Methinks Marriage Ain’t for Everyone

Sometimes, while standing in my bathroom waiting to potentially throw-up, my mind wanders down the weirdest paths.

Maybe I should have a Slim Jim and a bag of baby carrots for lunch more often? Not my most brilliant nutritional pairing… ah… that’s how I got here. I was thinking about bad pairings.

Luckily the Slim Jim never stood at an altar with the bag of baby carrots. Can you blame him? Who wants to be responsible for all those babies… and all he will be left with is some old bag?

Wow. This metaphor is working way better than I expected, from a humor standpoint. Although, I am still nauseated.

But on a more serious note, I think I have come to grips….after a long and winding road…. with my beliefs on marriage and relationships.

As usual, I am not trying to script any choices here. I am just sharing perspective. And I admit, I am probably a weeeeee ittybit embittered on some of this stuff because my ideology doesn’t align well with reality.

In fact, I have had friend after friend wag their head and say,”It just doesn’t work that way, buddy ol’ chap!” I’m faced with a choice… do I bend my ideology to fit reality? Or do I attempt to influence reality by championing my ideology?

Yup, you guessed correctly. Why won’t I bend? Fact is I am human and I do bend. Sometimes I break, too. But ultimately, I heal and try to live from my ideologies because life is short, and if we don’t at least try to live from our beliefs, I think we are doing ourselves a disfavor.

That’s why I encourage people to vote based on their beliefs. And beyond voting, I encourage people to live from their beliefs.

What are my beliefs on marriage and relationships, then? Let’s start with marriage. I think the institution is a broken model. It’s a huge production, it is a commitment that can force two people staying in an unhealthy relationship and then there was this perspective shared by one of my friends: these two people who want to be together are turning to some outside party – to make their decision ‘real’. As though this external representative makes their union legitimate.

I’ve been in two failed marriages. In both cases I thought it would last a life time, but it did not. Sad, but it underscores the reality that no outside entity can tell me when my relationship begins, and no outside entity can ensure it will last. So it makes no sense to involve an outside authority or go through all this pomp.

Folks in the more religious camps will talk about the ‘covenant’ of marriage. They will say it is a union before God, but  as wonderful as that sounds, I simply don’t subscribe to it. In the bible there are references that can be used to both support and debunk the concept of marriage… so I will leave that choice of interpretation up for debate, and politely excuse myself from believing marriage is for everyone.

Marriage works for some, and for them I am truly happy. For me, however… I just want something mutual, I want a best effort, and I want it to end  if it truly is not working or becomes unhealthy.  I want to give and receive a solid, monogamous commitment to that approach, and I don’t need the law or the church to ratify or otherwise bless this decision!

The next topic is relationships. My perspective has been more or less the same since I was in high school, but truly coming to terms with it, finding the right mix of people to talk to, and then writing about it has taken a lot of time. In some cases I have scared off perfectly good friendships over it all.

The arc of discovery that leads to this post started with a good old-fashioned crush that hit me about a year ago. I was stunned on many levels… crushes are for kids, I thought. Crushes are the most unhealthy way to approach a relationship, I wrote about it later in a journal entry. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, but I was excited because I had been sleep walking through my marriage and realized now it was time to dust myself off and face certain facets of my life head on…. that’s what I have done, and through that exercise I have met a bunch of fantastic people.

Through them, I have come to terms with the differences between the dating game, and what I believe in….which looks similar, but comes from a different perspective.  I know I have written about it before, but I think it is clearer now.

Where would I be without my caveats? I have them in every post… so the caveat for this subject is…. I am still heavily scripted by society in the ‘dating’ lingo. I find myself using  it but when I use those terms I mean something different from most people I have talked to so far.

First off, I don’t believe in dating, I believe in friendships.  So in mainstream world, a friendship is where relationships that aren’t going anywhere get dead-ended.

That’s broken to me. It’s basically saying you have to screw someone to have a relationship, but true friendships are somehow of a lesser status. Ferp.

But let’s rewind a little bit, because one of my friends made a good point. She said,”You know, at first sight, which people you are attracted to.”

She’s right. Whether going with the current reality or my ideals, I can walk into a club, bar, grocery store, library, etc and when I see someone attractive, there is a ‘click.’  That happens at the brain stem level. But that ‘click or no-click’ evaluation is constant… it is baser nature and just happens without much thought.

The difference is in what you DO with your ‘click.’ (Wow, that sounds risqué, no? I digress). In the traditional meat market, people put on a facade and begin doing or saying what they think the other person wants to see or hear. It’s a mating dance…really. There are varying levels of distortion applied to this approach, but the crux is based on a game, and the rules of the game are to get laid before you know the person too well and risk them becoming a friend. … O_o Really? 2012, iPhones and spaceships and this is the best we got for relationships?

Bleh on that. It is completely backasswards and I refuse to play. Don’t get me wrong, some people like that game, or are just comfy with the dysfunction it brings to the table. Enjoy that! Also know that my marriages have failed, so there is still something cosmically funky with my approach, but I will go into that later.

What I do with a ‘click’ is much much different. First, I always present myself as who I am. Just be candid. Second, I get to know the other person… if it goes anywhere, it ain’t the bedroom. This person is on a 3 – 6 month or more journey to becoming my friend. I want to like them, respect them and understand them.  That alone used to be enough, but I have realized my folly in the past, and its gotta be mutual.

Yes, this approach sucks because if there is physical energy, it all gets tabled. But getting physical distorts the picture too soon for me. I really want a mutual friendship in place beforehand. Friendships aren’t a dead end, they are the cornerstone.

Today’s relationships can get complicated. Exclusive, polyamorous, NSA, LTR… what expectations are being set that first kiss or that first passionate night? We are told to set expectations in business transactions, in school, and in our personal lives. But mahhhhgically, setting expectations about what romance means in a relationship gets frowned upon. “That kills the mystery or  spontaneity.” I disagree. Before adding anything physical, I want to talk about it.

I watched an episode of Le Femme Nikita tonight and this  dude asks, his first visit to her house “is there a place for me in your life?”

OK, that was contrived because Hollywood can’t spend weeks allowing relationships to mature (hmmm perhaps ADHD -TV has catered to the problem), but if the characters really knew each other well as friends, an honest dialog like that is exactly what I’d be looking for, before even the first kiss!

So in my opinion, two things can be added to a friendship, if it is mutual: romance and companionship. I don’t think either one of those things takes a friendship to a new level… if I love and respect a person enough to consider romance or companionship, then it’s not like I love and respect them MORE after I add those things. If romance gets added, we simply are agreeing to add that dimension to our relationship for as long as it is mutual, and we define expectations before we do anything. If companionship gets added, it means we add a dimension of being their for each other as life partners – helping each other reach for our life goals. Again this lasts as long as it is mutual and expectations should be defined. Defined, I say!! Put it in a Service Agreement!! OK, that might be going too far… or is it?

That’s all there is to it! That’s how I think, and how I want it to work. Some people won’t be able to do it because there is likely too much talk and not enough action. No worries…those people simply aren’t a good fit for me! Heck, I may not be able to stick to it either… that would be a drag, but there are worse things… like, waking up naked in the Wal-Mart lobster tank. Not like that’s ever happened to meeeeee before!

And this is the ideal… I know it might never work this way in my lifetime. But then, that is why I am TheRage3K and not TheRage2012. These things take time to sink in!

Challenging the Bubble

We all live in a bubble of our design… OK, maybe that is just another glittering generality, but I both love and understand the dangers of grouping too many people into too broad a brush stroke.  So, where to go with this bubble metaphor. There are so many directions to choose from, but I think the primary theme for this morning as I wake up in a hostel in D.C. (Diplomatic Stay – if you ever have a chance to stay here, you really should, just for the experience of it), the theme I am going for is “challenging the bubble.”  I am not saying that we should walk around bubble-less (although that could be interesting), but  have come to realize that there is a time and a place for a bubble.  I need to challenge my bubble every now and then in order to learn and grow; use it more like a cocoon, and when I break free of it, with any luck I will have undergone some form of metamorphosis that puts me in a better place.

But it doesn’t quite work like that traditionally. Normally, our species uses the bubble to keep things the same – to generate predictability.  We create super strong bubbles;  the thought of breaking them invokes incredible fear and anger. OK, I understand the intent of these bubbles is to protect us, to keep things the same so that we aren’t overloaded by constant unpredictability…but there’s something else I have come to understand about our species: we love our sugars and fats.  Stick with me here (pun intended), but living purely on sugars and fats is generally (yay) considered unhealthy…a diet should be balanced, and contain many different forms of nutrients. So basically, some of the patterns that our species has used for thousands of years have morphed into the same patterns that hold us back today – that keep us from realizing our potential.

That’s how it is for me and my bubble today. I was living in my bubble, and I was fairly miserable there, but it was safe and predictable.  Then the place where I was renting was sold, and the new place I was moving to was not available.  I had no place to stay, so I was forced to challenge my bubble.  I ended up in a hostel. I have met people from all over the world. I also ate Taco Bell for dinner, and in the middle of one of the worst dreams ever, I woke myself up with this huge fart.  So, I am sure I also broke many other people’s bubbles, too…muhaha!

Anyway, I feel like the hostel experience has changed me, in a good way.  So there has been this progression of recent events that has introduced significant change into my life, and each time I undertake one of these experiences my choice is to either “keep it comfy” or “try something different.”  I have really been pushing the envelope – trying different paths, challenging my bubble – and I think it is working.  I think this pattern is making me a stronger, more resilient participant in life…maybe? I’ve scared off a couple people, which is regrettable, but as I progress I expect many people who rely on my fitting a certain mold or being a certain way, are going to have a similar choice: they can accept me for who I am, or let me go.  Not that I am shedding my responsibilities or attempting to invalidate the whole of my core, but I am done letting fear define me (or at least trying not to let it define me), and I am done letting the fear of losing the comfortably unhealthy or stagnant relationships around me stop me from living life to my personal fullest.

What does all that mean? To what end am I traveling? That’s another chapter for another day.  I do have some ideas – approaches to sort through, concepts to prioritize…but I will leave you with a quote.  My dad sent me an email, and it was very funny, but at the end was just one serious quote, attributed to Plato.  Plato lived about 2,400 years ago and I am thinking this quote has something to do with the direction I am going next in life:

“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” -Plato

When is it Right

I read a short piece by an aspiring artist on DeviantArt.  Her words, for her age seemed ahead of her time, and I know now…as someone who grew up well ahead of “my time”, that there is a whole “subculture” of wise people out there.  We don’t get shit-faced drunk all the time; we aren’t eager to share stories about how drunk and stupid we got; we don’t grind our naughty bits on every piece of meat that walks by; we don’t need drugs, brand names , to keep up with the Jone’s, to worship Hollywood like they know their ass from their elbow, and we sure as hell don’t need to fit in (we can choose to, but for the wise ones, it is truly an internally driven choice). We’re deep, mysterious, and in our early years we can spook people. Boo! Made you blink.

I was one of those (who am I kidding, like any of this has changed much?).  Girls would be wrapped up in name brands and trends – the facade of beauty, guys would be seeing who they could suck face with, and later, how many “chicks” they could “score.” The words change. Now we have “snogging” and “hooking up,” like I give a fuck what it gets called.  The point is, I know the wise ones are out there…feeling alone, feeling like there is something wrong with them.

There is nothing wrong. Stand your ground.

To this girl, who candidly shared a story about a first kiss she has yet to experience, I felt compelled to respond — to  tell her there is no rush to conform.  The exact words were:

For someone who hasn’t the experience, your writings on the topic are pretty darn accurate – especially in the “firsts” category. Your candid style is what I enjoy most, so if I may dare to be as daring and reply in kind I would say all a person’s firsts are worth saving.

Our society gets locked around the act as though it is what takes a relationship to “the next level.” But, IMHO, it is the other way around. Having a meaningful relationship is what takes any first (or second or nine millionth) to the next level. Knowing you are with the right person, someone you can be yourself with, someone you can trust and enjoy without any game playing, someone who is worth trying to forge a future with…that is when it might be worth it.

You have always struck me as someone (based on what I have read) smarter than to be bested by raw chemistry. Many fall prey, but your wonderful imagination has done you a service. You’ve been there and back, so there is no need to rush anything – I will bet my 39 years on that

So whether it is a kiss, a grind, a base, getting juiced, getting laid, getting blown — whatever words are hip and trendy to describe these acts — they are all just physical acts.  Getting physical does not take a relationship to the next level and it never will.  Getting to know someone, fostering a mutual appreciation for one another, learning how to resolve conflict effectively and being there for each other through thick and thin, those are the things that take a relationship to the next level.  All the physical stuff will happen along the way, and yes there can be compatibility issues there as well: Frequency, style, attraction, and chemistry are all factors in a relationship, but they don’t define it. If they DO define it, you must be willing to look in the mirror and admit you are in a physical relationship – because that is all it is.

I look back and I’ve always been thankful I stood my ground when it came to not conforming to what others wanted me to do so they could justify their immaturity. If you’ve made a mistake, forgive yourself, and stand your ground next time. When it comes to being physical, don’t “give away” anything… ever.  It shouldn’t be like that.  I once had a girl tell me “girls give sex so they can get love, and guys give love so they can get sex.”  That…is completely unhealthy in my eyes.  Two people should want to love each other, and from that love they should want to express it physically with each other.  ‘Nuff said.

I know there are people who will read this and say they are glad they had their physical relationships…they enjoyed them, or maybe they are still enjoying them.  That is fine – there is no one size fits all approach to relationships, I suppose.  But this article is for those who feel pressured, maybe to belong, maybe to not be lonely, maybe because the chemistry is so powerful they find it hard to resist…and all I am saying is, don’t do it just for those reasons.  Do it if you truly want it.  If you are not sure, read through this article and decide: do you want a purely physical thing, or do you seek a more fulfilling, interdependent (not codependent) relationship? Know yourself, and make your choices from there…not for any other reason.