I’ve been avoiding my blog since my post about dating because it triggered some heated – and at times vitriolic – discussions with a few friends and I needed some space. I stand by what I wrote, but the frustration released by the few friends with extremely contrasting views put me on the defensive, and I don’t like writing when I’m on the defensive because in the heat of the moment I can say some pretty angry things. Which is normal, but it’s one thing to vent that anger in a conversation with a specific person and a completely different thing to vent it online to no one in particular, or even to worse to vent online at someone in particular under the guise of venting in general—especially when those people know about and read your blog.
However, it does seem that I didn’t explain myself completely, so I do want to take a moment to clarify a few things, especially since a few readers wrote to politely ask me questions similar to those posed to me by people I know personally.
One concern I kept hearing had to do with my insistence that I don’t see the need to limit a relationship. While it’s true that I believe each relationship should unfold naturally, that does not mean that all doors remain open forever. As two people get to know each other they find their shared interests, and slowly but surely certain things are precluded from the relationship. What would have been a possibility is no longer one because one or both parties are not interested in that aspect. This, however, is a natural progression of closing certain doors, rather than closing them at the onset simply because the person is “just a friend” or “my partner”.
Another problem arose from the fact that I tried to discuss that process with specific examples. This appeared to some as if I were defining the relationship as only a cuddle buddy or only a film friend, almost as if I had specific roles that I’ve decoupled from a relationship type and need individual people to fill. This is not what I meant, but I can see how it would come across that way. The problem is that it’s hard to talk about these things without using concrete examples, which entails a certain amount of defining the constituent parts of a relationship.
When I refer to my film friend, it’s not that he is only a necessary friend because I need someone to watch films with. What I mean is that watching films is what brings us together. Of course we talk about other things and see each other in other venues, but 9 times out of 10, when we call each other to meet up it’s to go to the cinema. Not because he fills a role but because that is what interests us when we meet up. If I shared his interest in playing football (soccer) or discovered that he liked to hike as much as I do, then I would also do those things with him, but that isn’t the case. Thus, the friendship has reached it’s current state as a result of our mutual hobbies and amicable connection rather than as a result of needing to check the “person with whom I can watch films” box.
Let me use a different way of explaining what I mean. Let’s say there is a list of things you can do with people with items from 1 to 100, things like hiking, traveling together, sleeping in the same bed, discussing intimate topics, going out for a night on the town, going swimming, having sex, etc. Some people say, “OK, I can do items 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and 17 with friends, but 56, 68, 73, and 89 are reserved for my partner.” I do this differently.
What I do is to take each person individually and see where our common interests lie. So instead of assigning specific items on the list to specific relationship types, I say, “with person one I can do items 1, 4, 20, and 73, with person two I can do items 3, 10, 17, and 73, with person three I can do Items 2, 3, 4, 56, and 68, etc.
Of course, if in the context of a conversation I’m discussing person two, then I’m going to talk about the items I do with said person. In some cases there are socially accepted terms for specific relationship types, for example a fuck buddy to describe someone with whom I really only have sex or a friend with benefits to describe a friend with whom I can also have sex. If those apply, then I’ll use them in the course of the conversation to simply terminology. And in other cases I simplify by using other terms like cuddle buddy or film buddy because while they may not be very common, it’s easier to use those terms to refer to a person in a conversation than it is to specify which items on the list I can do with each person every time I refer to them—easier, perhaps, but sometimes less understandable, as I’ve come to see.
The point for me is to decouple the items on the list from specific relationship types, not to pull them apart into 100 separate items only to make 100 individual relationships out of them. After all, it makes no difference whether you have five defined relationship types that are each assigned 20 items or 100 defined relationship types that each have their own item. Either way you are linking specific items to a specific relationship type, and that’s not my style.
The way I see it, any person I meet could correspond to any combination of the items on the list based on whether a) I’m interested, and b) the other person is interested. But like I said, the list gets shortened over time based on how the relationship develops. For example, I might want to bone someone when I first meet him or her, but those feelings may dissipate over time as our relationship develops. Or said person may not be interested in sex at all, in which case that option is also taken off the table. It’s really all about the specific connection between two people, whatever that connection encompasses in our mutual comfort zones.
Hopefully this helps clarify what I was trying to say about my views on dating and relationships. If not, fire away with the questions. And I’ll also have new posts soon about some sex adventures as well as one about an experiment I conducted on myself back in university. An experiment I’ve shared with very few people actually, so stay tuned.