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  #31  
Old 04-26-2013, 07:01 PM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Originally Posted by BaggagePatrol View Post
I would say though, that a lot of the below could be enjoyed with a friend (2 for 1s, going to dinner together, not getting harassed, etc.) I understand that the privilege referred to is a pretty specific context, but when a lot of those things can be experienced with a friend, a father, a co-worker, it gets muddy for me. Plus 1's are often friends for me at events, too.
The social pressure to be in a relationship really is ridiculous. And while I know single people CAN enjoy some of the same privileges as a couple by doing something with a friend/relative/etc, sometimes that adds a whole new dimension of awkwardness and possible negativity to deal with. Instead of "Oh, couldn't you find a date??" you get "Oh, how long have you two been dating? You're not?! Why NOT?!? You'd be SUCH a cute couple..." or "You couldn't find a REAL date?!?" etc. There is such a horrific stigma, still, against being single.

Now you and I, BP, can ignore (if we're not already oblivious to) the stares, whispers, snide comments, and general nosiness of people, especially if we have no particular connection with them. But not everyone can, nor should they have to, imo.

Also, Tonberry, thank you for, once again, writing out my thoughts better than I ever could!
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  #32  
Old 04-27-2013, 01:25 AM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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Default True that.

Good point ThatGirl; it totally wouldn't bother me, and I wouldn't pay much attention to people who had nothing else to do besides judge me (Do people judge me? They must! Who knows? It's none of my business what other people think of me).... but I do have two girlfriends that have never had a boyfriend, and it would sure bug the shit out of them - they've told me as much. Makes perfect sense - thank you.
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  #33  
Old 04-27-2013, 12:23 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Default Children; Obligations

It's notable that no one has yet discussed children and child-rearing in this thread.

One of the functions of marriage is to provide a stable environment for children as they grow up; the traditional model is for the two individuals who produce a child to commit to being and working together to raise that child.

(I hasten to add that, of course, this doesn't always work out in practice, and other models are workable, as well, as more and more people are beginning to realize.)

The point is that part of the dynamic between my spouse (Vix) and me is that we are raising two daughters, and we are committed to being together at least long enough to launch them into the world. I think of it as a binding obligation I have to the girls, and to Vix.

I don't intend to have children with any other partner, nor can I reasonably expect any other partner to take on any of the responsibilities for raising my children.

This means that any other relationships I might have would be different in character from my relationship with Vix, and that my relationship with Vix and the girls may have more of a claim on my time and attention than other relationships.

It also means that there are social pressures and expectations and, yes, advantages that swirl around us, serving to reinforce the priority of my marriage and my family as a social institution.

That said, I don't think any of this would excuse bad behavior toward other partners, or veto power, or any of that nonsense.

It just complicates everything. Really.

I have sometimes wondered if I should even have any other relationships, at this point, because the obligations of my current relationship and all the various social pressures on me - tied to advantages and status I really can't give up just yet, including a career that makes it possible for me to raise my children in security! - would make it so difficult to hold up my obligations to my other partners.

It occurs to me that one thing I'm doing here is shifting away from the language of privilege and entitlement and toward the language of obligations.

What obligations would I have toward other partners?

At minimum, I have the obligation to respect their standing as free, independent human beings with goals and choices of their own, to protect and support their capacity to choose freely. If I can't live up even to that basic obligation toward another partner because of the obligations and pressures and advantages of my existing relationships, then I have no business even thinking of myself as polyamorous.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-27-2013 at 02:04 PM.
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  #34  
Old 04-27-2013, 02:29 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Hyperskeptic, you make a good point. Not the only good point, but it's odd that no one has mentioned "the children" until now.

That said, it pisses me off when people ask me "but why did you get married if you don't want to have kids?" that is a good way to get into my "not-friend zone".
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  #35  
Old 04-27-2013, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
Some people look at it, and instead of saying "this suck" and seeing what they can do to be more fair, they react by saying "Well you should be happy you get to be with me at all!" It's quite natural to want to preserve your privileges, especially when they are things everyone should be entitled to, but it's not fine to treat other people terribly because you're too afraid of losing them, and it's important for people to notice they're doing that, and that it's NOT "normal".
Mulling over the ideas in this thread, it occurs to me to introduce a further twist into thinking about privilege and, especially, entitlement.

Maybe the more basic problem has less to do with giving priority to one relationship over others, but in assuming that one is entitled a particular relationship or kind of relationship. This is what I read into Tonberry's spot-on characterization of a deeply offensive attitude: "you should be happy you get to be with me at all!" This, to me, says: "I am entitled to your unquestioning allegiance or compliance in exchange for the tremendous pleasure of being with me."

Maybe this is why the dismay of frustrated unicorn-hunters is so hard to take. Some of them, at least, seem to feel cheated that the world is not giving them what they want . . . because they think they are entitled to get what they want. The world owes it to them to provide a single and suitably attractive and compliant bisexual female, on precisely the terms they offer - and she'll be lucky to have them.

Turning this back on myself, I like to think I'm open to the possibility of having more than one relationship at a time, but I don't think I'm entitled to having more than one relationship, nor am I entitled to any particular relationship with any particular person I am drawn to.

In fact, I think the odds are against me, because of choices I've already made and responsibilities I've already taken on. As already noted, I have been married for 20 years. I am committed to a career path from which it would be difficult and very risky to deviate: I have an advanced degree in an academic field, and tenure. I'm also in a position in which my "morals" may someday be subject to scrutiny, and I work in the Deep South. I have two daughters to raise, which tends to make me risk-averse.

I am not complaining. I simply note the path that led me here, and the constraints those choices now place on me. I have no sense of grievance about this, because these have been my choices in a context that has provided me - tall, straight, white, middle-class male whose native dialect is broadcast-standard American English and who is, to all appearances, in a safely conventional family situation - with any number of advantages.

I am not complaining, I have no sense of grievance, because I do not think the world owes me a girlfriend.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-27-2013 at 02:35 PM.
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  #36  
Old 04-27-2013, 02:33 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Originally Posted by BoringGuy View Post
Hyperskeptic, you make a good point. Not the only good point, but it's odd that no one has mentioned "the children" until now.

That said, it pisses me off when people ask me "but why did you get married if you don't want to have kids?" that is a good way to get into my "not-friend zone".
Indeed. I did not mean to imply that having children is the only reason to get married. I said only that it was one of the functions of the conventional model of marriage.

There are all sorts of reasons to get married. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
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  #37  
Old 04-27-2013, 02:48 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
Indeed. I did not mean to imply that having children is the only reason to get married. I said only that it was one of the functions of the conventional model of marriage.

There are all sorts of reasons to get married. Let a thousand flowers bloom.


Did you think i was directing that statement at you? Do you ever say that to married people who don't want to have kids? I don't recall reading anything like that in your post.
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  #38  
Old 04-27-2013, 04:38 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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Default The different between privilege and being a jerk.

Reading through the responses makes me realize why I wrote this thread in a clearer way. I had some serious questions about why people were using the term 'couple privilege' with an almost accusatory tone. A 'holier than thou' attitude has been creeping into forums and chat groups that borders on shaming that chafes at me. I enjoy certain privileges by being part of a couple. That's a recognition of something that has been built over centuries amongst the human community. Recognized. There's no shame in it, nor is there shame around privilege of being a caucasian woman - I'm aware of it.... so now what?

It seems to be the equivalent of saying that someone is more likely to be a racist if they are caucasian. Having travelled extensively and listened to others in different countries, reading extensively, it becomes apparant that EVERYONE has the capacity to be racist, and that being caucasian has nothing to do with that human tendency. Being of Anglo-Saxon descent doesn't inherently imply that I am going to be a racist, and being part of a couple doesn't mean I'm going to be a jerk about it, but it seems that I am being lumped in with people who are with the way that the term 'couple privilege' has been used in various places.

It seems that the idea of couple privilege is being married to the idea of bad behaviour, and that is something that I will actively speak against. The naive or idealistic approach of 'unicorn hunters' is not the same thing as 'couple privilege'. Certainly there may be overlap for those that are not particularly conscious, and I can see trying to draw attention to selfish and alienating behaviour by talking about privilege, but to unify the two as though they belong together doesn't jive with me.

So when did people start associating one with the other? And how does couple privilege go from a recognition to an inflammatory term? When I offer perspectives against, say, living in Tunisia, it's not to imply that "you should be grateful to be with me" it's to shine some light on the fact that these are pretty nice challenges to be having. It doesn't mean, "be happy with what you get" it's more a statement around the extent of the privileges that we all enjoy in our developed lives (BG made a great point about even being able to go on a computer and talk to other likeminded people - talk about an amazing gift there). It's about perspective, for me and when there is suffering in my world, it DOES help to zoom up to a bigger picture. I like the quote, 'when you point a finger at someone, there are three pointed back at you' and I feel like it's applicable to the idea of privilege. Nobody is exempt from some form of privilege over another demographic in our world; and absolutely, it's immportant for me to have the perspective to recogize those privileges. Having perspective doesn't mean I'm exempt from working to be a better person - if anything it allows a deep sense of gratitude to sink into my being, and gratitude cancels out entitlement and creates humility, no?

I feel like there is a big difference between educating someone who is floundering in bad decisions, and attaching the words 'couple privilege' to their behaviour. Selfish is as selfish does, and I believe there is a big difference between being a jerk, and having privilege. Absolutely, the two CAN go together, but they're not inherently linked, and I think the 'holier than thou' attitude has got to be removed to prevent alienation within the poly community.

Last edited by CherryBlossomGirl; 04-27-2013 at 04:42 PM.
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  #39  
Old 04-27-2013, 04:41 PM
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Natja Natja is offline
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
o

Maybe this is why the dismay of frustrated unicorn-hunters is so hard to take. Some of them, at least, seem to feel cheated that the world is not giving them what they want . . . because they think they are entitled to get what they want. The world owes it to them to provide a single and suitably attractive and compliant bisexual female, on precisely the terms they offer - and she'll be lucky to have them.
Oh yes, this is something that frustrates me when I see it 'Can't for for us to meet our special third, we know she is out there...' then later on 'When is she going to arrive? We have have contacted SO many women, the women here are so fake!' 'You are all being SO judgemental, there is someone out there for us, we just know it, don't try to crush our dreams just because it did not work out for you, we know we are looking for a niche but we won't stop until we find her'.

Urgh....
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  #40  
Old 04-27-2013, 04:51 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
ItI don't intend to have children with any other partner, nor can I reasonably expect any other partner to take on any of the responsibilities for raising my children.

This means that any other relationships I might have would be different in character from my relationship with Vix, and that my relationship with Vix and the girls may have more of a claim on my time and attention than other relationships.

It also means that there are social pressures and expectations and, yes, advantages that swirl around us, serving to reinforce the priority of my marriage and my family as a social institution.

It just complicates everything. Really.

I have sometimes wondered if I should even have any other relationships, at this point, because the obligations of my current relationship and all the various social pressures on me - tied to advantages and status I really can't give up just yet, including a career that makes it possible for me to raise my children in security! - would make it so difficult to hold up my obligations to my other partners.

It occurs to me that one thing I'm doing here is shifting away from the language of privilege and entitlement and toward the language of obligations.

What obligations would I have toward other partners?

At minimum, I have the obligation to respect their standing as free, independent human beings with goals and choices of their own, to protect and support their capacity to choose freely. If I can't live up even to that basic obligation toward another partner because of the obligations and pressures and advantages of my existing relationships, then I have no business even thinking of myself as polyamorous.
I have been the secondary partner to two people who have children and were married. I have also dated people who have children and were not married. In both cases, I deeply respected their responsibilities, obligations, challenges and joys around having kids, and when they were married, extended my respect and care to their partner in all ways that I knew how. I never felt like it made our relationship less than - it was just different, and in my experience, different is good. When I am involved with someone, I feel like it's important to accept them as they come; not as they could be, or as I might want them to be. If someone's life doesn't work for me, I am capable of stepping back; I don't feel like that decision has to be made for me. One of my partners DID make that decision for me - they felt it was unfair to give me so little time, and they had so many obligations that they couldn't incorporate me into their life in a way that THEY felt was meaningful.... however, in my reality, our connect was SUPER meaningful, and I loved the fact that I didn't have to carve out huge chunks of time from my busy life to be with him. When it worked, it worked - I didn't have unrealistic expectations of what he had to offer, and was fully on board with him. If anything his commitment to his family, career and friends, and time for self made me respect him even more, and made the time that we had together even more special. The ultimate decision to end our relationship because of some perceived shortcoming on his ability to give me/us what we needed was... hurtful, insulting and offensive. Not everyone requires 'equality' in that sense of the word - lord knows I don't! I have a full life, other partnerships, family, friends, a career - I love the time I get with my partners, but am not resentfully expecting more than they have to give while maintaining their own balance and equalibrium.

So date without shame! And share your love - just because it can't be 'equal' doesn't mean that you're not going to bring your same, amazing qualities that make you who you are to another person in a meaningful way. Be honest about what you have to offer, and let others decide if it's right for them. You don't offer small change just because you have a wife and children - you offer your heart, affection, attention and love from a heart big and fearless enough to love and be present for your family, and others.... and what could be better than that?? The only 'obligation' my partners have to be is to be open, honest and protect my sexual safety - the rest is up to us to define, and provide meaning in each other's lives regardless of our other obligations and responsibilities.

Last edited by CherryBlossomGirl; 04-27-2013 at 05:01 PM.
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