Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Working Without Insurance

For the last year, I've worked for a small business owner, who owns a franchise store. As with most small businesses, there are no benefits offered: no health insurance, no retirement, no vacations, no nothin'.

I don't really blame my employer. The insurance industry does not provide cost-effective, affordable health insurance for small business owners to offer their employees. The cost for employees to independently buy their own health insurance is also similarly high. But I don't understand why the parent company of my employer's franchise doesn't offer health insurance to all its franchise owners. They're surely big enough to offer an affordable plan.

I believe that no American, especially one who is working, should have to go without health insurance.

Either the government should provide incentives for the insurance industry to devise cost-effective, affordable health insurance plans for small businesses or they should extend Medicaid benefits to working Americans whose employers who do not offer it.

People wonder why some welfare recipients seemingly "don't want to work". Here is one big reason why.

On the domestic front, George Bush is up in arms about the possibility of gay people gaining the right to be legally married, but he doesn't seem to be too concerned that millions of working Americans have no affordable access to health care.

Talk about immoral. We are the ONLY industrialized nation in the world that does not guarantee access to health care for all its citizens.

And that's something to be ashamed of.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006


When I hear the word "impact", I always think of a collision, either great or small:

"When the race car hit the wall, the driver died on impact."

"The woman decided to take a class in low-
impact aerobics."

But I hate seeing the word as a synonym for "affect" and "influence", as it tends to exaggerate what the speaker is saying, as in:

"The drought will adversely impact the growth of crops this summer."

"Eric Clapton's music has had a great impact on my guitar playing."

I'm sorry, but I don't think droughts slam into crops, nor would Eric Clapton collide with one's guitar as they're playing. "Affect" and "influence" are two perfectly good words, and there are other synonyms which also more accurately convey the meaning without hyperbole.

Thus ends my language rant of the day.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Different Ending

Quite some time ago, I wrote a post about how libertines are portrayed in romance novels. I'd read a few of the novels my lovers had lying around and I'd noticed something about them. I'd found that all such novels ended with a traditional, monogamous marriage, without exception, no matter how "bad" the male lead had been in the story. I questioned why all romance novels must end this way and wondered why a subgenre featuring nonmonogamous relationships of all kinds could not be added. After posting this entry, I had input from two published romance authors in the mainstream press, Paula Reed and Kate Rothwell.

They both told me that while all sorts of situations may occur in the story, that publishers mandated a "HEA" (Happily Ever After) ending for all romance novels. And "happily ever after", according to these publishers, can only happen in one way: monogamous marriage. One size fits all. Yawn.

While this is indeed true for many or most people, it is not true for all. Nor does it follow that if one is monogamous, they will not enjoy reading about alternative happy endings, that they'd not choose for themselves. Reading fiction is, primarily, about fantasy, imagining "what if", and I, for one, enjoy reading about people in all sorts of situations, even ones I'd never think of choosing myself.. I see a requirement that all books in a particular genre have the same happy ending as a form of censorship, telling us what we should want out of a relationship. It hampers the creativity of authors and limits readers.

However, both authors suggested I check out a publisher,Ellora's Cave, who offers books that are more erotic than those from mainstream presses. I visited the EC website, paying particular attention to their submissions guidelines. Many men write romance novels under female pseudonyms, and I've idly considered doing so for quite some time. But what I found was ultimately disappointing. Ellora's Cave self identifies their books as being "romantica":

Romantica™ is the name for the line of erotic romance novels published by Ellora’s Cave Publishing. Erotic romance is defined by us as: any work of literature that is both romantic and sexually explicit in nature. Within this genre, a man and a woman develop "in love" feelings for one another that culminate in a monogamous relationship.

In other words, the same ol' thing, but written in more explicit detail. A cop out, in my view.

Several days ago, one of my lovers told me she'd found a book, a historical romance, by a publisher similar to Ellora's Cave, New Concepts Publishing, that ended in a polyamorous triad: "His Wicked Ways" by Jaide Fox. That is, it was a happily ever after ending, but with three people instead of two. I dutifully went to NCP's website and viewed their submission guidelines.

Why do readers read romance? For the experience of "seeing" two people fall desperately in love. Sex is a huge part of a relationship. Your romance should fully explore just how fantastic sex is between SOUL MATES. In the real world, would you continue dating someone that didn't excite you sexually? The most likely answer is no. Keep this in mind when writing your romance.

What we like to see in our CARNAL rated books are explicit love scenes that relate the FULL spectrum of making love/having sex between characters who are obviously meant for each other. Readers want explosive chemistry between the characters, with a heated buildup of sexual tension. What we want in all of our romances are love scenes that deliver exciting emotion once the characters come together sexually.

While it was a bit more progressive than EC, in that it didn't mandate a monogamous ending, here, too, were limits. NCP allows for polyamorous erotica, but the frankly libertine is still taboo. Nevertheless, it's a positive step in the right direction.

After seeing this, I entertained the idea of starting my own ebook/POD press. I would name it, naturally, "Libertine Press". I would include romance, erotica, and a combination of the two, told from both male and female points of view. All books would be about "alternative lifestyle" relationships, as the traditional monogamous ones are already well covered by other publishers. Included would be libertine relationships (of course!), polyamory, swinging, gay/lesbian/bi, BDSM, and the like.

If I had the business sense, experience in the publishing industry, and money, I'd seriously consider doing this. Perhaps someday, someone with all three of these things will do so.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Polyamory, Swinging, and Libertinism

Recently, I've been frequenting a polyamory message board. Even though polyamory isn't an exact fit for me, there is enough common overlap that many of the posts there I find relevant.

Not too long ago, I read a post from someone who was interested in the polyamorous lifestyle. In one post, she compared it to her knowledge of swingers:

First, my childhood friend of 20+ years who is a swinger is my model for that life style... He runs with a group of ~6 couples +/- a few. They are good friends, celebrate special occasions together, and have parties where they have sex. Although they are good friends, "love" is not a part of their lifestyle. They are also more fluid in having people come and go. He talks about sex just being sex and there are emotional things you keep special for your partner.

Reading this post, along with others outlining how polyamory works, I was again reminded of how both these nonmonogamous lifestyles differ from libertinism.

The main distinction libertinism has from both forms of nonmonogamy is that it's independent, both sexually and emotionally.

As in the swinging lifestyle, my sex life isn't primarily about love, though that can and does occur on occasion. Unlike swingers, however, I am not emotionally monogamous, nor do I pursue my sex life as a couples activity, where all my additional partners come in twos. Nor does my primary lover normally accompany me when I have sex with others. She knows I do it, but it's a don't ask, don't tell kind of a deal. She doesn't want the details.

Like polyamorous people, I am not emotionally monogamous. Unlike them, it's not really about committment -- it's not like "expanded monogamy". Though I have a primary lover, with whom I spend the largest amount of my nonsexual time with -- it's the nonsexual aspects that tends to define "primariness" more than the sexual -- I've never lived with any of my primaries over the years, and don't wish to, as I am, at base, emotionally independent.

Nor would I ever enter into a legal marriage or a marriage-clone relationship. Most of my primary relationships tend to last two or three years, then we both tend to move on, usually drifting into the next phase, rather than having any dramatic breakups. As with swingers, the cast of lovers, primary, secondary and down the line tends to be fluid, with the shifting occurring much more frequently the further down the line of connection one goes.

So far as "cheating" goes, it's kind of a nonconcept for me, as I'm playing a radically different "game" with fewer rules. I don't make committments or promises to my lovers, so "cheating" wouldn't really enter the picture. However, I value honesty as much as any poly person does, so being dishonest about my intentions -- promising a commitment, for example -- or about what I'm all about, would be about the only way I'd apply that word in my life.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Age and Relationships

Yesterday, I had a new visitor, LynnM, who commented on my post. As is my habit when I have a new visitor, I went and visited her two blogs. While there, I read an interesting post about age differences in relationships, with her mentioning that she'd almost passed on a relationship with the man she is seeing because of the gap in their ages. I left her a comment and decided to expand upon my thoughts in my entry today.

In heterosexual relationships, the typical age pattern is for those involved to be close to the same age, with the man usually being slightly older, perhaps by two or three years. My parents, both born the same year, and my grandparents, with one set born the same year and the other having only a two year difference, followed this pattern.

However, my family also has had several age-dissimilar matches. One great grandfather was married twice, once to a woman close to his own age and, after she died, to a woman twenty years his junior. Usually, when we see such matches, it is older man/younger woman. However, my family also has a few examples of the reverse match.

One aunt was divorced with four young children when she married a man eleven years younger. They went on to have two of their own and they stayed married for thirty years. They eventually divorced, but their age discrepancy was not a factor in their breakup.

Another aunt, after raising a family with a man close to her own age, married a man eighteen years her junior after a long courtship. Their relationship works, mainly because she has a young attitude and outlook on life, though her appearance is congruent with her age.

As for me, perhaps the dynamic is different because I am not monogamous and do not share my home with any of my lovers. Over the years, I've been with women of all ages. When I was in my 20s, most of my lovers were close to my own age, but I had quite a few that were older, the oldest being 51 to my 26.

As I've gotten older that has shifted to where most of my lovers are about ten years younger, but I've had several even younger yet. My current primary lover is a year younger than my son, but it works out well. She's independent, open minded, and intelligent, which is a good combination for me. Her parents don't like it, and I've heard snarky comments from others about me being a horny old bastard preying upon an innocent young thing, ad nauseum, but we're both adults and neither of us gives a rat's ass what other people think.

Younger people tend to be more open-minded about nonmonogamy, among other things, and are willing to try something different. Older lovers, however, tend to be more experienced and are not tied down with small children. And, of course, when being with someone my own age, there is that shared understanding of things from the perspective of the same generation.

Women of different ages all have something different to offer, and by not limiting myself to one lover, I get to experience it all.

As far as I'm concerned, if two lovers are both consenting adults and the relationship makes them happy, then they should go for it. It doesn't matter what other people think of it.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Odd Ideas About God

As an agnostic, I find two common ideas about God to be rather strange.

The first is the widespread concept of "fearing God" and being a "Godfearing Christian".

God is commonly known as "God the Father", partially because we are supposed to relate to him like we do to a father. I don't know about the rest of you, but while I respected my father, I never feared him. Instead, I loved and trusted him implicitly. Those who have abusive fathers (and mothers) might well fear them, but I don't see this in any way as an ideal situation.

Nor would I have any interest in worship motivated by fear -- an abusive father God is not one worthy of worship. I really cannot see how Christians reconcile the two ideas of "God is love" with "Fear God".

If God is indeed love, then we have nothing to fear from him. And if we need to fear him, then the love is highly conditional. They can't have it both ways.

The other odd idea about God is the saying, "God Bless America".

I would think that a God who created the universe would not be so impressed with the distinctions by which humans have classified different kinds of people. Such things such as national divisions, religious differences, race, sex, and so on would be trivial things to God.

For religious people who believe that God created everything that exists, wouldn't it be more proper to say, "God Bless the entire Earth" or "God Bless Everyone"?

But what do I know? I'm a Godless heathen and infidel, after all.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Have you ever known someone so assertive as to the point of nerviness, either in your personal or professional life? Someone who doesn't know that there's the proper place and time for everything or, if they have an idea, are totally unable to distinguish when those times and places are?

I could give many examples of this in my own experience, but one incident in particular comes to mind. When I was on the police force, one of my fellow officers was kind of ditzy, living in his own little world. I don't know ditzy is just the word to describe him, but if men can be ditzy, this guy was definitely it.

There was the one time he was driving at a normal speed through an empty shopping center parking lot, yet managed to hit a light pole. Another time, he spilled coffee on his training officer in a very sensitive spot. And then was the time he unknowingly led the shift lieutenant to the "hidey-hole", the remote spot where officers parked on third shift to catch forty winks.

But one incident in particular involving this officer stands out in my mind.

When a city employee wanted time off from work, the policy was that we had to submit it in writing to our department head; in our case, the shift lieutenant. One day, this guy had filled out the requisition form to get two days off the following week. He went to the Lt's office to hand it in, but the door was locked. After being informed that the Lt had gone to use the men's room, he went in there, where he found the Lt in one of the stalls, in the middle of taking a power dump.

Anyone else would have exited the rest room and waited outside, allowing the Lt to finish his business in private. Not this guy. He marched right up to the stall door and bellowed, "Is that you in there, M---?" Not waiting for a reply, he shoved the requisition form under the stall door.

I think the Lt was tempted to wipe his ass with the form and hand it back to him, but he confined himself to telling the clueless officer to get the hell out of there.

I'd be curious to hear some stories in this vein from my readers.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy?

Recently, I heard of a boss who asks all his employees if they love their jobs. If they answer negatively, he fires them.


For one thing, his employees will simply tell him what he wants to hear just to keep their jobs. So, asking them if they love their jobs is basically a waste of time, because he won't be able to separate the honest answers from the expedient ones.

Secondly, what's it to him if his employees don't love their jobs? People go to work to make a living, not to be entertained. It's nice if we love our jobs, but it's just icing on the cake if we do; it's not essential for most people.

Most people are mature enough to deal with it they don't go into raptures of joy about their work. Part of being an adult is doing some things that we don't necessarily like, but serve our purposes in the long run. Making a living is one of those things.

An employer's only concern should be how employees perform their jobs. It's their own business whether or not they like what they do. As long as employees do their jobs in a satisfactory manner, an employer should be satisfied. Doing good work should be the only condition for keeping a job, not loving the job.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Odds and Ends

The other night, while out driving around, I got behind a large, black pickup truck that had a mural of the New York City skyline painted on its raised tailgate. I glanced at the license plate, which read "BEDSTUY", which is, of course, a neighborhood in NYC. Apparently, the owner is a homesick New Yorker.

Speaking of license plates, mine contains the letters "FWS". Considering my initials are "WS", I've always thought of these letters as an acronym for "Fuck Will S".

Have any of you ever turn the letters of your license plates into an acronym?
If so, what words did the letters stand for?

I've seen this homemade commercial on TV for a local lawyer, where the announcer informs viewers that this lawyer specializes in "So-sill" Security cases.

I don't know about you, but I've always said the word "social" as "so-shull", not "so-sill".

Awhile back, I had a one nighter with a young woman who had a tongue piercing. I hate the damn things and think they're unsanitary. However, I wasn't going to turn down having sex with her just because of this.

I told her I'd have sex with her, but I wouldn't kiss her because of the piercing. Though she didn't like that, she agreed to my terms and it proceeded from there. Nevertheless, the piercing was sufficient grounds for this to remain a one time deal -- I won't be seeing her again.

"Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn."
--Joseph Addison

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Antsy Tomcat

My cats have been driving me insane lately. I normally feed them just before going to bed, so that they don't wake me up earlier than I want to get up. In the last week, however, this tactic has no longer been working.

Before I can even get to sleep, the tomcat goes after the female, chasing her, cornering her, and generally just hassling her. She typically responds by growling/hissing at him, swiping him with her paws, or just running away. Running away just eggs him on more, and he often ends up chasing her around the house, with both of them knocking things over as they go.

Naturally, this keeps me from falling asleep in the first place. Yelling at them has no effect, nor does chasing the tom from the female. No sooner than I return to bed than he starts in again.

This is fairly new behavior for him. Normally, once he's eaten, he's ready to lay down and sack out for the night. If he were human, I chalk up his antsiness to being horny. At least that's how I act when it's been too long since I've gotten laid. But he's fixed, so I can't really attribute his behavior to simply being horny. As far as I know, neutered animals don't retain their libidos, though I could be wrong.

I hope this is just a phase he's going through and I don't have to go through this crap every night before I can go to sleep.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Courtesy Titles

Recently, I read an article in my local paper about courtesy titles, which I found rather interesting.

The main point of the article was that our society has become increasing less courteous in recent years and the writer focused on the decreasing use of courtesy titles referring to people in newspaper articles.

In the article he stated:

"A woman who prefers "Mrs." might be offended if we call her "Ms." Sometimes we write about a husband and wife in the same story. It may seem odd if we call her "Ms.", but calling her "Mrs." would be presumptuous if we didn’t ask her preference."

Precisely. And this is a pet peeve of mine.

Back in the 1960s, feminists protested against courtesy titles because they believed it was unfair that such titles distinguished between single and married women, when there was only one title for all adult men. To remedy this problem, they urged the adoption of "Ms" as a third female title, that could be used by all women, regardless of marital status.

Though the protest was a understandable one, I believe their focus was wrong and that they opened up an even bigger can of worms with "Ms". Now, instead of having two titles for adult females, we have three. "Ms" was shunned by many traditional women, and, in practice, it is used mainly by single and divorced women. And, as the writer pointed out, journalists must discover which title a woman prefers, lest the woman in question be offended.

With men, it's business as usual -- "Mr" for everyone, no problem.

The feminists got it wrong because they focused on marital status, instead of age.

That is, a little boy is referred to as "Master". When he is an adult, he becomes "Mister" (Mr.) and stays "Mr.", regardless of his marital status.

Instead of inventing a third title for women, I think they'd have done better to reserve "Miss" for little girls, and "Mrs" for all adult women, regardless of marital status. Miss goes with Master, as Mrs goes with Mr. Very simple, and less likely to offend traditionalists, plus it has the added advantage of being even-handed for both sexes.

After Googling this topic online, I found that up until the beginning of the 19th century, it was quite common to use these titles in this fashion; that many adult women called "Mrs" had never been married. So, there is a precedent for my suggestion.


Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Sit! Heel! Stay!

Most of my readers know that I had sole custody of my son from the time he was a baby. For most of my son's childhood, I relied heavily on my father's advice and assistance in raising him.

As most parents do with their babies, I put him in a stroller when we went to the mall and other public places. This worked well before he learned to walk.

Once he was able to walk more than a few steps without falling down, this became a less than ideal situation, as he no longer wanted anything to do with his stroller. He'd twist and writhe, making whiny sounds whenever I'd stop the stroller for more than 2 seconds.

However, I'd seen kids his age walking with their parents in public places and it didn't look like much of an improvement. For one thing, it was necessary to be always holding the child's hand, lest they become separated from you in a crowd of people, or worse; someone snatching them. And in every case I saw, both child and parent looked miserable. The kid would be constantly trying to twist away, pull their parent in various directions, and engage in general frustrated whininess. And the parent looked miserable, having only one hand free, the other attached to the sweaty hand of unhappy toddlerhood.

But I could totally understand the kids' frustrations: Would you want to spend extended periods of time walking around with one arm raised up into the air being pulled along by a huge sweaty hand? I think not.

Finally, my father came up with a solution. One day he came home with a harness he'd bought at a children's clothing store. This was a couple of strips of strong cloth that went over the shoulders and around the chest, with a lead attached to it from the middle of the back. In this way, the child's arm and hands were free and they had a limted radius of movement that kept them near their parent's side. Having only to hold onto the end of the looped lead also gave the parent more range of movement with that hand as well.

I immediately started using it with my son and we both were happier with this solution. In fact, when he wanted to go out, he'd go get his harness to give me a hint to his intentions.

But I did have to deal with the disapproving stares and comments of strangers in public, who likened the harness to a dog's leash. I had one old woman tell me if I wanted a dog, then I should get one instead of having had a child. I gave her a stony glare and said, "Better this than him getting run over by a car or kidnapped by a stranger".

My father handled such comments differently. When another meddling mother make a similar comment to him, he just smiled at her and said, "Want to see me make him heel?" She gave him a "Well! I never!" look and walked off indignantly. I'm smiling now as I remember my father laughing as he told me about it.

Did any of you use a harness with your kids when they were toddlers and, if so, what kinds of reactions did you get?

Monday, May 8, 2006

Listening to Talk Radio

When I was a kid, my parents listened to talk radio sometimes, especially when we went on long drives. I remember one hot summer night, my father was listening to the Joe Pyne show and got so irritated by something outrageous that Pyne said that he called in to tell him so. The rest of us went into my brother's room to listen to the radio in there, while my father waited on hold for his turn to speak. I don't recall what the topic was, but I do remember that my father acquitted himself well and didn't let Pyne get the better of him.

Normally, I don't listen to talk radio, as almost all these shows feature extreme right wing conservatives/libertarians. Though I have many libertarian views, especially in matters of personal privacy/freedom and social issues, I'm not all that libertarian when it comes to economic issues. I approach libertarianism from the left, not from the right, as most such talk radio hosts do. I'd probably listen more often if I could find liberal/moderate/left libertarian talk show hosts to listen to, but I've yet to find them.

However, the other night, I found myself listening to a host I'd never heard of before, Jay Severin, who is one of the ubiquitous right wing commentators. After listening for a few minutes, I discerned he was of the extreme libertarian variety, rather than a garden variety neocon.

Severin was speaking disdainfully of maternity leave, taking the view that having a baby is a private decision that isn't an employer's problem, and that employers should be free to fire such women as it isn't an employer's concern if a woman wants to have a child. He prefaced it by saying that widespread maternity leave policies would lead down a slippery slope to companies having to offer paternity leave, which he oddly thought a totally ludicrous concept. He also said that those mothers who did have the opportunity to stay home with their kids, but didn't were "mentally sick". Never mind that men have children too, and might conceivably want the option to take time to be with them, but I digress.

Though I understand his main point being that private business should be free to operate as they wish, there are several things wrong with this view

He stated that employees who aren't always available to an employer have placed themselves in the position to be rightfully terminated. Severin compared maternity leaves to someone who might decide they wanted six months off to "smoke opium".

For one thing, having children is a normal, expected event in the lives of most people of childbearing age. It is ridiculous to compare this to taking sabbaticals for frivolous, obscure reasons.

Secondly, his view betrays skewed priorities. Most people, even those in rewarding careers, don't live to work, but work to live. Employers don't own us 24/7, they merely buy chunks of our time to use to their purposes. No one should be expected to have to give up having a normal life, which, for most people, involves having children, as a condition to keeping a job. Work is just a part of life; it shouldn't be our entire lives.

Third, very few people are so indispensable to the point where they can't take six weeks off from their jobs for parental leave. Because a parental leave is something an employer typically knows of months before it happens, they have time to temporarily assign the work to others or bring in temporary workers to take up the slack.

Despite abhorring nearly everything the man said on his show, I'll probably keep tuning in for the simple reason that listening to views I heartily disagree with will act as a catalyst for me to write and give me plenty of material for blog entries.


Note: I found it amusing that when I googled Jay Severin, I found that the Wikipedia article about him referred to him as a libertine. Obviously, we differ greatly in political opinions!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Civilized Debate?

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument
William G. McAdoo (1863-1941)

As a teenager and a young adult, I took great relish in debating those who had radically different opinions from me, particularly the bigoted of all stripes and extreme fundamentalists. My debating strategy was always to use the most conservative examples to prove a liberal point and the most liberal examples to prove a conservative point. That is, I knew I could get a conservative person to more readily consider a liberal viewpoint if I were quoting Barry Goldwater, for example, in favor of the issue, than if I told them what Ted Kennedy had to say on the same matter, and vice versa.

Sometimes, I had lively, worthwhile and respectful discussions, but all too often there were those with viewpoints so extreme that it was like "arguing with a signpost", to use my father's terminology. It was almost as if they'd stuck their fingers in their ears and went "lalalalalala" as I talked.

I can remember my father telling me "You can't deal with ignorance" when I'd get frustrated by such fruitless debates. As an adult, I think of this as "You can't have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent".

As I read political sites all over the internet, both blogs and message boards, I'm struck by the lack of civilized debate among those with radically differing opinions. The usual pattern is that once someone discerns that the other person does not agree with them and continues to defend their own position, however respectfully, that their responses degenerate into emotional ad hominem attacks ("all you whiny liberals hate America", for example), which is NEVER constructive.

I don't get it. Is respect only for those with whom you agree? Does having a differing opinion on a particular subject mean that the person is worthless and has forfeited any and all considerations of common courtesy?

I think not.

So far as politics goes, I think those who takes a strong interest all want what's good for their country and the world, even if they have radically opposing ideas on how to accomplish this goal and how "good" should be defined.

Those with strong political opinions would do well to remember this and that if we can't get along with all sorts of people at the small level, how can we on the larger level? Skilled, mature debaters can abhor a person's opinion without abhorring the person holding the opinion.


Monday, May 1, 2006

Anger, Jealousy, and Nonmonogamy

Anger and jealousy are both considered to be negative emotions, especially when allowed to be expressed in an uncontrolled, unrestrained manner.

In our society, the problem of handling anger in a mature fashion is taken quite seriously. Anger management counseling abounds, teaching people to express it in a constructive, controlled fashion, especially in the context of intimate relationships. It is rightly believed that despite anger being a natural emotion that should not be ignored or denied, that simply giving uncontrolled free reign to it is neither mature nor constructive. "Rage-aholics", especially when they allow their anger to turn into abuse, are seen as maladjusted people, in need of psychological help. Most people believe that anger, though normal and natural, can and should be controlled.

Jealousy, however, is a whole 'nother ball game for many people. It, too, is seen largely as a negative emotion, but many people respond to it by throwing up their hands, taking the attitude that it is natural, therefore uncontrollable.

Never is this attitude more prevalent when it comes to the idea of people living open, intentionally nonmonogamous lives, be it polyamory, swinging, or libertinism. The view taken is that nonmonogamous relationships are ultimately doomed to failure because of jealousy; that it's "hard-wired" into us and it's completely futile to try to control it.

I'm inherently suspicious of any argument about any aspect of humanity that is said to be "hard-wired"; mostly, I see this approach as being a cop-out. First of all, compared to other animals, humans have few instincts. We were given sentient brains to reason with, instead of a long list of instincts to control our behavior.
Humans have an instinctual need to eat, mate, and to reproduce -- essentially, to survive in the short and the long run. Beyond that, there are some tendencies that have evolved over the millennia that relate directly or indirectly to the main drive to survive, that have been become so ingrained as to seem to be innate.

But we should never confuse what is customary, or even natural, with what is constructive and useful -- or changeable. We also should remember what might have been useful in an earlier era might be maladaptive in today's society, and to take a "that's the way we've always done it" approach might well be cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Human beings are amazingly malleable and there is much about us which seems innate, but is rather changeable or at least able to be controlled and mitigated.

When considering nonmonogamous relationships, I've seen observers react with disbelief when confronted with the idea that those involved have learned to handle jealousy in a mature fashion, as if there is actually something wrong if a person does not pitch a fit when confronted by a potentially jealousy-causing situation.

But there's a description in that article of a woman returning home to find her boyfriend in the bathtub with another woman -- and thinking nothing of it -- that gave me pause. It made me wonder why these people are together to begin with. This woman's impassive response to what for most people would warrant a dish-throwing blowout makes me wonder what emotions could have surfaced under even slightly different circumstances. -- Dan Cronin, "The New Monogamy"

In other words, it bothered this man that someone had handled this matter in an adult fashion, instead of having a tantrum about it! I'd doubt he'd have reacted in the same fashion if the issue had been that of anger in a monogamous relationship.

Others take the view that because nonmonogamous relationships are not always easy and trouble-free, that they're not worth bothering with at all. Again, this kind of attitude seems to be unique to the idea of nonmonogamous relationships. Can you imagine these same people saying, "Studying medicine is hard and going to college for eight years will make your life difficult, so you're better off not even trying!"

Considering that traditional monogamous marriages are not exactly trouble-free, with sixty percent of men and forty percent of women straying from their vows and half of all marriages ending in divorce, this attitude is particularly laughable. These statistics have not deterred most people from entering into legal, monogamous marriages, as they rightly believe that something worth having is worth working for and is rarely an easy, trouble-free thing.

And the same is true for nonmonogamous relationships of all kinds. Granted, such relationships aren't for everyone. One must enter these kinds of nontraditional lifestyles with eyes wide open and a great deal of maturity.

Nonmonogamous people don't deny that jealousy can exist and can be a real problem. The difference is that we view jealousy as we view anger, as something that can be controlled and mitigated; we don't just throw up our hands, give up, and give in to it.

If society as a whole started dealing with jealousy as it deals with anger, we'd all be better off, both the monogamous and the nonmonogamous.