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"Demoting" a Relationship

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If I would end a marriage over my mate's conversion to Christianity, then can't have friendships with Christians???

By what defined principles are you basing the argument of yours?

If you can have friends (real friends) who are Christians, I really don't understand why you would divorce your wife for just becoming a Christian.

If your "anti-Christianity" was so strong, she would have known this during your time of courtship, and it would have been evident in your attitude to people who are Christians (i.e., you couldn't be friends with them). I'd say that if you can value a person who is a Christian so much that they can be a real friend of yours, then it would be totally inappropriate for you to divorce your wife for giving her life to the Lord!

The only valid reason I could see for you to divorce her on those grounds is if you consider it a very real betrayal of what she knows you would totally disapprove of. And if she has committed such a big "sin" in your eyes (against YOU), I do not see why you would want to be her friend after the divorce. Do you follow now?

Dan's method is to jump right in and start swimming around...

I don't think either method is necessarily more serious or rational than the other.

Nah! I think you're now just being nice to your boss (Dan) because you don't want to be ... demoted?

:lol:

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Yeah, yeah, I'm totally sucking up to my boss. It's not like I started this entire discussion because I disagreed with him. I must have imagined that part. :lol:

In my experience it takes *far* less than a *total betrayal* to destroy a romantic relationship in the long-term . . . something that a lot of men, it would seem, have a difficult time grasping. The gradual accretion of negative things over time is more than enough. It doesn't even have to be a romantic relationship: it works just as well on your kids or your close friends. My parents demoted themselves via this process into distant friends.

This is the primary source of my disagreement with Dan: in my personal experience you don't have to go to any effort to demote anyone, they do it perfectly well on their own. However, also in my experience it's possible to be friends with an ex: one who demoted himself (and a good 50% of that was probably my fault, but it's too late to do anything about that) via small irritating gestures, not because he was overall crazy and malign. I can appreciate him as a (reasonably) good guy even if I don't want to sleep with him any more.

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Dan's method is to jump right in and start swimming around. He may discover after the fact that the water is too cold for him, but hey, at least he got to enjoy an invigorating swim, even if he has to get back out again rather quickly.

That works fine if you goal is to simply have "an invigorating swim." I don't know how to continue the analogy at this point so I'll just drop it: If, however, you goal is serious, complete, life-long romance of the highest order, then it isn't just a matter of "whelp, you win some you lose some." You will be very seriously invested in the relationship and its outcome. You won't let the relationship get very far until you are sure it is smart to proceed.

This is a recognition that emotions are only worth the reality of what gives rise to them. What is the sense of getting all worked up about someone if they aren't really worth it? What is the value of the emotions you had if they were based on a fiction, rather than the reality of the individual? None!

The idea of "well, it will feel good until I figure out that it had no basis in reality" sounds pretty hedonistic to me. So does the idea of fondly remembering those feelings which were not based on reality.

That's what I mean by treating romance seriously and that is one problem I have with the other method.

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Why should you wish that you hadn't been "casually" involved with other people because you finally meet someone you really want?

Intimacy. Like I said, you can't undo past intimacies. If your goal is to find that one, powerful love then sharing intimacy with others is against that goal.

Listen, life has risks. I'm not saying or advocating that anyone paralyze themselves with indecision ("Is he/she the one? What if he/she isn't?") At some point, you do simply have to jump in to find out. There is simply no getting around that. What I advocate is that you take that choice seriously and do all due diligence.

And why does having several relationships necessarily mean that they were "casual"?

It doesn't, necessarily. It's funny; that reminds me of a question in The Ayn Rand Q&A, where she addressed that question directly. I don't have my copy handy but the essence of her answer was: "Having several non-simultaneous relationships doesn't make you promiscuous; you could just be unlucky... but at some point you should realize that your methods may need some adjustment."

In order to become the better, stronger, and more savvy person that you are now, you had to make a bunch of mistakes and go through a great number of learning experiences. Whenever I'm indulging in stupid regrets, I try to remember two things, the first a quote from Hank Rearden (page 788 in my copy):

The second is the song "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera.

Hey, that's cool. I'm all down with the you-can't-bring-me-down stuff. But you know what's better than triumphing over your regrets? Not having any.

And, consider also: if you were rationally prudent, then you only have the unfortunateness of the situation to regret. If your own hastiness was a major cause of the situation, now you've really got something to beat yourself up about. In other words, when "sh*t happens," it's a lot easier to clean it off your shoe and keep walkin' if you were watching where you were stepping.

You can read all the books about romance you like, but you will never automatize the methods of interaction you need unless you go out there and practice.

'Specially with some kids who will just do the opposite of what you say, no matter how much you've been there and don't want to see them make your mistakes.

Thing is, for the most part I was not one of those kids. The few times I've acted foolishly it has bit me in the *ss hard enough that I straightened up very quickly. I let other people learn things the hard way while I watched from relative safety and comfort. And it's worked very well for me.

I realize that not everybody out there is like me and willing to listen and must learn things the hard way. But just because not everyone's listening doesn't mean we should teach the wrong lessons. Or allow the mistaken to advocate them unopposed.

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Inspector Writes:

Dan, it seems to me like he might have a point: When were these relationships of yours? Before you were an Objectivist? How seriously did you take them? How intimate was your connection to these people? (How intimate could it have been if you didn't even know a detail like whether she wanted children?) Were you in love with them, really? Like they were irreplaceable and you would have just about died if you lost them? Did you need her like you need air? Have you ever experienced that emotion?

First, let me clarify the "wanting children" issue. I must have been unclear, because at least a few people misunderstood. With most of my lovers, I knew very soon in the relationship whether or not they wanted children. That's one of those things that's so important to me that it I bring it up early. With Melanie, for instance, I knew she wanted children before we kissed for the first time.

Now, to answer some of your other questions:

I was 23 when Melanie and I started dating, and I had already been an Objectivist for 7 years. It was a very intimate relationship and I most certainly loved her. She became an atheist while we were dating (she had been a Christian before). She read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and agreed with most of Objectivism that she understood, but she never took it as seriously as I would have liked. Eventually she saw my heavy involvement in Objectivist groups as a threat to our relationship. She kept thinking that I was going to find an Objectivist woman that I wanted more, or that I would make a big deal about some political disagreement between us and decide she was immoral. This led to other problems in the relationship, and I ended it after two (mostly very happy) years.

Melanie and her boyfriend will be at my wedding.

Jennifer Writes:

Dan's method is to jump right in and start swimming around. He may discover after the fact that the water is too cold for him, but hey, at least he got to enjoy an invigorating swim, even if he has to get back out again rather quickly.

Blackdiamond's method is more like the person that likes to paddle around on the shore for a while: get your feet wet, feel things out a bit, maybe wait for the water to warm up some more.

Inspector Responds:

That works fine if you goal is to simply have "an invigorating swim." I don't know how to continue the analogy at this point so I'll just drop it: If, however, you goal is serious, complete, life-long romance of the highest order, then it isn't just a matter of "whelp, you win some you lose some." You will be very seriously invested in the relationship and its outcome. You won't let the relationship get very far until you are sure it is smart to proceed.

This is a recognition that emotions are only worth the reality of what gives rise to them. What is the sense of getting all worked up about someone if they aren't really worth it? What is the value of the emotions you had if they were based on a fiction, rather than the reality of the individual? None!

Jennifer's analogy makes some sense, but can be misleading. If one knows exactly what he wants in a long term romantic relationship, then he can make snap judgments about whether or not a given woman fulfills his requirements. When I met Kelly, I knew within the first 30 minutes that she was the closest to my ideal woman that I had ever met. I dipped my toes in the water and knew it was the perfect temperature. I decided right then that I was going to kiss her before the end of the night. I did, and she was everything I thought she was. Now it's 2 and 1/2 years later and we're engaged to be married.

But I could never have trusted my snap judgment of Kelly had it not been for Julie, Stephanie, Robin, Daneen, Stacey, Greer, Amanda, Heather, Melanie, and others. Each of these women taught me something about my ideal woman. I was already an Objectivist when I met them (expect Julie), so I already knew what I wanted from them intellectually. I have always wanted an Objectivist woman. But that's just the very beginning. If I hadn't opened my heart to these women, I would never have learned from the relationships.

Inspector asks: "What is the sense of getting all worked up about someone if they aren't really worth it?"

This question implies that one already knows exactly how to judge whether or not a woman is "worth it." I can see an argument for the case that it is impossible to demote a relationship with a woman you've been married to for 20 years. This kind of example assumes that one has already done "all due diligence" to determine that his wife is the one, and he would only leave her because of some serious betrayal (as has been suggested). I'm not necessarily convinced by this argument, but I could be.

But what does it mean to do "all due diligence" in this context? Does it mean comparing potential lovers against one's standard for the ideal? That's part of the answer but something is missing -- part of the due diligence is determining what the standard is in the first place. Opening one's heart to lovers with whom one shares some significant values is an important means of gathering evidence about one's ideal. One can learn a lot about himself qua romantic being in these relationships. I didn't know how I like to give verbal and physical affection until I was in a relationship for a while. I didn't know what I was like in bed, or how I resolve conflicts, or how to make someone feel special, or what turns me on, or in what way I need my lover to be there for me when I'm down, any any number of other morally optional traits. All of these things are important. These are traits that one creates in himself through romantic experiences. And at the same time, one creates the image of his ideal in his heart.

That is the sense in which it is worth it to "get all worked up" in casual relationships during one's youth. I certainly wouldn't advocate dating women with whom one shares no values, but if you share some significant values, then I say go for it. The emotional responses one experiences in these relationships are not "fiction," they are a response to real, existing values. You can fall in love with someone who is not perfect for you in every way. And if it turns out that your first (or second or third or fourth or fifth) girlfriend is not the one, there's no reason not to be friends with her.

--Dan Edge

Edited by dan_edge
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Black Diamond writes:

Another example, which I wanted to avoid because I do not want to reopen a very huge can of very long worms, is that one cannot have a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex, but some can say that they have achieved it.

I don't want to get sidetracked on this topic either, but I don't want to let it slide. I don't have a problem with you, Black Diamond, and I'm really enjoying this debate, but this comment of yours was deeply insulting to me. My gut reaction was disgust and anger. I read this comment days ago, and my reaction hasn't subsided. I know you weren't intending to be nasty, that's why I don't hold it against you, but I wanted to let you know my reaction so maybe you won't be so quick to make this kind of comment in the future.

As I'm writing this, I received an email from a friend of mine. This friend is successful, productive, happy, and virtuous by any standard I can think of. He is also gay and is actively seeking a long term, monogamous romance. For anyone to tell him that he is incapable of, or undeserving of romantic love... well, let's just say you shouldn't tell him that when I'm around unless you're begging for a tongue lashing.

--Dan Edge

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The emotional responses one experiences in these relationships are not "fiction," they are a response to real, existing values. You can fall in love with someone who is not perfect for you in every way.

Dan, but what about the negative emotional responses that caused you to break up? The ones you didn't know about at first or else you never would have started becoming involved? The "fiction" I speak of doesn't necessarily have to mean that the positive values weren't really there (although this is sometimes the case); it can also mean that the person had significant vices which you weren't considering or weren't aware of or thought would go away. What I mean is that your love was for the fictional person who you thought they were or might be but weren't really (otherwise, why did you break up?). If your love wasn't based on reality, then what is it worth?

I think the trouble might be that your emotions aren't really integrated like Jennifer's are (er... at least, in this respect). She doesn't have to tell herself to stop loving someone when it doesn't work out. Because you have to force yourself to stop feeling for these women, the illusion of your love remains, even after you consciously know that it is based on falsehood. It doesn't sound like you ever left any of these relationships heartbroken, which is what most people do.

If that is the case, it would explain why you think there is something to be gained from such relationships (besides, obviously, a lesson learned). Only when you are truly no longer in love with these women - when you realize your feelings were mistaken, untrue, not-reality-based - will you have the full perspective.

And then maybe you will stop recommending recklessness to the newbies.

Of course I doubt you'll have time to be heartbroken what with you finding the love of your life and all. But recognize that that is unusual.

What remains a mystery to me, however, is how you were able to accomplish this, emotionally. A break-up is usually the shattering of an illusion. You see that they are not actually this wonderful person you thought that they were. Your love turns to a kind of disgust, embarrassment, and perhaps betrayal. Like when you wake up thinking you were kissing your sweetie but realize that you're actually kissing the dog. Yuck! That's how a breakup goes. Why not for you?

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Inspector Writes:

Like when you wake up thinking you were kissing your sweetie but realize that you're actually kissing the dog. Yuck! That's how a breakup goes. Why not for you?

It's not like I woke up and discovered that Melanie was not actually honest, productive, intelligent, beautiful, generally rational, fun, and otherwise super cool. She is all of those things, and remains so. But over time I discovered that she was not taking philosophy seriously enough. She felt threatened by intellectual conflicts and became combative. I consider this to be a character flaw, but I knew this about her when we started dating. At first, the trend was she was thinking about intellectual issues more. Based on our continuing discussions, she left religion behind forever. But while this was significant progress, it wasn't enough.

So yes, Melanie had vices that hurt me enough that I decided to end the relationship. But I still loved her, even when I broke up with her. Sure, her vices were enough to make it so that I didn't want to marry her, but her virtues were enough that I still want to be friends with her for the rest of my life. My romantic feelings for her were never "mistaken." She deserved all the love I felt for her.

I know people who hate all their ex-lovers, speak ill of them, and hold a grudge for years. They talk as if they were tragic victims of the insidious Mrs. Ex's manipulative plots. The evil former lover pretended to be virtuous and tricked them into falling in love. Even though she seemed like a decent person, in reality she was a dishonest fraud who ate babies for breakfast. Then one morning, you wake up and find you're kissing a baby-killing dog. Oh, the betrayal!

Are you one of those folks, Inspector?

If you never had a positive casual romance in your youth that taught you more about what you wanted in a woman, then I feel bad for you. Hopefully at some point you will realize that, for a young man, it is natural and healthy to engage in casual romances and allow them to grow. And then maybe you will stop recommending chastity and self-imposed romantic ignorance to newbies.

--Dan Edge

Inspector,

Reading back over my last post, I see that I have turned the sarcasm volume up a bit too high. I really wasn't offended by your post, I was just trying to match your tone. No offense intended, I'm still enjoying the discussion.

--Dan Edge

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But I still loved her, even when I broke up with her.

That is the essential. I think it is hard for some to understand because they just know that romantic love is an either/or proposition: "there can be only one". The fact that you still loved the woman even as you chose to end the relationship - and that you had to put effort into disciplining yourself to not respond to her values sexually will probably not register.

Your experience very much validates my own observations from introspection. Love is an automatic recognition of values, romantic love an automatic reaction to the embodiment of those values in a person physically attractive.

Personally I have found that it is unnecessary to "program" my feelings in the way you describe, it is sufficient not to act on them - though that does take effort.

Like Jennifer, I don't see why you would need to remove feelings that are proper reactions to actual existing values while being integrated. Nor why you would want to. Perhaps your distancing method is a way you found to discipline yourself not to act on those feelings and not really a way to remove the feelings.

Anyway, thank you for an interesting discussion.

Edited by mrocktor
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The only valid reason I could see for you to divorce her on those grounds is if you consider it a very real betrayal of what she knows you would totally disapprove of.
BD, Your post seems to imply that one should not divorce someone for becoming XYZ, unless they should have known that you did not want them to become XYZ before they entered into the relationship. However, people make mistakes in not understanding other people, or in thinking someone will change, or in not being clear about what they want (to themselves and to the other person). Also, people do change. Whether to get a divorce is not simply a question of looking back the the original implied contract. It's about evaluating whether the relationship is worth maintaining, regardless of what the original expectations were. The question isn't: "did the marriage once have a basis?", but rather, "does it have a basis, going forward?"
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Are you one of those folks, Inspector?

Okay, first off: you opened this thread with the invitation for others to find out what was going on inside your head. I have extended no such invitation. So keep such speculations about me to yourself, sir.

I know people who hate all their ex-lovers, speak ill of them, and hold a grudge for years. They talk as if they were tragic victims of the insidious Mrs. Ex's manipulative plots. The evil former lover pretended to be virtuous and tricked them into falling in love. Even though she seemed like a decent person, in reality she was a dishonest fraud who ate babies for breakfast. Then one morning, you wake up and find you're kissing a baby-killing dog. Oh, the betrayal!

You're package-dealing there. It doesn't have to be the dog's fault that you thought it wasn't the dog. Many people (often rightfully) blame themselves for the mistakes or infatuation-fueled delusions. This is not about some kind of blame game and it distracts from my valid point that you've turned it into that.

The point is, no matter whose fault it was, you wake up kissing the dog.

If one is seeking life-long all-consuming love, then naturally one is proceeding on the premise that one's partner is the one. If you go from that to "break up," then there must necessarily be a wide gap between what one thought was the case and what was actually the case. Thus the big fallout when it is discovered that this is not the case.

But in any case, the size of the gap between reality and what one had thought of that person is the cause of bad feelings in breakups. That much is clear.

Now you are an advocate of casual "romance." Listen: if it's casual, it ain't romance. Period. And if it ain't romance, then what does that leave? Hedonism, I would think... I really doubt that you know what you're bandying about with this "casual" business, Dan. I think you must have meant a different word. Throughout this, the following keeps sticking in my mind:

In other words, sexual promiscuity is to be condemned, not because sex as such is evil, but because it is good- too good and too important to be treated casually.

But that does answer my question: if the gap between where you break up and where you get involved in the first place isn't a wide one, then there wouldn't have to be that big whiplash when you fall out. Shallow entry, shallow exit, as it were. Low expectations mean low disappointment.

I don't agree with such things as a matter of policy or recommendation; especially not for young people. They cheapen romance. Sure, I understand them as a last resort and do not begrudge them as such. I mean, you're not cheapening anything if that's the best you got. But that's a pretty heavy decision to make: "this is the best I can do." I dunno; I think a man should think pretty highly of himself (if he's earned it) and I'm not into the whole "pearls before swine" routine.

It should be a significantly non-casual event for someone decide that he had reached the point of settling for less than what he knows he's worth (and certainly one that hardly any young people are qualified to decide!). Not that it's a knock against him if he really (and rationally) thinks that's the case. That would be everyone else's fault for sucking so much, not his.

But a young person is in no position to decide "I give up on true, deep, passionate romance; I will have to settle for the lesser things in life." And I know all the rationalizing little hedonists out there would like to think that's what they're doing with their slutty female counterparts, but come now Dan. Are you telling me you buy that?

Now "settling" is one thing. But being casual about romance is something I can't fathom would ever be appropriate. A man should take himself too seriously for that.

My romantic feelings for her were never "mistaken." She deserved all the love I felt for her.

All of it? Even the love that meant you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her? Then why'd you break up? And more importantly, why did you need to squelch any feelings for her at any time? If they were entirely valid, then why did you tell yourself that they were unwanted?

If you never had a positive casual romance in your youth that taught you more about what you wanted in a woman, then I feel bad for you.

"Positive casual romance?" A contradiction in terms. If it is positive and romance then it would be nowhere near casual. But as I said, don't talk about me.

Hopefully at some point you will realize that, for a young man, it is natural and healthy to engage in casual romances and allow them to grow.

You can "grow" from such things in the same way that you"grow" when you learn the hard way that hitting your head into a brick wall hurts: you do something that, in retrospect, you would rather not have. (otherwise, you'd still be doing it!) You don't wish that kind of thing on people that you like. You wish that they had the sense to not beat their head against the wall in the first place.

And then maybe you will stop recommending chastity and self-imposed romantic ignorance to newbies.

I'll leave alone the "ignorance" comment since you imply that you regretted your offensive tone. (Obviously, I say what you preach is ignorance. Otherwise why would I be arguing with you?)

...But "chastity?" Tsk, tsk. Inserting terms with religious overtones in order to smear me? Come now, Dan.

Edited by Inspector
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You can "grow" from such things in the same way that you"grow" when you learn the hard way that hitting your head into a brick wall hurts: you do something that, in retrospect, you would rather not have. (otherwise, you'd still be doing it!) You don't wish that kind of thing on people that you like. You wish that they had the sense to not beat their head against the wall in the first place.

Except that those two are not the same. Generally, there are no benefits from hitting your head into a brick whereas there can be a lot of lessons learned from romances with people who share significant amount of your values but are not your ideal. I agree with Dan. I would not recomend "waiting for Dagny, Galt style" starting in your teens. There is a lot of optional qualities we all require which only become apparent to us, their importance to us when we directly experience their lack or their presence. When thinking of our ideal in the abstract our mind tends to fill in the the gaps favorably on all of those optional qualities so those things are 'covered'. There is also a lot we learn about ourselves through romantic relationships.

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Interesting discussion here, Dan wrote

"Sure, her vices were enough to make it so that I didn't want to marry her, but her virtues were enough that I still want to be friends with her for the rest of my life. My romantic feelings for her were never "mistaken." She deserved all the love I felt for her."

I think this sums up my opinion perfectly. Like Dan, (it seems) I have remained friends with virtually all of my relationship exes. The relationships ended for various reasons of incompatability, but these people still remained good and decent people (else I would have never dated them in the first place) and so I remained and still do, in some cases many years later, good friends with them.

It is of course wrong to remain friends based on a failed relationship, but just because you do not have enough shared values to maintain a romantic loving relationship, or you learn some fact that indicates a lifelong committment would be impossible, doesnt mean that you do not share enough values to be friends, even good and close friends. In fact, I hold the opinion opposite of BlackDiamond here, I am shocked at people who can not and do not remain friends with their exes. Sharing an intimate relationship, even if you eventually find yourself in comptable in some sense, leaves you with a deep and sincere connection to another human being. Unless some grand betrayel or dishonest measure lead to the breakup, to insist on a complete dissassociation suggests to me the only value you found in the other human being was as potential romantic partner.

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Like Dan, (it seems) I have remained friends with virtually all of my relationship exes. The relationships ended for various reasons of incompatability, but these people still remained good and decent people (else I would have never dated them in the first place) and so I remained and still do, in some cases many years later, good friends with them.

It is of course wrong to remain friends based on a failed relationship, but just because you do not have enough shared values to maintain a romantic loving relationship, or you learn some fact that indicates a lifelong committment would be impossible, doesnt mean that you do not share enough values to be friends, even good and close friends. In fact, I hold the opinion opposite of BlackDiamond here, I am shocked at people who can not and do not remain friends with their exes. Sharing an intimate relationship, even if you eventually find yourself in comptable in some sense, leaves you with a deep and sincere connection to another human being. Unless some grand betrayel or dishonest measure lead to the breakup, to insist on a complete dissassociation suggests to me the only value you found in the other human being was as potential romantic partner.

I am wondering if this is what Dan means by "friends" though. I think the question is getting confused by equating a "friendship" with being just friendly or amicable.

Being on good terms, keeping in touch, etc. is not the same as a true friendship, I think, in the sense Peikoff meant. I don't think he was saying that the end of a love affair means you never speak or see each other again--it means that you can't undo your history together. A friendship does not have that kind of history--its a completely different kind of relationship.

Dan said he maintains a very close friendship with his former lover, that they discuss current lovers, and are still very intimate. That kind of friendship is what I can not imagine. Dan--is this really how your relationship is? (Her coming to your wedding doesn't really say that much, you know.)

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Black Diamond writes:

I don't want to get sidetracked on this topic either, but I don't want to let it slide. I don't have a problem with you, Black Diamond, and I'm really enjoying this debate, but this comment of yours was deeply insulting to me. My gut reaction was disgust and anger. I read this comment days ago, and my reaction hasn't subsided. I know you weren't intending to be nasty, that's why I don't hold it against you, but I wanted to let you know my reaction so maybe you won't be so quick to make this kind of comment in the future.

As I'm writing this, I received an email from a friend of mine. This friend is successful, productive, happy, and virtuous by any standard I can think of. He is also gay and is actively seeking a long term, monogamous romance. For anyone to tell him that he is incapable of, or undeserving of romantic love... well, let's just say you shouldn't tell him that when I'm around unless you're begging for a tongue lashing.

--Dan Edge

Admins, I promise we won't get into the homosexuality debate, but I think a small response to Dan is in order.

Dan: My gay example was not just a "comment". What I wrote is what I truly believe and I have argued this quite extensively in another thread. I wouldn't tell your gay friend that, of course, but if he asked me for my opinion I would, and I will just have to endure your "tongue lashing" (for standing by my own mind). I understand that disgust is your reaction to people who hold my position on this, as utter disgust is my reaction to seeing this practice (homosexuality) in expression, but neither of us should demand self-censorship of the other, especially on a forum that is intended for the free exchange of ideas.

Do you truly think some examples (in a discussion) should be avoided because of how they make others feel?

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In fact, I hold the opinion opposite of BlackDiamond here... Unless some grand betrayel or dishonest measure lead to the breakup, to insist on a complete dissassociation suggests to me the only value you found in the other human being was as potential romantic partner.

At no point have I suggested any such "insistence".

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BD, Your post seems to imply that one should not divorce someone for becoming XYZ, unless they should have known that you did not want them to become XYZ before they entered into the relationship. However, people make mistakes in not understanding other people, or in thinking someone will change, or in not being clear about what they want (to themselves and to the other person). Also, people do change. Whether to get a divorce is not simply a question of looking back the the original implied contract. It's about evaluating whether the relationship is worth maintaining, regardless of what the original expectations were. The question isn't: "did the marriage once have a basis?", but rather, "does it have a basis, going forward?"

What I was saying was simply that the sort of things that are so important to a person that one would divorce a person over them, are things that WILL be known by either person BEFORE they get married. They are not the kinds of things that can even be missed by "mistakes in understanding other people" because they should be quite clear and explicit, and more so if you have spent a long time in courtship learning about each other's interests and ways. Thus, I would be surprised if someone became XYZ and got shocked that the partner would divorce them over it; I think one would know when becoming XYZ that this is the kind of thing that would lead their partner to leave them. (Assuming both sides took their relationship very seriously).

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If you "fall in love" with some one who later converts to scientology, then you fell in love with someone who did not have rational leanings and a firm grip on reality in the first place.
No, it means the person you fell in love with doesn't have a firm grip on reality; it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with demotion or how reality-based you or your mate were in the beginning of the relationship.

If you can have friends (real friends) who are Christians, I really don't understand why you would divorce your wife for just becoming a Christian.
E.g. I don't mind when Christian friends sacrifice 10% of their household income tithing. I do mind when my Christian wife involves me in the sacrifice. It wouldn't be a betrayal, it's just not something I want in a wife. I wouldn't be overly concerned if a friend does it.

[she] had vices that hurt me enough that I decided to end the relationship. But I still loved her, even when I broke up with her. Sure, her vices were enough to make it so that I didn't want to marry her, but her virtues were enough that I still want to be friends with her for the rest of my life. My romantic feelings for her were never "mistaken." She deserved all the love I felt for her.
Well said :thumbsup:

The point is, no matter whose fault it was, you wake up kissing the dog.
I think dan_edge's point (and one that I agree with) is that some breakups may be a realization that you've been kissing a friend - possibly uncomfortable and possibly a let-down, but not necessarily an experience that you either regret or prohibits future friendship.

Dan said he maintains a very close friendship with his former lover, that they discuss current lovers, and are still very intimate. That kind of friendship is what I can not imagine.
Maybe our experiences are just different? I've maintained close friendships with some of my exes.
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A few quick responses:

Jen writes:

Being on good terms, keeping in touch, etc. is not the same as a true friendship, I think, in the sense Peikoff meant. I don't think he was saying that the end of a love affair means you never speak or see each other again--it means that you can't undo your history together.

To be clear, Peikoff brought this up in the context of a threesome with a friend. Once you've slept with the friend, then that friend has become a lover, and you can't "demote" her back to a friend. It was an offhand comment, so I won't speculate exactly what he means by it. We could always e-mail him about it.

BD writes:

I understand that disgust is your reaction to people who hold my position on this, as utter disgust is my reaction to seeing this practice (homosexuality) in expression, but neither of us should demand self-censorship of the other, especially on a forum that is intended for the free exchange of ideas.

I agree, and I should not discourage you from honestly speaking your mind. I will keep this in mind. I hope you understand why I was upset, though. I do highly value romantic love, so to me it would be a great insult for someone to say that romance is impossible for me.

Inspector:

I didn't mean to offend (well, maybe a little bit, but not as much as you seem to have taken). I was trying to match your tone, which was a bit holier-than-thou, and I went too far, which is why I said something about it at the end of my post. I will remember not to attribute motives to you in the future, as that seems to be the thing that bothered you most.

--Dan Edge

Edit: corrected grammar

Edited by dan_edge
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Except that those two are not the same. Generally, there are no benefits from hitting your head into a brick whereas there can be a lot of lessons learned from romances with people who share significant amount of your values but are not your ideal.

I don't understand how it's different. You say you gain "lessons;" in the same sense that you learn a lesson when you burn your hand for the first time on a hot stove. Yes, that is valuable to know that... but I fail to see why one should seek to be burned rather than seek the wisdom to not get burned.

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I don't understand how it's different.

One is learning the difference between the good and the better, the other learning the difference between good and bad.

One should always seek the wisdom to avoid loss of values, and seeking out loss to "learn" from experience is indeed stupid. One should not give up the good because you can imagine there might exist something better - that is a sacrifice of a value now for an imaginary value in the future, which may or may not come true.

If you believe one romantic relationship detracts from the value of another (even if they are not simultaneous), I can see why you would consider pursuing non-perfect people a loss.

Edited by mrocktor
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I don't understand how it's different. You say you gain "lessons;" in the same sense that you learn a lesson when you burn your hand for the first time on a hot stove. Yes, that is valuable to know that... but I fail to see why one should seek to be burned rather than seek the wisdom to not get burned.

My question is, where are you going to get this wisdom? Now, admittedly, there are some things that you can learn not to do by observing other people. If you have any sense at all, by the time you're 16 you probably have a list of things not to do longer than you are tall. Don't go to parties and get drunk and let some guy knock you up. Stay away from the bad boys. Stuff like that.

However, romance isn't as simple as putting your hand on a hot stove; it's not simply a matter of avoiding doing the wrong things. It's more like trying to start a business or develop a scientific theory. You may as well ask why someone would seek to found a business when 90% of new ventures fail or engage in scientific experimentation when frequently the results are more puzzling than the question you had when you started. The point of the matter is that it is all about doing the right things, and doing them consistently . . . and behaving consistently in a certain way is a matter of forming subconscious automatizations.

Now, it is within the realm of likelyhood that some people will hit on the right methodology early on (these people are often described as being "lucky"). Good for them. I, personally, was not one of those people: when I got to college I was so clueless about relationships it wasn't even funny. I could have predicted with 100% perfect accuracy that my first relationship (and probably the second, third, fourth, etc., I forget which number I'm on) would fail. I had enough sense of "what to avoid", however, that I could also predict that they wouldn't fail catastrophically. I avoided the type of illusions that cause people to wind up miserably heartbroken and hating their ex's. That's not to say that I haven't learned a few new things to avoid, but they have been minor issues indeed.

The problem is that I had no source of knowledge for what to do in a romantic relationship. (Except for novels, and female characters in novels frequently don't do anything except look pretty . . . and I'm not pretty!) Now, I wouldn't advocate that people learn what to avoid first-hand . . . you don't need to get yourself shackled to some loser with two kids in order to learn about romance. However, you may need to learn what to do firsthand, and conducting this kind of survey is not going screw up your life. This is why I'm perfectly happy to advocate that people jump in and learn it themselves.

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I was trying to match your tone, which was a bit holier-than-thou

Dan, a certain amount of that can't be helped. I just don't agree with your position. If I sound "holier" then it's because I think I'm right. I don't think your position is valid and it upsets me a bit that you advocate it. It does, to be perfectly frank, upset me on some deep level. Obviously not near as much as the outright hedonists that sometimes pop up here, who I am totally disgusted by.

But I still believe that you are treating romance too nonchalantly (I won't say casual because I hope you don't really mean that); I, on the other hand, take it with the utmost seriousness. It is sacred to me. (and I lament, in the exact same way Ayn Rand did, the religious overtones of that word; but it's the best word there is for it)

Obviously, I comprehend that there may be some equal and opposite reaction from you and people on your "side."

I try to keep from deliberately intoning my disgust, as it tends to send these discussions spiraling out of control. You'd probably do best to do the same. It's not conducive to a reasoned discussion. Truce?

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