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"Demoting" a Relationship

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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?

Agreed. It's an emotional topic, and it's understandable that those involved in the discussion are passionate about their respective views. Keeping that in mind, we may have to do more work than is usual to keep things respectful. I will certainly do my best.

--Dan Edge

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

I still don't understand. Lessons are lessons. If Sophia is saying there are benefits other than lessons, then that would make sense, although I anticipate there may be some disagreement.

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.

Yes, exactly. Of course, with the caveats and qualifiers I gave earlier.

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It is sacred to me.

It is to us, too, dear. (I can be patronizing, right, that's not holier-than-thou? :thumbsup:) Our attitude is simply that you can't ruin something sacred by making several attempts at it. I would contend that you're more likely to ruin it by leaving it to sit on a shelf in a museum where you only come to worship it; you begin to believe that it is not for poor mortals to achieve. You don't need to build a temple for sex and leave it there.

If I owned a high-performance car, it wouldn't be enough for me to only drive it in specially controlled circumstances on a closed track with all the obstacles carefully removed. I'd want to take that bad boy out on the road. And, yeah, I might scratch the finish and get a few speeding tickets, but how can anyone stand to have the things they adore divorced from their daily life like that? I've lived that way for years and it is miserable.

I think that a lot of the particular steps you are going to need to take on your quest for romance are determined by what you start out with and you can cripple yourself for life if you spend your time worrying about whether you're being 'serious enough' rather than learning.

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However, romance isn't as simple as putting your hand on a hot stove;

I understand that. But what I don't understand is: if you do have the sense to see that it won't work out, then how can you keep going at that point, just to gain "lessons?" That would be so... fake. So utterly un-romantic that I don't see how it could teach anyone anything about romance.

And even if you do cut it at that point, why would you look at the experience fondly? Your goal was romance, not "lessons." I can understand being a strong person and not letting failure get the better of you. I can't understand how someone would view this positively; with pride even. I wrack my brain trying to think of how someone could do that, and I picture the hedonist with the bragging and the notches on his bedpost... only, on the other side of the mind/body dichotomy. A "romance slut." (sorry, Dan; don't take that personally)

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.

But, Jennifer, surveying isn't romance. I've no problem with people dating a lot to get to know people and what they want in "relationships..." right up until the point where things start getting romantic. Then, it isn't a game anymore. If it isn't 100% real at that point - which has to mean that you've given a serious and deep assessment of the other person's character - then it is fraud.

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If one is seeking life-long all-consuming love, then naturally one is proceeding on the premise that one's partner is the one.

Why is it necessary that you seek it out of every instance of a relationship? Sure, that's the eventual goal, just like it's my eventual goal to be a wealthy fiction writer. Does this mean you should avoid taking any other job whatsoever? You shouldn't sell lemonade or deliver newspapers when you're a kid?

I see this as trying to climb the mountain all in one jump. Just because you decide to use the stairs that doesn't mean you aren't serious about getting to the top.

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It is to us, too, dear. (I can be patronizing, right, that's not holier-than-thou? :thumbsup:)

Well, I'm smiling so it couldn't have been that bad.

Our attitude is simply that you can't ruin something sacred by making several attempts at it.

Honest attempts - yes, that's the key word. And I don't at all comprehend how the word "casual" could be at all compatible. And I agree it'd be pretty hard to ruin it, but you can scuff it up a bit.

Hey, I said it before: life involves risk.

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.

Oh, by the way, I have that book now:

Relationships with many men - not at the same time - is appropriate, but unlucky. Of course, if one is unlucky too often - if one makes constant mistakes - one must check one's standards. But as a principle of romantic love, a single, lifelong romance is not the only appropriate romantic relationship. That is the ideal. If a couple achieves that, they are extremely lucky, and have good premises; one can't make that the norm.

Again, she says it quite well.

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Your goal was romance, not "lessons."

Long-term goal. When you're young and naive and confused it's silly to have a grand life-changing romance be your immediate goal. Now, if you're young and not naive and confused, the case is different. I was; other people may not be. So, when a guy asked me out, I didn't sit there asking myself, "OMG, is he the one?!" I thought, "do I feel ready to go out on a date?" and "do I want to miss this opportunity?" So I said: sure.

One date turned into several, I had a good time, I enjoyed myself, he said some sappy things to me, I said some sappy things to him. It was a Romance. After a while I realized that while I liked him I wasn't comfortable with his emotional neediness, so I dumped him. I still remember the parts that were actually fun fondly. Not him, the enjoyable experiences that I had.

Apart from a few nice dates, what do I gain from this: the furtherance of my eventual goal, which is to have a titanic, world-shaking romance. Before that can happen I need to be the kind of person that is worthy of that sort of romance (I don't think I'm there yet, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks) and I have to learn how to conduct a romantic relationship. I still have only a rudimentary grasp of what I really need to do. I'm not going to have one if I remain the shy, frightened creature I was in college. I've learned that it's not good enough to sit here and say, "Jenni, don't be shy" over and over and over . . . I actually have to go out and practice not being shy. A lot. Sometimes I'm more successful than other times.

It might help to explain that I consider a relationship Romantic if there is sexual interest on both sides, not when you actually start sleeping together. I've been engaged in a romantic relationship with some guys when I first met them. It's not a question of letting a friendship develop into a romantic relationship for me (although that has happened). Refusing to let something "develop into" a romantic relationship would mean refusing to experience any desire whatsoever, and that's just wrong.

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Why is it necessary that you seek it out of every instance of a relationship?

It isn't absolutely, 100% necessary, because as I said one road you can take is "settling."

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.

(bold added)

You shouldn't sell lemonade or deliver newspapers when you're a kid?

Being a kid? Romance isn't for kids. It's an adult thing. If you're not a fully mentally-developed adult, then you have no business doing this at all. Hell, that's why we have laws against such things.

Now as for your other analogies: lesser jobs. No, it doesn't work like that. Romance is all about selection. It's about what is good enough to be worthy of you. It's not like a job, where you work your way up by doing it. You earn romance with your character and your worth, not by working a romantic 9-5.

And there's a lot more to it than that, too. Ask yourself: why have standards at all? What are they for? What is the purpose of romance? When you love someone and have the highest form of relationship with them (i.e. romantic), what are you saying about them, and about yourself? And then there's self-esteem...

How does self-esteem tie into this?

Romance is for people who have their heads screwed on straight: if you don't, then you're not going to "learn" anything from attempting it. You'll only get more confused and screw up a lot. Now, after doing that, you might take a step back, get your head in order, and learn your lesson. But what lesson will you have learned? I should have had my head on straight in the first place before I attempted such a thing!

So assuming you've got yourself in order, then you would naturally have to have a great deal of self-esteem. You're not some punk kid: you're King freaking Kong. (or whatever the feminine equivalent of that is) You're worth something; a whole lot of something in fact. You should be a snob because you have every right to be. Lesser people? Bah! Not worth your time!

Yeah, you may not find someone truly worthy of you, and you may have to settle. Life may suck. And like I said, that's nothing for you to be ashamed of. But it may not. And it's too early to give up when you're young. That ain't right.

It might help to explain that I consider a relationship Romantic if there is sexual interest on both sides, not when you actually start sleeping together.

Then, like I said, I have no problem with "jumping in" to that level of romance, if you feel you are ready and actually want to and also have your head on straight.

Edited by Inspector
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I understand that. But what I don't understand is: if you do have the sense to see that it won't work out, then how can you keep going at that point, just to gain "lessons?" That would be so... fake. So utterly un-romantic that I don't see how it could teach anyone anything about romance.

But that is often not how this happens. Every instance of romance in my life has been a genuine attempt - it just did not go the distance. I was not born or raised Oist. My philosophic maturity develped as a progression and what I require from romance and my understanding of what I have to provide as a partner also has been a progression.

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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.

I disagree. I do not believe that someone can go from a firm grip on reality to scientology without some extreme case of brain damage or dementia. If I believed that someone was rational and they later became a scientologist, the most likely reason by far is that my understanding of who they were is what was wrong, not that they changed in a major and sudden way.

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Intriguing discussion. I'm not sure there are necessarily two factions here -- is anyone claiming that one should *knowingly* pursue romantic relationships that they suspect or determine beforehand *won't* work out? I would agree with Inspector that in trying to project that, it would just feel fake, to say to oneself at the very start that even though there's no chance of a long term result, you'll get involved romantically simply for the learning experience.

On the other hand, I agree with Dan and others that failed relationships can be an enormous positive, given what you experience and learn during that time, and how you grow as a result. The argument here would be more retrospective: that one should be able to look positively on failed relationships that were genuinely attempted, not that one should pursue relationships that one knows will fail simply for the sake of "climbing the ladder."

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But that is often not how this happens. Every instance of romance in my life has been a genuine attempt - it just did not go the distance. I was not born or raised Oist. My philosophic maturity develped as a progression and what I require from romance and my understanding of what I have to provide as a partner also has been a progression.

Exactly. Rarely if ever does someone start out knowing everything that he or she wants in a mate, why they want it, how to get it, and how to maintain it. Relationships almost never come pre-assembled with a perfectly matched mate. I think one of the most wonderful part of relationships is growing together as a couple both philosophically and romantically. That's not "settling" -- that's the nectar. After all, most of us are not self-actualized individuals like Roarke or Galt, who knows exactly who they are, knows exactly what their every value is, and lead actual lives that perfectly embody those things.

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Even if you do cut it at that point [of seeing that the romantic relationship won't work out], why would you look at the experience fondly? Your goal was romance, not "lessons."
  1. Romance may be one's highest goal in forming relationship, but it needn't be the only one.
  2. If a unsuccessful romance leads to a lesser (but still desirable) goal, it should be looked upon positively and fondly.

E.g. I might begin a romantic relationship with someone. A year later I may realize it's not going to work as a romantic relationship, but also that she would still make a great friend. Thus we end the romance amicably (unlike being burned) and I gain a friendship - a lesser goal perhaps, but still a worthwhile one.

Why equate a positive result to kissing a dog? More like getting a silver medal IMO.

"romance slut"
Nice new phrase :thumbsup: I fear I shall have to be judicious with its use though :worry::lol:

I do not believe that someone can go from a firm grip on reality to scientology without some extreme case of brain damage or dementia.
Okay, but what do you base that belief on, given that reality-oriented people are volitional too?

If you'd said

It's possible
but not likely
that someone will choose to go from a firm grip on reality to scientology without some extreme case of brain damage or dementia.

I'd be more inclined to agree with you - but then (if it's possible) it wouldn't say anything regarding the possibility of demoting relationships.

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Okay, but what do you base that belief on, given that reality-oriented people are volitional too?

If you'd said

It's possible
but not likely
that someone will choose to go from a firm grip on reality to scientology without some extreme case of brain damage or dementia.

I'd be more inclined to agree with you - but then (if it's possible) it wouldn't say anything regarding the possibility of demoting relationships.

I base it on the fact that a reason based mind would have no reason to give up his reason. Which is what embracing scientology would be. I am not sure that volition gives one the power to alter his fundamental epistomological approach.

As I said, it is possible but only in exceptionally rare circumstances. (I could alter my epistomology by pounding a nail into my frontal lobes, for example).

Obviously, people can move from unreasonable to reasonable, with relapses along the way. Or have parts of their personalities which are reasonable and parts which are not. These facts are probably what makes judging character correctly, difficult. It might seem that a reasonable person becomes loopy, but I submit that in the vast majority of those cases, the loopy was already their. It just wasn't seen or noticed, or in the case of love, it was probably evaded.

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But that is often not how this happens. Every instance of romance in my life has been a genuine attempt - it just did not go the distance.

If they were genuine attempts, then how can they be viewed fondly as "growing experiences" if they were in fact failures and part of your previous, naive or misguided immaturity?

I was not born or raised Oist. My philosophic maturity develped as a progression and what I require from romance and my understanding of what I have to provide as a partner also has been a progression.

I think I lot of people are mistakenly attributing maturity and self-knowledge to "lessons" from experiencing failed romances. In fact, maturity and self-knowledge proceed from a rational and integrated philosophy. The rational part is actually much easier than the integrated part. And a lot of people can learn the hard way to better integrate themselves by having a demonstration of what a lack of it does to an attempt at romance. But I do not agree that one must learn this the hard way, or that one should ever seek to do so. One should therefore not be glad that one has learned such lessons without regretting that it had to be done the hard way... and resolving to double one's efforts to be rational and integrated so that it does not happen again.

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I think I lot of people are mistakenly attributing maturity and self-knowledge to "lessons" from experiencing failed romances. In fact, maturity and self-knowledge proceed from a rational and integrated philosophy. The rational part is actually much easier than the integrated part. And a lot of people can learn the hard way to better integrate themselves by having a demonstration of what a lack of it does to an attempt at romance. But I do not agree that one must learn this the hard way, or that one should ever seek to do so. One should therefore not be glad that one has learned such lessons without regretting that it had to be done the hard way... and resolving to double one's efforts to be rational and integrated so that it does not happen again.
I think it will help to bring some concretes into this discussion, because the quote above is way too abstract, at least for me.

Inspector, from other threads I have learned that you spent a good deal of effort sifting through your pool of women until you found the one you consider ideal. And presumably things are still going well for you and her, and you are happy with the way in which you began the relationship. If that approach worked for you, then it may be something for other people to consider in their quest for romance.

But yours is not the only approach that works, and it's arguably not even the best. Jenni commented to that effect. I find these relationship guidelines that you lay down often very presumptuous, especially when people immediately at your service are giving personal examples of how things have worked in a different way for them. If someone can look you honestly in the eyes (or... computer screen?) and say, "More casual romances have worked well for me for X reasons," are you still going to tell them that they haven't?

There are lots of good ways (and bad, but let's focus on the good ways) to figure romance out, and I see both the "wait and test" (your) way and the "get in and find out" (Dan's) way as a couple good approaches, but both are still contextual.

For me, a mix has been working OK, but I change my approach as I go. There are some big, obvious pointers I've adopted, like "Don't date a dishonest person," "Your gut instinct is pretty much right," and "No druggies" (really...), but a lot of it is contextual. Right now I like jumping in and finding out because it's boring and feels unproductive sitting around and waiting for an ideal that I can't define well. I have given romance lots of thought, and when it hasn't worked out so well, I think about it more and decide what to do from there. And because of that I don't regret what hasn't worked out.

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If they were genuine attempts, then how can they be viewed fondly as "growing experiences" if they were in fact failures and part of your previous, naive or misguided immaturity?

Looking back at them today, they were growing experiences when it comes to gaining self knowledge in the area of romance. They were failures in terms of not turning into life-long romances for various reasons not all of them being my mistakes but all of them were a value.

I think I lot of people are mistakenly attributing maturity and self-knowledge to "lessons" from experiencing failed romances.

It is a difference between theory and reality. Watching romance movies and experiencing romance yourself are two different things.

And a lot of people can learn the hard way to better integrate themselves by having a demonstration of what a lack of it does to an attempt at romance.

That maybe true for those values which are known as important like honesty and I can definately just imagine the results of the lack of honesty. Things are not so self evident when it comes to the importance of various optional values.

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Inspector, from other threads I have learned that you spent a good deal of effort sifting through your pool of women until you found the one you consider ideal.

If you want to talk about me, take it to PM's please.

But yours is not the only approach that works, and it's arguably not even the best. Jenni commented to that effect. I find these relationship guidelines that you lay down often very presumptuous, especially when people immediately at your service are giving personal examples of how things have worked in a different way for them. If someone can look you honestly in the eyes (or... computer screen?) and say, "More casual romances have worked well for me for X reasons," are you still going to tell them that they haven't?

I don't think those people have all the facts yet, for the most part. Most don't really see how "more casual" romance cheapens the good stuff until they have the good stuff. And a lot of these people tell me I'm basically full of crap. Because until you see this, the cheap stuff might seem like a positive experience that you'd never have any reason to regret (but only if you are really quite mature about it and rational; otherwise it can really blow up in your face). And if your context is that that is the best that you'll ever do, then yes that is a positive thing for you (that is, if you have "given up," and you are actively going for that kind of thing, and so don't have high expectations which get dashed). So don't get me wrong; in certain contexts it's good for what it is. But as I said before, it's giving up on something much, much better. So it's not a decision to be entered into lightly. Especially not in the throes of the impatience of youth.

And if it were simply a matter of figuring that out and going "oh," then I'd be like, "fine, you don't believe me, go ahead: reality will make itself known." But it's not that simple. If you figure things out the hard way, you could end up doing things you can never undo and will regret for the rest of your life. And yeah, Jennifer, cue the music for "Stronger," but most people would just rather not have regrets at all!

Right now I like jumping in and finding out because it's boring and feels unproductive sitting around and waiting for an ideal that I can't define well.

What you're missing there is what it is like when you've integrated the idea of having high standards and high self esteem. It's not like you'll be fighting against yourself or against boredom; you'll just be vaguely disgruntled at the modern world for being so lousy.

If you can't define well who you are and what you want, you shouldn't be seeking romance. You're not ready. You should be working on fixing yourself. Making yourself not only ready but worthy.

I can understand that you're young, in both the age-related sense and in the sense of maturity. And I get this huge vibe of impatience from young people, as a part of youth. "I want romance! I want it now!" Few ask: Am I ready? Do I know what I want? Do I know what I am? Do I like what I am? These are questions that should be answered first. You don't need romantic experience to answer them, and failed romances are not the best way to learn. Unless you're one of those really stubborn people who just doesn't learn until something blows up in his face. And I consider that attitude to be a character flaw.

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It is a difference between theory and reality. Watching romance movies and experiencing romance yourself are two different things.

But that's just it: if it failed, then you never experienced romance at all; it was never real. It was just you getting ahead of yourself before you knew that person wasn't really good for you. (unless, obviously, the person really was good for you and it ended for reasons other than incompatibility)

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By the way, real romance involves sex. Am I right in understanding that everyone here who is talking about all these "romantic experiments" in your lives actually involved sex with all those people?

If not, then we are all just talking past each other because it would then mean you were really just testing the waters and learnt soon enough that this was not the one with whom you should take it to that level.

And by the way, we are not saying you should wait for the perfect person, JASKN, just the one who is perfect for you. And yes, you will grow together, learn together, and so on, which is why I said there should be very few things that must lead you to a divorce once you find such a one with due diligence. Like Oprah and Steadman. You too should diligently find your Steadman or Steadwoman and aim for one looong (endless), steady relationship! :thumbsup:

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Inspector, I don't think I described anything about your relationship that you haven't already said yourself publicly elsewhere. I'm not going to go diggiing for it, so if it's inaccurate, I retract what I said and apologize.

The reason I brought it up is because your argument that it's always better to take every precaution in romance is without context. What's the standard for precaution? How much should I learn before I'm allowed romancing? "You'll know it when you're older and more mature" doesn't work. If you want me to believe what you're saying, you should back it up with a broadly observable fact of reality or your own experience if the fact isn't so observable.

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The reason I brought it up is because your argument that it's always better to take every precaution in romance is without context. What's the standard for precaution? How much should I learn before I'm allowed romancing? "You'll know it when you're older and more mature" doesn't work. If you want me to believe what you're saying, you should back it up with a broadly observable fact of reality or your own experience if the fact isn't so observable.

I think it's too complex for me to give you a concrete example and say "here, you must take this much caution and no less." I can't do your thinking for you, I can only give you the principles. The important part is that you have a proper understanding of what romance is, what it means, and how seriously you should take it (i.e. what you're giving up if you don't). You have to decide how much risk you want to take. I'm only here to tell you that you are, in fact, risking at all - others here paint the picture like you have nothing to lose, or that there's no reason to be careful at all.

Edited by Inspector
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Sometimes one might look back at a past romance (or soemthing else in one's past) as a failure. There's a difference, though, between something in the past where one ought to have known better, as opposed to where one did one's best, but figured that one could do better. (This is true not just of romance, but of work, study, career-choice, anything. I think Jenni address it in a post. It's pointless to regret instances where one did one's best.)

More relevant to the original point of the thread, many of one's past "less than perfect" performances aren't failures at all even if they're less than perfect. For instance, "We the Living" was not a failure, just because it was not "Atlas Shrugged".

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More relevant to the original point of the thread, many of one's past "less than perfect" performances aren't failures at all even if they're less than perfect. For instance, "We the Living" was not a failure, just because it was not "Atlas Shrugged".

Whether it is a failure depends on your goal. If you've "given up" then you could consider past affairs "successes" for what they're worth, but I don't know fully how you'd go about such a thing. Usually if it doesn't last it's because there was something morally wrong with the other person, and that would destroy any "worth" that you may have gotten out of it. Your positive feelings would be based on false premises - so once you know they are false, how could you still consider those feelings valid and thus the experience worthful?

And even if they are successes in that sense, if you do find true love, then they will just be regrettable.

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