What to Do When a Request is Ignored?

JaneQSmythe

Active member
I have a very close friend who worked for a couple years as a sex worker. She left the job completely alienated from her body to the point where she was unable to achieve orgasm. Now, there are other contributing factors to this, so I'm not saying it was just the intimacy thing. She was beaten and brutally sexually assaulted multiple times, ie. But she also firmly believes that treating sex as a detached, clinical, act damaged her spirit and disconnected her from her body and her feelings. Which is exactly what I would expect to happen if there was something inherently intimate about it.


And I am sure that many (most? all?) sex workers have had traumatic sexual experiences (as have, statistically, AT LEAST 20% of women) - which is why I added the qualifier "do all...?). Each person's experience is different. Perhaps some turn to sex work to "make the most", monetarily,from the fact that they view themselves as broken. Perhaps some are trying to "take back" control of their sexuality. And so many other scenarios.

Disclaimer: I have never been a sex worker, I do have a friend who was a Pro-Domme. I have an interest in whether there is such a thing as "healthy" sex work - I think it may exist. LOTS of people enjoy performing Burlesque - bawdy and fun, where does that slide into "stripping"? Are "ShowGirls" performers or sex workers? If you titillate but don't "put out" where does that fall on the spectrum of "slut"? Why? and is that "fair"?
 

River

New member
The party analogy - I can think of several reasons why you wouldn't be invited, but less reasons why she couldn't tell you why (in the party analogy only)...

So, maybe they know that you like parties, they DO really like you as a friend, but they do NOT like the way that you behave at parties (you get drunk, you hit on their mother, you start fights) - they don't want to get into a whole giant discussion about why they don't appreciate what kind of party-goer you are and so their options are a.) never throw a party, ever, so they don't have to address this OR b.) throw a party and not invite you.

They COULD c.) throw a party, not invite you...and explain to you WHY but then...1.) you will get all defensive, and they will have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to defend their decision without losing you as a valued friend when they have a big party to plan, and 2.) when you promise that you won't do all the things that you generally do when you go to a party (which is why you love them) they can either a.) still refuse, because you have told them that before and haven't behaved OR b.) relent and let you come, and be disappointed/embarrassed because you ONCE AGAIN did all of the things that made them not want to invite you in the first place (because, in your mind, they are "not that bad" and are what parties are for anyway.)

This response, to my eyes and ears, is far worse than useless or unhelpful.

Arius -- quite mistakenly -- tends to think that if only he did X, Y or Z a little better -- or if he were a better person somehow -- his partner will treat him more sensitively, considerately, empathetically.... In other words, he tends to think the locus of this problem (him not being treated with more sensitivity) is somehow in himself, his fault -- somehow. If only Arius can work on himself, etc., she'll begin to treat him better, he's thinking.

Along comes JaneQSmythe, who says "Yeah, that's basically right. You are the one with the problem here, not her."

Okay, maybe Arius has a problem in so desperately wanting (seeming to even need) this rather insensitive, ungiving, uncompassionate woman to be the source of kindness, warmth, understanding and affection. But it is THAT which is his problem, not that he's getting drunk at parties and hitting on the mother of the host. Sheesh.

I see NOTHING in the above-quoted post which resembles something helpful to Arius.
 

River

New member
This was amazing, River. Thank you for sharing.

I read this and reflected and realize that I absolutely DO abandon myself, and that the self-abandonment is so much worse than anybody else abandoning me or not providing me with the compassion I need, etc. This gives me another useful thing to work on.

This is a powerful insight to have -- that you do have a tendency to abandon yourself, and that there are other possibilities for you where you don't do this. Very potent, indeed.

And there is work involved in learning to drop the self-abandonment and to meet yourself with kindness, compassion, etc. But there is also a danger in this "work". The danger is that you can subtly continue to abandon yourself by taking on a task -- this "work" -- of transforming yourself so that you can finally be deserving of the love, kindness, respect and sensitivity you want and need. The way to wiggle out of this is to turn the work into play, of a kind. Don't get up behind yourself and push, or up ahead and pull -- doing the "work" of making yourself "good enough," so that you can finally be worthy and deserving of kindness and love. Instead, play at loving yourself just as you are, unconditionally. Play at being as kind and loving toward yourself as you can possibly be, each moment -- especially in the difficult ones where you tend to beat yourself up or make yourself into a "project" of self-perfecting. Play at being as creative, sensitive and imaginative as you can be in welcoming your own self-kindness, self-love, self-acceptance....

"Working on ourselves" can be the most clever way of perpetuating a subtle form of self-violence and self-rejection. It can also be a very self-loving, self-kind thing. Let's not get overly stuck on the word "work". But when we are playing we can play at the gentle and powerful practice of outrageous self-kindness. And it is outrageous! It helps to have a sense of humor about this wildly rebellious act. (Most folks are not very good at being genuinely kind to themselves. And lots of folks are not particularly supportive of such a learning, healing journey.)
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Over the past week, I've come to realize that a major issue at the heart of this recent conflict with my partner is the fact that I tend to get very emotional about how and with whom my partner chooses to share her body, and to perceive certain of her choices as a personal attack.

There are resources online for how not to take things "like a personal attack" And learn to take things more "situationally." There are also resources for "defensive listening" and "active listening." I suggest you bring those things up in counseling.

It also concerns me that I feel like I need to achieve enlightenment in order to make this relationship work. Is there some other way?

You ALONE cannot "make this relationship work."

Your 100% effort is only 50% of the fuel needed to run a two people relationship. If you work on yourself and issues and whatnot? And she's not doing her fair share on HER end? Then this still isn't going to work no matter what you do. Because she's not doing her fair share on her end.

So let me ask you -- IS she doing her fair share on her side?

If she loves me, why would she so consistently behave in a way that indicates that she doesn't care about my pleasure and/or my feelings?

Well, what behavior is she doing that shows she doesn't care?

What behavior is she doing that shows she does care?

When you put those two lists together, which one is longer?

I don't understand her behaviour, because it's so far removed from how I behave, and my brain won't leave it alone until it makes sense.

In the end? Whether you understand her things or not? You still have to measure her against your personal standard for dating partners. She either makes the cut or not.

Rather than spend all this energy trying to understand her views as if "by force" when you already say you don't really get it? The energy seems better spent on articulating what YOU want in a dating partner. And then moving on to the evaluation -- does she still make the cut or not any more?

  • You say you wouldn't ever date a social worker again. So why date one now?
  • You don't really want to share her sexually with others. So why participate in a poly thing with her where she has other lovers?
  • You have spent years in this relationship not getting what you need for empathy. So why keep investing in this?

I'm not trying to be unkind or upsetting. I'm urging you to do the soul searching you need to do.

It feels a bit icky to confront your best friend, but you decide to do it anyway because it's really bothering you.

"Hey, I heard you are having a party this weekend... I'm just wondering why I wasn't invited."

To which your best friend responds "My party, my choice" and then refuses to provide a reason and gets mad at you for being so presumptuous as to invite yourself.

Now, for sure that WAS presumptuous of you, which is why it felt icky to ask. But wouldn't you (or any reasonable person) want to know why you weren't invited to your best friend's party?

I'm not sure this party analogy works. But me?

I would not care. Because while we are best friends, they CAN have parties I don't get invited to. I wouldn't bother to ask why I was not invited. I assume they have their reasons.

I know I have mine when I throw parties.

Wouldn't you also doubt whether this person was really your friend - even if they said, "I'm your best friend" every once in a while? I mean, if you had a party, you would for sure invite them - isn't that what friends do?

Not really. We are friends because we are FRIENDS. Not because there's some party tally count somewhere.

I have close friends. I do not invite them to family parties. Because my house can only hold but so many people and my party budget only covers so far. So I have to cut the guest list somewhere. Just like I don't invite any family to my friend parties.

When I do the friend parties for ALL the friends? It's friends, their kids, their spouses, all ages.

When I do just the gal pals, it's just the women friends in my own age group. Much cozier "girls nite" things of about 5-6 people only. It is NOT all ages with the seniors or the spouses or the kids. That gets out to 25-30 and that is more than enough in a small house! Add the family and I cannot fit 50-60 people in here.

I think part of the issue is that for her, love, intimacy, and sex are separate things. For me, they are welded together, in the same way that when you're friends with someone, you invite them to your party. And I still absolutely cannot understand how they could be separate. I don't want to discard the relationship because of this difference - I want to work on it, to solve it and move forward. But it just makes no sense to me.

I would not to "solve it." I would see if I could accept that we are different people and have different values and believe different things about sex/intimacy. And I would decide if I want to participate in a relationship with a person with such a different outlook in life or not. I would assess deep compatibility. Because initial attraction or initial compatibility for "shallow" things is not the same as "deep compatibility" for the long haul.

Both people liking sushi is a "shallow compatibility" to me. Pleasant for going out to dinner. But not the basis for a long term relationship or marriage or anything like that.

I cannot date a big party person or traveler who is super extroverted. I'm an introverted homebody. Nothing against them, but what they find "fun and energizing" I find really really DRAINING.

I'm also pretty independent. I don't like "super" togetherness. On that spectrum I am not SUPER independent like a 1. But I would say a 2 or 3.
There are people I know who want to be SUPER together with their partners ALL THE TIME. Like a 10. I could not be with a 10.

I would feel suffocated. And them happy with all the togetherness.
Or me happy, and them really lonely with all the independence.

A 3 and a 6 might get along and bridge the gap and strike a balance, but a 3 and a 10? Unlikely.

Is that some of what you have going on here? You want more "togetherness" and she wants more "space?" That's a compatibility issue sometimes people fail to think about.

You guys may have started in one place at the start of the relationship. But over time with all the changes? To me it sounds like you now find the relationship more draining than joyous. :(

I wonder if maybe you are grieving that but not really at final acceptance about it yet? Like "bargaining stage" in the stages of grief? Could that be some of it? Is any of that going on here? :(

But I really don't think I'm going to relax and let go until I understand it. I'll just perpetually be working to prevent myself from freaking out about it.

Why would you choose to be in a relationship that has you perpetually freaking out or perpetually warding off freaking out? How is that healthy? How is that you doing your self care and looking out for your well being? :confused: :(

Galagirl
 
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lunabunny

New member
Does anybody know how to detach from strong harmful emotions? I'm speaking of an Eastern philosophical concept here - freedom from desire. I want to work on this, but I don't know where to begin. It also concerns me that I feel like I need to achieve enlightenment in order to make this relationship work. Is there some other way?

I think the reactions ultimately stem from my paranoid belief that her behaviour is evidence that she secretly doesn't love me.

If she loves me, why would she so consistently behave in a way that indicates that she doesn't care about my pleasure and/or my feelings? I can sort of short-circuit the downward spiral by having faith in her love and practicing gratitude, but it keeps coming up again and again because my brain needs an answer to the puzzle.

One day you hear through the grapevine that your best friend is hosting a huge party. Literally everyone you both know is invited - except you. You know that your friend knows that you love parties, yet you were not invited. I mean, it would be totally cool if they weren't into parties and weren't having a party and NO ONE got invited... but they clearly are into parties, so why are you being excluded?

Wouldn't you also doubt whether this person was really your friend - even if they said, "I'm your best friend" every once in a while?

I think part of the issue is that for her, love, intimacy, and sex are separate things. For me, they are welded together, in the same way that when you're friends with someone, you invite them to your party.


Personally, I think the party analogy is a good one.

I just have two things to say about the above highlighted quotes:

"Actions speak louder than words"... AND... "You teach people how to treat you".

Sure, anybody can claim they're your "best friend" but if the person doesn't really ACT like they want you around and refuses to explain why they've chosen to exclude you... then why would you even want to go to their party?

Similarly, a partner can throw out the occasional "but I really DO love you!" - however if they consistently behave in a manner that's contrary to that statement, and rarely try to meet your stated wants and needs... then why would you choose to stay with them?

I'm wondering if perhaps you provide something for your partner - economically, emotionally or stability-wise - that she relies on and does not wish to lose, even though there may be something missing (for her) from the relationship in the sexual intimacy department (?)

For many people there is a difference between "loving" someone and the feeling of being "in love". And even if romantic love exists in a relationship, sexual incompatibility may still be an issue.

Whatever the case...

The Zen art of detachment is a worthy aim in many ways, but as GalaGirl is fond of saying, I don't think anyone should try to "bend themselves into pretzels" trying to suppress, repress, deny or minimise their own legitimate wants/needs/desires, in order to "make a relationship work" at any cost. How is this fair to yourself?

If what YOU really want and need is an intimate/attached style of relating, then why be with someone who does not, or CANNOT, relate on that same level?
 

River

New member
Arius -

If I remember right, somewhere back there in this thread you asked about recommended "resources," such as books, etc. Now, maybe I am making this memory up, so forgive me if I am. But, in any case, I want to share a few resources that come to mind.

Any of the relationship books by John Welwood are excellent, and useful for most people. I think you would enjoy them and benefit from reading them.
http://www.johnwelwood.com/listofbooks.htm

Judith Blackstone's books have been similarly useful to me for gaining insight into my relationship with myself and others. I think her Realization Process is probably among the best guidance processes for healing and personal development.
https://realizationprocess.org/books-and-cds/

Self-Compassion
Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
https://self-compassion.org/self-compassion-kristin-neff/

The Power of Focusing: A Practical Guide to Emotional Self-Healing
by Ann Weiser Cornell
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/408265.The_Power_of_Focusing
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
Does anybody know how to detach from strong harmful emotions? I'm speaking of an Eastern philosophical concept here - freedom from desire. I want to work on this, but I don't know where to begin.

Zen Buddhism teaches detachment from desire, but strongly founded on the practice of attachment to one's Spirit.

Not all strong emotions are harmful. Every person feels them, but not everyone experiences them as harmful. When a person accepts the strong emotion and allows it, the emotion passes, having completed its "job." If you experience them as harmful, then strong emotions are an inner conflict. The inner conflict is usually what drives a person to seek help, since the inner conflict (usually repetitive) is what causes the unbearable pain, not the raw emotion itself.

I absolutely agree with you that patterns of negative and conflicted thinking are learned and that to unlearn them, to replace them with patterns of positive, healthy, harmonious thinking, takes a great deal of practice and exposure to healthy thinkers. I pay close attention to roles models who were raised in healthy homes and naturally think and relate in healthy ways, but also greatly value those who are retraining themselves to think in ways that lead to a more peaceful and satisfying life all around. Not everyone who is a heathy thinker was born into it - far from it. In my experience, changing negative, painful, conflicted thinking patterns requires an enormous amount of ongoing inner awareness AND an enormous amount of ongoing exposure to others (role models) who show us and remind us how it's done.
 
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BelleRose

New member
I think I can understand both sides of this.

Story:
On the one hand, I enjoy having sex without condoms. I've done it in the past in mono relationships after we both got tested and I was on birth control. In the past five years, however, I've developed a sensitivity to birth control and, unless I find a natural alternative, will likely be stuck with condoms. My partner, George, is able to have sex without condoms with his other partner an is very comfortable with that because she's had her tubes tied. He definitely doesn't want kids. I don't think I do, but I'm not 100% sure and not ready for a permanent solution. He is considering a vasectomy (for himself, so he never has to worry, not for me or our relationship - I would never ask that of him) but right now it's just a thought. The result is that he uses condoms with me and not with his other girlfriend.
Now, I understand the feeling of a partner sharing something sexual with someone else that you are interested in, but that they won't do with you. For me, if I didn't know the "why" behind it and I felt like he somehow loved me less or didn't think I was an adequate sex partner for certain activities, I would be hurt. Since I know why though, and I know it it's really just about being safe, I'm okay with it.

I also totally understand where GalaGirl is coming from, and have been there myself. I was friends with someone for five years who I'd always had a crush on, who had a crush on me, but nothing had ever happened between us. Not even a kiss. I personally enjoyed the sexual tension between us and hoped that one day we might explore together. Then, one night, we are out and he expressed being frustrated that we'd never had sex when I'd had sex with other people since we'd known each other. I chewed him out on the street, walked away and never saw him again. It literally felt like he was saying to me "why haven't I had my turn yet?", as though he was entitled to have sex with me, and that infuriated me beyond measure. We are no longer even on speaking terms.

That being said, I understand that it might hurt to discover your partner is willing to have sex in a position with someone else that she isn't willing to have sex in with you, especially if it's your favorite position. But you also need to acknowledge that she doesn't owe you sex, at all, in any position, and that demanding that she explain herself to you as though if she doesn't have a good enough defense you win and get the sex position you want isn't a very respectful approach. It undermines her autonomy and her consent and positions things as though she owes you that sex position.

I agree (again) with GalaGirl that you could phrase things differently.

First, what are you looking for here? Are you seeking to understand why she won't do this with you, or are you trying to argue that you should be allowed to have sex with her in that position? If she provides an explanation that you understand will you be okay going forward if she still doesn't want to do that with you?

But second, and maybe more importantly, why have you been dating someone for years who by your own admission doesn't acknowledge your feelings?! It's awesome that you can validate your own feelings but also upsetting that she isn't empathizing with you. Is it only in this instance that this happens? If so, it could be a communication thing. But if not...she could just be selfish, in which case I can't see the benefit for you in terms of staying in the relationship. If you aren't feeling love and cared for then what is the point?

Assuming that it's the former and not the latter, maybe try communicating differently. Also, rather than waiting around for her to break up with you, maybe reach out and explain that you absolutely understand and respect (which I hope you do) that how she shares (or doesn't share) her body with her partners is entirely her choice, but you can also express that in this instance her choice not to share this position makes you feel sad or inadequate, like there's something wrong with you specifically, since she's willing with someone else. That you aren't trying to change her mind, but just want to understand her thought process, and that you'd like her to understand your feelings of hurt.

Lastly, I think that the D/s dynamic makes things tricky too. I don't know the specifics of your relationship and I don't want to assume. What I will say, hoping it will help, is that I am a naturally dominant person and very, very rarely find partners who can dominate me, in bed or otherwise. If someone I didn't feel that connection with ever asked to play in a situation where they had the control, and I felt I was the more dominant party in the relationship, I would say no. Not to be hurtful, but just because it wouldn't be pleasurable or satisfying for me to essentially pretend to give over control knowing I had it all along. The D/s power exchange (at least for me) requires an innate compatibility, and it may be that she doesn't have that with you to accommodate that particular position?

In any case it does seem like she's on the defensive and I can definitely see why. Maybe a good start is making sure that she understands you aren't trying to demand this sex position.
 

Arius

New member
Arius -- quite mistakenly -- tends to think that if only he did X, Y or Z a little better -- or if he were a better person somehow -- his partner will treat him more sensitively, considerately, empathetically.... In other words, he tends to think the locus of this problem (him not being treated with more sensitivity) is somehow in himself, his fault -- somehow. If only Arius can work on himself, etc., she'll begin to treat him better, he's thinking.

Along comes JaneQSmythe, who says "Yeah, that's basically right. You are the one with the problem here, not her."

Okay, maybe Arius has a problem in so desperately wanting (seeming to even need) this rather insensitive, ungiving, uncompassionate woman to be the source of kindness, warmth, understanding and affection. But it is THAT which is his problem, not that he's getting drunk at parties and hitting on the mother of the host. Sheesh.

Thanks, River.

I've been watching a lot of videos by Mooji and Ask A Monk on non-attachment in sexual + romantic relationships. The videos are very helpful, and I'm hoping some tweaks to my daily meditation practice will allow me to not need love, warmth, kindness, etc, from others so much. However, I am concerned that I will basically have to achieve enlightenment in order to be able to function in this relationship. Her and I are so different in so many ways.

Thing is, that this issue (being overly attached or invested, having emotionally manipulative freak outs because of how I interpret my partner's behaviour) happens (usually to a lesser extent, but it still happens) in ALL my relationships. So I DO need to fix myself. I'm hoping therapy will be fruitful.

I have also had a pretty hard time taking Jane's posts as attempts at help - which I'm sure they are - instead of personal attacks. I think that this is probably because some things I have said - about intimacy, for example - upset Jane... who now wants to be helpful, but is maybe also a bit angry with me. Is this accurate, Jane?

It's hard, because I don't have a lot of energy to deal with side conversations like this one. I regret fuelling this controversy about intimacy, for example, because I really don't have the spoons to see that through or clean up that mess. Though I am attempting to follow River's very interesting and relevant "Framing Intimacy" post (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35932), which it will probably take me days or even weeks to catch up on.
 

Arius

New member
And there is work involved in learning to drop the self-abandonment and to meet yourself with kindness, compassion, etc. But there is also a danger in this "work". The danger is that you can subtly continue to abandon yourself by taking on a task -- this "work" -- of transforming yourself so that you can finally be deserving of the love, kindness, respect and sensitivity you want and need. The way to wiggle out of this is to turn the work into play, of a kind. Don't get up behind yourself and push, or up ahead and pull -- doing the "work" of making yourself "good enough," so that you can finally be worthy and deserving of kindness and love. Instead, play at loving yourself just as you are, unconditionally. Play at being as kind and loving toward yourself as you can possibly be, each moment -- especially in the difficult ones where you tend to beat yourself up or make yourself into a "project" of self-perfecting. Play at being as creative, sensitive and imaginative as you can be in welcoming your own self-kindness, self-love, self-acceptance....

"Working on ourselves" can be the most clever way of perpetuating a subtle form of self-violence and self-rejection. It can also be a very self-loving, self-kind thing. Let's not get overly stuck on the word "work". But when we are playing we can play at the gentle and powerful practice of outrageous self-kindness. And it is outrageous! It helps to have a sense of humor about this wildly rebellious act. (Most folks are not very good at being genuinely kind to themselves. And lots of folks are not particularly supportive of such a learning, healing journey.)

This is so, so helpful. Thank you.

I'm pretty decent at self-compassion.

I SUCK at humour. I take myself way too seriously all the time and I don't know how to stop. I'm not sure why I'm like this. My earliest memories are of myself as a deeply introverted and very serious 4 or 5 year-old atheist who found other children annoying to play with.

I do think there is something about what you're saying that reminds me of another insight I had a while back, when I finally started to understand the Eastern philosophical concept of trying without trying. There's sort of a medium, optimal amount of effort; not too much, or you psych yourself out, over-focus, and screw up, but not too little either, otherwise you lose all motivation and nothing gets done. It's not about Not Trying at all and just blowing around wherever the winds of fate push you, it's about heading off in a direction and then not worrying about getting there within a particular time-frame.

I will try to play.
 

ref2018

Bastard of Young
Staff member
Just because someone says something that rubs you the wrong way doesn't mean *they* are upset or angry with *you*. No one here is more invested in your own shit than you are, despite how involved they may seem with your shit.

That "you" is the general "you", not just you, Arius, the star of this particular thread.
 

Arius

New member
IS she doing her fair share on her side?

Well, what behavior is she doing that shows she doesn't care?

What behavior is she doing that shows she does care?

When you put those two lists together, which one is longer?

It's hard for me to know what constitutes doing her fair share right now. But I think she HAS been working really hard to speak my love language, ie. She touches me when I'm upset because she knows this helps. She has been extra patient and compassionate lately. And the thing is that I have all kinds of time to work on myself, whereas she has a really draining full-time job that places strict limits on her capacity to be an empathetic human being. So I don't think it's fair to ask her to put the same amount of work in as I do.

Behaviours that show she doesn't care:

1. Showing little to no interest in who I am or what I do. I'm a musician, but she never comes out to any of my shows or even listens to my music. I've been writing songs in a band for a year and a half now, and she probably couldn't tell you the name of one of our songs. I put out an EP in 2014, and I don't think she ever listened to it all the way through.

She's also a musician. I know all her songs off by heart, I come out to all her shows, and I even delivered a copy of her EP to the local radio station because I thought they should spin it. Basically, I'm her number one fan - which is how I generally act when I care about someone.

It's like this with all our important projects. I care deeply about hers, but she expresses zero interest in mine.


Behaviour that shows she cares:

1. Frequently telling me she loves me.

2. Asking how my day was, or asking personal questions. She never used to do this, but I pointed out that it was a relationship issue for me, and she has started to make more of an effort.

3. Sending messages. We're in contact pretty much daily, and it's reciprocally initiated. If I back off, she's the one to reach out.

4. Making attempts to speak my love language - touching me when she sees I'm upset, ie.

5. Inviting me over to hang out or snuggle, making plans to see me.

6. Little gifts. I felt really touched when she sent me a picture a couple weeks ago that she knew would delight me.

7. Continuing to invest in the relationship, even when it's hard, and to make time for difficult conversations.



...I'm struggling to fill out the first half (things that show she DOESN'T care) in this moment, but maybe that's work I can do on my own time.


In the end? Whether you understand her things or not? You still have to measure her against your personal standard for dating partners. She either makes the cut or not.

Rather than spend all this energy trying to understand her views as if "by force" when you already say you don't really get it? The energy seems better spent on articulating what YOU want in a dating partner. And then moving on to the evaluation -- does she still make the cut or not any more?

I think articulating what I want in a dating partner is a good exercise.

Although if I'm TOO specific, I end up not being compatible with anybody ever.

I know y'all think love is abundant, but when you live in a medium-sized city and you're a disabled polyamorous relationship anarchist who needs your partners to have certain political beliefs, and then you start adding in things like sexual chemistry, personality traits, etc, the dating pool can pretty quickly drop to zero. She checks off enough boxes for me and I love her enough that I'm dedicated to trying to make this work until I absolutely know for sure that it won't; I'm not just chucking her out when it gets hard.


I would not to "solve it." I would see if I could accept that we are different people and have different values and believe different things about sex/intimacy. And I would decide if I want to participate in a relationship with a person with such a different outlook in life or not. I would assess deep compatibility.

I cannot date a big party person or traveler who is super extroverted. I'm an introverted homebody. Nothing against them, but what they find "fun and energizing" I find really really DRAINING.

I'm also pretty independent. I don't like "super" togetherness.

Is that some of what you have going on here? You want more "togetherness" and she wants more "space?" That's a compatibility issue sometimes people fail to think about.

To me it sounds like you now find the relationship more draining than joyous. :(

I wonder if maybe you are grieving that but not really at final acceptance about it yet? Like "bargaining stage" in the stages of grief? Could that be some of it? Is any of that going on here? :(

Her and I are both introverts who enjoy roughly the same level of independence. If we weren't, I wouldn't have started dating her. Extroverts send me screaming for the hills, and people who need significantly more or less independence than I do don't make it through the first few weeks.

If I honestly found the relationship more draining than joyous, I would leave. Most of the time, I am fine. Periodically, I get deeply upset by an unresolved issue that rears its ugly head. This isn't our whole relationship. Though I do admit, that the relationship is challenging. You listed some (actually not even all) of the challenges we face as a couple, and it's a daunting list. But I look at that list and decide to accept the challenge every day.

We've stopped living together, and I'm actually really excited about what our relationship might look like moving forward. Except that in the process of moving out, things got rough and I triggered a bunch of her abandonment issues and now she's not sure if she wants to be sexually intimate with me anymore. So we're hanging in the balance. But if we can get to a good place again, I think our relationship could be super rewarding and fulfilling.


Why would you choose to be in a relationship that has you perpetually freaking out or perpetually warding off freaking out?

Um... Isn't that what polyamory is? Having a bunch of relationships that scare the crap out of you every day until you die? j/k - sort of.

Look. Being poly isn't a "lifestyle choice" for me. I have no option. My core value is freedom, so I can't oppress another person by binding them up in a monogamous relationship because of my fears. And I definitely don't want to be constrained either. I was NEVER good at monogamy. So I'm IN this, no matter how hard it gets.

I basically have one thing that really upsets me at this point: when my partners do things with others that they won't do with me. I'm trying to work on it. And I'm making progress.

I'd like it a lot if my partner magically started showing in love in the ways that I look for it, but I doubt that is going to happen with her. So my plan is to have a conversation where I ask her questions about how she DOES show love, so I can start looking for those things instead of the things I usually look for. I think this will help me love her better too.

I know that it's ANOTHER layer of incompatibility - different love languages, opposite ideas about sex and intimacy, etc.

But I'm still in.

So. Perhaps instead of wasting lots of energy thinking about whether or not she's worth it, I'll just use that energy to make this relationship the best it can be, unless and until I get a clear signal from my body and brain that it's time to move on.
 

Arius

New member
The Zen art of detachment is a worthy aim in many ways, but as GalaGirl is fond of saying, I don't think anyone should try to "bend themselves into pretzels" trying to suppress, repress, deny or minimise their own legitimate wants/needs/desires, in order to "make a relationship work" at any cost. How is this fair to yourself?

Thanks for weighing in, LunaBunny.

Your "pretzels" phrase gives me food for thought.

However, I want to become more Zen so that I can stop being emotionally manipulative in my reactions. This issue is MOST noticeable when she chooses to do things with others that she chooses not to do with me. But it's also just endemic to my communication style. I learned how to leave people from an abusive, co-dependent alcoholic. That needs to be fixed, no matter what relationship I'm in.
 

Arius

New member
Arius -

If I remember right, somewhere back there in this thread you asked about recommended "resources," such as books, etc. Now, maybe I am making this memory up, so forgive me if I am. But, in any case, I want to share a few resources that come to mind.

I did ask for those, so thank you!

I presently don't have money for food, so I can't buy books. But I will check the local library, see if there are .pdfs online, and maybe add some to my birthday list.
 

Arius

New member
Not all strong emotions are harmful. Every person feels them, but not everyone experiences them as harmful. When a person accepts the strong emotion and allows it, the emotion passes, having completed its "job." If you experience them as harmful, then strong emotions are an inner conflict. The inner conflict is usually what drives a person to seek help, since the inner conflict (usually repetitive) is what causes the unbearable pain, not the raw emotion itself.


Thanks for clarifying these concepts. This complements what I have been learning from Ask A Monk and Mooji, in a way that is very illuminating. It's about not mistaking myself for the feelings that arise, and not being fooled by the ideas attached to those feelings, which are created by my own memory.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I did not say "equal." I said "fair share."

Like... do you expect her to behave like your #1 music fan and attend all your things even though she has a really draining full-time job that places strict limits on her capacity? :confused: It sounds like maybe you do. So part of this could be your expectations becoming more realistic.

Despite her limited time she IS doing these things that are about YOU.

Behaviour that shows she cares:

1. Frequently telling me she loves me.

2. Asking how my day was, or asking personal questions. She never used to do this, but I pointed out that it was a relationship issue for me, and she has started to make more of an effort.

3. Sending messages. We're in contact pretty much daily, and it's reciprocally initiated. If I back off, she's the one to reach out.

4. Making attempts to speak my love language - touching me when she sees I'm upset, ie.

5. Inviting me over to hang out or snuggle, making plans to see me.

6. Little gifts. I felt really touched when she sent me a picture a couple weeks ago that she knew would delight me.

7. Continuing to invest in the relationship, even when it's hard, and to make time for difficult conversations.

And those things really are about keeping up with your care and nurture. Not about leeping up with your music. Be nice if she had the time to do both, but if she's got limited time I think she's spending it where it matters -- your care and nurture.

...I'm struggling to fill out the first half (things that show she DOESN'T care) in this moment, but maybe that's work I can do on my own time.

Well, if so far it is zero perhaps that is enough to reassure yourself she does care when brain goes off into thinking she doesn't? Just because she doesn't show love in your style, doesn't mean she doesn't care at all. You seem to be recognizing that.

There's sort of a medium, optimal amount of effort; not too much, or you psych yourself out, over-focus, and screw up, but not too little either, otherwise you lose all motivation and nothing gets done. It's not about Not Trying at all and just blowing around wherever the winds of fate push you, it's about heading off in a direction and then not worrying about getting there within a particular time-frame.

Maybe she's doing middle path on HER end. Since she's got limited time, she cannot go "all out on all the things." So she's going to focus on the "you" things and skip some of the interest things like the music.

Where since you have more time, you CAN go beyond middle path to add bonus things like be her #1 music fan.

We've stopped living together, and I'm actually really excited about what our relationship might look like moving forward. Except that in the process of moving out, things got rough and I triggered a bunch of her abandonment issues and now she's not sure if she wants to be sexually intimate with me anymore.

That certainly sheds more light on things. Before you were writing that she stopped sharing sex with you because you were too vanilla.

Arius said:
Galagirl said:
Why would you choose to be in a relationship that has you perpetually freaking out or perpetually warding off freaking out?
Um... Isn't that what polyamory is? Having a bunch of relationships that scare the crap out of you every day until you die? j/k - sort of.

I'm not talking about the poly-ness of the relationship model.

I'm talking about your relationship dynamic with her. The stuff that would be there even if you were not poly. Is this healthy? All this stuff that is stressing you out -- like being her #1 music fan and then being upset (even though you recognize she has limited time) that she is not behaving like your #1 fan. Being so intense about the relationship is not serving you well. You seem to recognize that you get intense in relationships and are working on it so that's good.

I basically have one thing that really upsets me at this point: when my partners do things with others that they won't do with me. I'm trying to work on it. And I'm making progress.

That's good.

I'd like it a lot if my partner magically started showing in love in the ways that I look for it, but I doubt that is going to happen with her. So my plan is to have a conversation where I ask her questions about how she DOES show love, so I can start looking for those things instead of the things I usually look for. I think this will help me love her better too.

That's also good. Esp since when this worked:

2. Asking how my day was, or asking personal questions. She never used to do this, but I pointed out that it was a relationship issue for me, and she has started to make more of an effort.

You framed it a certain way and saw results. Which is why I suggested looking at how your conversation startups go.

Perhaps instead of wasting lots of energy thinking about whether or not she's worth it, I'll just use that energy to make this relationship the best it can be, unless and until I get a clear signal from my body and brain that it's time to move on.

I would agree. You seem to want to be in it. The list of positives are pretty good and you have a hard time listing negative behavior about you.

So far the things seem to be

  • "I expect her to do sex positions with me that she doesn't want to share with me right now. Even though she's not into it and might be dealing with abandonment triggers of her own since the recent move."
  • "I expect her to be my #1 music fan and keep up with all my music even though she's got limited time.
"

To me that is more managing your expectations so they are more realistic than negative behavior she is doing right now.

Galagirl
 
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Arius

New member
Now, I understand the feeling of a partner sharing something sexual with someone else that you are interested in, but that they won't do with you. For me, if I didn't know the "why" behind it and I felt like he somehow loved me less or didn't think I was an adequate sex partner for certain activities, I would be hurt. Since I know why though, and I know it it's really just about being safe, I'm okay with it.

That being said, I understand that it might hurt to discover your partner is willing to have sex in a position with someone else that she isn't willing to have sex in with you, especially if it's your favorite position. But you also need to acknowledge that she doesn't owe you sex, at all, in any position, and that demanding that she explain herself to you as though if she doesn't have a good enough defense you win and get the sex position you want isn't a very respectful approach. It undermines her autonomy and her consent and positions things as though she owes you that sex position.

I agree (again) with GalaGirl that you could phrase things differently.

First, what are you looking for here? Are you seeking to understand why she won't do this with you, or are you trying to argue that you should be allowed to have sex with her in that position? If she provides an explanation that you understand will you be okay going forward if she still doesn't want to do that with you?

...Also, rather than waiting around for her to break up with you, maybe reach out and explain that you absolutely understand and respect (which I hope you do) that how she shares (or doesn't share) her body with her partners is entirely her choice, but you can also express that in this instance her choice not to share this position makes you feel sad or inadequate, like there's something wrong with you specifically, since she's willing with someone else. That you aren't trying to change her mind, but just want to understand her thought process, and that you'd like her to understand your feelings of hurt.

If someone I didn't feel that connection with ever asked to play in a situation where they had the control, and I felt I was the more dominant party in the relationship, I would say no. Not to be hurtful, but just because it wouldn't be pleasurable or satisfying for me to essentially pretend to give over control knowing I had it all along.

Maybe a good start is making sure that she understands you aren't trying to demand this sex position.

Thanks for the empathy.

I don't really think I need to work that much on my communication. I think what I need to work on is how I paraphrase my communication on this message board. Admittedly, I perhaps could have put more energy and thought into how the late-night fb chat that precipitated all of this began and evolved. But nobody on this board is privy to that original conversation, so I'm not sure why you're speculating about it.

She absolutely knows that I'm not demanding this sex position from her. I have been very, very clear with her that she does not owe me anything at all, but that I don't understand the why of the situation and that THAT is what bothers me. She knows I've discovered the implicit "should" hiding in my assumption that she should have sex with me in that position, and I've apologized for that and reiterated multiple times that she owes me nothing and that I was mistaken. And we agree that you would also be bothered if you didn't know the why.

If there was a good reason, I would be absolutely FINE with not doing this with her. (And I get that she doesn't OWE me a reason, too, but it really sucks not to have one.)

I'm not stupid about consent and autonomy.

I do however occasionally stink of male privilege / am blind to my potential to be oppressive.

For example, if I was having this conversation with another man, or another man brought it up to me, like "Hey, you f***ed Steve in such and such a position, but we never do... what's up with that (belch)?" (again, NOT A REAL QUOTE, though with a person socialized as male it would probably suffice) I would be like "oh, blah blah blah here's the answer." We would have a super productive conversation about the whole thing, and Steve and I would both feel better at the end.

But patriarchy is a thing, and gender oppression is a thing, so sometimes when I speak to a woman the way I would speak to a man, everything goes sideways in a hurry. And I completely own my responsibility for that. It's on me to try to learn everything I can about how not to put pressure on women, and I do very much appreciate all the insights I have received from the women on this message board over the course of this conversation, because it helps me immensely on that journey.

"...you can also express that in this instance her choice not to share this position makes you feel sad or inadequate, like there's something wrong with you specifically, since she's willing with someone else. "

So, a big issue is that I feel like I actually CAN'T express this. It's my truth, but as soon as I say it, as a man, to a woman, in a patriarchal culture, I'm oppressing her and pressuring her. And it's made a million times worse by the fact that I don't know how to communicate without being too needy/clingy/manipulative. Because the fact that my feelings of adequacy and self-worth are connected to her behaving sexually in a particular way are the problem. That's most of the reason why this whole thing blew up, and it's what I need to fix.
 
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Arius

New member
...do you expect her to behave like your #1 music fan and attend all your things even though she has a really draining full-time job that places strict limits on her capacity?

So, just to be clear, when we started dating she was unemployed and literally spent all day binge-watching Netflix. And she still didn't care about my music or any of my other projects. I don't need her to be my number one fan. I would settle for her WANTING to be supportive, but not having time. But she is chronically neglectful in this way.


[*]"I expect her to do sex positions with me that she doesn't want to share with me right now. Even though she's not into it and might be dealing with abandonment triggers of her own since the recent move."

To reiterate for maybe the 30th time in this thread, I absolutely do not expect her to a) have sex with me, and b) have sex with me in any specific position. Her and I haven't had sex in seven months; we don't even have a sexual relationship presently. And if she blanket wasn't into that position, I would be fine with that. However, she obviously IS "into it," just with him and not me. And the fact that she won't explain why leaves me to speculate in negative ways.

I was upset by a picture I saw of her doing a thing she has historically said no to for most of our relationship, but this was one of many things that fit that same pattern of her saying No to me and then all of a sudden being down to do this thing with her shiny new partner. Sex isn't even on the table right now, I'm just mad that she spent years denying me and then said yes to him - for no apparent reason.

Though the blow-up DID become about that one sex position, it's been an issue I've wrestled with generally across many instances. ie, she's done this over and over about all kinds of things. I've accepted most of the things: they seem to be about their vs our kink dynamic or about their vs our chemistry etc. But the doggystyle one is really a painful puzzle because - aside from a couple doubtful theories about my penis curve and the dominance of that position, I can think of absolutely no reason for her to do this with someone else and not me - when we were sexual. Her and I shared a deep intimacy and a 7 year bond, and we WERE having sex. So why not in that position, if she's obviously not opposed to that position (according to the photographic evidence)?
 

YouAreHere

Well-known member
If there was a good reason, I would be absolutely FINE with not doing this with her. (And I get that she doesn't OWE me a reason, too, but it really sucks not to have one.)

What I think JaneQSmythe may have been getting at (which got obscured by the particular example in question) is, what does it benefit her to give you this reason? If she's concerned that giving you a reason will lead to more arguments and heavy conversations that she doesn't have spoons for, this may be why she's reluctant to give you one.

Vague Example: Her answer is that you have some personality trait that makes her not want to do this with you. What do you do with that information?

A) Accept it quietly and move on?
B) Accept it quietly and build up resentment?
C) Try to change that thing about you and let her know that now she could reconsider?
D) Argue that no, you don't have that personality trait?

Now, I'm not putting any of those specific reactions on you personally, and of course you won't know how you'll react without actually HAVING an answer, but if she's at all unsure about how you'll react (and she has no spoons to deal with a "bad" reaction), giving no answer may feel like the "best" answer to her.

Edit: It may be worth asking her what kind of reaction she'd prefer to see from you if she did decide to give you a reason.
 
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