December 2017
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rant: friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone


icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

No one expects that a romance will last if neither person ever bothers to set up a date. Yet somehow friendship is supposed to?? So many people are content with friendships which they would absolutely dump if it was a romance. I find this irrational double standard to be so frustrating. I think most people like to structure their relationships in binaries: family or not-family, romance or not-romance, my-everything or acquaintance. And then they put walls between these things and assign specific passwords to the doors. Family door only opens with blood, marriage or adoption. Romance door only opens with "I love you" and sex. My-everything only opens with romance or occasionally with "best friend." (I know these are not true of everyone; I'm talking about the average person) I think this is fucking gross and I don't want any damn walls involved in any of my relationship shifts. I want mine to be free to grow and shrink as is healthy for each. My relationships are on a spectrum and a person may move from one to the other from week to week. Whether relative, lover, or friend, these are your options. I will never give anyone a "better than the rest" pass. Having sex or romance with me gives you no automatic new level of connection, nor does being related to me.

Related: my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances & actual friends / my ideal friend's qualities.

friendly acquaintances: Anyone I am connected with by choice in any way.
These people I put no special effort into, I just remain open to sharing with them and to what they might share with me. People only get kicked off of this for being willing to knowingly violate consent (of ANY kind, including consent to engage in a conversation); if someone says they want to stop doing something and you don't listen, consider yourself banned (but it does depend on whether the person whose boundaries they broke is upset about it).

friendly tribe-hopefuls: Everyone on my LJ friends list (including the defunct LJs), my aunt and one of my cousins, one of my siblings, people who come to crafty parties or cuddle communions or transparence parties or solstice gathers.
These people I make the effort to keep up with and when I am faced with a block to connection, I attempt to dismantle it if they will help me. Most of the time such a block is something like problematic language, but sometimes it's a hurt they may have caused me accidentally, or a worry I have that I have hurt them. My willingness to try is what makes them a tribe-hopeful, and often after I do, they become part of my extended tribe. If they are unwilling to adjust their behavior to avoid causing pain, they will never be more than friendly acquaintances.

extended tribe:
These are the people with whom I check in regularly (on whatever sharing they offer), work shit out, and mutually, deliberately build intimacy. People have to be willing & able & available to build with me, and willing & able to have compassionate conflict. LJ is such a beautiful platform for this -- without it, this list would be very short because sharing deeply with each person individually wouldn't be something I could do, simply thinking of time much less energy. I also can make conflict easier by posting about a general issue and working it out with several people in an indirect way that people react to better than me directly saying "this thing you did is a problem for me because ___." There are some in this group that I would like to be part of my core tribe, but I haven't made the overture for one reason or another. I feel like I have to be in a place where I know how much energy I can spare to add someone to my core tribe, because I don't want to offer something I can't follow through on. And long distance takes more energy than local.

core tribe:
These are people with whom I check in regularly, work shit out, mutually deliberately build intimacy, and make it a regular priority to spend time. For locals this means I try to hang out one-on-one once a month, for long-distance I try to have videochats at least twice a month. I include these people in events that are sacred to me, to the extent that they are willing. These are people that given the right situation (and their interest of course) would be lifesharers.

lifesharers:
These are people with whom I check in regularly, work shit out, mutually deliberately build intimacy, make it a regular priority to spend time, check in with about my major life decisions (if they would affect them), appreciate when they offer critique of my behavior, and turn to in my rare moments of need for comfort. Hannah was a lifesharer of mine and I would really like them to be again, but distance and time difference makes it hard. I have faith that it will happen one day. Anika is someone I would ideally be lifesharers with but they have too much focus elsewhere to build to that right now. The main shift between tribe and lifesharer is the amount of focus time: it takes a certain amount regularly to keep a person at the level of lifesharer, otherwise you're just not in sync enough and it doesn't work.

I would only co-parent with a lifesharer, but I would co-habitate with anyone who had similar living habits and goals, and I would be lovers with any person in my extended tribe, given mutual interest. You'll notice that only three of my relatives are mentioned on this list at all and they are tribe-hopefuls because they are unavailable and/or have not worked out conflict with me. My parents and other sibling are currently friendly acquaintances, though I would like them to be tribe if they could get their act together. ALSO there are people I love who I am not in contact with, so are not on this spectrum at all. So, regardless of the cause of the connection, anyone has a chance of being anywhere on the spectrum or not at all.

[who is what and updates]--------

July 14, 2015:
extended tribe: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Renee, Aubrey, Becky, Tina, Hannah, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lily, Ciara, Lana, Sydney.
core tribe: Currently Anika, Jaime, and Allison.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz, Kylei, and Heather.

Update Feb 17, 2016:
extended tribe: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Becky, Tina, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lana, Sande, Jaime, Cass, Helena, Katy, Arizona, Ace.
core tribe: Currently Allison, Kylei, and Sydney.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz, Hannah, and Heather.

Update Apr 20, 2016:
extended tribe:: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Becky, Tina, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lana, Helena, Katy, Arizona, Ace, Sande, Cass, Sydney.
core tribe: Currently Allison, Hannah, and Kylei.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz and Heather.

Update Sept 20, 2016:
extended tribe: Currently Hannah, Heather, Kylei, Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Becky, Tina, FelixFx, Nea, Arden, Lana, Helena, Katy, Arizona, Ace, Sande, Cass, Sydney, Roger, Evelyn, Elliott, Jackie.
core tribe: Currently Allison and Serenity.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz.

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Comments
bunnika ══╣bunny: reach╠══
I am consistently flabbergasted by the amount of people you share your life with. I can't imagine having the energy for all of that. If I were to break down my relationships in a like way, the lists would be preciously short. I just don't have your talent for building relationships.

Do you think it's realistically possible to maintain lifesharer status with someone long-distance? I notice that those on the list now are local, and as you mentioned, long-distance issues with Hannah made that relationship change. Is there a certain amount of in-person-visit-time that would make lifesharing long-distance more feasible?
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
Yes, it's absolutely possible to maintain lifesharer status with someone long-distance. It wasn't long-distance issues with Hannah that made the relationship change. I was referring to the difficulty in getting to that intimacy level again. But really it's probably more depression than distance.

Ideally a long-distance lifesharer and I would visit 4 times a year, but I could be content with one long visit. It's not necessary though.
toll_booth ══╣╠══
I have several concentric circles of trust in my life. Several are on the outer ring, a few are in the middle ring, and a grand total of three people in my life currently inhabit the inner ring, with whom there is nothing I feel uncomfortable sharing, given the right time and place.

It seems like you have a similar model, but far more robustly defined than mine.
kiwi ══╣╠══
I'm the same way. And your last sentence was EXACTLY what I thought when I read this entry! :D
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* I used to visualize it that way, actually!
wanderipity ══╣╠══
"I think most people like to structure their relationships in binaries: family or not-family, romance or not-romance, my-everything or acquaintance. And then they put walls between these things and assign specific passwords to the doors"

This is so me..
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
it's hard to do otherwise! a lot of people are more comfortable with those binary definitions so you not only have to be comfortable outside them yourself, but you have to know others who are also comfortable outside them, or you can't leave those relationship shapes.
darkestgarden ══╣╠══
When I was younger, mid- to late 20s, I struggled so much with my then-friend group and their utter disinterest in deliberate friendship building. They expected the level of intimacy to remain the same without any effort. It caused immense frustration for me, and I eventually had to let those relationships go because it wasn't healthy for me to continue to invest in and nurture them when our respective approaches were incompatible.

I like this entry a lot, and it's made me think about my own levels and where I would place the relationships I have.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* I think a lot of times people think it happens naturally when really, it's the other person doing all the work. I had a friend shedding when I realized I just wasn't willing to have shallow relationships OR do all the work to maintain deep ones.
meri_sielu ══╣beautiful hands╠══
I would say that my circles of friendship and trust run very similarly to yours in that I have levels and people that fall into those circles. The things that they do and say to allow me to bond in that way are similar too and a lot of it has to do with how they make me feel socially. If I am put in a position where I am uncomfortable or feel socially pressured to meet needs all the time or if they have done something to hurt me or even hurt some of the others in what I consider my 'pack' (like your core tribe) then that affects their standing with me too.

This was a very insightful read for me. :)
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* the social pressure to meet needs is definitely a thing that can keep people from ever getting close to me -- I will not meet needs without those needs being discussed and agreed on. Expectations are not cool if they're not negotiated!

Glad you got something from reading 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.