In 2011, only days away from 2012, I have to admit I am a little surprised we are still arguing about whether Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender individuals have rights to marry each other. We have years of research showing that humans do not choose their sexual preference, and, for lack of a better term, are not the victims of some sort of mental disorder just because they are Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, or Transgender. Unfortunately, our current American-Christian culture has combed many of us to believe that LGBT individuals are sub par to traditional heterosexual humans. According to some, LGBT individuals are second class citizens, although many try and rephrase their beliefs in order to not sound so cruel. The traditionalists that don’t care what others think about them clearly state that LGBT individuals are far from the “norm” and are a problem that should be somehow “dealt” with. But I, as an American Christian, do not share these fearful, hateful, and bigoted beliefs. In fact, I believe that for more than just the goodness of the human heart LGBT individuals should be given the exact same rights to marriage as every other human being.
The fear of homosexuals in general in our American history has seemingly always been fueled by certain faiths in the Christian movement. Some more than others, but for the most part many believe homosexuals to be misguided, disturbed, or plain evil. The Christian churches main argument against homosexuality comes from the Bible—”the word of God.” I type that phrase with a slight hint of sarcasm because although most Christians accept the Bible to be the empirical word of the Almighty, they also accept that it was literally written by human beings, has been mistranslated as it has passed through many cultures, and the current version was assembled by a council that once again was made up of human beings who picked and poked at what they wanted in and out of the “sacred text.” So, as you can imagine, it would make sense to find out that there are sections of the Bible that have been taken out of context or lost in translation. However, if you introduce these inconsistencies to a devout Christian, you may find yourself at the end of their condemning index finger halfway to hell.
The recent news of Herman Cain’s alleged 13-year sexual affair has got many ladies and gentlemen rethinking their own friendships, especially in the perspective eyes of their significant others. Herman Cain, a once poll-leading Republican presidential candidate running in the Republican primaries, insists that his friendship with Ginger White was strictly platonic, even though he does admit that he financially supported her for at least a period of two years. My argument about this whole matter is that however he may want to spin the friendship, the fact that he admits Gloria Cain, Herman Cain’s wife of over 40 years, did not know about the friendship, and thus forth the details of the friendship, constitutes an inappropriate affair.
I sound like a lawyer, right? Give me a break. I’m just trying to make a relevant point based on the facts. Bear with me.
Here is how a secret 13-year friendship may still be an affair:
I personally believe that any relationship (opposite or same sex), other than with your partner, that is based on dishonesty constitutes an affair. This secret relationship may involve emotional or physical affection, but it is the deceit that clearly marks the line between an appropriate or an inappropriate relationship. The deceit may surround the content of conversations, who your meeting, where you’ve been, or exactly what happened. Furthermore, if this inappropriate relationship involves financial support then it only suggests that there may be a deeper level of emotional or physical attachment than may be openly expressed. Financial support of a friend in itself is not a moral sin, but I do believe financial support of anyone without the knowledge of your life partner is a significant issue, and only suggests an inappropriate relationship.
I am the jealous guitar.
I now sit–wasted; unused.
Locked within these walls,
I can’t bring myself to move.
I peak out from my den,
When a moment presents itself.
I see light, I see colors,
I see gloom to my heart’s drum.
Left alone to my own thoughts,
I dread what is to come.
My jealousy ferments–rots;
The stink of resentment.
I once was adored,
I once was passion,
I was once a piece to envy;
Now I sit–wasted, unused.
Pluck me, press me,
Beat me, hear me,
Make me, want me,
Touch me, hold me.
I sing but no ears hear.
I weep but no tears here.
I just sit–jealous and angry.
I’m replaced and I hear no music.
No song or music to cheat me.
No rythm to beat me.
Nothing but chaos and noise;
A mockery of all I know.
Fake haunting lights
Illuminate the faces I see.
My friend, my life,
My lover hypnotized.
No clap will set free,
The hands that once caressed my soul.
Those hands I still wish for;
Those eyes I still die for.
Look at me–why won’t you?
Speak to me please.
I am jealous for you.
Caress no other but me.
My body is still here.
My soul is still inside me.
Come, sit with me now.
Use me in your own way.
Unlock me and see what’s inside.
Hear me and never stray again.
Love me and keep me forever.
I am yours. I am your guitar.
“We don’t want to label our relationship,” one couple claimed. I’m sure at some point most of us have heard this or heard of it. Some say labels hinder the relationship; cheapen it; conform its dynamics to the social standards–as if their relationship is far more superior. Others say that the labels are ambiguous. Everyone attributes a different meaning to each label. ‘What’s the point of trying to define a relationship according to unclear or undetermined standards?’ they ask. Well, no matter what you think about “labels” there should be a definite concern to the lack of them in your relationship. Even more so most people forget that the importance of labels should not be attributed to the community around you, but rather to the relationship itself–you and your partner.
To protect those who have spoken to me I will use the names John and Jane for our example couple.
About 6 months ago I spoke to Jane along with a few of her guy friends. Jane was explaining to them that she was not sure about the direction of her current relationship. She was both fed up and hung over this guy. Jane had known the guy, John, for a little over a year. A few months into their friendship John and Jane found themselves hanging out alone more often. Whether it was by friends disappearing during a random group outing, or by “running into each other” at convenient locations, John and Jane were becoming a bit of an item. To Jane this was confirmed by their first “meeting of the hands.” Both John and Jane seemed very happy and comfortable with the relationship. Jane didn’t notice a problem with this new found relationship until one day, upon spotting their friends in the distance, both John and Jane mutually let go of each others’ hands.
Jane explained that she was not necessarily afraid of what her friends would think, but for some reason there was doubt within both their minds about the status of the relationship. “We were together,” Jane reasoned, “but we didn’t want our friends to know how together we were. I’m not sure why. After a while though I wanted us to be more then just together, but a couple–even in front of our friends. But we’ve never made it official and so we continue to hide when we spot our friends–like in the mall.”
“How long has this been going on?” I asked.
“8… No… 10 months, now. Yeah, 10 months,” Jane answered.
Now, for all you Judge Mathis’ and Judge Judy’s please put your brakes on. No reason to makea judgement on this poor girl. Jane was merely playing a role she had been used to for a very long time. We do it all the time, knowingly or unknowingly. Jane’s was sligtly unkowingly. After further discussion with Jane, she came to realize that her insistance of being with John in the first place was really an unhealthy need to be loved displacement (co-dependancy). Although she had tried very hard to rid herself of John–even breaking it off with him a few times–she would find herself taking him back when he would beg. Yes, John himself was also co-dependant in the relationship. Although he would play hard during the relationship–claiming there was no need to label it, which would finally drive Jane to break up with him–John would pathetically relinquish the tough persona and cry to his cousin and friends about how much he wanted her back. The messages would then be passed over to Jane, who would in turn take John back. The co-depenancy, although needing to be addressed outside our current scope, was only part of the problem. Even if they could work past the dependancy they were still missing one fundamental part of the relationship. The label.
Without it you can’t answer questions like: What type of relationship did they have? How serious was it? How serious should it be? Not only was their ambiguity among John and Jane, but also among their friends. Jane explained that up until that day she was still getting questioned about her and John’s relationship status. ‘Are you guys going out?’ they would ask. Jane would have no answer. Jane had no answer for herself. Without the label, who was John to her.
Think about it. Who was Jane to John? What if another woman was making passes at John? Is John to withdraw because he has a “girlfriend” or does he? Is Jane to stake her claim to John’s heart? If this was all in reverse, should Jane refrain fro flirting? Should John express his love and protection over Jane and shoo away any vulture-like men? How would one know–unless, the relationship was truly defined?
The definition of a relationship allows the couple to clearly state the standards and boundaries of the relationship. The label is merely what the couple named their definition. Couples sometimes avoid labeling because social trends may have changed and they are not sure “how” to label the relationship. Although this may be true, the labeling should first be decided by you and your partner, reflecting a healthy portion of the modern social trend, and then find a place for it in the community.
So, just in case your excuse is, “I am highly ignorant of all the modern phrases and labels for relationships,” here’s a quick general run down of some the American definitions of dating:
In a sentence: “Carlos and I are kind of talking right now. We’ll see where it goes.”
Definition: Friends who may or may not be aware of their emotional feelings about each other but are voluntarily or involuntarily exploring the premise of a relationship with each other.
Layman’s Term: There’s no clear boundary in the relationship, but there is a possibility. This usually means there is an increase in communication between the two parties (ie. frequent, longer phone calls).
“Seeing Each Other”
In a sentence: “Yup, Sarah and I are now seeing each other.”
Definition: Friends who are vaguely to clearly aware of their emotional feelings towards each other and have mutually chosen to engage in couple activities (ie. the movies, dinner, play dates) in a casual setting.
Layman’s Term: There’s a vague boundary in the relationship, and exclusiveness may be determined. This usually means the two parties plan casual dates such as movies, dinners and other seemingly couple-like activities. An agreement of exclusiveness is usually implied as they get to know each other better.
In a sentence: “How long have you and Jeff been going out?”
Definition: Friends who are clearly aware of their emotional feelings towards each other and have mutually chosen to get to know each other better personally as well as openly engage in couple-like activities.
Layman’s Term: There are a few established boundaries in the relationship, and exclusiveness may very well be determined. The couple actively plan and participate regular dates. The two parties are usually more willing to share or express the nature of their relationship to friends.
In a sentence: “Will and I have been dating for about a year.”
Definition: Friends who are actively and exclusively engaged in a relationship that explores the ever-growing emotional feelings that each shares for the other and their individual personalities and characteristics.
Layman’s Term: The boundaries are clear. Both parties have agreed to exclusively explore and nurture the others’ feelings. Usually means that after a significant amount of time the relationship is “serious” and an “engagement” is a possibility in the relative future.
In a sentence: “Are you and Paula getting serious?”
Definition: Partners engaged in a dating relationship that are seriously considering the growth and path into marriage.
Layman’s Term: A couple dating for a significant amount of time, usually no more then a year and a half, that are beginning to consider if they truly would like to be married to their significant other. By this point, the honeymoon phase of the dating relationship is beginning to fade and all aspects of the others’ personality and character are under analysis.
In a sentence: “I am courting the beautiful Abigail.”
Definition: Traditionally a man who engages a woman in a structured, culturally regulated companionship with the intent to marry one another if/when the relationship, either by time or by communed decision, has found itself at the correct moment to become ceremonially and/or legally a joined union (marriage).
Layman’s Term: The boundaries are impeccably clear. Both parties have agreed to strictly and exclusively explore and nurture the others’ feelings. Both parties usually follows strict guidelines regulating physical touch, quality time and the nature of their couple activities. The regulations are usually established within a certain culture and the surrounding community (ie. neighborhood, parents, siblings, church) act as enforcers. Both parties usually assume marriage to the other as a motivational factor for the relationship at the beginning.
In a sentence: “Guess what? I’m engaged!”
Definition: Partners betrothed and actively participating in the process of arranging a ceremonious and/or legal wedding after expressing and establishing their want and readiness to become joined to their significant other.
Layman’s Term: A couple, happy and content, promising to wed each other. Usually means that arrangements for the wedding begin.
Now that you have the labels, USE THEM! Ambiguity in a relationship leads to confusion and misunderstandings. Misunderstandings lead to quarrels and unnecessary disagreements. The lack of your relationship’s definition may also lead to infidelity (not the number one cause however). It may also lead to false expectations of yourself or the other. For example: you wanting to get married while your partner on the other hand would like explore an open relationship (not recommended in any sense). Even the simple question of, ‘Should we tell our friends?’ begs another question like, ‘What are we going to tell them?’
By the way, the expression, “it’s complicated” is not a valid label. It is merely an excuse. Usually, there is no clear definition from each partner behind that statement to make it into a true label. Conforming to the use of this false label is a sign of ambiguity within or issues attributed to the relationship. If there is no clear defninition behind it, it is not a valid relationship label.
Also, don’t be fooled just because you “mess” around. A relationship begins as soon as there is shared interest expressed between two individuals who act in engaging each other accordingly. This starts at friendship and ends at death in marriage. Anything in between, including sex, is part of some type of relationship. “Fooling around” or “messing around” is a form of dating since there is a deeper sense of sharing involved (physical if you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about). That’s what takes place in a dating relationship anyway–the deeper sharing of oneself. Whether its physical, emotional, spiritual or mental, a deeper sharing, offering bits of oneself not usually given to “anyone,” constitutes a dating scenario. You may be messing with multiple people, but you are dating them all nonetheless.
What should you do now? Find your significant other. Have them sit down and read this blog with you. Then figure out which one applies to your current situation. Come to an agreement and there you have it: YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY LABELED YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Now your farther ahead in the maturity and growth of yourself and your relationship then many other couples. Congratulations!
To all my friends,
Recently I have had the pleasure of speaking to a few individuals who are having a rough time dealing with break-ups. The general consensus seems to be that each person just can not bring themselves to get over their ex-significant other. They find themselves running back and tangled within the web they had just escaped from days or weeks earlier. To all of those who are struggling with this here is some general friendly advice. Mind you, I am not a professional and if you are truly having deep emotional problems that are causing a significant amount of turmoil or distraction in your life you might need to consider professional help.
Before I start there are some things that most people need to consider after the break-up in order to begin to find closure. There is a “grieving” process that all should go through and that process depends highly on the next set of questions. There is no need to send me your answers to these questions unless you feel compelled to. If you do, for some odd reason, send me your answers nothing will be shared with anyone. All secrets will be kept.
A small list of things to consider as you begin the grieving stage:
Ok, that is a lot. Should be good for now.
Now, for the general advice. This should work in most situations, but it depends on your particular case and just how much professional help you should seek.
First, you should establish distance. This is physical distance. I already assume a certain amount of emotional distance regardless of sexual activity if you have broken up. The physical distance must include avoiding social situations where they might be present. If you accidentally show up at the same event, your best bet is to leave or find another group to socialize with if leaving is not a possibility. Yes, they are your friends too. Why should you leave? Well, if you’re reading this it might mean you are the bigger person. The bigger person usually takes the initiative to solve a problem and not perpetuate it. If they approach you, there should a ‘no questions asked or answered’ policy. A well meant, “Hi, nice to see you. Have a good day/evening,” should suffice. Which brings me to my next point.
Second, you should establish mental/emotional distance. This is in terms of speaking to one another. This means that you do not pick up their phone calls, address him/her in any electronic fashion, or engage them in conversation if you happen to run into them. I’ll explain the importance of all of these in a bit.
Third, find friends to fulfill your social needs. If you have to, let your friends know they are on standby just in case you feel like hanging out with somebody. If you need to call and talk to someone you have a standby ready to go. If your friends accept and follow-through, these are the friends you should keep. Now,whether your standby is male or female usually does not matter, but if there is a sexual attachment or sexual tension to the either the male or female in question then you should pick another. The reason being is you might be tempted to reach for a rebound; my last point.
Finally, avoid a rebound. The rebound usually affirms bad habits in yourself that were already in play in the previous relationship. You need time to think about the past relationship and why it went the way it did. Remember to own some of the blame. It is never 100% the other person’s fault. Every situation includes a percentage dedicated to the alleged victim as well. Figure out just how much of the issues were perpetuated or started by you. Be honest with yourself. This might take a lot of soul searching and you might feel a significant amount of pain. Use your friends to help you sort it out and for support when you’re feeling down. Don’t forget to affirm yourself for the good you did in the relationship. This is also not 100% in either direction. Each person contributes good. Its important to find this good in yourself and the ex because this is what you will use to evaluate what you would like, from yourself and the other person, in your next relationship. This, coupled with what you would not like, is how you learn from a bad/unfortunate relationship and convert it into a meaningful relationship with another human being. Filter out the bad, and filter in the good.
That last point is why it is very important to establish overall distance from the ex-significant other. You can not do any of the soul searching if the ex-significant other is clouding your judgment. Furthermore, you are robbing the other person a chance to change themselves. If it is truly the others fault for the downward turn in the relationship then they also need time to think and figure themselves out. It won’t always happen, but it will definitely most likely not happen if you’re still around for them to continue practicing their old habits. They need space just as much as you do, but they may not see it. Nevertheless, give it to them. Give it to yourself. Give yourself a chance to grow, mature and later on find yourself in a relationship filled with happiness and joy.
Remember, the longer you were involved in the relationship the longer you need recovery time. Recovery time means you are not actively participating or engaging yourself in a potential relationship. Usually, recovery should last 2-4+ months for a relationship lasting a year and 3-6+ months for one lasting two years (all depending on the circumstances). If the relationship lasted 3 or more years it should usually range from 4-12 months (again, depending on particular circumstances).
I hope that helped a little bit. Don’t hesitate to seek pro help if need be or ask more questions.