Re: ATM: Keeping Passion in Marriage (or, Recovering From an Affair)

1

If/when the tide turns and you start genuinely wanting to be closer with him, he'll start feeling anger and the other assortment of emotions that he's suppressing right now out of fear.

Damn, someone's jaundiced.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:44 AM
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What? I mean, he can work through those emotions - I'm not saying the marriage is doomed. I'm just saying that right now, he feels like he'll drown if the marriage crumbles and so he's putting all his energy into keeping it afloat. When it feels more secure, then he'll start to deal with the secondary emotions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:47 AM
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It sounds like the affair was a transformative experience.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:47 AM
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Or when it sinks, and he's on his own. The secondary emotions would also come out then.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:47 AM
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Can you have tertiary emotions?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:48 AM
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3: This was one of my mental examples of where Paul's solution fails.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:48 AM
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Mme Bovary,

First, my sympathies, having been through something very similar myself. Even as the "jerk" in the story, I know it's emotionally wrenching, and I hope you have friends who can support you.

Esther Perel has written a lot about how to keep the magic alive in a long-term relationship -- and of course I recommend Mating in Captivity.

I think what you have in store are a number of difficult conversations with your husband. It is really hard to rekindle sexual excitement with someone once it's faded, although I suspect it is possible. But I think Heebie's first reaction is worth considering. You have a loving, stable, and successful partnership with your husband, but you want to find excitement and lust -- can you keep the one while exploring the other? You might find, as you (or the two of you) start exploring the idea of entering into other relationships, that you start to see each other in a new, more exciting light.

Or, you might decide together that you can't handle that, and then you have to decide just how bleak the prospect of a future without romance is, and whether it's worth ending your partnership with your husband to go find it.

I think that some sort of change is inevitable -- it's up to the two of you to figure out exactly what form it takes. I know from experience how very difficult this is.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:53 AM
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I agree with heebie on the repressed-anger thing. Unless your parents or your in-laws are doing a great deal of child watching, somebody with two elementary school kids and an affair that involves frequent travel is leaving the other parent with a great deal of extra work on top of everything else. And, unless there's an expense account or a fairly high income, the travel is probably putting extra financial stress on the other parent. "I cheated on you" might pass without too much anger but "The sacrifices you thought you were making for my career* were really so I could cheat on you" would seem to me to be much harder to take.

* I'm just making a plausible guess at how you would explain the extra travel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:20 AM
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I fell completely in love with the younger man, felt like we had a connection that was unique, and felt understood by him in a way I never had by my husband.

This is the nearly universal description of rebound relationships (which, though yours was not following an actual split, is close enough to round up). You seem plenty aware of this from your letter. New is exciting. It keeps you from noticing the metaphorical crumbs on the table and hairs in the bathroom sink that you would see after the familiarity starts to settle in.

I agree with heebie, though: when your husband is feeling the threat of you packing up and leaving, his anger will largely stay bottled up. When/if you decide firmly to stay in the marriage, that bottle is going to open, probably in ways both big and small. That really isn't a function of who is the aggrieved party or what justifications or rules did or didn't get observed or broken. That's just how (most) people work.

Good luck with it. There aren't any easy answers, and none that fit every situation. The only advice I can give you about the physical end of it is that it's kind of like exercise. You have to start doing it to get back in the habit of it, and it isn't easy to get started. I know it's totally depressing and unsexy to think of it as a chore, but it's a start.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:23 AM
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I am no relationship expert, but the fact that Mme. Bovary is basically unapologetic ("the jerk in this story" is an understatement), and is focused primarily on how to get her own needs met, does not bode well for the relationship. I'm not at all suggesting that you are a bad person, but I am suggesting that you don't seem to want to be in this relationship, and don't seem interested in doing the quite considerable amount of work that is going to be necessary to repair it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:32 AM
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10 came out much more judgmentally in tone than would be ideal because I'm typing on a phone. Didn't mean for it to sound that way. But I stand behind the basic sentiment.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:35 AM
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I'm kind of hanging onto the point where you felt ready to leave your husband for the new guy but it's not as clear that you want to leave just to be away from your husband, which is maybe where the ambiguity is. (I couldn't tell if having a new relationship every few years meant as a complement to what you have with him or instead of, if you'd gone out on your own.) I don't have any meaningful advice, but sort of want to say something cheesy about figuring out what you want and need for yourself as separate from any actual relationship.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:40 AM
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I've been almost exactly on the other side of this story, and unfortunately I don't have any hope to offer. I think the marriage is over, and by far the kindest thing to do at this point is to move as quickly and amicably as possible towards a formal breakup. As far as I can tell, it's almost impossible to bring physical attraction back once it's faded.


Posted by: Fançois Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:55 AM
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"the jerk in this story" is an understatement

Eh, this is such a common story though. The fire goes out of a long-term relationship, a shiny object reminds you of things you haven't felt in a long time. Either you start the cycle over again (and it usually *is* a cycle), or the exciting new relationship falls through and you have to figure out how to pick up the pieces. The original partner knows or doesn't, maybe they are still there or maybe they aren't. Outside people get judgmental about these situations because they find it personally threatening when overlaid onto their own relationships, but (in my observation) they are more common than not.

I don't actually get the feeling that the writer has serious problems in her marriage ("He is a good guy, he makes me laugh, we have fun together, and we have been good friends and partners."), just the same restlessness that the vast majority of people feel after a decade waking up with the same person. That isn't insurmountable, but it is a challenge.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:58 AM
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New is exciting. It keeps you from noticing the metaphorical crumbs on the table and hairs in the bathroom sink that you would see after the familiarity starts to settle in.
Especially since they were only occasionally seeing each other, and for brief periods.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:00 AM
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13: You need a prenup or there's nothing to stop family court from giving her the 'r' you had before you were married.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:00 AM
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Having spent quite a while hearing "he's a nice guy, he makes me laugh, we have fun together, and we have been good friends and partners" etc., while the rest of the relationship deteriorates, I'm not very inclined to see that as a hopeful sign. Being friends while one party isn't attracted to the other isn't a good foundation for a marriage, either initially or after 10+ years. If that's where you're at, it's best to think about moving on.


Posted by: Françcois Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:09 AM
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Also, let me be totally irresponsible (but correct) and recommend that you find somewhere to send your kids for a weekend and take MDMA together. It won't magically fix anything, of course, but you'll likely come out of it with a much better sense of where you both stand.

I know, I know, but this is actually serious advice.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:09 AM
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I'm specifically struck by the fact that Emma doesn't want to kiss Charles. That's pretty much where it started for me, and I think it's a quite good diagnostic for the overall state of the relationship. As long as that continues, there's very little hope.


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:20 AM
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18: It'll be a transformative experience.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:24 AM
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François Hollande is unfortunately making a lot of sense. Not even wanting to kiss him is a huge red flag.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:25 AM
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We need a guest turn by Ayelet Waldman!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:27 AM
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14: Really wasn't trying to be judging--see 11. Sorry. Just noting that Mme. still seems to be focused more on how to rekindle her own subjective experience of passion than on what effects a year of lying to her husband about an affair is likely to have had on her husband and their relationship. If she is not in a position to acknowledge that and prepared to do a lot of hard work to help repair what's been damaged, then I wouldn't counsel a lot of hope. But of course, what do I know? (Nothing, except that giving anyone else advice on their marriages is likely to be a fool's game.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:28 AM
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Charles may also not want to kiss Emma. Also Heebie's point in the OP. Both based on experience. Some years later when I advised my wife that I had now fully withdrawn from any emotional commitment to our marriage, I remarked to her that even though Emma Bovary was a dumb cow, Madame Bovary was great literature. But that her affair and delusions were more Bridges of Madison County and I really didn't want to be a player in that dreck.


Posted by: No longer Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:43 AM
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18 is an interesting suggestion. If MDMA is anything like the vaguely related drugs I've tried it will throw everything into stark relief (and not necessarily in a good way). It does tend to make people kind of cuddly and affectionate, so there's that. It's not an insane suggestion if you have any experience with drugs stronger than alcohol. I wouldn't suggest it as something to do with no experience at all, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:45 AM
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It's a way bigger hill to climb after you've had a year-long affair which you didn't even break off and clearly haven't even let go of. Before that happened someone could have suggested sex or couples therapy, mutually exploring sexual fantasies and roleplay and that sort of thing as a way to rekindle the flame. In the present circumstance all of that could rather seem like closing the barn door after the horses bolt, though I guess it's still worth trying.

Frankly if I were in his position I'd leave, though, since what you're describing is pretty unforgivable. At the very least if you plan on attempting to make it work, you would need to come clean that the lack of sexual desire was a factor in the cheating and start working frankly from that basis.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:48 AM
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keep the magic alive

My first thought about the OP's story was, more or less, that magic is overrated.

I love my wife, expect to grow old with her, and have never been tempted to cheat on her. (On the other hand, our first date was less than six years ago, so I can't offer any particular advice to Mme. Bovary from experience.) But magic? She's cute, she's sweet, we get along great, but it's hard to call that "magic" or any similar terms. I think this relationship has been more about "we both seem to think this is fun, let's take the next step and see what we think about that," from the first date at a Starbucks to marriage and parenthood. I don't think that's what most people mean by "magic."

I don't know that I'd want magic in my life either. I remember a little magic in my late teens and early twenties and a lot of self-doubt and misery and loneliness. I assume there's a connection. Given the choice between that package and the current package of friendship plus sex plus a mortgage, I'd prefer the latter, whatever you want to call it.

But admittedly, the whole package is important. We're going through a dry spell in bed lately for practical reasons, but even now I'm pretty sure we make it clear enough to each other that the desire is there. If it wasn't, there would be problems. It sounds like the lack of desire is just one of several problems for Mme. Bovary, but maybe focus on that first?


Posted by: Calvin Coolidge | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:48 AM
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It doesn't seem like MDMA is likely to tell them anything that isn't in the OP. Why not save the trouble and expense?


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:49 AM
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(Also, the OP seems dimly aware that what's going on is basically an adolescent clinging to the rush of infatuation that if indulged will lead to them endlessly bouncing through rebound relationships. So addressing what's behind that impulse -- the overrated allure of "magic" as Calvin Coolidge puts it -- would seem to be pretty important.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:51 AM
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18 is a great idea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:51 AM
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28: That's not been my experience of it, but I suppose mileages vary.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:52 AM
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Forget MDMA. You should both drop acid and then sit down for a serious talk about your relationship.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:53 AM
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Apo, I'm super curious about whatever you're hedging about.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:56 AM
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You should both drop acid and then sit down for a serious talk about your relationship why your hand is a paisley lizard.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:56 AM
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I of course adore apo but am grateful I didn't go to him for relationship advice, although maybe it would have been different relationship advice. I can say that being the person whose partner was no longer interested enough for kissing was something worth knowing, but it was also really hard to figure out what to do with that knowledge. But I also don't want to extrapolate from any of my relationships to yours because overlap is probably minimal. (Wait, actually, no I can say don't say it's because he gained weight even if he did gain weight. I mean, I was glad to know officially because I already assumed but it didn't help anything and I definitely didn't lose the weight.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:58 AM
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I've gone through "let's explore fantasies and new ways of doing things" (mostly before the affair) and "let's just live as friends without the sexual element" (mostly after the affair), and honestly neither has worked and both have ended up being pretty miserable. That's a sample size of one, so it's not at all definitive, and I don't want to impose my experience on anyone else, but it really does seem like the Bovaries are in a place that it's very difficult to come back from, and in practical terms failure does need to be an option.


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:58 AM
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I'm not sure what 18 is about either. I did MDMA in fair quantities in my drug-using days and I know fair well why it's called "the love drug" but I've never had any sense of its revealing the inner truth of relationships.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:58 AM
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You should both smoke a lot of pot and debate whether you should crumble oreos into milk and eat it like cereal or crumble doritos in a tortilla and eat it like a taco.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:00 AM
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I do agree with Heebie that he's feeling afraid and insecure. When I first told him, he was extremely angry for a while, and I committed to doing everything possible to do the right things moving forward (answering his questions honestly, not hiding anything, not continuing to speak to the other person, being open about my activities and whereabouts to whatever degree he wanted, etc.) My husband would say that he's moved past it all in the past two months, which I know can't be true. It is also the case that he is extremely uncomfortable feeling anger, in general. My worry is not that he'll start feeling more anger soon, but rather that his suppression skills are so good that his bitterness and resentment - both of which are merited - will just leak out over the next however many years in harmful ways.

I feel like we have a good foundation under us, but maybe I am fooling myself. I hate the idea of getting a divorce and doing that to our children. I think both of us would probably put up with a lot (maybe even a life without romance) in order to avoid that. My husband is even more resistant to divorce than I am. I don't think he would ever consider it. This isn't something that we figured out about ourselves until now.

I am not sure it's that I don't want to be in the relationship so much as that I am currently deeply depressed and don't think I have any objectivity or perspective on it. I feel like we have a lot of work we'll have to do together to repair things, but I need to get somewhat better before I can be in a state of mind where I'm ready to do that kind of work. And I just feel confused about exactly what that kind of work is supposed to look like. It saddens me to think there might be no hope. On my husband's end, I think that he deserves to be with somebody who is attracted to him just as much as I wish to feel attraction in a relationship. I think the cooling of romance is something that was harmful to us both.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:01 AM
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Maybe it's like Kung Fu Panda and the Dragon Scroll and the inner truth of relationships is that there is no inner truth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:02 AM
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40 to 37.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:02 AM
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33: Am I hedging about something? Sorry, ask away. In my experience, the MDMA state established a safe space to discuss things that neither side had been quite capable of talking about openly. Also served to illuminate a lot of things I had not been honest with myself about. But, of course, everybody processes things in their own way and what is helpful for me may or may not be for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:04 AM
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"sex plus a mortgage"
If you need to take out a loan you're paying too much.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:04 AM
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40: Heh. Could be.

Or maybe I just never had the really pure shit.

39: Are you in therapy for the depression thing?


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:08 AM
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So, from what feels like it might be the other side of this story, any advice on how to encourage a partner to rip the bandaid off and open up about what's going on? Yitzhak and I have been together for a very long time -- our sex life fell off a cliff about six months ago, and he's been traveling a lot and unavailable when he's at home. Still affectionate -- I'm sure he'd say "she's a nice guy, she makes me laugh, we have fun together, and we have been good friends and partners".

It's possible that he's having an affair, although it wouldn't be my first guess, but mostly I'd really just like to know what's going on and where his process is going -- if he's drifting out of the marriage, I'd like to know that sooner rather than later. We've talked about it some, in what I have tried to make a non-threatening manner, but I haven't gotten any useful information other than he's been in a weird place lately, and that yes, his libido is way down.

So, from the point of view of people having affairs or otherwise drifting away from relationships, any advice on what the other partner can do to bring things to a head and find out what's going on?


Posted by: Golda Meir | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:11 AM
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I've been in a lot of conversations about this recently. The more I think about that sick-in-love feeling, the one that makes you do incredibly stupid self-destructive shit to get high on fucking and staring at each other, the more I think there should just be a way to bottle it, take doses of it, and leave people's lives out of it. It always ends this way--with one person suddenly calling the bluff and it's over. It's always completely traumatic because you were in a hallucinatory state and then the person who made it feel real suddenly says, "Oh, what, that? We were just playing around. Forget about it." And then you cry yourself to sleep for six months.

What I'm starting to realize about that feeling is that people who press my buttons that way are people who tap into some really repressed horrible shit about me. Whenever I find myself calling it some kind of mystical otherworldly connection, it's because it's basically not someone I just really get along with, or whom I'd trust to take me to the hospital if I was sick. The mystical otherworldly lovesickness thing is like a hysterical reaction to someone calling up all the worst, most damaged parts of you.

I'm not saying settle for the boring unsexy husband. I don't even know what the answer is. I would have a hard time staying in a relationship with someone I loved very much if there wasn't a little of that lovesick desire feeling going on. But a LOT of it is usually a sign that something kind of fucked up is happening.

I have erred in my life on the side of having super fucked up crazy intense dating relationships and then really really stable secure loving friendships. But when you're married to the stable secure guy and he doesn't turn you on at all? I'm not sure there's much to do.

"Open relationship" in this case just sounds like a stepping stone to breaking up, and will probably be more painful for him in the long run because he'll be expected to just be a good sport while you do whatever you want and he gets nothing that he wants. Unless both people are using the open relationship and getting joy from it, it seems kind of shitty.

The other thing to ask yourself is, if you split up, do you think you'll still be carried away by feelings of forbidden ecstasy all the time? Or was at least part of the intensity of that relationship that it was on top of a stable marriage that allowed you the safety to risk so much emotionally while also providing the frisson that made it so sexy? Having those super-intense scary-in-love fuckathons without anyone to go home to when it falls apart is even more devastating.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:12 AM
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42: I just meant that it sounded like there was an interesting sordid drug-infused night surrounding your own divorce or other relationships.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:12 AM
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Ah, the depression thing makes sense. Go to therapy! Take drugs if necessary! Affairs are bound to tap into that kind of shit and exploit it in life-ruining ways.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:15 AM
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So it's settled: MDMA for the relationship, shrooms for the depression.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:16 AM
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like there was an interesting sordid drug-infused night

There have been many!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:16 AM
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45: Just ask. Sometimes even the tiniest opening is enough to spark enough courage to be honest. Or phrase it in the hypothetical.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:19 AM
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I of course adore apo but am grateful I didn't go to him for relationship advice, although maybe it would have been different relationship advice.

In fact, it was different advice.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:19 AM
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I don't know how many people I've known who lost that lovin' feeling at home, then started some insane obsessive affair that turned their whole universe inside out, so they throw their dependable partner in the garbage, the affair fizzles out inevitably, and then they realize that the thing they had been looking for was something they could have at least tried to get from their partner, but never even attempted to discuss or work on. It's a big fucking regret machine.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:19 AM
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26 and 29 seem to ask rather more of people than is reasonable. Should couples have very difficult conversations and haul themselves into therapy rather than make bad and selfish choices? Well, yes, of course. But we all know that.

It's sometimes easier to make the right choices in extremis, and human weakness is really quite common.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:22 AM
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52: Ha, and scrolling down, I see that I then recommended Xanax. Better living through chemistry!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:22 AM
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52: Yeah, but I thought then that Mara needed siblings and I still think she did, so I did get around to it 3.5 years later when it was finally legally feasible.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:23 AM
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53: so they... stiiiiiill haaveeen't fooound what they're loooking fooooor


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:24 AM
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Would that I had taken you up on 55, though! As of a few weeks ago I do have an anxiety/sleep pill (trazodone) that's been nice, but it's not the good stuff.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:24 AM
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Before reading the thread: I strongly disagree with Heebie's take. Or, at the least, I think that's one possibility but far from the certain one, and that she's stating it with at least double the certainty that she can possibly have.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:25 AM
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51: Tried that, got nothing useful. I don't know what advice I expected to get, but I thought someone might have something else.


Posted by: Golda Meir | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:26 AM
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I usually don't say this because it seems like gloating, also taunting Fate, but after 20 years together the Dwarf Lord and I are still all smoochyfaces. Don't know why. Neither of us especially value crazy love (I think, the dove-drawn is no-one's friend; he'd be less pretentious) but there's room for quite a lot of swooniness anyway.

I typed in some stuff about what we seem to do instead of having affairs, but am not sure which way causality runs and also the YMMV discussions seem predictable and unprofitable.

So... Not useful to OP, I think, but I get tired of people saying bed-death is guaranteed, it seems a bit self-fulfilling.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:26 AM
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I would have said the same a year ago.


Posted by: Golda Meir | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:27 AM
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Maybe the thing to question is the assumption that the waning of desire in a long term monogamous relationship is unusual and preventable. Lamentable, sure, but maybe it's one of those things that just happens.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:30 AM
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18: We've never taken any drugs so don't really know what we're doing. I'm actually not against it but wouldn't even know how about getting it.

44: I am in therapy, and so is he. It's maybe too soon to know if it'll help.

45: I agree about just asking. There were a number of times when my husband said he wasn't going to ask what was going on. (He did know about the original conference fling, and had okay'd it ahead of time. I know that this doesn't excuse the rest of it one bit.) Once he did ask, I had to tell him the truth.

46: I agree about the open relationship. I think one thing we both learned is that it probably wouldn't work for us. I think I am likely to get emotionally involved and fall in love when I have sex, and then mess everything up. If possible I'd rather rekindle some of those feelings with my husband.

I think he is an attractive person and I can find sex with him pleasurable. It is the lack of lust for him, specifically, that bothers me but I keep wondering if that's just a normal aspect of longevity. I do worry that I just have an unhealthy desire for that sick in-love feeling, which is unrealistic and probably not even healthy. I don't get the sense that my husband has these feelings for me, really, but for him I think the presence of physical desire for sex with me is enough, and he doesn't worry about the rest of it.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:32 AM
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57 is great, expect for the earworm.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:32 AM
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Golda, you need to sort out what you're willing to withstand in the face of never getting a straight answer. Something is going on but since asking him directly didn't work, you have no control over when he'll open up. That's a horrible spot to be in. What you can do is clearly define your position to yourself - what are you willing to put up with and for how long, and what you will do after that. Communicate this to Y in a non-jerky way, and stick to it. (Or redefine new parameters for yourself. But don't just wimp out on being true to yourself.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:33 AM
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64 last reminds me of the conversation here about spontaneous desire vs responsive desire.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:35 AM
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64.last: in my experience, some of that craving for the new love feeling might be coming from the depression, but some may just be what you crave. It's heady.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:36 AM
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Old mischievous merry grabass grandparents aren't that unusual. (Each others asses!) Maybe its a satisficing vs optimizing thing.


Golda, I hope you can say it again in a year... Do youbthink he'd have told youbif he meant his libido just for you? He could just be sick. (Not better.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:36 AM
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54: 26 and 29 seem to ask rather more of people than is reasonable.

It's possible that's so, but in that case all there would really be to say is "get ready to swing some business to your local divorce attorneys." The OP is evidently asking for advice because they're at the point of having to figure out some of those difficult things that human weakness doesn't want to think about.

That said, the point about depression zeroes in on a potential problem a lot more helpfully than just "ask a psychiatrist about whatever's making you restless." Also, I'm pleased to see AWB is still as on point as ever and as always her posts are worth some serious thought and consideration.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:38 AM
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I'm always wondering how much it would help to conceive of oneself as polyamorous. Yes, the poly people are sort of obnoxious, and being in a relationship with one means you go on a list and take a number, and when it's your turn you can get love, as long as the people higher on the list don't need anything. But at least they seem willing and able to recognize and prioritize different needs in relationships. It makes sense that one has a main committed partnership with someone you get along with well and snuggle and talk about feelings and work with, but that you might also want to get spanked on the weekends, or seduce young tender things, or whatever. The problem with the monogamous-but-cheating model seems to be that it's really easy to get swept up into the fantasy that one has been in the wrong relationship this whole time, that actually this other one would fulfill all my heart's desires, so I'm happy to treat my primary partner like shit, or make comparisons at least that are deeply unflattering to them. What the poly people get right is the recognition that maybe you need both, or multiple kids of partners to feel whole, but that the primary relationship is still worth preserving and nurturing even if the deli counter boy makes you cum like a champ.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:38 AM
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64.2: That's good news.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:39 AM
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Yes, the poly people are sort of obnoxious, and being in a relationship with one means you go on a list and take a number, and when it's your turn you can get love, as long as the people higher on the list don't need anything.

This is a rather mournful and somewhat disparaging gloss on polyamory. Or, perhaps more charitably, a sadly accurate description of polyamory practiced poorly.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:43 AM
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Having read the thread, maybe I shouldn't have disagreed so strongly. But I think 8 best captures why. I'm not convinced that the basic framework requires a lot of repressed anger and bitterness, but it's almost certainly the case that every specific fact is an aggravating factor.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:44 AM
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73: Have you ever been partner #3 and tried to make a date?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:48 AM
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Beyond that, 10 sounds about right, and I'm checking my activity log to make sure I didn't post as Calvin Coolidge. Hell, when I was in 11th grade I thought Bovary was childish to want and expect the infatuation of falling in love as a permanent condition. I mean, it's fun and thrilling, but it's inherently transitory.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:49 AM
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75 : it's a fair cop. But I'd turn a critical eye on the people involved, rather than the whole concept of non-monogamy.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:49 AM
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My point is, polyamory really works for the people in the primary couple and maximizes their enjoyment of life. For the people they date, it's great that they get such clear explanations of the boundaries of the relationship. Everything is on the table and you know where you stand, which is always e.g. #3, at all times, and #1 might call and I guess we'll have to reschedule again.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:49 AM
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Are you the kind of person who is never single and doesn't end one relationship until you have the next one set up and ready to go? If so it really seems implausible to me that you were considering leaving your husband during this affair and won't want to do so the next time a good option comes along. If that's not how you roll, then maybe some hope is more plausible.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:50 AM
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The prioritization is why it works. The main partnership is never threatened. It's important that it works that way. But they seem to imagine that the experience of dating them is somehow equivalent to dating a single person, which it fucking isn't. If I had a primary partner at home, dating a poly person might be fun, but as a single person, it sucks ass.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:52 AM
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It seems to me like a big red flag that even though you got permission for a one weekend affair, you still decided to continue it clandestinely without even asking for permission for a several weekends a year affair. Really makes it seem like wanting to end your marriage was a significant motivation in the affair.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:52 AM
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59: The OP and heebie's take on it bothered me, too. It seems to give short shrift to the idea of (I'm struggling for a word here) intentionality.

People seem to regard feelings as something that just happen - that exist independently of volition. So Mme. Bovary is required to have certain feelings about her husband, and required to act on them in a certain way.

And when heebie says (and Mme. Bovary confirms) that Charles is engaged in "suppression," I want to propose that he might be engaged in a difficult (and okay, maybe futile) effort to master his own feelings, which is what grownups do in difficult situations.

We tell ourselves stories about our lives, and we have a huge amount of leeway in how we craft those stories. If Charles wants to forgive and forget, one possibility is that he's a beaten dog who hasn't got the spine to stand up for himself. (Admittedly, there's evidence for this.) Another possibility is that he's a hero who wants to do the right thing by his wife and family, and by himself.

And the fact that the same behavior can be described both ways might give Emma the opportunity to choose how she regards her husband. She gets to pick, and the act of choosing a narrative goes a long way toward making it true.

Ack. This explanation seems unsatisfying and futile, in part because the OP was written by someone with enough self-awareness to adopt a pseud that is directly on-point to the issue I'm raising, so I don't really know that I'm contributing anything.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:52 AM
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If it weren't for a few details, I'd suspect that Emma was my wife, in a kind of perverse and depressing Pina Colada Song. In particular, I'm not sure that the fact that E is in a "bad place" right now is very relevant. Sure, it's worth seeing if you can come at your problem without the difficulties of a depressive state, but it's quite possible that that will just make you see you dissatisfaction with your marriage more clearly. You don't need to beat yourself up about the situation: like Apo said, this is something that happens all the time, and is arguably part of a natural cycle. But do consider whether, having rejected much of what makes a marriage work, you're now forcing your husband to be the one to take responsibility for ending it. If that's what's going on, it's deeply unfair.


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:53 AM
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78: right... There are versions of poly that don't have a "primary" relationship and rankings of priority on down the scale. The situation you describe is, indeed, shitty.

I have now dragged the conversation in a direction less helpful to the OP, my apologies.


Posted by: G. Flaubert | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:54 AM
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I'm going on dates with two different poly people with primaries this week, and steeling myself for the inevitable.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:55 AM
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78: if you are their #3 and they are your #1, that does seem like it could suck. Wouldn't you want to try and have someone else be your #1, etc., so #3s are dating #3s and more or less equally low priority side-items?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:57 AM
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Chiming in to agree with Hollande. This marriage is toast. Apo is on to something, though; I think the Bovarys should do PCP and beat the shit out of each other.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:57 AM
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steeling myself for the inevitable

"Yes, I've read the Da Vinci Code. No, I don't teach Dan Brown in my class. Oh, you think I should? Mm hmm. Really."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:57 AM
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86 before seeing 80, which covered the point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:58 AM
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"Maybe the thing to question is the assumption that the waning of desire in a long term monogamous relationship is unusual and preventable. Lamentable, sure, but maybe it's one of those things that just happens."

I think this is correct.

My guess is that men are more likely to desire sex within a long term relationship:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/unexcited-there-may-be-a-pill-for-that.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:02 AM
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a kind of perverse and depressing Pina Colada Song

This is a phrase that should be worked into conversations more often.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:03 AM
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Isn't the Piña Colada Song already perverse and depressing?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:04 AM
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(I am finding the choice of Hollande as presidential pseud intensely confusing, as the substance of FH's commentary indicates it was FH's partner who cheated and well that doesn't match the known facts for either relationship.)


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:09 AM
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I'm also totally confused as to why AWB would ever again date a poly person with a #1.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:11 AM
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Cancel the dates AWB! These people sound like vampires.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:14 AM
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92: I always wondered that: "Wait, we're both bored enough to cheat?" is a happy ending?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:16 AM
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Cancel the dates AWB! These people sound like vampires.

And they'll try to convince you to become one of them. But you can't really know what it's like to be vampire until you've turned into one. It's a transformative experience.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:17 AM
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I have now dragged the conversation in a direction less helpful to the OP, my apologies./

Yes, I have the inverse issue of the OP*, and I'm wanting to ask for advice but I don't want to throw off the thread while it's still on topic. Someone let me know when it's ok to derail.

* long term relationship in which the attraction remains strong and the sex is still very frequent, mutually desired and amazing, but everything else has crumbled away. We don't like living together or spending time with one another outside of the bedroom. Neither one of us wants divorce (mostly for the kids' sake, in my case, and I think also in hers), but it's depressing feeling like I just have a sex partner but no emotional companion.**

** I keep thinking the sex will also crumble away at some point without other relationship fundamentals supporting it, and maybe they will, but we've been in the current situation for at least a few years (arguably longer), and things are still going strong.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:18 AM
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Huh. That strikes me as really unusual. Not that I have anything helpful to say.

What's the problem outside the bedroom? Causeless antipathy, or do you or she have concrete grudges/issues that could maybe be fixed?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:19 AM
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I sort of have a 1 too, but in a mostly emotional sense. I wouldn't be willing to give up an intensely comforting loving familial relationship with someone I enjoy snuggling and fooling around with occasionally to date someone else full time unless they were like fucking fantastic. That is what makes this considerably different from in the past, when I had a girlfriend who would drop me in a heartbeat if she thought her husband might even be thinking about calling her to ask for something.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:20 AM
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An *even more* perverse and depressing Pina Colada song? The pseud is perhaps motivated by a subconscious desire to end my marriage by parading around Paris on a Vespa with a model, while the paparazzi look on. There's a real dignity to that!


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:21 AM
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98 is interesting! I had a partner like that. After about 6 months, we didn't really love each other anymore or try very hard to make an emotional connection, but we fucked like crazy for another two years.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:21 AM
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Is there any hope of finding a poly couple (or whatever) where you could date both (or whatever) of them? Even if it's all open, being connected to only one person in the primary couple seems like it would mean getting dropped in the way you describe, whereas if you had more of a relationship with both of them (wouldn't have to be having sex with both of them, but at least sort of close family friend with whichever you weren't sleeping with), it seems like it might be more supportive.

But I don't know what I'm talking about at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:23 AM
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JB, some of the other happily post-split types will probably have better advice than I do, but don't underestimate how hard it is to live in a relationship where your emotional needs aren't being met. I'm not quite physically out yet but just having the break be official has made my life so much easier emotionally because I'm on my own but at least we acknowledge that and I don't have to feel like my life is a lie.

I guess I'd ask what potential outcomes you see, since you want to stay married. Are you looking to try to hook up with other people? Can you guess what your emotional state would be if your needs were being met elsewhere? What about your wife's?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:24 AM
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103: I'm very close with my girlfriend's husband, who loves me very much, but yeah, no sexual attraction there. We'll see how tomorrow and Thursday go. Both of these people have primary partners and are clearly just looking for weird fucks, which, since that's the thing I don't really get from my main person, sounds fine. I'm sure it will end up getting complicated.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:26 AM
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"Wait, we're both bored enough to cheat?" is a happy ending?

But they were bored because they weren't expressing their true desires, which it turned out they shared. Same way that Mme. Bovary and her husband, if only they'd talk, would find out that they both crave something terribly depraved that would bring them back together.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:27 AM
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Im pretty sure JB (an eve odder pseud! the only unmarried president!) and his Mrs. should split up, contract emotionally satisfying but sexless marriages with third (and fourth) parties, and take each other on as side pieces.


Posted by: François Hollande | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:28 AM
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Actually, JB's story is the prequel to a classic screwball comedy of remarriage, isn't it? Nothing left to the marriage but passion, divorce, and then the movie is the process of figuring out they loved each other all along.

Go watch The Philadelphia Story, The Front Page, and The Awful Truth, and report back if they give you any ideas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:32 AM
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106: "The spark came back into our marriage when we discovered that we were both serial killers."


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:33 AM
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E. Bovary, do you feel like your husband really sees, knows and accepts who you are? Two things you've written stand out at me: that you felt understood by this other man in a way you never have by your husband and that you think your husband deals with difficult emotions by suppressing them. That makes me believe you think you may never feel truly accepted by your husband or be able to talk about your issues in a way that will allow your marriage to continue.

I am in a very similar place, and I have a friend on the side, but that friendship has taken a much different path than a passionate love affair. It has been extremely helpful to have found this man and have him as a friend because it has forced me to really think about what it is I want out of intimate relationships and what I can expect to get from and give to other people. No one can save me or swoop in and solve all of my problems. Infatuation and lust are not love. What I'm really craving is a deeper and more substantial connection with someone that is not based on passion. There are many ways to get that kind of connection though and I am working on the platonic relationships in my life as a means of getting some of those needs met.

Getting to this point has been a huge learning experience for me and I feel like I'm a better person for it. Will my marriage last? I don't know. I feel like if we could have honest conversations about some of these issues--even if they just scratch the surface of our true feelings--we could find a place where we acknowledge our shortcomings as people and as a couple and find a way to love each other in a deeper way. Those kinds of conversations are frightening to him though and they usually end shortly after they've begun.


Posted by: Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:35 AM
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108.2: none of those seem to be available on Netflix.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:35 AM
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110: Same Hillary from a while back?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:36 AM
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111: Try Amazon streaming?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:37 AM
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Emma,

Having been there but jerkier, I wonder if I might ask if the intoxication of desire has always been a priority for you or rather, more of a priority for you than it was for Charles?

I know fa source of pain for me even in the good times was simply wanting to have Aggy to understand that the high mattered to me, just less than being with him mattered, and to respect that foregoing the high to pledge my troth was a sacrifice and struggle though one I was very willing to make (until I was unwilling to make it, but that was many years later). He was made a little differently and didn't trust that I could inhabit our deep love and still miss--like, with an intensity approaching grief--the high.

All that said, I think we could have turned things around if there were not other uglinessess that accompanied my cheating. Getting divorced was great for me but not having to get divorced would have been great as well.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:37 AM
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113: Geez, LB, does the solution always have to involve trying a new outside source?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:43 AM
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Getting divorced was great for me but not having to get divorced would have been great as well.

I can't help reading this last part as a wish you would have gotten the chance to murder him. Better luck next time!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:43 AM
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98 sounds weird to me. I guess because there are kids involved. You have no bond but good sex... and kids. Nothing in common but physical attraction... and co-parenting. You don't mention disputes over parenting style or responsibilities, so I assume there aren't any worth mentioning. But doesn't personality and values play a big part in parenting? I mean, I think either you're leaving something big and important out of that story, or you have more in common than you give yourself credit for.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:45 AM
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It has been extremely helpful to have found this man and have him as a friend because it has forced me to really think about what it is I want out of intimate relationships and what I can expect to get from and give to other people.

This is an invaluable lesson. Being loved really well makes you better able to love others, I think. Being fucked super-hard and have yours eyes stared intensely into does not exactly open up one's heart to the world and others, IME.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:46 AM
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110: Yep. Still here, still married. Now with a...not sure what to call him/it, other than a friend. Affair is too grand of a word to describe our goofy friendship.


Posted by: Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:47 AM
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Thorn,

He was unfortunately if appropriately suspicious whenever I drew him a bath. :(

But you're right, never to late to stop not murdering spouses.



Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:50 AM
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"Yes, I've read the Da Vinci Code. No, I don't teach Dan Brown in my class. Oh, you think I should? Mm hmm. Really."

This made me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:51 AM
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117: see 98.1.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 11:55 AM
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God, could this thread be any bigger of a bummer? Everyone should take a road trip to Yellowstone and clear your heads traipsing around hot springs and dodging bison.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:04 PM
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Like that Pony Express game Spike wrote!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:05 PM
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In general, I'm in Calvin Coolidge and J Roth's "magic is overrated" camp. But I'm also suspicious that it's easy to rest in this naive happy place until it's not. (And maybe it stays happy forever) but just that a happy, low-magic marriage is sometimes one that hasn't been tested yet.

Of course, there are proactive ways to head off the risk of having an affair, and a dry, kindling-wood dying marriage is more susceptible to a spark than a happy, low-magic one. But still.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:06 PM
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107, 108: Several years after our divorce, I actually had an affair with my ex-wife - I was on the re-bound from a very bad relationship and she was going through a dry patch with her new partner. It was very intense, complete with the infatuation high, the mind-blowing sex, and even the "why did we ever get divorced again?" conversations, which have to be equivalent of the OP's feeling like nobody else had ever understood so well, etc. But it petered out, largely because there had been very good reasons we got divorced, though we're friends now.

I do not recommend this to Mme. Bovary as a way of rekindling the romance.


Posted by: better not | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:09 PM
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Everyone should take a road trip to Yellowstone and clear your heads traipsing around hot springs and dodging bison.

"No! Don't step off the path through the fragile earth's crust into the lava!" and "Hey, no food in the tent!" and "Is that marshmellow goo all over your legs under all that dirt?" No, this thread sounds way less exhausting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:12 PM
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18 + 123 = the answer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:15 PM
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"No! Don't step off the path through the fragile earth's crust into the lava!" [...] "Is that marshmellow goo all over your legs?"

I don't think the "drop acid together" advice was serious.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:16 PM
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a dry, kindling-wood dying marriage is more susceptible to a spark than a happy, low-magic one

The people I know who have gotten into this situation seem to have experienced their relationships as basically happy, low-magic partnerships in which maybe the sex is a little stale or one can't really seem to find a way to ask for some special thing that would make it better, but overall they enjoy homemaking together and all that. The affair hits as a sudden horrible surprise that--oh no, my basically happy relationship is actually a dry, kindling-wood dying relationship and I never knew before this deli counter boy came into my life.

This is why both my sometimes-partner and I are shy of trying to pretend that we're something more/other than we are. There's infinite love and late-night texting about how grateful and joyful we are for one another, and the kind of middle-of-the-night hand-holding that I never thought I would find moving, and open-hearted honesty and care for one another's families and all that, but we don't really turn each other on sexually in that exciting way that other people do. I have had my dark suspicions that the two states--total trust and love and respect and generosity on one hand and crazy fucking on the other--are just not compatible, but I hope not. I just know that if we were trying to actually be some kind of couple, we'd almost instantly resent each other for not making each other's heads spin with lust. Also luckily, the feeling is entirely mutual, so there's no resentment about it, which is good. If it weren't mutual, I can imagine ending up married and one of us really hating the other.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:18 PM
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"magic is overrated"

And friendship is magic. By extension, friendship is overrated.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:18 PM
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I don't think the "drop acid together" advice was serious.

Totally serious. Delicate relationship discussions go better when you're hallucinating your partner as a paisley octopus.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:18 PM
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But they sour when you hallucinate Paisley Jacqueline Parker Pompadour.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:21 PM
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It is totally a bummer how much marital blah there seems to be among commenters here. :( :( :( :( :(


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:23 PM
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You should start a thread where everybody can post happy things about their marriages.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:25 PM
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All the commenters who are alike post in this thread, all the commenters who are uniquely unhappy post in that thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:27 PM
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Sounds reasonable.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:28 PM
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114: Trust or not, I sure would not enjoy having my partner feel it was a gigantic, intense sacrifice to be with me, and I would especially not enjoy the idea that I was at fault for not wanting to dwell on and pay tribute to the greatness of that sacrifice. That sounds, in fact, extremely dismal.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:30 PM
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138: Agreed. Shudder.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:31 PM
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134: It's a thread devoted to marital blah, so it all comes out of the woodwork. I'm sure there's plenty of bliss out there as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:38 PM
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134: seems like the normal amount i think--when i was really struggling i started talking pretty honestly with people whose relationships i respected and it was really shocking how much they had weathered. no long-term marriage i am aware of has avoided some patch (or several patches) of suffering or betrayal that would be reasonable, widely accepted grounds for calling it, but that's kind of cool? i remain a big fan of marriage honestly, got another on the horizon. i totally got this.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:39 PM
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no long-term marriage i am aware of has avoided some patch (or several patches) of suffering or betrayal that would be reasonable, widely accepted grounds for calling it

Yes, this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:42 PM
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8: I was already traveling for work reasons (expenses paid) and the other man would fly out to join me. Sometimes we were both there for work reasons. I sort of hesitated to even respond to this, though, because I know it doesn't absolve me of anything or make it better. There were lines I didn't cross (like making specific trips and thus burdening my husband), and that comforts my husband now, but none of it makes any of this okay, and my betraying my husband's trust is huge. The only way I know how to handle that now is to be totally honest and transparent with him in the revelation and moving forward.

81: I don't think that I wanted to end the marriage in having the affair; in fact, I explicitly didn't want that when the whole thing started. But it did feel like something that took on a life of its own (which I know is a narrative that doesn't involve me taking a lot of agency here). I think it's that my feelings changed slowly over time in ways that weren't clear to me as they were happening. It was messy and confusing and in some ways it was only in the ending of it that I was able to reflect on much of this.

82: Charles wants to forgive and forget, and I think in many ways that demonstrates his generosity of spirit, his commitment, and his ability to be forgiving. This is something I admire about how he is operating right now. I also know that he hates change and would hate getting divorced, so of course it's not a simple one-sided story, but the way he has handled this is, I think, pretty impressive. I would like to honor that by doing what is possible to make our marriage better and stronger. I just struggle with how to go about that, and whether it's possible at this point.

110: I don't feel like my husband really sees who I am; I think since the affair he does more, but I do not get the sense that he cherishes me for who I am. I think he accepts me though, and loves me. I think I spent a lot of time feeling taken for granted and invisible. These are things I would complain about before, but we didn't know how to fix it. Now they're issues that we are attending to more seriously in the wake of this crisis. I felt deeply understood by the other man because I think we are similar emotionally, and (unfortunately) we are also in the same professional field which meant we connected on multiple levels. I should have just kept him as a platonic friend, and regret deeply that I didn't. I think part of what I am mourning now is a sense of loneliness, as it felt great to be so well understood.

I have always had strong and personal (platonic) friendships on the side, with both men and women, and I think this is one way I was able to be generally happy even if my husband and I did not always connect in the most emotionally intimate ways.

114: Yes, I do think the intoxication of desire matters to me, and definitely matters a lot more than it ever did to Charles. Just as you said, the notion of giving it up feels very sad. But I also feel like this is just an immaturity on my part, something to get over.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:45 PM
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142 is probably accurate, but knowing that doesn't mean you need to stick it out through your particular rough patch(es), which is a conversation I've had to have a lot lately. in some ways it's good how horribly bad my relationship was in terms of making it easy on me to leave, but obviously also that's horribly bad and I wouldn't wish it on others.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:46 PM
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114, 115: Indeed! I _did_ say I was a bigger jerk than Emma. I reined it in, so it was mostly a source of internal frustration but it was toxic and when I let it out, I was behaving awfully. I just think attachment to the high is a way people are often mismatched, and on entering relationships it's easy to avoid reflecting on your needs in this sphere, especially if you don't fully know them, and to let the person with the more coherent and proscribed sense of what partnered love is implicitly define the terms.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:46 PM
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I don't think 142 is entirely true. Obviously you never know what someone else's marriage is like on the inside, but I think my parents have never had a seriously bad patch. They found it stressful to have small children, but nothing (AFAIK) that ever came close to threatening their marriage.

I have other familial marriages that I suspect of being equally strong and happy, but I never actually lived in the same household as them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:51 PM
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143: does Charles get that about you? I think if I could have stopped conceiving of giving up the high as a sacrifice or at least as a worse sacrifice than any of the jillions of others i made/make in and out of marriage, and if Aggy could have accepted that my love could be real and deep even if i felt twinges he didn't we would have been a long way to getting where we needed to go.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:54 PM
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Question for Cly: You say the divorce has worked out well for you. That implies that you've found a situation where you have maintained the romantic high you were missing. Is that correct? And does that imply any advice for Emma?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:54 PM
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143.3: Could you do a time-limited commitment? (I still don't know why temporary marriages haven't taken off in non-Shi'i contexts!) So you agree even just to yourself that for the remainder of the school year you'll have no flirtations, no dalliances, do XYZ in whatever schedule to try to improve the marriage? Otherwise (experience speaking) it's easy for the person who wants to change things to focus on wanting to change things rather than making a change. And then when you get to the end of your time, you decide whether you can keep trying or if it's time to say that you tried and this isn't right for you and so you give up.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:56 PM
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146: It's probably not true, and my sample was certainly skewed by the fact that the people willing to talk to someone going through the death throes of a marriage may feel like their own histories connect

BUT

I was also surprised to learn during this time of information-gathering that my parents (together now 45 years, deeply loving toward each other, beloved by me individually and as a couple) did in fact go through the garbage years. my father explained it as 3 years of waking up each day wondering that would be the day he would leave.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:58 PM
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It's canonical to wait until the end of time.


Posted by: Opinionated Meatloaf | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 12:59 PM
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148: yes and sort of, but want to give that a thoughtful answer and I am about to get coffee with a friend who has just broken off an engagement, go figure. More TK


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:00 PM
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Toxicokinetics?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:11 PM
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149: Yes, I'm explicitly committed to him and myself to not go anywhere at this point, and so is he. We didn't think about it as a time limit, but for me I've been thinking about it in terms of needing to focus on getting my depression and grief under control first, before anything else. Then shifting to try to explicitly work on the marriage, whatever that means (that's the part that seems like a big mystery.)


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:11 PM
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I'm with 110. I'm not surprised that Emma Bovary is feeling a continued lack of passion for a man who is very likely repressing his strongest feelings. If he's trying to make things work, then he's likely being very careful right now--and that's only going to make the marriage feel more dead. More honesty on both sides might bring a new form of intensity.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:14 PM
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no long-term marriage i am aware of has avoided some patch (or several patches) of suffering or betrayal that would be reasonable, widely accepted grounds for calling it, but that's kind of cool?

Hand raised. Is 14 years long-term enough to count? I mean, maybe I'm naive (and there is a bit less sex than I'd like), but AFAIK there's been nothing remotely approaching grounds for calling it.

Although AB did say that if I ever again get drunk as I did last Saturday*, she'll leave me. But that was a one-off, so I should be OK.

*we were out, so getting me home was apparently a Herculean task. This is beyond rare.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:14 PM
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155.last: I did not expect Mme. Merle to be on team MDMA. Interesting!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:16 PM
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146: I wish I could know what my parents', marriage was really like. I'm certain it was less idyllic than it seemed through my childish eyes, but I also know that what my sister and I viewed as "a big fight" was laughably minor by the standards of other marriages, so who knows?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:16 PM
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If he's trying to make things work, then he's likely being very careful right now--and that's only going to make the marriage feel more dead.

Ugh, yes.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:17 PM
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We could have an intervention a meet-up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:17 PM
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157: I thought it was a vote for PCP.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:20 PM
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This is probably not the best place for it, but I've always been proud of myself for never having to call my wife to come get me because I'm too drunk to drive home or because I've been arrested on suspicion of DUI. I credit walkable neighborhoods, reasonable public transit, and deontological ethics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:20 PM
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I know about my parents' bad years (when I was about 5-15 years old), and they had a scarring effect on both me and my brother. Truly horrible stuff happened on both sides, for pretty much the whole decade, just unrelenting infidelity and lying and resentful overeating. But now they're in their 60s and weirdly happy. Mom has cancer, Dad is being really helpful and loving, they get along better than ever and even flirt quite a bit. It's sweet to watch. I wanted them to get a divorce so badly. I'm not saying there's hope for everyone, but I'm glad they stuck it out.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:20 PM
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Although AB did say that if I ever again get drunk as I did last Saturday*, she'll leave me.

You should listen to "My Favorite Picture Of You" (not because it's instructive; I just think you'd enjoy it).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:28 PM
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This thread is a bottomless pit of bummeritis. I fear for the happiness of all. Except Moby, who seems enviably self-actualized.

More to the point: I fear for Mme B's emotional state if the not-very-rewarding toil of trying to reconcile becomes too much for both of the Bs. Will she feel doubly disappointed for having, as one might put it, thrown good emotional effort and commitment after bad?

As for Charles, has there ever in human history been a troubled marriage in which the magnanimous spouse, after a stretch of quiet, considerate, afraid-of-change time-bomb ticking, didn't lash out, in one way or another, in an astonishingly ugly scene and/or phase of acting-out?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:29 PM
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165.1: That's what I keep telling everybody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:30 PM
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165.3: I don't know if we have to call it astonishingly ugly, though I'm plenty guilty of this.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:36 PM
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165.last rings true.

But do not despair, Flippanter! I'm happy and thriving and all that obnoxious shit. Things are going too well to be interesting. No doubt there's a looming monstrous clusterfuck that will be worth posting about, but until then things are great!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:44 PM
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How about "astonishing and ugly"? Because there are usually bystanders (classmates, colleagues, dinner companions, other people in your section at the opera not that I have had the slightest experience of the phenomenon, etc., etc.) and boy are they astonished when the bomb goes off.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:50 PM
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169: I was just teasing meanly because it hit home, though I can't think of any witnesses to my flipping out. Certainly the girls know when I'm prickly and impatient, but no bombs per se.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 1:54 PM
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162
This is probably not the best place for it, but I've always been proud of myself for never having to call my wife to come get me because I'm too drunk to drive home or because I've been arrested on suspicion of DUI. I credit walkable neighborhoods, reasonable public transit, and deontological ethics.

While I actually do live in a walkable place with reasonable transit, I think a willingness to drink alone at home and a lack of a social life deserves more credit for my avoiding that fate.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:15 PM
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"felt understood by him in a way I never had by my husband"

"I used to have all those feelings for my husband in the first year or two"

What am I missing that makes these two not contradictory?


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:41 PM
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If you never drink alone, you can't be an alcoholic. Except that guy I was talking with at the bar one week and then he died of alcohol withdrawal the next week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:48 PM
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If he'd only been willing to overcome his inhibitions and drink alone, he'd be with us today.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:52 PM
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You people and your passionate love affairs are pissing me off. I wish my divorce at least had some hot hanky-panky driving it rather than one partner sinking into depressive near-alcoholism while the other gets more and more bitter about the lack of partnership and co-parenting. That is, I guess I should say, providing that *I* got to be the one having the hot hanky-panky. Bitter, ironic and deprecated emoticon here.


Posted by: O.G. Ronnie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:52 PM
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Oh and Golda, a sudden drop in libido may be a sign of something medical/depression going on--has he been checked out by professionals?


Posted by: O.G. Ronnie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 2:55 PM
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Doctors or prostitutes?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:00 PM
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100: now I'm indignant on your behalf, AWB. Poly, lust, whatever, but in my world one doesn't cancel a made date for anything short of hospitalization, active duty, or Presidential request.

In other news from 1880, have all y'all tried sublimation? Maybe that's the capacitor that keeps my monogamy running. Also one gets so much done, as has often been observed of the Victorians.

(High five, JRoth.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:24 PM
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Is that similar to repressing anger?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:30 PM
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178.first: Cosign. Among the poly people I know a date would only get cancelled for something as serious as a visit to the emergency room. I don't think being poly is at issue so much as being grossly inconsiderate.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:37 PM
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Also one gets so much done, as has often been observed of the Victorians.

I heartily endorse Maria's point about how the (upper class) Victorians felt about the importance of rest.

... [Reading] Ron Chernow's 1989 history of international finance, 'The House of Morgan'. (I'd actually thought there would be a lot more about Keynes in it than there was and, yes, I wanted to read all about Jack Morgan's yachts.)

One odd little strain running through the book was the strain of over-work, and how it was to be expected and dealt with. Collapse from nervous exhaustion and working too hard - by WASP bankers, of course, not their cleaning ladies - was so common as to be a frequent topic of conversation and correspondence.

Pierpoint Morgan himself suffered constant ailments all his life and was well known to both dislike and be addicted to his job. He took large chunks of time off and was quite open about working only nine months of the year. It wasn't just the hereditary rulers of JP Morgan who took months off at a time. Several of the partners profiled in Chernow's book worked to the point of damaging their health, took a few months off and came back. One was quite open about the fact that he only wanted to work nine months in twelve, and was subsequently invited to do just that. No less a personage than CT's own very occasional contributor, Montagu Norman, then head of the Bank of England, worked himself into a burnout over the Gold Standard. Jack Morgan kindly offered Monty the use of his yacht to cross the Atlantic for a few months of wartime leave in the early 1940s. (Old Monty declined, saying he was already en route to Quebec.)

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:45 PM
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[I'm feeling grumbly today. The primary stage of our big project is over, and things have improved. But what I really need is to be working at about 30% intensity for while and instead I'm working at about 85%, which just isn't good enough.]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:47 PM
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148:
"You say the divorce has worked out well for you. That implies that you've found a situation where you have maintained the romantic high you were missing. Is that correct?"

Yes

Aggy ultimately called it, when I honestly thought we were over the worst of it. I'd wrested free from the dark spiral that the affairs were part of, and I thought we were gingerly resuming our sweet (though not fireworks-y after the year or so) life together. But he'd been put through too much over the course of the last three years of an eleven year marriage and was waiting until it was clear I wouldn't kill myself and could be trusted with our daughter; when that was settled, he left.

After a couple of years, I met someone I did fall in love with, and while I haven't been with him as long as I was with Aggy, we are long past the 1-2 year fizzle phase I experienced in all my other relationships, with no fizzle. It's not as frenetic as in the beginning, but it is as intense.

Some of it's just chemistry, but some of it is that sex-not necessarily having a lot of it, but wanting each other-is the center of our partnership. Ugh not to Ayalette Waldman you all but, it generates and sustains the rest of our relationship rather than the other way around--our emotional connection, our home life, our love for each other's children which is a weird thing to say but hey. It makes it easier to be honest with each other. It was hard for me to accept that this thing was built around sex at first, but it's really as reasonable a scaffolding as any. (also fwiw we are not open, but it is a continuing conversation with an emphasis on no secrets. i think most couples SHOULD have secrets, i am just not personally capable of dealing with them).

"And does that imply any advice for Emma?"

Sort of, inasmuch as advice is even a thing.

Maybe in a world of perfect grownups Emma should "forget about that stuff," most of us should forget about most things, tbh. And yes, romance is totally overrated. Still, I don't think it's a feeling you can will yourself to forget especially after the affair dam is breached. I think beating yourself up for caring about it is a good way to end up more resentful toward and less attracted to Charles. Plus whatever we push that particular stuff down and it comes out sidewise, hissing.

But I think romanticizing new romance is also dangerous--what's out there is probably mostly not more of what you had with this young man. Divorced, it's more likely you on your own and/or on endless Tinder dates, which may or may not appeal, but it can get pretty bleak out there, especially for those for whom sex shifts easily into love, which I think Emma said was true of her. Married, well, most of the guys who will fuck women with husbands are the kind of guys who fuck women with husbands. So it's not necessarily a "Charles or The High" question, it's a "Charles or Several Possibilities, Many Unappealing." You say "jumping from one relationship to the next" but a workable "next" is always a big assumption.

So I certainly would never recommend divorce in search of the high, and I don't think a longing for the high condemns one to divorce. But knowing what I know now, if Aggy had wanted to give it another chance, I wonder what sort of--if any--work I could have done to center sex the way it is centered in my current relationship. I think not underestimating the power of even familiar sex, even boring familiar sex, helps. Treating it like a spell helps.

But it's hard to do get there if you are not attracted to him, though, don't want to kiss him. And I didn't want that either, with Aggy, at least after the kid. I think I would have worked really hard to establish physical contact I could stand first, making that the spell. Holding hands, pressing against him on the couch, maybe over time tenderness into playfulness into desire back into tenderness? Touch begets touch. I would have given it a LOT of time. More time then I could have reasonably guessed it would have needed.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:49 PM
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C and I are pretty happy again. I actually met someone last year and there was a mutual attraction, which led to messaging and arranging a date in January, but I cancelled the date because I just couldn't bring myself to be that person. But if I'd met him a year or two earlier, when I was not at all happy in my marriage, I'm not sure I'd have been so restrained.

(And I don't think the kids ever realised quite how close to saying, seriously, fuck it all, things had got.)

I do definitely miss that feeling of potential - meet someone appealing, do they like me, what might happen? As fulfilling in other ways as a looooong relationship can be, you know what you're getting.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:52 PM
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156: JRoth, that's certainly long-term enough to count, and may it become longer-term still. Longest term. I really am a believer in marriage.

(And I'll note I said the marriages I knew had weathered "reasonable, widely accepted" grounds for calling it; not necessarily that any party actually seriously considered it during those points. They did in some couples, not in others.)


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:54 PM
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Sorry I missed this today, busy day at work.

I spent a some years in a marriage gone bad, now out. I do not regret the time in, as my kid would have I believe suffered had it ended much sooner. I found a couple of the affairs I had helpful emotionally and also they helped me think through some of what was happening. I agree that mr B does not sound like he's in a stable state, unless maybe he values an orderly household very highly. Playing for time worked well for me-- maybe it would work for him too. Not an open emotionally honest outcome, but feelings aren't everything.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 3:58 PM
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I think repression is a failure mode of sublimation, actually. To run with Clytemnestra's metaphor, not sitting on it till it slithers out sideways but staring it down and putting it in harness. Of course, the Official Example of this is the Kindly Ones put under the Acropolis as the engine-room of justice and if Clytemnestra would like to point out the infuriating things about that story, I have always been on her side.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 4:34 PM
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yes though one can't assume the harness holds either; i mean look at athens now


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:07 PM
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^^^
Me obvi


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:07 PM
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I thought playing Civ was the failure mode of sublimation. But I won't quibble as long as we agree that emotions are to be avoided.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:08 PM
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I like 183 and 187 a lot.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:25 PM
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Ugh not to Ayalette Waldman you all

[Starts throwing plates, mugs, saucers, what have you.]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:29 PM
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I thought illicit sex was the failure mode of sublimation.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:31 PM
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That's doing something different, not failing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:40 PM
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192: good call, the loud noises will scare her off


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:41 PM
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Rereading, this because I have work to avoid, Emma, I gave short shrift to the fact that the initial encounter was sanctioned so it's not the simple fact of you fucking someone else that bothers him, unless this was a concession you extracted grudgingly. Do you think, when the heartbreak passes etc, that engaging in similarly vetted hookups and then sharing the details might be uh, hot? And make things hotter between you and Charles? There are many ways this could go wrong but if it works it is like a total spark transplant. New lease on spark.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:49 PM
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Given that the one vetted hookup they tried spiralled into the present situation, I don't see what should tempt C about trying it again.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:54 PM
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I suppose what I'm trying to suss out is whether the vetted hookup was a "go for it but I'm not eager for details" situation which I can see devolving into sneakery more easily than "go for it and tell me everything/Skype me in."

That said I didn't say it was a GOOD idea


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 5:57 PM
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183 was really helpful and rang true, thank you.

I think the original hook up spiraling out of control for me, emotionally, makes both of us wary about doing it again. We had talked some about open marriage ideas before it all happened. Mr. B found the idea of the original (contained) hook up pretty hot. In theory, I'm pretty okay with the idea of Mr. B exploring something himself. I don't think he is very comfortable with it, though, and I think we are both wary of how I would handle it if we went down that road again. Mr. B also worries that it'd just lead to me having lots of outside sex and him not, and I don't want that scenario. I don't want to do anything that would be unbalanced or would lead to him feeling resentful or neglected.

I feel like the gradual loss of attraction after so many years (3, 4, 5, whatever) is a recurring problem for me. It's happened before. I think that knowledge makes me worry that this is just a thing I do, and I want to try to break the pattern because now I'm in a marriage, and we have kids, and I love Mr. B. Obviously addressing the problem earlier as it was starting to happen would have been the smart thing to do. Back then we were busy being overwhelmed with babies and early years parenting and exhaustion. It's only as the kids got older that we sort of woke up from the fog and I realized oh, here I am again.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 6:05 PM
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I'm glad you found it helpful, these are problems I have given more thought to than perhaps I would have chosen. And from the little I've heard reconciliation--maybe someday mutual infatuation--seem like reasonable possibilities for you and Charles. Little kids take a toll too. Pretty sure moms are responsible for 900% of all infidelity.

I don't know, I guess I just reject the idea that attraction over the course of a relationship only moves one way and along one axis while we futilely try to urge it off course with date nights and shared fantasizing about the woman with the crop top at the dog park. I have a hunch that time and good faith transform atrraction in ways we can't conceive of from where we stand, but when you're suffering that looks like all the meaning there is.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 6:35 PM
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Mrs. B, how was your sex life with Mr. B before your loss of attraction? Was there ever a time when you had great and fulfilling sex with him? If yes, then addressing your lack of current attraction seems like a surmountable problem. If not, I think you've got a much bigger issue. Developing a great sexual relationship for the first time with someone who you've been with for a long time who you also don't find attractive is not impossible but will be really difficult.

I agree with Clytaemnestra that working on your sexual relationship is just as important as your emotional relationship. In my own marriage, the disconnect in our sex life mirrors the disconnects we experience in other areas of our relationship and it's hard for me to imagine improving the relationship as a whole without addressing our sexual issues.


Posted by: Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 6:43 PM
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201: The sex I had with Mr. B in the first year of our relationship was the best sex I've ever had in my life. Fortunately, I wrote about this in a journal and recently re-read those entries, because I think I had sort of forgotten how great it was in the beginning. It just feels like such a gulf to get from here back to anywhere close to there, in terms of my own experience of lust for him.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 6:50 PM
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I've found that well-concealed infidelity with an awesome sex partner is an excellent balm for a marriage troubled by divergent libidos. In many ways, Mamie and I get along better than ever. The snag, of course, is that these things rarely remain secret forever, and it is a certainty that she would kick me out of the White House if my relationship with Miss Summersby ever came to light.


Posted by: Dwight D. Eisenhower | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 6:59 PM
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Two libidos diverged in a wood, and I--


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:09 PM
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--stuck my wood in the one that wanted wear,
and that has made all the difference.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:14 PM
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God Bless The Police.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:32 PM
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What changed between journal time and now? Very curious what it feels like to lose attraction to someone you'd previously been incredibly attracted to. Did he change, or did you change, or just boredom? I'm way on the extreme end of never getting bored of stuff I like -- eaten the same breakfast every day for years, same ritualized family phone signoffs we've had since 3 years old, still love everyone I've ever loved -- but I'd like to be more understanding and accommodating to heartless ice queens like my ex-girlfriend who say things like 202.1 and then three years later the spin cycle's over and it's time for a new load of laundry *cough ahem* to the 90% of people who own more than one brand of sock. Like is there anything Mr. B could have done to prevent that transition from happening?

(Parenthetical to explicitly say that I'm not calling OP a heartless ice queen or that I am but only jokingly or something.)


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 7:53 PM
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Eh? Probably don't worry about it so much. Maybe try different breakfast cereals. Everyone goes into death alone anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:43 PM
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In my experience, the MDMA state established a safe space to discuss things that neither side had been quite capable of talking about openly.

Seconded. It's potentially a very tender and empathetic place. Also depending on the particular pill you get an hour of dancing beforehand.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:44 PM
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Everyone except really bad pilots?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 8:44 PM
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207: I think the things that changed were infertility, children, lots of intense job pressure, long hours, exhaustion, no time for anything but changing diapers and wiping counters and packing lunches. In the beginning it was cooking together with an open bottle of wine and kissing in the kitchen, and in the end it was rushing to get dinner on the table by 6 o'clock sharp, and somewhere between point a and point b he stopped ever kissing me, and sex became a low priority, and any sense of romance disappeared. Paying attention to each other and cultivating that sense of romance probably would have helped, but instead we got lazy and overwhelmed.


Posted by: E. Bovary | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:02 PM
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. . . sex became a low priority, and any sense of romance disappeared. Paying attention to each other and cultivating that sense of romance probably would have helped, but instead we got lazy and overwhelmed.

That sounds utterly understandable. Would he also describe things that way? It sounds like if that was a shared perspective it would point the way towards trying to reverse it.

I think repression is a failure mode of sublimation, actually. To run with Clytemnestra's metaphor, not sitting on it till it slithers out sideways but staring it down and putting it in harness.

I've been thinking about this (as someone who tends towards repression & sublimation) and I'd use a different metaphor. For me I think of myself as having an emotional heat sink (or digestion if you prefer). I can bleed off negative emotion (without lingering resentment, as far as I can tell) at a certain rate. Increased life stress decreases the rate at which I can shed negative feelings. This does fail sometimes, when I do end up accumulating anger and frustration I inevitably end up expressing it after having bottled it up for a while. But it does work a fair amount of the time -- that I can recognize that I'm annoyed by something, not say anything about it, and then let it go.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:16 PM
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209: It's fascinating. I spent a lot of my time under the influence telling people I loved them and being touchy-feely with them, but after the fact it all felt like synthetic "I love you, mang" euphoria.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 9:35 PM
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||
ATM: deleting all pictures of the evil ex (and her ill-behaved little dog too) from my photo directory: healthy or petty?
|>


Posted by: not feeling very nymous | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:12 PM
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214: I vote neutral. It's petty but it's potentially kind of satisfying, which offsets the pettiness.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-15 10:48 PM
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re: 45

[Not read further in the thread]

On that particular topic, I've been through that in a past relationship (with me as Yitzhak), and basically it was just depression* and stress. Life was, by any objective measure, pretty shitey, and I wasn't madly interested in other people, including my then girlfriend. It got better, and while the relationship ended some years later for different reasons, all of the sex, and fun, and pleasurable things came back once the depression eased.

It didn't help, however, that my then partner wasn't very sympathetic vis a vis the causes of misery that were ongoing. And, _should have been_ as they were a fairly big deal and being miserable about them wasn't an over-reaction.

* reactive, due to life being crap, not clinical.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:42 AM
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Okay, Mineshaft, is it worth putting a breakup notice (not passive-aggressive, no mean details, just "the girls are the focus and appreciate the support of those who love them" kind of thing) on facebook or is that tacky? There are several fb friends I'm pretty sure have broken up just from how their lives look but I don't actually know and it seems weird to ask. Lee thinks it's stupid but claims not to care. I know someone here did a very tasteful version recently but maybe I'm being tacky?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:28 AM
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215 gets it right. Plus, in this modern world, there's basically no chance that you will thereby actually be unable ever again to see a picture of the ex, should you wish to do so in the distant future, so there's very little chance of regret (e.g., I very mildly regret having thrown away all the letters HS GF sent me, because they were a [sort-of] chronicle of ~4 years of my life).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:30 AM
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I think your more distant friends would appreciate an announcement, because otherwise they'll slowly gather that something has changed and not whether/ how to mention it.

Oh, and by the way, I'm so glad you're at this point. You deserve to be so much happier than you've been.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:57 AM
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I was buried in work yesterday and didn't have time to post a thoughtful comment, but I have a few thoughts for Emma. First is that you've recently been dumped, confessed an affair, and have an otherwise busy life. It's hard to think long-term when you're just trying to make it through the day. I think going backwards to "last known good" in your marriage isn't a realistic, or even possible, option. I think your options are: a different marriage with your spouse, serial cheating, or divorce.

I'd take a look at why you confessed after your lover ended things. Did you want your husband to say you'd crossed an unforgiveable line and let you out of a marriage that's not working for you? Did you want some comfort (or company) in your sadness? It sounds like you hadn't been feeling guilty (or at least not guilty enough to end the affair).

Yes, everyone goes through rough patches. Some are easy to spot; some aren't. Some get better when the kids grow up, some get worse when there's no more buffer between two people who don't really like each other that much anymore. Some get better when one person takes a different job or the family moves. It's impossible to see the future. If it gets better, it'll probably be a different better than you're imagining.

It sounds like your spouse is a nice person. It's OK to end marriages with nice people. It's OK to end marriages and leave your kids with two households. Lots of people grow up that way. Most end up fine. Some have problems. That's true of any kid. I don't imagine divorces are nice or fun, but it sounds as if you're scrambling to fix your marriage while not even sure that's a worthwhile goal. Maybe you need to be able to tell yourself you tried, that you did everything you could. That's fine, but maybe give yourself a calendar reminder to re-evaluate whether things are improving, say in six months? Hopefully at that point, you'll have a little distance from crisis mode.

Serial cheating sounds tiring and emotionally taxing to me, but I guess it's an option that lets you get everything you want, but it does seem the most likely to irreparably break your marriage. I sort of think, though, that when a series of men look more appealing than your husband, that probably means it's time to call a lawyer.

Good luck, and I'm sorry you're in a lonely situation. Hope you have friends with a good perspective of both you and your spouse who can lend an ear re: marriage problems (even without disclosing the affair).


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:57 AM
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217: I like them. Well, not like-like, but you know. I think you've got the right idea. Short, focus on kids and good future ahead. I think it's less taxing than one-by-one notifications, too.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:59 AM
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Done, thanks! People who think it's tacky and are my fb friends can tease me in the comments there, which I'd probably enjoy more than genuine support or gawdforbid sadness under the circumstances.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 7:02 AM
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220: I'd take a look at why you confessed after your lover ended things.

This is very good advice.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 7:22 AM
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I actually saw the notice before I saw 217, and I can honestly say that A. it wasn't tacky, and B. I appreciated it, because even though I knew what was going on, the thing with FB is that nobody ever knows what they're supposed to know. This is particularly relevant with partner/marital breakup, but I also find it hilarious how often FB friends will (I gather) move without saying so. They just start posting all sorts of pictures and updates form a new location, and it sure seems like not a vacation. Perhaps some of this is FB's algorithms hiding posts, but I don't know if that's right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:08 AM
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Thanks, JRoth. Mara has started announcing to people "We're having two homes soon!" and so I wanted to make sure adults who see them regularly will know how to deal with that. And I am also at the end of my rope with Lee's behavior as she gets ready to move (Saturday at the latest, I'm told!) and I figured it would make me feel better to be doing something.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:12 AM
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"We're having two homes soon!"

Now you can use "summer" as a verb.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:17 AM
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I saw it on Facebook and while it seemed wrong to click "like" I thought it was an extraordinarily graceful amd good way of publicly acknowledging something important, and kind of a model for how to fight back skillfully and meaningfully against the horrible Facebook tendency to showcase only the most cliched high points of peoples' lives.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:18 AM
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I need to have three Facebook identities. One for people I actually like, one for relatives and a third for professional contacts. As it is, I literally can't say anything on Facebook, and I have to be careful about my "likes."

(Or is there some way to manage this sort of thing within one identity? I guess I don't care enough to investigate.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:27 AM
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227 reminds me that I should probably go like it. Goodness, all of this is such a huge relief. I'm about to cry happily if I keep thinking about it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:30 AM
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228: You can sort-of do this with Facebook lists. In the web interface, on the left side of the screen there's a header "Friends" that has various groupings under it. If you click on Friends, you can manage/add new lists. The problem is that List membership, except for the three special lists of "Close Friends", "Acquaintances", and "Family", is AFAICT public. But maybe those special ones will be enough for you; it sounds like they map cleanly onto your sets.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:36 AM
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"We're having two homes soon!"

So great.

I need to have three Facebook identities. One for people I actually like, one for relatives and a third for professional contacts.

I've solved this by having 0 Facebook identities.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:03 AM
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I need to have three Facebook identities. One for people I actually like, one for relatives and a third for professional contacts.

I use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for those, respectively.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:06 AM
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I largely follow Moby's method in 232, with a bit of irc for some music friends.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:09 AM
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I guess I also use Twitter for news and stuff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:11 AM
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which I'd probably enjoy more than genuine support or gawdforbid sadness under the circumstances.

How about a long poem?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:15 AM
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So great.

I've become a big believer in scripting the response I want from the girls but also in other situations that might be awkward. So a million iterations of "If you need extra love, you need to tell me with your words rather than your behavior!" has yielded some "I need extra love!" when they're upset. And so that's kind of how I treated the facebook message, telling people that I expect them to respond warmly and supportively to the girls because we need to put them first, which I'm sure my friends will all think is of course what their response would be anyway. But it makes it easier for things like this and adoption and so on to point out that ambiguity and ambivalence are fine than to have adults end up upset by that later.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:17 AM
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235: It's very nice that people from high school remember high school fondly, I suppose!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:18 AM
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Sometimes I think I should have a "stronger" Facebook identity than I do. It's mainly a messaging service for me for those friends who are more reachable on it than by text message. As it is I check the Facebook news feed at least once a day and some days several times, "like" or comment on other peoples' things probably about once a week, and post something about myself probably three or four times a year. My personal photo there hasn't changed in at least 7 years, and probably not more than 10 years. Sooner or later that might become embarrassing.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:19 AM
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So a million iterations of "If you need extra love, you need to tell me with your words rather than your behavior!" has yielded some "I need extra love!" when they're upset.

What a fantastic achievement by you!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:47 AM
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I love when parents teach their kids to ask explicitly for what they need. So much of bad relationship behavior in adults seems to come from the expectation that there is some unspoken standard of behavior or treatment that everyone intuitively knows is the correct means of expression, and to ask for some particular behavior is to violate the silence that makes those norms seem Real.

Among profs from my last job (not mine anymore, yay!), there are FB discussions every week about how INFURIATING it is when a student DARES to call you by your first name. I always jump in and say that I prefer it and ask for it, but I explain to them that most profs don't like it and they should ask what a prof likes to be called if it's unclear. More rage about disrespect and violating unspoken norms. OK, I say, but I'm trying to tell you that I went to a HS where we called teachers by first names, and to a university where we called profs by first names, and then to a graduate school where we called profs by first names, so it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that this place is sort of an outlier, that so many profs are ENGRAGED by this and that you have to tell students what you want in order to get it. They tell me it's not that they're really interpreting it as a sign of disrespect, it just enrages them anyway. WTF? If you're trying to create a really unexpectedly formal social environment that isn't the norm everywhere else, don't you have to fucking say so? Wouldn't it shave some points off your blood pressure to accept that social norms are different in different places?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:58 AM
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(I think what some of them were trying to say was that they were enraged at me, rather than the students, for not upholding the sanctity and inviolability of the calling-people-professor norm. It's embarrassing to them to have to say, "I prefer formal address.")


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 10:02 AM
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I certainly called my graduate school professors by their first names. I think I would have felt weird addressing my undergrad professors that way, but I sure didn't care when the undergrads at UCSB addressed my by mine.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 10:07 AM
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It's really weird how exercised they get about it. They won't explain why it's offensive. I asked if they thought it was a way of insulting their education or something, like the kid at another school who loudly referred to me as MISS all the time because, as he said, he wanted the class to remember that I didn't have a PhD yet. (Uh, take it up with admin?) They said in no way did they think that was happening. They just hate it and it makes them shake with rage.

As an undergrad, I first-named in contexts in which it seemed right to first-name. That is, not the professor of my 300-person Chemistry lecture, but yes to the seminar prof I met with one-on-one. Never to foreign language professors unless instructed to, because of possibly different norms.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 10:16 AM
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I assume it's because they can't put their finger on what's wrong in their classroom dynamic, but sometimes they feel respected and sometimes they feel disrespected. And so they get into a spiral with students who manage to convey disrespect through sighs and eyebrows, and they feel infuriated, and clutch at what is allowable - demanding titles, etc. It's ridiculous, but it's no fun to feel disrespected either, and they aren't clear what they're doing to provoke it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 11:36 AM
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I do think there is a lot of resentment about which professors do infinite mentoring and which are distant unapproachable sages. Most of the straight white men are never breathed about except in hushed whispers, and no one would dare ask them for clarification, so their students tend to seek out (and use first names for) queers, women, and people of color to explain what Professor Godlike meant when he said Blah. I tend to chalk it up to the bulk of those students having grown up in heteronormative white midwestern suburban social structure, rather than any personal bigotry.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 11:51 AM
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kind of a model for how to fight back skillfully and meaningfully against the horrible Facebook tendency to showcase only the most cliched high points of peoples' lives.

I idly pondered whether there was any tasteful way to relay the incident described in 156.3 on FB for precisely this reason.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 12:21 PM
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Inside of a personal bigotry, it's too crowded to grow up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 12:34 PM
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That sounds bizarre on their part. I've never seen that as even close to a norm, and I'm pretty sure I've only known one professor who preferred people called him Dr. (Lastname) at all. He clearly knew that was an abnormal preference, though, and I think everyone just took it as a result of his being really old and having lived in Germany for a long time when he was younger. Also he got a lot of ridiculous nicknames behind his back as a result.

I remember multiple professors trying to convey a strong preference for first names when I was in college - as in, explicitly bringing up how they understood that after all previous schooling most people found it awkward to get used to calling their professor "Jeff", reassuring them that it was fine, suggesting alternatives ("make eye contact and just start talking") if it really was too uncomfortable for them, and so on. If anything in my experience there's a strong norm to the contrary. In philosophy at least there's a common-if-not-universal tendency to suspect that someone who insists on being called "Dr. So-and-so" is doing it because no one would ever guess they actually had a doctorate if they didn't.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 12:44 PM
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someone who insists on being called "Dr. So-and-so" is doing it because no one would ever guess they actually had a doctorate if they didn't.

This is very much how it strikes me, too. I've started chalking up most behavior at my last job to the cumulative toxic effects of hog farm runoff in the drinking water. Everyone is barely suppressing their RAGE at some perceived slight or injustice at all times. I did too, and after leaving can barely remember what I was so pissed and sad about all the time.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 12:51 PM
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Pretty much everyone at Heebie U goes by Dr. Lastname. I've heard the case that men should not let students call them by their first name out of solidarity with women professors - that the women need the honorific to help establish classroom respect, and it needs to look reasonable, not like they're being solitary formal jerks.

Personally, I kind of like the distance it imposes. I'm not their buddy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 12:56 PM
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I use Dr nattarGcM in my email signature, specifically as a signal to academics and people who care about status (curators, some librarians, people at some European institutions) that I'm their equal, and won't be condescended to or bullshitted.

I was always just Matt when teaching, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:01 PM
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I'm not their buddy.

It does genuinely annoy me when people think I'm my students' "friend" because I go by Firstname. (Or, at my last job, a colleague tried to get me fired by spreading a rumor that I must be fucking them, because I'm a single queer and my students call me Firstname.) Everyone uses their preferred address as a way to communicate something about the way they want to be treated, and for me, I don't find it productive that my students are generally terrified of me. I always have the reputation of being the most demanding prof in any department I'm in, so why begrudge me Firstname use?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:02 PM
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Don't most adults have professional non-friend relationships with other adults they call Firstname? I don't assume people are drinking buddies just because they don't address each other as "Mr. So-and-So" or whatever.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:05 PM
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I don't understand why, if it's an option you have without having to commit a felony, you wouldn't want people terrified if you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:06 PM
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It's bad pedagogy.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:06 PM
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I don't make my colleagues call me Dr. Geebie!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:06 PM
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I made my students call me Mr. Hick. Mostly they kept calling me Dr. Hick or Prof. Hick.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:07 PM
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I'm just trying to imagine in what other context it's normal to deny an adult the use of your name because, hey, what am I, your *buddy*?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:08 PM
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Undergraduates aren't really adults, except legally. And not always then if they live in a state where you don't attain majority until 19.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:09 PM
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I don't even deny use of my name to actual little children.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:10 PM
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I don't either, but then I don't ever have to deal with large groups of children.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:11 PM
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I made my son stop calling me "dude." That felt right on several levels.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:12 PM
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258: it's pretty common in situations where there is an explicit, formal hierarchy, no? Talking to elected officials in a formal capacity, military titles, interactions with police, sports &c. &c.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:15 PM
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Anyway, they may be evil, but the profits of evil have allowed Elsevier to employ a computer that knows I am Mr. Hick as opposed to Dr. Hick. Every other publisher gets that wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:15 PM
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263: If they're strangers, sure.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:17 PM
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258 - I can't think of one in the United States*, but that's something that I think people from other cultures often find a bit disconcerting at first. I do remember being asked by a recently arrived Chinese graduate student what the appropriate address was for graduate students who had been in the program longer than you (as opposed to ones at your stage, or ones in earlier stages) was.

Of course I was immediately a little tempted to make one up for him but nowhere near enough to do it given how vulnerable you can feel when you've just arrived in a completely foreign environment.

*I'm sure there is one, but it does seem like educational contexts are the biggest, most central place it shows up.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:17 PM
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At St. John's everyone is addressed in class as Ms/Mr -- students and teachers. "We're all learning together!"
At Chicago, all the profs are "Ms/Mr" because "Duh, of course we all have PhDs."

Both snotty in their own way.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:18 PM
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Not just, no. Everybody who works for the Governor (say) calls them "Governor" as a matter of course during the work day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:18 PM
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268 to 265.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:19 PM
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263 - I guess it's relatively common in those cases when it's not a regular interaction but a one-time or infrequent one. As soon as there's a generally understood relationship, even a hierarchical one, I think it tends to fade away as a requirement. The military does still seem like a good example, but those rules do seem pretty directly designed to eliminate personal connections between people, or at least that's their function for Americans.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:21 PM
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The governor comparison seems apt. Many of my colleagues seemed to feel denied the rights of heads of state.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:22 PM
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People working in restaurants call the chef "chef", even to refer to him or her in his or her absence.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:23 PM
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Not all restaurants, I guess. But I recall observing this from when my sister was cooking.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:23 PM
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Yeah, restaurants are another good example.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:25 PM
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Also, of course, medical doctors.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:25 PM
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I've recently stopped calling medical doctors I work with "doctor." I noticed everybody else wasn't, even the newer people. Also, the Germans are always calling everybody by their first names in emails. They are weirdly formal in some ways (e.g. "Dear Moby"), but always use first names.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:28 PM
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The Germans are nearly all doctors. Some of them are Austrians, but I figure that's more or less the same.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:29 PM
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I go back and forth on the medical doctor thing. If it's not Dr. Smith who is examining my flesh, is it just, um, Jerry? Like, I go see Jerry and he stares down by throat and tells me when to breathe.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:30 PM
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Presumably judges keep getting called "judge" in court even when they know the lawyers they're talking to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:30 PM
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Or "your honor".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:32 PM
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I wonder if Roger Goodell insists that people call him "Commissioner". Probably, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:32 PM
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280: right, that. Good thing I'm not a lawyer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:33 PM
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Even Batman called the commissioner "commissioner".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:33 PM
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268: "Freshen your tea, Guv'nor?"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:33 PM
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Everybody who works for the Governor (say) calls them "Governor" as a matter of course during the work day.

Same with the state-level secretaries. At least the two I've worked under -- maybe other secretariats are less formal.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:35 PM
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When I worked at People's Drug Store, everyone went by their first name except for the store manager. Our long-time manager, Mr McSweeney quit and was replaced by a 20-year old, Mr. Mann. When Mr. McSweeney came by for a visit, a bunch of us gathered around him [-- many of us had known him for a long time and many of us middle-aged or older and we all said, "Hi Mr. McSweeney!", and then 20-year old Mr. Mann came by and said, "Hi John!".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:45 PM
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Jesse Pinkman always called him "Mr. White."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 1:48 PM
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As you might imagine, my industry tends to be short on formality, but it took me awhile as an intern in my 20s to address contractors in their 50s by first name. Now it's pretty natural, but I still err on the side of using a title with plan reviewers, just to be sure.

AFAIK nobody calls priests anything but Father. Many are Father Firstname, but I've been Catholic and done a lot of professional work in Church contexts, and have never heard one referred to without the honorific. Same deal with nuns.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:10 PM
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One of my kids has decided to pursue the career that is his first name so that he will be referred to as name name, a la Major Major.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:26 PM
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Mason?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:31 PM
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John?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:34 PM
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Earl?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:39 PM
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MC?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:56 PM
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DJ?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 2:57 PM
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Pilot Inspector?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 3:00 PM
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I know the thread has moved on, but back on the OP:

I've been both the cheater and the cuckold, and although I've never had the seriousness of an 11 year marriage with children, I've had been in the position of both you and Charles, in two different relationships. The first relationship fell apart because I realized that I couldn't live without butterflies and ended up leaving my first partner for the affair partner, although we were young and childless and unmarried so much less was at stake. The second relationship made it past his affair, but crumbled soon afterwards for ostensibly unrelated reasons, although in retrospect the affair was a symptom of the problem if not its cause.

As Karenin, I tried to make my relationship work and in retrospect I wish I hadn't. The relationship's inevitable demise was simply more messy and painful, and after the fact I felt like had I left when I found out about the affair I would have kept more of my dignity intact. I also moved on quickly to a much healthier relationship, which made me feel like I'd wasted too much time and energy on someone who treated me poorly.

As Anna, I wish I'd had the emotional integrity to end it when I realized I wasn't satisfied, although I was young and naive and in love, and I ended up causing a lot of pain to someone who didn't deserve it. Again, there were no children or 11 years of marriage, so the decision to walk away was clearly the right one.

In both cases ending it sooner rather than later would have been the best choice, but again no children were involved. I currently have an open relationship, and I've found having my partner sleep with other women keeps the spark alive for me (it's been about 4 years). We had a danger point where we were long distance and I'd had a brief fling which left me feeling less attracted to my partner, and his sleeping with another woman helped to bring back the spark. At this point, our relationship is mostly open on his side, since he's less likely to fall for whomever he's sleeping with, and I find it hot when he sleeps with other women. With the caveat that this may be a total disaster, maybe you could get Charles to fool around and see if it helps? If the marriage is already on life support, it might not make things worse.


Posted by: Anna Karenina/Alexey Karenin | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 3:12 PM
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King


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 3:46 PM
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Trump?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 3:59 PM
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Police, right? I assume you'd get arrested and/or tased if you called a cop by their first name.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:17 PM
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Polish has a very useful intermediate level of formality, where the title attaches to the first name (Pan Michael, Pani Michaela). This is just right for most work situations, and even if friendship that develops later would justify dropping the title, it's often amusing to keep it in the workplace.

It doesn't stop them from having affairs, though.

My better half has found it occasionally useful to insist on her Doktortitel, because sexism. And Germany, too, I suppose.

Russian terms of address are a social minefield, though. Maria Petrovna, Maria, Masha, Mashenka, etc. etc. etc. Vodka helps.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:23 PM
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Ford?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:36 PM
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@ 301: Prefect!


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:37 PM
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But I find Russian novels hard to read because of that name thing you mention. Also, because Russians make no sense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:39 PM
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I spent hours on that book and I can't even recall which brother was the murdering brother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:49 PM
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I had a dog I called Vanka. I was told by a friend that the -ka nicknames were kind of for peasants or children, but who knows (not me!) if that is true. Peers in America called him (friend) Alex. I and his parents called him Sasha or Sashoulya. Sashka was entirely out of the question. Weird.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:50 PM
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Deacon?
Chandler?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:52 PM
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Hunter?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:53 PM
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Aga Khan?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:53 PM
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Ivanhoe?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:54 PM
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HVAC Technician?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:55 PM
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Robin?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:56 PM
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Krokodil?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 4:59 PM
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Paddy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:02 PM
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Strider.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:04 PM
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TheBlackTerrorDestroyerOfSouls?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:12 PM
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Abel. Abel was the murderer.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:14 PM
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Frank?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:18 PM
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Lance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:26 PM
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Archer, Sawyer, Bill


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:47 PM
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Rob.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 5:47 PM
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Buckminster.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 6:29 PM
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There's a weird thing here where you address people with a formal title followed by their first name at least until you get to know them well though the Dr. title seems to stick more. So I'm Mr. Barry and my boss who is German (I'll call him "Jürgen Habermas") is called Dr. Jürgen. The other American working here calls him "Dr. J" but I just can't bring myself to say that.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 7:41 PM
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Wizard?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 7:42 PM
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Camper? Jezebel? Doug?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:10 PM
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I'm annoying my sibling-in-laws by all this muffled laughter while they're watching TV.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:24 PM
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Brick?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:34 PM
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Colt?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:34 PM
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Buck?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:34 PM
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I'm at a Quaker institution and there is much griping about no titles, but even the president is called by his first name. I like it just fine because I always felt there is something lame about PhDs who insist on being called "doctor." It smacks of impotent grasping at authority. The more you have to insist on your authority, the less you have. Also, if someone asks, "is there a doctor in the house?" You're not going to raise your hand.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:40 PM
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Master Blaster


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:41 PM
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Needless to say, it's also uncool to style oneself,
Dr. Miranda bravenewworld, ph.d
but both of my in laws ( they are at fancier schools) insist on this. Maybe I'm too casual?


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:43 PM
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Do you have Prussian student society dueling scars? Anything less is probably too casual.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:45 PM
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Alas no, I never demand satisfaction


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 8:47 PM
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Way to get back on topic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 9:07 PM
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Putting the "PhD" after your name seems worse to me than insisting on being called Dr. So-and-so. I mean, the latter at least has its merits but the former just sounds like you're rubbing it in.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08- 5-15 11:19 PM
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Mornington Crescent!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 2:40 AM
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AFAIK nobody calls priests anything but Father. Many are Father Firstname, but I've been Catholic and done a lot of professional work in Church contexts, and have never heard one referred to without the honorific. Same deal with nuns.

The only nun I know well I call by her first name because she's an aunt by marriage. I imagine if I was talking to anyone else in her convent I'd call them Sister whatever. Likewise the priest I used to drink with was "Herbert" if I was offering him a beer.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 2:57 AM
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335: I believe the rule is that you only put "PhD" after your name when it appears on the cover of a self help book.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 3:58 AM
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Herb?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 5:07 AM
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Endeavor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 5:07 AM
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Whitey? Pan? Chipper?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 5:15 AM
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338: Also your junk science that's not in the same field as your PhD.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:09 AM
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Butler.

Collier.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:24 AM
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Mara had a preschool classmate named Esquire because his dad wants him to grow up to be a lawyer.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:27 AM
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344: My god. There ought to be a law.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:28 AM
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Roger.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:29 AM
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Dean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:30 AM
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345: There was also a Messiah, but I think that was just in tribute and not aspirational. (I wish I could remember what divine name his brother had, something along the same lines.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:30 AM
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That's not really much different from naming somebody Christopher.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:31 AM
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Squire.

Angel.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:31 AM
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Victor.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:32 AM
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348: Perhaps Prophet?

Messiah. Now there's a name that would be hard to... Handel.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:36 AM
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* hangs head in shame *


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:36 AM
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We've finally gotten to you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:37 AM
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The shame will pass quickly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:40 AM
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Office formality: sometimes higher-ups here are called "sir," even between people who aren't and as far as I know never have been in uniform. Presumably this is because we're sort of kind of in a branch of the armed forces, and their culture bleeds into the civilian and contractor staff.

329
Also, if someone asks, "is there a doctor in the house?" You're not going to raise your hand.

That phrase seems so archaic and clichéd that I think anyone who actually utters it deserves the response you fear. I'm picturing an office holiday party, someone trips and falls and breaks a leg, someone says the line, someone responds with "All of us, if philosophy counts!", someone's significant other they're on the verge of breaking up with says, "hey, I'm a doctor! Well, a dermatologist, it's been 12 years since I've done anything more invasive than cyst removals, but I'm more of a real doctor than anyone else here!" and proceeds to call 911, because all they need is an EMT.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:54 AM
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352.1: It may have just been Emmanuel, come to think of it, but in combination the names were quite clear. They were part of one of those black Christian cults of "Messianic Jews" of some sort, but the parents were named Betty and Jim or something like that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:54 AM
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Is that what that is? I came across it in the religion question for some surveys. I assumed it was "Jews for Jesus."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:56 AM
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I forget the name for their particular sect and I was just being nosy but didn't want to be proselytized so I didn't push, Black Hebrew Something Something Something. I think straight-up self-identified Messianic Jews tend to be white.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 7:01 AM
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Do priests call each other Father? That must get weird.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 7:01 AM
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359: We had race. I was coding religion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 7:05 AM
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I had to decide between Christian (Protestant, Other) and Jewish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 7:07 AM
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360: The nuns I know call each other by first name in direct address but use Sister Firstname in talking about someone else most of the time. The church we attend uses titles (Pastor/Mother/Sister/Brother) for members and those get used in direct address and in descriptive speech, which feels awkward sometimes for me to do with people I consider equals, easier for the Pastors or the Mothers where it's clearly an honorary term. I get emails and facebook comments to Sis. Thorn and it's weird but that's what I get for going to church, etc.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 7:11 AM
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Amusingly one of you did guess the name. If you're at the other place you can confirm your answer.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 9:18 AM
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Black Hebrew Something Something Something.

Black Hebrew Israelites? Those guys hang out in my neighborhood all the time, screaming some crazy and vile shit. I thought they were just a DC thing, but the Internet says they're elsewhere too.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 9:38 AM
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365: Some smaller splinter group. You'll be shocked, I'm sure, to learn there are plenty of those.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 9:40 AM
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I was gonna guess Cooper, because surely with the surge in small-batch whiskey production, there's a concomitant surge in the demand for barrels.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 11:49 AM
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367: According to my friend learning distilling, it is indeed hard to get one's hands on good and home-sized whiskey aging barrels. (Also holy shit the process is elaborate and so much better suited to industrial manufacturing.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 2:48 PM
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357: Now I am trying to remember the names of two little boys I saw on the bus several years ago, whose mother called them by name. I feel like maybe I mentioned it here, but can't remember. The names were hella messianic though. Not quite "King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah" but pretty close.

Apparently Jesus and Mohammed work side by side at the connivance store by my house. Although that could be a joke. But people don't seem to take it as one. All they need is a Moishe, a Siddhartha and a Krishna and they'll be all set.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:18 PM
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"the connivance store"
Let he who is without sin...


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:23 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 6-15 6:33 PM
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