Author Topic: The Relationship Thread  (Read 2265 times)

smallcleanrat

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The Relationship Thread
« on: October 18, 2020, 04:26:22 PM »
Hadn't seen on on the fora yet.

mahagonny

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2020, 07:28:58 PM »
Stir the soup.

Art is damned difficult to create & maintain and romance is even harder. But they both bring rewards of incomparable quality so that's why we work at them.

writingprof

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2020, 07:32:17 PM »
Stir the soup.

Art is damned difficult to create & maintain and romance is even harder. But they both bring rewards of incomparable quality so that's why we work at them.

After this gem, it's not clear that we need the rest of the thread!

dismalist

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2020, 07:53:21 PM »
Been married for 33 years, to the same woman, no less. This after some years of so called dating -- we wanted to get this right.

Does that count as a relationship? :)
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mahagonny

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2020, 08:04:20 PM »
Been married for 33 years, to the same woman, no less. This after some years of so called dating -- we wanted to get this right.

Does that count as a relationship? :)

Y'all must be doing something right.

mamselle

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2020, 09:21:47 PM »
I looked at the title and thought, "Oh, yes, the former 'Lonely Hearts Club' thread," although it was always a lot more than that.

Pry got mad at me for suggesting her relationship with Hedgepig might have been dysfunctional about a year before she figured out that it was, in fact, dysfunctional. That seems to happen to me a lot, so I stopped reading it.

I also seem to have moved past any strong interest in relationships, as well...not looking, not being looked at, so equilibrium, maybe...or at least, nothing to post about!

But I still support its existence, or its descendant's existence, here.

And I wish all good thoughts to all trying to untangle, or stay tangled in, their own situations.
 
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Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2020, 12:03:15 AM »
Been on a bit of a reading binge through books of the "personal development" variety. I'm noticing distinct differences in style between the ones written by academics (psychologists, social scientists, etc...) and the ones written by professional "life coaches" or "motivational speakers." The latter type tend more towards simplistically grand claims (with no citations), like the following:

"What percentage of shared responsibility do you have in making a relationship work? ... You have to be willing to give 100 percent with zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Only when you're willing to take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work will it work...If I *always* [take] 100 percent responsibility for everything I experience - completely owning all of my choices and all the ways I [respond] to whatever [happens] to me - I [hold] the power."

I've seen this advice in various forms. The main point seems to be that it's pointless to blame other people for hurting you or otherwise causing negative emotions, thoughts or behavior. You are the person ultimately in control of your own responses; you can choose not to feel hurt or not to feel angry, otherwise you are adopting a "victim mentality." Don't ask or expect anyone else to change their behavior because that is ultimately out of your control.

I'm not sure why I so often see this written in such an extreme form (i.e. you are *100%* responsible for your own thoughts and emotions; no one can *make* you think or feel a certain way). I mean, there's a lot to be said for taking ownership of how you respond to the events in your life, but making yourself 100% responsible...how realistic is that? What would that even look like?

Anyone else have opinions on this?

Hegemony

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 02:06:02 AM »
Well, clearly that claim is way oversimplified. I believe they make it because it bestows a sense of power. The disadvantage, of course, is that it also implies responsibility. "It's my fault that my husband is so abusive." It's definitely true that people in abusive relationships tend to feel as if they don't have any options, and it's good to provide them with a sense that options are indeed there: the option of not responding, and above all the option of leaving — when suitably prepared, and with appropriate precautions if the spouse is physically dangerous. But it's not just a matter of believing you have power and then presto, everything gets better. And the idea that you have to give up any expectation of getting anything in return is pure horse pucky. Dangerous horse pucky.  I think I'd throw that particular book out the window. Some popular-audience books are excellent, some are useful when understood cautiously, and some are dangerous magical thinking.

polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2020, 04:41:55 AM »
I read a lot of advice columns.

"What percentage of shared responsibility do you have in making a relationship work? ... You have to be willing to give 100 percent with zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Only when you're willing to take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work will it work...If I *always* [take] 100 percent responsibility for everything I experience - completely owning all of my choices and all the ways I [respond] to whatever [happens] to me - I [hold] the power."

Many to most of the letters to the advice columns, whether the writers intended the message or not, boil down to "Give me some magic words so I can make the other person do exactly what I want them to do with no further discussion or drama".  This is true for romance, friendship, and family situations.

Whether the writer is in the right or not, the hardest part seems to be to get people to believe and then act on the belief that their power is limited to their own actions and reactions.  That often limits people's power quite a bit to the options of

(1) learn to live with the behavior of others by changing one's response.  For example, someone who is always late gets left behind for being late when the group gave adequate notice.  Someone who is terrible with giving presents is politely thanked and all presents are donated or tossed.

(2) decide how much drama each round to tolerate before walking out/hanging up/otherwise disengaging, while hoping that the pattern of disengaging affects the frequency of whatever action gets the disengaging reponse.  The racist family, the insulting romantic partner, and the overly chatty neighbor are told once that the behavior is unacceptable and then one disengages every time the wrong thing is said.  One cannot stop someone from saying it, but one can decide not to stay for the whole drama.

(3) break off the relationship.  It takes two to tango.  If someone's behavior is really not acceptable, then adults can be cut out of one's life.  Small children can be taken to specialists for the parents to learn additional specific actions for options 1 and 2.

Thus, the advice isn't "Take 100% responsibility for everything in the relationship because it's all your fault".  The advice is more the Serenity Prayer: "serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference".
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 04:45:34 AM by polly_mer »
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downer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2020, 05:07:27 AM »
Why do most societies in the West prize monogamy over other relationship options? And not just serial monogamy, but a relationship with just one person for most of one's life. And does that make any sense now that we live so long?

There is the argument that it is better to have that arrangement for one's offspring. But I'm not sure there's much evidence for that.
"Change takes courage." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

polly_mer

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2020, 05:16:12 AM »
Why do most societies in the West prize monogamy over other relationship options? And not just serial monogamy, but a relationship with just one person for most of one's life. And does that make any sense now that we live so long?

There is the argument that it is better to have that arrangement for one's offspring. But I'm not sure there's much evidence for that.

You are a highly educated person with access to the internet and likely access to the scholarly literature in sociology and anthropology.  People study these questions using good scientific research techniques.  Treat it like a literature review project and get back to us with the answers based on the evidence from the academics and other scholars who work very hard in these areas.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 05:19:06 AM by polly_mer »
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marshwiggle

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2020, 06:00:20 AM »

I'm not sure why I so often see this written in such an extreme form (i.e. you are *100%* responsible for your own thoughts and emotions; no one can *make* you think or feel a certain way). I mean, there's a lot to be said for taking ownership of how you respond to the events in your life, but making yourself 100% responsible...how realistic is that? What would that even look like?

Anyone else have opinions on this?

I can give an example from a different context: student evaluations.

For years, I have given my own extensive evaluations to students in addition to the ones mandated by the university because,as I telly my students, I really want to know what they think. One student came to me one time (who had been in several courses with me and so had seen several of them) and I asked why my questions were like this:

When you don't come to class, it is usually because:
  • The class is boring.
  • The class doesn't cover material in sufficient depth.
  • The class contains all kinds of irrelevant information.
  • Classes often run overtime so students are late to subsequent classes.

The student said, "Why don't you ask if it's just because they're lazy? Why do you only give options that are your fault?"

I explained that the only things that I can actually attempt to change are things that are under my control. So student laziness, even if it's a real problem, would only be worth considering to protect my own ego. If I actually want to try to change things for the better, I have to consider only those things that I actually control.
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mahagonny

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2020, 06:13:54 AM »
Been on a bit of a reading binge through books of the "personal development" variety. I'm noticing distinct differences in style between the ones written by academics (psychologists, social scientists, etc...) and the ones written by professional "life coaches" or "motivational speakers." The latter type tend more towards simplistically grand claims (with no citations), like the following:

"What percentage of shared responsibility do you have in making a relationship work? ... You have to be willing to give 100 percent with zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Only when you're willing to take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work will it work...If I *always* [take] 100 percent responsibility for everything I experience - completely owning all of my choices and all the ways I [respond] to whatever [happens] to me - I [hold] the power."

I've seen this advice in various forms. The main point seems to be that it's pointless to blame other people for hurting you or otherwise causing negative emotions, thoughts or behavior. You are the person ultimately in control of your own responses; you can choose not to feel hurt or not to feel angry, otherwise you are adopting a "victim mentality." Don't ask or expect anyone else to change their behavior because that is ultimately out of your control.

I'm not sure why I so often see this written in such an extreme form (i.e. you are *100%* responsible for your own thoughts and emotions; no one can *make* you think or feel a certain way). I mean, there's a lot to be said for taking ownership of how you respond to the events in your life, but making yourself 100% responsible...how realistic is that? What would that even look like?

Anyone else have opinions on this?

Yeah. It's a very liberating thing to hear, for about 30 minutes. by the time you try to put it into practice you realize is not something you can use. Your emotions are the most powerful thing in your life. More powerful than any enemy you're likely to have (unless the enemy is  a murderer.)

marshwiggle

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2020, 06:31:43 AM »
I'm not sure why I so often see this written in such an extreme form (i.e. you are *100%* responsible for your own thoughts and emotions; no one can *make* you think or feel a certain way). I mean, there's a lot to be said for taking ownership of how you respond to the events in your life, but making yourself 100% responsible...how realistic is that? What would that even look like?

Anyone else have opinions on this?

Yeah. It's a very liberating thing to hear, for about 30 minutes. by the time you try to put it into practice you realize is not something you can use.

I think the point is to realize the power you don't have, which is to change other people.

Quote
Your emotions are the most powerful thing in your life. More powerful than any enemy you're likely to have (unless the enemy is  a murderer.)

I'm not sure if this is what you're getting at, but nagging, begging, pleading, and scolding rarely produce long-term change in other people. They may result in short-term compliance, just to avoid conflict, but the moment the person is not under surveillance, their behaviour will likely revert to what it was previously. It is even possible that long term resentment will build up which will eventually produce even more extreme behaviour in the opposite direction.


It takes so little to be above average.

mahagonny

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2020, 06:44:28 AM »
Quote
I think the point is to realize the power you don't have, which is to change other people.
Agreed, that part is valuable, but

Quote
Your emotions are the most powerful thing in your life. More powerful than any enemy you're likely to have (unless the enemy is  a murderer.)

I'm not sure if this is what you're getting at, but nagging, begging, pleading, and scolding rarely produce long-term change in other people. They may result in short-term compliance, just to avoid conflict, but the moment the person is not under surveillance, their behaviour will likely revert to what it was previously. It is even possible that long term resentment will build up which will eventually produce even more extreme behaviour in the opposite direction.
[/quote]

Not exactly. What I was getting at was that your emotions are not like a faucet that you can turn on and off at will or regulate through choicel. They run too deep for that. Sometimes, in spite of your best calculation, the emotion you have after experiencing something is not what you expected. At other times we haven't acted because we are conflicted, not because we are lazy or helpless or blaming others. So a person saying 'you can take control of your life' is pretty obvious already in the sense that major changes can be enacted.

Advice columns may be fun to read. A good columnist doesn't let his or her frustration show. If they do, they may be the ones who need counsel.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 06:46:56 AM by mahagonny »