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Old 05-06-2011, 07:55 AM
MorningTwilight MorningTwilight is offline
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Default Emotions vs. Rationality

So here's a poser for you, that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately.

Background: my wife is monogamous, and I have had poly feelings for a very long time, and finally figured out that just admitting that I'm polyamorous (and telling my wife about it) relieved a hell of a lot of stress.

Anyway, there's a wealth of writing out there that advises about how to help your mono partner feel secure, and how to help your mono partner deconstruct and handle jealousy. The advice generally boils down to using reason to conquer fear (e.g., "No, he's not actually going to leave me for her."). In a sense, you help your partner tell herself not to be jealous.

What would you as a poly say to a mono who responds, "Well then, why don't you just tell yourself not to fall in love with anyone else?"

(This has not actually happened in my case, but I can see how it could, and I don't doubt that it has happened with many couples who were exploring opening their marriages.)
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:19 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MorningTwilight View Post
So here's a poser for you, that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately.

...................

What would you as a poly say to a mono who responds, "Well then, why don't you just tell yourself not to fall in love with anyone else?"
Good morning Twilight

I hope when/if this happens you can convince her/anyone that while you appreciate the sentiment, it's not a valid question in it's current construct.
An apples to oranges situation if you will.

Dealing with jealousy and social programming (what actions does 'love' entail or not) is quite a different animal than discussing the connections we encounter/form with other living things - including humans.

The monogamous model specifies (in most cases) that if you 'love' me then all of your emotional and physical resources will be solely dedicate to my needs/demands. At minimum I'll convey to you some ultimate authority as to what and when exceptions to this will be allowed. In short, I relinquish my personal power over my own life to someone else.

And of course, many people come to some point that they suddenly start to analyze that construct, question both the validity and viability of it, and put it on the table for discussion and modification.

So the alternate question becomes..............

Why ? (should I)

"Why should I shut off positive emotions and actions between myself and another person ?" Something that is a natural part of being alive.
From there the discussion leans toward not 'if' but 'how'. How do we balance this so it brings the greatest benefit to all ?

There's a huge difference between 'shutting off jealousy' (a negative, fear driven emotion ingrained in us but bolstered by a cultural model that's oriented towards CONTROL) and shutting off ourselves from ties to others.
It's not 'love' that people are truly fearful of, it's time, attention, money etc that are all seemingly put at risk. That is where the competitive/control factor comes in. Standard competition for resources - same problem that keeps the world in turmoil in general. Owning/controlling vs sharing.

So my 'personal' response to such a query would be " because I don't choose to- because I believe the negativity of that choice would outweigh the positive".

Dealing with jealousy, fear etc does not involve 'shutting off' anything. It involves educating ourselves on some biology, sociology, psychology etc. It's about expansion - not contraction - of our potential.

My thoughts at least.........

GS
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Old 05-06-2011, 05:48 PM
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What would you as a poly say to a mono who responds, "Well then, why don't you just tell yourself not to fall in love with anyone else?"

)
This is a great question! Expecting one person to turn off emotions because you see it as negative is not so easily done. The thing is, her jealousy is seen as a negative emotion to you because it impedes what you want. The love you have/could have for another woman is seen as a negative to her because it impedes what she wants.

Jealousy is as clinically recognized and just as natural an emotion as love is. Although it may be even more complicated because it is influenced by so many factors.

How can you respond to this question? I guess you would have to come up with an answer that genuinely convinces the mono person that jealousy is a negative thing for your specific relationship. But that requires them to be able to see how you loving someone else the same way is not a negative to them. I honestly do not believe any verbal answer will convince a truly mono person. I think the only way for them to believe it is to experience this situation. Trial by fire. The downside is…it won't be true for every person. For some people there is no happiness in sharing their partner.

Good luck and hats off for being so open and brave with your communication. That is a gift to both of you.
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:05 AM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MorningTwilight View Post
What would you as a poly say to a mono who responds, "Well then, why don't you just tell yourself not to fall in love with anyone else?"

(This has not actually happened in my case, but I can see how it could, and I don't doubt that it has happened with many couples who were exploring opening their marriages.)
I found out I can't turn love off. Even when I don't want to love the girl, I can't. It just happens.

Love isn't bound by logic. If it was there would be a lot less shitty relationships in the world.
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:52 AM
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Hm. Generally, I try to validate feelings. Logic and emotion, for me, don't mix well. It's okay if somebody feels jealous. It happens. Looking at why might be good though, if it's something that really bothers them. Letting someone examine their feelings (or me examining mine, which has definitely happened) while saying it's okay to have them usually has a pretty positive end result, without setting up an argument for "telling yourself not to feel ___." Because there's no expectation that each person will tell themselves what to feel about things, just that they'll be dealt with and processed as they come up, good an bad.
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:08 AM
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Wow, good question! Why shouldn't someone shut off love if another is expected to shut off jealousy?

Well, I guess first of all both are useful and complex emotions. I don't know if asking someone to shut off jealousy is a good idea. What is behind jealousy is useful and can be learned from.

I think I would encourage the person to look at their jealosuy before pushing it aside. Is there needs not being met, is their fear, is it a matter of differing values? If the answer is the latter then I would think that there is not much reason to stay together. Common values and beliefs to me are one of the most important things in a relationship. One of the biggest ones I have is that people i love should be free to explore what they believe will fulfill them in their lives. If someone put a cap on that for me and I don't for them then I think I would have a hard time staying with them in the end.

I think mono/poly relationships are a matter of meeting at the boarder of our boundaries and checking to see how big the gap is. In poly/poly relationships the boundary is generally close and quite often a line that the couple has; in mono/poly it generally is a ditch or even a chasm. If the two are okay talking/yelling across that now and then, or even what feels like always, then jealousy can be worked through and so can love.

Working through jealousy and having firm boundaries on love can work without one person doing all the work. The work can be even. Its a matter of finding a balance of that work. If the two are not willing to do that work and the balance is always off, then I see little to no reason to stay together. If someone were to ask me why I can't shut off loving when they have made little to no attempt to work on their jealsousy, I think I would seriously consider us done.
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Old 05-08-2011, 06:17 AM
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I see love as something that is always there, like a deep pool inside us, and which is part of everyone. When we love others, it simply means that we connected with them on that level, or let them in close enough to touch that love we always already have within. Now, you might try not to let someone get that close, but I think most of the time, it naturally happens, and often times it happens suddenly even if we didn't want it to! Love is both a natural human response and state of being. At the core of humanity is love.

Jealousy, on the other hand is not a natural emotion, but one born of the mind. It is a manufactured feeling that rises up because of things we tell ourselves, beliefs we hold, deals we make. You can use your mind to drum up almost any feeling, but that's not the same as a natural emotional response. So, I think it's important to examine jealousy when it comes up and figure out what thought processes prompted it to do so.

So, basically it's the difference between having a sense of mastery over one's mind and how we have trained ourselves to react (jealousy) AND allowing for natural human feelings to surface and to sharing them when we allow other people into our lives (love).
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Last edited by nycindie; 05-08-2011 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 05-08-2011, 07:48 AM
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Personally, I've always had trouble with jealousy being characterized as a "false" emotion. It's really just fear, right? Fear of losing someone important, fear of being alone, fear of being personally inadequate. It's human nature to respond to fear by fighting or by hiding, which is precisely what most people do when they're jealous.

And really, there are few emotions more primeval and instinctive than fear, right?

So, I often see monogamy characterized this way (no offense, GS, just this is a pretty decent representation of how poly people often see monogamy):

Quote:
Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit View Post
The monogamous model specifies (in most cases) that if you 'love' me then all of your emotional and physical resources will be solely dedicate to my needs/demands. At minimum I'll convey to you some ultimate authority as to what and when exceptions to this will be allowed. In short, I relinquish my personal power over my own life to someone else.
When Vino and I were monogamous, it wasn't like that at all. It was a quid pro quo. We love each other dearly, and we were both terrified of being alone, being abandoned, being unloved. We were both astoundingly huge nerds when we were younger and didn't get much attention from anyone, and we were raised with the very traditional belief that, if you didn't get married and settle down, you'd die alone, and your corpse would be picked apart by your fifteen housecats.

Emotional and sexual monogamy was what we offered each other in exchange for knowing we'd always have each other to love and rely on. We didn't hand over power to each other--we made a choice to control our own behavior, for our own benefit. Yes, we both passed up opportunities with people we were attracted to. In many cases, we actively removed ourselves from situations where our feelings or behaviors were becoming a risk to our relationship. And, we got over it. It took time and effort--but getting over anything takes time.

Love and desire can be controlled and suppressed, just like jealousy.

Both are instinctive responses. The human mind can identify, contextualize, and ultimately, respond rationally to either.

Vino gets jealous when I suggest being involved with men--intensely so. I've asked him to work through it, he's agreed, and we're taking our time with it (it helps that there aren't any men I'm really attracted to at the moment). But, at the same time, I control my feelings in any situation that would make him jealous--I deliberately remove myself from situations where I feel more than a passing attraction to a man develop, and I never, ever act on feelings toward men, at least for the time being. Quid pro quo, because I love him and don't want to hurt him or lose him.

I think controlling my feelings for now is only fair to him. After all, he's the one getting the short end of the stick here--what benefit does he get out of me banging other men?

Last edited by Ivy; 05-08-2011 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 05-08-2011, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
Personally, I've always had trouble with jealousy being characterized as a "false" emotion. It's really just fear, right? Fear of losing someone important, fear of being alone, fear of being personally inadequate. It's human nature to respond to fear by fighting or by hiding, which is precisely what most people do when they're jealous.

And really, there are few emotions more primeval and instinctive than fear, right?
I never said it was false, just that it's produced by a mental process, rather than being a natural, organic response. I am very grateful for the people who taught me that we human beings often manufacture lots of feelings with our minds, or hold onto feelings that have arisen, rather than feel what comes up and let it go. Real feelings will always have an ebb and flow. The emotions that come out of our own mental masturbation stick around and can actually become some kind of comfort to us, no matter how uncomfortable or icky, simply because they're familiar. And we become very facile at reproducing them in similar situations or times when feeling that would be easier than feeling something else that is unfamiliar or more uncomfortable. So much so, that we say, "I know I will feel jealous about..." No - you don't actually know what you're going to feel in the future, if you really allow whatever is to be what it is, in any given moment. But you might very accurately be able to predict what you will feel in certain situations simply because it's like a subroutine, a tape, a broken record, that you play over and over and over.

Jealousy and fear and inadequacy are not the same things. Jealousy comes out of a mental process. You can teach yourself not to be jealous. Feeling inadequate is based on making comparisons. It's not something that gives rise in and of itself. Real fear is a natural response within the bodymind. There's an adrenaline rush or other sensations accompanying it. One can try to teach yourself not to be afraid, but that's impossible. You can be fearful of less things, but there will always be a stimulus that will get you when you least expect it. It is a primitive instinctual emotion (emotion = energy in motion).

I say "real fear" because you can mentally work yourself up into feeling fear, just like you can with any emotion, but then it's not genuine in the moment of experience, but simply a reaction to your own thoughts. However, jealousy doesn't rise up of itself, it is something that is over top of other feelings. You can have sensations, like nausea and shortness of breath when you're jealous, but those come after you've reacted, not viscerally as the feeling comes up, as sensations do with fear.

Fear pops up and we don't want to feel it (we're afraid of our fears, even), so our mind starts working. And we twist it into jealousy. Jealousy is always a mental construct. There are cultures that do not experience jealousy, or shame, and other mentally induced emotions. But fear and love are natural and when these feelings happen, they just happen of their own accord.
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Last edited by nycindie; 05-08-2011 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 05-08-2011, 03:40 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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......
When Vino and I were monogamous, it wasn't like that at all. It was a quid pro quo.
.............
Emotional and sexual monogamy was what we offered each other in exchange for knowing we'd always have each other to love and rely on. We didn't hand over power to each other--we made a choice to control our own behavior, for our own benefit.
I see what you are saying Ivy but I feel you are trying to whitewash the facts. Don't take that personally, please. Not intended that way.
What you are saying is that you made an "agreement" (mutual) and that therefore that voids the power control clause.
But does it ?
In any "agreement" you have inserted the "IF" construct.
"IF" I do xxxxxx you agree to do (or not do) yyyyy. The implication here is that if I now fail to follow through - to in fact DO xxxxx - it's unwritten that you are entitled to now do/not do yyyyyyy. In a large majority of relationships this potential retribution is what starts things down the slippery slope. To say it is not a mechanism of power control really is stretching the truth. If you question that, I suggest you look around you more closely at any monogamous models you may have access to.
This all of course is subject to that 80/20 rule or whatever. COULD there be couples that could form the 'agreement' and allow it to expire on need with none of the power control/retribution drama ? Of course. There's an exception to every rule.

The alternative we explore is to not make that type of agreement in the first place. This removes that potential conflict from the equation to start with. It's one less potential wrench in the relationship spokes.
I don't "agree" to never love or have sex with anyone but you and don't expect you do differently. If in fact it turns out that one of us does by chance remain monogamous there's no foul. That person is happy, content and that's what the objective of the relationship is-right ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
Love and desire can be controlled and suppressed, just like jealousy.
Desire.....maybe. Love ? Highly questionable. And not without (sometimes) significant pain. And as so many will vouch for, trying to shut off something natural can inflict some serious physical and emotional damage. Depression, anger, physical illness etc. Depends on the individual's internal strength.



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I think controlling my feelings for now is only fair to him. After all, he's the one getting the short end of the stick here--what benefit does he get out of me banging other men?
Fair is good. Empathy. Caring. Love.
To a point. The point that it becomes heavily unbalanced. That the damage to one in the quest to protect the other is torpedoing the health of the relationship anyway.

Because it IS entirely possible for him to benefit from you "banging" other men/women/whatever. We see it all the time ! If it is important to you, pleasurable, you become a happier, more fulfilled person. You carry that 'wellness' with you all the time. It affects everyone you come in contact with. And it's often just about as common that your own passion and sex drive increases, which also carries over to him. Third, there's often a hard to describe feeling of bonding that occurs between you, largely generated from your side. Your realization of what he is "giving" you by supporting your freedom of choice only raises your respect for him and often love.

So it all depends on the individuals...............

GS
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