Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: How About Now?

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  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’ve personally had quite a high failure rate with condoms.

    If you buy a smaller size, they don't slip off so easily.

    I'm told.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Regarding vows, I think there's a lot of value in working out what exactly you are both expecting from the relationship and under what circumstances you'd want to leave it. You don't need to get married to have that conversation.

    I lived with a partner for some years in a happy relationship that we both expected to be permanent. We bought a house together and were planning to have kids. What I didn't know was that he was expecting me to completely recover from my chronic illness; when after some years I hadn't, he left.

    Obviously, chronic illness puts a strain on a relationship, and not everyone can cope with that. But if I had known that his commitment was conditional, it would have saved a lot of pain.

    I don't believe legal marriage guarantees anything at all, but having to decide exactly what you're signing up for has value. And if your expectations are different, hopefully you find that out sooner rather than later. I'm sure relationship counselling can help bring these issues out in the open.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    That sounds like a myth. And the problem isn't it coming off, it's more "can't get it on" or "it breaks" or "it hurts" or "I'd rather not even bother, I like you and everything but no thanks". It's a pity, really, and I envy people who can enjoy using one. Sort of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    I envy people who can enjoy using one. Sort of.

    I've always wondered if the Love Capsule was less bothersome to circumcised men than to un-. Without getting unduly personal, I'd love to know if that's the case!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    I'm sure relationship counselling can help bring these issues out in the open.

    If the parties going in are actually trying to make it work, yes. Counselors can't help people who don't actually want to be helped. Well, not much, anyway.

    But if I had known that his commitment was conditional, it would have saved a lot of pain.

    This is such a tricky area. I've written hundreds of words that I've just now deleted, because it could be too personal for you. Essentially, I agree, but you've set up a conditional there too. If you had known. Counseling isn't magic and can't predict the future. All it can do is get you talking about some things that can be hard to raise, or you might just not have thought of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    Without getting unduly personal, I'd love to know if that's the case!

    Me too, actually, I've often wondered about that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’ve written hundreds of words that I’ve just now deleted, because it could be too personal for you.

    You could always send me an email, Ben.

    And yes of course nobody can predict what might happen in the future...but if one of you is expecting things to change, that expectation needs to be out in the open, and be talked about.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    Without getting unduly personal, I'd love to know if that's the case!

    Theoretically, it does seem to make a certain amount of sense. I am also curious.

    And... yeah. One thing you realise when doing a lot of reading about and mixing with BDSM and polyamorous people is that the practice of talking about things in a much more explicit manner than most vanilla couples do is really useful. That said... sometimes things just don't work out the way you expect. Say, you go into a relationship looking for it to be primarily sexual and temporary, and fall in love. Or the complete opposite. Sometimes what we think we want turns out to just not work out in practise.

    There's a plaque at the crematorium near our house that annoys the piss out of me. It says "Love is not love that changes with the flight of time" (I might have that slightly wrong, it's from memory.) What utter bollocks. People change with time. So does love, that's one of the great things about it. It has to be able to flex, or it'd break.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    True, I usually forget that. But I'm not aiming to lecture or counsel you, just to speak publicly about my perceptions of counseling (which I'm going through now, so it's fresh in the mind).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yes, there's always a tension between what one wants and what is practical. Undying love is a lovely idea, an excellent subject for fiction, usually the tragic kind. The more common kind, involving flawed humans with changing lives and minds, involves a lot of muddling along.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    “Love is not love that changes with the flight of time” (I might have that slightly wrong, it’s from memory.) What utter bollocks. People change with time. So does love, that’s one of the great things about it. It has to be able to flex, or it’d break.

    Yeah, everything changes, all the time. But there’s also a lot more to a relationship than love. You can love each other like crazy and still not be able to make it work. The relationship counsellor my partner and I went to when we were breaking up was really really good. We still broke up, but we broke up with an understanding of what had gone wrong, and an appreciation that intentions had been good on both sides.

    And Ben, yeah, I think counsellors are a mixed bunch of people, the bad or unsuitable ones can do more harm than good.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    Counselors can’t help people who don’t actually want to be helped.

    How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    One, but it has to want to change. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The counseling I'm doing currently is career stuff, but it's quite interesting how many parallels there are between work and love. They both involve investing a lot of your time and mental/emotional energy into them. They can both change. You can be wrong about both of them. They both go to your self-image, and sense of worth. They can also end up fighting each other for you.

    I'm currently dating for a job. I met a nice job, but she just wanted a bit too long of an apprenticeship to her ways, and I couldn't get enthused about what it is she does. Pity, she was nicely renumerated, and seemed very well organized. Perhaps just a little too organized. And she lives in Albany. I'm sure there's another one out there...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    And Ben, yeah, I think counsellors are a mixed bunch of people, the bad or unsuitable ones can do more harm than good.

    Totally. I guess that's my main reservation - mostly counseling is about helping yourself, something to bear in mind at all times. The Catholic marriage counseling was only good when it was to that end, and that was the only end in it that I allowed. When it was preachy and judgmental, I either switched off or had a bit of a laugh arguing with them until they stopped. I like to think that they were trying to help, and when they found what it was they could offer that helped, they were on fire. It's a learning experience for them, too, after all. If I helped convince a couple of old Catholics that I valued some of their ideas and thought some of the others were foolish, that's a win. It helps the next couple to come along too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    With regard to everything changing over time, that is one of the 'secrets' of the longer relationships; allowing for your loved one to change, and for you to change, too, but at the same time working on the relationship to take the changes in your stride. I think a lot of people go into a marriage/CU with good intentions but stop working at it once the ceremony is over.

    But that's when the work has to really start.

    This from someone married for over quarter of a century, and we really only got married so My Darling could get NZ citizenship. (We were in love & everything, but to live in NZ she had to be married and, what the hell, we were up for it.)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    One thing you realise when doing a lot of reading about and mixing with BDSM and polyamorous people is that the practice of talking about things in a much more explicit manner than most vanilla couples do is really useful.

    It's one of the most useful things about reading your work, too. Your frankness on sexual matters makes for a much deeper look at a lot of things. Let's face it, no matter how politely we're all talking, sex is on our minds a lot, like an elephant in the room.

    I'd also have to say that it's one of the things that guys most get out of each other's company sometimes, to be able to speak their thoughts about sex, thoughts that could be extremely unpalatable in the company of women (I'm talking only about male hetero society here, don't know how it is outside). It can be extremely healthy to realize that one is not a weird pervert sometimes. I presume other groups have similar confidants? It's often amusing to hear girls come back from a girl's night out a bit shocked at the things the other girls say and think. I'm usually doubtful that it's worse than the complementary boys night out, but I have no yardstick at all. Would make an interesting comparison.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I've always admired a friend of mine who married when she was 16 (I think the husband might have been 17) and continued to make her relationship work for about 25 years, through growing up themselves and child-rearing and losing a child and serious illness and recovery and finally divorce; they decided to stop being married but continued to cohabit with their 2 adolescent sons and also with their new partners. The boys had both their parents at home, and also other adults who cared, it seemed like a win all round. And quite an achievement for everybody concerned.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s one of the most useful things about reading your work, too. Your frankness on sexual matters makes for a much deeper look at a lot of things.

    Wow, thank you Ben. I dunno if people believe me when I say it, but what I want mostly is for people, not necessarily to agree with me, but to think and talk about things they would normally just take for granted, the assumptions about sex and relationships that we don’t even realise we make.

    I’d also have to say that it’s one of the things that guys most get out of each other’s company sometimes, to be able to speak their thoughts about sex, thoughts that could be extremely unpalatable in the company of women

    See, interesting, because I tend to consider talking about sex pretty much a waste of time unless it’s in a mixed group, and the more mixed (by gender, sexual preference, etc) the better. But then, I tend to consider absolutely all social occasions improved that way. I really like listening to men talking about sex. How the hell else am I going to find out how they think about it? (not, of course, to imply that men have a sex-hive-mind.)

    ETA: That said, I've had some wonderful one-on-one conversations about sex with women. One recently went:

    Her: Oh, you should see your face.
    Me: Hey, I just... I wasn't expecting the word "blowjob" to appear in that sentence.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Her: Oh, you should see your face.
    Me: Hey, I just… I wasn’t expecting the word “blowjob” to appear in that sentence.

    Which frankly, still surprises me.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Which frankly, still surprises me.

    Yeah, sorry, I dunno where my head was at.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I dunno where my head was at.

    <cough>

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    See, interesting, because I tend to consider talking about sex pretty much a waste of time unless it’s in a mixed group, and the more mixed (by gender, sexual preference, etc) the better.

    That's cool too, I don't disagree. I just think that you get some pretty interesting insights when you take away some of the people too. Some things are really quite shameful to talk about in some company. For instance, how many people on your last thread on prostitution spoke of their own personal experiences? I seriously doubt there are none to be had outside of myself anywhere amongst the thousands of readers and hundreds of contributors on PAS. And I sure as heck only brushed the surface of my own experiences before discretion became the better part of valor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    For instance, how many people on your last thread on prostitution spoke of their own personal experiences?

    Yeah, that's different because it's public. But I've certainly had conversations with male friends of mine about their encounters with prostitutes. And we've had conversations over at The Lady Garden (that's the one where we redefine sex), which seems to have become a place where people (some of them necessarily pseudonymous) feel comfortable having serious and intimate conversations about sexual experience - possibly because the site feels smaller and less public.

    Also, it is possible that my experience is atypical, and people just tell me stuff.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Also, it is possible that my experience is atypical, and people just tell me stuff.

    Probable, even. I think the fact that you go first helps a lot.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Lilith __,

    ’ve always wondered if the Love Capsule was less bothersome to circumcised men than to un-. Without getting unduly personal, I’d love to know if that’s the case!

    From what I've seen it's more that it presents a different set of difficulties.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

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