Relationship ethics: manipulation

General discussion about relationship issues.
The Gray Lady
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Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby The Gray Lady » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:53 pm

So after writing my most recent blog post (inspired by Heligan), I started thinking about the ethics of relating to other people. I thought I would post about it here, rather than on the blog, because I want to try to get more of a discussion going here again.

So, how do you go about determining what's right and what's not a fair way to treat someone within a relationship? (And by that, I mean any kind of close relationship, really, though I admit I am mostly focusing on "romantic" stuff.)

I mean, because it's fairly well-accepted, I think, that it's okay to put on a front with people you're not too involved with, but most of us would frown on someone who tried to pass him/herself off as sexual (knowing for sure that they're not) in order to get into a relationship. Where do you draw the line?

Personally, I try to look at how much damage it causes within the relationship. I always try to be very straightforward and honest about things, though due to my issues with communication it can be hard to get any discussion to actually turn out the way I want it to. Specifically, I mean, I'm gray-a but I usually hide that information from people, because most of them would have absolutely no idea what I was talking about if I told them. I end up (somewhat unwillingly, and certainly uncomfortably) presenting a false front that seems like more of a black-and-white case, in an attempt to get them to first secure an understanding of asexuality, and THEN try to understand the grayness, so that they might be less likely to use that grayness against me saying that I'm "not really" asexual. But I wonder if that's too manipulative? It CAN hurt my relationships on some level, I've seen that, but I guess it's a case of which would be worse: what I'm doing, or giving them that info all at once? I'm still convinced that it was a good idea to do it this way, but just failed in its execution because of my bad communication skills. Ultimately that's what really hurt the relationship, and kept me from eventually communicating the ambiguities about my orientation--I just have to chalk it up to that, because I can't know if, had my execution been perfect, I would have been able to use this front for long enough for him to get comfortable with the idea, and then get past it without hurting the relationship. I still assume that I would.

I don't think I'm making much sense. Sorry about that.

But I'm also talking about other things, too. Like, for example...

1) Occasionally, I would pretend not to know something, or how to do something, just to get people (usually M, but I do this with other people too) to correct me. Like sometimes when speaking a foreign language, there are certain grammar points I will use wrong on purpose just to have people try to give me an explanation of why it's wrong, in hopes that they will explain it in a way I can understand better than how the book does. With M, there have been times that I actually knew something about the topic, but remembered it/understood it only vaguely, and I knew he would typically give me a very (ridiculously) thorough explanation. But I also, in part, did that because I found it cute that I could get him to do that. Which leads into the next one...

2) Sometimes, when we were together, I would be careless on purpose just so that he would correct me. He is quite meticulous about things, and I find that terribly endearing, plus I get a high from being physically close to him. Subtlety also tends to go over his head, so he had absolutely no idea that I was being slightly manipulative or that any of my suggestions had a point other than what I stated (such as my telling him to wear his glasses--he never quite figured out that I thought he looked good in them), which I also thought was cute.

I did all these things with a spirit of playfulness, without any intent to harm, but I wonder if, had he realized I was doing them, he would have been more irritated or flattered. He really does like things stated out in the open rather than dealing with any sort of subtext. Still, #2 at least seems to be quite a common thing to do; there are a lot of examples of it in pop culture, like Mimi blowing out her candle so Roger will light it again in Rent. I don't see it as particularly harmful, but I am wary of playing any "games" with relationships at all, so I am wary of this too. I always tried not to do it too much, but I'm not sure where exactly I should draw the line.

I definitely do not approve of manipulation in order to satisfy insecurities, though. My ex used to fish for compliments and try to "test" me to see if I got jealous (which of course I didn't, and then we would get into nasty passive-aggressive fights about it). That kind of thing isn't fun, and I would never do it (no need anyway, since I'm not insecure to begin with).

I guess it kind of has to do with when it's appropriate to bring up the topic of asexuality to someone, but it's also about more than that. What I want to know is just, in general, how do you treat these scenarios in which you intentionally mislead the other person? How much of that is acceptable, do you think? I just want to poll everyone so I can see where I stand relative to everyone else.

And, maybe here's an interesting question as well: to what extent would you play at being sexual with an intimate partner? Would you be flirty, would you say suggestive things, or would you try to tone all that down (as I have)? How would you play with the image they have of you as an asexual person?

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:55 pm

The Gray Lady wrote:I mean, because it's fairly well-accepted, I think, that it's okay to put on a front with people you're not too involved with, but most of us would frown on someone who tried to pass him/herself off as sexual (knowing for sure that they're not) in order to get into a relationship. Where do you draw the line?

I'm not particularly sure if I agree. I believe that the situation dictates where you draw the line; for instance 'okay' to kill in self defence, not 'okay' for shits and giggles. In my circumstance for instance (at university, in an engineering program), the males out number the females 10:1. On top of this the type of female drawn to this type of intense study hard/party hard atmosphere have a more mannish demeanour, they are all literally "one of the guys". This means that even in casual day to day interactions with them already contain a highly sexual undertone (you should hear the slew of double-entendres, "your mom", and "that's what she said" that float through the air on an hourly bases). So if I even if I ever wanted to date one of them (assuming they gave me a chance), using your, let's call it a 'rule of thumb', would necessitate starting the relationship by saying "You know everything you've learnt/observed about/of me the past two years, yay ... umm ... It was all an elaborate facade constructed to appease my peers," not exactly an ideal scenario.
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

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ily
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby ily » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:33 pm

It's funny; I can't manipulate people. My brain literally can't do it! If I've hurt people, it's usually due to ignorance on my part, or my habit of being way too honest.
I think I'd want someone to know I was asexual before I started dating them, but maybe that's why I've never dated anyone. Honestly (here I go!), I haven't yet found a way to date people that works for me. I might be grayer than a few asexuals, as I have been attracted to (very few) people in the past. But, dating someone I'm not attracted to in any way, just to date someone, is something I don't want to do. I might be game to try sexual things if I was really attracted to the person. It would probably be something done for curiosity's sake, and I don't think I'd want to do any sexual thing often. But since I've only been that attracted to someone once in 24 years, it's a pretty moot point for me now...

The Gray Lady
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby The Gray Lady » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:00 pm

Noskcaj.Llahsram wrote:'m not particularly sure if I agree. I believe that the situation dictates where you draw the line; for instance 'okay' to kill in self defence, not 'okay' for shits and giggles. In my circumstance for instance (at university, in an engineering program), the males out number the females 10:1. On top of this the type of female drawn to this type of intense study hard/party hard atmosphere have a more mannish demeanour, they are all literally "one of the guys". This means that even in casual day to day interactions with them already contain a highly sexual undertone (you should hear the slew of double-entendres, "your mom", and "that's what she said" that float through the air on an hourly bases). So if I even if I ever wanted to date one of them (assuming they gave me a chance), using your, let's call it a 'rule of thumb', would necessitate starting the relationship by saying "You know everything you've learnt/observed about/of me the past two years, yay ... umm ... It was all an elaborate facade constructed to appease my peers," not exactly an ideal scenario.


Hmmm, that strikes me as a little bit different, though. Because the ability to make double-entendres, to me, doesn't indicate anything at all about a person's sexuality or lack thereof. Asexuals can have "dirty minds" too, and all of those comments that you mentioned aren't meant to be taken seriously, are they? I wouldn't consider that a facade, I would consider that just playing around. Possibly the theoretical potential love interest would disagree, but in that case I think it would be just because they're unfamiliar with asexuality, and you would be in the right.

Now, if you were going around casually saying things like, "I'd hit that," and passing it off as genuine sexual attraction, then that's different. In that case, you're passing as sexual. In which case, yeah, you would basically have to say that to a potential partner, either at the beginning of the relationship or after it has already progressed, at the latest until the point where it becomes a serious issue. (And to be clear, by "beginning of the relationship" I don't mean the first date or whatever, but whenever you both decide to commit to a serious relationship.) I consider the beginning of the relationship (relative beginning, not absolute) to be the best time to say it, because if you withhold that information in order to get the person to commit to a relationship, it will lead to hurt feelings later on when the truth comes out, and those feelings will just get stronger the longer it goes unsaid.

In four years of being part of the asexual community, I've never even once seen someone suggest otherwise, so that's what I'm basing the suggestion that most of us would disapprove of such tactics on. As far as my own personal rule of thumb goes, well, I tend to tell people fairly early on that I'm asexual because I am pretty much out to everyone. Of course that's adapted to my own circumstances, and for other people it would be more appropriate to say it later on. I'm not applying my own personal circumstances to everyone, and I didn't mean to imply at all that my idea of the appropriate time is absolute and applies to everyone regardless of different circumstances. Hope it's clearer what I mean now! :)

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:18 pm

just for some clarification; I don't go around doing serious posing as a sexual, just the bare minimum not to get the weird looks.

P.S. you'd think the innuendo was just that, but then there is that rare occasion you go into the student council lounge in the evening, flick on the lights and BAM right on the table. And then its you're responsibility the next day to tell everyone not to eat there. It used to be worse, now they have a "no sex on the 6th floor" policy.
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

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Heligan
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby Heligan » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:24 am

I'm posting almost the same thing on two threads (which is probably spamming or something) viewtopic.php?f=14&t=105&p=3344#p3344

I have since learnt a bit more terminology and think that I used to be a specific variety of Grey-A; a demisexual (not feeling sexual attraction without a certain level emotional connection) and that maybe its much easier for demisexuals to pass than for other Grey-As with maybe more random or unknown triggers for sexual attraction.
I suppose even demisexuals have a certain amount of difficulty is sex is expected very quickly and you havent got to the emotional connection quick enough to know if you do or dont 'fancy' the person in a sexual way. I never really worried about that, but then I didnt know I was wired weird when I was dating... I suppose knowing you might never get sexuality triggered does makes it more of an ethical issue... but then Im not sure I would have carried on dating someone whom I didnt start to find sexually attractive at some point anyway.

I guess Gray_As have the same problem with sex that everyone has with love... theres some Factor X that 'does it for you' but there not an easy way to telll ahead of time, or even a few dates in on many occassions, if its going to work out.
"We only half live when we only half think." Voltaire (1694-1778)
‘Life has no meaning a priori … It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.’ Jean-Paul Sartre

Lemon
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Re: Relationship ethics: manipulation

Postby Lemon » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:26 am

Fully agree with the grey lady about the innuendo, that's joining in and joking, its different. I am very rude and explicit in my humour and its not implicit that I'm going to have sex with any one I joke with!

I think that whenever you have needs or desires that differ from the norm you should inform your new love affair or even friend if it affects them at an early stage. A good example is, same sex room mates where one person is gay/bi because both might not feel comfortable with nudity or asking your roomy to help you pick out underwear or what ever in that situation.

Sexual people see sex as a prerequisite to a relationship, they have needs and desires that in the long run they have a right to have met (if they are not given any forewarning by the asexual) so if someone gets way into a relationship pretending to offer something they actually wont provide or intend to stop then they are completely in the wrong. It would be like acting like they one day want children but secretly knowing they never will, it's dishonest and once some one has already emotionally invested in you under false pretences you are hurting them by being dishonest.

That doesn't mean to say you you can't wait a few months until you know your own feelings or what ever, maybe the solution is to not have sex with any one until you are out to them and they are aware that its not going to be a big part of your relationship. They can't be lead to believe a relationship will have a sexual component if you don't have sex with them or suggest you will.