Relationship Agnosticism: process over teleology February 8, 2013Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, dating, desire, monoamory, monogamy, relationships, sex, society
In conversations with people over the years, I have been asked, in a myriad of ways, if I think that polyamory is better than monoamory. Do I think that being polyamorous is better (necessarily or generally) than monoamory?
I’ve dealt with the question before (As has Wes), but I want to take a different approach–a different perspective–on the question today. I don’t think that polyamory, per se, is better. I do think many of the skills and lessons that being polyamorous has taught me are superior, but those same lessons could, potentially, be learned while being monoamorous. What I have come to see as superior is not the ends–not how many romantic, sexual, etc partners one has–but the process of how we get to those ends.
Process over teleology, in short. Let me explain.
I’ve talked a fair bit about my annoyance that being with one person, even if that monoamory is not the short-term goal, is the mainstream default ultimate goal. While young and dating, many people will date two or more people within the same time-frame, but the ultimate goal in our culture is to find one person to either settle with or to convince yourself that this one person is all that you need romantically and sexually. And sometimes it ends up being true, whether for several years or a lifetime, but this model of relationships is not universally ideal.
The problem here is that this approach to relationships is teleological, which means it’s concerned with the ends, rather than the means or the process. It views the purpose of relationships as being concerned with a set goal (or set of goals) which all current relationships should aspire to. We should be tying to find a single life-partner, because that’s what real love is or something. If you are not interested in that, then you might not find happiness, or you may even be doing something wrong.
Let’s take a couple of basic examples; Let’s say that you have been with someone for 5 years and are not married yet, and not considering marriage. For many people you are doing something wrong, the relationship is a dead end, and you may need to find someone else you are ready to be serious with. Marriage, monogamy really, is the goal for many people, and if that ring doesn’t present itself, then move on (that’s the wisdom, anyway). Or maybe you don’t have a single partner for very long, whether serially monogamous or you keep dating more than one person simultaneously. In this case, the common wisdom says that you might have commitment issues (which may be true), because if you were ready to commit you would stop playing the field and finally become an adult, or something. In short, if you are not in a monogamous marriage, in a relationship moving towards monogamy, or even looking for that, then you are doing it wrong.
The problem here is not that finding one person to spend your life with is bad per se. The issue is not about where you end up, the issue is how you were thinking about your desires, emotional and physical needs, and whether you were getting what you actually want from relationships rather than thinking about a default and expected end.
Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. But there were also husbands, wives, lovers. There were also monogamy and romance.
“Though you probably don’t know what those are,” said Mustapha Mond.
They shook their heads.
Family, monogamy, romance. Everywhere exclusiveness, a narrow channelling of impulse and energy.
“But every one belongs to every one else,” he concluded, citing the hypnopædic proverb.
The students nodded, emphatically agreeing with a statement which upwards of sixty-two thousand repetitions in the dark had made them accept, not merely as true, but as axiomatic, self-evident, utterly indisputable.
“But after all,” Lenina was protesting, “it’s only about four months now since I’ve been having Henry.”
“Only four months! I like that. And what’s more,” Fanny went on, pointing an accusing finger, “there’s been nobody else except Henry all that time. Has there?”
Lenina blushed scarlet; but her eyes, the tone of her voice remained defiant. “No, there hasn’t been any one else,” she answered almost truculently. “And I jolly well don’t see why there should have been.”
“Oh, she jolly well doesn’t see why there should have been,” Fanny repeated, as though to an invisible listener behind Lenina’s left shoulder. Then, with a sudden change of tone, “But seriously,” she said, “I really do think you ought to be careful. It’s such horribly bad form to go on and on like this with one man. At forty, or thirty-five, it wouldn’t be so bad. But at your age, Lenina! No, it really won’t do. And you know how strongly the D.H.C. objects to anything intense or long-drawn. Four months of Henry Foster, without having another man–why, he’d be furious if he knew …”
Some may think that this is the polyamorous ideal (and for some it may be), but this, as a societal norm, is equally problematic because it discounts the possibility that some people, few or many as they are, may not want more than one person (or anyone at all, for that matter). This commits the same error as our current culture as being more concerned with the goal than how one gets to where we get.
What do you want?
I mean, what do you desire?
This may not be as easy a question as you think it is. The reason is that many of our wants are a result of the acculturation we receive as we grow up. We are guided towards the social and cultural ideals of the world we live in, if not out-right trained or programmed (in some extreme cases), which informs the kinds of answers that come to mind when asked what we want. When I ask you what you want, here, I’m not asking you what your long term goals are, what you hope to achieve, and especially not what you think you should want. No, in this case I’m asking what you desire, generally and right now, from people around you.
What types of interactions do you desire with people?
What we actually desire may conflict with the cultural norms around us, and when those things conflict we may find that we automatically, or possibly feel compelled to, lean towards the norm rather than the desire (and for many the opposite is true as well, but that’s an error I’ll not address right now). People who find themselves attracted to their own gender may pretend otherwise, especially if they are bisexual, due to religious or cultural expectations which devalue homosexuality and bisexuality (especially for men).
If you find yourself desiring two or more people, in our culture the appropriate thing to do is to spend time with all of them, in order to determine which one you will pick, or to simply decide which to pursue so as to avoid conflicts or jealousy. But this is absurd from a point of view where one is agnostic concerning where one ends up.
If you are not very concerned about what is expected of you from your culture, and you rather follow what you actually desire, then there is no reason to openly, un-apologetically, and unabashedly pursue all of the people whom interest you. And you should then stay with the people with whom you share some mutually-pleasurable relationship, whether it be purely physical, purely romantic, purely friendly, or any combination thereof. You should not be concerned about what expectations there are whether from your culture, society, religion, or family. You should pursue what you want with concern only for the people with whom you have relationships.
In short, love each person as you actually love them, no more and no less.
And wherever that takes you, whether monoamoryy, polyamory, or some other non-monoamorous option, that’s fine. If you end up being with one person for the rest of your life, then fine (that’s what I call “Accidental monoamory/ monogamy“) and if you end up being with 25 people (to varying degrees or not), that’s fine too. The point is not to be perpetually strategizing what type of lifestyle you will have, but to simply allow your relationships to go where they naturally lead according to the desires that everyone involved has.
Of course, you should be transparent about this; you should not claim to be exclusive while not being exclusive, for example. You need to pursue your desires with care and consideration for the people with whom you have relationships.
To sum up, polyamory is not better per se, although I think that what people can learn from polyamory might raise our cultural consciousness about the nature of desire and relationship possibilities which most people don’t consider. I don’t necessarily want everyone to be polyamorous, but I think everyone should be aware that monoamory is not the only healthy option. If we allow our actual desires to fuel our pursuit of love and sex, I think many more people will find options more like polyamory, rather than automatically and unthinkingly choose monoamory out of cultural habit.
Loving Authentically January 22, 2013Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
Tags: authenticity, desire, love, relationships, sex, sexuality
1 comment so far
We should love the people in our lives as we actually desire to do so. We should not unnaturally inflate or deflate our feelings for anyone. We, speakers of English, suffer from the poverty of words to express the varieties of love. The Greeks knew better, having multiple words for the various kinds of love we feel for people, and perhaps there is a lesson here. Not all love is erotic. Not all love is adoring. Not all love is brotherly. Sometimes we will only feel brotherly (or sisterly) towards a person, while other times we may feel the hot coal of Eros burning within us to touch, savor, and embrace another (or many others) with pure passion. Sometimes we will feel a deep sense of attachment and affection for a person, such that we could not imagine being without them in our lives. Sometimes you have a little (or a lot) of each.
Whether we are monoamorous, monogamish (a term I’m somewhat annoyed with, personally), “exclusive” but cheating, or polyamorous we can experience a phenomenon of either inflating or deflating the nature of a relationship based upon social or personal expectations. This happens because how we actually feel for people around us may not fit the categories our culture has for relationships, at least mainstream culture. In recent decades we have invented new categories, such as friends with benefits, asexuality, etc, but there is still room for better defining what kind of relationships we want from people.
Having been in a number of relationships (and most of the examples below has an analog in my experience), I have noticed that many people will artificially inflate or deflate the nature of that relationship in the name of having that relationship fit into the social context we are used to, or possibly to try and make the relationship look appropriate. That is, the reality of a relationship may not always mach what it appears to be from the outside, often at the fault of those displaying their relationship. This phenomenon, of falsely displaying our relationship one way or another, is inauthentic.
What I want to explore here are the implications of this phenomenon on a set of relationships, in order to start thinking about how and why we define our relationships the way that we do and how we might do better.
Monoamory,* in some cases, will force us to inflate how we care for someone unnecessarily and unnaturally. Because people are insecure or afraid, we may have to overcompensate for moments when we may show interest in other activities, other people, and even other potential loves. If we err by having an affair, we try to soften the damage by saying things like “she/he means nothing to me” or “I only want to be with you, nobody else” which are obviously not true in many cases. Except in rare cases, monoamory is based upon a lie, or if not a lie then an inauthentic approach to who we love. We try to convince ourselves, and often we tell our partner, that we only want one person, and that we are happy only with them. We create a mythology of happiness and fulfillment in exclusivity, when the actual behavior–cheating is rampant–says otherwise.
The result is that we try and inflate our partner to being all that we need, everything to us, and the object of all of our romantic and erotic desires. Now, there may in fact be cases where this is actually true, but I suspect that in most cases such claims are an exaggeration of the truth. We may, in fact, have a substantial amount of affection, respect, and attraction to our monoamorous partner, but there is always room to have similar affections, respect, and attraction to other people. To claim to not have such feelings for others is to either deceive or to be a very rare case, if not an unhealthy one. There are times of course, when we do not lie about our other desires, but for various reasons agree to not pursue them. This is not as inauthentic, but is perhaps absurd and an accommodation to our fears and insecurities.
When we are single, taking steps into the wilds of polyamory outside of our existing relationship(s), or even when we are in the beginnings of what might become an illicit affair, we may end up either inflating or deflating how we feel for someone. There are times when the way we care for someone is mostly physical. We may actually like the person, rather than hate or be annoyed by them them, but here the primary connection is sexual, sensual, and erotic. For a number of reasons, we may feel that this base desire is insufficient, disrespectful, or possibly immoral in terms of continuing a purely physical, but not emotional or “spiritual” (whatever that means) relationship with them. In such times, we may feel compelled to communicate a feeling of love and try to make more out of the relationship than which actually exists.
This inflation may result in a relationship that walks and talks like a serious relationship, but it does not feel that way inside, perhaps for either of you. You may call the other person your partner, you may be exclusive with them, but the relationship lacks an emotional, intellectual, etc depth that one of both of you may crave. Now, there is no necessary reason to discontinue the physical relationship because of this, because all you need to do is find someone with whom you share the other things you desire in a relationship. So long as the sexual connection lives and is reciprocated, then there is no reason to stop it, but there is also no reason you should pretend the relationship is more than what it is. There is nothing wrong with having acquaintances, friends, or even people with who you have no emotional connection to as a lover, so long as the arrangement benefits both people.
When we are polyamorous, something similar may happen. We may have an ideal that all of our partners should be of similar seriousness, that we should try and develop an emotional depth with all of our lovers or else a relationship will be inferior or unworthy. We may feel, in short, like promoting sex partners to the rank of full romantic partners, when what the two people want from each other is a good time now and then. We need to love the people we love as we actually desire to love them, even if that love is solely erotic in nature, or solely romantic in nature for that matter.
In short, no matter how many relationships we have some or all of them may be presented to the world as more than they feel like inside. We may do so for all sorts of reasons having to do with the society in which we live, but all of those reasons are inauthentic. We need to be honest with ourselves, our partners, and the world around us (insofar as it is their business) about what our relationships are, and not inflate them unnecessarily.
Let’s say you’ve been committed, for some substantial amount of time, to a wonderful person with whom you share a deep affinity, share many enjoyable days and nights with, and with whom you share a healthy and active sexual relationship. You have decided to remain exclusive, whether overtly or by mere assumption or accident (based on cultural norms and such), and are happy with your partner.
Let’s say that through work, social circles, or merely by mere chance you happen to meet a person with whom you develop a healthy rapport, you become friends and find that not only do you respect and care for them, you are very attracted to them (or perhaps you are only attracted to them sexually. If so, the following is equally true). This relationship is a threat to that exclusivity, and in many cases an affair will happen in such cases, often damaging or destroying the primary relationship. But an affair and damage are not the only options.
In some such cases something different happens. Whether you and your new friend admit an existing attraction or not, it exists but it is suppressed, pushed away, and ignored. You decide to remain platonic friends (or to avoid one-another), despite the reciprocated desire for more. You deflate the appearance of the relationship from what it feels like, inside. You are pretending not to love them in a way that you very much want to love them, so you try and redirect that erotic love into brotherly or sisterly love or to a lack of any relationship at all.
Why do we do such things? The feelings already exist, why do we lie to ourselves about them? Is that love, which already exists, going to do more damage if actually acted on? Yes, you should be honest about your feelings, not only to your new friend but to your partner with whom you have had, perhaps up until then, an agreement to exclusivity. It is such circumstances which support my belief that the vast majority of humans have the inclinations towards polyamory within us already, we just need to be honest about them. Thus, another option here is to explore non-monoamorous solutions, whether swinging, polyamory, or mere monogamishness. One does not merely have the choice of either suppressing the desire or cheating, in such circumstances.
Of course, this does not happen only to people involved in a relationship. Single people deflate as well. Some people may have insecurities, fears, or etc which affect their ability to pursue their desires. We may have strong feelings for a person, but not communicate them out of fear of rejection. We may do so because they are not seen as good enough or socially appropriate for us, especially in view of peers or family. They may be single and interested in somebody who is already polyamorous, and be unsure about their ability to handle the emotional consequences of pursuing someone they have to share.
Non-monoamorous people can do something similar as well, especially when they are relatively new to polyamory, or who are involved in the swinging community. Poly people who pursue others may deflate how they feel for a partner in order to protect the feelings of others they are with; to defend jealousies. Jealousies need to be addressed, not merely accommodated to or coddled. We should not pretend that our new love is merely a mild interest, or that our mild interest is merely a friend. Be direct about what what people mean to you, and encourage them to do the same for you.
Swingers, in some cases, ignore or avoid romantic feelings for sexual partners because most swingers become so because they are seeking, primarily, new sex partners and not romantic partners. They may realize that an emotional connection might be destructive to their primary relationship. There are some people inthe swinger community who, if they start to have feelings for their sex partners, stop hanging out with those people. They may decide to suppress those feelings, much like the hypothetical you did above with your new friend, except in this case it is the romantic love which is suppressed, rather than the erotic.
In short (again), no matter how many relationships we have some or all of them may be presented to the world as more than they feel like inside. We may do so for all sorts of reasons having to do with the society in which we live, but all of those reasons are inauthentic. We need to be honest with ourselves, our partners, and the world around us (insofar as it is their business) about what our relationships are, and not inflate them unnecessarily.
I encourage all of us, especially myself (as I struggle with this phenomenon as well), to have the courage to admit how we really feel, or to allow ourselves to find how we really feel about the people around us. We may be suppressing feelings without being aware of it, leading us to miss out on a relationship or to remain in one we may not wish to continue.
If the way you feel about a person is erotic, let that attraction be known. If you feel an abiding reverence, deep affection, or romantic impulse for someone, then express that as well. If you see someone as like a brother or sister to you, and while you may not be attracted to them you want them as part of your life, your family, etc, then let that relationship grow as well. And if you feel all of these things, whether in abundance or not, let that relationships—let those relationships—be what they are, informed by your desire and authentically pursued..
Love each person according to your reciprocated desires, and do not artificially inflate or deflate that love out of respect for any cultural, religious, or psychological expectation. In short, love authentically.
*I use the term ‘momoamory’ and the correlating ‘non-monoamorous’ in the interest of being aware that not all relationships are marriages. Monogamy is an exclusive marriage, technically, and while it is applied to cover all exclusive relationships between two people, I prefer to be more precise and inclusive with my terminology.
Coming out poly in light of mainstream images October 2, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
Tags: Polyamory: Married and Dating, relationships, sex, Showtime
I’m out. Anyone who knows me personally and socially who does not know that I’m polyamorous (or an atheist, for that matter), is either not paying attention or is just saying that they know me to look cool to their friends. OK, that last thing never happens. But that fact is that not everyone who is polyamorous is open about it, and they often have anxieties about if, when, and how they should come out to people around them, especially family.
Recently, I started watching the Showtime series, Polyamory: Married and Dating. It’s a fairly good show, and this issue of coming out is dealt with, but I’m concerned with how the show will effect coming out for the rest of us. I have a hypotheses that when a fringe or minority idea, group, etc comes into the mainstream, it is almost always has serious misrepresentations attached to it. Anyone serious about understanding the minority worldviews, upon its being portrayed in the mainstream, needs to do some personal research to get to the reality beneath the sexed-up mainstream presentation.
And that is true here, as well. The people in the Showtime series are not “bad” representations of polyamory; in fact, they seem at least mostly realistic and genuine. But what I think most people will take away from watching the series is that polyamory is a lot of sex with young, hot people all the time. And, I’m sure, for some people it is just that. At least, it is for a little while. I certainly had a lot more sex, with more people, in the beginning of my polyamorous life.
I’ve been around many polyamory meetups, a few parties, and have talked with poly people form various backgrounds over the last several years. The Showtime series, while somewhat good at presenting the open and honest form of communication between the people, is very focused on sex. I cannot think of too many times when an episode goes more than 5 minutes without some kind of sex being displayed. It’s not that I don’t like seeing hot, naked people enjoying each other, it’s that in my poly life nakedness and sex are not ubiquitous, and I think that’s probably true for most polyamorous people.
But I’m not here to analyze the saturation of nakedness in mainstream portrayal of polyamory, but rather the effect that such things have on other poly people, especially those who may be thinking about coming out to their family, friends, etc. My thought is that while such shows may give some context and grounding of what polyamory is to a larger audience, it also creates a stereotype with which we will be associated.
It’s not all about the sex, right?
It is somewhat common, in some poly resources, to emphasize that it’s not all about the sex. And this is true! Because while we do share some overlapping lifestyles with swingers, we are not swingers. The emphasis of polyamory is, obviously, love. And without getting all cheesy and hippy about it, the relationships we have with people around us are what are most important, and sex is often a part of that (but not always). So now when people I know see me, especially if they have seen Showtime’s presentation, they will associate that overly-sexualized perpetual orgy with what I mean when I say I’m polyamorous.
According to some people Gina knows, she has like 15 husbands (and she has not introduced me to 14 of them!). My mom (hi mom) thinks, or at least thought, that I was just going to keep adding women to my life. She says that I’m just using this as an excuse to sleep with many women (but at least I’m doing it openly, unlike say, my father when they were married). And when I have 500 lovers, my wife will leave me, knowing her turn won’t come around for a year and a half, or someshit. I, after all, will eventually have my own compound with thousands of adoring subjects, and watch over them as the great prophet of polyamory.
The fact is that I actually have less sex partners than some of my monogamous friends (who are single), and that my life is not actually a perpetual orgy. (This is not to say that orgies are bad). I would actually not want 500, or 50(!), lovers all at once. Relationships are work, and while I am open to having more lovers if they come around, I’m not looking. This is not to say there are not people in my life I’m attracted to, only that so far nothing has come of it, because my life is not a perpetual pursuit of pussy. I’m afraid that a series like Polyamory: Married and Dating might give the impression that my life is such a persuit, when it is more about loving who I love, as I love them, without artificial constraints.
Soon enough, we here at the polyskeptic compound will have a chance to get a little piece of our life out to the world, and what they will see is that we are actually pretty normal most of the time. We watch movies, have dinner, and go out and get drinks together, just like monogamous people. It’s just that we have sex, with consent and knowledge of all involved, with more people rather than just go home and wish we could, like monogamous people often do.
When I was monogamous as a 20-something with a job and disposable income, I would go out with my girlfriend to meet up with male friends and their girlfriends, and everyone would flirt playfully as part of being drunk, young, and horny. We’d make jokes about how much we wanted to make out with the other people there, would steal sexy glances at each other, and then we would go home with our allotted partner. But many times, and this was true for a few of the girls I dated as well, I would sometimes be thinking of this other awesome person I met that night, and what I wanted to do with them. I would find myself wishing I could go home with them instead of, or perhaps in addition to, my girlfriend. It never meant I didn’t love my partner, it just meant I was capable of more and wanted more. And I’m sure some people out there didn’t think about that or want that, but I doubt that that this is true for the majority of people.
My hypothesis is that most people are potentially polyamorous, swingers, or cheaters.
And those people who accept that and are honest about it often become polyamorous or swingers. Some of them have tons of sex with lots of people, like they do in the Showtime series, and some take different routes. There are many ways to approach polyamory, and I wish that the mainstream presentations were more balanced. What I think Showtime should have done was to include a family who are less sex-driven, and more about focusing on relationships. Or at least de-emphasized the sex.
But then, of course, less people would watch it, right?
But this way, we are likely to attract people who just are only looking for tons of sex. Because while the relationships, discussions, etc are dealt with, they are overshadowed by sex. Monogamous couples watching the series might become intrigued by the idea, but get the message that the sex is prominent, which may cause them to jump in too fast and get hurt, which is the story of people who have tried polyamory and didn’t find it to be “for them.” It’s sort of like trying a relationship, not having it work, and then giving up on relationships. Thus, if people are truly going to try and challenge themselves to open up and be honest with what they want with their relationships, sexing it up and getting hurt will only damage the image of polyamory in the long run for many people.
Sex with as many, or as few, people as you want is a good thing. But making it look like sex is the thing that polyamory is about will cause people to overlook the emotional work that needs to be done, not just for the sake of having more sex with more people, but for the sake of becoming a more mature and capable adult. That’s what this culture needs right now.
If we as individuals and as a culture improve ourselves and our current relationships, the sex will come. It’s not like we humans don’t already want the sex, we just need to do the work to be ready to do it well. What Showtime’s series seems to leave out is the work it takes to get where those people are; it gives a glimpse of where we all could be, but not how to get there.
For that, everyone obviously needs to be reading polyskeptic.com!
Where polyamory is needed; relationship advice blogs. September 11, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
Tags: cheating, relationships, romance, sex
Occasionally I check out the blogs at wordpress (which is the software this site is run on) for tags like “religion” or, in today’s case, “relationships,” to see what people are writing about. And most of the time I find a bunch of crap, but occasionally I find something interesting. Today, I found a couple of posts that touched on polyamory.
Over at Emilystarz, we have a post simply called “My Life” which is about a fairly common situation of a woman who has a man in her life who has been, and wants to be, sexual with other people. The added complication of a baby between them makes the situation more frustrating to see, and it is obvious to me that this is just one more situation where monogamy is not working for at least one person in the relationship.
Now, all I know from the post there is what is written, so any advice I have is most-likely crap. But I think people in such situations should be aware of polyamory, even if they ultimately decide against it, part ways, or whatever. I think that this issue of responsible non-monogamy needs to be part of the conversation, not only in specific cases such as this, but in all similar cases with relationships.
I think it needs to be part of our cultural conversation about relationships. With that in mind, let’s move onto the next post I found. In this case we have a writer asking for advice, and getting an awful response. It’s over at lovejays.com, and it is entitled “Playing the Field.“ here’s the gist:
Q: Dear Love Jays,
Is it okay I’m dating one guy (we aren’t exclusive) and sleeping with another?
A: Dear Double Dippin’,
Non-exclusive dating gives you the freedom to date, sleep, or hang out with anyone your little heart desires. Dating is a time when you get to explore several options and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious.
So, is it okay that you’re dating one and sleeping with another? Technically, yes. Would I recommend continuing this behavior? No. Sex embodies much more emotions than just the physical exchanges of pleasure between our “money spots”. Sex was designed to be shared between two people who are committed to each other and share something special. Casually having sex with people will eventually take its toll on the mental psyche of woman or man. I’m sure there are several of you who want to rebuttal my last statement, but rest assured – you will have your “aha” moment one day. Long story short, sex simply makes things complicated – physically and emotionally.
Easy advice – pick one and stick to ‘em! It’s much much easier to focus your attention on one person and will save you from emotionally damage, even if you are unaware of it at this moment.. If you get bored of him, on to the next one. That’s the beauty of dating!
This, quite frankly, is the poly equivalent to reading a creationist argument for an atheist. Reading this is like looking at a train wreck of relationship advice.
To deconstruct what is wrong with this advice, I would have to start from page one of polyamory. I’d have to link so many posts from this blog in the past…I just don’t have the energy to do it.
Oh fine…here a couple of examples:
But, onto the post. Let’s do it a piece at a time:
Non-exclusive dating gives you the freedom to date, sleep, or hang out with anyone your little heart desires. Dating is a time when you get to explore several options and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious.
This is not awful. If I were to try and be fair to this, I could even partially agree with this. The first sentence, in fact, is spot on. It’s a statement of fact, but then with the following sentence it takes a turn for the worse.
Where it says “…and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious,” it could be read to mean that we use this time to decide which people are worth keeping around, which is true for polyamory as well. But the “more serious,” as we shall see, implies exclusivity. Exclusive does not mean more serious, nor vice-versa.
“Mr. J” continues:
So, is it okay that you’re dating one and sleeping with another? Technically, yes. Would I recommend continuing this behavior? No. Sex embodies much more emotions than just the physical exchanges of pleasure between our “money spots”. Sex was designed to be shared between two people who are committed to each other and share something special.
Sex does often involve many emotions, and should be dealt with responsibly, both in terms of physical safety and emotional maturity. My experience with sex with many people over the years in serially monogamous, polyamorous, and group sex environments has shown me that we are capable of sex in more ways than most people have imagined.
Sex is great between two people. It has the capability to draw them emotionally close, bring great pleasure, and is even good exercise. But there is no necessary damage to that relationship just because you have it with other people. The only way this is possible is by not being safe (and thus subjecting yourself to potential infections) or to not developing your emotional self such that you deal with emotional issues such as jealousy.
Things like jealousy are real issues that need to be dealt with, and it is fortunate that they can be dealt with. And let’s not forget that some people are simply not prone to it in the same way. But jealousy is not, in itself, an excuse not to pursue our desires. Rather, it is a challenge to work on. Like fear, it stands against us and makes us dip into the well of our baser instincts. It makes us act irrational, possessive, and petty rather than mature and rational. Jealousy is not something to be proud of; it is something to try and heal if we can.
Sex can be shared between two people who share something special, sure. It’s great when that happens. But it does not imply that at some other time those same two people might also have some special sexy time with some other people with whom they share a close and special relationship. Further, sex can also can be shared between three or four people who share something special, or even between some people who just sort of like each other a bit and like each others’ bodies. This conservative view of sex espoused by “Mr. J” is simply not true in general, and so it should not be espoused as general advice.
It may be true for Mr. (and/or Miss.) J, but if it isn’t true for many people, then it’s only true by accident and not by necessity or generally. Nonetheless, he continues:
Casually having sex with people will eventually take its toll on the mental psyche of woman or man. I’m sure there are several of you who want to rebuttal my last statement, but rest assured – you will have your “aha” moment one day.
I, and many other committed polyamorous (and swinging) people out here in the world have a different experience. My “aha” moment was realizing that the mythology of the ideal “one” that exists for each of us was the problem. Mr. J needs to check his assumptions about the very nature of relationships before proclaiming general truths about love and sex, because there are many of us who find his view, well, parochial.
Still, he persists:
Long story short, sex simply makes things complicated – physically and emotionally.
It sure does. How does this imply that we should have to limit ourselves to one person, ultimately? Because it’s easier? It might be easier, except when you are in love with two people, when you have to repress your natural sexuality in favor of a cultural construct which asks us to repress much of that sexuality, etc for the sake of an ideal. There is a real existential agony that can exist in moments when we yearn for two loves, and feel like we have to choose. How awful to be told that you, in fact, should choose rather than consider other options, such as polyamory, swinging, etc. How trite. How small-minded. How limited—and limiting!
Why, for the sake of all that is not holy, would anyone have to choose simply because it is superficially “easier”? It’s only easier because it conforms to the narrative you, Mr. J, are drowning in. Swim to the surface, Mr. J, and breathe pure air.
So, my advice to Double Dippin’; Love who you love, how you love them (even if it’s just dirty, fun, sex) openly, honestly, and with consideration and respect. Don’t let Mr. J’s conservative views on sexuality ruin your ride in life or force you to choose when you may not have to.
That’s all I can stomach, today.
Tags: Alain de Botton, sex
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So, PZ Myers’ blog just alerted me to Alain de Botton’s new book How to Think More About Sex. Now, regular readers very well know I am no fan of Alain de Botton. I find him to be an example of everything that is wrong about intellectual society, and would gladly play his arch-nemesis in any movie or real life. I cannot articulate how much I dislike this man.
In any case, PZ’s post links to some reviews of the book, and they are worth looking at. All I feel the need to say is that nobody needs to take de Botton seriously anymore. If you liked his previous work or see him as insightful and often right, perhaps you should re-evaluate your worldview because you are probably wrong.
Godless Perverts June 22, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: atheism, sex, spiritual
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I don’t really have anything to add to this. Watch these videos.
(H/T Greta Christina)
Harassment and sex-positivity June 19, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory, Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: harassment, sex, sex positivity
So, Wes put this post up about how honesty is hard a couple of days ago. And, as usual, people seem to get pissed off about what Wes says. No news there. It’s one of the things I like about Wes; while I don’t always agree with him, he does not sugar coat his opinions. He has strong and often unpopular opinions and he does not veil them, and I find this attribute respectable.
Speaking of which, a commenter of that post embedded this video, which I shall put here because it is quite good, and creates a language to talk about communication in this context:
Speaking of comments; since Wes linked to a post by Jadehawk in his post, Jadehawk has subsequently posted a response to Wes. I read it today, and my impression is that emotions are getting in the way of clear communication and understanding (it happens), and I posted this comment (currently awaiting moderation):
I think that there is a bit of misunderstanding occurring here. I know Wes fairly well, and I think you may be misunderstanding the message intended in his post. I cannot speak for him, but being around him frequently and sharing more than a few opinions with him, I can say that your representation of him here is at least partially in error. Libertarian? lol….
In my view, lack of clear communication is indeed a form of dishonesty. What seems clear to a communicator is not necessarily clear to the listener. And while I personally try to be generous with interpretation, sometimes a follow-up direct question is relevant to make sure I am getting the intended message. I didn’t see you asking for clarification above where ambiguities in language could have led to you understanding Wes’ intentions better. I saw you running with less-than-ideal interpretations. I don’t think you did so intentionally.
It is not a lack of impulse control that is at issue here, as I see it. What is at issue here is that we need to be honest with ourselves with what we actually want, and if we are going to seek a desire that involves another person, we need to be unambiguous about it. That is, once we have decided that this is not a time to reign in an impulse we have (assuming, indeed, that we have free will), we need to be direct about it because veiling our intentions is a form of lying, even if it a common and socially accepted form of lying. The question is whether this socially accepted form of lying is something we, as rational, skeptical, people, should perpetuate or not. I think the answer is no, and you may or may not agree with me. That is a discussion worth having.
So, I think we all need to be direct and honest, to not veil our interest, and to learn (as a society) to get used to hearing and answering that honesty (Have you sen The Invention of Lying?). And while this does not have to include cold hitting on, it may include that. And I agree that a conference about atheism/skepticism is not be the best place for such cold approaches, if that is indeed what a person wants there is nothing disrespectful about doing it. It just is unlikely to succeed, so a smart person may put off, temporally, that expressed desire That is, they do not pretend to have another goal, they just might put off communicating it until introductions and other conversational things are established. I personally would not coldly approach someone for sex, as my desires do include to get to know someone a bit better before asking for such a thing, but I certainly would not think less of a person for doing otherwise than what I personally want. I find such directness refreshing, mature, and very respectable.
Some people’s boundaries exist elsewhere. Some people WANT or even DEMAND direct and blunt questions, and others want some issues to be rarely if ever addressed. The issue of whose boundaries we accept as the default is not so easy as you seem to argue above. Why defer to a lower threshold of boundaries, which infringe on those with higher thresholds? A case needs to be made for that (And I accept that such an argument may exist. I just have not seen one I find convincing).
The issue is this. There is a real tension between the important issue of harassment by disrespectful people and sex positivity. The reason this tension exists is that there is a continuum that stretched from assault on one extreme and enthusiastic consent on the other. In the middle are things like harassment, being extremely annoying, being amusingly annoying, finding the proposition interesting but not compelling, considering the proposition seriously, accepting it, etc. The line between unwanted attention and wanted attention will differ, greatly, for different people.
For example, a person coming up to me and putting their arm around me, telling me they think I’m cute, and inviting me to their room for sex crosses no line for me. It does not matter their gender (I’m heterosexual and male), attractiveness, etc. I will either say no, perhaps (and discuss what we’re into to see if we’re compatible), perhaps some other time, or “yes! let me get my stuff and I’ll be right with you.” (Yes, yes, I have privilege which makes this situation non-threatening to me, but I know many women who feel the same way). For other people, this situation would be harassment. That’s a problem.
Because leaving out extreme examples, there will be cases where what I find acceptable is considered unacceptable by others. Clear, unambiguous, blunt questions and answers are the only way to be sure. And because of our social values of politeness, this is, indeed, hard.
But I am not Wes, so I cannot speak for him.
And, indeed, I am not Wes. I imagine that he would have a different answer than I would, and we may ultimately disagree about this issue. Disagreement is not bad, however.
My major concern here is that in this larger discussion about how to implement harassment policies (and I think that the OpenSF policies Greta linked to there are quite good), we may possibly run into a real tension between harassment and healthy sexuality. For example, in the G+ hangout video from a few days ago, the question was raised about whether speakers at conferences should be encouraged or even barred from having sexual relationships with attendees:
You don’t have to watch he whole video, but you should if you are interested in this topic. The relevant bit starts around 53:10 of the video, where Dan Finke raises the issue about Jen McCreight’s suggestion about having speakers be “out of bounds” (Dan’s wording) for sexual activity at conferences. Watch the conversation for yourself, and you will see that some people agree with this suggestion. I agree with Rebecca Watson’s view, that there should be no barrier between any adults at conferences about sexual activity, while others (namely PZ himself), seem to agree with Jen.
This demonstrates, for me, that there is a real tension in this conversation about where the practical and possibly ideal line between harassment and appropriate sexuality in the skeptical/atheist community exists. This conversation is not just about dealing with harassment–although that issue is the primary and essential issue which needs to be addressed. But this conversation is also about the line between appropriate and inappropriate sexual activity even where harassment does not exist, and we need to admit that this is part of the issue.
Do I have any certain answers? No. Do I think that this discussion will lead towards a de-sexualization of conferences? No. Do I think there will be continued issues about where the line between inappropriate/appropriate sexual activity is? Yes. Do I think sex negativity and sex positivity are relevant issues to discuss in relation to the larger issues? Yes.
Harassment needs to be dealt with unambiguously, swiftly, and as openly as possible without unnecessarily naming specific people. If and when we successfully deal with implementing harassment policies, there should be more conversation about the problem of sexual activity, appropriate times and places for it, and the issue of differing boundaries and how to deal with them.
I think that the skeptic.atheist community is full of smart and capable people, but I also think that our culture is rife with ideas about communication which are compatible with conservative (or at least out-dated) modes of sexuality. We need to think about how the relationship between how we communicate and how we think about relationships affects us. The conservative hetero-monogamous model of sex is steeped in polite, veiled communication which is quickly becoming obsolete, and I don’t think the atheist/skeptic community is fully aware of this.
One of the first things I learned about how to be polyamorous (which is true even if you are not), is that you need to communicate your needs and desires directly, and that you need to be able to say yes or no clearly, according to your desires. We need to practice saying no, saying yes, and asking for and hearing what is wanted.
Saying “no” can be hard for some people. Saying “yes” can be hard for others. Asking for a clear yes or no is hard for most people. We need to get over this value of ambiguity as a society if we are to grow up, whether we are privileged or not.
As I keep saying, the atheist/skeptic community has a lot to learn from the polyamory community.
Tags: conventions, sex, sex positive
So, the consensus that is forming on the atheist blogosphere seems to be that there should be significant distance between the world of skeptic/atheist conferences and the world of sex. If you find yourself at a conference, you should probably put the possibility of hooking up aside.
You know, unless you really want to keep pissing a lot of people off.
Some quick context, in case you have not been aware of the various goings-on around the atheist/skeptical blogosphere recently. I won’t bother trying to summarize, so I’ll just point you here, here, here, and most recently here (there are many others, but that is where I spent much of the last few days or so…). Arguments have been had, flame wars ended in ban hammers being unleashed, and good times were had by all. In the end it seems that a few people were educated, some minds possibly changed, and many others are still holding onto the opinion they came in with.
Oh, and a fair amount of frustration (perhaps related to lack of sex? Or is that joke not funny? Fuck it.)
Just another weekend on the internet.
(I also spent way too much time here, but that is not directly related to this post, but since I spent like 2 or 3 days reading and contributing to comments, I figure I would pass it along)
So, I’m a bit nervous to bring up some questions considering where things stand and what people have said, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’ll claim that I was tired. Perhaps drunk will work. I’ll start drinking now….
So, this is a question that is of some interest to me, because I think, write, and sometimes comment about the intersection of issues related to sex-positivity and skepticism. I’m an unapologetic slut who is not only quite comfortable with my sexuality, but who believes that sexuality is and should be a part of our lives in more integrated ways. That is, I don’t think that we should pretend that it’s not a real thing that we think about day to day, assuming we are actually thinking about it.
And I know that many people don’t think about sex at all, much, or in most circumstances. I also know that other people, such as myself, think about such things rather frequently, and I personally have to remind myself that this is not the case with many people. So, what do we do with these facts when we travel near or far to go to a conference and find ourselves possibly interacting with interesting people whom we will likely not see again any time soon?
I don’t often go to conferences, being generally broke and not being invited to speak at them and all. But when I do go to such events, I would be lying if the presence of hundreds, if not thousands, of smart, funny, sexy people is not something I will notice. I’m attracted to smart people, and I feel no shame in feeling that way. I’m not merely objectifying a person by finding them attractive if part of what attracts me to them is a combination of their thoughts, sense of humor, and of course their body.
We are always objectifying others. We are doing so in the technical sense of other people literally being objects (but not mere objects), but also in the sense of making judgments based upon mere appearance, even if more information will eventually provide a more substantial judgment after we have a chance to get to know them better. The question is whether we are merely objectifying, or are using multiple criteria of judgment to view a person. I think it’s only honest to admit that this is part of our humanity, and not pretend that this behavior did not exist or that it was wrong per se.
It seems to me that part of this desire to cut out flirting, hitting on, etc at such events verges on doing just that. In an attempt to create a safe space (and I cannot emphasize enough how important safe spaces are), I worry that we may be cutting out part of our humanity, a part of our humanity that means a lot to me and many other people. I wonder if we are forgetting that part of creating a network of people, if we care about sex positivity in our culture, must involve our sexuality in all of its diversity.
Religion has done too much to squash and make sexuality dirty and immoral. I am left with a bad taste in my mouth that the hetero-normative concept of sexual ethics has made too much of an impact on our culture, even among skeptics and atheists. I want to live in a world full of sex-positive skeptics who embrace their lustiness openly and unapologetically. Perhaps my definition of sex-positivity goes beyond most people’s. I think that is quite likely.
Now, I don’t suggest we schedule orgies at conferences, or that we consider this desire for sex positivity over the concerns of people’s safety, but I think that in this conversation we need to keep in mind that some people at such conferences, while not there for the sole purpose of sex, are quite interested in finding potential partners for such activities. And whether we extreme sluts are an extreme minority or not, the fact is that recent discussions are going to make us avoid such interests.
And while I think those safe spaces are ultimately more important than this concern, I don’t want this concern to be ignored. I don’t know what role sex-positivity can play in the networking and growth of this community pf reason, but I hope it is not left behind completely.
That said, I am quite shy IRL. I rarely openly flirt with people I don’t know, I have never directly propositioned anyone at a conference whom I had not already known and interacted with prior to then, and I do attend such things primarily for the lectures and opportunity to meet people in non-sexual ways. I don’t go to conferences to hook up and I have always tried to be completely respectful to speakers, guests, etc as people with minds, and not as mere bodies.
But bodies we have, and we cannot forget that nor the fact that they can be quite distracting at times. I find a wide variety of bodies, especially when they contain brains which house intelligent minds, quite attractive. I am left wondering if there is room in the conference world for this sexuality, or if it will have to be something left behind when we attend such things, perhaps finding it by accident in rare cases, but never intentionally pursuing it.
The fact is that if you want to find hook ups, there are places for that. There are singles bars, clubs, and swingers cruises for all those interested in such things. But is there room for setting aside a time and place for people who might be interested in sexual activity at such conferences? Could we designate an arm band system, a specific location and time, where such flirtation is not only acceptable, but set aside for?
And if this were to be arranged, would it end up merely attracting the creepy people none of us wants to hook up with?
Ugh, there just does not seem to be an easy solution here. Perhaps it would be better to leave it out of the conference atmosphere, but I hope not completely so. Guidelines at very least are important, and we need to continue to educate ourselves and one-another about what a safe space looks like, as there are still many who don’t understand this idea (hell, I’m still learning and I think about this stuff all the time).
It seems that we, as a community, will have to adjust to the fact that many people (perhaps most?) simply don’t want to mix their business/activism with that kind of pleasure.
And while I understand this, the side of me that wants a more sex-positive world can only look on with some small measure of frustration and disappointment. Despite what I would ideally prefer, I am forced to admit that there are too many issues of social justice between where we are as a society and where we will need to be before we can have gatherings where enough people are respectful, safe, and mature to allow our freaky flags fly en masse.
I hope I get to see it before I die, but I’m skeptical.
Tags: relationships, sex, slut-shaming
I love sex. I think people should have as much sex as they want.
There are a number of cultural, social, and psychological barriers between people’s desires and what they do. In many cases, these barriers are necessary and good, such as the object of said desire being attached to a subjective point of view that does not share that desire. In other words, wanting sex with another person is insufficient; they need to want it too. Having sex with mere objects, however, is fine (so long as it’s your object, I suppose).
Religion, while not really the ultimate source of such barriers, certainly perpetuates many of the behaviors that act as a barrier to healthy desires. Religion is but a very prominent and powerful outgrowth of human behavior, and much of that behavior is not healthy. Theological positions which declare our desires to be sinful, ungodly, etc are expressions of our deep fears and insecurities projected onto the universe, magnifying our senses of guilt, repression, and self-deprivation beyond its rational scope. Most of theology, that is, is anti-human.
We all want sex to some degree. For some, that amount is zero, and those people will probably not be sluts. I mean, they can choose to participate in sex, but without the raw desire and attraction, why would they? It’s not what they really want, so deep down they are not sluts.
For other people, that degree of interest in sex is great. When I was younger, I remember spending weekends with a girlfriend where marathon sexcapades were common. Having aged a bit, that is no longer the case but I still love sex, and I like it with women of varying body types, varying personalities, and even with varying numbers of them. I am an unapologetic slut deep down, and I a not a slightest bit ashamed of that, and I love meeting people who feel the same way, or who at least share an attraction to me.
Whether they also share it with 1, 2 or a 10 others is not really important.
But I also don’t have that much time. I have two very meaningful relationships, with my wife(!) Ginny and my girlfriend Gina. Frankly, I don’t have much time to meet other women. And other times even if I know other women I am attracted to, I don’t communicate it if it seems to create logistical problems, I get no indication that the attraction is two-way, etc. But, when I do meet someone that I find attractive, I often communicate my interest. Sometimes it works out, other times not so much.
The point is that I follow where my real desires actually lead, and not to some ideal or expectation. I don’t artificially pretend that I am more or less interested in sex than I actually am. Not everyone does this. Some people reign in their desires, magnify them, or try and intentionally divert them away from some direction they find objectionable. Now, if they have a good reason for doing so (and what I consider a good reason may differ from theirs), then no problem. But some people are not comfortable with their sexuality, and that is not healthy.
Slut-shaming is a problem. There is no reason to talk badly about a person who has a lot of sex with a lot of people, unless they are hurting people in the process. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a thing as really liking sex and then having it, so long as it is done consensually, comes from real desire, and with transparency. There is also no reason to feel bad about wanting such things to start with.
From where I stand, the problem comes from where people have those desires but don’t find healthy ways to act on them. That is if you do have those desires to be sexual, and you are not seeking healthy and consensual ways to act on them, then perhaps there is something wrong.
Are you in an exclusive relationship? Perhaps you need to have an open and frank conversation with your partner. Are you intimidated? You need to find ways to take steps to get over that. You you feel dirty? Come on, you don’t find that as part of what makes it hot? No? Well, then perhaps you should find “clean” ways to have sex.
I feel too much pity for people who get into their 40′s, 50′s, or later and finally cannot stand to put off their desires any longer. I have met many people in the poly community that talk about how they ignored so much about their sexuality when they were young, and then they found later on what they wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad they did find it, I just wish people would find it earlier.
We need to be who and what we really are under all the bullshit of socialization, religious training, and following of default expectations. We will all be happier getting what we want out of life by pursuing it rather than putting it off.
In short, we’d be better getting off than putting off.
Strip clubs, heaven, and other boring fantasies. April 27, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: fantasy, heaven, sex, strippers
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I have been thinking about my up-coming bachelor party. I’ve been to a few over the years and have had good times at each, but mine will be different. At mine, there will be no strip clubs on the agenda.
I know this will disappoint a few people who will be there, but they can go do such things on their own time. Oh right…bachelor parties are excuses for momogamous married men to act like they are single for a while. My not allowing them their vacation from reality is a bit selfish of me, or something. See why I’m convinced that monogamy aligns with people’s true desires?
The reason that I have insisted that my best man not include strip clubs into the plans (he is not married, and is not interested in such things anyway) is that I don’t find them exciting. Sure, I like seeing naked and often attractive women, but such clubs are all a farce. It isn’t real.
And although it may sound contradictory at first, fantasies which are not realistic are not exciting to me. I can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of human bodies in such clubs, but it rarely does anything for me sexually.
Perhaps its because I actually get to see real live naked women (notice the plural) fairly often, also that I am not restricted from other women, that strip clubs don’t do much for me. Perhaps, although even when I was unattached and monogamous I still didn’t get much out of the experience.
When I think about it more seriously, I realize that I simply cannot get caught up in the lie. I realize that these women stripping for our money are not into me. I know that this is not flirtation, pre-foreplay, or how real relationships develop. And in the rare case where a stripper might be into me, I would still be unable to find it really arousing until she made that clear to me on her own (I don’t ever expect this to happen). I’m certainly not going to ask them for their real name or contact info, knowing how often they receive such requests and how annoying it can be.
In contrast, I get quite excited when meeting fully clothed women with whom I share flirtatious bantor, playful affection, and maybe even phone numbers. And in my fantasy life, my thoughts may occasionally start with outlandish possibilities, but ultimately I find myself attracted to more realistic possibilities as fodder for, well….
The point is, I am much more interested in fantasy tied to real people with whom I really have, continue to, and might again interact. I have serious trouble suspending disbelief too much, especially when it comes to sex.
Also philosphy, theology, etc.
See, I baited you with sex talk, and now I’m talking philosophy. But now that I have you dug in this deep you might as well see it through, right? Right.
So, I can’t get excited about stuff that isn’t real, or at least real-ish (this is why I prefer science fiction which at least tries to be scientifically plausible). Belief in silly unskeptical things leaves me cold, and so my mind is more attracted to what can be demonstrated to be real.
I grant that I have cognitive biases. I understand that my mind is more attracted to certain ideas than others and that this cognitive gravity does not necessarily align with reality in all cases. I’m not some super rational skeptical guru who was born with some freakish reality detecting brain (but that would be awesome!).
Quite often I have to apply skeptical methodology to check my thoughts for such biases. But I have a strong tendency to move towards what seems to be tied to reality. And when something seems unfettered, my mind cannot any comfort from it, and what enjoyment it can get is short-lived and superficial.
So when I hear people talking about things such as faith, hope, and other synonyms for wanting to believe something which is clearly, demonstrably, untrue, I cannot sympathize. I may be able to empathize, but it is not an experience I have which I can share, and so I see such faith as nothing more than a self-delusion.
I realize that many other people do get genuine pleasure out of fantasy detached from reality, and I can sometimes hold onto such pleasure briefly as well. But this pleasure disintegrates quickly, much quicker than it seems to do for others, and I find myself mostly disappointed by the promise of fictions. Sometimes I wish I could sustain such pleasure from facades, delusions, and lies. But even that wish is effemeral.
Heaven does not appeal to me. The fact that the idea seems so absurd and impossible to me, let alone unpleasant even if true, makes it unappealing to me. I simply cannot get caught up in the lie. I holestly do not understand how other people can find it so beautiful, inspiring, and worth wanting. Perhaps the failing is mine.
A loving, merciful, nor even a self-sacrificial God is not appealing to me either, nor are angels or other such things. I can’t see them as things which would be nice to want to believe in. I can’t see them as positive symbols, helpful metaphors, or even happy thoughts. They seem vacuous and undimensional to me.
I just see them as fictions, unhelpful and distracting from the real pleasures, beauty, and even the naked ugliness of reality. There is more than enough in reality such that adding extra sparkly, null-colored fantasy on top of it does not help at all.
I do not like strip clubs, and I could not look forward to heaven. My mind is not enticed by such fleeting and superficial distractions when there is real, gritty, dirty fun to be had.
“Oooh, Heaven is a place on Earth”?
Yeah, that works. I will spare you my image of a heaven on Earth. There are some things that nobody who reads this blog needs to have in their minds.