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By Dan Edge from The Edge of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

I have an unwritten policy about opposite-sex friendships. This issue came up recently in a discussion with friends, and it got me to thinking about why I conduct my friendships the way that I do.

My general policy is this: When I am in a committed relationship with a woman (as I will be with Kelly for the rest of my life), I avoid developing intimate friendships with other women. When Kelly and I hang out with another couple, I do make friends with the woman in that couple. But in general I don't develop an intimate friendship with the woman independent of Kelly, or independent of the other woman's man. On the other hand, I am very willing to develop an independent, intimate friendship with the man in the couple. I'd have no problem inviting just the guy to a sports bar to watch football, but I wouldn't do the same with his girlfriend.

Some could (and have) argued that this policy is sexist. After all, a woman can be every bit as good a friend as a man. Continuing the couples example above: If both couples are in a committed, happy relationship, then why would there be any reason to hold back on developing friendships? After all, if I am fully dedicated to Kelly, there's no reason for either one of us to be jealous -- I'm not romantically interested in any other woman besides her. Neither one of us would ever cheat. So, acknowledging that I could have an enriching, totally platonic relationship with another woman, why would I avoid it?

My answer to this question is grounded in two key points: 1) Emotions respond to how one acts in a relationship, not how he labels the relationship, and 2) There can be more than one soulmate for any given person.

1) Most everyone has heard of situations like this: A man meets a girl he really likes, and she feels the same way. They start hanging out a lot, and the relationship quickly becomes intimate, both physically and emotionally. They decide to be exclusive. There's only one problem -- The woman says that she doesn't want to be his "girlfriend," she just wants to be friends without the pressure of that label. Why, she asks, can't they just be very intimate, sexually exclusive friends-with-benefits? He is confused, but reluctantly agrees. When he finally confesses his deep love for her, she is surprised and uncomfortable.

Or: A man and woman who were romantically involved decide to end their relationship due to incompatibility. They both still care about each other very much, but one or both acknowledges that it's not going to work out for the long term. So they decide to be just friends. But starting the day after the break-up, they still hang out with each other every day. Even though they no longer have sex, and even though both have decided that the relationship is over, both continue to harbor romantic and sexual feelings for one another. When one of them finally decides to start dating someone else, the other is surprised at how badly it hurts.

Or: A couple is having a lot of problems, but the man insists that he wants them to stay together. Though he is rude to her, never shows her affection, never buys her flowers any more, and never initiates sex -- he insists that he still loves her and wants them to remain a couple. She is confused because her man's words and actions seem to contradict. Eventually, one or both of them are tempted to look outside the relationship to fulfill their romantic needs.

A common thread in each of these examples is that the label placed on the relationship does not match the actions of those in the relationship. In the first example, the woman wants to be "just friends," but in every practical sense, they are acting like they are in an exclusive, romantic relationship. They are acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, but they don't want to acknowledge that the label applies. Even though the man may agree to withholding the label, and consciously believes that his decision is rational, his emotions disagree with him. Though he tells himself not to fall in love, that it is just a friendship, he falls hard anyway.

The not-quite-broken-up couple also have a label/action dichotomy in their relationship. Both consciously acknowledge that the relationship is over, and that they made the right decision in breaking up, but they are still acting like they are in a romance. Even though they stop having sex, in every other respect their relationship is as intimate as it was when their love was in full bloom. So both remain romantically and emotionally invested. Their emotions respond to their actions, not to the "friendship" label they have loosely pasted on.

In the last example, both the man and woman want to label their relationship a "committed romance," but the man is not treating her like his lover. He's treating her more like an annoying roommate. As a consequence, their love is dying, even though both may honestly want to stay together. Again, their emotions respond to the way they act in the relationship, not their conscious intentions.

2) This is a shorter point, but equally important: I do believe in soulmates, but I think that there is more than one potential soulmate out there for me. Though I hate to even consider the thought -- if Kelly died tomorrow, I believe I could find someone else and live a happy life. There are very few such women out there for me, but they do exist. Saying this takes nothing away from my love for Kelly. I simply acknowledge that there are many exceptional woman out there, and that I could be compatible with at least a few of them.

Kelly and I tend to make friends with people who are compatible with us in a variety of ways. Most of our friends are attractive, fit, intelligent, active, humorous, and fun. And most of them are also Objectivists. What this means is that several of our female friends are the kind of women I would be seeking if I were single, and similarly, some of our male friends are Kelly's type. One of these friends could be a potential soulmate for me. This does not mean that either of us are open to finding someone else. We are perfect for each other, we have a history together, and we have decided to get married and have a family together. Those choices mean everything.

However, consider what might happen if I started hanging out with Kelly's attractive, fun, intelligent friend Kate (a made-up person) on a regular basis. Kate and I develop a friendship independent of Kelly. As time goes on, the friendship becomes more intimate, and we share all of our deepest thoughts and dreams, as one would with any close friend. Neither of us are at all interested in a romance. But the fact is, we are acting as if we were feeling each other out for a potential romance. Think about it -- if you are single and you meet a woman you like, how do you test the waters to see if the relationship can go further? You begin to hang out with the woman independently, on a regular basis, and get to know her more intimately. It's possible that Kate and I could begin to develop romantic feelings for each other, even though it is not our intention.

Emotions are an automatized response to value judgments stored in the subconscious. Love is the emotional response to the integration of many values in another person, along with the reciprocated recognition of those values in oneself. If you throw in frequent intimate (even non-physical) contact -- and mutual physical attraction -- then romantic feelings are often the result. While one's conscious decisions about how he labels a relationship are taken into account by his subconscious, the way he acts in that relationship is also registered. The emotional result can be a confusing mixture, but most often one's actions are weighed more heavily than his conscious labels, especially if they are in stark opposition.

I don't develop independent, exclusive friendships with other women because I am dedicated to Kelly, and I would not want to inadvertently develop romantic feelings for another woman. Even though I would never act on those feelings, I don't want to take any focus off of the woman I love. I choose to funnel 100% of my romantic and sexual energy into one person, into one relationship. I choose to do this because I believe that this kind of monogamous, long-term romance is the greatest possible adventure in life (see my articles on The Morality of Monogamy and The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality for more details).

While I stand by the generalizations I have outlined above, I want to stress that I do not treat my opposite-sex friendship policy as a set of Commandments. Commandments are for religion, not for a rational mind. The ideas I have outlined must be considered within a context, and applied contextually to any particular situation. Think of it like a healthy diet. A man can have a healthy diet and eat hot dogs or pizza every now and then. Maybe his body burns up calories very fast and he has more flexibility about what he can eat without gaining unhealthy weight. Or maybe his metabolism is very slow, and he must be more watchful of his diet than others.

My point is that, while I think it's a good tendency not to develop intimate, independent friendships with members of the opposite sex, that doesn't mean that one must draw a line the sand and never deviate from it. For example, I retain close friendships with several of my ex-girlfriends, and I still keep in touch with them on a regular basis. All the women I have loved in my life are very special, else I wouldn't have dated them in the first place (see my article "Demoting" a Relationship). Kelly knows about them, but she isn't close friends with any of them. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong by staying in touch with these women, and I've never had a problem with developing romantic feelings for them.

However, my friendships with these girls are all long-distance. We chat on the phone once every few weeks, and our discussions are very intimate (in the non-sexual sense), but that is the limit of it. If one of them moved to the area, I would probably invite her to have dinner with me and Kelly, and even go out with her alone for coffee every now and then. But I would be much more careful about how much time I spent with her.

There are many different kind of friendships -- everyone is different -- but keeping in mind some rational generalizations about conducting opposite-sex friendships can help one avoid confusion and focus on the one that matters most.

I love you, baby!

--Dan Edge258508682

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Part One

Your article is full of flaws. I will address them all in two posts. This is part one, as the title states.

1) Emotions respond to how one acts in a relationship, not how he labels the relationship

This isn't really relevant. If the label is applied properly it is also based on how you act and your emotions, ie, one would only label it if one acts and feels in a way the label matches.

2) There can be more than one soulmate for any given person.

That is a silly reason. It is silly to miss out on a definetely good relationship because of something that might happen (and in fact is highly unlikely to if your standards are high enough).

1) Most everyone has heard of situations like this: A man meets a girl he really likes, and she feels the same way. They start hanging out a lot, and the relationship quickly becomes intimate, both physically and emotionally. They decide to be exclusive. There's only one problem -- The woman says that she doesn't want to be his "girlfriend," she just wants to be friends without the pressure of that label. Why, she asks, can't they just be very intimate, sexually exclusive friends-with-benefits? He is confused, but reluctantly agrees. When he finally confesses his deep love for her, she is surprised and uncomfortable.

Is this seriously meant as justification? Because it sounds to me like the sort of thing many people that frequent this site wouldn't like. I know it is something I wouldn't agree to. If a woman I loved wanted "exclusive friends with benefits" I'd say no. I don't like the idea of "friends with benefits" and I'd imagine most people here wouldn't like it. And if she got uncomfotable with me confessing my deep love for her then she isn't my type. I'm not sure how others here would feel about that, but that is how I'd feel.

Or: A man and woman who were romantically involved decide to end their relationship due to incompatibility. They both still care about each other very much, but one or both acknowledges that it's not going to work out for the long term. So they decide to be just friends. But starting the day after the break-up, they still hang out with each other every day. Even though they no longer have sex, and even though both have decided that the relationship is over, both continue to harbor romantic and sexual feelings for one another. When one of them finally decides to start dating someone else, the other is surprised at how badly it hurts.

That is a poor argument against intimate friendships with people of the opposite sex since most cases won't be like that. It is a poor reason not to form an intimate friendship.

Or: A couple is having a lot of problems, but the man insists that he wants them to stay together. Though he is rude to her, never shows her affection, never buys her flowers any more, and never initiates sex -- he insists that he still loves her and wants them to remain a couple. She is confused because her man's words and actions seem to contradict. Eventually, one or both of them are tempted to look outside the relationship to fulfill their romantic needs.

This is another poor argument since again this is unlikely to happen. But more importantly it shows a flaw in his thinking. Since this is a case of a man not being rational it isn't a good argument against the practice of intimate friendships, especially between people that approach it rationally. Furthermore if she stays with him despite his contradiction then she is also approaching it irrationally. When people that approach it rationally do it, this example won't happen.

A common thread in each of these examples is that the label placed on the relationship does not match the actions of those in the relationship. In the first example, the woman wants to be "just friends," but in every practical sense, they are acting like they are in an exclusive, romantic relationship. They are acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, but they don't want to acknowledge that the label applies. Even though the man may agree to withholding the label, and consciously believes that his decision is rational, his emotions disagree with him. Though he tells himself not to fall in love, that it is just a friendship, he falls hard anyway.

The solution to that isn't to not have intimate friendships with people of the opposite sex. It is to approach relationships in a rational manner and furthermore to apply labels appropriately so that they match the actions and emotions.

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Part Two

Kelly and I tend to make friends with people who are compatible with us in a variety of ways. Most of our friends are attractive, fit, intelligent, active, humorous, and fun. And most of them are also Objectivists. What this means is that several of our female friends are the kind of women I would be seeking if I were single, and similarly, some of our male friends are Kelly's type. One of these friends could be a potential soulmate for me. This does not mean that either of us are open to finding someone else. We are perfect for each other, we have a history together, and we have decided to get married and have a family together. Those choices mean everything.

That doesn't justify missing out in a fullfilling and rewarding relationship: as I said in part one, you shouldn't not have a relationshop based on something that might happen.

However, consider what might happen if I started hanging out with Kelly's attractive, fun, intelligent friend Kate (a made-up person) on a regular basis. Kate and I develop a friendship independent of Kelly. As time goes on, the friendship becomes more intimate, and we share all of our deepest thoughts and dreams, as one would with any close friend. Neither of us are at all interested in a romance. But the fact is, we are acting as if we were feeling each other out for a potential romance.

Not necessarily. You could do it with intentions of a platonic relationship and not be acting contrary to your actions and feelings. The fact that you are the opposite sex doesn't magically make it "feeling each other out for a potential romance". You can (and I bet do) do all those things with male friends without it being such. The fact that she is a female and you a male doesn't magically change the act. You have to actually do more than that for it to change. To quote you, "as you would with any close friend." Acting with a woman as you would with any close friend doesn't make it romance or feeling the womam out for romance, it makes it what your wording implied, ie, talking to a close friend, or feeling her out for close friendship.

Think about it -- if you are single and you meet a woman you like, how do you test the waters to see if the relationship can go further? You begin to hang out with the woman independently, on a regular basis, and get to know her more intimately.

I'd do more than just that. I'd try to get to know much more than simply her thoughts and dreams.

It's possible that Kate and I could begin to develop romantic feelings for each other, even though it is not our intention.

That is a problem with your fidelity, not a problem inherit to the situation. Besides, as I said, it isn't valid to miss out in a definetely good relationship because of something that might or might not happen.

Emotions are an automatized response to value judgments stored in the subconscious. Love is the emotional response to the integration of many values in another person, along with the reciprocated recognition of those values in oneself.

Yes it is, but it involves much more value than you mentioned (ie, dreams and thoughts).

If you throw in frequent intimate (even non-physical) contact -- and mutual physical attraction -- then romantic feelings are often the result.

Make up your mind. Is it the result of reciprocal value recognition or is it the result of frequent intimate contact? The answer is the former, not the latter, so the above argument is false.

While one's conscious decisions about how he labels a relationship are taken into account by his subconscious, the way he acts in that relationship is also registered. The emotional result can be a confusing mixture, but most often one's actions are weighed more heavily than his conscious labels, especially if they are in stark opposition.

The solution isn't to avoid intimate friendships but to act in a way consistent with such a friendship.

I don't develop independent, exclusive friendships with other women because I am dedicated to Kelly, and I would not want to inadvertently develop romantic feelings for another woman.

Then act in an intimate friendship in a way that is consistent with such. Remember we are beings of self-made soul. That means we control how we feel by controlling their source and that our situation does not.

However, my friendships with these girls are all long-distance. We chat on the phone once every few weeks, and our discussions are very intimate (in the non-sexual sense), but that is the limit of it. If one of them moved to the area, I would probably invite her to have dinner with me and Kelly, and even go out with her alone for coffee every now and then. But I would be much more careful about how much time I spent with her.

All you need to do is bare in mind that either you or her ended the romance for a reason (I assume you'd end all ties with someone irrational enough to end the romance for no reason), not prevent yourself from having a fullfilling relationship.

There are many different kind of friendships -- everyone is different -- but keeping in mind some rational generalizations about conducting opposite-sex friendships can help one avoid confusion and focus on the one that matters most.

Or you could do better by treating each person and relationship as what is is, ie, a individual not a generalisation.

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For good measure, here is Kendall's comment and my reply:

---------------------

Kendall J said...

I think this is a great defense of a rational idea. I have many people I know, especially ones who have never been married, who think that a principle like this (limiting opposite sex friendships) is arbitrary and limiting. Having seen the results in action, your characterization of the reasons this is valid are spot on in my experience.

Do you think that in the context of both partners explicitly agreeing that such relationships are ok, that this principles could change?

----------------------

Dan Edge said...

Hi Kendall,

As I wrote in the article, there are situations in which opposite-sex friendships are appropriate, for instance if the friendship predates one's marriage. But of course one's wife should know about the friendship and approve (I can't think of a reason the wife would object).

However, as in other examples I used in the article, even if both parties in a relationship agree to adopt a certain label, their subconscious minds will be confused if their actions do not match the label.

For instance, say you and your wife agree that it's OK to have sex with other people. Then you go out and start having sex with your friend Jenny every night. You and your wife will not be "OK" with situation, even if you agreed you would. Your relationship would be a marriage in label only.

That's an extreme example to make the point, but the same principle applies to other, less extreme situations. There is some leeway in this, but on some level you and your wife cannot arbitrarily decide what constitutes an intimate relationship. If you spend a lot of time with another woman who you are attracted to, romantic feelings may develop, no matter what you and your wife have decided. You are not in direct control of these emotional reactions.

I'm really glad you liked the article!

--Dan Edge

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Almost 80 reads, and no comments? Someone's got to have an opinion about this! :lol:

See my article "Houseguests from Hell" at

http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Setzer...from_Hell.shtml

in which I illustrate:

"Speaking of utterly useless things, allow me to share what I have learned about platonic relationships. I want to tell you a tale in which I learned that such relationships have all the downsides of romantic relationships with none of the upsides of romantic relationships. In more colloquial terms, they offer all of the nagging and none of the physical affections!"

That said, I am good enough friends with at least one Objectivist woman that I call her just to chat briefly about once a month. However, both my wife and I are secure enough that we both have good long-distance friendships with people of the opposite sex with no worries of cheating. I agree with the gist of your article warning against forming close relationships with people of the opposite sex you have no intention of dating. Based on my article, I would warn against that even for someone single and not dating anyone!

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Well written, and fits the rest of your theories on relationships.

From my point of view, the fact that you are scared that you will fall in love with another woman while still in love with your current partner just underscores the point that the idea of monogamy as "the proper kind of relationship for man" is disconnected from the facts of reality.

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I agree, and I see now that my own matter of managing relationships could use some rethinking. I do have one question though for you Dan: what do you think of the notion that one should have multiple sexual partners before settling down? Yes, I do understand that sex is alright in the proper context (the woman is of significant value), but it concerns me that one needs multiple partners before picking a permanent one.

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Well written, and fits the rest of your theories on relationships.

From my point of view, the fact that you are scared that you will fall in love with another woman while still in love with your current partner just underscores the point that the idea of monogamy as "the proper kind of relationship for man" is disconnected from the facts of reality.

I think the perception that we monogamists hold is that a relationship is not a static thing which once had cannot be altered, and Dan's policy is a recognition of this fact of reality. It, in fact, can be altered for better or worse by our actions. By how much time, effort and energy we invest or don't in the other.

I think many people who like being the object of another's affection take great delight in knowing that even when apart, they are being thought of fondly. If they knew for example that you were out banging some other broad, then they would also know that you probably don't have them on your mind. You could not simultaneously be stopping to buy flowers or be planning a surprise weekend getaway. Lack of exclusivity creates a certain emotional distance, because it declares an unwillingness to commit to that individual. It is quite literally, "keeping your options open," so that the individual on the other end knows in no uncertain terms that the situation is temporary and subject to change at any time.

On Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, when applied to relationships, without security, mutual esteem and actualization of the relationship's potential are out of reach. The same constraint would apply if the physical were not there. In a sexless romantic relationship, very little deep intimacy could be created.

I agree, and I see now that my own matter of managing relationships could use some rethinking. I do have one question though for you Dan: what do you think of the notion that one should have multiple sexual partners before settling down? Yes, I do understand that sex is alright in the proper context (the woman is of significant value), but it concerns me that one needs multiple partners before picking a permanent one.

I would argue that you do not actually need multiple partners, but that most will end up having them since picking the right sort of person for them and learning how to successfully navigate relationships take practice, which means failure.

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My answer to this question is grounded in two key points: 1) Emotions respond to how one acts in a relationship, not how he labels the relationship, and 2) There can be more than one soulmate for any given person.

I agree with both of those points. Actions do have a greater impact on emotions.

I also agree that it is contextual. I have a very good, male, happily married, close friend. We speak on the phone sometimes few times a week. What makes it work is the fact that our friendship is truly platonic, truly meaning not just in label we both attach to it and would have been so even under different cirumstances. And even in that context we still keep certain emotional distance.

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I confess I find this whole discussion to be a bit weird. I have very good friends, close friends, of both sexes and it has never been a problem. Granted, my "best" friend, who is not my romantic partner, is usually female, but not always. I have been in my romantic relationship for years now, happily (I was extremely fortunate to find a fantastic guy on the first time around and we're sticking with it). I would never dream of giving up on the possibility of having close male friends. I think it would be more than a bit strange to have a close male friend who my man doesn't at least know a little, but that's only because I think it's strange to keep any major part of your life from your long-term partner. I have never felt conflicted with a desire for these guy friends and only in a couple instances have they ever had feelings for me, which they were able to quell when they realized that a relationship with me was neither possible nor desirable for either of us in the long term.

I will add this as well. It seems from the discussion that my sexual attractions do not match up with some of the folks here. On a physical level, at least, I'm indiscriminate. I can look at nearly any baseline decent looking guy for a couple minutes and see myself banging him and maybe even get that familiar twinge that makes me want to go up to my room for awhile. I'm a great appreciator of the male form, and I don't really see anything wrong with this. Thing is, since I'm used to being attracted to so many people, I'm also used to not acting on that attraction with fairly minimal effort. Just because I find these guys sexy and it's likely that I'd enjoy sex with them on a physical level, I know that's not what the best kind of sex is really about for me, so I simply don't pursue them. I've never quite bought the notion that if you are a person of self-esteem you will only be attracted to the reflection of your highest virtues. I do believe, however, that a person of self-esteem will be extremely selective in who they ACTUALLY choose and will only sleep with someone they deeply care for and feel that they can love, if they don't already. So to me, not sleeping with someone who gets your juices going is no big deal. I'm a horndog but not easy. I get the feeling that for others participating in the discussion they don't work this way, but correct me if I'm wrong.

Some other tidbits that may be relevant to the discussion: as far as friends go, gender isn't too relevant for me. I don't prefer a close friend to be male or female, it's all about the individual personality and how it stacks up with mine. And as another side note, by and large the friends I've had who have really messed with my head and complicated my life excessively, they've usually been the girls rather than the guys.

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I agree, and I see now that my own matter of managing relationships could use some rethinking. I do have one question though for you Dan: what do you think of the notion that one should have multiple sexual partners before settling down? Yes, I do understand that sex is alright in the proper context (the woman is of significant value), but it concerns me that one needs multiple partners before picking a permanent one.

I think the notion that one has to "sow their wild oats" before "settling down" is wrongheaded. First of all I want to point out that to my way of thinking assuming you will be a different sort of person before you find your life partner vs. after is stupid and can cause a lot of problems. You need to be who you really are, all of your best self, in order to FIND and GAIN a relationship with your life partner. What good could ever come by getting used to being a certain way and then expecting someone else will come along and drastically change you? All seems a bit secondhanded to me.

I believe that most people will have multiple sexual partners in their lives and that nothing is wrong with that. It's neither good or bad. It depends entirely on the circumstances of the person and why they pursued the relationships they did. If your partner is slightly older and has traveled far and wide, finding many people of value along the way, I don't see any rational reason to hold it against them if they have had several partners before you, provided you are both on board with the current relationship and are dedicated to it. However, if that same person for whatever reason chose not to pursue their attractions/connections over the years and has had only a couple partners before you, that's fine too. One is not more virtuous than the other. I also reject that a person's less-than-savory sexual past should be held against them. If someone went wild in college but now regrets it and believes they were mistaken, why should that make any difference to your relationship with them now? When a rational person feels they have made a mistake they change their future action so they do not repeat the mistake. So it shouldn't be relevant to a current relationship. I hate this whole notion that a person can be "damaged goods". People change and grow. This is a good thing to be encouraged, not fodder for an attack.

Bottom line, the getting-it-out-of-your-system theory really reeks of treating people as objects and conquests rather than valuable, worthy individuals. And I don't think it says much good about your self-esteem either if you repeatedly consent to sleep with people you do not find worthwhile. A healthy relationship depends on the state of the partners here and now, not what they did in the past (caveat: how they FEEL about what they did in the past, how they evaluate it to themselves, DOES matter). Hope that was clear as mud.

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Well written, and fits the rest of your theories on relationships.

From my point of view, the fact that you are scared that you will fall in love with another woman while still in love with your current partner just underscores the point that the idea of monogamy as "the proper kind of relationship for man" is disconnected from the facts of reality.

I missed this phrase in Dan's post above. Where are you quoting from?

Proper would seem to imply an ethical evaluation as opposed to "natural" which would imply an empirical evaluation. This is a bit like saying that because one observes the possiblity of irrationality in the world, the statement that reason is man's proper means of survival is disconnected from the facts of reality.

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I missed this phrase in Dan's post above. Where are you quoting from?

It is not a quote, or it would be in a quote box. But he avoids developing meaningful relatinoships with women because he (correctly) expects that some of those may eventually develop emotional and romantic components. The use of the word "scared" is charged and, I admit, intentionally provocative.

Personally, I have lived and seen every one of Dan's "problem" scenarios. I attribute every one of them to insufficient honesty - people not being honest with each other or with themselves. While simply giving up 50% of the potential great people in the world is a way to avoid the problem, I don't think it is the rational solution.

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I do have one question though for you Dan: what do you think of the notion that one should have multiple sexual partners before settling down?

I personally think it's natural and good to experiment with dating, romance, and sex in one's formative years (late teens to early/mid 20's), but it's not absolutely necessary. I know of a several wonderful couples who lost their virginity to each other and stayed together. Some people are lucky like that. But for most, it takes years of experimenting with different lovers to figure out what they want in a long-term partner.

On a related note, I would say that it's not a good idea to marry someone you haven't had sex with. Sex is such an important part of a romantic relationship, and introduces a completely different level of intimacy, I can't imagine committing to someone for life if I haven't first shared a bed and an apartment with her for at least a little while.

--Dan Edge

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As usual, Peter (mrocktor) and I are at odds on relationship issues. All I can say, Peter, is that my thoughts are based on my own romantic experiences over the years.

I think you are too quick to label people as "dishonest." The kinds of errors I described in my article are very easy to make, and are often the result of ignorance, not dishonesty. Also, I challenge your provocative charge that I restrain myself from developing intimate opposite-sex friendships because I am "scared." Joy, not fear, is my motivation for conducting friendships the way I do.

As usual, I appreciate your feedback, even though I think you're totally wrong. :lol:

--Dan Edge

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I think if I quoted that article to any of my female friends, their first response would be that I shouldn't be so presumptuous as to think that the first thing they want to do is straddle my cock.

Edited by Tenure

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I think if I quoted that article to any of my female friends, their first response would be that I shouldn't be so presumptuous as to think that the first thing they want to do is straddle my cock.

Right, Tenure. But keep in mind, I'm writing from my own experiences. When you're Dan Edge, you just have to learn to live with the fact that all your female friends want a piece. And half of your male friends. Yes, sometimes it's a curse to be Dan Edge. :lol:

:huh:

--Dan Edge

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I think you are too quick to label people as "dishonest." The kinds of errors I described in my article are very easy to make, and are often the result of ignorance, not dishonesty

You are entirely right! Ignorance and willful denial are both possible causes.

On the rest, I'm just happy we can politely disagree :lol:

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Almost 80 reads, and no comments? Someone's got to have an opinion about this! :unsure:

--Dan Edge

I agree with the main point of your article. But, as before, I am not comfortable with your attitude toward your exes. I just can't see it. But I don't know you personally nor do I know your context well enough to go farther than that.

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I didn't read beyond the first few paragraphs of your post (I guess sometimes I might write a brief essay on "The Virtue of Terseness" :P) but I don't think I will adopt any policy like that when I marry. There is already a limit on the number of intimate friends I can have: the fact that they have to be the kind of person worthy of such a distinction. There are few enough of those people, so when I meet them, it is only just that I reward them with my friendship, regardless of their sex.

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Hi Dan, great article. Perhaps you are not giving yourself enough credit here though? As I envision a healthy intellectually, physically, and emotionally stimulating relationship to be, as it is built up, developed and as each partner grows with each other over the years, I would think it less and less likely than any other particular person could so easily sway your emotional attatchment to the person you have developed such a spectacularly close bond with. So my comment is to ask if perhaps you are a little more afraid of your emotions swaying than they are actually likely to do so. Never the less, I think your approach, to limit influences which are not conducive to the long term life and relatiosnhip you would like to cultivate, are rational and eudaemonic, where a flippant embracent of every emotional whim jumping from relationship to relationship every other year is rather hedonistic.

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Matus,

Actually, my soon-to-be-father-in-law (Todd) had a similar reaction to my argument. He and his wife are both life-long Objectivists, and they have been together for more than 35 happy years. He said that after so long, he couldn't even imagine having a romance with anyone else. I see that perspective, but Todd also said that during his marriage he has never had a close friendship with another woman he was attracted to. He has had several close male friends during that time. Which begs the question: why is it that all of his close friends over the years have been men? Why haven't any of them been women?

A few general questions for everyone:

Is there anyone here who has been in a committed relationship for a long time, who also has a close, intimate, independent friendship with a member of the opposite sex? I admit that such relationships can be healthy in some contexts, but I think there's a reason it is relatively rare.

--Dan Edge

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Matus,

Actually, my soon-to-be-father-in-law (Todd) had a similar reaction to my argument. He and his wife are both life-long Objectivists, and they have been together for more than 35 happy years. He said that after so long, he couldn't even imagine having a romance with anyone else. I see that perspective, but Todd also said that during his marriage he has never had a close friendship with another woman he was attracted to. He has had several close male friends during that time. Which begs the question: why is it that all of his close friends over the years have been men? Why haven't any of them been women?

A few general questions for everyone:

Is there anyone here who has been in a committed relationship for a long time, who also has a close, intimate, independent friendship with a member of the opposite sex? I admit that such relationships can be healthy in some contexts, but I think there's a reason it is relatively rare.

--Dan Edge

I guess I would say I do. I have been in my relationship for seven years now and couldn't be happier. We have every intention of remaining together forever. We've been living together for about six months and it's been great. But I also have a couple extremely close male friends. I'm not sure what you mean by "independent" friendship, but I assume you mean they are at least mostly my friend and not "our" friend. I would say that's true of these fellows. My man knows them and they are friendly and get along but he is not close with them like I am, he just likes them as good guys. I am also still friendly with my ex-boyfriend. Granted it was high school and not very serious, and he does not live near me, but we still talk occasionally and I think he's a nice dude. I think it is best to stay friends with an ex whenever possible, unless they have shown by their actions that they are unworthy of the affection you originally gave them. Just because you and someone else you care about recognize that a long-term relationship is not going to work out between you, that says nothing about the correctness of your identification of value in them, and it's unjust to suddenly pretend someone does not possess virtues they clearly do. Not every person of value in the world will make a good mate, but that doesn't mean you should artificially devalue them.

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