Relationships and Romance

~AyaMachi~

Flame Haze
Partnerships of equals are great in the rare instances they happen, but in the vast majority of cases there's going to be a dominant and a submissive partner
Sticking this in here because I don't really want to be involved in that specific debate, and I don't usually weigh in on political debates since I really have no interest but since this is related to relationships I'll just chime in with this: it's an equal partnership or nothing for me. My last "relationship" failed because of the sub/dom imbalance (partner wanted to be submissive in all aspects) - that just does not work for me.

It's not so much about who's more clever or savvy or whatever; we (Neil and I) each recognise that we bring different things to the table because we're different people at the end of the day, and that to me is what makes a successful relationship - you're a partnership; a team. We have our strengths and weaknesses and we recognise and respect those in each other and make it work.

My own parent's relationship is a complete bust, in (one small) part because of the 1950s mindset my Mum has and the fact that my Dad doesn't lift a finger around the house. That's just not me, and I would make every concerted effort to ensure that I would never end up in such a relationship. Thankfully, I haven't. Some people may voluntarily take on the sub/dom roles in a relationship, and that's fair enough if that's what each has consented to, but sometimes, it happens because of power struggles and toxic attitudes.

I understand I've digressed from the initial topic at hand, so apologies, but that's me personally, and my opinions. I certainly don't want to put words into Neil's mouth but I think he'd agree with me.

Fin
 
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ayase

State Alchemist
Like I say, the sub/dom thing is not present in all relationships but I think it is present to some degree in most. It doesn't have to be extreme, it can be quite subtle, but it's fairly easily observed in other people just say, sitting in a cafe and hearing them talk to each other. Which is about as close as I'm likely to get to a relationship for the time being.

I remember watching a documentary about Ayn Rand once, it seems what she looked for in a partner was someone who could dom even a domme like her, but she was just so domineering she never found anyone her forceful personality didn't totally subjugate. The way time has been working on sharpening my hard edges, I can sympathise. In fact I struggle now to see any future relationship not playing out like The Mountain Goats' album Tallahassee, not that that wouldn't at least be exciting while it lasted.

I am drowning
 

~AyaMachi~

Flame Haze
Like I say, the sub/dom thing is not present in all relationships but I think it is present to some degree in most. It doesn't have to be extreme, it can be quite subtle, but it's fairly easily observed in other people just say, sitting in a cafe and hearing them talk to each other.
Oh, I don't disagree - I've witnessed it myself from observing customers during my 5 years stint in retail; you definitely can tell who wears the pants in many cases! I guess by virtue of Neil and I also being quite strong willed individuals with minds of our own, we've just become like best friends (with the added bonus of there being something more). It also brings to mind the attachment theory, because I would imagine that patterns of behaviour from a very young age could certainly influence what an individual might end up being like later on in adult relationships, and thus determine the dynamic. Again, I say there's nothing wrong with either partner within a relationship voluntarily taking on either the sub/dom role, so long as it's consentual and both parties are happy with the arrangement. It's not for me personally, but we're all different, and every relationship is different.

I'd say Neil and I are both pretty stubborn confident and secure as individuals as well, which I think has to be present for there not to be any kind of shift in power in the first place (or an already present sub/dom dynamic). I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but we respect ourselves enough as individuals to not get pushed around or swayed by any sort of damaging behaviours. Plus, we practice the (seemingly lost) art of communication, so we talk openly about things that bother us or worry us. I'm not saying everything is perfect - nothing is! But each of us has the respect and admiration for each other to recognise the good traits and the not-so-good, which allow us to continually learn and grow as people. Personally, I'm not one for resting on my laurels and I guess because I'm quite introspective anyway, I continually strive to be the best that I can be, for myself and for Neil.
 
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ayase

State Alchemist
Oh, I don't disagree - I've witnessed it myself from observing customers during my 5 years stint in retail; you definitely can tell who wears the pants in many cases! I guess by virtue of Neil and I also being quite strong willed individuals with minds of our own, we've just become like best friends (with the added bonus of there being something more). It also brings to mind the attachment theory, because I would imagine that patterns of behaviour from a very young age could certainly influence what an individual might end up being like later on in adult relationships, and thus determine the dynamic. Again, I say there's nothing wrong with either partner within a relationship voluntarily taking on either the sub/dom role, so long as it's consentual and both parties are happy with the arrangement. It's not for me personally, but we're all different, and every relationship is different.
It takes all sorts, as they say. As is probably very apparent to anyone who reads my posts, I actually really enjoy challenging and being challenged (which is interesting in terms of examining parental relationships - My parents were certainly nothing like that, in fact completely the opposite to the point where I think they were so conscious of not hurting each other they didn't want to admit when the love had gone out of their relationship) and the willingness of people to be challenging and assertive increases my respect for them. That comes with its own challenges, because I think when you meet someone you like there's a kind of automatic response of trying to play nice and not alienate or upset them, which for me is quite an unnatural façade to put on. But if I don't, it's not easy to even make friends let alone built romantic relationships. I spent too long being a salesperson and trying to put the best spin on things to get the result I wanted, I guess.
 

~AyaMachi~

Flame Haze
That comes with its own challenges, because I think when you meet someone you like there's a kind of automatic response of trying to play nice and not alienate or upset them, which for me is quite an unnatural façade to put on.
I do think many of us, (at least initially), perhaps tread on proverbial eggshells a little bit more than we care to admit in the earlier stages of a relationship. We're scoping out the scene, as it were, and if you're anything like me, you're quite cautious and guarded. There can be a definite fear of perhaps hurting or offending as well, certainly, but I find that (as cliche as it sounds), the more time you spend together talking and sharing things, the more comfortable you become around each other, and your true colours shine naturally. I jest, but even only recently Neil and I have been joking about now "being at that stage where we can not be embarassed to fart in each other's presence" - you definitely end up just reaching a point where, you love the person so much, you WANT to share everything and be completely honest with them, and you want to be your best true self, which also means showing vulnerability and weakness. THAT for me, is the mark of being completely secure in yourself and each other, and in the relationship itself - you know your partner just has your back, through thick and thin, and loves you unconditionally, warts and all.

and the willingness of people to be challenging and assertive
I certainly don't see any issue with being challenging and assertive. I think this is where my point in a previous post about having respect for yourself is just as important as respecting the other person and the relationship. The way I see it, you can't love someone else unless you love yourself, and you have to be able to stand up for yourself, as well as have the curiosity to challenge; the key for me is how you go about that. You can actually do it in a respectful manner, without being hurtful or pig-headed. Unfortunately my previous partner put me on a pedestal - it's one thing to have respect and admiration for someone, but another entirely to worship the ground they walk upon and think they can do no wrong.

Funnily enough Neil and I were celebrating our 1 year of knowing each other last Monday, and in that time I've certainly noticed a shift in my own confidence (for the better) and happiness, especially given how bad 2017 was as a year, (and taking into account my own current circumstances). I've also noticed that Neil himself has perhaps loosened up just a little bit, and he seems so much more comfortable in being able to pull my leg a wee bit occasionally (he has an amazing sense of humour that I just find really endearing). We continue to go from strength to stength, and I really do feel like I'm in an equal partnership - we're a team, and we have each other's backs. He supports me in every way, and that's something I even feel like I'm still trying to wrap my head around!
 
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IncendiaryLemon

Captain Karen
AUKN Staff
Unfortunately my previous partner put me on a pedestal - it's one thing to have respect and admiration for someone, but another entirely to worship the ground they walk upon and think they can do no wrong.
Apologies for interjecting, but this part made me curious. In what ways did this present itself as an issue? I imagined that this is how most girls would probably want to be treated, personally. I have 0 experience in these matters, so if it's not too personal, I'd love to hear your expanded thoughts on this. Would be better to be educated on stuff like this if I ever found myself in the fortunate position for it to be useful!
 
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~AyaMachi~

Flame Haze
Apologies for interjecting, but this part made me curious. In what ways did this present itself as an issue? I imagined that this is how most girls would probably want to be treated, personally. I have 0 experience in these matters, so if it's not too personal, I'd love to hear your expanded thoughts on the matter. Would be better to be educated on stuff like this if I ever found myself in the fortunate enough position for it to be useful!
No worries Lemon :) I'll do my best if it helps any!

I'm sure many a girl likes to be wooed and admired - that's how it is in fairy stories, right? There's certainly nothing wrong with showing admiration for someone. Heck, even I've only become confident in the past few years in being able give compliments and credit where it's due to people, because, well, it's nice to do that, and in turn, it's nice to receive :)

My previous partner had only ever been in one relationship before he met me (he was also younger than me as well), and his own inexperience in the game became pretty apparent as time went on. The fact that he seemed quite content in being the more submissive partner in the relationship in turn put pressure on me, because wearing the boss-pants wasn't a role I was willing to fulfill. In addition, his sentiments and overtures of love would become very...stifling. It ended up pushing me away, because while I knew it was coming from a kind place, I simply didn't want him fawning and fussing over me all the time. He became very clingy, which again just served to push me further away.

I've never been a close and sentimental person anyway (I can practically hear @Neil.T scoffing as a write that because I have mellowed since back then), but I don't attach easily to things. I just don't like fuss and attention, so while my ex's sweet natured gestures may have been welcomed by some girls, they just didn't sit well with me, personally. I've often said to Neil that the kind of dynamic that I feel that I need, is one where we're best friends - best friends, but with the added bonus of being something more. There's no putting the other on a pedestal, nor is there any looking down your nose. Neither of us are like that anyway - again, not to sound arrogant, but I think simply by virtue of us both being secure in ourselves as individuals as well as the relationship, we're more like a proper team of equals. We're not joined at the hip. Neil will go off and do something, be it watching a nature documentary, or fiddling around with some cables (I do worry about him sometimes πŸ˜’), but, I'm happy knowing he's happy, and vice versa.

I'm sure some girls/women love lots of fuss and attention, but they're the kind I would usually paint as perhaps having very low self-esteem and confidence in the first place. They thrive off of attention and being placed on a pedestal so they can be worshipped and revered. Over time I've come to respect myself a whole lot more than I used to, and I am much more comfortable in my own skin. Even Neil himself will tell you it took him about 3 attempts before I even eventually said "okay, I'll view you as a potential contender, but that's it - it's down to you to prove to me why I should be in a relationship with you!" I certainly don't mean for that to sound arrogant at all, but the truth is, I didn't even want to be in a relationship, so the ball of wooing was effectively in his court. I digressed a little there, but the point is, I like to think that I have a good amount of self-esteem and confidence these days. I certainly respect myself enough now to know what I want, and yes, I do have high standards - I know my worth!

I also think that putting someone on a pedestal puts alot of undue pressure on them. They may end up feeling like they have certain expectations to live up to, and may feel like a failure if they don't make the grade, as it were. I've been put on a pedestal all my life, by my own parents, and you end up becoming so afraid of failure. You want everything to be perfect, and if it's not, you feel like you've failed. I grew up with anxiety as well, so it's not a great mix. They would sing my praises, and I could do no wrong. They were biased towards everything I did or said, and they just couldn't instill proper discipline. Another thing is that a potential partner could potentially take advantage of your good nature, and use emotional manipulation to serve their own interests, which would leave you with proverbial egg on your face ("ah, he loves me way too much. He'll never leave me so it doesn't matter if I act like a bit of a b**ch now and again!")

To sum up, the higher up you place someone, the greater the fall!

Hope this helps Lemon :) Apologies if things aren't clearly explained.
 
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ayase

State Alchemist
I certainly don't see any issue with being challenging and assertive. I think this is where my point in a previous post about having respect for yourself is just as important as respecting the other person and the relationship. The way I see it, you can't love someone else unless you love yourself, and you have to be able to stand up for yourself, as well as have the curiosity to challenge; the key for me is how you go about that. You can actually do it in a respectful manner, without being hurtful or pig-headed.
Yeah, but there's something about actually quite combative relationships I find very appealing. Passionate people, I guess, in all things, and ones tough enough to not be easily upset or hurt will always be my favourites. I agree respect is important but there are different kinds of respect to consider in different relationships, but respect for strength and consideration for feelings are quite different creatures. Some people (a lot of people, probably) want and expect the latter whereas I don't, really. I'm not easily hurt, and I'd want the same from a partner, otherwise I doubt we'd be able to stand each other. The ability to be yourself around someone is hugely important, and people are all very different.
 
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IncendiaryLemon

Captain Karen
AUKN Staff
No worries Lemon :) I'll do my best if it helps any!

I'm sure many a girl likes to be wooed and admired - that's how it is in fairy stories, right? There's certainly nothing wrong with showing admiration for someone. Heck, even I've only become confident in the past few years in being able give compliments and credit where it's due to people, because, well, it's nice to do that, and in turn, it's nice to receive :)

My previous partner had only ever been in one relationship before he met me (he as also younger than me as well), and his own inexperience in the game became pretty apparent as time went on. The fact that he seemed quite content in being the more submissive partner in the relationship in turn put pressure on me, because wearing the boss-pants wasn't a role I was willing to fulfill. In addition, his sentiments and overtures of love would become very...stifling. It ended up pushing me away, because while I knew it was coming from a kind place, I simply didn't want him fawning and fussing over me all the time. He became very clingy, which again just served to push me further away.

I've never been a close and sentimental person anyway (I can practically hear @Neil.T scoffing as a write that because I have mellowed since back then), but I don't attach easily to things. I just don't like fuss and attention, so while my ex's sweet natured gestures may have been welcomed by some girls, they just didn't sit well with me, personally. I've often said to Neil that the kind of dynamic that I feel that I need, is one where we're best friends - best friends, but with the added bonus of being something more. There's no putting the other on a pedestal, nor is there any looking down your nose. Neither of us are like that anyway - again, not to sound arrogant, but I think simply by virtue of us both being secure in ourselves as individuals as well as the relationship, we're more like a proper team of equals. We're not joined at the hip. Neil will go off and do something, be it watching a nature documentary, or fiddling around with some cables (I do worry about him sometimes πŸ˜’), but, I'm happy knowing he's happy, and vice versa.

I'm sure some girls/women love lots of fuss and attention, but they're the kind I would usually paint as perhaps having very low self-esteem and confidence in the first place. They thrive off of attention and being placed on a pedestal so they can be worshipped and revered. Over time I've come to respect myself a whole lot more than I used to, and I am much more comfortable in my own skin. Even Neil himself will tell you it took him about 3 attempts before I even eventually said "okay, I'll view you as a potential contender, but that's it - it's down to you to prove to me why I should be in a relationship with you!" I certainly don't mean for that to sound arrogant at all, but the truth is, I didn't even want to be in a relationship, so the ball of wooing was effectively in his court. I digressed a little there, but the point is, I like to think that I have a good amount of self-esteem and confidence these days. I certainly respect myself enough now to know what I want, and yes, I do have high standards - I know my worth!

I also think that putting someone on a pedestal puts alot of undue pressure on them. They may end up feeling like they have certain expectations to live up to, and may feel like a failure if they don't make the grade, as it were. I've been put on a pedestal all my life, by my own parents, and you end up becoming so afraid of failure. You want everything to be perfect, and if it's not, you feel like you've failed. I grew up with anxiety as well, so it's not a great mix. They would sing my praises, and I could do no wrong. They were biased towards everything I did or said, and they just couldn't instill proper discipline. Another thing is that a potential partner could potentially take advantage of your good nature, and use emotional manipulation to serve their own interests, which would leave you with proverbial egg on your face ("ah, he loves me way too much. He'll never leave me so it doesn't matter if I act like a bit of a b**ch now and again!")

To sum up, the higher up you place someone, the greater the fall!

Hope this helps Lemon :) Apologies if things aren't clearly explained.
You did a great job of explaining things, thank you! Honestly, if I were going into a relationship, I feel I would naturally fall into many of these traps myself, thinking it's the nice and kind thing to do. A bit of perspective from the other side is helpful to hear.
 

~AyaMachi~

Flame Haze
The ability to be yourself around someone is hugely important, and people are all very different.
Absolutely! Couldn't agree more! And the beauty of getting to know one another over time is, that you both get to know the other's quirks. What makes them unique and different. Only recently I've opened up to @Neil.T about my past struggles with OCD, but also how I deal with it on a daily basis now I'm older, and he's been super supportive and understanding. It's about appreciating similarities and respecting differences, but also having the open mind to adapt and try new ways of doing things that you may not have thought about. While Neil and I have loads to celebrate in terms of similarities (only just got off the phone with him and he totally agrees with me about boycotting Valentine's Day), we also have some differences in how me might deal with certain things, perhaps owing to how we've each been brought up and the environment we each grew up in - my childhood was one filled with anxiety and chaos while by comparison, Neil has had much more structure and routine, which has given him a much calmer mindset (a complete contrast to my high energy and bubbly nature). I think the difference is that I'm able to see this in a positive light now, whereas before, I might have worried that he would judge me too much about the fact that sometimes I struggle to manage my emotions when I become irrationally fearful of things. I worried that it would define me and he would only be able to see that aspect of me. The thruth is, our respective personalities complement each other :)

I do think that even differences should be celebrated, because it means you become exposed to a different perspective. You get to learn something about that person you might not have otherwise known, but it can also be a gateway to learning more about yourself too!

You did a great job of explaining things, thank you! Honestly, if I were going into a relationship, I feel I would naturally fall into many of these traps myself, thinking it's the nice and kind thing to do. A bit of perspective from the other side is helpful to hear.
πŸ˜ƒ πŸ˜„

I'm thrilled this was of some help to you :) I will add that I certainly have no isssue in receiving complements - I like to think I'm gracious and humble enough to accept anything that people might say, but as @st_owly (witch) said, it's about not overdoing it. Just striking a good balance. From my own personal experience, I find that as I've become more confident and self-assured, I find it so much easier to actually give and receive compliments and praise anyway (even criticism when it's constructive) - it just ends up coming naturally. Often I find that people who are insecure feel the need to dish out compliments left right and centre, and it's often to gain approval from others, not because it's actually true. Also, when people are biased towards you to the point where they can't call you out when you do something stupid, that's a bad sign to me. They're afraid of hurting you or criticising you for doing something wrong, but it causes more hurt when you realise that you could end up in a bad situation (or even breaking the law), because they're too afraid to discipline you. Either that, or they're serving their own interests. Ultimately, it ends up severing trust, and (in the case of my parents), when you unconditionally trust these people to guide you in life (only to find that they've led you down a sketchy path), you just can't trust them any more. I'd always rather people be brutally honest with me, even if it's something I don't want to hear! I digressed a bit in terms of my example, but it was merely to illustrate the extremes of what these kinds of behaviours can do, at least from my own experience.

I've had to learn this on my own though - I've not had any kind of grounding in it as a child since my own childhood was so awful. The person I am now has had a crash course in growing up and developing key life values in only a short space of time, and even now, I'm still learning (I don't think you ever stop). I feel like even now, at 32, I'm almost wiping the slate clean to start again, as it were, but now I'm doing it with a better mindset and more wisdom than I had say, 10 years ago. Plus, I have a supportive partner in the picture :)
 

Vashdaman

Za Warudo
Interesting reading these posts. Nice to get everyone's own view of relationship happiness. I'm in the "hardly any experience camp", I've only ever been in one relationship, and it wasn't very long really. But in regards to the dominant/submission thing, I don't think I'd want to be in a relationship where the roles and power are delineated in that kind of way, rather I'd just like us to be comfortable and honest with one another's strengths and weaknesses. I have a great many weaknesses myself, and while I don't revel in them (and I do try to improve them) I tend to not bother hiding them; I'm woefully clumsy, have an awful sense of direction, don't understand how airports work, panic if I can't find an armhole when putting on my coat, and am generally crap at all practical things ect ect. Basically all the traditionally manly skills I am rubbish at, and would have no qualms in deferring to a potential partner if she was any better at them. To be fair, this lack of manliness might well have put a fair few girls off of me, but I am definitely not just some flaccid servile serf (unless we're talking about erections), and have my own strength and intrepidity that I hope someone might be able to appreciate.

Also, all that being that as it may, in my one and only relationship (which was a good few years ago), I think I did kind of assume the role of the dominant person. But it wasn't because it was what my ex wanted, but because it was the role I thought I needed to play at first, and then that power went to my head and I abused it, and she let me get away with it for a while because she was afraid of upsetting me. It's easy for a weak person (as I was) to turn into a little tyrant when given power. I think that happened to me. I wasn't horribly abusive or anything, but I would catch myself taking liberties and treating her in a way I would never dream of treating anyone else, simply because I thought I could and I thought she would accept it submissively, and I would end up justifying it all in my head by some twisted logic. It's actually incredibly painful even writing and reading these horrible sentences. She did put me right in the end though, she found the strength to confront me, and when she did I truly realised with horror how indefensible and wrong that behaviour of mine was. Unfortunately, and most depressingly of all, I rewarded her courage by not long after that breaking up with her, although it wasn't directly related to that point at all (but in a larger sense my breaking up with her was still related to my insecure sham masculinity). So I never got the chance to put what I learnt into effect in that relationship.

I know I would never ever be like that again, I've spent the last few years almost doing nothing else but mulling over these regrets and lessons. So even if I did find myself with a submissive person, I wouldn't want or be able to dominate. I think an equal and honest relationship is definitely what I want.

Although, on the subject of grand effusions of love, I may be well and truly beyond all hope. I write pretty much romantic poetry to my best buddies, I positively flood their email inboxes with it, so lord knows how I'd repress these inclinations with a girlfriend. I would try to curtail it a fair bit to be fair, I don't want to cloy, and it would only be sincere stuff, but I'm not sure that anyone who's not a fan of sentimental poetry wouldn't want to murder me pretty quickly!
 
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Neil.T

Mad Scientist
Would be better to be educated on stuff like this if I ever found myself in the fortunate position for it to be useful!
You can and you will. When things so suddenly and unexpectedly turn around for someone who hung in there as long as I did, that's your proof.

I can't promise you when and with whom that'll happen, but I can promise that chances will unavoidably present themselves just by virtue of going about your life. Until then, stick to your guns and just keep going about things the way you do them. Obviously some bending will be needed when the time comes :), but since everyone is different and things are different for each individual, it's pointless to go down the rabbit hole of consciously trying to do X or Y because it's what "someone" is bound to like. At the end of the day it's your own character that someone will be attracted to and admire, after all: the things that make you uniquely "you".

When that happens, there'll be no need to battle against the currents, and you can just allow yourself to be carried along with the natural flow of things. I hope that made some kind of sense, because that's how it feels when it's good.

Also, Aya would like to remind you that in the big scheme of things, you're still only a piplet! Time and opportunity are very much on your side. :)

We like you. ;)
 

IncendiaryLemon

Captain Karen
AUKN Staff
You can and you will. When things so suddenly and unexpectedly turn around for someone who hung in there as long as I did, that's your proof.

I can't promise you when and with whom that'll happen, but I can promise that chances will unavoidably present themselves just by virtue of going about your life. Until then, stick to your guns and just keep going about things the way you do them. Obviously some bending will be needed when the time comes :), but since everyone is different and things are different for each individual, it's pointless to go down the rabbit hole of consciously trying to do X or Y because it's what "someone" is bound to like. At the end of the day it's your own character that someone will be attracted to and admire, after all: the things that make you uniquely "you".

When that happens, there'll be no need to battle against the currents, and you can just allow yourself to be carried along with the natural flow of things. I hope that made some kind of sense, because that's how it feels when it's good.

Also, Aya would like to remind you that in the big scheme of things, you're still only a piplet! Time and opportunity are very much on your side. :)

We like you. ;)
Bless you Neil, you are far too kind.
 
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