Why We Don’t Talk About Relationships.

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  1. That story about the BF who leaked nude photos of his GF is cringe-worthy…!

    I agree…when you meet someone and a red flag goes up, you just have to back off…trying to discuss things with certain people (especially if they have already violated some unwritten code of behavior) is a waste of time…you just have to move on…

    An ex- BF from long ago wrote about his sexual exploits as a teen in a memoir (which is why I broke it off with him…I had a feeling he was a braggart)….funny thing is now his wife is a guest contributor to a certain newspaper and she often writes about cringe-inducing details of their sex life! (C##k rings and such! Yuck!)

    • Olivia Davis says:

      It seems to me that what you’re saying is actually great support for the arguments Charles is trying to make.

      You have certain “unwritten social codes,” that are really important to you. You have strong feelings about what you find acceptable and what you find “cringe-inducing.” But not everybody has those same thoughts–not everybody follows the codes that you think are important. For example, you find yourself agreeing with Charles, but his last post literally mentioned I had purchased a cock ring for him for his birthday. The two of you have very different ideas about what’s acceptable.

      The point he’s trying to make is that me, you, and just about everybody should probably talk more about their “unwritten codes,” about what they find acceptable and unacceptable. This would save all of us a lot of trouble since, if you told me that you don’t want to hear about my sex life, I’d know not to talk about it to you and wouldn’t risk offending, upsetting, or grossing you out. We’re still gonna blog about it when we’ve got good material on it, though. =)

      Also, you’re slightly mistaken. The boy didn’t leak pictures of his girlfriend. The girlfriend posted pictures of herself and the boyfriend found them and was confused and unsure of how to feel.

  2. I think it’s an attitude you take to communicating with someone, from the very start of your relationship. Very soon after people meet me, if we seem to have mutual attraction, they’re going to know some of the major assumptions I hold or at least the ones that, based on what I think my new friend believes, are going to become areas of contention for us. It’s contextual: does my new poet friend know my hard stance on metered verse? Does the woman I’m interested in asking out know what kinds of activities I put under the heading “dating”? In a way you could say I pre-load the hard conversations. As soon as I know what those are going to be, they’re on my front burner. I don’t like the insecure feeling that my new intimate relationship is vulnerable, having been built on unexamined assumptions.

  3. Unfortunately when you are feeling really close to anther person, it is easy to make the mistake of believing that he/she can practically read your mind, which leads to feelings of betrayal when you realize that the other person actually had no clue at all. Women are often guilty of this, but men can do it too.

    For example, I hate it when guys I am dating give me sexual details about past relationships. It makes me very insecure and I’d just rather not know about it. I got really upset with my current boyfriend early on in our relationship because we were talking about using sex toys and he mentioned using sex toys with his prior girlfriend. I immediately felt very turned off by the whole idea of sex toys and I thought it was very insensitive for him to have talked about anything he had done with a prior girlfriend. The thing is, my reaction was probably unreasonable — he wasn’t comparing me or anything, it was more like “my old girlfriend and I did this and I liked it and I’d like to do it again” — it’s just that I have some personal issues with feeling insecure about myself sexually. But if I’m honest with myself, I realize, how was he supposed to know that? Maybe there are people who can talk about the other persn’s sexual likes/dislikes with reference to past relationships and not freak out about it. I don’t know. At the time, I felt like he had violated a commonly understood rule of behavior but in retrospect, it was my rule, not a universal rule.

  4. Is there a particular difference between retaining autonomy over yourself by showing off your body online and by having sex with someone else? That is, should “cheating” be considered an automatic no-go, or is it okay if they don’t explicitly say they don’t want you to, and why or why not?

    • Charles Emrich says:

      Well, I gotta admit I think you’ve already got an answer in mind when you conflate “cheating” and “having sex with someone else.” My point, however, isn’t about whether anything is an automatic no-go. My point is that we get ourselves and our partners into trouble by comfortably assuming that their no-go’s are congruent with our own.

      Do I, personally, see a difference between showing the internet my body and sleeping with someone in meatspace? Yeah. Those acts are different in a bunch of ways. But the distinction between the two isn’t what matters. What matters is that we need to more thoroughly discuss with our partners when that distinction exists for us.

      • I don’t, actually, have an answer in mind already. I wrote it that way because those are the commonly accepted terms. I am mainly trying to figure out if there is any justification for assuming “no sex with other people” as a de facto relationship rule. I’ve seen one very happy relationship torn apart by one party being in love with a third person and desiring a polyamorous relationship, and the other steadfastly refusing to even consider it as an option. I’m trying to understand that position, because frankly it seems insane to me.

        I don’t see why “I should have absolute control over who you love/sleep with” is fine and normal whereas “I should have absolute control over who you are friends with/hang out with” is creepy and abusive.


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