March 2019
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the whys of relationships / have reached a plateau, am frustrated! want to see a place to grow!

This is probably a completely incoherent entry -- even though it asks a lot of questions it asks none of them well, so consider them rhetorical. :-p

I've been thinking about the nature of relationships (both platonic and romantic) lately. I define a relationship as a connection between two people, deliberately deepened by sharing time, energy, and thoughts/feelings. And what is the point of relationships? I think that is the part that confuses me because I used to have really clear goals in my relationships. Goals like learning to trust and learning how to be honest and open and learning how to give&require respect. Now I've pretty much got that down and I don't know where to go from there. I don't have an easy WHY for any of my relationships, other than wanting to learn everything about everyone, and that's really unfocused and makes me feel like I'm stagnating.

I'm looking for a new focus. I feel like I don't know how to 'do' relationships, they're too easy -- it feels like nothing is happening. I feel like I'm in between stages. What is the next step? is it having more deep relationships simultaneously? or is there some kind of way to increase friendship beyond what I've experienced? I feel like there must be. I just don't feel like I'm learning anything new (in this way) and I find that frustrating. I know this sounds absolutely insane, and it feels insane, because I am developing new (and old) relationships and they aren't easy of course, but it feels like I already know all the ways to troubleshoot, so even though they certainly take effort, they don't take new kinds of thought. And for me the point of life has always been learning -- not just knowledge learning, but experiential learning.

I feel like I make intimacy such a habit that I don't even know what it is anymore; how do you notice the air you breathe? And most of the people I meet have already let me in as much as they're going to, so there's not an increase in intimacy. What is a relationship that doesn't grow? Some people are open to growing closer, but I feel confused about how to do that, because I've already done the work to let them in. It was so satisfying when it was all new to me and I had relationships where we fumbled along together. Now I feel like the unexplored parts of my heart are very very close to the core, so it just takes a person a long time to get there, whereas most people have unexplored places just inside the gates. And I miss that sense of wonder that comes with discovering a new part of yourself with someone else. I REALLY miss that. Even though I do have it with a few of my relationships, I miss having it with ALL my relationships. I'm a wonder junkie, maybe. I'm a learning junkie for sure, and I feel annoyed downright angry with myself for learning myself too well too soon; I want new inner worlds to explore!

But I think I've felt this way before (not about relationships, but I can't remember what it was) so I'm hoping that the shift will hurry up and I'll be back to feeling properly awed by how much I have yet to learn. If I can't level up, I don't wanna play anymore. I'm sure I CAN but I find it really frustrating to have no new path ahead of me, relationally. There's plenty new in other areas but I want to see places I can grow in learning how to have relationships.

Maybe it's something to do with my spirituality, integrating that more into my relationships. I've been feeling directionless there too. On a whim the other day I went to my old church for just a taste of communal love and even the worship had gone utterly stale. Which is to be expected since the leader has gone deeper and deeper into ridiculous dogma, but still shocking because I'd always felt magic in the worship.

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cunningbunny ══╣╠══
I might understand where you're coming from. I think by this stage of our lives, we've experienced enough relationships that we begin to feel like we're going through the motions, doing and not doing things we know have succeeded or failed in previous relationships, and it's not a dynamic process anymore. I'm sure we're wrong; there's no way we've got the world figured out in our mid-twenties, we're just not currently being presented with new challenges in this arena.
belenen ══╣ewwwww╠══
not a dynamic process anymore. I'm sure we're wrong; there's no way we've got the world figured out in our mid-twenties

I fervently hope not! because I really can't imagine being happy without learning new things about human connection.
wolfmare ══╣╠══
I certainly know that feeling... I'm 23 and have myself figured out to the core, I know what makes me tick and why. All my 'new' experiences and explorations are those with other people, each new person I come to know has something else to show and teach me.

The downside to it though, is I'm a bit of a homebody lately and haven't met a single person down here locally. Bit crowd-phobic.
storeyphoto ══╣╠══
Being 23 and having yourself figured out to the core and knowing what makes you tick and why is absolutely wonderful! You are to be applauded and should be extremely proud of that fact. I am, well considerably older than you are and can't make that claim. Your statement about new experiences and exploration regarding new people that come into your life, IMHO, is right on. It took me a while to realize, that if I am willing to look, every person that I cross paths with teaches me something about myself or about life. I also happen to share your downside. It sounds like you are a wonderful and together person. Nicely done!
wolfmare ══╣╠══
Thank you! ^_^

Part of my being a homebody though, is I have some level of social anxiety. I can deal with a few people at a time, but large groups terrify me. Even if it weren't for the anxiety involved, I would still prefer to deal with just a couple of people at a time... Easier to get to know them that way.
Climbing Buddha LP
aliyna ══╣Climbing Buddha LP╠══
Do you believe that all relationships must ultimately become physically intimate? I'm wondering if you're putting too much emphasis on/faith in becoming physically involved with someone (even if it's just cuddling/touching, not necessarily "sex") and focusing less on mentalities and "doing" things together. And this could just be my thought because every time I've seen you really write about someone you're in a friendship with, it's always on its way to becoming sexual. I'm not sure I've ever heard you talking about just straight up friends (in real life, that is. Obviously you have lots of us on the internets!)

I'm wondering if you couldn't do yourself a favor by trying to abstain (for lack of a better word) from extraneous physical relationships and try to focus on only forming platonic attachments and never wanting or expecting them to become more than that. It might help you bring a new level of awareness to Ben since you'd be seeking all your physical needs from him solely.

This isn't to say you should be monogamous forever, but maybe just as an exercise to see if it helps you figure out some of your pitfalls/brick walls with relationships.

And get a pair of flip flops AND make a rainbow ANKLET! I swear to god they'll change your outlook on everything forever! Flip flops and anklets are the world to me. They make my heart feel super happy.
aliyna ══╣╠══
I should also mention that I'm almost feeling the same way as you when it comes to Zack. I'm always pondering where we go from here, and how much more we could possibly learn about one another.
belenen ══╣confused╠══
This post is mainly about friendship -- not sure if that was clear from my phrasing.

And this could just be my thought because every time I've seen you really write about someone you're in a friendship with, it's always on its way to becoming sexual.

Nooooooooooooo, this is very not true. It has happened a few times but during the strongest and closest parts of my relationship with Hannah, for instance, there was nothing physical or sexual about it. Even though everyone seems to have assumed that we were headed there, we absolutely were NOT and I find it upsetting that people doubt the platonic nature of our previous relationship because of our three-month romance. Sex is really not that important to me. And I may not mention other relationships as much as lover-relationships but that is not because they're less important but just because they're less confusing (usually).

I've only been practicing polyamory for about 1.5 years now, and I've been practicing deep friendship with various people for at least 10 years. I really do not expect or hope for close friendships to always turn romantic. I'm quite thrown that I could have given that impression! Maybe it's the effusive way I express my affection, perhaps that comes off as flirty? I don't know. But while I may fall in love with many people, there are few whom I'd want a romantic relationship with. With both Aurilion and Hannah, I did not even consider romance until they expressed interest in that. Usually that's how it works for me.
aliyna ══╣╠══
I'm so sorry! I guess it's just that because you're always SO so deep in your friendships, and Aurilion and Hannah BECAME sexual (I didn't actually realize they weren't always like that- obviously Hannah was crazy long distance, but I thought they were both intended to arrive at that eventaully) and your supercrush on Viv, I just assumed that was your typical path- that a friendship could eventually no longer grow mentally/socially so it would have to instead grow physically.

This is me with my foot in my mouth.
belenen ══╣eccentric╠══
that's okay ;-) I think it's partly just that most of the time that you and I have known each other, I have been poly, and my two most-talked-about relationships (from the past two years) turned romantic. But yeah, there were quite a few deep friendships before that that were completely platonic -- Kate, Anika, Ash, Rebecca, Kat... and then currently I consider myself deep friends with several people whom I generally don't talk about either because they don't like being mentioned publicly or just because there's no major shift happening in the relationship (which is generally when I post about relationships).
aliyna ══╣╠══
::nods:: I totally understand now. Thank you for enlightening me. =D

I know I had to set my own poly relationship aside because my own marriage was having all kinds of issues and I needed to focus on Zack. (I had a girlfriend for a while but never spoke about her on LJ because we have a ton of mutual friends and wanted to be discreet about it.) She and I haven't really gotten "back together" on a physical level yet, but she and I are still really good friends.

...that has nothing to do with your OP, I now realize, but I thought I'd share it anyway.
belenen ══╣eccentric╠══
oh wow, I had no idea! I always thought you were pretty firmly monogamous. I'm glad that you're still good friends!
ladywind ══╣Raven╠══
Probably also incoherent, and best served w/ salt
~head tilt, considers~ So. My household was watching Bulletproof Monk last week. Cheesy well-produced B-movie, plot and character-wise, but it does slide one or two really good bits of philosophy in.
Example: The Nameless Monk is intentionally making The Protagonist uncomfortable and annoyed by being vague when Protagonist wants easy answers and being calm when Protagonist wants to upset him. Serves beautifully to make Protagonist *actually* *interested* in the interaction. When Protagonist asks "Why are these people chasing you?", Monk says, "I'll give it to you in a way you might understand. Why do hotdogs come in packs of 10, but hotdog buns only in packs of 8?" "What bullshit! That has nothing to do with this! You're jerking my chain!" cries Protagonist, bringing a small smile from Monk.

This set me thinking; the answer for both questions with which I am most peaceful is, "Because they do."

This is what came to mind--this, and a Martian habit from Heinlein books of "growing together" wherein the two people doing the growing just sit in eachother's presence for a while and Be with one another--when I read about your wanting goals for relationships.

Why do relationships if you don't seem to "level up"? ~shrug~ Why plant a seed if a tree doesn't pop up the next day? Everyday life is the path, methinks, but the trick is, sometimes it moves SLOW.
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
Re: Probably also incoherent, and best served w/ salt
hee hee, I think the Protagonist hit it right on the head with "what bullshit!" -- it being bullshit (meaningless) that people chase / hotdogs & buns come in different numbers. Or maybe it means that supply can never meet demand in some things.

mm, yes, I understand that Being -- I've done that consciously with Hannah and Aurilion and Ash and completely unintentionally with Viv. ♥ I want to practice it more with people I feel less safe with, I think that would be a good growth path for me. Thank you so much for sharing that thought!

It's not that the relationships don't "level up," because they do! and it's not too slowly either -- some of them are coming along at quite a fast pace (for once I'm not feeling impatient, haha!) but I don't seem to be leveling up. It's like a video game you've already played all the way through -- playing it over, you miss discovering all those little tricks. You're still "leveling up" but you're not actually learning anything -- your brain is not "leveling up." I want it to be harder dammit. This is why I hated math. I've never been very tolerant of review. I don't like knowing things, I like discovering things.
emotionalspazz ══╣╠══
And most of the people I meet have already let me in as much as they're going to, so there's not an increase in intimacy.

Perhaps the goal would be, then, to get close enough to them so that they may open up? And maybe when they do, you can find something for you two to focus on, some goal that you didn't know that you shared.

I think that a relationship isn't so much a path as it is a huge field to explore, and when you explore, you find things. Maybe the part of the relationship that you feel is stagnating is actually the part where you've finished finding all of the treasures in the field, and now you have to reap their benefits. Or maybe there's something you need that you haven't found yet. So not comparing this to Okami what are you talking about

While it is gratifying to have relationships that change you and are profound, not all relationships will be like this, because many people do not change and do not attempt to be or look for profound... ness. (I'm not saying that the people with whom you seek to deepen relationships with are shallow, but maybe you need to... make them deeper!)
love; text.
delicatexflower ══╣love; text. "take my hand.."╠══

i think i know what you saying... the wonder is your magic and if you don't have that wonder, that magic and interested in gone? maybe spread the wonder around, not at all at once. wonder does make a relationship WONDERful. =P it is exciting letting someone into your life, into your heart, into your world...
tralfamadore ══╣╠══
I apologize in advance if my approach to this seems a bit "off in left field," as even as I type these words I'm not entirely certain where this comment will land. But something you've said here reminds me of a stark, though seemingly meaningless, divide in my family's philosophies towards enjoyment of media. My mom and dad both firmly place themselves in the camp of belief that, if a book or film has been ingested one time, even despite the fact that it might have been enjoyed thoroughly, there's no reason to go back for seconds. There are so many books and movies in the world that why would a person bother to continue to graze over the same few when there are so many possibilities out there?

My sister and I believe a bit differently. We cling to our favorites to the extent that we will actually purchase said book or movie with the intent of ruminating over it time after time after time. To my parents, this is a waste of money. There are video stores and libraries, so why do we have to own? Why do we have to keep coming back for more and more?

I wish I had an easy answer to this question, because I truly believe that therein lies the key to a lot of my own mentalities. But the truth is that I can't sum up my reasoning in a concise, pretty sentence. Why do I feel the need to own things that I've already experienced once? My desire is always to experience something more than just a single time. I have favorites, because each and every time I experience them, I gain a nuance of information that I didn't have before. Whether it's something as simple as having missed a line of the movie, or something as complex as opening myself up to the reason behind a certain mentality. I enjoy the challenge of picking things apart. I'm the type of person who would tear a clock apart to see what it contains, though I know from the get go I don't have the skills to put it back together again.

What does that say for the questions you've posed here? I don't know. My mom and dad have a philosophy that works for them, because to them the world is always brand spanking and new. And I have a philosophy that works for me, because to me, the world always has another layer to peel back.
justben ══╣╠══
I find that I also want to learn everything about everything and everybody. Well, in fairness, most things about lots of stuff and people. Certainly more than I have time to learn in my little lifetime. This was especially true for me when my primary relationship turned into a poly one and exploring other people became a serious possibility.

Since deep relationships turned from a scarce resource into one overflowing with plenty, I’ve found that I’ve learned to focus more on what I want to do with my time and on what makes me happy. Nowadays I mostly figure out what I want to do and how I want to learn and grow and build — the life that I want to live — and I let my relationships grow in accordance with how much my partners’ goals match my own. Of course, I’m no expert, so even now I have a couple of people I’d love to get to know better if ever I can find the time with all of this learning and growing and building.

Anyway, in refocusing like that, I’ve found a number of things that I thought I’d figured out about myself that really weren’t quite what I thought they were. I suppose by setting aside my focus on self-definition and self-exploration, I was able to live inside the ones I’d built, and thereby gain more experience in how I actually worked when I wasn’t analyzing myself quite so closely.

Dunno if that helps you at all; maybe you’re in a completely different space, or maybe you process things very differently. It’s been my experience, though, so I thought I’d share. :-)

In another world entirely (in reference to another comment you made on this post), math isn’t actually all about knowing things. Early learners study old formulae in the same way that apprentice painters study the works of their masters. A fine painter may be able to reproduce a master’s style well, but an expert student with a good teacher will take those lessons and use them to create something new. There’s lots of exploration and discovery left to do at the edges of mathematics.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
Nowadays I mostly figure out what I want to do and how I want to learn and grow and build — the life that I want to live...

That's exactly what I'm trying to figure out. For me, relationships used to be THE primary path of learning/growing/building (as I explored one aspect after another), and now they're not, and I'm trying to figure out what my new primary path for growth is. Relationships are still A growth path, of course, but they're no longer the primary one.

I appreciate you sharing ;-) and I'd love to hear the story of how you first explored polyamory!

I would find that kind of math interesting -- but creation with math was not something I was taught in my math classes! Practicing the same thing over and over was :-p
justben ══╣╠══
I generally suck at figuring out primary anything. Personally I try a couple things and see which seems to fit the best, and that usually seems to work for me.

The early days of poly for me and Nicole were only a few years ago. They’re not all that interesting, but I’ll be happy to share next time we chat. :-)

As for math, I had the same experience with history in elementary and highschool: It was all memorizing and reciting disconnected facts. I suck mightily at reciting disconnected facts. Once I overheard a university professor teaching a history class as a collection of interconnected people and events and their impact on eachother and on… well… history, I really gained a huge new respect for the subject.

Math often suffers from the same problem. A lot of teachers teach it as disconnected equations people figured out a long time ago. They teach students by rote how to apply those patterns. If the students are lucky then they’ll even get a basic understanding of how to map those skills to real-world problems. In fairness, most people don’t need or want any more than that.

But for someone who actually wants to study math for math’s sake, the subject takes on a different light. Each of those equations is a pattern that someone had to figure out. Math education for theorists involves learning how classical masters thought about those problems to create new patterns for them, in the same way that a painter might study how the masters held their brushes to create particular patterns of paint. It involves understanding not just mathematical rules but how we make them, and how we tell a good one from a bad one. And once those skills are learned, it involves creating new rules and patterns to expand and deepen — and sometimes simplify — the model.

Today there’s a lot of work being done in discrete math topics like number theory, set theory, information theory, formal complexity, automata and type theory. Many of the newest developments in those areas are directly applicable to computer engineering and cryptography, though a physicist I used to work with told me that a bunch of abstract algebra gets applied to theoretical physics, too.

Fun stuff. I’d love to study it more some day, though I don’t know when I’ll find the time.
quirky - lec - deerhunter
moonvoice ══╣quirky - lec - deerhunter╠══
I'm looking for a new focus. I feel like I don't know how to 'do' relationships, they're too easy -- it feels like nothing is happening.

This is a...random thought. But you seem like someone who is constantly driven for self-improvement; and I can relate to this, because my partner sometimes has to tell me or remind me that it's not always about that.

Maybe the next thing you are meant to learn, is how to just 'be' in a relationship, instead of how to 'do' all the time. How to accept the contentment and trust that comes from a relationship that is actually already deep and meaningful. There are always new places to take relationships, but do you think you're taking enough time to savour what you already have? Or do you feel like... if you're not actively trying to achieve a goal, you're not doing anything worthwhile?

Maybe the new inner world you are meant to be learning, is to embrace and accept the plateau for what it is - a still place where the ground lies fallow for a little while. It sounds like you are really really frustrated by it, judging by your tone, so it would certainly be a personal challenge!

I think the lesson may be learning to enjoy what you have in the present, instead of constantly looking forward to what you could have in the future. You have attained much more than the average person and yet you want 'more.' If you substituted 'relationships' for 'money' in your post, it would show an inability to appreciate what you have at its most base level; a greed for 'more more more'. Maybe you're so used to intimacy, you are now in a place where you have to re-learn how not to take it for granted anymore.
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
Well... that's the thing, it's not about where the relationship is. I feel content in the direction and pace of my relationships. It's hard to put into words. To use the money metaphor, it's not like I got lots of money but I want more more more -- it's like I got lots of money and I'm like, "now what do I do with this?" Currently it's just gathering interest, which is nice, but there is surely more potential. Money itself is a lot easier of course -- if you don't know what to do with it you can just give it to people who do. I'm not complaining, I'm grateful, but I'm at a loss directionally.

That's part of what makes this so baffling -- I DO appreciate what I have, very much, and I'm not craving more of the same (which is a nice change). It's more about my life's purpose, my life goal (which is closely intertwined with how I relate to people). Of course, I'm just now realizing this after writing it out so convolutedly ;-)
ghibli - PM - night-walker
moonvoice ══╣ghibli - PM - night-walker╠══
Okay, I get what you mean by the metaphor. :)

What if there's not more potential where you're at right now? I don't propose stagnation or anything; not at all! But what if gathering interest is what you need to be doing to get past this plateau anyway? Do you think that's a possibility?

Of course that's just a long way of saying that it's okay to be stuck, especially when you're the kind of person who would never ever let that become complacence.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
hmm, yes, that may well be. I suppose it would be growth for me to learn to stay in the same place, haha! But actually through this post and the commentations that resulted, I think I've found the source of my discontent and plan to post about it ;-) I think I'll still be on a plateau for a bit but now that I know that it's not forever it won't be so worrisome.
xenopsi ══╣╠══
I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this! I think I had to struggle a little to understand your perspective on this post but after reading through the comments I understand it a bit better, or at least insofar as that's possible through what's been presented. I think I was confused mainly because I see relationships as dynamics that enrich my life, but mainly through the aspect of "we enjoy each other". It's very simple, and yes, growing occurs because of our interactions, but the base of the relationships is a simple love and enjoyment of each other. Not that you don't do that ;) but I've had a difficult time wrapping my head around the idea that this wouldn't be the primary goal-- just love and enjoyment.

Of course I may or may not be fully understanding your perspective, but I look forward to reading more about it. <3
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.