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Eric Downtown

Acceptable Behavior

Posted on 2012.02.02 at 08:15
Current Location: 67114
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Its easy to see the road ahead when racing around an oval track. ~ehowton



Having picked up the current periodical Psychology Today from Barnes & Noble, my wife and I shared an uneasy glance at the random cover story during checkout, "Are You With the Right Mate?" (article here) followed by a nervous chuckle. Luck of the draw to be sure. But what I was not expecting in its pages was article after article reinforcing everything I've reiterated here the past six months or so. In short, professional validation of potentially nonsensical pontification - starting with the subtitled, "Feelings mean nothing without context." (Link to my blog entry, not the actual article.)

There is no such thing as two people meant for each other. It's a matter of adjusting and adapting. But you have to know yourself. Successful couples redefine their relationship many times, relationships need to continually evolve to fit ever-changing circumstances. They need to incorporate each partner's changes and find ways to meet their new needs. ~ Psychology Today

Not that I believe context is everything anymore, at least not by itself. Here lately I've been foraying into the thick of intention - which I now understand to be related to context in a sleeping-with-your-sister kind of relationship. If context is the dynamic in which we wish ourselves to be understood, then intention is the motivation behind that communication. Conversely if the roots of that intention are misunderstood, then the context of the intent should clarify the dynamic, right?


"I don't care," is the statement I most closely associate with illuminating contextual misunderstanding or knowledge of intent - once everyone is on the same page - those who choose to disbelieve truth, despite facts to the contrary. "I don't care," really does say it all. And it speaks much more broadly and deeply about personal psychology than about the specific reason it was stated. I submit that no one can care deeply about the facts of one subject matter while entirely dismissing them in another. Facts are just that - truths known by actual experience or observation. Their reality is not colored by moods nor emotions. "I don't care" is the logical equivalent of the Dave Barry quote, “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” Basically, if you allow facts to change your opinion only on some things, but not others...what does that say about you? I'm not talking about disagreeing on what those facts may mean based on individual experience, only pretending they don't exist. Self-awareness is paramount for accepting change; a change which is going to transpire regardless.


I read a fascinating comprehensive article recently on the biological effects of love, sex, friendship, marriage and bonding (mostly sex) - and its surprisingly candid conclusions, which surprised me at how incompatible it was to the Psychology Today article. Basically anthropological behavior battling inter-relational behavior within societal constructs.

Due to the nature of the limbic system, you cannot will your feelings, emotions, falling in love, or staying in love, anymore than you can will your heart to beat, or yourself to digest a meal or sleep ~ Your Brain on Sex

So I get the whole Holy Roman Empire murdering heretics who blaspheme that the world may not be flat - that is about power. I get it, it makes sense to me. What I don't understand is how the "Nuclear Family" (Penn & Teller's Bullshit episode on so-called "Family Values" here) evolved to be the ideal. Between these three sources I've discovered that everything I ever thought I knew, or to be more pointed - was taught - was wrong. And I do know how that happened. Belief systems.


I first saw the Penn & Teller episode back in 2006. It talked about "artificial limitations," something I wasn't entirely equipped to absorb at the time. Fast forward six years of varied and numerous life-experiences and I reel at the glaring differences between the psychological and anthropological. I absolutely understand that both articles are presenting truth - and solutions - but from two different perspectives tackling two discrete problems. The single thread which runs through them both however, is to be mindful. Not understanding a dynamic and/or acknowledging even an imagined problem exists, by all accounts I've read, is a guarantee for dissolution. Not just in marriage, but also in life.

Non-sexual intimate touching builds self-worth and deepens bonds of marriage and friendship.

There's a lot I don't know about primitive man and the rise of nations - knowledge of which would surely belay my confusion. But I do believe this - adaptability is paramount in survival. And everything is an experiment. The idea behind Christ as a savior is brand new compared to the history of mankind, and it too will soon wane into the obscure. As will how we structure ourselves as individuals, as a family, and as a community. Much as we have gone from dwelling in caves to plugging into massive technological cities, so then shall we continue to mutate. And this will run hand-in-hand with better understanding of ourselves both individually, and collectively.

What does society gain by defining an opposition to human nature as normal then constructing an edifying framework around it?

I only know that I don't accept anyone's answers at face value. I desire to live outside the restrictive facsimile of what someone else says life is supposed to be. Its no longer enough for me to expire my own baselines, I need to test those of the status quo to ensure those who stand by it know why they do so. I wish to explore my own personal full potential, and that simply cannot be accomplished with the yoke of unquestioning acceptance around my neck.


I'm working to not care what other men do, or do not do, and I'm certainly not going to let their deprecated, archaic, uninspired belief systems judge me. They're not qualified to do so.






Comments:


Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-02-03 01:41 (UTC) (Link)
Non-sexual intimate touching builds self-worth and deepens bonds of marriage and friendship.

Indeed! Some people view intimacy as sex. I can certainly see why the two could be equated given the vulnerable circumstances. However, while sex most definitely can be intimate, often is intimate, people banging a stranger during a one night stand do not feel intimacy. So there is more to intimacy than the act itself.

Flipside around, I have a non-sexual intimate relationship with one of my same sex friends. Intimate because I can share anything, show my vulnerability, be exactly who am I ~ and she with me. Not only that, but this relationship includes non-sexual affectionate touching ~ hugging, pats on the arm, massaging shoulders, and kisses on the cheek. All of which promote a sense of well-being. Trust.

Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2012-02-03 01:59 (UTC) (Link)
Rules and behavioral expectations are generally born with the idea of making society function smoothly. However, these things change over time because what once worked often loses functionality as society changes.

Consider the definition of family. As the Penn & Teller show demonstrates, (thanks for including that link, btw) the nuclear family is a relatively new construct within the human condition. It came about as society moved away from a more agricultural existence and has worked well for the past 100 years or so. The extended family was the norm before it, and as society is changing new configurations come into being. Yet, the nuclear is held up as the ideal because it is with what we, our parents, and grandparents are most familiar. Does familiarity give it any genuine sanctity? No.

For myself, when I am faced with a new set of circumstances, concepts, or behavior that gives me pause, I ask myself one very simple question. Does this harm anybody? I don't ask if it's weird; I don't ask if it's too different; I don't ask what society at large will think about it. I ask if anyone is being hurt by it. Period. Harm is the one thing that will make a behavior unacceptable to me. And that's the bottom line. Anything else is merely fascinating and not for me to judge.
suzanne1945
suzanne1945 at 2012-02-04 01:13 (UTC) (Link)
I, too, wonder how the one man, one female marriage became the sanctified norm. It has got to be the most unstable. If the goal of marriage is to provide love, security, and sense of well being in children, then the polyamorous form of bonding would seem to be the ideal. With more adults to help raise children, more of the aforementioned qualities would be provided. Our society has certainly shown that the "traditional" marriage is hugely lacking--50% divorce rate; both parents needing to work to provide the physical basis for child rearing. And where did this idea of monogamy for humans come about? It is so rare in the rest of the animal kingdom, why would we think that it applies to humans?

Edited at 2012-02-04 01:14 am (UTC)
ehowton
ehowton at 2012-05-20 22:36 (UTC) (Link)
I, too, wonder how the one man, one female marriage became the sanctified norm.

As I am beginning to understand it, jealousy.

Some would cite biology. I believe psychology.
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