Marriage

Mar. 1st, 2017 10:22 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
Five years ago, I married [personal profile] jack. At the time I'd never had a relationship lasting as much as five years, and now we are nine. Back in 2010, I spent a lot of time considering whether getting married to [personal profile] jack was really the right decision, but looking back I couldn't be more pleased with how it has turned out.

Also, a friend recently asked me for advice about marriage, from my perspective as a happily married person. I don't think I'm at all qualified to comment, because really five years together seems like a really short time. It's about 10% of the marriage I'm hoping for, and probably the easiest tenth, too. But anyway, it's a fun topic so I shall put some scattered thoughts here.

rambling about marriage and relationships )

So in the end, the advice that I gave to my friend was that a good marriage is partly a matter of luck, and partly a matter of picking the right person. But it's only partly luck; the people actually involved in the marriage have some control over whether the relationship is happy or not. I don't necessarily count time-limited relationships as failures, but if what a person wants is a forever relationship, then it's important to think about what may help towards that. And I don't know if I will get that myself, but the first five years have been really good and I'm looking forward to lots and lots more.

Merfriends

Oct. 19th, 2016 01:30 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So the Captain Awkward community like to make up terms for stuff, which serves multiple purposes, one of which is of course helping the in-group to bond. Anyway, recently I came across a term that might fill a lexical gap in my life: The Awe Ritual says:
The Cap is my “mermaid.” On a face level, we’re ferociously compatible and mates for life and frequently go off to make brainbabies, but below the waist, we’re just different species and not equipped to handle each others’ affections
I think I need a term like that; I'm more inclined to make it gender neutral by saying merfriend, but yes, there are people that I not only love very much, but am committed to and prioritize in way people expect for partners while we are not even slightly romantically involved.

thoughts about relationships )

Milestones

May. 9th, 2016 07:07 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
The quad is mostly non-escalator relationships, though it does contain two married couples who live together and in my OSOs' case have children. It's more like, as we spend more time together we have more shared experiences and more closeness. And we've just noticed that it's a year and a half since we got together, and there are some small new things to report.

diary stuff )

Meanwhile I'm handling a potentially career-threatening crisis at work in the middle of my busiest month of teaching, which is why I'm not very present online or in one-to-one communications lately. Definitely getting to spend time with my loves and put work stress out of my mind at weekends has been helping a lot in coping with this. But I'm hoping to be more in communication soon.

The only

Feb. 18th, 2016 11:40 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
I've spent my life being the only Jewish person in most social contexts. When I was tiny, younger than school age I think, I tried to explain the High Holy Days to my Dad's best friend from university; I remember vividly the intense embarrassment at having made a social misstep, but also the sheer surprise at discovering that someone other than family, met outside a Jewish context, could also be Jewish.

I was the only Jewish kid in my nursery school. My brother and I had to go up on stage a week or so after I started full-time school to demonstrate to the other pupils that we were normal children just like them and nobody should pick on us for being Jewish. That could have backfired, but in fact it didn't, it was only really in junior school that I got bullied for being the only Jewish kid, and that was caused by a couple of teachers who had a problem with it and egged the other children on to be horrible to me. In secondary school I wasn't the only, probably about 1% of the school body were Jewish, so that meant about one girl in each yeargroup, and I had to do lots of explaining, and had to sit out of RE class the term we "did" Judaism because the teacher was insecure about teaching in front of a student who knew more than she did. I obviously wasn't the only Jewish person at Oxford (!), but I it was a very common experience for me as a student that I would be the first Jewish person somebody had met. And when I lived in Scotland and Sweden, I was pretty much the only Jewish person in my work circles and other social groups, and often the only Jewish person in interfaith groups.

Now I'm semi-officially the Only Jewish Person at the university where I'm a lecturer. I mean, I'm not, not remotely, but nobody else is admitting to it and I'm the person the university calls on for official functions when they want some Diversity. They're in the process of doing bureaucracy to make this actually officially part of my role, with a title and terms of reference and everything. I somewhat flippantly describe it as being appointed as the institution's official token Jew, and that's only partly a joke.

So that's pretty much always been part of my experience. And now I'm the only Jewish person in my relationship, in the group of people whose lives are perhaps less intertwined than the most common meaning of the word family in a culture that has definite expectations of what a nuclear family looks like, but not a whole lot less. I mean, I was the only Jewish person in my relationship when it was just me and my husband, but being one out of two doesn't feel quite so much like being the odd one out as being the only Jewish one in a group that contains two culturally Christian atheists and four religious Catholics. Generally I'm pretty happy in this situation, but it's something that impacts on various parts of my life so I feel like talking about it a bit.

religion and relationships )

Coming out

Nov. 12th, 2015 08:55 am
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
I missed National (nation of internet?) Coming Out Day, partly because I was busy, and partly because it wasn't the right time to make this post.

coming out thoughts )

So with that preamble, I too, a much lesser writer than Penny or Monroe, have something to tell you: I am polyamorous. That is to say, I'm currently in romantic relationships with several different people, all of whom know about eachother and are completely happy and supportive. I don't think this is likely to be a surprise to most of my readers; I've not been making huge efforts to keep it a secret, and I'm sure many of you whom I haven't told directly will have found it easy enough to read between the lines. But this is the first time I've actually said the sentence, I'm poly, on my public blog. And part of why I'm saying it now is that it's not only a fact about my philosophy of relationship, and I'm not even sure it's a fact about my identity at all, poly is more a thing I do than who I am. It's also a fact about my life and the people who are important to me.

A year ago I became part of a quad, four people who are in relationships with eachother in various combinations. And it's been a completely wonderful year, full of new experiences, and we're all really hopeful that this can be a long-term, potentially a committed thing. When I was poly in the sense that I had various shapes of romantic-ish connections alongside my primary relationship, it didn't matter so much, partly because I don't identify as poly as such. People knew who I loved and who I was close to, and that was great, and it wasn't really anybody's business but the people involved exactly what form those loving relationships took. Now that I'm part of a quad, it feels like a different situation. Unlike with being bi, it's not that people need to know this fact about me and who I am, it's that I want people to know whom I love and the relationship structure I'm in. Every time in the past year I've referred to, or even introduced, my partners as "my friend" instead of "my partner" I've cringed internally; it's like going back 20 years and playing the pronoun game because I wasn't sure how safe it was to come out.

The thing about coming out about relationship structures rather than identities is that you're telling other people's secrets. The other three people in the quad needed to be free to make their own decisions about when and what to tell their respective parents. I told my own parents as soon as I was reasonably confident that the relationship was stable and not just a passing fling, and as when I told them I was dating a woman, they said supportive things and didn't entirely understand what I meant and have been slowly coming to terms with the idea that I'm in this multi-person relationship network instead of the dyad they expected when I got married. But, well, four people have a lot of parents between them, and part of why I missed National Coming Out Day was I didn't want to put anything on the internet until all the parents had been informed directly.

And even now I've made this post, I haven't just flipped the switch to being Out instead of Closeted. It's not that hard to connect this journal to my wallet name if you go digging, but I hope that a cursory web search on my wallet name isn't going to find this pseudonymous blog. I'm not out at work and I have no immediate plans to be; I'll carry on saying "spending some time with... friends" when people ask me about my plans for the weekend. And I'm not fully out within the Jewish community (though I'm out to individual Jewish people including obviously my parents), and both those things mean that I'm not likely any time soon to mention poly on Facebook.

In some ways being out about poly feels more scary than telling people I'm bi. That's partly because I've been lucky that I've experienced relatively little homophobia or biphobia. And I generally hang out with liberal tolerant types who at worst accept the culturally prevalent idea that gay people are just like "us" except that they happen to be attracted to the same gender. Poly in that sense is less "normal"; there are many people who generally see themselves as non-judgemental but have no paradigm at all for multiple or multi-person relationships other than having affairs and deceiving or cheating on one's (singular) partner. Even some LGBT campaigners and activists are so fixated on the assimilationist paradigm of "just like heteronormative dyadic relationships" that they are eager to distance themselves from any kind of poly or open relationship situation. But at the same time, although it's harder to tell people about my relationships with several people than it is to tell them about my (past) relationships with women, it still feels like it's my choices that are being disapproved of, not that I'm being oppressed because of something I just can't change about myself.

Anyway, I'm very happy and in love, that's the other thing I wanted to say, aside from all this political and angsty stuff. It's been a wonderful amazing year, in so many ways.

Please feel free to ask questions; I personally don't mind being a resource if you've not had much exposure to poly relationships before now. As you can see from this post, I'm being a bit cagey about the actual identities of my partners, but if you ask me general questions that I can answer without disrupting anyone else's privacy, I'll do my best.
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
Wow, I can't believe I've posted every day in January! Final prompt is from [personal profile] angelofthenorth who asked about polyamory.

relationship noodling )

[January Journal masterlist]
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
[livejournal.com profile] atreic made a great comment on my post about Valentine's Day angst: it's not ... a day about traditional relationships celebrating themselves openly ... it's a day about secret love making secret hints.

My first instinct is to be scared of secret hints. I like direct communication, I'm afraid of horrible misunderstandings and even though it's really a very unlikely sort of danger to worry about, Far from the madding crowd still haunts me. There's also the issue of lots of teenage experiences where people sent tokens of affection (which were really badges of coolness) and I was among the despised group who didn't receive anything because I wasn't popular. I didn't want the valentines for their own sake, I wanted not to be laughed at for not getting any.

That said, I totally love [livejournal.com profile] atreic's definition of Valentine's Day:
It celebrates the fact that sometimes love isn't easy and people pine and don't know how to say things and that sometimes people are much fonder of you than you know they are.
So, I invite you to talk about crushes and pining and secret love and people you shouldn't have feelings for. Comment anonymously or identify yourself, talk about current situations or past experiences, anything goes.

growing up gay )

Happy day of not knowing how to talk about your feelings, or having unruly ones.

Singleness

Sep. 11th, 2012 10:54 am
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
Can't remember where I saw the link to this, but it really spoke to me: Moya ZB on Living single. It's a great article, heavily referenced in a style that Tim Berners-Lee would approve of. This paragraph in particular made me shout "Yes, this!" at the computer screen:
I want to live in a world where there isn’t a hierarchy of relationships, where romantic love isn’t assumed to be more important than other kinds, where folks can center any relationships they want whether it be their relationship to their spiritual practice, kids, lovers, friends, etc. and not have some notion that it’s more or less important because of who or what’s in focus. I want to feel like I can develop intimacy with people whether we are sleeping together or not that I will be cared for whether I am romantically involved with someone or not. I want a community that takes interdependency seriously that doesn’t assume that it’s only a familial or romantic relationship responsibility to be there for each other.

Maybe I've given up my right to this opinion )
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
Emily Nagoski has an excellent blog, The Dirty Normal, where she talks about sex and relationships from the point of view of a biologist. Really good stuff, and in particular an excellent counter to the people who like to run around the internet justifying mid twentieth century suburban American sexism by telling stupid just-so stories about "evolution". She comes from a fairly mainstream context, mostly discussing heterosexual monogamous couples and mostly vanilla sex and generally normative relationship expectations. I think she's a person of good will, she does make an effort to mention that there are other gender possibilities and relationship configurations out there, but in taking a biologist's view she tends to concentrate on the typical rather than the exceptions.

I think a lot of her information is very applicable even outside the context she's starting from, because it's just about how psychology and bodies work in ways that are still true regardless of gender identity or relationship choices. And she's really non-judgemental about people who don't fit her standard paradigms! She's always good, well worth checking out her blog including the sex tips project (lots of stuff there that would be very easy to repurpose in a more kinky context than where she's coming from!)

I wanted to link to a recent post in particular, though, because I think it's advice that quite a few of my friends could stand to hear. And not in a self-righteous way, either, because what she's discussing here is very much relationship mistakes I've made myself in the past and have no doubt I'm still prone to. I think the idea of "overfunctioning" is probably a more helpful frame than "codependence", which is what this kind of thing usually gets called. So, The Dirty Normal on Am I helping? Am I helping?

Love

Feb. 15th, 2012 05:11 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
Ugh, I have a big backlog of stuff I want to post about, and it's causing me not to post at all! Best way to break that is to start afresh and post the latest thing, which is that I'm feeling happy about Valentine's Day this year.

hopefully not unbearably smug )

And in exactly two weeks from today, we'll complete the legal formalities to make the tax system and general state bureaucracy consider us married. I'm not too too excited about that, as we've decided the real wedding will be the one that takes place in front of all our friends, but it still feels like a milestone.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
My joint birthday party with [personal profile] jack at the weekend was great fun. Lots of lovely people, including people I haven't caught up with in far too long, including [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c and [livejournal.com profile] hobbitz. It was my first experience of having a party that included small children; they were wonderfully entertaining and not at all destructive. But it also felt like a life milestone: I've reached the stage where several of my peers have kids. Also, [livejournal.com profile] purplecthulu pointed out that I have now reached the age of majority in hobbit terms. When it got to the late night stage, the thing that seemed like a really good idea was to impose a fairly formal structure, with a conch and points of order, on a discussion about government mandated traffic-light labelling on food.

On the negative side, though, my asthma was bad enough to scare me pretty much throughout, and not responding to drugs. health and relationships )

Feh. Lots of couples have worse issues with illness or career stuff or geography getting in the way of the relationship. We'll be ok, but celebrating milestone birthdays is somewhat dampened by this situation.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
Two friends have posed really interesting questions about relationships in the last few weeks. Since it took a bit of thought to compose answers, I thought I might as well make a new post rather than long rambly comments to old discussions. Obviously if you object to relationship noodling, especially with religious bits, please feel free to skip this post!

1. Describe what a happy romantic relationship looks like? )

2. What's your 'philosophy' on romantic relationships / marriage and how does your Judaism inform that? )
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
So I'm going to angst about it. I didn't go to Bicon this year. I sort of planned to, and it would've been a good year to do it, given that I had both time and money, and I was in the right country, but then I chickened out.

I think I was supposed to have sorted this out by the time I was 20 )

I should probably stop trying to overthink this, shouldn't I?
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So I've been going out with the Beau for about a year and a half now, and we're doing well. I've been more or less refusing questions about whether it's a problem that he's not Jewish, because, well, we're just us, we're not a paradigm of a mixed relationship. I have a slight suspicion sometimes that people are hoping for drama when they pose questions like that. In any case I've decided to introspect about it now.

[[personal profile] jack, do stop and think for a little and decide if you want to read this; it's mostly positive, but even so.]

contains relationship stuff )

At the same time, I'm acutely aware that all of this is really extremely mild. I'm not in any danger of getting beaten up, or cut off from my family and community because my partner isn't Jewish. From a practical, legal standpoint, getting married would be perfectly easy, and I don't even think I know anyone who would refuse to attend a wedding. In a lot of ways, the friction resulting from being in a mixed relationship is completely eclipsed by the social credit I gain from being in an opposite sex relationship. This Shapely Prose piece about being a queer woman with a male partner resonated really strongly with me, in ways that I'm not quite ready to articulate, even when I'm in this confessional frame of mind.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I decided I wasn't going to be naughty and work after it got dark today, so I've come home from work for a couple of hours before going out again to the Prog Friday night meal. So I'm sitting curled up with a cup of tea and some toasted "Christmas bread", which is essentially teacake in loaf form. And I thought I might answer a couple of interesting questions that have showed up on my flist recently.

Someone asked in a locked post: what makes you dislike the people you dislike. So I'm going to bring over my comment from there, because I think it's a really interesting question. The thing is, I don't really dislike people. There are a really tiny number who are actually morally bad and I despise or even hate them, and a few that I don't have anything against but just don't enjoy spending time with. But dislike isn't something I go in for much.

Liv is mean )

[livejournal.com profile] blue_mai asked: what do you want in a relationship? In some ways this is tough question to answer, because my default is not to want relationships at all; if anything, I have a list of minimum criteria that someone has to meet before I'm willing to give up my precious singlehood, rather than a list of goals that I'm looking for in a partner. Also because I've ended up with someone who isn't quite what I thought I was looking for; for a start, he's not Jewish and he's not in the same country as me, but I think I'm happier than I have ever been in past relationships. That includes relationships where I was more passionately in love, or with people who objectively seemed to be better suited to me. Besides, relationship with [livejournal.com profile] cartesiandaemon is bringing me a bunch of things that I didn't even know I wanted until we started going out, some of which are probably too personal to go into in detail. So I'm rather reluctant to make lists of what I want, because I am in the process of being shown to be quite wrong. But I'll give it a go anyway.

Liv is demanding )

To reply to further discussion of this topic of [livejournal.com profile] blue_mai's, I generally lean towards staying in a relationship only as long as it makes everybody involved happier than they would be apart. I have never been in a situation of trying to "fix" a relationship that's in difficulties, or of making a commitment to stay together "for better or worse". Perhaps it's middle age creeping up on me, but I'm starting to think that maybe I should try for the kind of relationship where you work at things. I don't know if or when I'll be in a position to make that kind of seriously long term commitment, though. Goodness knows I'm picky enough, and have enough definite ideas about what a partner can expect from me, that I don't rate my chances all that highly!

Anyway, I'm going out fairly shortly and will spend most of the weekend playing host to a cantor from the German bit of the Jewish Renewal movement. But I hope I'll get some discussion going for me to come back to in between.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[livejournal.com profile] roz_mcclure wrote a rather gorgeous post about the differences between American dating culture and the early stages of relationships in the UK. It's just the right mix of humour and seriousness to generate some really interesting discussion, which I also recommend. [livejournal.com profile] doseybat followed up with poll about ways people meet partners, again giving rise to some good discussions.

a bunch of related thoughts )

I don't have a solution, mind you. I understand that there are disadvantages to the extremely blunt approach that I prefer; "make everyone in the world more like me" is extremely unlikely to be a successful approach to any perceived social problem. But anyway. Tell me, what do you think is a good (preferably in the sense of morally good as well as in the sense of effective) way of meeting interesting people? Of getting to know them well enough to have a clear idea whether a relationship would have a good chance? Of letting them know about your feelings to find out if theirs are congruent?

(Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, I'm not particularly distressed about this on a personal level; I'm quite content in my single status and therefore not having to deal directly with most of this stuff.)

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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