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-   -   Comfort Zone (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30640)

BoringGuy 10-22-2012 12:28 AM

Comfort Zone
A common motif on this forum and others like involves people going out of, wanting their partner to go out of, or people's partners wanting them to go out of their comfort zones. I read a lot about this sort of thing everywhere. I have had some personal experience with both sides of the comfort zone. What I have found works for me is... wait for it...


I love my imagination. However, I am the type of personality that, once I find something I like a lot - be it a type of food, a place to go camping, or a certain sexual act or position, etc. - I like to go back to that thing over and over. This is not to say I don't like to try new things, either. But I like to try new things on MY terms, at MY pace, or as close to ideal circumstances as possible. I realize one does not always have as much choice about that as one would like, but I read and hear a lot about people doing it just for the hell of it - or for "personal growth". People also do it FOR their partner(s), sometimes convincing themselves that it's for some other reason, while hating every second of it.

Going out of the comfort zone is not necessary for personal growth, nor does staying in the comfort zone mean that one is closed off to new experiences. I think Western society holds ambition in regard as something desirable, and with ambition comes competition because people are always being compared to others as they aspire to "get ahead". I am not a competitive or ambitious personality by nature, although for the early part of my life I was told I was because I got all A's in school. I was going to get a good job and make a lot of money, they said. However, continually being forced into social and academic situations that were not my speed, esthetically, was something that i decided i wasn't going to do to myself if i had the choice.

So, this isn't really all about me. I have been thinking these thoughts regarding a number of Relationship threads where people are going out of their comfort zone and not liking it, or trying to avoid doing so. Instead of hijacking one of those threads, I figured I could start this one and link to it if I ever need to reference this sentiment elsewhere. If it generates its own discussion, that's grooovy too.

NovemberRain 10-22-2012 12:53 AM

I was once on an airplane, seated next to the manager of the entire western region of some giant conglomerate (like ATT or something). I told her I had absolutely no ambition whatsoever, and she laughed for twenty minutes. She thought that was the funniest thing she'd ever heard.

I end up out of my comfort zone, A LOT. I deal. But I don't especially seek it. I've heard the personal growth folks say 'do one thing you're scared of every day.' I faced almost all my fears, I think I get to sit on the porch with an iced tea now, thanks.

I appreciate your naming it. :)

BoringGuy 10-22-2012 01:03 AM

Wow, I didn't think I'd get someone who'd identify with this right away!

I would be so bold as to venture that quite a few people also feel the same, deep down, and they either have been so indoctrinated that they don't realize it, or they do realize it and keep it to themselves for whatever reason(s).

ETA: facing fears. This isn't the same thing as facing fears. there's a difference... facing fears is (for me) something that originates from within. the comfort zone thing is about something foisted on us by the outside world.

GalaGirl 10-22-2012 01:22 AM

I agree, tho I express it different:

Am I willing/not willing to do it? (whatever it is.)

If I'm not willing, I'm just not gonna. Nope. Zilch. Nada.

I might still be willing to do something I am not entirely comfortable with. Today I put on a pair of skates after not skating in nearly a decade because the kid was at a roller rink bday party. I didn't have to skate. I could have been a parent chaperone and just waved at kids going around. But I was willing to pay the price and there I went... and yup! At one point I fell right on my behind when I tripped! Falling down skating is a reasonable risk/price to pay and I didn't much mind. Had a nice time being silly with the kids and I suppose if I want to I could take up skating and regain lost skills.

In regards to relationships? No. I am not going to do something I hate for my partner. I am not going to do something I am unwilling to do. If it means a break up? So be it. I'm not afraid of a break up and I'm not afraid to be on my own. *shrug*


BoringGuy 10-22-2012 01:27 AM

Another thought:

Comfort is a pleasant thing; of course I want more of it!

Why I would do anything to reduce the amount of comfort in my life and add more discomfort ON PURPOSE just makes less and less sense the more I think about it and read what others have responded.

LovingRadiance 10-22-2012 04:08 AM

GG doesn't post-but he's the same way. It works fine for him. Drives other people nuts-but he's happy.

Anek 10-22-2012 03:21 PM

I agree entirely. Your point about going back to the tried, tested, and liked things of life resonate with me a lot. Why is it considered such a good thing to be uncomfortable?

Personally, my goal in life is to be happy and if I'm happy doing things I'm most comfortable with, why strain to try and be uncomfortable? As long as one is happy, who cares?

I get the point that if you never try anything new, you will never know if you might be maybe happier by doing something different, and that's why I like to experiment with new things. But if I find I don't like something, it could be the best growth tool ever but I won't do it again.

BoringGuy 10-22-2012 03:39 PM


Originally Posted by Anek (Post 160805)

I get the point that if you never try anything new, you will never know if you might be maybe happier by doing something different, and that's why I like to experiment with new things. But if I find I don't like something, it could be the best growth tool ever but I won't do it again.

I particularly take issue over trying new things to please a partner or retain a partner's interest.

There was a time when I felt pressured my partner(s) (not one of the current partners I have) to do anal sex. One individual would try to sell it to me as "needing to let go of [my] hangups" (they were operating with the assumption that the reason I didn't want to do anal sex was because I'd been culturally conditioned to see that part of the body as "dirty" or "shameful", which was SO NOT THE CASE). At some point, I decided that I was DONE with proving to the world how "not-uptight" I am, and I would tell new sex partners right away, "My ass is exit-only. If you want me to do you, we can talk about it first." Recently, I have been moved to re-consider this boundary/preference; but it is ENTIRELY on my own terms and not out of being pressured by someone else (although my change of attitude WAS "inspired" by a partner's interest, it was not because I felt pressured to please that person or prove to them that I'm "open-minded").

BoringGuy 10-22-2012 03:55 PM


Originally Posted by LovingRadiance (Post 160741)
Drives other people nuts-but he's happy.

I find it amusing that it "drives other people nuts". Competitive, ambitious people really do seem to feel threatened or uncomfortable when others are just fine with the way things are. It's as though they're being told by example that they're "doin' it wrong".

I was on a bus with someone during a conference I attended several years ago. We were talking about our jobs (I work in academia, the other person was in law enforcement), and I said that I like my job because it's predictable and although unexpected things come up (such as a piece of lab equipment malfunctioning), I enjoy the fact that the schedule is determined years in advance and that for the most part I know exactly what I'll be dealing with from week to week. The other person said that they like their job for the exact opposite reason - they DON'T know what they will find on their plate each day when they go to work. This circumstance of unpredictability IS the comfort zone for such individuals.

CielDuMatin 10-22-2012 05:26 PM

I definitely agree - there is often too much pressure to "push the limits" and folks are put down if they do not wish to.

I have certain things in life where I do want to try new things - I learned to SCUBA dive and am really enjoying visiting various Caribbean islands and learning more about the culture there by talking to locals. Others are quite content to stay at home. Nothing wrong with that, if that's their preference.

Sometimes I do need a gentle nudge to try something,and often appreciate it - but if it takes more than a gentle nudge, then I absolutely take a dim view of it.

The Comfort Zone is named that way because it generates a sense of comfort, and that is what a lot of us need for large portions of our lives. I really feel we need to respect that.

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