Let me also be clear that if you're in the same room and you're relating to each other, yes regardless of where you think the lines are drawn, it is and will be considered a relationship. Maybe not THE relationship, but definitely A relationship. Boys and Girls, we're going to leave semantics at the door and show up for this one.
Frankly, I have no idea. I'm not here to provide sorted out answers. Really, anyone who tells you they have it absolutely figured out should be regarded as suspicious and potentially dangerous. But as a Cardinal sign caught smack in the cross fire, I will say that as we go for authenticity in identity, it bears considering that beyond our choice of a partner, we ought to expect our mating mores to become more staunchly individual.
This isn't to be so revolutionary or wayward as to ignore the value of home grown wisdom, that Men will be Men etc. but what I'm speaking of is that some of us seem to be so ready to give and/or accept advise when it comes to our love life and our relationships. Women are probably more guilty than men on this one, but it can't be denied - men do it too. Safe to assume we've all done it and probably will continue to do it. Why?
For so many reasons. Because we no longer have the structure of traditional courting, because we lead highly mobile lives, because there's more yet not enough acceptance of different types of relationship, because we've had too many endings and barely made it through our beleaguered beginnings, there are a multitude of reasons.
Our asking and advising alike is symptomatic of the terrain. We're alternately lost then found, or back again. The stories we see other people live are surface and apt to hide the intricacies of that country and it's customs. We really don't know if even what we're told can ever fully convey the joys and sorrows of the people in it. It's impolite, unkind and unnecessary to question it, but to hold it up as a standard? Probably not a good idea. No one is exempt from feet of clay, the point to ponder is can you accept yours?
Now is no longer just the time of the Individual, but the Individual within the Shifting & Diluted Collective. If we take seriously how we push our institutions to change, then we also need to bravely venture into accepting responsibility for how we love. Not because we need to report to anyone else or be held to proving that once and for all, THIS is IT. But because our relationships are vehicles of extremely personal and intimate growth.
We've questioned our banks, our governments, our dot coms, even our personal care products. But have we questioned our dating sites, the litter of popularized opinions and guides on relationship, the supposedly failed state of manhood some accusingly say is "caused" by the even worsened state of womanhood? Not enough. It's hard to in an area so fragile and fraught with hopes. Even more so in an age where our purported unlimited virtual lives sit in stark contrast to our time and resource constrained 24 hour ones.
So why the Personal Mating Almanac? It's tongue in cheek figurative of course, molded from the famous and still very much in use Farmer's Almanac. Could we use one to chart the broader seasons of love and life as well as our personal ones? Probably.
I'm more likely for instance, to have a cabal of lovers passionately pounding on my door as Spring blossoms into Summer. Something in the air seems to make the blood pump faster, mix that with spaghetti straps, bare skin, and pheromone oozing chest hair and well, you get the picture. Or as I've learned from the recent outbreak of Marriage Virus, male populations in the age season of 32 to 36 are specially susceptible to fixating on you as The One and therefore, merit more astute consideration as pursuit reaches a certain fervor.
It's been convenient for story tellers immemorial to prelude the end with "happily ever after", it wraps things up rather nicely and conveniently leaves the rest to the indulgence of our imagination. We are that living ever after, as long as we're still here and still loving. We don't end where our triumphs or failures do, even if it feels that way.
Equally, I hope that when we recount our stories as advice or couch our opinions within them, that we leave room for whomever is listening to find resonance however they can or outright ignore what doesn't speak to them. I would hope only to help anyone keep their own counsel, even if they'd like to consider some of my own. Hence if anyone's going to use a Mating Almanac, it definitely ought to be of one's own writing.
I do often find myself being queried for wisdom or advice, usually approached as the single person with more than enough catastrophic experiences behind her that the asker's embarrassment or shame is a non-issue. Once the Scorp Rising Cancer GF told me that my honesty about how love has gone awry for me had allowed her to fully retell and face memories of events she never felt free to speak of to anyone else. Memories she edited for public consumption, but not for me.
Like it or not, my history and my emotional honesty about it had become the base line people found reassuring enough to enable sharing theirs. As somehow, their story would be less worse, not always but usually. I don't resent that. Even in the distance and solitude all that wounding gave me, I'm happy not everyone has to go through it to the extent I did.
Interestingly, as I listen to the dilemmas put to me, I'm not so quick to push into a conclusion about anything, not the issue, not the person asking, not even the other players of the story. Even if I had one, I often keep it to myself, choosing instead to offer questions posed in thoughts.
The irony of course, is that for the same reason, I'm also the reluctant depository of loud and unsought for advice. Usually from friends who mean well and whom I simply can't bear to inform are quite profoundly unqualified to be issuing it. I say "unqualified" as they're either not oriented towards relationship at all or if they are, prescribe only to pre-set forms with motives so significantly divergent from mine that it nullifies the premise of the advise. In the past, I took this to be their own way of coping with their anger over the Sewer as inevitably his deceptions touched them as well.
Much later, I also began to see how treating my love life as fodder had extended that coping to issues with love they had unrelated to me. In fairness, we probably all do a bit of that, certain things unintentionally set old wounds to twinge. It was during my birthday dinner when I realized my kindness on this matter has been mistaken for stupidity, climaxing as I walked straight into one of my girlfriends recruiting Frugen #1 to her viewpoint on what she felt is the lamentable state of my love life. She'd been building up to it for weeks, having started by harshly complaining about dating in LA and finishing it off with a good number of opinions over what I've done wrong, who she thinks I ought to be with etc etc.
We can't nurture a plant with only spades and dirt, but all the other soft things that matter. Air, Water, Light. Hope. She'd only set me up to closet my need for love and tenderness behind my non-chalant toughness, and in that way, it festered. Right alongside my having been sheltered, it could not mature past its fears or its desires. Not until all the hurtful things happened did it finally do so. Our spurts of growth happen in our living, neither bestowed cynicism or even our own disaster preparedness can preempt those from coming.
It had hurt me to hear my GF go bitterly on and on, for damning me to my failures and damning men to theirs. It hurt even more to know she was doing it as a way of avoiding touching her own pain and her own longing, ought I force her to face that? No, I won't. Even if I managed to sort my own Mating Almanac out, I'd never hand it to her just for knowing how high handed it is to presume I'm sentient to all that she is and all that she can be. Having mines of experience only means I have more to stories to look behind at, for myself. It doesn't bestow any authority to determine or persuade others in the writing of theirs.
Ultimately, the human heart will always be true to the nature of it's holder. We can only really speak for ourselves, we can only honor the Has Been with the As-Is. To enforce our past as a philosophy is not a good gift to anyone. To engender confidence building in intuition and the ability to rediscover one's self and life however, is an excellent one. This of course, is a difficult and perhaps, idealistic task. As women, we endure much for caring more, and feeling more. Our suppleness is our strength and the threatening bitterness makes us prone to cracking. It took me a while to write this, it even required a day of staring blankly into the ocean wondering how the waves keep on. But it does, like we do. Relentlessly, in varying speeds and strength, in storm and in silence, it returns.
Every person, every relationship is a chance to meet ourselves again. Most days I thought I was being the same person, but then unexpectedly, in a minute clock movement, something would shift and I would be different. In that tiny instance, I could change my mind about myself again, embrace the chance to perpetuate. I can't imagine taking something so rich and fruitful from anyone by telling them that someone else could do better for themselves.