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My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six months. In the beginning, we worked really well together. About two or three months in, he introduced me to Atlas Shrugged, which I read and loved. It seemed very right to me, and I wanted to become an Objectivist. But ever since then, we've fought off and on, because he's been pushing me to become more objectivist. It's been difficult. I've never fought my parents before. They are rather strict and not very flexible, generally nice people, but not objectivists at all. I've been pushing more and more for what I want (when I think it's right and it makes sense), like spending more time with my boyfriend. Last Monday things finally escalated. My BF was very upset with me because I had cancelled on him/not been able to hang out over the past three weeks, because I had been grounded and though I tried to fight it a few times, it was always a huge struggle, I never got to hang with him because of the fights with my parents, and they were threatening to kick me out (or try to send me to another state). So I went over to his house after school to try to make it up to him. My mom showed up about half an hour in, and then my dad came a few hours later. We argued for almost four hours outside his house. By some miracle, we came to a compromise in which I could have more freedom if I kept on top of what I needed to (I have a busy schedule). Tuesday we were going to hang out, but I forgot about an appointment I had at the same time. I had an event scheduled later that night, but it got cut down. So I would've had time to make it up to him, but I didn't think of it; I put it off to Wednesday. So he started telling me that I didn't make time for him. He cancelled something Wednesday so we could hang out on the condition that I went snowboarding with him and a friend that weekend. I shouldn't have agreed. I should've known I wouldn't have been able to convince my parents. I didn't want to lose everything I had gained... I thought I had it all, but I stopped thinking. Now he's breaking up with me, tired of not being able to see me and always taking on a paternal role of reprimanding me for my mistakes and lack of thought. I love him so much even though we've grown apart because of my grounding and all the fighting... what can you do when you face a life of grey, a life without joy and color, but you know up until now you've never been able to do enough to keep it anyway....? What can you do? How do you feel more passionately? I feel like there's something wrong with me... I can feel the deepest sadness (that I know) but I can't fulfill my potential for joy... I don't feel passionately about what's right, even when I know it is... I mean, sometimes I do. Like when I went to his house Monday... but other times I feel like I can't move... what's wrong with me? Sorry, I don't want to sound like a person who just complains and does nothing. Not objectivist of me. But I don't know what to do anymore. Don't hold back in your criticism or anything you want to say.

Edited by Anylesca
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Anylesca,

This may not sound comforting, but your experience is not unique or unusual. When you get old enough to question your parents' authority (as you clearly are), there is often friction as your family gets used to you becoming an adult. This is almost always a difficult process, especially if you begin to embrace a worldview that your parents do not share. This doesn't mean that you will lose your relationship with them, only that the adjustment will take time. That you were able to work things out with them and come to a compromise in a difficult situation shows promise.

I wouldn't worry too much at this point whether your feelings and reactions are "objectivist" enough. Part of being an objectivist is going through life's challenges and dealing with them as rationally as you can. Everyone makes mistakes and experiences pain and joy and anger and frustration and all that. Focus on learning from your experiences as you continue to work to keep everything together (busy schedules make productive people!). Take solace and pride in your struggles and accomplishments.

I am happy for you that you have found love so early in life. If things don't work out, keep in mind that you will fall in love again. Build yourself into the kind of person who is worthy of great love, and worthy men will be beating down your door (especially objectivist men!). Never deny your feelings, whether good or bad. Own your feelings -- but take care to analyze your own mind so that you understand where the feelings come from. Use your heart as a guide, but your mind as the final arbiter. Your sincerity as displayed in your initial post will be a great tool for acheiving this goal.

I know this is all very general advice, but it's all I have. I wish you the best of luck. Stick around. You are surrounded by many good, kindred souls in this place.

--Dan Edge

Edited by dan_edge
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Anylesca,

I was quite touched by your honest appeal, and will respond as best I can.

I think I know something of what you are going through, and speak from no special expertise, but more from my own experience and observation. I hope it addresses your particular concerns.

It is the utmost criticality that each one of us alive views ourselves as absolutely central to life and the world.

( As a start, without you here, of what use is the world to you, if you see what I mean .)

It is not early on in life so important to find happiness, as it is to find awareness, imo. Then, through that to find value.

Because no value can be found in life until you have discovered your own value in, and to, yourself.

Normally, nobody actually tries to teach us how to do this, explicitly. There is a mistaken assumption that you will "just know", or "just find out for yourself". That parents, teachers, one's religion, etc, will supply the answers.

They may try, but ultimately nobody can 'teach' value - the best they can do, is to show it.

Then the rest is up to you, alone.

Going back to 'awareness', or consciousness , I'd say you should start with small steps - the smaller, the better. (And I'm not being patronizing of your youth, since I personally still go back to this practice.)

Look, and listen, at and to, the simple things, only perceptively at first. Often enough, and you will learn to appreciate them for what they are, physically. Next, find out about them, and what 'makes them 'tick'.

e.g. How incredible this leaf is - how beautifully perfect; how 'right' it is; and when I consider what it achieves, as well! (You get my drift, I'm sure.)

Look at people around you, the same way. How they match you up to a point, but are so singular and unique, too - and each one autonomous, and alone.

Eventually, what will arise is a sense of reality - of the outside world, yes, but also the reality of your own self. It is YOU who saw that leaf, YOU, who experienced a feeling about a person, YOU, who thought about life - in a manner maybe no-one else ever has.

This unafraid observation and awareness is where all value starts, for each, independent one of us, and we all have to go through it, from the most simple to the highly complex - to begin to understand how it all 'fits'.

To repeat, all values stem from value of life, as a whole, and principally, one's value (worthiness) of oneself.

That is the basis of romantic love, and the precursor of happiness, and of course it is... (commercial break :D ) , the foundation of Objectivism.

Hoping all goes well with you.

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six months. In the beginning, we worked really well together.
The major issue you mention is not spending as much time together as you would like to. Perhaps this was not a problem early on, because the amount of time you spent together then was within the limits your parents allowed. Is that the key issue? It sounds like there must be much more that is unrelated to your parents time-limit rules.

To me the red flag is that he is "taking on a paternal role of reprimanding [you] for [your] mistakes and lack of thought". I guess he does not realize this is inappropriate. Being young, he probably does not understand that Objectivism does not require such behavior, and that there are ways that friends can grow together without growing apart.

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From what I read it sounds like you are replacing how your parents want you to live your life/spend your time with how your boyfriend wants you to live your life and spend your time.

I'd encourage you to live how you want to live. Perhaps this is also the reason why happiness is eluding you, because you are looking for it in the wishes of others.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the honest post. I doubt you're going to like what I have to say, but here it is: unless and until you are supporting yourself with your own income, you are your parents' responsibility. THEY have the authority, not you. Your boyfriend sounds like a real jerk to be pushing you towards conflict. If you want to spend more time with him (and what a creep he is to be jerking you around like this), then you go out and get a job, and get your own apartment or home. As long as you are living off of your parents, they have the right and authority to set the rules.

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If your parents are still breathing down your neck this much, I'm going to assume you're still a minor, in high school most likely. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) Objectivism exists to foster flourishing in one's life, not to make martyrs. I don't know the full context of your life by a long shot, but I find it unlikely getting kicked out by your parents would be in your best interest at this point. You're still gathering the knowledge and skills you need in order to lead a happy, prosperous life long term. Getting kicked out now would likely severely damage your capacity to achieve your goals in life at least for a long while. You would also then have to be working on top of everything else, if you could get a job or so right now and manage to keep up with school too, so I even doubt that getting kicked out would leave you any more time or this guy then you had before only to worsen your living conditions and prospects on top of everything. You don't owe to take this cut in living conditions either if your parents are being idgits; it's their job to try to take care of and teach you, not the other way around. You didn't (and couldn't) have a say in who your parents would be either, they're the ones that brought the situation about. All you've really got to do is make the best of what you've been dealt until you are in a position to strike out on your own without handicapping yourself in so doing. If you can work out better deals with your parents for now, great. If you can't, just accept it and deal with it as best as you can rather than making a bad situation worse.

Now, if you're a minor in high school, I'm guessing so is the male in the title. This means there is a pretty good likelihood that he is still relatively new to the stories and philosophy of Ayn Rand too. There is kind of a well known thing that happens with many people new to the ideas of Rand that a lot of people who have been around for awhile are familiar with. New people, especially young ones, often get really excited and passionate about these new inspiring ideas they've found. This much is great, except they often try to really dive in and intend to set about living strictly according to this philosophy right away, before they really get a good grasp of the philosophy and many of its nuances. This can often mean they try to apply principles without accounting for the limits of the contexts they apply to, or that values exist in a hierarchy and that hierarchy may properly vary in many ways from person to person on many issues. Because they don't really themselves get the philosophy all that well, they often try instead to simply things by attempting to mimic somebody that does seem to know it very well, generally, one of Rand's fictional characters. The form of this involved often ends up with them basically asking themselves something equivalent to "What would John Galt do?" or "What would Howard Roark do?" There's a thread discussing this here actually where people discuss how they and others in the past have made some unfortunate mistakes going through a phase like this. LINK This goes badly of course because, as you know, A is A, treating things otherwise is a recipe for failure. Nobody else really IS Howard Roark and they don't live in his world, so trying to act and pretend as if they are just doesn't really work. The general result in this phase is they often are unduly harsh and impatient with a lot of people, may think they need to go out and proselytize to the world or at least everybody around them, don't know how to pick their battles and make an epic huge deal out of any little thing at any time, and perhaps get paranoid speculating at nefarious hidden motives in others all around them. This ends up getting them in more and more conflict and isolation, hurting themselves and those around them. Clearly, this is not the inspiring and flourishing thing they saw and signed up for at the start. So, one of two things happens after a little while - they get a better knowledge and grasp of Objectivism and learn how to apply it their individual, unique self and situation or they throw up their hands and bitterly walk away declaring "Objectivism" has failed when really it was their own unintentional strawman of Objectivism that failed.

I bring this up in response to your boyfriend because he seems to not appreciate the limitations you have as a minor and he does sound like from what you've said (though admittedly, this is only one side of the story and fairly limited in info) that he's been a bit pushy and impatient with you and you said, "Now he's breaking up with me, tired of . . . always taking on a paternal role of reprimanding me for my mistakes and lack of thought." Romantic partners are supposed to be equals, he isn't supposed to be a third parent. Furthermore, not surprising for a fellow minor, he doesn't seem to understand how a good parent would handle things anyway, seeing as he's being impatient and discouraging with you. Learning is a process, it takes time. Just because somebody doesn't pick things up right away or as fast as you did doesn't mean they're stupid or being intentionally evasive and evil. People learn at different rates on different subjects. Sometimes to really make things stick, you need demonstrations perhaps too. You may not even get what he says on some things perhaps because he doesn't explain things well or may even just misunderstand something still himself too. You're not the only one still learning things or that is fallible here, he is too. Heck, even if you never came to terms over explicit philosophy generally, there's no rule in Objectivism that says people who follow the philosophy can only properly have romantic relationships with other supporters of the philosophy. Most people, much as we may like to have mates that share our philosophy explicitly, are fine and even very happy with mates who don't and may disagree on anything from religion to economics to environmentalism and would not see a need to beat up on their mates constantly over these issues, even though we do believe they would be better off without these faulty views.

I hope you don't think badly of yourself over any of this. You're not stupid or evil. Not based on anything you've said here. You may have some things you can't really feel so passionately about because you don't fully understand them yet, or maybe you've had some things asserted as true to you that aren't so in fact, and even if you do understand things and they are right, it can take some time too often for the subconscious to get used to things and realign itself to new information, get rid of old automatized habitual responses, and for you to sort out any remaining contradictory ideas you may have gotten long ago. On top of that though, you've got some real unfortunate situations right now. Your parents and you have had a lot of conflict lately, your boyfriend you cared for a lot is upset with you after conflicts with him too, and all this seeming to strangely come from something that sounded so great and was about living a fulfilling life. You aren't broken to be upset over this. It's an entirely appropriate assessment of your situation that shit sucks right now. When your immediate situation and values are in real trouble, that doesn't go away when you read the constitution for example, like as some display of human achievement you should forget about your other problems and just be overwhelmed with joy and awe at the text immediately before you. You may feel a little better seeing some great art or something in the mean time, but since the overall context of your life is not so grand right now, the overall capacity for positive response to this and the duration of it will be dampened.

As it is normal and appropriate to be upset about bad situations in your life, I don't think that means something is wrong with you. However, this stuff, "what can you do when you face a life of grey, a life without joy and color, but you know up until now you've never been able to do enough to keep it anyway....? What can you do? How do you feel more passionately? I feel like there's something wrong with me... I can feel the deepest sadness (that I know) but I can't fulfill my potential for joy... I don't feel passionately about what's right, even when I know it is... I mean, sometimes I do. Like when I went to his house Monday... but other times I feel like I can't move... what's wrong with me? Sorry, I don't want to sound like a person who just complains and does nothing. Not objectivist of me. But I don't know what to do anymore." This is not making up complaints about nothing, it isn't anything you should expect to just "suck it up an deal with" if you feel like this, it isn't being somehow bad and unappreciative of what you do have to feel bad about what is wrong. If these kinds of feelings persist for a while, say maybe a few months more, you may want to consider looking into going to see a psychologist. I'd suggest, if you can, looking for one that does cognitive behavioral therapy. Things are bad right now, but generally they should improve and you should start feeling better in a little while. If not, then maybe trying to go it alone isn't the best of ideas and getting some assistance would be wise.

Edited by bluecherry
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