at it and share his pain with me, he did the same action he has done in the past.  Shake everything up in his life and start afresh.  I so sorely miss the amazing journey that we could have taken together once the downs were dealt with. 

I take away from this relationship that truly made me happy, the knowledge that I have found something that fits me.  I also know the reason why this fits so well, and that is the basis of honesty.  I define openness as the ability to know that you are getting all of your needs met, while having a loving honest partner to share in the good and the bad times with.  I am on a journey now to find my quest for  complete honesty found and answered.  I loved almost every moment that I spent with the man who gave me this gift of knowledge.  I lament now that he didn`t take his own advice, and wish desperately that I could change his mind and show him the real pleasure in the door he opened for me.

Monday, 27 February 2012

An Actions Impact on Relationships

Actions speak louder than words.  This statement has truth to it, especially when it comes to the negative side of things.  For example we can quickly pick out the person who we have most recently applied this old adage to.  If I tell someone that I will be somewhere at a certain time and place, then either don’t show up, or show up late there is a negative reaction.  I would be judged based on this action showing either my insensitivity or absenteeism, correct?  We asses and categorize a person’s past behaviours in such a way that it will reflect how we interact with that person going forward.  If a person is late for dinner more than once, we will either respond by being late ourselves, manipulating the time of the events to prevent this occurrence but rarely would we resort to cut out the person from our lives for tardy behaviour.  We like the person and we will be lenient for their shortcomings, hardly do we demand them to swear up and down that they will never present this negative behaviour again.  But we also recognize that this is simply a negative action and we do not let it cloud our overall judgment of our relationship with this person.

Here is the interesting part of this, would you say this universally holds true for a positive action?  More to the point, what actions does your partner have to display that you react and know that they love you without having to say so?  Here is my reason for asking this.  I have at times felt that my partner did not love or care for me.  He verbally said he loved me, but there was no clear cut action that he took to make me doubt his words, however the words were only words.  Often there are not actions to back up his words, rather just a sufficient lack of negative behaviours towards our relationship.  Further to this, I have felt unloved because of one tiny little misunderstanding and the mere words were not enough to dispel my doubts.  Now this is a troubling thought when looked at rationally.  Why do we expect our partners to constantly show that they love us, or display emotions of affection, support and tenderness?  And why does just one tiny little situation have the power to undo our whole support system.  Are all relationships just based on a house of cards? A precarious list built solely on loving words which all fall to the ground after one unpleasant gesture?  We don’t lose all the cards, and they get easier to build as time goes on, but don’t we get tired of re-building the same thing?

It’s funny that when I was trying to write this post, I was taking a stance that positive actions really do not get noticed nearly as often as negative ones.  Sadly today I learned the cold hard truth of that.  I needed more time to show my actions, and instead had one of my favorite relationships end because of the impact of the negative ones.  So I guess the short of it is that actions do speak so much louder than words, and unfortunately positive actions have less weight than negative ones.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sometimes I Am Just Too Open, Pardon My Pun

I am direct and honest, (post here).  This has served me well in many many situations, and has added much to my trustworthiness and the general relationships with my friends and family. However, I recently experienced my first, I want to cry reaction to me being in an open relationship.  I am writing this here as I was so surprised by this reaction that perhaps to a lesser degree some of my readers have experienced similar gut jolts to the subject matter.  I want to look objectively at as many possible sides as I can, and with the openness of my character I would like to share some of this conversation with you.

A new friend and I were discussing, life, death and our childhoods, whereby the subject came up about cheating.  I almost never remember how one links to the next, but here we stood talking about this most painful of subject matters.  She told me how her viewpoint was that if her boyfriend had a drunken one night mistake with someone else, she could possibly forgive him in the future.  This being on the assumption that he would change his behaviour to ensure that the cheating never happened again.  This I thought was an amazing and powerful answer.  I was expecting her to say it would be over and the door closed forever.  Thus I stated my view that cheating is a deadly sin, however I am in an open relationship so the terms of cheating are quite different for me.  We chatted a bit more regarding how she has done a lot of reading recently in order to become a more emotionally healthy person, which would in turn strengthen her relationship with her partner. 

Then she paused and asked me what an open relationship actually meant.  So instead of sugar coating anything, which may have been a more prudent response, I told her.  Basically for me, I am aware that neither my partner nor myself are comfortable with the idea of only have one sexual partner for the rest of our lives.  He has cheated in the past, and I have come incredibly close on a few occasions.  Thus for us the solution is to allow sex with other people.  Insert jaw drop here.  Followed by, her eyes swelling with tears and her reply, “just thinking about that makes me want to cry”.  I felt the necessity to emphatically reiterate that I know this lifestyle is not for everyone.  Further I acknowledged that this would never have been the solution for my ex and I.  I know in my heart that if my ex and I had opened things up to try and save the relationship it would have ended in a blaze of hatred.  I firmly believe that a relationship needs to start on a specific page, with mutual goals in mind.  The last ditch attempt at having kids, or getting married, or having a threesome would be an ill fated attempt to simply buy time.  But if a relationship begins with these discussions the success rate can potentially be higher. 

The lasting note we talked about was my feeling that a relationship shouldn’t change its whole dynamic in order to salvage it.  My lifestyle works because this is the way we entered into things and we have our ups and downs within it.  For me, a perfect world would be where I could have my fun on occasion and my man would be hopelessly devoted to me at home.   Which I am giggling as write that knowing the backwards absurdity in that sentiment.  Number one, that would never be equal or fair.  And number two, I need a strong willed man, never a male to put me on a pedestal and pine over me.  That prince charming may be the dream for some women, but it is not mine.  The last thing she told me, was again how sad she would feel if her man ever slept with someone else.  And I get that, through and through I know where she is coming from and have felt those same feelings with my ex.  We all are entitled to feel our emotions and live the lifestyles that we choose so long as we are not causing pain or harm to those we love.  So in summation, I made my new friend cry as a result of my open relationship.  I have been prepared for aggression and disgust from some, but I did not ever anticipate tears.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Why I Am Conflicted About Marriage

I have previously debated the idea that cheating is the deadliest relationship sin, but I think there is more to it than that.  You can always find a reason to break up if you wanted to, but the trick is staying together.  We are self invested individuals constantly looking out for the number one, so to morph our thinking to including someone else’s interests into that equation almost doesn’t seem natural.  And yet we seek the social more often than the solitary situations.  Western society wants us to find an opposite sexed partner, marry, then have 2.5 children and never talk about the affairs that made it possible to maintain this façade of happiness.  Because the ideal of staying faithful to one partner is intrinsic to the foundation of rearing well rounded children.  Yes, this is what many of us want and need to believe.

I have heard a few times as of late this idea of being loyal to a partner for piece of mind, even when faced with a reality that the basic need for happiness are no longer being met.  So it almost would seem that marriage is only artificial glue, created by society to aid us in obtaining safety, love, security and absolute happiness, with no real science to keep it bonded for life.  But these may merely be the words of a marriage cynic.  Shouldn’t the dream be to ride off into the sunset and get married to your prince charming which would result in all your dreams coming true?  I personally made a vow when I got engaged a few years ago that nothing in the relationship would change, that we would still be who we were and that marriage was merely a way to throw a big party and celebrate our current happiness.  If I was to get engaged again, I would only accept on a similar basis, that marriage would not be about changing the relationship, just celebrating its strength.

So I ask, what actions are we missing from our partners that would allow us the freedom to love and be loved without the sunset and the white horse?  Why do I feel like society will judge my relationship until I validate it with marriage and children?  I am battling with myself and this idea that I need a stable commitment from my partner in order to truly be free to experience a few “outside of the norm” pleasures.  And the battle stems from not ever having a true reason not to trust that he will be true to his word, versus the implication that if we are not married or living together in a stable environment that he is free to walk away at any time.  But the reality is the even married or co-cohabiting the walking away is still just as easy.  Financially you will take a hit, but we are free to still do as we please.  I think the only solution is to default to the idea that we are responsible for merely making ourselves happy.  And perhaps hope that over time the conscious thought comes to include that person with whom you have been with and that they want to include you in a ceremony in front of family and friends. 

Let me honestly express a great fear, being that I may be risking the happy ever after fantasy that I am not sure I want, for the open relationship that I have found.  But knowing what I know now, I cannot possibly close my eyes to the freedom I have and go back to a life of monogamy.  There are incredible challenges in every relationship especially when it comes to planning the future.  And while I do envy the couples, who right from the start wanted the 2.5 kids, white picket fence and the golden retriever in the back yard.  I personally have never experienced that type of symmetry in myself, and therefore in my partners.  Life is too fluid and so full of possibilities that I lack the resolve to settle for any one path in life.  I love options, and I love juggling many different situations at once to find the best possible fit for the moment.  And yet there is a sadness knowing that my relationship is not “real” until that ring is on my finger and I have said my I do’s.  This isn’t a position that I stringently want to fight for my right to be acknowledged in a loving relationship, outside the confines of marriage.  Just more to express that my current attempt is to love as fully as I can with or without marriage.  I know that this post is a little all over the place in thought process, however I think there is purpose in not having a solidified view on the subject of marriage just yet.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Thank You

I would like to write a very heartfelt thank you to all of you out there who stop in from time to time to read my blog.  Oddly writing a thank you blog is harder than my normal writings, as I cannot possibly put into words just how sincerely grateful I am for the amazing support that I have found over this journey.  I am genuinely surprised by how many of my friends and family have come up to me and offered encouragement to continue with my passion.  I guess it's true that once you find your passion people will support your endeavors. I also wanted to thank the posters who are taking the time to comment at the bottom or to send me e-mails or fb messages to discuss my topics further.  I just cannot express enough how touching this experience has been.  I want to also make a special note to the people who have challenged my opinions.  It shows that some of what I write may ignite others on an emotional level and that is simply amazing to me.

I promise to keep writing, and share my experiences with those who wish to read.  Thanks so much to everyone I know on a personal level, and to those that have become closer to me through this blog.  It astounds me that I have the readership I do.  So in keeping this short and sweet, have the courage to question everything until you find your own happiness as I do


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Day, A Childhood Rite of Passage

Today is the day of love, named for the celebration of Saint Valentine.  Though for many of us its merely a marketing experiment gone right, in the light of making money, or getting laid.  So for all you out there getting engaged, celebrating anniversaries, and all around making the most of this day of red, pink, and white enjoy.  To the couples who do things right with wine, flowers, chocolate and a sultry romp in those silk sheets saved for special occasions this day is for you.  Just one tiny little query, why do we only do this one day a year?  Why is it acceptable for a guy to swoon on this one day of the year and romance his sweetheart without reprimand?  Why is a gal walking on cloud nine, clutching that white rose proudly to her chest this one day and only one day a year?

The cynical answer is that as mentioned above, the marketing gods are geniuses.  This is the day to propose, the day to send your love to that secret crush, the day where anything goes and the fear of rejection is at it’s lowest point of the year.  We as a society have learned to give and receive Valentines cards from a very young age, and taught the ever important lessons of being a gracious recipient no matter who the sender is.  It’s a harsh world out there for budding love, but less so on February 14th. 

My earliest memory of this was when I was in grade two, I received a giant Hersey’s kiss from an anonymous sender.  I of course blushed and was quick to divide it up between my friends and eat it without a second thought.  I’m not entirely sure the advice or reprimanding I received when I told my mom of the days events later that evening.  But I remember the following year when I received a gift box of pink cologne and bubble bath from the same anonymous sender that I had to find out who this generous gift giver was.  I found the guy, was a little disappointed, yet I graciously said thank you and gave a quick peck on his cheek.  I knew I made his day, and displayed an appropriate amount of gratitude without going too far.  As evidence of this I did not have to `marry` him in the playground later that day as so many of my girlfriends did.    

This event is what both males and females learn during Valentines Day, the freedom to give gifts to whomever you fancy, and gracious recipients who make you feel like a million bucks.  This is one of our first imprinted memories of dealing with the opposite sex and experiencing their reactions in a public setting.  It`s a deep seeded social experiment and ritual that we have firmly in place.  Remember the kid who had an empty box one year, were you the kid who scribbled your name off of one of your gifts and quickly added it to their box before the tears welled up?  What about the kid who had the box that was overflowing?  Did you feel a twinge of jealousy walking by, wishing you had that level of popularity without knowing what that word meant?  These are the Valentines day rites of passage that children in our society experience and probably have little recollection of just what level of impact this really had.

Generally though we remember our first significant gift, as I do with the giant chocolate and that sets the tone or level of how we give and receive in the future.  I wonder now if the sender had been someone that I liked, would my prerogative on this holiday be different?  Would this day be a day to celebrate and hold in high esteem?  For those who experienced the butterflies at such an early age do you have a greater romantic connection with this holiday?  Or for the kid who received nothing, is this why you hate this day and take such limited risks when it comes to opening your heart and experiencing love?  Whatever this day has meant to you in the past, I encourage all of you to attempt to not allow this day to be a one day a year event.  Give little gifts, letters, or special desserts throughout the year.  Share your love and take a few more risks throughout the year.  Don’t disregard the important lessons of the day, rather have the love, laughter and romance as often as you can.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Gender Bias in the Dating World

I am going to make a wild and crazy generalization which may actually piss off some women, and make a few guys uncomfortable.  Here it is, men are more successful in the work force and in relationships because they have the confidence to ask for what they want.  Men are over represented in the executive workforce, and men in general are the ones setting the rules in any relationship.  Typically men wear the pants, and take charge of their relationship, sometimes when they are not entirely certain what they want.  Please, please understand I am not a feminist, and I am not trying to put any men down.  I love men, and in all fairness, I mostly enjoy the dominant dynamic in my relationships.  I take control in all aspects of my life, but there is a certain comfort to coming home and having a man take charge and take direction.  With that being said, let me continue, and make my point.

Have you ever noticed a guy in a club that is getting continually shot down?  Perhaps he is out of the league of the women that he is approaching, but he keeps trying, even when he is shot down.  He knows two things, first that he won`t get anywhere unless he tries, and secondly, that the rules of probability state that he will seal the deal eventually.  There is an underlying thought that he may or may not be aware of, and that is that he has the confidence to know that although he may not be the complete package he has the capability to sell himself and learn the rest as he goes.  This directly correlates in the workforce.  When a male is up for promotion he will sell himself towards a position clearly above his skill set, with the confidence that he will learn as he goes and promises to work hard to achieve any missing traits.  I`m sorry to admit women are just not the same.  We take much safer and more calculated risks.

How many women out there have applied for a position that you were not qualified for?  Almost never.  We want to be certain.  It is the same way at a club.  We will not approach a random guy at the bar, without first establishing some eye contact, or doing the wedding ring search or other investigation into our target.  This holds true on dating sites, and I would encourage any guy on them to set up a fake female profile just to see how true this is.  Guys will click on any and every female that catches their eye.  Men are not selective, and even if a women specifies height, or hair colour, if a man likes what he sees he is undeterred.  I am a picky bitch, no question about it, I would never ever view a profile unless it met almost all my criteria, same with at the bar.  I would never just approach the first random guy I saw, I take calculated risks, do my homework, and ensure that I cover my bases to limit my mistake threshold.

So what is a girl or a guy to do about this?   There are frustrations on both sides of the spectrum.  I have encountered many males who wonder why the chick will not make the first move.  This allows for any women who actually have the “balls” to approach a man, the clear advantage when it comes to standing out and upping their attractiveness.  On the other hand, the frustration with women getting hit on by the clichéd construction worker for example, allows any male who takes the time to notice even the smallest detail about a women’s likes or something along those lines the clear advantage.  Thus if more of us used the gender biases to our advantages two things would be accomplished;  A better chance of sexual and relationship success.  As well as a lessening of the gender gap, which has wonderful benefits for all of us in the long run.  Thus, if both sexes know more about how the other responds, the confidence is boosted.  With increased confidence the result will be a marginal increase in overall happiness.  

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Can Unconditional Love exist in a Relationship?

I have discussed the unforgivable sin, the poison that is cheating or doing something outside of relationship rules that you and your partner have created.  Thus that leads me to my question about what love is actually defined as in your relationship.  I would argue that we are not willing to love our partners unconditionally.  There is far too much risk involved in the area of heartbreak and emotional anguish for that.  Thus we love based on conditions.  These conditions are put in place for our protection.  The norm for our society is that once we get married we are to start having children. 

Without any practice in having unconditional love for our partners, accepting that they are fallible creatures we then bestow upon our children a pre-supposed unconditional love.  So then what do we say to the child when they ask do you love mommy or daddy the way you love me?  The answer seems to be no, especially with such a high divorce rate.  Does that not seem strange to anyone else?  Here we have merged our genetics with a partner whom we do not love for better or for worse, but the spawn of that love will be enriched with the unbreakable love from both mother and father.

I personally wonder if perhaps we are going about relationships in a bizarre way.  Is there the possibility of actually saying and meaning I do, for better and for worse? This is the one situation where I would look to my catholic friends who are married and live this lifestyle with the aid of shared love and devotions for God.  They have made a covenant not only to each other, but to a higher power which they entrust to protect the most vulnerable emotion, love.  Is there a way for the non God fearing soul to reach the same level of open and forthcoming love?  I do not believe in a higher power, but there would be a greater temptation to find the merit in one if such belief could yield this mystical relationship with another human being.   To me this would be the un achievable goal that I would take the leap towards achieving with my partner.

To put another way, do any of you have an ex out there that is some small way you will always love?  In the English language love encompasses every type of more than friendship feeling.  The Greek had 4 different forms of love, Storge – affection between members of a  family, Philia – friendship, Eros – romantic love, and Agape – love towards God or a person’s neighbour.  Here is a language that depicts much clearer the definition of love, and yet none of these terms quite describes that unconditional relationship that I think many of us would ironically kill to obtain.  So then I ask, what are you looking to achieve from your partnership if unconditional love is off the table and unachievable?  Or do you go into a relationship and strive towards one day finding this peaceful existence in each other?  Perhaps this is the next step in our sexual evolution, finding an unconditional loving partner with whom we can achieve anything and everything with full support.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Redux

The clarity I find to any situation I have, comes through clearest in writing, like here.  Sometimes I can come to a solution on my own, but often just making a linear description of the real issue, brings me to the most suitable research or outside voice to ask for advice.  This week I caught up on the Savage Love Podcasts from the holidays and low and behold some words of wisdom from two real pros.  Within the thoughtful debate between Ira Glass and Dan Savage I found solace in both not being alone, and the conclusions that both men reached.

The real big sticking point that I was having issue about was the dating site issue.  I have always responded with the gut reaction of unpleasant things when I see his dating site usage.  These very smart men pointed out a poignant truth that I had overlooked.  The reason why the pick up scenarios for men and women tend to be unequal in the amount of time used in seeking a sexual partner boils down to the time required in effort.  Simply put, it is easier for a woman to get laid than it is for a man generally speaking.  So what this means in an open relationship is that I have to have a little more empathy for the time spent finding a suitable person.  After all, safety is a concern, and as easy as it would be to just pick up a random chick after a short period of time, that leaves the door wide open for the crazy people.  This is after all about happiness, and not just about the basic act.

Perhaps this comes across as crude or incomprehensible.  The thing the sticks with me is that I do not like being told what to do or say.  I resent when I am told who I can and cannot spend my time with, so how could I do the same to my partner with whom I love and care for?  There are days this will be a more of a strain than usual hence my previous post, but learning to love and understand each other is an intimacy I have not felt with any other human being before.

In the same thread though of don’t ask, don’t tell I think many would be surprised at one little tidbit I will share.  Have any of you been cheated on, or had the don’t ask don’t tell policy?  If so, did you know right away because of a negative reason?  I have heard so many stories where the sex or the relationship actually improved because of a sexual extramarital encounter.  Or even that there was no effect, no disruption and thus it was easier to forgive or turn a blind eye.  Many couples have given a permission slip but succeed years later because they had no idea about the indiscretion and maintained a healthy and wonderful sex life and relationship.

The don’t ask, don’t tell policy has its advantages.  I do want more than that in the future, and that is what I want to work towards.  In saying that though I recognize that I am not quite there yet and I cannot have everything at once.  Things are really great right now, and I am a huge proponent of happiness in the moment.  Don’t rock the boat if things are moving in a direction where all parties are happy.