Sunday, May 03, 2020

Showing Off? Is That What You Think It Is?

Hey, let's not write anything about viruses for a change. What say you? Yeah, I thought you wanted a break. So do I.  So let's do a relationship blog, it's been a while since everyone got sick of those!

Source material for this blog is right here. This rubbed me all kinds of wrong way.

You have perhaps noticed that since I disclaimed polyamory (but not really) in January, I have maintained near radio silence on the topic here. The same holds true on Facebook, only more so. I used to share a poly-themed post at least once a week. I felt it was a duty to give it exposure, because so many people had so many misconceptions. A few things became clear: one, the misconceptions were mine...entirely too many people who claim polyamory focus far more on the sex than the love. Two, such posts were at best tolerated. Occasionally I was chided: why do you have to shove it in our faces? To which I could only protest that I was being myself, this was who I am, etc., etc..

I decided to be more like Eva. She doesn't broadcast, at all, but she also doesn't hide anything if asked. After five months of this, I've decided the people who suggested I stfu on the topic had a point.

Reading that Psychology Today article, I'm struck that when it comes to visibility of a relationship on social media, it doesn't even matter if it's monogamous. People are determined to misunderstand the rationale for sharing -- and even attempt to give their misunderstanding scientific validity.

We're told people post about their romantic relationships on social media for one of three reasons:

  • they're overcompensating for a faltering relationship
  • they're showing off 
  • they're announcing both they and their partner are "taken"
Ain't that flattering. 

I have had a few partnerships go sour on me in my lifetime, all but two in the age before social media. I didn't talk about any of them while they were deteriorating, and when the ends came I kept my head down in all but one case. That one case happened a little over a year ago. Ironically, part of the reason for the breakup was visibility or lack thereof. You saw me pour my heart out in four consecutive blogs, one of which I have since deleted -- the only time I have ever done such a thing in sixteen years. I shared too much in that one. 
But even then, all dirty laundry aired was mine and mine alone. See, the thing is, I still love all the people who have walked (or in one case, ran) away from me. Throwing poisoned darts after people I love is not who I am. 

And when things are sliding, well, I'm not going to talk about that publicly...but I'm also not going to pretend all is well. I don't understand the rationale: you do that, you're eventually going to have to explain not just why you broke up, but also why you chose to lie to the world that all was well. My mom used to say I'd get in ten times more trouble for lying than I would for the thing I was lying about...and she was right. Perhaps it's because I was a compulsive liar in my pre-teens and teens that I place such a high premium on honesty now.

So no, you will never see me "compensating for an unsatisfying relationship" by pretending in publicly that it's all lovey-dovey. 

Showing off.

I can see why some people may have concluded that's what I was doing, when I posted about having two (and briefly three) partners. Some people can't even find one (believe me, I do know the pain of that), and here's Ken "crowing" about his "harem".


This is, of course, another facet of my damned idealism coming out. There's how I see things and how the rest of the world sees them and the intent-impact gap can be a real chasm.  But for the record, Jean-Jacques Goldman explained it well in a French song about polyamory that dates to 1990:

J'l'aime aussi
Où et quand, à qui, de quoi s'excuser
Y en a tant qui haïssent à volonté(?)

(I love her too
Where and when, to whom, for what should I apologize
When there are so many who hate at will?)

It really is that simple. No crowing, no showing off. But I learned over time that my explanation was unconvincing to those who had already made up their minds. I'm finding that's true about an ever-increasing number of subjects, sadly. 

There is one exception to the "showing off" rule. If Eva or Kathy does something they should be proud of -- and both of them do, with regularity -- you're damned right I'm going to want to throw a spotlight on them (with their permission, of course). I might not get it, with either: both of them are intensely private people, in different ways, and I do respect that. 

That third reason really got my goat. 

I mean, I guess that's what being "Facebook official" ("X and Y are in a relationship") is saying, announcing to the world that both you and your partner are "taken" but...forgive me. My poly mind hasn't gone away just because I don't shout about it from the rooftops anymore. I still believe that being in love with just one person, on a planet of some eight billion, is an awful underutilization of the heart. 

People are not objects to be "taken". and someone being with me does not preclude them being with someone(s) else. I give you proof. 

So if I don't share, or want to share, information to compensate, to show off, or to claim ownership...why do I do it?

Why do you?

I see your Facebook posts, people. None of my friends plaster their Walls with daily pictures of their boyfriends and girlfriends, because I don't have any friends who are thirteen years old. (Actual conversation I once had with a girl around that age...Me: "Wow, looks like a storm coming in." Her: "Yeah, my boyfriend says it's going to rain really hard.") The youngest friend I have on Facebook is Jade...who is even more intensely private than her mom...and even she posts the very occasional pic or love note to her partner Darien. Why does she do that? I haven't asked her, but I'm willing to bet it isn't one of the three motives above. No, I think she does it for the same reason I do: because she loves him, she finds joy in him, and (oh god here it comes again)....shared joy increases.

I used to, believe is too weak. I used to KNOW, with ironclad certainty, that visibility meant validity. If you couldn't see it, it wasn't really there. And who doesn't want to feel valid? I wasn't just seeking to establish my validity, but also the validity of the relationship itself...and the harder I pushed at that, the more invalid both seemed to get in some quarters.

Well, I was, as usual, wrong.

There are lots of intangible, invisible things that are no less valid for so being. Love itself, especially from a distance, is one such thing. I don't need others to validate me. I do not need others to validate me. 
And do you know who defines the validity of a relationship? The people in it. No one else.

So I don't share seeking validity anymore. No, the only reason I share relationship events and details is because they matter to me.

That is all. 

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