August 2017
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negotiating expectations is respectful / ending relationships is an important skill of love


In relationships, I consider the only appropriate unnegotiated expectation to be this: that the other person will not actively, deliberately hurt you. Everything else -- yes, EVERYTHING -- needs to be negotiated. We can't just expect that other people will be kind to us -- because we may define kindness by different actions than what another person would. For instance, my default expectation was once that if someone loved me and we were having an argument, they would not leave the room. It seemed like the only possible way to handle that situation lovingly was to stay and help both people feel better as fast as possible. However, that was because I was expecting everyone to think and process the way I do. Once I learned that some people honestly cannot think constructively unless they have a break to just be alone, I realized that it could be just as loving to take a break from the argument (even though that felt initially bad to me, it was better overall). Another example is touch during angry discussion -- I loathe it, because I associate it with physical attacks, so I perceived it as a bad thing to do to other people, but for Kylei it is a soothing reassurance. In my attempt to be loving and respectful I was avoiding doing the very thing that would have helped Kylei most. This is why just expecting people to "be loving" DOES NOT WORK. We do not all have the same list under "loving behavior." Expecting someone to know how to react to your emotions or expecting them to provide the amount of time you want or show love in the way that you want -- those are completely inappropriate unless they have been negotiated and agreed on.

[we cannot pre-negotiate all our experiences, but...]We can't pre-negotiate all our expectations (because most of them are subconscious!), but we can recognize when we have an expectation that has not been agreed on and then negotiate it without resentment for past lack-of-meeting that expectation. That means saying to your person, "this is a thing I want in relationships. Are you comfortable with me relying on you to do this thing, and expecting it?" if they say yes, fantastic! then you discuss what that looks like and how you can both make sure it happens, and what to do if it doesn't. If they say "no," you need to examine within yourself and decide if that is something you can be okay without in that relationship. If it is, adjust your feelings, and perhaps look for that need to be met elsewhere. If it is not, you need to end the relationship*. Plain and fucking simple. It is NOT appropriate to stay in the relationship and hope that they will change their mind or start doing that thing you want or become okay with aspects of you that they currently judge -- that is disrespectful and pressuring at best, and it blocks off both people from potential healthy positive relationships. (relationships that have blocked off the option to break up because they are abusive are not what I'm discussing here -- ending them is a totally different process)

There seems to be this intense fear of ending relationships; not even a fear of how the other person will take it, but a fear of the ending itself. I can understand that there are real reasons for that fear, but it's understood and accepted in all the social groups I've seen that ending relationships is to be avoided at all costs -- literally, ALL costs. I don't think this fear is even questioned, and I think it really needs to be. When you put off ending the relationship, all those problems fester into a giant gangrenous sore so when you finally do end it, there is hatred and bitterness and harm everywhere. Ending a relationship does not mean that there is no longer love between you: it means that there is no longer more benefit than cost. If a relationship is not bringing good things, it has no reason to exist, and ending it opens up space for good things to come into BOTH people's lives. It is not a selfish act to end an unproductive relationship; it is being kind to oneself, being respectful of the other person's inability to meet your needs or vice versa, and being kind to other relationships which will not be postponed or diminished by a dying relationship, or experience difficulty due to toxicity created by the dying relationship. (every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end)

Think of an unmet-needs/desires relationship as an exhausted plot of land which does not produce fruit. Sometimes (often, in my life) ending a relationship lets the connection lie fallow, which rejuvenates it and allows for a wonderful, productive relationship in the future. My only regrets about the endings I made is that I did not make them sooner. So going forward, I am trying to develop a habit of regularly checking on them; looking at how much it's costing and how much it's benefiting me. If there's a deficit, then I need to discuss expectations and change either the way things are happening (if the other person wants that too) or change the nature of the relationship.

*"Ending a relationship" often has connotations of completely cutting someone out of your life. When I say end, I don't mean end the connection, I mean end the relationship: that particular method of relating. For example, ending one's romantic relationship with a person doesn't necessarily mean you have also ended your friendship, or your co-parenting, or your sex connection, etc.


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chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.