Living with humans.

Living with people is hard. Even harder when you are introverted, not highly emotive, and overly practical about how to run your life. Even harder when your lifestyle is markedly alternative. But living with people can be handled.

As briefly mentioned last week, we were thinking of moving in with relatives and it fell through. And one of the reasons for it was quite simply that we felt we could not live with them at all. Their lifestyle clashed with ours, but there was a requirement that we merge our lives. And every pressure was put on us to change our own behaviours and accept the behaviours of the people we were moving in with. Which I suppose is fair enough, as they were there first. But neither Jon nor I are ready to change our lives so dramatically for anything or anyone. And the levels of drama were, quite frankly, massively above what we can tolerate, which, incidentally, is “as close to zero as possible”. So why try at all? Quite simply, we didn’t actually expect to have to change so much.

You see, we comfortably “live” with a couple we’re friends with semi regularly. We’ve had sleepovers, shared hotels, and our last holiday involved a solid week of houseshare. And although even arranging a single visit or day with the relatives was a nightmare, somehow living for a week with our friends was easy. We could do basic housework, arrange meals together, go places and even schedule my work and medical emergencies and shopping, all without a single falling out. So what gives? Why can we do that with them, but not our own family?

The core difference actually comes down to independence versus agreeability. Jon and I both have a strong desire to be independent, both as individuals and as a couple. So we aim to do as much as we can on our own. We also would rather things got done than did not, so we’re both agreeable as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, but not at all agreeable when delays occur. And our friends are very much the same. They want to do their own thing and they want to do it in peace. So even though we were living together and doing things together, ultimately we were still operating as individuals and we were agreeable so as to enable all of us to continue operating as individuals.

Meanwhile, the main sources of conflict with the family were based around dependence and a need for agreeability beyond comfort. They were demanding to be informed of every aspect of our lives, insisting on helping us rather than letting us hire someone to do work, and getting upset whenever we chose to do something on our own. They were essentially demanding a merge of lives, a loss of independence to us. Share the dogs, let them take care of XYZ, put their needs first. And being highly emotive people, whenever we sought independence over communialism, they became upset. So rather than focusing on a problem, such as the dog needing somewhere to stay but them being unable to keep up their promises, or the solution, such as finding someone else to take care of her, we were expected to first and foremost focus on how we hurt their feelings throughout the situation. In other words, we were expected to be dependent on them and to be agreeable towards them. It was the complete opposite of our relationship with our friends.

I’m sure many people are happy to live with people who they are dependent on and agreeable towards. But ultimately, to avoid drama, you and the people you live with need to agree on your levels of interdependence and agreeability. Whether you want to lead completely isolated lives under the same roof or whether one of you will be completely dependent, you need to agree on that. And whether you want to handle everything bluntly or whether you need people to be sensitive to your emotions, you need to agree on that.

People can live together when they lead completely different lives. They cannot live together when their socializing patterns are completely different.

Let that be a lesson to all: before living with people, discuss dependence levels and how agreeable you need to be to each other. Because drama doesn’t come from disagreements, conflicting beliefs or busy lives. Drama comes from differing neediness.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Rough Play Is A Requirement.

I am not sure where the idea that women are frail and delicate and need to be handled like fine porcelain or sugar sculptures came from. But it seems pretty pervasive.

From the occasional radical feminist who claims BDSM sex, or even light, playful wrestling, is somehow male dominance and aggression to the PUAs who walk about Kino as though any guy, without direction, would either never touch a woman or accidentally break her, it seems that men touching women “too much” or “too harshly” or “not enough” or “not gently enough” or just not “the right way” is a generally accepted idea. And although this idea has merit when talking about a man and a woman who do not know each other well, some people carry it into marriage, or for their whole lives.

But roughness isn’t just a welcome facet to sexual encounters and other intimate times: on many levels it is a requirement. This is just from personal observation and reading around, but the more I look, the clearer it seems to me that most women, myself included, crave an amount of action, physicality and yes, roughness with our partners. There are two scales for this: playfulness and force. On the playfulness scale we have a range from friendly, through toying, teasing, sensual, sexual, dominating, right up to serious, which may be taking it too far. Friendly roughness might be pushing someone aside, sensual roughness is guiding them directly by moving their body like a puppet, serious roughness would be bordering on actual violence. On the force scale we have playing limp, equalizer, controlled, overpowering and full force. Playing limp is passive resistance, equalizer is matching their power, controlled is allowing for push and pull, overpowering is just enough to take over and full force is using all your strength.

And everyone’s needs will vary on both scales. Some women will prefer friendly, equalized roughness. Some will prefer teasing, limp roughness. Some will prefer dominating, full force roughness. It is necessary to understand this to see what I’m trying to say. Not all women want to be completely dominated and thrown around the room. But some form of rough play seems essential to a healthy sex life for the vast majority of us.

[NSFW links.]

Some women end up with gentle men, but still have a desire for domination.

Some women enjoy the most intense forms of abuse and neglect.

Some women just want to be chased a little bit.

But on some level most women want it. And, from my personal observation, it goes beyond a want into an actual need. The more I read and the more I observe my own needs, the more I see that rough sex, when desired, is not something meekly being suggested to “spice things up”. More often than not, it’s something these women want regularly, the standard for the sex they crave. Even those of us who have only been with one man, who has always been at the same level of intensity, will crave a pre-calibrated amount of roughness. It’s not about what we fancy, about curiosity, about boredom or about something we used to get. It seems to be, quite simply, an inbuilt need.

Thoughts?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… temper your temper.

As of late I’ve been a bit grumpy. I know it’s mostly hormonal, but am currently unsure whether it’s a result of changing my usual mood stabilizers (coffee and fish-based omega supplements), a result of trying for a baby or that I am actually pregnant.

But a temper, however random and hormonal, is a vile thing to control. So here is how I have been trying to keep my usual disposition despite everything annoying me for no reason at all.

1: Do not play the blame game.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, don’t spend all your time looking for things to blame and problems that are making you angry.

Recognize the sources of your anger. Recognize their validity. But try and surpass them, rather than let them annoy you more.

Example: The dog has trodden mud in the carpet after a walk with your friend. You feel the dog is useless and annoying. You feel your friend could have controlled the dog better, or cleaned up after it.

Solution: Acknowledge that it’s done now and trying to put the blame on someone does not fix the issue, it just creates more bad feelings.

2: Keep your mouth shut.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, unless the situation is actively dangerous don’t bring up anger when you’re still angry. Sit it out, work on it in your head and then, when you’re cooled off, see if it’s worth mentioning. More often than not, once the anger has faded back, you will feel it wasn’t worth having an argument about.

Example: You want to shout at your friend for letting the dog into the house.

Solution: Rather than alienate your friend, ask them to help you clean and do not mention that you blame them,

3: Write up a schedule.

Sometimes we get angry because we are just generally stressed and overworked and one little thing out of place can ruin our whole day. Rather than let this happen repeatedly, write a schedule that leaves a bit of room between tasks so that you have time to handle mishaps.

Example: Your friend usually visits on a Wednesday at 12 and lets the dog out in the garden.

Solution: Make sure to be free on Wednesdays from 11.50 to 12.30 so you can clean the dog before it gets inside.

4: Do something creative and relaxing.

Again, sometimes we’re just doing far, far, far too much and need some time to unwind. Humans aren’t meant to just work all day. We need some down time. And what better time for down time than when we are sitting around seething?

Doing something creative calms the stressed part of our brain and is an outlet for anger and sadness.

Example: The carpet looks damaged beyond repair. Now you start thinking about the cost of getting a new one and feel even more stressed.

Solution: Sit down for a bit with a cup of tea and some knitting, a book or some pencils and paper. At first keep the problem out of your mind, but as you relax, slowly let it in and seek a solution.

5: Look for the brightness.

There is a silver lining to every cloud, or so the saying goes. When you are in a bad place it can be hard to see the bright side, especially when it looks like the situation has no upsides at all. But it’s important to consider what the situation could be.

Is there another side effect that has provided an upside? This means there is a silver lining.

Could the situation have been much worse? This means you are doing well compared to what could have been.

Did the situation result from a generally positive thing? This means it is a small price to pay.

Examples:

If you absolutely have to change the carpet, you get to pick a new carpet for your room and reconsider the decor to make it nice. Silver lining.

The carpet was already old and stained, so it doesn’t make any difference, it can stay that way. The scenario is not so bad.

Your friend is a human and humans make mistakes. A stained carpet is a small price to pay for a friend.

And that is how I am managing my annoyance lately. I’m hoping this will pass on its own, or that I will find a way of managing my moods again, seeing as being constantly annoyed isn’t good for your mental health. But at least I am not letting it hurt those close to me or upset my life.

How do you manage irregular moods or anger?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Bonus: The Valentine’s Day lunchbox.

Because Jon is working tonight, but he still deserves that extra special treatment. If anything, he deserves it all the more for working so hard! 🙂

The Best Lamb Burger Recipe

Sweet Hearts Jam Tarts and Brazils to snack on.

For dinner a heart-shaped lamb burger; mushroom, spinach and garlic fry; heart mushrooms cooked in lamb fat; beans, for some carbs; carrots, beets and courgette as hearts too.

Plus a bowl of turkey and sausage stew for his lunch, which was not pictured because it was still cooking when I did the photos.

He mostly wants to stay lower carb than usual, but not VLC, so plenty of veg to balance out the sweet things.

Who said cute bento (lunch) boxes were just for Japanese moms and girlfriends?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Little Acts Of Holiday Seduction.

Because why not have a bit of fun with your partner whilst you’re both home?

1: Flirty advent.

There are all sorts of fun and quirky advent ideas for people who miss the excitement of the advent calendar but who’ve had enough of strange-tasting milk chocolate of questionable origin. So why not a fun and flirty one?

Maybe they could be redeemable coupons, personal messages or little daily rewards, as naughty or nice as you need them to be, just make sure it’s all about having fun and giving. 🙂

2: Hot cocoa.

If you’re feeling cold, miserable, stressed and bored… chances are your beloved is too! Make two steaming mugs of hot cocoa, pick a film between you and snuggle up on the sofa under the blankets. Try and make some personal time for this, when the kids and pets are in bed.

3: Mistletoe.

Mistletoe, mistletoe everywhere… How about a bunch at the front door, over your partner’s seat in the kitchen and living room, in their office/study/workshop and, of course, over the bed? (Try plastic, paper or fabric mistletoe if you’re worried about allergies or small creatures -two and four legged alike- eating them!)

Then just make sure to point it out whenever you’re both underneath it. 🙂

4: Sexy Santa.

Find yourself a cute Santa apron, a Santa hat and some red slippers. Arrange some cookies/biscuits on a platter with cocoa, coffee or tea, whatever your partner prefers. Then, present them with some edible festive gifts in nothing but that.

5: Big bow.

Feel like you haven’t got enough gifts to show your beloved how important they are to you? Or that they have everything they need, so it’s hard to get something meaningful? If you want to be the icing on the pudding these holidays, then wrap yourself up in a bow on Christmas morning before handing over their presents. Whatever you wear under that is up to you.

And above all, have fun, destress and remember your partner this season.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

7 Reasons You Should Just Tell Him.

Women are often cryptic in how we speak. Even a relatively masculine woman like myself can say something in “girl code”, brush a matter aside or drop a flimsy hint. And it will happen from time to time regardless of our efforts.

That said, we also often speak cryptically when we know we’re doing it and when we can prevent it. And here are six reasons why we shouldn’t.

1: He can’t read your mind.

Here’s the thing: men aren’t telepathic. They don’t have a wire that taps right into our brains.

Yes, humans engage in nonverbal communication. But male and female nonverbal communication is a little different and, even if it wasn’t, why are you relying on someone guessing every element about you? You wouldn’t ask an interviewer to guess why you want the role, so why would you expect your husband or boyfriend to guess where you want to go for dinner?

2: But he knows something is wrong.

Although nonverbal communication is different for men and women, one thing we absolutely share is the ability to detect distress, pain, anger and fear in others. Even psychopaths, who otherwise lack natural empathy, have this ability. We need it to survive.

So don’t assume that just because you haven’t said your head hurts or you’re angry, he won’t know. He will know and dismissing it doesn’t work.

3: He wants to help.

If he loves you and can sense that you are in any way distressed or upset, he wants to fix that. He wants to be your hero and beat up all the bad guys. So when you don’t tell him who or what is hurting you, he worries and could go into overdrive trying to fix your life until you’re happy.

4: He wants to know if he can’t help.

Sometimes there’s nothing he can do. Maybe you’re going through a period of existential depression, you hurt your foot or work is just very stressful lately. Guess what? He still knows you’re unhappy and he still wants to help. At least let him know when there’s something wrong and when you don’t want or need any help he can offer.

5: Stress builds up over unspoken matters.

Again, just because he knows you’re upset doesn’t mean he can read your mind and guess why you’re upset or who you’re upset at. He could decide that you’re angry at him, or feeling hurt by something he did. If you don’t say why you’re upset and he doesn’t confirm that he is or isn’t the source of the problem, then tension and stress may build between you.

6: Shared experiences are bonding experiences.

On the flipside, living life for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, together at all times, can really bring you together. By sharing your hardships and your pain you’re opening a very vulnerable part of yourself to him. Perhaps he will reciprocate and show his vulnerability and ask for your help. Perhaps he will strive to make your life easier until you’re back on track. Or perhaps it will just put his mind at ease about your suffering. However it works out, you will be drawn closer by sharing rather than hiding.

7: Honesty leads to better results.

Finally, we need to kill our expectations and selfishness in relationships, but that doesn’t mean we want nothing from them. After all, relationships are transactional. What does he do when he wants you to grab his coat, make him dinner, answer the door, get him something specific for his birthday or listen to him? He asks you. That way he either gets what he wants or gets a (hopefully good) reason for your not doing it. You need to try and do the same. Think he’s letting himself go? Say so before it gets out of hand. Want him to pass the salt? Ask. Have a specific idea of what you want for your birthday? Tell him what it is.

The worst he can do is say no.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What situations have you been in or seen where noncommunication caused a problem? And where communication prevented a problem? I’d love to hear some anecdotes on the matter! 🙂