Applying the concept of "outcome independence" to relationships

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Applying the concept of "outcome independence" to relationships Empty Applying the concept of "outcome independence" to relationships

Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:26 pm

http://www.sexandlondoncity.co.uk/blog-2/sex-love/167-say-no-to-a-spoon

I started a discussion on this blog post to a polyamory forum as it relates to the so called "relationship escalator". The RE is the concept that relationships need to progress at a certain rate that leads up to "the prize". (marriage, the 2 1/2 kids white picket fences etc.) This sometimes leads to the belief that any relationships that don't lead to "the prize" are failures and wastes of time and may lead to resenting ex partners because they eventually didn't marry you. In the article, the woman used as an example a "failed" relationship that lasted six months with a man who apparently said from the jump that he didn't want anything serious but apparently by cuddling her he was "lying to her" and she viewed the relationship as 6 months of her life wasted. Now there might have been other problems with the relationship that she didn't talk about but I got the impression that the only crime that Malone committed was that he didn't marry her. Now to me, a relationship with someone I like and feel happy with is in itself "the prize". I'm involved with a woman right now who I "cuddle" and "spoon" with quite a bit. It makes me happy and it makes her happy. However, it's a "non escalator" relationship and may not, and probably won't, lead to marriage.

In several of his articles, Harris has talked about the concept of "outcome independence" when it comes to interacting with people you may be attracted to. (OE is one of the few good things that has come out of PUA) I wonder if the same thing can apply when you are actually in a relationship with someone. If you are always worrying about whether or not your partner is "The One" and whether or not he/she will eventually marry you, that will effect the way you interact with your partner and you will be constantly taking the relationship's pulse. However, if you simply enjoy the relationship without any expectations about where it is going, you won't come across as needy and desperate and he/she might be more likely to offer you something long term and if he/she doesn't, there are others who might.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:50 pm

Seems like a little of column A, a little of column B to me. Its good to know what each partner's optimal outcome is, whether that be marriage, or just it lasts as long as it lasts and goes where it goes. What you want may change as time goes on, so its not a bad idea to take stock now and then. If you're mature enough to be in a relationship, you should be mature enough to use your words and make sure everyone is clear on where things are going. Certainly, I'm not a fan of sizing someone up as a potential spouse on the first date and then directing all of my efforts towards that goal. You're going to have a better experience if you can enjoy your time together without worrying about whether you're hitting arbitrary benchmarks on a schedule.

Now there's nothing wrong with seeing other people with he explicit goal of picking out a future spouse. You'll do better at that by looking for other people with a similar goal, though.

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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:54 pm

Agree with GJ. I am definitely a No Marriage Please, You May Leave A Toothbrush But Don't Push It Sunshine sort of person. I am upfront about it because I don't want to waste the time of someone who wants the escalator. You would be AMAZED at people's capacity to lie to themselves though. All but one of my relationships has ended because I was not willing to provide the level of commitment I said on the first date I wasn't willing to provide.

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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:30 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:

Now there's nothing wrong with seeing other people with he explicit goal of picking out a future spouse. You'll do better at that by looking for other people with a similar goal, though.

I agree but I have to wonder if, just as with the desperate lonely guy who approaches every interaction with women with the goal of getting a date, sex, or a girlfriend and considers it a failure if it doesn't lead there, approaching every relationship with the end goal of marriage and considering it a failure if it doesn't lead there, might itself sabotage the relationship.
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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:49 pm

Ron Ritzman wrote:I agree but I have to wonder if, just as with the desperate lonely guy who approaches every interaction with women with the goal of getting a date, sex, or a girlfriend and considers it a failure if it doesn't lead there, approaching every relationship with the end goal of marriage and considering it a failure if it doesn't lead there, might itself sabotage the relationship.

I don't think that's what's meant, though. I think the message is more, "It's okay if you want to get married, and are looking for a spouse potential." That doesn't mean you expect the coffeeshop girl to be your wife. It means that it's okay to have, "Is this someone who is a viable long-term partner" as a lens to look at her through. If the answer is no, you haven't failed: you've learned more about your process or about her. You're had a pleasant interaction, or a funny story.

I'll use the analogy: if I'm casting a play, I have a goal of finding my Eliza Doolittle. I'm going to watch a lot of auditions, looking for the one right actress. The fact that the first actress wasn't quite right doesn't mean I failed as a casting director. It means I need to keep looking.

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:00 pm

I think the idea that an agreed-upon relationship should not be "outcome dependent" and should just depend on "feeling good" is walking the line of telling other people what their goals and priorities should be.

For some people, "feeling good" is a fulfilling goal. That's fantastic for them. But my desire and goal is to have that marriage, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence (I need a house so I can have multiple dogs. :-D) A relationship that just "feels good" but isn't leading towards that goal kind of IS a waste of time for me. I have a limited time in which I can have kids; maybe now and then I don't mind spending a brief period of time waffing about with someone incompatible, but someone who doesn't have these goals in mind is not compatible with me, and it's better for everyone if we get that out in the open right away.

It's just a little insulting to be told that my goals are either silly, or not worthy of being pursued ("outcome dependent.")

The Doc advises not being outcome dependent at the beginning of an interaction because you don't know anything about the person, and you have no kind of social obligation to each other. They don't have to talk to you; you don't have to go on a date with them. Not setting any kind of expectations when you have absolutely no connection or idea of the other person is the easiest way to avoid not only disappointing yourself, but setting up unrealistic expectations (we're going to be together forever and ever!)

Actually being in a relationship is a whole different ball of wax. Presumably, you now have an idea of your partner. You also have some level of social obligation to a partner that you don't have to a stranger. A stranger gets to tell me he has a girlfriend, even if he doesn't; he gets to lie about that. A boyfriend does not get to lie to me about telling his family he has a girlfriend. As a relationship builds and connects are forged, expectations and obligations shift and change.

When there is a goal of marriage or kids, you have to take the pulse of the relationship. You both have to be on the same page. Things like kids or marriage are frequently black-white areas of compromise; you can't "kind of" have kids with someone, you either have them or you don't.

"However, if you simply enjoy the relationship without any expectations about where it is going, you won't come across as needy and desperate and he/she might be more likely to offer you something long term and if he/she doesn't, there are others who might."

This particularly rankles me. This, to me, sounds like straight-up entitlement; I have to set aside my goals, needs, and desires so as not to "pressure" a partner, in hopes that it will pay off down the road. What a horrible and disgusting strategy. All this does is lead to bitterness and wasted time on the part of the partner who was silencing their needs in hopes of maybe being rewarded down the line. And how can a long-term-oriented person possibly find the "others who might" in time, if they are constantly setting aside their own desires to "have fun" and "be cool"? You could go years wasting time like this.

The idea of setting aside "outcome dependency" in long-term relationships to satisfy people who think all relationships should be based on minimum expectations and happiness just reminds me very strongly of this letter from Captain Awkward, and I find the idea more and more gross the more I think of it.

http://captainawkward.com/2014/10/06/632-my-friend-thinks-its-unfair-when-his-dates-bring-up-the-possibility-of-having-kids-someday/
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:05 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:Certainly, I'm not a fan of sizing someone up as a potential spouse on the first date and then directing all of my efforts towards that goal. You're going to have a better experience if you can enjoy your time together without worrying about whether you're hitting arbitrary benchmarks on a schedule.

I think that really depends on a person's particular goals. If my goal of a long-term relationship is marriage, why shouldn't I size up a first date? If he doesn't seem like someone I will be compatible with in a long-term capacity, then what is the benefit of continuing? The only benefit would be to him, and would only benefit me if I adjusted my goal.

We have finite time and resources. Time spent on dates with a guy who is never going to be husband material is time I could be out looking for someone who I could marry. Now, again, if my goal isn't marriage, then no problem... but if that IS my goal, why in the world should I stick around, "wait and see," and essentially pretend that him being compatible with marriage isn't the purpose?

And really, if your goal is long-term/marriage, why in the world is "having fun" such a big benefit, when you may be stuck in neutral for far too long because you aren't paying attention to "arbitrary benchmarks"? For that matter, who in the world decides what benchmarks are arbitrary? It seems kind of gross to suggest that a partner is somehow deficient in some way because they care about things happening at certain times. Do they not get to define desires for bench marks in their own relationship?...
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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:13 pm

reboundstudent wrote:For some people, "feeling good" is a fulfilling goal. That's fantastic for them. But my desire and goal is to have that marriage, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence (I need a house so I can have multiple dogs. :-D) A relationship that just "feels good" but isn't leading towards that goal kind of IS a waste of time for me. I have a limited time in which I can have kids; maybe now and then I don't mind spending a brief period of time waffing about with someone incompatible, but someone who doesn't have these goals in mind is not compatible with me, and it's better for everyone if we get that out in the open right away.  

So, I understand what you're saying here, but I guess my question would be: Would you consider the relationship a failure if you guys were together for three months, both had the ultimate goal of finding a partner for marriage, but after three months you mutually agreed that your styles just didn't mesh and called it quits so you could pursue that goal independently?

Because I'm kind of with you.  I don't think what I really want long-term is a series of fun, feel-good things.  I want a partner, with all that implies.  But that doesn't mean that relationships that don't work out mean I failed.  I see them as explorations, of the equivalent of test-driving a car I end up not buying.  The point of dating (in the marriage-centric sense) is to see, "Are we compatible in the long run?"  If you're not, then you successfully answered that question, and you are 100% justified in saying, "Done now" as soon as it becomes clear that marriage isn't the logical endpoint of the relationship.

The trap people fall into (and I fell hard into it myself) is that they see marriage as an end goal, and rather than assessing each partner as one of several possible spouses, they feel like they have to make this relationship lead to marriage.  To me, that's where the wasted time comes into play, in the trying to force it for longer than you should.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:16 pm

[quote="Ron Ritzman"]
Gentleman Johnny wrote:
I agree but I have to wonder if, just as with the desperate lonely guy who approaches every interaction with women with the goal of getting a date, sex, or a girlfriend and considers it a failure if it doesn't lead there, approaching every relationship with the end goal of marriage and considering it a failure if it doesn't lead there, might itself sabotage the relationship.

If your goal is marriage and you focus on that exclusively you will lose out on fun non-marriage opportunities. If its an important enough goal, they may be worth missing out on. If that's your approach, though, have the courage to walk away when someone says that's not their goal. I think its more likely that such single-minded pursuit will lead to hitting the goal for its own sake rather than because you have found someone who will be a perfect partner for life. Human relationships have pitfalls. There's nothing wrong with having different priorities as long as you don't expect others to have them, too.
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Post by reboot on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:17 pm

I agree with RBS. Outcome independence is a thing during approaches or early dating, not after a relationship is established. At that time, a check in to see that both parties want the same thing before continuing is in order.

I know some people who only dated to find a spouse. They knew they wanted to marry and did not see the point of continuing a relationship that did not move that direction within 1-2 years. To them having it go longer robbed both partners of the chance to find a partner with the same life priorities.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:20 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
Because I'm kind of with you.  I don't think what I really want long-term is a series of fun, feel-good things.  I want a partner, with all that implies.  But that doesn't mean that relationships that don't work out mean I failed.  I see them as explorations, of the equivalent of test-driving a car I end up not buying.  The point of dating (in the marriage-centric sense) is to see, "Are we compatible in the long run?"  If you're not, then you successfully answered that question, and you are 100% justified in saying, "Done now" as soon as it becomes clear that marriage isn't the logical endpoint of the relationship.

I think you hit on what I was going for better than I did. I'm looking for a partner but if I go out with someone a few times and things aren't headed that way, its not a failure. Its successfully avoiding being with the wrong partner. Now in addition to that, any good times we had together are still good times. I have one former-potential-partner who I still go out with as friends once a month or so and another who's a partner in aevery way but a relationship capacity (we do activities together, we work on the show together, provide emotional support etc. Basically a bestie who happens to be a woman). The time wasn't wasted but I'm still looking for a partner.

However, to the original questions, during a single encounter, I'm there with that person doing that thing. I save the analysis of where things are going for after I get home.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:23 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
So, I understand what you're saying here, but I guess my question would be: Would you consider the relationship a failure if you guys were together for three months, both had the ultimate goal of finding a partner for marriage, but after three months you mutually agreed that your styles just didn't mesh and called it quits so you could pursue that goal independently?

Sort of? I'd say it's a failure of a relationship, but that failure isn't a bad thing. I failed at becoming proficient at the piano, but taking lessons all of those years really benefited me in other ways. So a relationship that mutually ended in respectful terms is a failure so long as the goal is "long-term"/"marriage", but maybe it's a success for personal growth, or success of a friendship (friendship grows out of failed relationship.) I just don't see the negative connotations associated with "failure" that many other people seem to. Other people hear "failure" and seem to place some kind of value or moral judgment on it... like I'm saying the other person was bad, or I'm a failure myself or something.

I would probably view it as a time-waster, but not a particularly egregious or bad one.
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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:24 pm

reboundstudent wrote:

This particularly rankles me. This, to me, sounds like straight-up entitlement; I have to set aside my goals, needs, and desires so as not to "pressure" a partner, in hopes that it will pay off down the road. What a horrible and disgusting strategy. All this does is lead to bitterness and wasted time on the part of the partner who was silencing their needs in hopes of maybe being rewarded down the line. And how can a long-term-oriented person possibly find the "others who might" in time, if they are constantly setting aside their own desires to "have fun" and "be cool"? You could go years wasting time like this.

The idea of setting aside "outcome dependency" in long-term relationships to satisfy people who think all relationships should be based on minimum expectations and happiness just reminds me very strongly of this letter from Captain Awkward, and I find the idea more and more gross the more I think of it.

http://captainawkward.com/2014/10/06/632-my-friend-thinks-its-unfair-when-his-dates-bring-up-the-possibility-of-having-kids-someday/

Though I seem to have a bad habit of "getting your goat" in various ways, it's good to see you in this new forum. I was not suggesting that you should not vet future partners and look for ones with similar goals, I was mostly thinking of situations where you are already in a relationship, or are recently out of one, and you resent your partner/ex partner for no other reason then the relationship didn't lead to marriage. It's different if the person actively lied to you or deceived you in some way. There's no problem with choosing a partner who is on the same page and there is a strong possibility that it might lead to marriage. In the blog post I posted, the men she was involved with often said from the word "go" that they weren't looking for anything serious but then "tricked her" and "got her hopes up" by being physically affectionate.

And yes the guy mentioned in the Captain Awkward post had serious entitlement issues.
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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:33 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
ElizaJane wrote:
So, I understand what you're saying here, but I guess my question would be: Would you consider the relationship a failure if you guys were together for three months, both had the ultimate goal of finding a partner for marriage, but after three months you mutually agreed that your styles just didn't mesh and called it quits so you could pursue that goal independently?

Sort of? I'd say it's a failure of a relationship, but that failure isn't a bad thing. I failed at becoming proficient at the piano, but taking lessons all of those years really benefited me in other ways. So a relationship that mutually ended in respectful terms is a failure so long as the goal is "long-term"/"marriage", but maybe it's a success for personal growth, or success of a friendship (friendship grows out of failed relationship.) I just don't see the negative connotations associated with "failure" that many other people seem to. Other people hear "failure" and seem to place some kind of value or moral judgment on it... like I'm saying the other person was bad, or I'm a failure myself or something.

I would probably view it as a time-waster, but not a particularly egregious or bad one.  

Okay, so I'm on board with this, too! I think it's fine to say the relationship failed, because... it did. Where I get, um, shirty is where some people (and it sounds like you're not doing this) are saying that one or both of the people failed because the relationship wasn't going to last. The relationship (as a path to marriage) failed, but you and your partner successfully discovered that you weren't going to be a long-term thing. I have in the past been very, very bad at letting relationships die a natural death, and to me, the only failures are those zombie relationships that I won't let go of.

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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:34 pm

I will admit that my view might be clouded by the fact that the woman I'm involved with already has a grown son and doesn't want any more.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:38 pm

Ron Ritzman wrote: Though I seem to have a bad habit of "getting your goat" in various ways, it's good to see you in this new forum. I was not suggesting that you should not vet future partners and look for ones with similar goals, I was mostly thinking of situations where you are already in a relationship, or are recently out of one, and you resent your partner/ex partner for no other reason then the relationship didn't lead to marriage. It's different if the person actively lied to you or deceived you in some way. There's no problem with choosing a partner who is on the same page and there is a strong possibility that it might lead to marriage. In the blog post I posted, the men she was involved with often said from the word "go" that they weren't looking for anything serious but then "tricked her" and "got her hopes up" by being physically affectionate.

Except that the scenario you outline (Just have fun and stop being outcome dependent!) is exactly what turns people bitter. My guess is the woman in your original post felt the relationship was a "failure" for not leading to marriage is because she was pushing aside her own desires in hopes she'd be rewarded anyway. Be the "cool" girl with no expectations (except the hidden ones), be rewarded in the exact way she hoped! I mean, dear God, how many times have I been told not to tell a guy I want marriage, or hell even a monogamous relationship, because that's "needy" and "desperate" and "pressuring", even when I'd been sleeping with the guy for months. I absolutely left those relationships feeling they were a failure and a waste because I spent much of the time twisting myself into an existential pretzel trying to shut down my own feelings.

As for the girl, well, I've been there myself... the guy saying from the word "go" he wasn't interested, but saying/doing things that sent very, very mixed signals. Hell, it's why if I'm ever single ever, I swear off anything but the One Night Stand version of casual dating, and even then I'll be super cautious.

I've told these stories before, but here again: After hanging out 2-3 times a week for 2 weeks with one guy, I brought up the possibility of a relationship. He said he wasn't interested. Okay, cool, I was at a point where I could handle that. 2 months go by. I'm meeting his friends, meeting his family, we seem to be hanging out and having "close bonding emotional time" several times a week. Aside from the label, it really did feel like a relationship. But he'd never said relationship, and I'd been batting off the idea by saying to myself "Nope, he said not interested and hasn't pulled it back." So I continue dating other people, and start moving something along with some other guy. I sit down Guy A to say "Been fun, let's be friends, peace!" and he says," Oh, I thought we were dating." Whaaaaaat.

And I've got another one! Similar situation, hanging out with a guy, doing "relationship-y" things, but the times I tried to bring it up, I was told flatly "not looking for commitment." (Mentioned this on the blog; he invited me to his brother's wedding, dear Lord was that awkward.) Cool, I get it, tell him I'm moving on, and I hear from mutual friends that he's all wounded and upset because he did consider us dating.

Or another! I have always been super open about wanting kids. I dated a guy for 6 months, we broke up in a spectacular fashion. Some years down the road, he gets engaged. I wonder out loud to a mutual friend when they'll have kids. Mutual friend says "He doesn't want kids. He's never wanted kids. He has always been very anti-kids." Pretty freaking strange when I remember distinct conversations of how much he'd love to build Lego models with his child...

Totally bitter conclusion here: I can't take guys at their word. And having read a lot of other women's stories online, I have encountered similar stories where a woman is either chided for not realizing the guy wanted to date her (I got accused of low self-esteem! Huzzah!), or yelled at for not taking him at his word despite very mixed signals.

When you add in advice about how a woman should just "be cool" with relationships without any kind of expectations or boundaries so long as "fun" is had, it's enough to make anyone's head spin.
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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:50 pm

Sex Nerd Sandra had a podcast a few months ago on Hook-up Culture, where she talked about how these days, it seems to be the cool thing to not care about your partner at all, that the worst thing you can be called isn't a slut or a prude, but "desperate". And desperate, in this context, means liking your partner more than they like you. So there's this awful, gross, downward spiral, where both sides try to prove they like each other less.

I think that's a gross game, and that you don't want a partner who wants you to play it. You probably don't want to be saying "Hey, let's talk china patterns" after a month, but if you're sleeping with a guy and have been with him a month or two and seen him more than a half-dozen times I think it's fair to say, "Look, I'm in this thing to find someone for the long haul. I like you, I think you like me, but before we go too far down this road, are you open to the possibility of this growing into forever-land?" If he's going to backpedal and freak out, you were probably going to find out in six months that his answer was no anyway.

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Post by reboot on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:50 pm

To me it seems like outcome independence is fine if you do not have any specific goals in mind or are not quite sure what you want. For those who have clear wants or do not wants, outcome independence is probably not the best way to go.

For example, in the unlikely event that I ever date again, marriage is 100% not on the table as in I would rather poke my eyes out than do it off the table. That is an outcome I need to make clear to my theoretic partner and not just drift along in the "oh we will see what happens!" mode.

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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:00 pm

ElizaJane wrote:Sex Nerd Sandra had a podcast a few months ago on Hook-up Culture, where she talked about how these days, it seems to be the cool thing to not care about your partner at all, that the worst thing you can be called isn't a slut or a prude, but "desperate".  And desperate, in this context, means liking your partner more than they like you.  So there's this awful, gross, downward spiral, where both sides try to prove they like each other less.


Yes, this whole trend of trying to be the partner with the fewest fucks to give is sickening. It's called the "principle of least interest" and it's the basis for the "3 day rule", text mind games, and it's taught in all the dating and "PUA game" "playbooks". I remember starting a thread in the old forum titled "the game vs the rules" to discuss this.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:06 pm

I think the point about outcome independence kind of splits down into two different points:
On a top down level, you want to be sure that you're both on the same page as far as the nature of your relationship and where it is/is not going. This requires both people to be mature, honest and talk about it. To be genuinely ok with where things are and ready to discuss if things are going to change.

Outside those conversations, you're going to have a better experience if you take each encounter just for what it is. Are you getting emotionally intimate with someone you've agreed you're not getting into a serious relationship with? Go for it, as long as you can still separate when need be. Are you looking for a dedicated, long term relationship? Don't sweat whether things are going fast enough while you're out to dinner. Enjoy your food, talk about stuff, enjoy yourself. If you're worried enough that you feel the need for a Relationship Talk, make a separate time for that.

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Post by UristMcBunny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:29 pm

reboot wrote:To me it seems like outcome independence is fine if you do not have any specific goals in mind or are not quite sure what you want. For those who have clear wants or do not wants, outcome independence is probably not the best way to go.

For example, in the unlikely event that I ever date again, marriage is 100% not on the table as in I would rather poke my eyes out than do it off the table. That is an outcome I need to make clear to my theoretic partner and not just drift along in the "oh we will see what happens!" mode.


Sounds exactly right to me.

Basically, be aware of what your goals are, and be mindful and accepting of the fact that other people may have contradictory desires. If you're not bothered how a relationship turns out and just want to experience the journey, outcome independence would probably be very healthy for you - but you also need to avoid dating people who want marriage and children, and who have a time-frame in which they need to make that happen (ie, fertility).

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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:55 pm

ElizaJane wrote:Sex Nerd Sandra had a podcast a few months ago on Hook-up Culture

Listening to it now, I especially liked the "history of dating" part where she described how "courting" changed into "dating" in the 20s. She describes "courting" as the process where a married women would offer a young man the chance to court an unmarried daughter, he couldn't ask. In other words "women" called the shots. And here I was thinking of "courting" as the man asking a girl's "father" for permission to court her ("come calling" was the term) like was shown in a movie about the life of Rosa Parks. Maybe it depended on what part of the country you were in.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:04 pm

Ron Ritzman wrote:
ElizaJane wrote:Sex Nerd Sandra had a podcast a few months ago on Hook-up Culture

Listening to it now, I especially liked the "history of dating" part where she described how "courting" changed into "dating" in the 20s. She describes "courting" as the process where a married women would offer a young man the chance to court an unmarried daughter, he couldn't ask. In other words "women" called the shots. And here I was thinking of "courting" as the man asking a girl's "father" for permission to court her ("come calling" was the term) like was shown in a movie about the life of Rosa Parks. Maybe it depended on what part of the country you were in.

I think it strongly depended. Dating as we know it now also grew out of 1910's/1920's "treating," which was... kind of soft prostitution? Young women who came to the city to the work very rarely had chaperons, and frequently didn't make enough money to enjoy city life. Men would take the women out on "dates", where the women would trade certain levels of favors for entertainment or material goods, like clothing. So it wasn't courting in a strictest sense, but it wasn't prostitution either.

(For anyone who is interested in the history of courting/dating in New York City, check out "Love for Sale" by Elizabeth Alice Clement.
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Post by Ron Ritzman on Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:05 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
As for the girl, well, I've been there myself... the guy saying from the word "go" he wasn't interested, but saying/doing things that sent very, very mixed signals.

This statement got me wondering if I might be sending "mixed signals" sometimes. I've always been a big "cuddleslut" and I enjoy physical contact with women beyond sex. Cuddling, spooning, hand holding, etc. even with short term hookups. I would hate it if my naturally affectionate nature led to a woman thinking I really wanted to marry her even if I clearly stated otherwise.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:49 pm

Ron Ritzman wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:
As for the girl, well, I've been there myself... the guy saying from the word "go" he wasn't interested, but saying/doing things that sent very, very mixed signals.

This statement got me wondering if I might be sending "mixed signals" sometimes. I've always been a big "cuddleslut" and I enjoy physical contact with women beyond sex. Cuddling, spooning, hand holding, etc. even with short term hookups. I would hate it if my naturally affectionate nature led to a woman thinking I really wanted to marry her even if I clearly stated otherwise.

I'd say it's less the physical aspects send mixed signals, than the emotional aspects. It's kind of a part of the "invisible work" we talk about here at the blog. For my part, when I was younger, I would get extreme mixed signals when the guy would tell me flat-out he didn't want a girlfriend, but:
1) would lean on me very heavily for emotional support. If he had a bad day, I had better be quiet and listen to him talk about it
2) expect that I would give him reassurance/compliments/positive validation
3) expect that he was frequently near the top of my priorities
4) talking to me about his insecurities/fears/thoughts/dreams in a way that felt like "best friend bonding." When combined with "sexy hormones," that sends a very mixed signal.

Essentially, I was doing the lifting of a girlfriend, despite him saying he didn't want one. In my earlier years, it made me believe he did want one but just wouldn't/hadn't yet admitted it. In my later years, I cynically decided it meant he wanted all the benefits of a girlfriend with none of the work on his side or commitment.
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