Whenever I write about unconventional relationships like unboyfriends, open relationships, or casual hookups, the discussion always leads to someone protesting that they can’t get involved in these types of situations because they’re unable to “turn their feelings off”. I think this may well be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
For one thing, the last time I checked, the only people who are able to completely turn off their feelings are sociopaths; I hardly think it makes sense to say that we can’t do something because we’re not sociopaths. Secondly, it’s not our feelings that are the problem in life, it’s how we choose to act on said feelings.
This is where the notion of playing your position comes in. And all it really means is keeping your behaviour confined to the scope of the situation you’re in. It seems pretty simple but it always seems to go so terribly wrong.
Let’s take for example the f*ck buddy and friend with benefits relationships. Such a beautiful concept – two people coming together (pause?) for a thronx and maybe a conversation with no obligation to participate if they don’t want to and the freedom to do the same thing with other people
an hour later if they’re up for it. It could be a such a wonderful thing; if only people didn’t mess it up.
Wait – did you catch that? People sh!t it up, not feelings.
What goes wrong in these situations is not that someone catches feelings; that’s a common enough affliction that even
I the most cold-hearted among us cannot avoid forever. What goes wrong in these situations is that one f*ck buddy wants to make their feelings the other f*ck buddy’s problem. So when a woman finds herself daydreaming about jumping brooms with the man that just put it on her, instead of keeping it to herself like she should be she decides she’s going to unilaterally alter the nature of the relationship by suddenly expecting the man to date her. And then get angry when he doesn’t see the point in paying money for milk he’s been getting for free. And when the male FWB suddenly decides he wants exclusive access to the p*ssy he’d previously been content to have a time share in, instead of sitting quietly and waiting for the wave of temporary insanity to pass him, he starts flying into jealous rages over the fact that other men are sniffing the ladyflower.
The whole point of casual relationships is that no one has to alter their behaviour to accomodate anyone’s feelings. So when we start imposing them on one another the delicate balance of the no-strings situation is irrevocably upset. This is where playing your position comes in. If you are a jump off or a f*ck buddy or a friend with benefits, you have to abide by the rules of engagement. And all “situations” have them, whether they’re tacit or explicit. If a man wanted to walk down the street holding hands with you, he’d be your boyfriend not your f*ck buddy. And if a woman wanted to give you exclusive access to her nani, she’d make you put a ring on it. Basic principle of playing your position – if you’re not a bona fide, don’t act bona fide.
But playing your position isn’t only confined to casual relationships; it applies to those of you who are boo’d up as well. When you are in an exclusive relationship, you’re expected to reserve certain behaviours for your significant other. But we’re all human and sometimes we feel the urge to get close to someone other than the one to whom we are
enslaved committed. That’s not the problem. The problem is when the man who wifed the high-powered no-cooking career woman starts eating his meals in little Suzy Homemaker’s panties. The problem is when the woman who married the strong silent type lets another dude whisper sweet nothings in her ear while he’s long stroking her. It’s not the inclination to experience something with someone else that’s the problem, the act of doing so is the problem.
One of the things that separates humans from animals is our ability to squelch our urges, but people seem to forget that when it comes to relationships. Once sex or love gets involved we like to pretend that we have no choice but to act on every feeling we have, regardless of whether it’s appropriate. Playing your position is basically a fancy way of saying you made your bed now lie in it. And if you don’t want to lie in it then get out.
What do you guys think? Are you able to keep your behaviour appropriate to the situation you’re in even when you have conflicting feelings, or are you a line-crosser?
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