March 19th, 2005

(no subject)

I posted this response in the Polyamory community; I thought I'd post it here, too, and get some more thoughts on it:

Karina questions us:

Is this kind of thing [dishonesty in relationships] that one is to expect if they have a realtionship in general?

The following may sound facetious, but it's not intended to be:

I don't have relationships with people in general; I have relationships with specific people.

This is important, because most people are fuckin' nuts most of the time. Whenever they can get away with it, usually. Calling it "nuts" is actually a misnomer, though; a more correct label would be "corrupt." If it becomes to their personal advantage to re-define "The Truth" in a way that has nothing to do with a hypothetical accurate history, a lot of people will do so immediately and without thinking about it. To those of us to whom accurate history is important, this is infuriating.

Edit: I left out a connection here. The above is why selection of people with whom to have relationships is so important. There's an additional point beyond this, as well, in that how we behave with the people we relate to sets and enforces the standards of interaction we are willing to accept in a relationship.

Sanity is *fragile*. If I'm in a relationship with you, and you've been a good contributor, and suddenly you express needs, it's *so* much easier for me to decide that you've been Hiding A Deep Dark Secret, You're Not The Person I Thought You Were, and ditch the relationship than it is for me to admit to myself that I've only been in it for the opportunity to take you for a ride, so to speak. I want to think of myself as a Noble Hero, after all, and actions as a Callous Opportunist, no matter how profitable, interfere with that image. So if I can *act* as a Callous Opportunist and continue to *think* of myself as a Noble Hero, I get the best of both worlds. *You* get screwed, but hey, the world's like that.

Most people are like that most of the time. Some of us *try* to be honorable, and those of us who try are sometimes successful and sometimes not. Some of us have the integrity if we catch ourselves being dishonorable to say "Whoops, blew it; can we take that last one back and start over?"; those of us being acted upon by such people sometimes give 'em the chance and sometimes not.

I do think that both the lives of individuals and the flavor of our culture overall would be much improved by a *lot* more tolerance; specifically the assumption that human communication is a high-error-rate process, and if someone "lies" to you the chances are they're making a mistake, not being malicious. They, in turn, should be able to be confident that you'll accept their mistake and allow them to correct it, rather than taking the event as an opportunity to vent your own pseudo-righteous wrath on them.

There's a lot of pseudo-righteous wrath floating around. I'm working on figuring out why, and what good may be done with it, but I observe a lot of people carrying around old rage and looking for victims upon whom to bestow it. People at large then tend to become timid, which is understandable. And timidity makes it harder to start relationships with them; conversation with someone trying to flee me becomes rapidly hampered by shortness of breath.

I'm not sure I'm being coherent, so I'm going to go in search of coffee and get back to this later. I *hope* I've said something worthwhile; your commentary is welcome.