Monday, November 28, 2016

Wanting to help

You can't tell people what to do.  I have definitely found this when it comes to relationships.  There is no point in trying to tell people that they should break up with someone, no matter how bad it is.  All that happens is they get bitter at you or become more entrenched in their problems.  People have to come around to figuring out that their situations are crappy on their own.  It isn't just in the arena of relationships that this advice seems to apply though, it also it just as true when it comes to substance use.

There have been a bunch of incidents in my life in the past while where people have been using substances in way they aren't happy about and I have sat there, unsure if or how I could help.  If they aren't convinced they have a problem then I really can't do much as I don't think that trying to convince them works.  I don't judge people by some arbitrary metric - I don't say that X drinks of alcohol or coffee makes you an addict, or that Y pulls on a cigarette or joint is an issue.  You have an addiction problem when your addiction causes problems, not when you meet some particular usage benchmark.  When someone doesn't feel they have a problem, it isn't my place to tell them they do.

The trick is when they decide they have a problem and I have to figure out what to do to help them cope.

I could try to say "Hey, maybe you have had enough for tonight...", which is fairly blunt, or just try to arrange things such that the environment controls the usage on its own.  If I invite people over and don't have their substance around, it is easier to avoid the issue.

But I just haven't found that anything I do helps.  At best I have no effect, and at worst I end up in opposition to people's desires and conflict threatens.  Even when that conflict comes up, it doesn't change how anyone behaves, so why even try?

It is hard to not try to help people who have said that they are trying to stop doing a thing, or that they know that doing that thing is hurting them.  I don't want to be anyone's keeper, or run their life, but I want to do what I can to help them make the decisions they want to make.

I also can't be sure that I truly understand the problem.  I have my own compulsions and poor decisions, no doubt, but substance abuse isn't on that list.  I drank a lot of caffeine in years gone by, but quitting was trivial for me, and that is the closest to kicking a substance habit I have had.  My compulsions are things like sex and video games, which while they can be compelling, lack the biological factor of substance usage.  That difference is huge and it means that I can't really grasp other people's experiences and that disconnect may lead me to misunderstand what they need.

I can and do provide encouragement and acceptance.  These things are a given.  Nonetheless, I want to do more.  I want to help shoulder the burden, if I can, but I can't ever seem to find a way to take it on myself.  I have the strength to spare, if I could just way a way to apply it, but every active application just seems to do nothing helpful.

Maybe that's all there is.  Maybe there is nothing I can really do aside from listen and offer a shoulder to lean on, and people just have to solve their own problems.  I don't like it, and especially now with so many people I know being distraught at the state of the world these things seem to be coming up more often than before.

If you are asking "Is it me?  Am I the potential addict Sky is talking about?" then the answer is maybe you are.  But you are in good company, at least.  You can take comfort in that.  There are many people with the same kinds of struggles, mostly they are wonderful and amazing folks, and you are most definitely not alone. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016


This post will reference both sex and kink, though not in any way explicitly.  Proceed only if you are comfortable reading about this aspect of my life.

I had a new experience this week, and it was one of those that is a combination of totally new and entirely expected.

I had some really intense, really kinky sex with The Flautist. Then we wandered out into my living room and sat down to eat, as refuelling was desperately needed.  (So far, expected.)  I thought back onto the sex that was just had and realized it was far away.  That is, it felt foggy, distant, almost not there.  I could recount the list of events and I don't think I lost any memories, but it was as though it happened last week rather than five minutes ago.  This had never happened to me before.

However, I know what to call it: dissociation.  That sense of being separated from oneself, of fogginess, is a standard part of dissociation.

I think a lot of people would be worried by this.  I wasn't, in fact I found it rather fascinating.  My brain working in new ways is usually just cool to me.  Dissociation isn't bad in and of itself, rather it is just a part of human functioning that can be useful in some situations but can be a problem for some people if it goes too far.  This didn't cause me any distress though because there wasn't any problem; the dissociation itself wasn't an issue and nothing bad happened because of it.

Pretty clearly this was due to my dual nature.  In sexual situations Passion is in charge, and when the sex gets kinky and I can really let myself go Director fades to nearly nothing.  I am nothing but a ball of primal instinct and raw emotion, lust and fury in equal measure.  Afterwards Passion was dormant and Director was entirely in charge so it makes sense that the memories would seem indistinct and far away because Director can't access the Passion mindset.  Memories laid down in an extreme mindset are harder to access outside of that mindset, and this applies to all of human experience, not just my own.

Of course my reaction was to immediately start talking about it in detached, technical terms since Director was in charge and that is how he rolls.  The Flautist was kind of worried and seemed concerned that something was wrong.  Most normal people that finish having sex and then immediately start talking about how their memories are weird and they are experiencing dissociation would be distressed.  The average person is not just going to take that stuff in stride.

I rushed to reassure her that everything was fine.  Yes, normal people who talk like this are probably freaking out, but I am not normal, particularly in this way.

This actually happens to me a lot.  Not the dissociation after sex thing, but the talking about stuff in a totally detached, emotionless way that worries other people.  I often end up entirely in Director mode, examining issues within myself or the world around me that most people would freak out about.  I get mechanical almost, carefully taking apart ideas that would be emotionally fraught for most.  When I do this I find people often get concerned, thinking that I must be really upset or unhinged and I cannot be trusted.  I have to quickly reassure them that I am fine, and am just really interested in the details of this thing, not actually angry/sad/distraught.

If I am upset, I will say "I am upset."  When I go on about potentially upsetting things but appear completely fine, I am actually completely fine.  This is abnormal.  For some reason.

This tendency of mine is a problem since I live around other people.  It is useful sometimes to be able to be super detached like that, but it does make it really hard for the rest of the world to get me.  I have to work to remind myself that people don't normally deal with things this way, and that I need to pretend to have standard emotional responses to grease the wheels of daily interactions.

Thankfully The Flautist believes me when I tell her that I am fine.  She isn't the way I am, but she seems to get it, and I am even under the impression that she likes me despite (or because?) of it.  I don't have to edit myself with her, but apparently I do need to offer explanations sometimes when I take a turn for the weird.

I think the person who best gets me in this way is Sthenno.  We often sit around having discussions where we have utterly bizarre ways of being emotional and detached from the topic at hand.  Our reactions make sense to us, but we both know that the rest of the world can't fathom how we work.  We both have a regular feeling of "Whoops, I went and acted like myself there.  Better pretend to be a human really quick so I don't upset everyone."

My experience was weird and unusual, but my response was entirely predictable and reinforced a pattern that is a constant in my life.  No matter how far I go, here I am.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another post mortem for the pile

My Facebook feed is full of US election post mortem essays.  Everyone wants to weigh in on exactly why it went down the way it did, what it means, and what we can do about it.  Obviously given my political leanings and friend group it is mostly horror at Trump's victory and despondency at the damage he will do.  There is also a lot of misery at the state of the world that such a person could win.

I have many thoughts about the things I have read.

Many articles talk about how Trump won because of misogyny and racism.  This is both true and not true.  Clinton's loss was by a tiny margin, and it is entirely possible that if she were male but otherwise the same that she would have won.  If 1% of Americans swapped their votes from Trump to Clinton the result is a big win for Democrats.  That isn't much of a difference in voting for a huge difference in result.  (Go first past the post!  :P)

But you would be wrong to just chalk it up to "Americans are bigots" and be done with it.  Clinton was absolutely establishment and represented the status quo.  She has massive ties to big banks and shady shit like million dollar gifts from oppressive theocracies.  An awful lot of people were angry at the status quo and voted Trump in protest because he was the one they thought would shake things up.  And he will, at that.  Of course the result he is aiming for is to empower the rich and crush the poor, and he will do as much racist and sexist crap as he can get away with while pursuing those goals.

It is entirely true that Trump won in part because of the anger of people frustrated by their stagnating economic situation.  He won't help them at all, but that anger did help him.  So what do we do about that?

Lots of lefties think that the coastal elites ought to try to understand the rural Americans who so strongly support Trump.  They figure that we should have nice chats with them to understand their problems and get across that billionaires who inherited their wealth who promise to crush immigrants and get rid of health care make things worse, not better.  They think we should explain carefully and without derision how wrong racism and sexism are, how important women's and trans rights are, and how immigrants actually make America stronger and richer.

But let's be real for a second.  Will it be politically expedient to try to get the bigots into the leftist fold for the next election?  Probably.  Do we have some kind of moral obligation to treat awful behaviour with kind words and understanding?  Fuck no.

This article talks a lot about how lefties can understand white working class America, and makes it clear that focusing on things like transgender bathroom issues rather than economics is a problem in terms of elections.  But the article ignores the fact that the Republicans talk a *ton* about abortion and bathrooms, and that it is all well and good for white, cis, straight people to ignore social issues - everything already works pretty well for them, thanks, but it is pretty shit to just insist that the Democrats ignore those issues and leave marginalized minorities to rot in the name of expanding the economy.

Might it *work* to ignore social problems (which is fucking racist and sexist and bigoted, by the way) and try to win elections by talking only about the economy?  Maybe, but it would be a terrible thing to do.  It would tell those working class white people that yes, their problems are the real problems, and we needn't worry about all those trans women of colour.

There are also people talking about how the real problem is the Christian values of rural white America.  I am pretty sympathetic to this view, because Christianity as a whole tends to teach that faith is a virtue.  Believing in things that make no sense because an old man who is part of your in group tells you so is a cornerstone of Christian belief.  So when Trump walks in saying all kinds of ridiculous things that speak to the fears and biases of that group they are primed to believe him.

Personally I think faith is a terrible vice and responsible for much of the ills of our world.  This is one of my biggest gripes with religion - the teaching that it is good and right to believe in whatever you are told by authority.

However, we can't just call it done there either because plenty of people who aren't white working class Christian types voted for Trump.  We also can't just ignore huge chunks of society either, and we need to find a way to try to get through to them.  I suspect it is mostly an issue of time because churches and religiosity in the West are crumbling and their influence in on the wane.  Changing these attitudes will happen but it is a slow process.

One thing I think people on all part of the political spectrum ought to do is consider how they view the electorate based on election results.  Trump won with 25.5% of the vote.  If he had gotten 24.5% of the vote, Clinton crushes him.  That is huge in terms of who is president, but it hardly changes the electorate at all.  If you are despondent at the state of American voters that Trump won, but would be totally fine if he lost, you should think carefully about why it is that you would be okay with 24.5% of the people voting for him.

Separating the electorate from the results is important.  Yes, who gets to be President matters a lot, and we should talk about that.  But we shouldn't pin all of our attitudes towards Americans on the result of an election that Clinton won, by popular vote, and which she would have won by electoral college with only a tiny shift.  One really stupid quote from Trump, one more great speech by Clinton, and maybe the entire thing changes, and the electorate is still the same either way.

Don't give in to despair.  Trump is evil, and awful, but you must remember that we have had worse.

Go back a few decades.  Trump's attitudes towards women, people of colour, and queer folks of all stripes wouldn't have been outlandish, they would have been expected.  His faults, great as they are, are only so glaring because the world has come so far.

Trump is one step back, but we can see that the world continues to step forward.  We will continue to step forward, and setbacks will continue to come.  Slow, bumpy progress is inevitable.  The pushback against progressive thought is occurring because *we are winning*.

Remember that Toronto had Rob Ford.  Much of the same rhetoric, much of the same evil.  It seemed like all was lost, but we got past it.  Now we move on.

So go out there and do something Trump would hate.  Be generous to the downtrodden, welcome an immigrant, be as queer as queer can be.  He will eventually be gone, and we will push on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting old, or perhaps just stupid

I posted this summer about difficulties I was having with sleep.  I am tossing and turning a lot and my arms have been sore.  I used to always sleep on my side but my shoulders and arm muscles have been complaining so much that I have ended up trying to learn to sleep on my back and that hasn't been going well.

This week it got so bad that I have been just sleeping on the couch every day because I seem to sleep just fine there.  Once I moved to the couch Wendy told me she was suddenly sleeping a lot better because I wasn't keeping her awake with tossing and turning all night.

Finally I bought a new bed, which is coming this weekend.  It makes me laugh because I should be the last person to put up with a bed which was obviously worn out.  I spent years selling beds to people, and even had a big speech about getting a new bed rather than just blaming bad sleep on being old.  People often do that, and while a new bed won't solve everything it is amazing how long people suffered before being willing to buy something new.  I shouldn't have suffered so long.  I gave that speech a zillion times!

It is even worse than that though.  Lots of people don't buy new beds because they are worried about paying too much, not knowing what to buy, or getting ripped off.  I know a ton of people who sell beds, so it is trivial for me to make sure I get a really good deal.  Even if I didn't know people I know how to negotiate and grind people down to get the deal I want.  I have been on the other side of that plenty of times.  Being worried about lack of knowledge or cost just aren't problems for me.

And yet, I waited too long and slept badly for many months.

I think it is my money demon.  It said that I bought a really good bed 15 years ago.  It should still be fine.  I can just stretch it a little bit longer, surely!

But geez, 15 years.  Beds wear out.  New beds have cool new tech.  I should have just gone and bought myself a new bed.  Spending hours each day napping trying to catch up, grunting and groaning when I went to stand because my back was killing me... these are not things I should be doing.

I spent $700 on my bed back in the day.  That works out to 13 cents a day.  Would I be willing to pay 13 cents to get an extra couple hours of sleep, or to stop being sore for a day?  HELL yes.

Sometimes even when you have every reason to do the right thing you just don't do it.  Even when you are an expert.  Even when it is just easy as anything to do it.  Those stupid demons in the back of your head get all noisy and annoying and they wreck everything.

But now I have a nice new bed coming, and soon I will sleep and sleep.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Coming without changing a thing

I just finished reading Come As You Are, written by Emily Nagoski, a book about women's sexuality.  It focuses on the way that women work, doing a great job of walking the line between saying 'women work like this!' and 'individual sexuality is all over the place, who knows!'

Thing is, there are real differences between how male and female sexuality function.  It is much like height in that women and men have a significant difference in their average height, but we should not forget that the range of heights within women is much greater than the difference between men and women on average.

Nagoski covers a lot of territory and manages to cover both the hard science about biology and also the social pressures that are so important in talking about this subject.  She makes it clear how much of the struggles she sees in her clients as a sex therapist are due to sexism and cultural conditioning and effectively communicates the ways that adopting feminist principles can help.

One of the best things in the book is her coverage of nonconcordance.  This is something I kind of knew but hadn't really thought out explicitly, but after reading her take on it the subject became blindingly clear.  Nonconcordance is when physical signs of arousal such as an erection or vaginal lubrication do not move together with the mental experience of arousal or desire.

I know that these things don't always go together.  Nearly every day I wake up with a big ole hardon, and it isn't because I am desperately turned on.  Much less frequently I am turned on, but the erection part of the equation isn't quite working out.  I also know both from theory and experience with female desire that this is true for people regardless of sex.

And yet I didn't quite grasp it somehow.  I read a study a few years ago measuring people's reaction to porn by checking their genitals which concluded that women were mostly bisexual and men either straight or gay.  They made these distinctions by ignoring the reported arousal of the test subjects and treating the genital measurements as the true test.

This is ridiculous.  We know that erections and lubrication are correlated with desire, but not that well correlated.  And yet I didn't dismiss this study out of hand at the time.

Nagoski got me to understand the issue correctly.  For example, she talked about how genital reactions are often to sexually *relevant* stimuli rather than actual desire, and that of course sometimes they don't seem to be a reaction to anything at all.

Nagoski also talks a lot about sexual desire in terms of accelerator and brakes.  Breaking down struggles with desire into that framework is really helpful, because knowing where your issues lie is a good first step to solving them.  Maybe you need to be more turned on, or maybe you need to figure out what is making you be turned off, but knowing that those are different systems that work in different ways for each person is useful.

The weakness of the book is that Nagoski does sometimes overuse metaphors.  Metaphors can be helpful at times, but they can be pushed to try to do too much, and at points I thought that the author was really going too hard to try to make the metaphor work and it cost her in terms of both clarity and precision.

One thing I did see in Come As You Are that I think wasn't handled quite correctly is the discussion of female Viagra.  Lots of people talk about the search for that mythical beast and I think the discussion is almost always a complete disaster.  We *have* female Viagra.  It is called lube.  It works consistently, has no side effects, and is cheap.  People often refer to female Viagra when they actually mean they want a pill that revs up a woman's libido, but that is a completely different subject and serves only to confuse what Viagra does and what problems women might be encountering.  We also don't have a pill that ramps up male libido, it should be noted.

No matter your sex or gender I think this is a book worth reading.  It helped me understand myself a little (I have an extremely sensitive sexual accelerator and no brakes to speak of!) and it helped me understand other people in my life too.  Several women I know who have read it got a ton of value from it and they thought other people would too.

Read Come As You Are.  Maybe don't try to follow all the metaphors all the way, but most of the rest of the book is excellent.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why oh why

Trump is going to be president.  I didn't think it would happen, and a year ago I was hoping for Trump to win the nomination because I thought Clinton would beat him.  I figured that he would have lots of scandals, say incredibly stupid things, lose the debates, be unorganized, and piss off all kinds of voters with sexist and racist crap.  I thought that would make him lose to an organized, experienced, disciplined opponent like Clinton.  I was wrong.

Now don't for a minute think that I loved Clinton.  I was grumpy about Trudeau being elected in Canada because he is part of a political dynasty, and I actually liked his platform really well.  Clinton's platform was ok (pretty good for a Democrat, actually) but the dynasty thing really gets to me.  But compared to Trump?  No contest, give me the calculating politician over the megalomaniac sociopath every time.

So why oh why did this happen?

There are lots of people saying that it was due to Trump's followers being racist, sexist pigs.  They rant about the bigotry in American and Trump using that to get elected.  They are right.  Those shirts that Trump supporters wore saying "Trump that bitch" exist because so many people deep down do not believe a woman can successfully run the country.

There are others saying that no, it isn't the racist, sexist thing.  It is that Trump is outside the political establishment and people are angry.  They don't like how the world is shaping up and they want their secure factory jobs back.  They want their rural culture back.  They want the world to stop running away from them.  They are right too.

In the US there are real frustrations with the political establishment.  Huge ones.  There are people who just want it all to blow up and think that Trump will be so disastrous he might actually break things, and they want revolution so badly they will face any disaster to get it.  I totally understand that, because the two party system in the US is so dysfunctional right now that I get the desire to tear it down and start anew.

There is a real draw to the good old days.  Of course there is the perception that economically things were better back then, but that is just selective memory.  Today unemployment is low, things are cheaper than ever, and more people have health insurance.  There are plenty of reasons to think things are good.  But none of that compares to the shining memories of a golden past, even though those shining memories are a lie.  Inequality is bad now, no doubt, but pretty clearly electing a billionaire trust fund baby who wants to empower the rich is not going to fix *that*.

But it isn't just economics of course.  Men want to be able to smack the women in the office on the ass and have it just be chalked up to 'boys will be boys'.  People want to be able to loudly tell jokes about the Mexican, the Indian, and the Russian and have people laugh instead of being hauled into the office for a dressing down and a lecture on cultural sensitivity.  People want to be able to call things gay and not get frowned at.  Trump does those things.  He gets away with it.  His behaviour harkens back to a time when you could just take a giant steaming shit on marginalized groups and it was overlooked.  (Things are perfect now, but these things have improved.)

People want both those things.  They want the illusory glory of the past where every man had a good job and an obedient wife.  They want the freedom to stomp around unaware and uncaring of the struggles of those different from themselves.

So what do we do about the glorification of the past and the love of bigoted behaviour?  That, I don't know.  Both of these things are eternal, omnipresent in human society.  I suspect the answer is that we wait.  The world is getting better, but it is *not* a smooth slope.  It is jagged, and there are big steps back that happen when the people resistant to change lash out in anger as they did yesterday.

Trump is a step back from progress.  He is going to do incredible damage to the US and the ripples from his decisions will spread outward through the world.  Heck, he is actually a danger to begin some kind of serious global conflict.  But all we can do now is wait, knowing that once he has made his mess the pendulum will swing back the other way when people get sick of him.  It always does.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A big plastic cup

We had a party last night and people were drinking wine.  They were drinking that wine out of wineglasses, which of course is ridiculous.  Wineglasses are terrible at being containers for wine.  They tip over easily, smash into many sharp pieces on a regular basis, and are annoying to clean.

Of course people spilled wine, at least in part because wineglasses are garbage for holding wine, though admittedly in part because, you know, wine.

Then they smashed a wine glass and had to clean it up.  Again, wineglasses.  Though, again, wine had something to do with it.

Instead of putting the wineglasses in the dishwasher like any reasonable sort of container they all had to be cleaned by hand, because wineglasses are terrible at the only thing they are meant to do.

People don't like me saying this.  They tell me that wineglasses are designed to perform critical things like providing the perfect temperature to control taste and the perfect shape to control smell.  And after telling me this they grab the wineglass by the bulb, fully negating the temperature control, and slosh the wine back with reckless abandon, forgoing any attempt at savouring the aroma.  If we are so concerned about providing the perfect temperature, I ask, why is it we seem so willing to consume wine that is randomly refrigerated or not, and wine that has been sitting out for a totally random amount of time?

The answer of course is fancypants.

Wine glasses are to make you look fancypants while you drink it.  Nothing to do with temperature, nothing to do with aroma, just fancypants.

I say FAUGH to fancypants.

Give me a big old plastic tumbler any day of the week.  One with a wide base so it doesn't tip over, and a huge capacity so I can fill it with wine once instead of going back multiple times.  And yes, plastic, so I can drop it on the tile if I want and throw it in the dishwasher if I want, and I can expect it to be a perfectly serviceable device for serving wine for my entire life and then some.

If you can admit that your wineglass is just for fancypants, then that is one step at least.  No artifice there.  You want to pretend to be some sort of real for serious person while you slam down your silly juice.  Fine.  But don't give me this nonsense about it being a better way to serve wine, because a wineglass is a far worse wine container than a child's sippy cup.

Wineglasses are just like shoes, and pants.  Ridiculous affectations for people to maintain the illusion of adulthood.  Wine in a plastic cup, drunk barefoot and naked from the waist down.  Now *that* is authentic living.

Friday, November 4, 2016

This again

An argument has been spewing its way across my social media feed about pronouns.  It started with a University of Toronto professor called Jordan Peterson who made some videos about how he thinks that pronouns other than he and she are wrong and bad and no one should use them.  You can read what he says here.

Naked Man linked me to this mess and asked what I thought of it.  I think that Peterson is a bigoted idiot and he is totally wrong about the new wave of pronouns.

Perhaps I should break down a bit why I think that name calling is justified.

Peterson trots out the usual crap to justify his dislike of pronouns other than he/she, which can be broken down as follows:

-It is an assault on language.

-Hate crime laws will put normal people who misgender others by accident in prison.

-Everyone has an obligation to present themselves in a way that makes it easy for others to interact with them.

Now I will give Peterson credit in one way; he avoids the usual claim that biology backs him up, which is also completely bogus.  However there is still plenty wrong.

Using alternate pronouns is not an assault on language.  Language is not fixed.  The perfect form of language does not happen to be the one you were taught when you were four.  Language evolves based on the people that use it, otherwise we wouldn't *have* any recognizable language.  We all adapted to the word computer as a noun, black hole as an astronomical object, and ISIS as a political entity rather than a mythological figure.  Language changing with the times and with culture is just the way things are, and saying that we shouldn't do a thing because it is a change to language is asinine.

Thoughtful criticisms of how hate crime laws work are something I would actually like to see.  I think we should talk carefully about how those laws work.  If Peterson had actual examples or legal critiques of these laws I would listen because that is a thing I am interested in.  Instead he seems keen to use his opposition to the laws as an excuse for acting like an asshole to marginalized people.  Object to the laws?  Sure, fine.  Maybe even good!  I don't know how the laws work that well, so they might well be overbroad.  But using that as an excuse to refuse to give an important consideration for someone who needs it, and which takes almost no effort on your part?  For shame.  The risk of imprisoning people for trivial offences like calling someone 'she' when they self identify as 'xe' is nonexistent.  The laws are aimed at consistent, deliberate misgendering, not accidents or pronoun usage for a person with a perference the speaker is unaware of.

The bit about people having an obligation to present themselves in ways that make it easy for others really boils my blood though.  Peterson basically has decided that everyone has a moral obligation to cater to his biases in all things.  They have to dress, speak, and identify in a way that is easy for him.  That way he never has to consider that there are people different from him in the world and he is saved from the tragedy of accepting other ways of living.

Peterson is a privileged upper class man who is angry that he might have to think about his preconceived notions and challenge some of his deeply held beliefs.  He is desperate to preserve the sanctity of the world he was taught to believe in and he is happy to cause whatever harm is necessary to do that.

Do his arguments about the laws surrounding hate speech have merit?  Maybe.  I don't know.  I am hesitant to have the state regulate speech, so I am naturally sympathetic to that worry.  But what I do know is that the rest of what he has to say is crap, and that leads me to believe that he is blowing his legal arguments out of proportion to justify his indignance at having his worldview challenged.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In person

I broke up with Tinkerbell today.  It was a strange sort of thing because it wasn't exactly clear what we had.  Romance, yes, sex, yes, but I wasn't falling madly in love.  I often don't know how to characterize that sort of relationship.

I decided that I needed to break up on Saturday, for reasons that I won't get into here.  Once you make a decision to break up you suddenly have a whole new set of decisions pop out of nowhere that you have to cope with and they can feel entirely overwhelming.  I suspect a lot of breakups are delayed just on the basis of not being sure of the details that follow the decision.

How do you say it?  Where do you say it?  What reasons do you give?

Nobody has an obligation to provide reasons or justifications for breaking up.  It is one thing you can do unilaterally and without discussion if you want to.  Still, people generally do give reasons and people being broken up with normally want reasons.  I am on the fence about reasons because I think that normally they don't bring the closure that people are hoping for and they usually serve as a jumping off point for argument rather than relief.

On the other hand sometimes it is good to know what the problems were so you can avoid them in later relationships.  If nobody tells you that you need to brush your teeth, show up on time, be better in bed, whatever it may be, it is hard to know what to try to work on.  I am not convinced that people actually improve themselves after getting this information though.

One way in which I go against the masses in breakups is the medium.  People seem to generally think you owe it to the other person to arrange an in person meeting to tell them about the breakup.  I don't think that should be the default at all.  I tried to make that happen with Tinkerbell in deference to that belief and it totally failed.  She noticed that my request to meet was unusual and it came out right away over text what I was about.

I think that experience is the norm.  People know when something is up and it makes them anxious.  Delaying the telling until just the right place and time are available just means they have more time to panic and feel awful, and then when the breakup does happen they have to piece together what to do on the fly.  I know for sure that when people have broken up with me I did not want to book an evening together, travel to the site, then realize that my evening was going to consist of being dumped.  Much rather have it happen right away so I could avoid the anxious and unsure phase and schedule my time to help me get over the disappointment rather than wallow in it.

I am biased in this, most certainly.  I don't argue with people who want to break up with me.  I have zero desire for the opportunity to hear their reasons and dissuade them.  If someone is going to break up with me then I don't want to be with them.  The primary thing I want in a partner is someone who wants me in return!

When the situation is reversed it is similar.  I am not going to be argued out of a breakup.  I broke up with someone and then decided to change my decision once and only once and it was not the right decision.  Nothing was fixed and the same issues broke us up again.  I want nothing to do with arguing about whether my decision is wrong, so providing a face to face venue for that is not useful.

It might sound like I am arguing for breaking up and never communicating again.  That isn't the case.  There are often good things that can come from discussion afterwards.  Also I have maintained friendships with people I broke up with and I appreciate it when that can happen.  I do think that those talks are more useful when both people have had a chance to process the actual breakup message though.  Breaking up at a distance so everyone can get themselves sorted out before those talks happen makes those talks much more useful and productive.

Not that I am telling everyone else they ought to break up over text or email.  Do as you will.  However, I believe that there shouldn't be an assumption that a breakup that way is cowardly or cruel.  It is often the best way for everyone involved.