(Note: I’m cheating here a little bit. I had ~~80% of this post written in my head and a few notes on a scrap of paper by about mid-day on the 2nd of September. But I didn’t post it then, and a few other things went through my mind between then and now. And ofc I’ve had more time to mull it all over. So, I finally wrote it up on the 7th of December, and backdated the publication so it appears in the chronology of my thinking on “Life Weirdness”, more-or-less. Work with me here! ;-})
But will my lonely heart
Play the part
Of the fool again, before I begin
Foolish heart, Hear me callin’Steve Perry, “Foolish Heart”
Stop before you start fallin’
Foolish heart, Heed my warning
You’ve been wrong before
Don’t be wrong anymore!
I was thinking about my little model of emotional space hard over the last day or so, and it must have distracted me some in my aikido lesson last night. I’m don’t remember now what exactly we were practicing, but I was the uke (the pretend attacker) and my exit from the defense and throw was to do a forward roll. I botched it – badly. We were in group drill, so after I flopped to the mat, I jumped up and ran back to the end of the line to do it again. Cringing a little. The lead instructor called out, “That was terrible, John! No more compliments for you tonight!” And all I could answer was “Hai, sensei!” (“Yes, Teacher!”) He was right, and the pain in my left shoulder and neck reminded me of just how clumsy I had been. And I knew I could have done better.
What I figured out about the model is that there are actually four independent (more-or-less) dimensions to what I’m trying to measure. I was sooo close with my last post – I got Carnality and Intimacy (mostly) right. Here’s the rest of it –
- Dimension 3 is actually Deliberateness (or Intensionality). Here’s an example of a relationship that has lots of Intimacy (at least in 1 direction) and Deliberateness, but not a lot else – the relationship I have with my personal behavioral health counselor. Or any health practitioner, or an attorney, or financial counselor, or …… (This takes up some of what Sternberg called ‘Commitment’.)
- Dimension 4 is ….. There’s not a good English word for what I want to describe, although I can form the concept clearly in my mind. (First rule of General Semantics and sane thinking – if I can’t ‘wrap my arms’ around the concept – if there’s no good way to distinguish It from not-It – then whether or not there’s a word for it, it’s not reasonable to try to discuss or think about until you sharpen up your concept. But if I can distinguish It from not-It, then maybe I invent a word if I have to….)
Let’s call it Bleshing or Growing-Closer (both terms shamelessly stolen from various scifi stories). Now, having used a made-up word like Humpty-Dumpty in Wonderland, let me define what I mean.
Bleshing is the effort to become ‘soulmates’ – to fulfill the chorus line of that Jefferson Starship song – “And we can build this thing together.” It is, as I once told my soon-to-be-ex-wife, trying to become “the equal and balanced partner in the dance of our mutual lives together.” Think of it as ‘living your life in formation’ (like formation flying) with someone(s). This is the rest of what Sternberg calls ‘Intimacy’ and (mostly) ‘Commitment’; the rest of his ‘Commitment’ is Deliberateness. Note you can be Deliberately committed to some relationship (think the personal relationship you have with your boss, if it’s a good one, or your pastor – or the relationships I have with my fellow martial arts students) without necessarily trying to Blesh it also, so that’s how you tell those two apart.
Now, the obvious evo-bio explanation for wanting to Blesh is to build those ongoing interpersonal relationships that it takes to successfully raise the next generation of bipedal hominids, and their children and grandchildren too. I’m not certain if it’s even possible to have a relationship that’s Bleshed without it also being Intimate and Deliberate, although I guess I can think of some pathological partial examples (like the ‘instant soulmates’ effect you’re supposed to get from EST or Landmark training or things like that).
I want to have a new relationship or relationships that have all of these things – Carnality, Intimacy, Deliberateness, and Bleshing. I want to get there, preferably without getting my heart much more crunched up, and without crunching up the heart/mind/soul of the persons I am partnering with.
Which brings me back to the Aikido story at the top of this post. I know how to fall and roll in the dojo. It’s what keeps me from getting hurt. (Editor’s Trans-Temporal Note – that sprained shoulder bothered me for a couple of weeks!)
What I want to do by thinking soooooo hard about my relationships, and the way the persons I am attracted to have and want their relationships, is the emotional equivalent to Learning To Roll. Just like Steve Perry was singing to his Foolish, Foolish Heart.
I remember reading someplace (maybe on “The Art of Manliness” blog?) that, although we formally study “martial” (fighting) arts, we don’t formally study the arts of courtship, mutual seduction, and romantic interplay between persons. Call them the “venusian arts”. (There’s a more directly parallel word with “martial”, but it’s already being used elsewise……)
It’s a pity that we don’t – I think persons could be much happier individually, and the part of our society that revolves around the Mating Game and Family Formation and stuff like that would work better, if we did explicitly learn and teach each other How to Love Well.