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Babbling about relationships [Oct. 18th, 2003|01:20 pm]
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

I've been thinking about something that Ferrett said in his entry from last night - that his uncle always said that it's not bad if you're fighting as long as you don't have the same fight twice.

Wouldn't it be lovely if people could have a fight only once and get it out of their systems?

The truth, though, is that people do fight about the same thing over and over and with slight variations on the theme. Living together isn't easy - we're all selfish fucks who want our own way, and want our own way to be validated by those around us. It's hard giving up those things we want that hurt other people, and we're remarkably good at convincing ourselves that the problem isn't that we are being unreasonable but that it's the other guy who is being a dick. That things would be fine if only he or she would see it my way.

Here's where it gets tricky, though: sometimes you are right, and you need to stick to your guns, but that other person is just not going to validate your rightness. No matter what you do. No matter what you say. But you still want to make them see - if only you'd really listen to me, you'd know I was right.

And it's not going to work, because that other person has their own agenda and will just continue thinking you're a jerk for doing what you have to for yourself. And the fights continue because you can't be at peace with making the right decision if you can't persuade the other person of your viewpoint, and it's too painful to know that - even if she's being a total asshole, even if he's such a jerk that people don't want to associate with him - you haven't been able to convince them of the error in their ways.

So you engage in the fight again. And they engage in the fight again because the topic is still on the table. And that means that you might still be swayed to their viewpoint. If you're willing to fight about it, you might be convinced. You both expend massive time and emotional energy ripping each other apart in a frantic attempt to make the other one see.

(Now go back and reverse the situation. Sometimes you are the unreasonable ass, wrapping your self-centered worldview around you like a flag, and your partner is the one trying to convince you. None of us are immune.)

Sometimes we fight over and over again because the argument is only the surface, and it takes several forays against that surface to finally break through to the underlying issue and really deal. But a lot of times when you fight about the same thing over and over again it's only because you want to make right and make nice, and you just can't.

Don't try to find compromise where none will exist. Know what you need, and what you believe, and what is foundational and can't be negotiated. Your self-respect, your need to be treated well, your desire for security, your need for adventure, whatever it is, if you aren't going to change it, stop fighting about it. And be brave enough to not need validation from outside yourself. Be brave enough to let a relationship go if it's going to impact that which is foundational. Because if you don't, you will never be comfortable and secure, you will always be fighting to maintain your foundation.

The rest of the give-and-take of living together has enough argument and compromise in it to last a lifetime. Don't try to build it on quicksand.

Here's the interesting thing about figuring out what your foundations are. Once you have done so, you have three choices. The first two are two sides of the same coin: you let the partner know that the need must be fulfilled, and they will either learn to fulfill it or, if it is contrary to their foundation or they don't care enough to do so, you let them go - no fuss, no battles, because this is non-negotiable. If you take this attitude anyone who is worth being with will make the change, and if they won't they weren't worth being with.

But here's the other thing that can happen. You might come to realize that this deep-seated, foundational need of yours in wrong-headed and self-destructive, and that you need to change it. You might need to spend some time learning to love yourself and those around you better. But you can never get to the point of making such changes as long as you don't really look at and evaluate what's foundational for you.

[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-10-18 10:46 am (UTC)
Yee haw.
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[User Picture]From: namedphoenix
2003-10-18 11:07 am (UTC)

I wish I'd read this about six months ago...

I did just that. I realized that there was at least one absolutely foundational thing missing from my relationship - and however trivial and vain it seemed, I needed it and he wasn't giving it. I couldn't tell him the reason, becasue it seemed so silly to my ears: He didn't make me feel sexy, didn't make me want him, and would frequently behave as though I was merely a region he wanted to explore and then claim as his own. Like he could stick a flag in my vagina and loudly proclaim the territory as his own - he the first explorer. Among other things, I understand now that was one of the biggest, non-practical reasons I broke up with him. But it would have been made so much easier if I had read this and known that it was okay to have that feeling of something fundamental missing - no matter what that something was, it was still fundamental.

Thanks lots.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-18 11:27 am (UTC)

Re: I wish I'd read this about six months ago...

Therre is nothing trivial about wanting a satisfying sexual relationship, nothing at all. It's highly foundational.

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[User Picture]From: tfcocs
2003-10-18 12:12 pm (UTC)
I wish I had read this entry last night.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-18 03:00 pm (UTC)
What happened last night?
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[User Picture]From: tfcocs
2003-10-18 04:12 pm (UTC)
I had m2f sex with Xavier. See:

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-18 04:57 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't know enough about your relationship to understand why this is a problem....

Perhaps I'll get a chance to read your journal one day, but this is not the day.
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From: rainjen
2003-10-18 11:51 am (UTC)
Very well said.
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[User Picture]From: albumlady
2003-10-18 12:41 pm (UTC)
Well spoken!
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[User Picture]From: spooke
2003-10-18 01:13 pm (UTC)


What oft was thought, but never so well said.

Not concisely, but well. ;)
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2003-10-18 01:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Bravo

If you're looking for concise from either of us, you're way in the wrong place. *g*
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-18 01:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Bravo

Alas, if people could grasp the concise there would be need for such entries at all. [g]
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[User Picture]From: demetria23
2003-10-18 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'd like to think it's better when you fight sometimes, especially if you're both strong-willed. Because the moment you stop fighting, it means you just don't care enough anymore.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-18 02:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there won't still be fighting. But if you are always fighting about the same things, time and again, it's time to start looking at what the fight is really about - something deeper that you aren't getting to, or some fundamental need that is not being met. I'm not advocating rolling over or giving up, just being more efficient and getting to the true heart of the matter.
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2003-10-18 03:04 pm (UTC)
no kidding. it just sucks when the true heart of the matter is something you wish it hadn't been.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-10-19 11:18 am (UTC)
yes, it does. And people will frequently avoid it for a long time - years, even - because they think the denial is preferable to the consequences. But it's really not. As Ferrett once said to me, trying to work around these things is as kind as performing sugery with a butter knife - the cut may not be as quick, but it's ragged and far more painful in the end.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2003-10-18 06:09 pm (UTC)
We had the same fight for -- sheesh -- 94 until -- 2001? Yeah. Resolved, finally.

It's been much better since then.
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[User Picture]From: tygher
2003-10-18 11:17 pm (UTC)
This is something my husband and I struggle with a bit, though not so badly that it's come to any major trouble. But it's very true that you have to know for yourself when it's okay to compromise and when you shouldn't ..

I think we need some more of those three-sided coins though. Especially 'round these parts.

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