Posts Tagged With: relationships

Too Damned Stubborn To Stop

There is a lot of discussion of resiliency among people in therapy. Why? Probably because they’ve heard their therapist say something about it, and to quote Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

There are people who use this word to describe people in other classes. For some, the actions and choices of the rich define what they think resilience is.  On the other hand, there are quite a few professionals (not necessarily all involved in psychology) using the word as a goal for the poor, because if they can “just be resilient” then life will be all unicorns, rainbows and butterflies.

Guess what, people? It ain’t that way in the real world.

  1. There are resilient and not-so-resilient people in all economic classes. Neither your economic status nor your relative financial success/failure defines your ability to be resilient.
  2. To quote the American Psychological Association (APA) Psychology Help Center’s brochure on “The Road To Resilience” resilience is defined as:
    “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”

Let me say this loudly:

The ability to persist
IS NOT
being resilient!

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Teenaged Angst: 31 Years Later

Yes, another therapy post. You can pass on by if you want.

We were discussing relationships, and she asked me a somewhat off the wall question, at least from my perspective. I can’t exactly remember the question, but it was essentially one where she wanted to know if there was any specific memory that seemed to be associated with what I was feeling.

It took me straight to Homecoming of my senior year in high school.  Now, you have to understand a few things about my high school. It was a boarding school, and I was what could be called a “scholarship student.” I worked as a dishwasher at least both my junior and senior years, and my parents got loans either from family or from the church body that owned and ran the school (yes, it was a religious boarding school owned and run by a very conservative, evangelical Lutheran synod). We were not allowed dances, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have those “special days.” It just meant that it was more about speeches and awards than about having some — hopefully — semi-clean fun. We had a joke about it (that I told my therapist) that we weren’t allowed to have sex because “it would lead to dancing.” Also, since it was the 80s, and most of the huge anti-hazing laws had yet to be created, there was a form of hazing for incoming freshmen. Anything (short of illegal or against the rules) that an upperclassman (juniors and seniors) told them to do, they were supposed to do.

I was, for a good portion of my high school years, the almost asexual, advice-giving friend. My senior year, I decided to take a risk. I asked an older freshman that I had been hanging out with to go to Homecoming with me.  I wasn’t expecting some huge romantic relationship, just having an escort for my last Homecoming of my high school career.

He stood me up.

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Categories: Mental Retraining, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stumbling Over Ruins

 

I’ve discussed some of my old programming when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve made some real progress, however slowly, in rewriting many of the larger of my stumbling blocks.

But just like Satine in Moulin Rouge,” there are still some of my definitions of what is expected of me in romantic relationships that take a while for me to actually see as an issue.

In my marriage, I let myself be celibate (and damned near asexual) for a dozen years because somehow I excused my ex from making our sexual relationship a priority.  Now, life is life and often that means many issues become a lower priority temporarily.  But, if a relationship is going to be healthy, except for those times of crisis, dealing with the issues — sexual or not — should at least be in the Top Ten of priorities for each person in the relationship.

It’s about meeting each other halfway.

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Living the Fucked Up Life

 

Via How Late Divorce Seriously Messes Up Retirement For Older Women

Why is this a surprise to anyone?

Women born in the late 50s, the 60s and the early 70s got stuck with the “Superwoman” concept (meaning we’re between the ages of 40 to 70). We were taught that yes, we could be absolutely ANYTHING we want to be. However, in the process of “being who we want to be” we also needed to excel in the so-called “traditional roles” of women.

We could be a CEO, but we also had to be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, a perfect housekeeper and a number of other time-consuming roles that meant we did absolutely NONE of them well. So, we spent a good portion of our lives feeling we were failures.

It wasn’t until the latter 80s and some of the 90s that we even had a GLIMMER of support in being the person we wanted to be, whether or not that had anything to do with the “traditional female gender roles.”

And, we are STILL fighting that same damned fight.

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Categories: body autonomy, Body Health, Feminism, Gender Inequities | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rube Goldberg Relationships

You may or may not know of the man named Rube Goldberg, but he is most well known as the man who completed a series of cartoons depicting ridiculously complex machines used to complete simple tasks.

So, why would I make a reference to him in association with relationships?

Well, think about it.  There are millions of people on this planet who seem to think that interpersonal relationships need to be exactly the same kind of ridiculous complexity that Goldberg’s machines define.

I’m not referring to just females here.  There are just as many men who seem to require their significant others to jump through completely unnecessary hoops in order to be in a relationship.

And yes, this is a post – yet again – about unconditional love.

First, let me make a distinction here (I know I’ve done this before, but some of you may not understand it).  I was taught, as a child, that my behavior did NOT define who I am. It isn’t even a matter of identity. It is a matter of the core selfThat core self is what I lost in my marriage.  I allowed my core self to be defined by someone else.

Behaviors are temporary.  They are dependent upon whether or not you receive reinforcement for them.  Some behaviors, in fact, persist past the point where they are useful and become hindrances to our general ability to feel successful at life.  Just because a behavior is habitual does not mean it is a positive behavior.

When a person chooses to make a relationship ridiculously complex, it most often comes because the person has chosen to allow their behaviors to define their core self.  They must be continuously told that they are worthy, that they are important to you (in many cases, they have to be the MOST important person to you – even becoming jealous of the love you have for your family or friends) and that you must put them first, even before yourself.

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Heterosexual Women and the Subject of Erectile Dysfunction

Sadly, there is an overwhelming number of both men and women in heterosexual relationships  who think that erectile dysfunction is primarily an issue that comes from decreased desire in the man for the woman in the relationship.  This, then, leads to insecurity (in both the men experiencing it, and the woman they are with), which inevitably leads into arguments and worse.

In fact, it was one of the reasons I was celibate for 12 years of my marriage.  Because my ex lives in a constant state of stress due to his mental illness, it is not surprising that he started experiencing it at a fairly young age. The bad part of it is that he blamed me for the impotence, and I sadly took the responsibility for it.

By age 40, 5% of the male population experiences ED, and it only goes up to 17% (thankfully for those of us women who are peaking in their sexual desire in their 40s).  But it’s not just getting older that causes it.

There are MANY different physiological and mental issues that lead to impotence.  The one thing EVERY woman in a relationship with a man who experiences ED needs to remember is that the ED does NOT mean that the man doesn’t desire you.

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Categories: Body Health, General Contemplation | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Female Mythological Responsibility

As I’ve said before, I’m not just working through my own personal perspectives of the world, but trying to address some of the cultural misperceptions of the role of women versus men, at least the way I learned them growing up.

There is one that I’ve always hated, even while stupidly living it.  It’s the cultural myth that a girlfriend, wife or  partner is responsible for somehow “fixing” their significant other, particularly if that significant other is a man.  Somehow, if we settle into a long-term relationship, we must have achieved perfection, because some man loves us “as we are.” But, the significant other is not perfect, because they have to change for us.  We shouldn’t have to change for them, because — like I said — somehow we’ve achieved perfection.

So there are a lot of women out there who live their lives trying to “fix” their significant other, whether that significant other wants to change or not.  And somehow, if the significant other just makes these “itty-bitty, teensy-tiny” changes, then we as women somehow will never again feel pain, insecurity, angst or any other so-called “negative” emotions.

And if we leave that significant other, we seem to, more often than not, place the complete and total blame for the death of the relationship firmly on the shoulders of that significant other, rather than taking any portion of the blame ourselves.  At least I’m not guilty of that aspect of the cultural myth.  I am fully willing to take my portion of the blame for the death of my marriage.  I’m not willing to take ALL of the blame, as I have occasionally heard that my ex is stating.  But, yes, I am partly to blame for the breakup.

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Living By Your Own Standards

I’ve always said that I have a higher standard of expectation for myself than I have had for anyone else around me.  But, sitting here, I have to wonder if even the lesser standards I have for others aren’t sometimes expecting too much of people.

When I had nights like this while I was still married and would try to talk about them with my ex, eventually every one of those discussions ended up with him calling me a mutant — because nobody else in the world thinks or acts the way I do.

I don’t agree quite as much with that sentiment.

But, with some of the lessons learned over the last two years, especially on the subject of relationships, I have to wonder sometimes if how I was raised was so completely different than the supposed norm for humanity.

Take the subject of relationships.  Yes, I’m fully aware as a polyamorous person I am already in a category that is not the “norm.” Except, I have lived my life with a staunchly monogamous family.  My model for relationships is my parents, who will be celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary this August. Regardless of the style of the relationship, they taught me to communicate with my partner.  They taught me that a fight isn’t the end of a relationship, even if things were said that were later regretted – although amends and a visible attempt at not repeating the mistake are expected (and given). I learned that just because someone looks appreciatively at another person of their partner’s gender, or makes comments to that effect, does not mean that they are lusting after that person.  Hell, as an artist I have an appreciation for the human female form, but I feel no romantic attraction to those of my own gender.

I learned that insecurity is a fact of life, but that expecting your partner(s) to change so that you feel somehow “less insecure” is an impossible request.  If you are insecure, the issue is inside yourself so any changes that someone external to you makes will have no real, lasting effect on your feelings of insecurity/security.  You will always have just “one more tiny change” that they have to make for you to be happy.

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How Does Love Work?

My sister and I had a rather interesting conversation the other day.  She told me that I could “get a boyfriend any time I wanted to.” I have to say, from her, this was a rather utterly confusing and somewhat shocking statement. You might ask “Why?” Let me answer you with a photo.

This image is a photo from August 6th, 1988.  How do I know the exact date, you ask? Because it was her wedding day to her own ex-husband.  Obviously, I’m the woman on the far left, as maid of honor.  This is what I looked like the year I turned 20 (technically, I suppose, on this exact date I was still 19).  She was just one month shy of 24.

The two women in between us are my mother, next to my sister, and our mother’s eldest sister (who is 90 and STILL going strong), who was also my godmother.

I’ve lived most of my life with a specter in my mind that my beautiful, “normal sized” sister was the popular one with guys.  That no one ever looked at me when she was around, because that’s exactly what happened during those few times we were together during our mutual teen years.  We were rarely together because she went to the same boarding school that I did.  She left for it the year I turned 10, and when she graduated in 1982, I went immediately to the same boarding school, while she moved in with our grandmother Rose.

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Categories: Mental Retraining, Non-Monogamy, Relationships, Sexual Positivity | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Romance

I’ve had a number of friends complain that the art of romance seems to be dead. Significant others (SOs) ignore or forget about dates of importance, the “just because” gift never appears anymore, even simple things like buying something you know your SO would enjoy (doesn’t have to be expensive – something like a candy bar they haven’t had in a while can be a romantic gesture).

I think it’s actually a bigger problem.  No, I’m not going to blame it on our digital culture, like a lot of people do.  We live in an age where communication is made easier every day.  But, we seem to think, even more than we used to, that our SOs should have mental telepathy.

Look, people.  Even if telepathy is possible (jury is still out on that one until we can actually give it a rigorous testing), it would only be in a minuscule portion of the global population.

 So why do we think our partners can read our minds???

I absolutely despise hearing the complaint of “But if they loved me, they would KNOW what’s wrong!” SERIOUSLY???

Love does NOT automatically allow your partner to read your mind.  In fact, if you read any speculative fiction at all, the idea that anyone actually knows what someone else is thinking ends up either being very bad or very good.  In fact, one of my absolutely favorite authors, Spider Robinson, takes on the idea of telepathy in many different ways: Continue reading

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