Yes, there’s only one letter t in that but.
As part of my investigations into a potential client’s needs, I received this:
I don’t want to give a typical male sob story so hope this doesn’t come across like that. I’ve been married a long time and our life is good – apart from the sex […] and it leaves me unfulfilled.
And it really is a typical male story (I disagree with sob), at least from my professional point of view. All my married clients use the same words: “our relationship is good, but (insert the but of your choice: but there is no sex, but the sex we have is very basic, but my partner doesn’t want me, but I don’t get the intimacy I need, etc) and I feel unfulfilled”. Will I appear radical by saying that goodbut actually means bad? Because goodbut doesn’t mean good. You’d never say “The weather is good but it’s raining”. You say “Damn, the weather is horrid again”. When you buy something from Amazon and it doesn’t do what it’s meant to do, you don’t post a positive review of “It’s good but it doesn’t work”. No, you return the item! Acknowledging that the relationship actually isn’t good is a good start. We don’t have this problem with things: if it’s broken – we see it, if we don’t like it – we say so. But when it comes to relationships, it’s never broken/ of poor quality/ unsatisfactory – no, it’s good. But.
First of all, we need to blame the parents. For the obvious reasons. If they only provided us with the goodbut relationship model, then a goodbut relationship is all we’ll be looking for. Secondly, we need to blame the parents for the less obvious reasons: for not bringing us up with the feeling of self-worth that would prevent us from settling for goodbut relationships.
More than anyone else, however, the responsible party is us. We don’t often enough get into a relationship with the awareness of our reasons for it – because this is the standard against which the success of something is measured. If you buy a violin because you want to make music, a crack in its body will spoil your plans. But the same violin will be a boon if all you want is to annoy the hell out of your neighbours. So if you don’t know what is important to you in a relationship, how can you tell if it’s working for you? Especially in a culture which is big on telling you what your relationship should be like. If you got into a relationship because you didn’t want to be lonely, and now you have a beautiful home, an attractive partner and a bunch of kids but you’re still lonely – it’s not working that well for you, is it?
The truth is, among the billions of people on this planet there will always be others who have the same need (or lack thereof) for sex as you, the same life goals as you, the same attitudes to relationships as you. But we settle for whoever comes first and don’t give ourselves time to find someone who meets the needs that are important to us. And because a relationship is forever – nobody doubts this axiom, I hope – we find ourselves living unfulfilled lives, forever. Because god forbid you voice your worries to your partner, or worse, start working on having your needs met and getting some happiness in this life. And I don’t mean sex. I am talking about any aspect of a relationship that is important to you personally and in which your needs aren’t met. A relationship is there to enrich your life, not to turn it into a mind-numbingly boring descent into death.
All that said, I’m not in a relationship myself, so ignore me. The reason I’m not in a relationship though is this poem by Omar Khayyám:
You better starve, than eat whatever
And better be alone, than with whoever.
In other news, there’s a blog entry out of timeline here, and I’m off to England in a few days. St Valentine’s in Cambridge will be exciting! Come be mine!