Monday, 29 July 2013

Acting Single, or Not

An aspect of my life that I have altered in the past few years is how I interact with people when I first meet them, and admittedly this is still a work in progress.  I used to come off as cold when I first met someone.  This was followed up very quickly with some story about my boyfriend to ensure either male or females alike were aware I was not single.  For males, in my mind it told them that I was not looking to hook up, which of course solidified the coldness vibe.  And for females, this told them that I was happy, which turned out to just be cold again, and a little bit of a bitchy brag.  Yes, I was that girl and naturally it stemmed from insecurities.  I had no ability to handle myself as a single girl out on the town so I shut down every new possibility to meet anyone new, friendship or otherwise. 

Here is a funny/strange story which very eloquently shows just how cold I was to new people, and missed out on an actual opportunity.  It was Halloween of 2003 or 2004 ish, and I was out at the bar with a bunch of friends and a few girls that I did not know that well.  Ariel (redhead I did not know, aptly named for her Halloween costume) came up to me and tried to chat.  I pulled my whole insecure vibe, said I was not single, pointed to my boyfriend and just shut the girl right down.  I was cold, and in retrospect pretty mean considering that she did not know many people there, however despite that I showed my true insecure colours.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  One of my dear girlfriends was there and treated Ariel a lot kinder than I.  The two had a few drinks together, danced a bit, and then bam!  Ariel pulled my girlfriend up in front of me, started grinding her, and then kissed her.  Right in front of me, as a sort of rub in my nose just how much of a loser/bitch I had been to her.  And I received that message loud and clear, and have not forgotten it to this day.  On a side note, she would work very hard to hit on my boyfriend over the next few meetings, but she always did it right in front of me.  I provided the perfect challenge, and opportunity for her.  I tip my hat to her, as honestly it was one moment in my life I truly regret.  That drunken kiss at a bar, with a hot chick, just to say I did. 

I do not like living my life knowing that there are missed opportunities like that.  Also, and much less selfishly, treating people coldly when I first meet them is completely unnecessary.  With insecurities consciously addressed, I find when I meet people now I rarely use the juvenile methods of my past.  I do not bring up my relationship status right away.  Instead I try and get to know each individual as a person, have a few laughs, and let them get to know me.  Approaching new people as individuals is a skill set that I utilize in interviews, meeting peoples families for the first time and all the awkward firsts that have arisen.  I no longer use the crutch of acting single or committed.  I just act as myself and meet people on a real basis.  And of course the unmentionable is, that if I do find myself single in the future, I will not go through the whole “how do I act single again” quandary.  I will act now, as I do then, proud, confident and with the intention of always getting to know new and interesting people for who they are, and not based on their partner or relationship status.  

Monday, 22 July 2013

Jealousy as an Adolescent: Quest for Compersion

In my previous post, I discussed the first time I was given the notion of what jealousy was.  I was given this term to aid me in dealing with some mean children on the playground.  It fit very simply into the required scenario, thus no further thought was given to it at the time.  Upon further internal debate, I find myself asking, when should jealousy no longer be a controlling emotion in our lives?  Most children learn to share from an early age, with arguably, the exception of the only child and the eldest, as we find tricky work arounds.  We are scolded if we do not share, and yet it seems, praised for cherishing that one particular item.  My childhood doll, named Suzy Baby, was able to come with me anywhere I wanted.  I was allowed to say that no one could touch her, and be as possessive and controlling as I felt appropriate towards her.  She was completely my doll, and at nearly 30 I still have her.  

When I was a teenager, it seemed that possessive female friendship based jealousy was the norm and even encouraged.  It was re-iterated to me time and time again that woman could not have a triad based friendship with women, or even a group of females who were all close, you could only have one best friend.  Whenever I tried and there was a fight, I would be told, that women are too jealous of each other to stay friends in an odd number.  Also, I was never given any tips or encouragement on how to properly develop a real and true female bond, especially in the multiples.  You could have that one special person that you could tell everything to, however there was a catch to that, they had to tell you everything too so that it was fair.  And if any new female came into the picture you were to develop feelings of distrust and suspicion that this new person whom may or may not learn your deep dark secrets.  Fighting therefore begins to feel natural, and to distrust other woman encouraged from a very early age. 

I know there are a lot of people out there who believe the jealousy is a good thing.  That in small doses it can strengthen a relationship, make a person feel loved, admired and even safe.  I think this argument would hold more weight if jealousy was a positive emotion.  But in fact it is negative, and it sucks energy from any relationship.  If you react afterwards in a positive way, see the glass half full after this raw emotion has been displayed, that is amazing.  However I would argue that to have an emotion that strips you of happiness, even in the moment, does not seem worthwhile.  I can put a positive spin on almost any situation, but once I find the root cause, I would prefer to just eliminate sensations that do no yield a positive result.  I want to grow and move past, rather than remain stunted or in a place where I have to rely on fighting reactionary emotions and putting positive spin on situations.

As I write this I am nostalgically looking off into space, and it feels as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I have not actually felt that jealous and possessive feeling towards either my male or female friends in a long time.  It is taking me a lot longer when it comes to sexual relationships but the foundation is being laid.  And writing the paragraph above I can really see where the origins came from and why.  For me, discovering where things come from enables me to better overcome them, also to decide which feelings should be kept, and which should be thrown away.  I cannot say this enough times throughout my soul searching and writing, the statement that is, jealousy has never once given me a positive sensation or added any joy to my life.  It is an emotion that is encouraged and taught as a child, and although I know where it comes from and why, my quest to rid myself of that and perhaps even turn it into compersion is truly coming true.  I am finding new ways to feel pride in other people’s joyful relationships.  And the ironic thing is, it makes my relationships with these people so much more fulfilling.  Our discussions are not based solely on the negative thoughts and feelings of others friends and partners.  Instead we can truly discuss real emotions, friendships and experiences outside of our own with joy and laughter. 

I am open to any stories or anecdotes that any of you may have as to jealousy being a positive influence in your life, to it bringing you joy.  Or even if it has ever had a sex positive outcome.  I would love to see the full picture, to understand if maybe as a jealous person, I was just doing it wrong.  Working towards an outlook with compersion is something I am setting my sights on.  I doubt it will be easy, but I remind myself of the payoff that will be the result.  Happiness and peacefulness with anger, distrust, envy or jealousy, and those are goals I am proud to have.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Jealousy from an Early Age

The other day I was out with a few friends, mostly made up of couples.  One of the ladies that I have known for a while was acting incredibly distant with me.  I would not say we have ever been close, however we do get along fairly well and can make each other laugh.  After a few hours I reached the conclusion without even knowing why, that she must be jealous of me for some reason.  I share this with as much humility as I can muster.  A female I have known for a few years was acting differently around me so I naturally surmised that the only possible explanation for this one time change in behaviour was her jealousy of me.

When I woke up the next morning and screwed my little head on properly, my mind started wandering.  Why did I reach that particular conclusion, why did I not just ask her what was wrong, or even more importantly, if she was ok?  Putting aside my only child tendency to be overly selfish I recalled the first time I was told about jealousy.  I like many young children was having a difficult time with finding my place on the playground.  I was being picked on by boys and girls alike, struggling to find my niche in a new school.  When I came home one day in tears, my mother sat me down and told me that I was being picked on because other children were jealous of me.  I did not ask her why they would be jealous, or even what that word meant.  Instead I accepted it as fact, as all young children do at that age and held my head up just a little higher the next day.  I learned compassion from that chat with my mother, and almost always tried to put myself in another’s shoes when they teased me, and tried to remember that if they took the time to tease me, they must have a reason either jealousy or some other purpose.  It helped a great deal at the time, although now, I am left wondering if jealousy is perhaps something we should be growing out of as we get older.

Is it really OK as an adult to believe that negative behaviour is an extension of a person’s jealousy or lust for something you have or are?  Is believing that sentiment, something that makes us more compassionate humans, or is this emotion one that stunts our emotional development and maturity?  Is this green lust merely a scapegoat emotion, that we teach our children to soften the blow of not being liked?  As adults we are supposed to have education, knowledge, and social skills to interact with our fellow man.  We have the complexity to understand that no one is perfect, and there is little to be gained from secretly desiring something from our fellow man.  If I see someone in what looks like a perfect marriage, does it do me any good to hate the person, or lust after what they have?  Rationally we know it does not, and we have all seen people consumed by jealousy.  We pity these people, and strive to overcome this feeling in our lives.  And yet, jealousy is not habitually left behind in adolescence.  Instead, many of us bring it forward into our deepest relationships.  This negative feeling, learned in childhood which offers very little benefit long term. 

I challenge my readers to share a situation where jealousy in their lives has lead to a positive.  Also to think critically if jealousy, is even an adult emotion and why you think it is or is not, which you can share with me here.  The girl the other night was experiencing something complex that chances are had nothing to do with me.  I gave it a name, a childhood emotion so I could dismiss it, sweet, simple and selfish.

Monday, 8 July 2013

An Argument for Monogamies Fabrication

For any women out there who believe the monogamy is the gold standard of living and the ultimate goal to reach in any relationship, you may want to consider some of its documented history.  During the 1830’s, in France, any woman who was found to have engaged in a sexual relationship with more than one man was considered a prostitute and could be imprisoned.  Any woman who dated more than one man at once, was not yet married or even seen on the streets with a group of woman could be arrested for prostitution.  Monogamy was the resulting ideal standard as the only way a woman could be ‘safe’ from the stigma of being a whore. 

Now think of the real implications of that fun fact.  If you truly believe that monogamy is the societal norm, and more to the point, the only way to live a moral lifestyle, know that it can be argued to have originated from religion and authoritarian males fear of woman.  Further that it is an imposed norm that has been practiced for less than 200 years (France Specifically).  Also, that the template of monogamy is for one gender and one gender only, females.  Men have never faced the same legal ramifications for sleeping with more than one woman at a time.  In fact, prior to the 1950’s it was acceptable for a man to have his wife at home, and a mistress or two on the side, while socially engaging in the company of prostitutes.  Ironically prior to the 1800’s, woman in power were documented to enjoy the same luxuries, having a husband, and then a few male consorts on the side. It is always amazing what a difference a mere 200 years can bring to our views and acceptable norms of behaviour.

Monogamy is relatively new in our historical evolution, and based on the current figures, 70 percent of men admit to cheating, and an equally surprising 60 percent of women admit the same.  I do not agree cheating is ever the answer, but if monogamy is natural for woman why are both sexes breaking their commitments in such high numbers?  Monogamy was created as a way for men to control women, it was not a natural concept researched to be better for child rearing and happier lives as we have been lead to believe.  Can you imagine living in a time where having sex with more than one man ran the risk of being imprisoned and labelled a whore?  Oh wait, this still happens.  And the most astounding point of all of this, is that this myth of monogamy being the gold standard worked so well, that woman are today’s main proponents of it.  Woman, are the ones who seek monogamy, who cling to the idea of till death do you part, and one man for every woman.  We have been falling for this notion, hook line and sinker for more than 200 years.  We are stigmatized by the fear of living life as a slut, and what’s more, for some strange reason very few of us recognize that there is an actual fight to be had.

I doubt that this post is going to sway anyone from believing in monogamy.  Instead, just know it historically has been used as a very real means of keeping woman in the control of men.  That it is a relationship norm that is still in infancy, and right now there is no evidence that it works, or is better suited to raise a family or live out a healthy lifestyle.  Rather we have centuries of evidence to the contrary, real documented proof that this is not the lifestyle that allowed humanity to strive, flourish and at the base level even survive.  Monogamy has changed how woman today view relationships, whereas men have forgotten why they put this structure in place just a few decades ago as it worked so well.  Women were forced into monogamy, but now it appears we force it on men, and it does not seem to actually make anyone happy.  Maybe I am just being cynical, but I rely on evidence and science whenever possible, faith in this social norm seems misguided and the evidence points to it being against our natural tendencies.  Is it monogamy that actually makes men and women happy?  Perhaps it is time to stop forcing this requirement on our partners for whatever reason we deem fit, and focus on more important things, like real and true happiness.