Monday, January 17, 2011

Creating a Relationship, Continued

In my last blog, I wrote “Creating a relationship, as I see it, is a three-process activity: communicating, experiencing, and deciding.” In this essay I’ll focus on the experiencing and deciding parts of the process.

In reality all three parts of the process are interwoven, very much resembling a dance between the partners. I place communication first in the list because it begins the courtship, which is the unofficial word for creating a sexual relationship. In our kinky subculture we don’t call it courtship. We call it “negotiating.” For us, they have same meaning.

As an aside, it’s unfortunate that we often take this process for granted. How, for instance, did you react to my using the word “courtship?” Did it sound too formal or out-of-date to you? I admit that relationships, even sexual ones, can certainly be casual and undefined, but my premise is that well-constructed relationships are more satisfying, more durable, and less risky. You can rush in where angels fear to tread but if angels won’t go there quickly, why should you? Now back to the topic.

We most often use words as the ice-breaker that begins everything else. They may be spoken words or written, in print or online. We may be introduced by mutual friends, meet at a bar, church, or at work. Soon after the ice is broken, the communication will also include gestures, such as body language. Obviously, too, communication will continue throughout the dance, that is, throughout the negotiating and into the relationship.

Getting Experience with One Another

At some point, though, there will need to be more than simple communication, unless we are considering an arranged marriage, which probably isn’t part of our present-day scenario. We will have to get physical in some way to see if the other person offers what we seek and to give them an opportunity to experience us as well. This is an important part of the data collection process that will feed the necessary decision-making process that follows. Note well that “in some way” is in italics.

In my view, it is a matter of “Nothing ventured; nothing gained.” We can, and sometimes do, talk relationships to death. We don’t venture past the talk part and hence never get to the experience and decision making parts. Even worse, we decide to end the negotiations because we refuse to do the experience and data-collecting phase of the process.

The fear of what-the-experience-will-bring is a prime reason that people stop the process and remain single. I would venture that this fear comes in two forms. The first is fear of failure and the second is fear commitment.

Over and over again we hesitate to experiment because we fear we will fail. Note what I have done here. I have expressed the idea of getting experience with the concept of experimenting. Unless we are willing to experiment, we will never get the experiences necessary to evaluate. Additionally, when we recognize the experimental nature of our experiencing, we see that there is no danger of failing. Experiments always teach us something. They are de facto a learning experience and therefore they are always successful.

Why do I say that? Because learning is always a successful activity, no matter what we learn. If we learn that we don’t like something, that is good. If we learn the other person’s not for us, that is good. When we experiment, we cannot fail because we will have learned something. OK, sometimes we refuse the lesson,  but that is a topic for another column.

Unfortunately we too often hesitate to experiment because we have the mistaken idea that experience means commitment. Yes, experience means that we have made some kind of short-term decision but it is hardly the irrevocable, no-turning-back decision that we fear it to be. On another note, if we never experience, if we refuse to experiment, we will never learn and therefore never attain that which we seek.

Now please don’t jump to the conclusion that experiencing one another means sex, though in this day and age of the easy lay doing so is certainly a possibility. Experiencing includes any activity that two people engage in, such as going on a date or sitting down with one another for a soda. It is the doing together that counts. Make it a movie, a dinner, a walk. It is the time together that demonstrates what you need to know. It is the experience shared with one another that tells you what the future may hold.

As experiences demonstrate the viability and possibility of a relationship, we can then begin the decision-making process, which I will cover shortly.

When it comes to the experiential part of the process I am a strong advocate of slow movement and incremental intensity. Too often we rush into deeper experiences with one another without fully evaluating where we are in the process and where we are going. Now if your relationship is meant to be nothing more than a quick fling, then speed is probably of no consequence. I also agree that even quick flings can evolve into permanent and very satisfactory relationships.

On the other hand haste makes waste and if we fail to take the time necessary to evaluate during the experiential part of the process, then we are quite liable to misinterpret the experience and make decisions that we will later regret.

I advocate that we move incrementally. Take the experience in small, progressive steps, little bites. There is no need to go whole hog.


In fact, we are continually evaluating the environment around us and making decisions as to what we will say or do next. Unfortunately we too often decide without realizing that we are doing so. In other words our decisions are not based on rationale thinking and well-observed data. They are not planned. Often we don’t even realize that a decision may have a life-changing effect. Just as we can rush experiences we can make speedy and poorly evaluated decisions. We can misinterpret words and deeds. Both of these situations send the wrong signal to us and to our prospective partner, leading to poor communication, misunderstanding and therefore poor experiences and damaging decisions.

In past essays I have spoken about this same process in different words. Then I chose to talk about researching, asking, listening, trying, evaluating, and repeating the process until we were able to come to clear decisions about our being involved. In any case it is a small-step, many-step process that leads to increased self-knowledge and eventual success.

Have a great week.

Have you seen the new Kindle edition of Philosophy in the Dungeon?

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