Category Archives: Dating

Dating Relationships

A Field Guide to Bad Relationships

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I’m not a statistics whiz, but I’m willing to bet that you’ve had at least one bad relationship.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. For most people, bad relationships are part of the growing-up process: we have to know what doesn’t work for us in order to figure out what does. Unfortunately, a lot of us do a pretty bad job of parsing out our bad relationships – that is, figuring out what didn’t work – and end up relying on simplistic stereotypes that obscure our needs rather than clarify them.

For example: the ever-popular “it’s not you, it’s me” framework (and its converse, “It’s not me, it’s you“) often ends up reducing people in failed relationships to unchangeable, static figures that are simply “wrong” for each other. In reality, relationships are… well, relational. They’re about patterns of interaction – how your partner reacts when you touch him, how you react when he burps, how both of you react when the other is cranky from not eating enough food.

In other words, breakups generally have less to do with the individuals involved than with the way those individuals react to each other. A more accurate assessment of the situation would be, “It’s not you, it’s me when I’m around you when you’re doing something that doesn’t work for me.” But that’s not simple to say or easy to figure out, because it requires metacognition: the ability to recognize and understand your own thought processes and patterns of interaction. Metacognition is a skill, and it takes time to develop – hence the lengthy line of bad relationships that most of us subject ourselves to.

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Dating Relationships Social Theory

Poly Armory: Thoughts To Keep You Safe In Polyamory

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I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog that I’m polyamorous. I’ve been inclined towards polyamory for at least the past four years, maybe longer. My current partner is the first one who’s been willing to jump into the polyamory pool with me, though, and to my surprise, the water’s not always warm. Sometimes, it’s downright frigid. Sometimes, I’d much rather be hanging out on the shores of monogamy. I’m not even a very good swimmer.

Animation: From "The Incredibles." A little boy bobbing up and down in the water. Text: "We're dead! We're dead! We survived but we're dead!"

It’s not all bad, I swear.

Shouldn’t polyamory feel good? I know that it is “right” for me: I’ve been articulating its basic tenets since before I ever heard the word. I’ve read countless articles about the ups and downs of ethical non-monogamy. I felt prepared.

And yet.

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Dating Relationships

Is Honesty the Best Policy? (or: Sex Educators Have Feelings, Too)

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This will be a long, GIFless post. Please don’t kick me off of the internet.

Recently, a partner of mine texted me to let me know that although he was open to continuing to see me, he wasn’t feeling the level of physical attraction that he’d hoped for.

I didn’t react amazingly. I didn’t react horribly, either. I took a few cheap jabs and ultimately told him that perhaps we shouldn’t see each other anymore; being physical with someone who wasn’t attracted to me would not feel good.

Reflecting on the situation, I’m struck most by the fact that throughout the exchange, he operated under the assumption that the most important thing was to be honest with me, that I deserved to know how he felt about my body. When it became apparent that I was upset, he asked me to consider my role as a sex educator – was it right of me to be offended simply because he wasn’t attracted to me?

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