Never understood that it ain’t no good… (Part One)

 

A couple of days ago, the automatic data-management function of this blogsite informed me that I have now made 100 posts to this blog.

It also informed me that I have readers in the following 15 countries:

Belarus, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, and US.

As I am aware of currently having known friends-&-acquaintances in only about half these countries, I’m assuming there are some folks out there in the electric online planet sphere who are finding something interesting, possibly even nourishing, in some of these ramblings. Welcome. Please, enjoy what you find useful here, don’t mind what you find useless. I may wax rather wrathful at times, but it is against ideas and actions I regard as harmful—not against persons, per se. Against certain social institutions and worldviews, not against persons associated with those institutions or worldviews. I’m not really interested in denouncing anyone. I am open to dialogue and all are invited.

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All my life I’ve discovered and cultivated friendships & acquaintances with many different kinds of persons from a wide variety of age, class, color, nationality & ethnicity, occupation & religious outlook, sexual orientation & gender self-identity, educational background & intellectual interest, native intelligence, political outlook & engagement, personal taste, etc. I’ve never wanted to know only persons most like myself with regard to background, lifestyle, or personality.

But at the same time, though I’ve almost always had an adequate number of friends, & usually an abundance of friendly acquaintances, I feel that I’ve only rarely met persons who share all that much in common with me regarding my personally more important interests, tastes, engagements & commitments — my applied values. This has often made me feel somewhat “alone,” even in the midst of various enjoyable social circles.

I’ve never wanted anyone to simply be mostly “just like me”— although it would have been deeply satisfying to find more commonality, more deep affinity, with others at every stage of my life, in every area of my interests & involvements.

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Similarity/near-sameness with myself has also not always been a big factor in my relationships with “girlfriends.” But I think each eventual “break-up” &/or “drift-apart” has been attributable to little if anything other than this factor.

Commonality in the sense of common interests and tastes is perhaps far less important in a romantic relationship than compatibility. However, when it comes to wanting to enjoy much more than simply a congenial good time socializing and sleeping together, etc., when it comes to wanting to really fully share a total life together with maximum closeness and mutual respect and unconditional love,…surely common values and interests and outlooks have to be a strong factor, as well as compatibility. And then, I’ve spent time with women I’ve found very attractive, in potential or actual (short-term) girlfriend-boyfriend relationships, who happened to share a great deal in common with me in terms of tastes, outlooks, etc. and yet with whom there was insufficient compatibility! For a relationship to be long-term in my life, it’s always required that we have considerable common interests, tastes, goals, values, etc, in addition to convivial compatibility.

I’ve always been willing to meet anyone “more than half-way”! Naturally. Especially any woman I found appealing enough to want to sleep with & go places with as a date or girlfriend. But in the end, I require both compatibility and deep commonality beyond a mutual sexual attraction or mutual sexual attraction with romantic edge.

I marvel admiringly, though skeptically, at couples who seem to enjoy tremendous compatibility without much common values or interests other than their mutual attraction and fondness for each other. Yes, I could happily spend some little time in such a relationship. And certainly could be possibly life-long platonic friends ( or at least convivial platonic fond acquaintances) with someone like that. As I say, a friend doesn’t necessarily have to share all that much in common with me.

But for a long-term/fully real romantic partnership, I personally need very wide-ranging and deep sharing of basic values and applied values in lifestyle, activities, interests. Yet also with enough differences to keep things always challenging and intriguing and stimulating-toward-expansion of our individual-and-mutual horizons.

Which is exactly what I had in my marriage of so many blissful years. Which is a big reason why we married each other.

Ultimately, the only romance I’ve ever had that never did end in break-up &/or drift-apart (or in mutual fond and friendly acknowledgement that it was time to more-or-less-happily move on), was that wonderful marriage-partnership with my beloved now-late wife of many years. We both felt at every level of depth that we would always want to continue to be together. And we were right. And it only got better and better with each day. Total unconditional mutual love and best-friendship and support and goodwill and silly joy. We shared so much in common that it is still utterly astonishing to me. Yet our differences always led us toward further growth.

Someone once said, “It’s somewhat arresting when you realize that every romantic relationship you ever enter will either lead to marriage or end in a break-up.” Of course about half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. But I would say at least half the married people I’ve ever known married mostly for what I regard as not the right reasons, marrying persons with whom they did not share enough real suitability, enough deep affinity. So the large number of divorces has never been surprising to me.

What I’ve never understood is the strong, widespread phenomenon in our culture of people “coupling-up” and moving in together, sometimes even buying houses and cars together, etc., who find each other little more than attractive enough to sleep with and perhaps even live with, but who aren’t really very much (not very deeply) in love with each other. And in many cases, in some rather basic ways, often don’t even really like each other all that much. Couples (both parties) who often also know they don’t really plan to stay together all that long, certainly not beyond such time as either of them may run into someone they really like and love. And yet they are going together (exclusively) and perhaps even living together as romantic/sexual/domestic partners, without any real core to it all, other than — what? some sort of need for a sense of (rather limited/false) security? Laziness/lack of adventuresomeness?

So often in my single life (both before and since my marriage), I’ve met women who are in this situation. We often first run into each other when they and I are both out somewhere alone. If I find them attractive enough, and especially if they’ve given any hint of mutual appreciation or interest, I will initiate (or respond to an initiated) conversation with them. So often in the course of such a first conversation, the woman will mention that she is going with someone, often living with him as well, and though she is not really in love with such a partner, she is thus not presently open to our getting to know each other as potential dates, romantic interests, etc. Though, as she will often say, it would be different if she were actively “single.”

Of course this kind of talk is something some women utilize, even when it may be completely false, simply as a strategy for attempting to be polite, even flirtatiously polite, while avoiding accepting any possible further interest. But I’m thinking here only of those women who really are going (steady) with, even perhaps living with, someone they have no real intention of marrying or remaining settled with. In which cases they are open enough to chatting with me, sometimes extremely flirtatiously, though (usually) not open to getting involved with someone (or at least not with me!). Then again, there are also those women who make it clear that, despite their readily acknowledged living arrangements, they are in fact open to getting romantically/ sexually involved (with me). But from my side, of course, no thanks! 

I never pursue nor accept any such possibilities/offers. Naturally, I admire anyone’s loyalty to a partner, even where there may not be all that much love involved. And I certainly don’t disparage (though I never act on) anyone else’s openness to possibly exploring a relationship with me while they are already involved in a primary relationship with a partner of one degree or another.

Personally I regard not running the risk of hurting anyone else’s feelings concerning their relationships (with loyal or not-quite-so-loyal partners) to be a basic ethical principle. I would never want to be hurt in that way and I would never want to hurt anyone else in that way. Openly or clandestinely. This is just so basic. Some people never get over such hurt; it can ruin their entire life. That is serious bad karma to deliver to someone and to incur to one’s own present-and-future.

The hurt party may or may not come “gunning” for you, literally or figuratively, in the near or distance future, but the karmic payback you will suffer will be very real and equal to the pain you have inflicted.  Of course, sometimes, others are hurt by our actions (including words and silence and “inaction”), even when we mean absolutely no harm and when they have no legitimate cause to feel we have compromised their chances of romantic happiness, etc. In which case they still may do us vengeful harm or just harbor great private resentment or animosity to us. But what can we do?

I’ve actually had instances of this kind of misappropriate ill-will directed toward me from more than one man (and more than one woman!) who felt that because a woman I liked preferred me to them, that I was somehow at fault for interfering with their own hopes and plans for happiness with this woman, even when I had not had any idea that these persons were harboring such feelings for a woman who preferred me, and when the woman concerned simply had no interest in the man or woman who felt slighted. When the woman who chose to be with me owed no allegiance to the hurt party whatsoever.

Such cases are simply a kind of misplaced irrational wishful thinking and blame-finding, of course. But the hurt that such persons feel is very real to them, and I completely understand and sympathize/empathize with the persons feeling such hurt. Weirdly unrealistic as their fantasies usually are in such cases. But we can hardly go around trying to first determine if there is anyone out there harboring a perhaps secret or unrequited/ unrealistic crush on a person who happens to want to be in a relationship with us.

Still, these kinds of things can make some “unrequited” persons a little nutty. There was more than one person who felt this way about my wife and I. My wife hardly knew these persons (if at all), and had never shown any interest in allowing for any sort of special friendship or even notable acquaintance with them, much less any kind of romantic relationship, exclusive or otherwise, with any one of them.

And yet these individuals each similarly felt that their private fantasy interest in her gave them some sort of real priority and proprietary “rights” over who she chose to be with. And they deeply and somewhat crazily violently resented me because my wife chose to be with me and because I “allowed” her to be with me, instead of somehow turning her down so that these individuals (whom she and I only barely knew, if at all) could be with her!

Totally bizarre, frightening, but extremely common, actually. In such cases, I’m convinced there is clearly some old karma involved. Not from one’s current actions or intentions, of course, but to whatever degree such troubles and threats come to one, they come, I believe, as karmic payback from some equal and similar-or-identical pain or fright or hurt one must have caused to others (either these disgruntled persons, or even some other persons altogether) at some time in the distant past (in some previous lifetime, obviously!).

Most of the important karmic payback that comes to us in this life, positive as well as negative payback earned, comes not so much from things we do in this lifetime, but from things we’ve done in an earlier more distant past. Still, I don’t see how anyone can expect to avoid suffering tremendous pain in this life as well as in the more distant future if and when they knowingly allow themselves in this lifetime to hurt someone deeply, especially through interfering with, or “usurping” or “poaching” upon, or being crassly indifferent to anyone’s “legitimate”/innocent loving claims to a prior-established relationship. The idea that “all’s fair in love” (as in war) is one of the most ignorant, unloving, and dangerously pain-producing and pain-incurring attitudes and unethical life-approaches ever floated.

I’ve always felt somewhat sick whenever it has happened (and it has happened more than once), that someone has mutually wanted to begin a relationship with me without their having done what they necessarily could and should do first to settle as compassionately/safely as possible any prior relationship love-debt or love-claims. Within reason.

Beyond a certain point, of course, one has to simply let the past be the past and move forward with a healthy respect for the inexorable and unfathomable, exactly just and exactingly precise course of karma.  But I’ve always turned down any serious relationship with anyone who didn’t come to me in a naked state of grace and complete freedom, or who didn’t make a sincere and sometimes extremely taxing attempt to get “cleaned-up” that way before I acted decisively on any mutual interest we had in each other. 

Life can be difficult enough even in a state of complete emotional/ interpersonal “cleanliness” and goodwill (as much cleanliness as is available to any of us at any point along our way), without having to “settle for less” than both parties bringing the best possible circumstances and attitudes to a relationship.  I’m naive enough to assume that we all simply attempt to do our best. But I’m ancient enough and experienced enough that I should know better.

I do often marvel, especially in the absence of someone’s total loyalty to their partner, at the level of commitment to less-than-happy arrangements so many people maintain in such cases. It is one thing to feel/think, even perhaps to say to a person, “Don’t take this as in any way a proposition or suggestion, but if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m already deeply, happily in love with my partner — and I am!, I would definitely want to get to know you!” That can be a very problematic confession, and easily subject to misunderstanding, but I appreciate that such a comment can be a wonderful ultimate compliment and a kind of blessing. I’ve always been touched when someone says something like that to me with sincerity.

It’s quite another thing to say (or just privately to feel/think), “I’m living with someone I don’t really love or like enough to be loyal to for that reason, and I would like to get to know you in a potentially romantic way. But since I am already committed, even though to a less than fully-loving relationship arrangement, I’m not really available. Sorry.”  (Or, “Because of my situation I’m not fully available, but maybe we could just ‘fool around’ sometime!”)

Like I say, I admire some folks’ loyalty (such as it sometimes is), but I wonder at their often oddly misplaced commitment. “Eventually I’ll move on, but for now I’m in this relationship, even though we don’t really love each other romantically all that much, if at all.” In such cases it seems to me they are taking undue, unfair advantage of the other person as well as of themselves, if they really are strongly attracted to other potentially- more suitable partners, to fuller relationship possibilities, but don’t want to pursue them only because of…what? Inconvenience? Rocking (sinking) a boat they already are not really happy to remain in for long? Strange. I do understand being “stuck”, and I have great empathy, but I also marvel at such things, nonetheless.

Quite often, I feel, (maybe most often), people “settle for less” in entering (and staying in) relationships including (especially) marriage, settle for less than their ideal, for less than what they know deep inside that they need and want in a serious girlfriend or boyfriend or in a full, permanent life-partner &/or partnership.

Before my marriage, I often felt happy enough to allow for a certain amount of “settling for less” in the sense of being quite willing to get to know a woman not only as a wonderful person and possible friend, but also as a date and as a romantically-friendly sex-partner, without any expectation that we were necessarily likely ever to suddenly be revealed to each other as one another’s ideal mate! Often, it was enough just to like each other in a sexual, friendly, probably-limited-romantic way.

my two

I certainly don’t regret this at all! I got to know many wonderful women, and many wonderful experiences were enjoyed & shared as a result, some of them quite meaningful.

Meanwhile, however, I was certainly always most open in a larger sense, to actually meeting an ideal partner. But you can’t necessarily find such ultimate success just by going out in search of such a person, nor necessarily just by holing up in your own studio apartment or whatever, never bothering to be open to getting to know anyone well who doesn’t first strike you as probably or definitely the person you’d want to marry. Some people do one or both of those, sometimes with success. I, on the other hand, was open to getting to know people along the way.

But at the same time, you can’t fully enjoy spending time with those you date during that possibly long “meanwhile” if you’re always looking over your shoulder (or theirs!) in hopes of discovering someone more suitable to your deeper interests. So I never flirted with some one else while on a date (or while in a “conditional” or limited relationship). Never “put out my antennae” for someone else, or sent visual, vocal or mental vibrational “telegraphs” to anyone other than whoever I was already spending time with, while I was with them, either on a date, or in a relationship. I always treated being with whoever I was with as if it was a total commitment, at least on my part. But at the same time, in the not-so-very-far back of my mind, I was aware that what I really hoped to discover and enjoy, sooner rather than later, was The Real Thing, The Whole Thing.

The morning before the night I met my future sweetheart-wife, I had realized fully, and come to a determinative decision, that I just couldn’t continue to indulge in even one more less-than-ideal, less-than-full relationship. I’d reached that realization and decision that morning, and that evening I met the woman I would marry. Funny how that sort of thing happens.

 Up till then, as I say, it had often been acceptable, sometimes even exceedingly wonderful, for me to hope for a better, fully (best, fullest) relationship, while in the meantime sincerely making the best of spending time “exploring a relationship” with a series of women I found greatly interesting and appealing as persons to be in relationship with, but not, probably, really likely to be in a life-partnership with. However, that point just mentioned came when I realized in the end, as I had also actually known all along the way, that it really wasn’t entirely fair either to myself or to the women involved. Since what at least I, and no doubt many of these women also, really wanted was a full, all-round life-partnership of infinitely deep affinity, well beyond compatibility and even beyond many shared important interests. So then, as I say, the night after swearing off all future less-than-acutely-promising potentially full-relationships, Boom! I met the ideal person for me (as, astonishingly, I was for her). And that was the instant end to all such dating/relationship issues, until her passing.

So now it’s a bit odd to once again be in the world of dating. And to be rubbing shoulders, sometimes through friends and work colleagues, and mostly just through my own independent wanderings, with so many women who are in the kind of situation described above: “No, I’m not married, but I am living with a guy. And no, I’m not in love with him and don’t plan to marry him, but right now we are buying a house. Yes, I do find you interesting & attractive and yes, I would like to see you, but I can’t.         — Or, “Yes, I would like to see you: let’s get together,– but of course I’m still going with/living with  (ie and sleeping with) my ‘boyfriend’ even though we’re not really in love. Hope you don’t mind.”

Jeesh.

Well, this is just one aspect of being single-and-dating, both as it was back in the day, and now once again is. And yes, I also sometimes lived with women I didn’t end up marrying, but only in cases where we both felt and thought that we definitely would, or probably would, or quite possibly might wish to do that in the future, but meanwhile wanted to allow maximum comfort and support and time for our getting to know and love each other to just be what it was and to be able to grow together.  That I also understand, but wouldn’t have understood or welcomed “outside interests.”

If two people live together and also sleep together, but are both fully open about accepting possible “outside interests” then that is another thing.  Whether they are just housemates and good “friends-with-benefits” (ie domestic “f_ _ _-buddies”), or even loving partners in a “deeply committed but open” marriage, that is a unique situation with it’s own sometimes unique set of expectations and commitments regarding loyalty.

I sometimes have felt that many people would be better off if they were to be in such an arrangement, rather than in the kinds of unhappy relationships/ arrangements they often are in. But I also feel that very, very few individuals are really wired to gain ultimate deep, settled fulfillment in life from such an arrangement.

Personally, my experience is that when I’ve found a person I really want to be married with (and when it’s mutual, of course!), then all other dating and/or relationship issues are simply subsumed.  You live with each other and for each other and in love together with each other and nothing else is really an issue.  And yes, for me, anything less is a kind of temporary, conditional “settling” or perhaps an avidly happy but limited-partnership of temporary exploratory expedition. Nothing necessary “wrong” with that. But I do want The Real Thing, the Whole Thing.  

And what’s your experience and situation?

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