I’ve seen this article, 18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With making the rounds of the Internet and I wonder a few things.
First, why don’t we try to change some of these miserable “facts” instead of resigning ourselves to the same tone of “oh, that’s just the way it is now, deal with it” mentality that this article was written in? Relationships were not meant to be so suffering based. How can you be anything at all if it’s not in relationship to something else? In the midst of my 4 am can’t-sleep thoughts I decided to write a counter article. I’m really not the best person to be taking love advice from. But my okcupid says I’m “more experienced in love” than most bisexual 24 year olds. Therefore I use that grand requisite to present to you some things I have learned from my own experiences as well as the words of some incredible teachers. Life is always the greatest teacher. Here are some suggestions for friendships and relationships of all binaries.
Since everything is lists now, I raise you a list. Oh how the mind (and internet) loves lists!
1. Brutal (loving) honestly is the ONLY thing that’s going to maintain living relationships.
Even at the risk of disrupting political correctness or politeness. Going through the motions in relationships for the pursuit of being nice is one of the quickest killers. As Ram Dass says in Awakening to Life Through Truthful Relationships, “We cannot afford so much nice-ness.”
You can’t tell everyone that your friend has a drinking problem and then go bar-hopping with her every weekend. Well, you can, and that’s the thing that sucks. It’s what most people do. But when she finds out you’ve been telling everyone else but her, she is going to wish you’d just came to her. Just because a thing is normal doesn’t mean it’s natural. An older friend of mine who used to give me advice helped me through example. He was so amazing at being brutally honest yet doing it in the most compassionate and light hearted way. It wasn’t overdramatic, like watching an episode of Intervention. It was just completely casual. Like, “I love you very much but this thing you’re doing is driving me nuts.” I think this ability to accept that we as humans see things from a limited perspective and are often filled with blind spots is a key to compassion in relationships. We all have our stuff we’re working through. Gently reminding someone of how theirs is effecting you from your own perspective is a nice way to light a fire under their butt to self-examine. They probably wouldn’t realize it on their own, or it might take many years and many other people could get hurt. The key is to do this in the most loving and delicate way possible while still being totally honest and true to yourself.
2. Consider non monogamy.
Humans are the only mammals convinced we are 100% monogamous and try to squeeze painfully into this box shaped mostly by institutions and social conditioning. But be straight up about it if you have non monogamous tendencies or enjoy maintaining multiple love affairs. If you’re making your rounds, it’s only fair to let the other person be free to fulfill their needs through other avenues. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Two magical books on consensual non-monogamy are The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures and Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.
3. The postal service isn’t just a catchy indie band.
(and one that writes sad songs about the type of relationships this article outlines.) It’s, you know, this actual cool thing where you can write someone a real letter and send them cool stuff in the mail. I will never throw away anything someone sends me. This is in part because I am an insanely sentimental packrat, but if you send me mail I might in fact hug your letter in my bed. It’s happened before. I’m all for bringing back this amazingly personal lost art. A long thoughtful letter is worth 1000000 sweet texts. Plus you can personalize the letter in so many ways for the person you’re sending i to. I thank a good friend of mine in Wisconsin for reawakening my love for snail mail.
4. Savor the waiting.
I think the only way relationships can work is if you savor everything like a delicious meal and aren’t in such a terrible rush to declare your love for each other and put just everything out on the table in a neat little box with a death certificate on top of it. I know this goes against the first thing I said about brutal honestly. I believe relationships are often a dance between these two. You must also savor the unspoken as much as the words spoken. The mystery sans expectations and ultimatums, the not-knowingness. Isn’t that half the fun? I know the way everything is done now as a type of means to an end, dates (ahem, I mean hang out seshes) are treated like job interviews or “ok, I have these needs. Gimme all your late night listening ears, and I’ll trade you some physical contact.” Think about what you can give, and give that because there isn’t anything else to do. Give because you enjoy it. Be grateful for where the relationship is now instead of getting caught up in a fantasy future or setting a timeline.
“Even under promising circumstances there is no guarantee that love will be returned in equal measure, or that it will last long, or that it will provide unalloyed joy. When we depend on it entirely for our happiness we must dwell in the shadow of pain, however bright our amorous interludes. What if we should lose our heart’s support tomorrow? We’re okay as long as we have each other, we assure ourselves dreamily. But we will not have each other long. Quarrels, time, distance, changes, or finally death dissolve all unions of friends, lovers, and relatives, plunging the unwary into despair and meaninglessness; and if we have no wisdom we too may go creeping about the lonely streets with our eyes staring hungrily into other eyes and seeing the same hunger there.
But in the way of the Buddha there is relief from distress and exile. In wisdom there is security. Because love is fragile and temporary it cannot protect us forever, but if we relax our grip it may bloom even better, allowing us to give and receive without encumbrance, frenzy, or fear, offering to each other our strength instead of our weakness.”
-Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano (Leonard Price) Nothing Higher to Live For, A Buddhist View of Romantic Love
5. Constantly question what brought the two of you together in the first place.
The fruit is in the root. Some cosmic trade off is meant to occur. I don’t mean trading free pot for a blowjob. This person is in your life to teach you something or give you something. Perhaps you are meant to show them something that no one else could on the whole planet. It may be a physical thing or something intangible. Carl Jung said “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Keep this transformative quality in mind when you fall in love. Notice how this person has changed your life. If they haven’t for the better, move on. The ultimate goal should the growth of your soul, not a white picket fence and some screaming kids.
6. Read about karezza or transorgasmic sex.
Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow is a book I’m reading at the moment and its changing the way I view orgasms. To sum up, this book is about the neurological plummet that occurs in our brains two weeks after orgasm. She compares this to cocaine addiction as it is the neurotransmitter dopamine that is overcharged and leads to distressing patterns post-orgasm. This book is steeped in spiritual wisdom a la daoism, gnostic Christianity, and Hindu tantra. Marnia Robinson’s proposal is that we can beat our biological programming that is an inherently mammalian curse that leads us to stray from our mates in favor of novel partners. We can also avoid the curse of orgasm hangover- the emotionality, coldness, clingyness, jealousy and new-mate-shopping that many of us are all too familiar with after sex with orgasm. Lots of slow, conscious, passionate, bonding-focused love making without orgasm is proposed as a way to bypass our mating program. This form of sex is often called karezza and solidifies bonds and motivates and empowers both parties rather than depleting them. Very very interesting stuff and I cannot wait to finish this book.