serina_ds: (Default)

They Really Like Me!
How important are the opinions of other people to you? Do you actively try to find out what others think of you? Whose opinion do you value the most?

John Donne once said:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

This rings for me, true down to the heart. It doesn't mean that the opinions of every person is important, but treating others with compassion and kindness and generosity is.

The people whom I love the most are those whose opinions I tend to trust totally and utterly. They've proven, time and time again, that they want me to be happy and healthy. I want to be my best self, my most ethical, genuine, compassionate, thoughtful, curious self. They help me to make that possible, they encourage me to keep improving and changing and seeking, whilst also making it clear that they support me and love me. These are my Tribe, my people, my family. They make me want to gift them with the best self I can be, because they deserve that for all the love and joy they bring to my life. So for me, their good opinions are paramount.

For the rest of the world, however...

I am sufficiently non-mainstream that if I cared too deeply about what the world thought of me, it would merely make me desperately unhappy in the long run. So I don't. I treat people compassionately because that is a good thing to do, but if they have negative opinions of me, that doesn't matter. I'm not delusional enough about myself to believe that people thinking bad of me is not hurtful, but it's a shallow, temporary hurt. We are after all, as Donne says, connected to one another. It's so fleeting a hurt, and often from a place of ignorance or fear or confusion or misunderstanding, however, that it doesn't touch me inside. It doesn't impact the heart of me the way that a negative opinion from someone I loved would, so I don't seek to redress or clarify it the way that I would if I cared more.
serina_ds: (Dark eye)
Question from this post:

"Has a friend's significant other ever lead to the ending of that friendship?"

The short answer would be...I don't think so. Not directly. But then, being poly makes it slightly different, I feel - this question is much more easily answered in a monogamous situation, where people really do occasionally expect their partner to be everything to them, and withdraw from their friendships groups and family as a result. It's most likely very possible in a poly situation, but hopefully a bit more difficult when an abusive, selfish or possessive partner has metamours to contend with. We all want our partners to be happy, even if this sometimes involves an Intervention to get them to look at a situation that might be making them unhappy (or at least, that's what I would imagine - having not participated in one before!) That's not the same thing as making the choice for them, I think, merely getting them to look at the relationship objectively, and then making sure that they have all the support they need to take the path they feel is best for them.

Of course, I don't know how I would feel if that situation actually came up. I've been with someone that I felt were in relationships that weren't healthy for them, but never staged an intervention, or tried to suggest they no longer date. I just tried to be supportive, and let them make the choice. Perhaps my horror of accidentally enacting a veto caused me to swing too far in the other direction? Should I have stepped forward earlier? I'm not sure how else I could have acted and still remained true to my policy not to veto or take sides. I find it hard to walk that line, that could tip me over from being concerned, to being controlling or patronising. My partners are adults. I trust them to make the correct judgements for themselves - even if it's not the judgement I would have made myself.

Anyway, back to the question itself.

No, I've not lost a friendship due to a friend's choice of partner. But I have come very close to that with an old old friend who uses her relationships to get away with stuff ("Oh, I'm sorry I'm an hour late, I need to help Z with something", "Y totalled my car, and he lost his job recently, can I borrow £200 until next month?", "X has just spent all his money on his kids, and the rent is due, I know I still owe you £200 but can I borrow another £600?", "I wanted to introduce my new bf W at dinner tonight, but he's just changed his mind about meeting up. I know we were supposed to be there 5 mins ago, can I reschedule?") Having known her so long, I'm aware that it's probably her, rather than her partners. She's always been like this, and I wouldn't let anyone else get away with it, but for her, I just used to treat it with frustrated patience. I can't change her, so there's no use getting too angry about it, she'll just do it again. It's a shame to throw away such a long friendship.

Last time we talked, though, I snapped. Although she still owed me £200 from about 4 and a half years go (after promising to repay me in 20 days), she had the temerity to contact me on FB to ask to borrow £1000. I said no, and also pointed out to her that she only ever seemed to contact me to borrow more money. £200, £600, £1000. When I said no to lending more money, she would disappear off the radar again and not bother to contact me until next time. The amounts only ever went up, and the amount of contact went down. The last few times we arranged to meet up, she was either significantly late, or never turned up. I was getting very upset at what felt like her taking advantage of our long standing friendship. I lambasted her over FB a while, and then arranged to meet again. One last time to really make the effort to repair the friendship. She agreed. We arranged it for when she was coming into London for something else anyway. Then she said that she needed to meet up with her dad at 8pm that same evening, so I said fine, we'll meet earlier and spend a couple of hours in a coffee shop or whatever.

I waited about an hour and a half. She never turned up.

That should really be a hint, right? I suspect that next time she calls though, I'll still forgive her and I won't be angry. She just won't be a friend anymore. Just another acquaintance. I haven't got enough time or energy to waste on someone, friend or partner, who treats me like that.
serina_ds: (Default)

All generalizations are false, including this one
What was the last juicy generalization from which you freed yourself? What caused your perspective to change?

I love finding my world view turned on its head sometimes. Learning new things, clearing out old prejudices I didn't realize I had (and we all have them - it's part of development, and understanding the society you live in).

The last time I had a generalization poked at, it was about my image of what differentiated a potential partner from a friend, as a result of reading something about asexuality and polyamory. Since I don't believe in the One True Love (TM), I just see people on a spectrum of degrees of love. I don't do exclusivity, nor do I do the same things with every partner I have. I don't require sex as a part of a relationship (although I thoroughly enjoy it) and I will also have sex with good friends. I'm perfectly happy to just cuddle with a partner - but then I'm also happy to cuddle on the sofa and watch a DVD with a friend. I will confide and gossip with both. I will go out to shows and dinner with both.

What, then, makes the difference between a friend and a romantic partner?

I guess, in the end, it's a matter of negotiation and expectations. We communicate more. We compromise on more. I will expect more from a partner - but I will also forgive more. I put more of my faith and trust in their person than I would a friend.

It's not that they matter and my friends don't. It's that they matter more - and that's just the way it should be.


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February 2016

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