Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sexual vs Emotional Relationships

I am reminded recently, by the virtual impossibility and overarching stupidity of trying to start a meaningful relationship whilst travelling in a foreign country. Furthermore, I recently located another ex on facebook, previous attempts had failed because as it turned out I didn't know how to spell her name, a recurring theme in my relationships it seems.
I thought how misleading my facebook profile is in saying I'm interested in 'Men' and 'Women' this was intended to be self depreciating allusion to my desperation, similar to my highschool mate Vagg's standard of 'two legs and not Jacob' as if facebook let me choose 'interested in children' that would have been my first preference.
But of course with so little of language being verbal reading something like that I can sort of see how my friends could see my adopting a bi-sexual lifestyle plausible, a lot of my close friends are gay. I don't hesitate to wear fishnet stockings, knee high socks and other girly accessories. My current haircut can also look quite like something a lesbian would pick out as well. (I must admit its stupid assymetry is growing on me)
My close friend Shona in the past has articulated how society imposes the monogomous heterosexual relationship as the unquestionable norm. I have argued in favor of poligimy as a plausible and workable relationship (just much harder than a monogomous one) if one thinks about what makes a monogomous relationship or marriage successful in generic terms rather than treating it as special.
The most fascinating deliniation though came from Bryce when we waxed philosophical one day on a park bench.
He believes that relationships take two distinct forms, sexual relationships, and emotional relationships. Generally the relationships or most relationships are sexual, the impetus is a mutual attraction apart from arranged or political marriages where the participants get little to no say.
In time the sexual becomes familiar and possibly unimportant, but an emotional relationship forms by virtue of having spent time together and having intimate knowledge.
Bryce's thinking at the time was that the ideal model really was to have one lasting emotional relationship, but to change up the sexual relationship constantly to keep sex interesting and sexuality alive.
Most guys I know operate somewhere along this spectrum, myself I value the emotional relationship highly, it takes a fuckload of stress out of my life and my life thus far has been spent mostly in long term emotional relationships, having sex in monotonous regularity. Never so long as sex not to be an important factor in the upkeep of the relationship and a massive reliever of stress.
Some of my friends are a mixed bag, others play women like a commodity market, which again I have no problem with so long as they aren't bedding women under a false pretext of a lasting relationship ensuing.
SO fundamentally I agree with Bryce, that relationships take these two generic forms (though not necessarily mutually exclusive long term the balance will tilt in one or the others favour) and that how one approaches relationships is a personal choice. My female friends generally are strong advocate of the 'slut' archetype being a social taboo and as such I believe a lot of women I know feel enormous social pressure to only choose relatonships in their emotional form.
However I think one thing fucks up the poligamy model in terms of an emotional relationship with sexual needs sated by a constant stream of updates. And that is this, I'm Bryce's oldest friends, and this is a fact of which I am quite proud. Bryce is moreover a hero of mine for the high risk tolerance his life has which is virtually incomprehensible amongst the private school caste I grew up amongst where life is simply a process of seeking safe guaruntees. It makes me wonder how such families ever fucking afforded private tuition in the first place. Probably fucken propoerty.
But I digress, one could argue that Bryce and I have a strong emotional relationship, that for reasons of sexual orientation has never been sexual. Not even in an undercurrent. We are 'old soldiers' having a wealth of binding intellectual experiences.
Most best friends are based on an emotional relationship, a mutual affinity where one recognises in another all the good traits they themselves possess or aspire to and thus have a relaxed open connection. People with no real best friends I find to be some of the most pitiful creatures on the planet.
But the sexual relationship is a trump card and that is what I think makes Bryce's relationship model unsustainable or untenable if not impossible. That sex has a lot of emotion wrapped up in it, that's the killer. Many a time I have felt discarded or handicapped by friends who have savagely devalued our relationship because of the commencement of a new sexual relationship.
The sexual relationship is a trump card, it is very hard to compete with pure emotion to achieve the same return in energy and enthusiasm, and effort that sex gets.
I have rarely dressed up, cooked, cleaned, bought expensive presents, written personal letters, gone out of my way to introduce to my family, helped move or any other bit of effort that is a foregone conclusion in my sexual relationships for a friend. Which is not to say I'm not there for them, but I don't have the scoreboard mentality of working towards a relationship payload as I do when the relationship is defined by sex.
Other guys can get a sex a lot easier without the effort, but even the social dynamic of having friends and a new sexual partner is different. Only the worst partners abandon their sexual partner in a social situation, most stand close by to be attentive and facilitate the newcomer into the in group, even to the detriment of their own interactions of their close friends. And this simply means what the sexual partner gains, the emotional partner loses, or probably more accurately experiences a feeling of loss.
For most of my friends, this is simply a part of growing up, everyone realises the need and importance of sexual partners so you get over the change in social dynamics quickly knowing you are free to aquire your own sexual relationship if you can succeed in convincing a fellow participant.
I hate how clinical I sound but if this same model was applied to an emotional partner that had previously occupied that sexual partner pedestal it is a lot different and here's why.
For me my biggest problem with poligamy would be that a sexual relationship for me is a means to an end (and not the obvious one of sex) but the end being, I want to build an emotional relationship with someone. In the past I have tried to have flings, a 'pash and dash' if you will, but found myself almost compulsively tracking down the number and initiating a relationship. (once in I find it pretty easy to stick around and why not? I'm great)
For me to attempt Bryce's logical model I would fuck up faster than most because the transformation from sexual to emotional tends to kick of much faster but thus far takes longer to complete its metamorphoses than most me thinks.
(Paul my 'mentor' told me if you buy a big jar when you start dating a girl, and for the first three years put a dollar in the jar every time you have sex, and after three years take a dollar out every time you have sex for the rest of your lives you will never reach the bottom of that jar. A prospect I find horrifying, yet arguably a strong cultural testimony to the value of emotional relationships)
So I would have emotional partner 1 in this situation and sexual partner 2 for the first say optimistically month. Then after a month I would be in the untenable position of emotional partner 1, and emotional partner 2. The only person really contributing anything new to my life would probably be emotional partner 2, being most recently defining my relationship in sex.
I realise what Bryce (I think) proposed is he has emotional partner 1 and sexual partner 2. Then after a month he has emotional partner 1 and sexual partner 3. After two months emotional partner 1, sexual partner 4 and so fourth.
I think though that whilst conceivably doable and that in this situation over time the emotional partner would become reassured that they are special in that they will almost certainly outlast any new person in their lovers life (love not lust) but I think that if approach to relationships is a preference, much like Jungian personality types, it is an exceptional person that is good at both. I would credit myself as extremely good as a partner in an emotional relationship these days being in the top 10% of practitioners, which isn't to say I never go wrong but my fundamentals are pretty tight.
However I know I am almost inept when it comes to the sexual relationship (not sex itself) but the actual courting of someone unfamiliar to me, reading interest signs, knowing how to start conversations, not being a high and mighty arsehole and such.
So in summary I couldn't do it, I mean I could but it would take so much effort on my part and emotional cost to never make the prospect attractive. The payload isn't strong enough.
I think Bryce is probably exceptional in being capable of both but hazard a guess that he leans towards sexual in preference to emotional ones.
I have friends that for a long time seemed to have the 'emotional' relationship part of there brain missing. Such a friend once articulated to me in talking about my habit of being almost constantly in one long term relationship or another (From mid year 12 to 4th year uni I had 5 girlfriends but racked up a grand total of 4 weeks single time)
his words were 'how can you stand the same spice on your chicken every night?' similar to Eddie Murphy's 'Same old crackers' bit in delirious, or raw I always forget. And the answer in metaphore is that in this day and age the tried and true ministery position is no longer the only spice out there, my friends analogy would be more true if it was 'salt on your chicken' which is to say evasively that if you girlfriend is the chicken, then it takes your creative energies and efforts to mix up the spice to cook it in different ways. The spice changes constantly. I'd probably think of it more as something like pasta which I could conceivably have the same dish in a million different variations in a year.
Sure there will always be staple nights, keep it simple dishes like spaghetti bolagnese or salted chicken breast. But on the whole you end up valuing the simplicity as a form of diversity as well.
Put simply though there's more to life, for me it's less effort to spice up the same staple of my diet than to constantly seek out new and exciting restaurants. It's exhausting.
But I did say I could conceive of poligamy as a workable model, and in this I am quite arrogant. I would call this a 'pasta and rice' model, lets stick to the carbohydrates, and its based initially on this observation:

Good partners are rare.

The majority of people are crap, long have I observed situations where I believe more than one girl would be best of dating me, above other options. If you've seen 'A beautiful mind' then think the precice opposite of the Nash Curve (where if every guy goes for the blond they all block eachother and piss off the other ladies available) this is almost the situation where the blond chick says 'you can all have me' and no doubt her brunette friends think slut, and their bitter and negative attitudes help justify my model.
What I am getting at is that (and in Japan this model becomes stark) I told my friend who now works in Japan about an incident I had when I was first dating Misaki, my ex. Which was I cooked breakfast, fucking no big deal in Australia most of the time, you have someone over you usually provide some kind of breakfast before they fuck off.
But Misaki clapped her hands, and yelled out 'Ureshii' literally 'Happy' and was over the moon, I really couldn't put down what an overreaction it was. She was quite simply real easy to impress. But on the flipside, culturally women in Japan get the shit end of the relationship stick, it's all give no take. It is an institutionalised Lose-Win relationship. My friend on hearing this story tried it out one time with a girl here whom he said was delighted beyond delight despite him fucking up the eggs and burning the bacon.
Put simply, almost every girl in Japan would get a better deal out of life dating me than the local equivalent. I know there's more to choosing a good partner and qualities that are desirable than just a willingness to cook the occasional breakfast and wash dishes from time to time.
But put simply, you can see in this work being the tuesday morning girl, out of seven girls is better than never getting breakfast made for you at all. Maybe seven partners is a little too hard, and possibly the simplest arguement would be that my energies would be better spent trying to teach men this competitive advantage rather than trying to sub in for all of them, and sincerly i hope such a cultural change comes about. (instead in Japan women who avail themselves to foreigners are criticized as 'yellow cabs' rather than any real analysis of what may make foreigners attractive)
Anyhoo even in Australia I got a lot going for me, the sense of humour, the athleticism, the eyes, the big lips, the stimulating conversation. (recently my friend Stacey saved me from a conversation with a girl I wasn't attracted to but getting strong buying signs from and me panicing looking for a way to politely leave the conversation, thank god stacey turned up drunk for some up close loud talking about inane shit. I love you stacey) that I would bet my left nut that in my home culture I'm a good catch. If it wasn't for my penchant for stupid clothing and even stupider assymetrical haircuts I'd probably carve it up. These do serve the useful purpose of keeping away girls too uninteresting and limited in their creative capacities for me to be interested in though.
So thinking of a monogomous relationship and what makes it successful is the simple observation that 'it takes two to make a relationship work, but only one to end it' possibly the equation that causes more human heartbreak than one 100th of what belief in a personal god does 'one god can ruin more relationships than none' in my view.
Anyhoo, a poligimous relationship is taking this rule as generic and simply adding 1. 'It takes three to make a relationship work, but only one to end it' and that is how a poligimous relationship (with three participents) could succeed. I think the way it probably has traditionally been executed was as a power defined relationship rather than emotion defined relationship. That is the man was the focal point and then wife 1 and wife 2 fought bitterly amongst themselves and all were trapped in the situation.
But the focus should be the relationship not the power holder so simply stated (or less simply stated) my vision of poligamy working would be emotional partner 1 + emotional partner 2 from my perspective. from emotional partner 1's perspective it would look like emotional partner 2 + emotional partner t (tohm, that's me yay) and from emotional partner 2's perspective it would look like emotional partner 1 + emotional partner t. So in every direction one is one another's emotional partner.
Every body loves eachother. Not two people love one person one person loves two.
But I can only concieve of it working if its all emotional relationships and the emotional relationships are shared equally.
If one third of monogomous marriages fail (which is conservative if one third end in divorce, probably more than this are 'failed' relationships which should divorce) then one would have to raise by a power the odds of succeeding for every additional partner to somethin like from a 30% chance of failure going up to a 90% chance of failure. Making polygomy almost suicidal to embark on.
But a group of people skilled or talented enough could do it if they worked together. You'd probably have to add a token constant failure probabilty for forming a polygimous relationship that has it's newest member grafted on through a sexual relationship inception. And again it would depend on this being shared or one independant members recruiting method.
Again to the Japan situation of the patriarchal society making behaviourally foreigners attractive to local women, this is a mixed bag, I suspect often for foreigners Japanese girls are attractive precisely because of the low maintainence patriarchal culture the girls have inherited.
And furthermore poligamy would almost certainly leave the western man as the focus point so one at a time please.
My friends view though is that affair's in Japan on the man's part are almost just a fact of life here. So maybe there's fates worse than singledom anyway.
It's the good old partial versus pure loss.
Anyway, the point is it could workbut let's all crawl before we try walking hey.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Tohm, I love your blog.
I just wanted to say that.
It inspires me to stop wasting so much time thinking about petty things and think about the important stuff instead.