Learn to sit with uncomfortable, complex, paradoxes. Learn how to not immediately try to make it better. Learn how to let others have their own reactions and responses. That is what being in a relationship is all about anyways: seeing another’s struggle and valuing their journey enough to let them have it; believing in their ability to find their way; being a support without trying to be their source of happiness.
(via come correct)
In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.
—Fred Rogers, The World According to Mr. Rogers
(via Realistic Optimist)
What are your favorite ways to give and receive love?
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
So Love Languages are a thing I’ve talked about before. Twice. The most recent time was just at the beginning of October, so I’m not sure how much else I have to say on the subject. Physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time are my highest rated languages, by a wiiiiide margin.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me can tell you I’m a touchy-feely person. I am a hugger. If we’re laughing about something, I will probably put my hand on your shoulder/arm/knee while we laugh. If you are upset about something, my initial reaction will be to pull you in for a long hug. I’m here for cuddling and resting-heads-on-shoulders among friends. And in relationships, I’m pretty PDA-y (but hopefully not to too gross of a level?) when we go anywhere: hand-holding is sort of a must, and I’m a fan of quick impromptu kisses in like the middle of the grocery store. My day gets better the instant he reaches for my hand on the bus/in the car. Touching the people I care about makes me feel close to them, and makes me feel supportive, and can make me feel tingly and warm depending on the circumstances. There is safety in hugs, comfort in shown affection.
Quality time, interacting with one another rather than just existing in the same space, is the stuff relationships are made of for me. Any kind of relationship, not just romantic ones. And that can look like time spent physically in the same place or be virtual — for instance, regardless of how many times I see JJ in a week, the fact that we communicate daily is a big part of how our relationship works for me. Those gchats show that we’re there for one another even when we’re not there with one another, and that’s how I feel about my regular chatting with BD, SO, and SM as well. I treasure my sporadic phone calls with JA and KS. CC and I have a standing weekly Skype date. That’s quality time, and it’s what makes our friendship as strong (if not stronger) now than it was when we were on campus. With some people it’s more sporadic, like making time for one another on trips home, or a visit once or twice a year, but that’s okay. Making time is what counts. Quality time ties into prioritization for me, which is super clutch in my relationships.
Words are sort of my thing, so I think having words of affirmation be highly ranked for me makes sense. Words are JJ’s thing even more than mine, so this is definitely one of the giving AND receiving languages. We say “You’re awesome” to one another as much as we say “I love you,” haha. Generally speaking, I try to tell my friends the things I appreciate and value about them and the way they interact with me. I want the people who matter to me to know that they matter to me, because knowing that I matter to other people is important to me. I try to support them as they figure their own shit out like they support me on my journey — I sort of treat everyone in my life like Tinkerbell, letting them know I believe in them to help them be better/stronger. I have no evidence that this actually does anything, but it can’t hurt, right?
Acts of service are a thing I’ve gotten more into this year. In some relationships, supportiveness feels incomplete without asking “What can I do to make this easier for you?” “You being okay is as important to me as me being okay” is a thought I’ve found myself having/expressing lately. Finding the line between acts of service as loving support and as taking away from your loved one’s agency can be hard, but so is watching them struggle with things you can help with or fix altogether. I’m finding that, like with most things, open communication about how to best be helpful is the path to success.
Gift giving is a thing I enjoy greatly, but college taught me that this is not a thing that is going to happen in all close relationships, even around the holidays. Gifts are fun luxuries, but unnecessary. Time and touch and words can be gifts in and of themselves.
One of the most common—and devastating—relationship mistakes a person can make is to assume, “I am feeling bad, so that means someone has done something bad to me.” Sometimes it’s true: abuse happens, cruelty and gaslighting happen, people can just be inconsiderate and unkind. Jealousy can be a signal: that something is wrong in a relationship, our needs aren’t being met, our partner really does have one foot out the door. Or it can be a social cue: our status is threatened.
But sometimes jealousy comes from inside, revealing insecurity or anxiety we need to confront and work through. Or it can be utterly irrational, arising blindly out of seemingly nowhere, perhaps from our social training—or perhaps an ancient biological urge encoded in our DNA. Perhaps a partner’s or metamour’s well-intentioned words or actions have tripped over deeply buried emotional trauma and unleash demons that make us feel like our world is going to end. The network is supportive, everyone is communicating—then a new situation is encountered and BAM! Jealousy. Feeling bad doesn’t always mean someone else is doing something wrong.
Stern’s view is dangerous, then, because often people feel jealous when no one is doing anything wrong. Treating jealousy as a purely social issue (and we’ve seen it done) can lead to an endless circle of judgment, recrimination and accusation. It’s the ultimate in outsourcing: the outsourcing of emotional responsibility. True jealousy management involves listening to the jealousy to find out what it’s trying to tell you, and communicating with your partners (and metamours) to discover whether there is truth behind your fears—and if not, to get the reassurance you need.
You don’t have to pull away if you’re struggling.
I know it is often instinctual, because you think you are going to burden someone, but that someone would much rather be there for you than learn that you are struggling alone.
So, lean in, as that woman says, in your personal life
and never be afraid to ask for support.
We all need it.
(via Realistic Optimist)
Another negative effect of “bleedover” I’ve experienced is self-squelching. When trying to respect that my partner has other pressing matters to attend to, I may start to chronically downplay (to my partner, and even to myself) my needs for attention, affection, communication and support within my own relationship.
–aggiesez, of SoloPoly
^This is a thing I have done.
I’ve spent most of this week feeling particularly goofy and sappy and happy and silly and just overflowing with love and something that looks a lot like joy, and for good reason(s), too.
Going away with [Booskie] last weekend was the best. There were some bumps in the road, which was not unexpected for combination of first roadtrip together and longest time we’ve ever spent continually in one another’s presence, but I had such a great time overall. Falling asleep with him and waking up with him four nights/days in a row = the most amazing. It was a great combination of fun playing around time and sexytimes and good and sometimes heavy conversation time and just plain chilling out time. And I got to meet his family, which I think went really well and made me feel good.
Winding down from all of those awesome snugg feels didn’t really happen, though, because tomorrow marks a whooooooole year since our first date, which we are effectively recreating today (since it was at a freaking awesome annual RnB/Neo-Soul festival at which Lauryn Hill, Janelle Monae, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Talib Kweli are performing this year, so uhm why would we not go??), so all week I’ve been like ANTICIPATIONNNNNN and cuteness. I got him a silly card and wrote a much more serious letter. I’m maybe doing a lot, but a year feels significant to me.
And to put some icing on the cake of cute excited feelings this week has given me, last night I had a great conversation with the girl I’ve been seeing recently. I hadn’t really been able to talk to her all week because she was away at a work retreat, and I was surprised by how happy I was to have her back in a place with cell reception so I could text her in real time. Flirting happened, which led to me confessing my babyqueer status, and her responding in a super awesome way.
[Lady]: I don’t think I’ve ever asked you if you’ve had a female partner.
[Me]: You haven’t. And no, I haven’t. I spent most of college flirting with a queer bestie of mine (shoutout to CC if you’re reading this), and have kissed/made out with a few girls, and done some topless boobplay with a transguy I went on a few dates with last year. But mine is the only skirt I’ve been under.
[Me]: I’m a fast and enthusiastic learner tho.
[Lady]: No problem. I’m just asking since you called yourself a babyqueer. 🙂
[Lady]: I’ve been with a few women. We’ll figure something out that works for both of us.
[Me]: I was wondering when I should tell you. Many of the girls I’ve met online tend to disappear on me when I make that known, so I was a little nervous.
[Me]: Generally, I’m pretty adventurous sexually though, so don’t worry about me being nervous to try new things.
[Lady]: Yeah, that happens (about the okc girls). Some of them tend to be experimenting and/or looking for someone with more experience. I have a friend with similar experiences.
[Lady]: Like I said, we can find a pace that works for us.
I told her how impressed I’ve been with how she’s rolled with the things about me that are often dealbreakers for other people (namely poly things and babyqueerness). She said that she thinks we’re looking for some of the same things. And since we were were on the subject, I said:
[Me]: Speaking of poly things, [Booskie] has mentioned that at some point he’d like to meet you if you’re down. I told him it might be a little early for that but I’d ask how you feel.
and SHE said
[Lady]: Right now, I do feel like it’s a little early for me to meet [Booskie], but I’d definitely like to meet him in the future. 🙂
THE FUTURE! 😀
This has been a post just to gush about how awesome the people in my life are. On the one hand, I’m completely in love with [Booskie] and I’m excited to see how our relationship keeps growing, and on the other hand, I’m starting a new thing that I feel really good about (even if I’m also excitedly nervous). She seems like such good people, and the amount of support and acceptance she’s already given me makes me feel so much less nervous about the “make it or break it moments of queerness” likely to be popping up in my near future. And it’s so great to be able to talk about her to [Booskie] and hear his support and encouragement. This combination of feels is what all of this is about.