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  #31  
Old 11-14-2013, 12:26 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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This is in danger of becoming a digression, so I'll just make a couple of points in reply then back away, slowly.

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Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
Abstraction is an important feature of human thinking. Without abstraction, there would be no such thing as "the environment." There's just a bunch of plants and animals, rocks and atmosphere, relating. But "protecting the environment" is a very good idea. It's beneficial to all those plants and animals, not to mention the people, to think of "the environment" as a thing that exists. And it does, abstractly. And relationships also "exists" -- abstractly. There would be no such thing as "a family," just a bunch of people with similar DNA living under the same roof or maybe even just getting together at Christmas. Money, companies, universities, governments, countries, laws..... Indeed, human society is built upon abstractions and treating them like they're real things that have objective existence outside of the people who relate to them. But of course, if you take all the people off the planet, then all the paper notes and metal coins are just trinkets, the companies and universities are just empty buildings, governments and laws are just scribbles on paper, countries are just colourful lines drawn on maps. So yeah, take away the spouses and marriage is just a fancy certificate. But the people are there, and marriage is so much more than that fancy certificate.

. . . .

In a nutshell, there are features of "he" and "I" that are great, but there are also features of "how we relate" (i.e. "our relationship") that are enjoyable in their own right, and I see nothing objectionable about calling those very real features a "thing." It's important to realize that "the relationship" isn't some thing existing over there, all by itself, with or without us. It's a thing existing between us.
It's funny, but my concerns about "thingification" of abstract concepts really began by thinking about how people use and misuse the term, "the environment" . . . a term that can be a useful short-hand for "our surroundings, on which we depend and which we may alter, which are shaped and supported by various complex systems operating at various scales" or even "particular places and creatures we care about, for various reasons."

The danger arises, I think, when this bit of useful shorthand comes to be treated as the name of a thing: we too often talk about "the Environment" as a fragile object, over there, something that - oddly - can only ever be damaged or destroyed by human activity. That's just weird, and not very useful for making actual decisions.

(One prominent book in my field, related to environmental policy, begins with the blunt statement, "There is no such thing as 'the environment'." It concludes with the idea of approaching how we think about our environments by way of narrative, which honors the particularity of places and the complexity of how we relate to those places.)

I think much the same applies to 'relationship', which can be useful short-hand for "the way you and I relate to each other as people, grounded in our recognition of one another's humanity and individuality, with all the various feelings and boundaries and commitments we establish between us."

The focus then is on the people and their mutual recognition and care, rather than on the abstraction.

When the abstraction is treated as a separate thing, as the thing, as a fragile thing that is to be protected, then it's too easy to lose sight of the people involved, in their individuality.

We may owe this tendency to thingify abstract concepts to the Greeks, most especially Plato. It's a quirk of Greek grammar that you can turn an adjective into a noun just by plunking an article down in front of it - so 'beautiful' becomes 'the Beautiful'.

In The Symposium - which really just means "drinking party" - Plato puts Socrates in the middle of a feast. The guests decide that, before they start drinking in earnest - with the explicit goal of getting shit-faced - they should talk about something interesting.

They settle into a discussion of the nature of love.

When Socrates' turn comes around, he sets out the much-misunderstood idea of what is now called "Platonic love." When people use that term, these days, they mean love that does not involve sex. That's part of what Plato has in mind, but not the whole of it . . . and not the worst of it.

What we should love, Plato has Socrates say, is the Beautiful itself, the abstract, changeless form of beauty, rather than the person who is beautiful. Given the passage of time, that person will no longer be beautiful, and what will our love be worth?

So, Platonic love is not about how two ordinary, particular, temporary, flawed people relate to one another in their individuality. No, all of that is belittled and obscured by a singular obsession with an abstraction. Any particular beloved person is, in that sense, disposable: as soon as that individual no longer stands as an embodiment of the Beautiful, he or she is to be discarded in favor of some younger beloved one who, for the moment, embodies the Beautiful.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-14-2013 at 12:30 PM.
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  #32  
Old 11-14-2013, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
Any particular beloved person is, in that sense, disposable: as soon as that individual no longer stands as an embodiment of the Beautiful, he or she is to be discarded in favor of some younger beloved one who, for the moment, embodies the Beautiful.
And of course, for the Greeks, the Beautiful was a newly adolescent boy, loved, and nearly worshiped, by men. When that boy became a man, he may have been discarded for someone younger, as he, himself, then set about loving a boy. http://www.hinsdale86.org/staff/jrol...es/Greek15.jpg
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  #33  
Old 11-14-2013, 02:25 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
And of course, for the Greeks, the Beautiful was a newly adolescent boy, loved, and nearly worshiped, by men. When that boy became a man, he may have been discarded for someone younger, as he, himself, then set about loving a boy. http://www.hinsdale86.org/staff/jrol...es/Greek15.jpg
Yeah, that's fairly explicit in The Symposium and in Phaedrus and . . .

It's not quite right to attribute pederasty - which would be the technical term for it, I suppose ('erastes' = 'lover') - to "the Greeks" in general. It was more of an Athenian thing. Aristotle, who grew up in Macedonia, had no tolerance for the practice.

Plato may have done a good thing by taking sex out of such relationships. I'm not sure he did such a great thing by taking attention to the particularity of the other person out of it.

Okay, this has become a serious digression. The connection to the OP is a bit thin, at this point, so maybe it's a good idea to state it clearly.

I started down this side path on the hunch that there's something odd about the idea of "a relationship" having an expiration date, as though it's a consumer product that goes bad after a while and has to be discarded.

I meant only to suggest that focusing on the people with whom we relate rather than on some thingified notion of the relationship or of any particular set of roles or expectations might be useful because, short of death, the other person will still be there, even if expectations and boundaries and degrees of intensity and commitment change. If nothing else, there will always have been that opening between you.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-14-2013 at 02:30 PM.
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  #34  
Old 11-14-2013, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
Yeah, that's fairly explicit in The Symposium and in Phaedrus and . . .

It's not quite right to attribute pederasty - which would be the technical term for it, I suppose ('erastes' = 'lover') - to "the Greeks" in general. It was more of an Athenian thing. Aristotle, who grew up in Macedonia, had no tolerance for the practice.
.
I understand it was also practiced in Sparta. A boy would be taken into the mens' world and sort of be assigned to an older guy who would become his mentor/lover.

OK, I'm done hijacking. But I just love talking about ancient times!
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  #35  
Old 11-14-2013, 04:13 PM
bofish bofish is offline
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Default I struggle with this a lot too

I feel you! And this question has been in my mind for awhile.

For me, personally, as a near middle age woman has been:

1. Married men wanting to cheat.
2. Youngsters who want to eventually get married.
3. Poly people already in a relationship.
4. Older men who are single (but there is a reason they are single! They tend to be quirky.)
5. Poly single people.

So, the only possible combinations for lasting relationship SEEM to bee someone who is young, single, and open to poly coming into our family. Or an older man who has been there done that and wants a lover wihtout a partner or an already married poly guy. (I actually only met one person like this).

Many of these combination seem hard to obtain. I think organically people want more of their lovers.

Yes. people break up and die. But there is a huge difference say with frieds - you expect one day they will die or break up...but the relationship is solitified in a different way that creates less anxiety. I guess I would ask (both OP and others) what the combinations might be?
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  #36  
Old 11-15-2013, 10:27 PM
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One of the things I am struggling with myself is that even if we did nothing our relationship (me and wife, fidelitous and mono) could end; we can change and grow and need without the addition of others.

So take that as the basis, that both of you will have to grow and change as you age, and ask a different question:
1) Why do you think you will have a lifetime together without being poly?

My wife and I have both expressed a desire to spend a lifetime together. Unfortunately the way genetics work, that means only 40 years. She may be luckier and get 50 years, meaning the last 10 years will be without me.

I don't think that's driving us, but it does influence my thinking, as I have already lost both of my parents and am constantly reminded of how short life is when I see my children grow up in front of me.
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  #37  
Old 11-18-2013, 03:33 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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I think the difference here is that in general, people date with the intention and expectation of finding a spouse, with whom to grow old together. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule. Obviously, it doesn't always work out that way. But there's some expectation and goal of that.

In secondary or outside poly relationships, it's much more likely that there's an expectation of impermanence, or at least little hope for permanence. Again, obviously there are exceptions.

But I'd be curious to know how many here go into a secondary relationship thinking, hoping, expecting, or planning that it might last a lifetime, that you might grow old with this person.

I would further point out that in the typical primary or mono relationship, actions are taken that require commitment, that show that expectation of building a life together, that entwine lives: buying a house together, getting bank accounts together, having children together.

This is much less likely with a secondary relationship.
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  #38  
Old 11-18-2013, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post

But I'd be curious to know how many here go into a secondary relationship thinking, hoping, expecting, or planning that it might last a lifetime, that you might grow old with this person.

I would further point out that in the typical primary or mono relationship, actions are taken that require commitment, that show that expectation of building a life together, that entwine lives: buying a house together, getting bank accounts together, having children together.

This is much less likely with a secondary relationship.
Me.. I approach all my relationships with the idea that this could be forever

Murf is my husband just as much as Butch is. We have made large purchases together. (we bought a brand new truck and just sold a classic car.) I bring money into both homes. I cook clean in both homes. I an on his accounts so I can call and inquire on issues.Murf is taking part in raising my children.

Yes it can be done, but folks have to stop putting limitations on the other partner.
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  #39  
Old 11-18-2013, 03:54 AM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is offline
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I agree it can be done and in some cases is done. But I think it's much less likely to be expected, or sought, or to be workable.
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  #40  
Old 11-18-2013, 04:26 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHappened View Post
But I'd be curious to know how many here go into a secondary relationship thinking, hoping, expecting, or planning that it might last a lifetime, that you might grow old with this person.
There was a thread a while back that I've been meaning to dig up in response to this one about what, essentially, are the limits of what a second partner can expect in a relationship.

I gave a long answer there ...but, in short, the only thing that is not available to Dude that MrS has is "legal marriage". Dude says he is here "for the long term" = not that that ensures that it will happen but that is everyone's intention. We all share a household/finances/responsibilities. I don't know that we had that expectation when we started out but ... we didn't set any limits on how far things could evolve. And here we are.
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Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" Vee-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (21+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (3+ yrs) and MrS's best friend
Lotus: poly bi female, "it's complicated" relationships with Dude/JaneQ/MrS (1+ years)
TT: poly bi male, married to Lotus, FB with JaneQ
VV and MsJ: bi-women with male primaries, LTR LDR FWBs to JaneQ


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The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe
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