Saturday, February 1, 2014

For Better or Worse

Tonight's baking endeavor is corn bread. I've never made it before, and it's currently in the oven as I type this, so hopefully it turns out alright. Now-hubby and I are going over to podcast guy's house for a Superbowl slash board game slash possible sexytimes party on Sunday, and I volunteered to bring the corn bread. Two reasons for this.

1. I really like corn bread, so if it turns out well, it will be nice to know I can make it for myself if I want.
2. I feel it's always a good idea to bring something to a party, and as they're already making chili, I thought cornbread would be a good accompaniment.

So, as I have a bit of time and need to keep my mind off whether my corn bread will be good or not, I'm here to regale you all with my thoughts on "better" and "worse."

Both of these terms are comparative. i.e. something is inherently "better" or "worse" than something else. Like many things that get compared in life, the judgement winds up being subjective. What's "better" for one person might be "worse" for somebody else. (Thinking about my corn bread, I certainly hope it's not anybody's "worst," but I also doubt it will be the "best" anybody's ever had.)

Making comparative judgement calls when it comes to human beings is hilarious fun (read: actually a great cause of mind-fuckery). There are 3 main variations. (Anybody else noticing that these "list" type entries always seem to have 3 items? It's the fucking magic number, folks.)

Also, that video is exactly 3 minutes long.

Anyway. I did seriously have something to say about comparative bullshit within relationships. Commence.

1. Comparing yourself to others

The green-eyed monster idea. In relationships it takes a specific form beyond, "I wish I had that thing that other person has" to, "I wish I had that thing that other person has, because for some reason my significant other is paying attention to that thing and it makes me feel even more insecure about not having it." I'm guilty of it sometimes. This one is a pretty severe mental hurdle to get over because it's tied so closely to self-image. I'm not saying that you have to be the most confident person in the world. Only that I've found it helpful to at least admit that I'm not the most confident person in the world, and that sometimes it's helpful to get a little extra reassurance. "Yes, that person has that thing, but you have plenty of things that I also really like."

2. Comparing your partner to other people

This one plays out a lot in standard narrative love stories. Two people will be in a relationship and you can just tell it's not working between them. Nothing super serious like they're physically abusive towards each other or they're antagonistically fighting all the time. Just...little stupid stuff like he likes to play video games and she doesn't really care about video games.

Then he'll go shopping one day for the brand new video game and there'll be this girl in the store aisle with him. They'll both reach for the last copy of the video game box, and their hands will touch, and it will just be fucking true love from that point forward.

It can be more benign than that. And cross-gender. "All my guy friends understand that I like video games? Why can't you get it?" It becomes less about variant, albeit completely valid interests and more about proving a point about how you're somehow not supposed to get along with the person you're in a relationship with. Like, it's nice to have them around because they help you feel less lonely, but ultimately they're just in an endless competition to measure up to some pre-set standard that's been set even before you met them.

This can get difficult in polyamory or open relationships, because with multiple partners comes inevitable comparisons. The relationship I have with Now-hubby is very different than the relationship I have with Frisbee. We have different conversations, we have different interests together, we have different types of sex. The tricky part is trying not to qualify any of it as necessarily "better" or "worse." The really nice part is if I'm looking for a particular kind of what-have-you in my life, there are multiple options out there for getting that need met.

3. Comparing what you have with what you think you need

Sort of related to 1 and 2, but in it's own separate realm. It takes a bit of who you think you should be from 1, adds in that list of requirements for your partner in 2, and then blows up a huge shit bomb of "well, now what the fuck do I do because I'm supposed to be happy."

Somewhere in monogamous land there's also comparisons that get made when the "future perfect spouse" list can't be fully checked off, but there are at least a few really good qualities even though the rest of them might be shit. For example, concession for really good sex even though the emotional instability of said partner makes you want to set your brain on fire. Or concession for a really good sense of humor even though you'd rather your g-spot got tickled than your funny bone.

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