Parts is Parts

That next-door neighbor or person you work with.

Do you know if they still have the tonsils they were born with? Do you care?

Do you know if they still have all the teeth they were born with? Do you care?

Knee? Hip?

…then why do you care if they still have the genitals they were born with?

How Do You Fill Your Boxes?

Why do we form relationships?

There are many reasons, but they can be summed up by the concept of meeting needs. And how many needs you have (and their complexity) may determine what kind of relationships you choose to have.

Let’s say you have 100 need boxes to be filled. A typical primary relationship fills, say, 75. It’s then up to you whether the remaining 25 are important enough to be filled.

Monogamous people say, “Nah, 75 is enough. I can live with the empty 25, and maybe over time, my partner will fill some of the rest.” Polyamorous people find others who can fill at least some of them.

What if you don’t have a primary? Then, one partner may fill 30, another 25, etc. How many partners you take depends on how important it is to have the other boxes filled — recognizing that some will always be empty. The specific array of partners and changes in the lineup determines which boxes get filled at any specific time.

A potential partner might appeal because they fill a few high-need boxes, and so we’re willing to put up with complications like distance or some incompatibilities to get that benefit. People who have a really big need box for companionship, stability, and/or touch may be extra motivated to get a primary.

And yes, some people decide to fill some of their own boxes — or shrink some of them to make that easier. Of course, some boxes might be more resistant to shrinking than others.

But every time we take on a partner, there is a calculus of what boxes they will fill, whether we can manage what’s left — and how.

Upward Dog

I recently spent time with a teacher who works in one of the schools where a shooting recently occurred. She told the story of that day – and how, days after the incident, the school administration had brought in comfort dogs for the staff and the students.

I had heard the phrase, but hadn’t realized that comfort dogs don’t actively provide comfort. They are trained to accept affection without reacting. They will let you cuddle with them and stroke them and be close to them, but not lick your face or give back in any obvious way. They provide comfort by accepting others’ affection.

So often in human relationships, we hear about people with difficulty receiving affection, who believe that their role is to give and give, as that’s the only way to make sure the other person feels appreciated. They feel lazy or guilty for letting the other person do for them. (And yes, I’m one of those people.)

It’s worth remembering that accepting what someone else has to offer is a gift in itself. That allowing someone to love and respect is as much a sign of affection as offering it yourself.

I’m not much of a dog person. But it looks like even they can teach an old me new tricks.

Pansexuality is Like Getting Holiday Presents

People come in a lot of different packages — colors, shapes, and patterns. Some of what we can see may be quite attractive.

But the wrapping is no clue to what’s inside — which is what’s important. Yes, that’s true for many people who put soul and emotional compatibility ahead of physical attraction. But it’s especially so for people who don’t define their attraction by the shape of the package or its parts.

One way pansexuality is not like holiday presents: Please don’t shake the packages to see if they’re yours.

A Far, Far Better Thing…

…with the emphasis on Far.

So many of us have done it. Gotten into a chat with an interesting person via social media, or maybe met them in passing at a wedding, conference, or some other gathering far from one of your hometowns. And there was a spark, and you would like to find out how and whether each of you fits in the other’s life.

But they live way far away. Can long distance relationships succeed? What can you do to increase the chances? Here’s a beginning checklist:

First, don’t let logistics get in the way of attraction. We like who we like and we love who we love; don’t write somebody who gives you tingles off just because it’s going to be hard to see each other.

Second, make sure you’re both on the same page about the practicalities. If one of you expects or needs to see the other every month, and you can only see them twice a year, it’s not going to be a successful relationship.

A third way to help it succeed is to celebrate every contact, every shared dream, every time you see or do something that reminds you of the other person. Contact and common experiences can go a long way in reinforcing long-distance relationships even when you can’t be physically together as often as you might like. (This is why text messaging was invented, folks.)

And a fourth important approach — and perhaps a challenging one — is to encourage the distant partner to find in local relationships the things that you can’t provide in a long distance one. Support them in their relationships with their local partners, the ones that give them regular touch and other experiences that only happen in person. Those people are not rivals for your relationship; they make it possible.

There are many more aspects to long distance relationships, but follow those and you’ll be off to a solid start.