i know i just posted an entire thread of quotes about the fundamental irresolvable nature of dependency but that doesn't mean i'm not still struggling with it like everyone else though
i've spoken about this to friends but i'm not sure i've ever said anything on the timeline—a major factor in my decision to swear off dating in 2019 was my recognition of the way in which my dependency on others had exposed me to and made me complicit in abusive situations. i didn't want to put myself again into a relationship that i would be unable to sever if it turned against me or my loved ones. and knowing my current precarity, i am particularly vulnerable to exploitation in that manner.
my current living situation is not immediately threatening, but it is far from ideal. in all of my past three relationships, one subject which was inevitably broached was moving in with my partner for a chance at greater autonomy, or otherwise financial support to that effect. while i don't consider all of these suggestions to have been manipulative in intention, the fact was that the possibility of a future and improvement of my personal situation was a powerful factor keeping me complicit.
here we have—in the worst of cases—my chance for future success and happiness set against my needs, personal and relational, in the present. i was—and am—uncertain the extent to which it is possible for me to have a romantic relationship in my current circumstance which does not involve to some extent this dynamic. in 2018 i decided that the present cost was no longer something i was willing to bear for the sake of a tentative future, and gave up on the idea of a future to attend to the present.
in the short run—this year—i think that this was the necessary (i am not sure “right” is a meaningful word here) decision. even as it comes at a time when, by all rights, failing to attend to my future is dooming it to hardship, i have needed time to check my needs.
but relationships are dangerous for me precisely BECAUSE they hold the potential to meet needs which otherwise cannot be met. and in the long run, writing off this dependency is not tenable, much less wise.
(can these needs only be met through the context of a romantic (or adjacent) relationship? in theory, no. in practice, in an increasingly individualized society and in a community riddled with trauma, we simply do not have the infrastructural means or psychic energy to look after more than one or a few significant others, typically constrained through the normative relationship apparatus. this makes us more dependent on them than ever—and thus oppression sets the stage for abuse.)
i am a better person when i have someone to talk to, when i have someone who—at least nominally—is taking my interests to heart. and i am a more focused, open, and generous person when my thoughts are preoccupied with the wellbeing of another. it gives me a future, and it gives me hope.
these are not revelations—they are the subjectmatter of every romantic drama.
but how do we characterize this positive nature of relationships when our very need for it can lead us to endure, or allow, actions of great abuse? how do we conceive of it for those people who have endured, for those who are in positions of heightened vulnerability, or those in positions of great need? under what framework do we submit to a dependency that we cannot wish away, but which leaves us more exposed to the potential of violence than ever, and in the most intimate of ways?
i was hoping to have some form of answers by the end of this year but the question increasingly seems beyond our current grasp, if not impossible. it is at the very least impossible without a dedicated commitment to acknowledging and protecting—without disavowing—vulnerability, without being conscious of and understanding its effects and how it constrains the landscape of power even—and especially!—in our most intimate of relations
which is why i have only doubled down in my commitments against violence this year, and made my primary focus thinking about it and its effects. through that, i can start to maybe catch a glimpse of a relationship framework in which such things as personal precarity do not doom a person to choosing between either disavowing dependency or submitting to abuse.
at the same time, the path there seems long, and—this is not happening in a temporal vacuum!—my own relational needs remain unmet
@LadyMargaret I guess the main thing that comes out is wondering what you're looking to avoid. If I gloss the whole thing, it feels like "I want someone to support me individually, which effectively must be at most a small number of individual people, but I don't want to be dependent on them for that support, lest they make me part of doing bad things, immediately or at some point in the future". Is that roughly along the right lines?
@LadyMargaret Okay, makes sense. To me, that seems like it'll always technically be a risk with such people, which gives you some options including:
* Diversify your support structures, so losing one person doesn't mean you've lost all your support. (Easier for emotional support than, say, housing.)
* Find people who won't do that to you. (Harder to spot in advance, if ever.)
I kinda try both, but I can't say it's easy. 😞
@aschmitz i think there is a trend in contemporary (masculine) culture to go, oh, heartbreak/relationship drama/trauma is inevitable, it is a fact of life, and since it cannot be prevented, there is no reason for wasting time pursuing the matter
to the contrary, even if it is not *preventable*, the way in which it is *navigated* i find highly important (and politically relevant), and situate myself alongside feminist discourses which have a long tradition of doing the same
@aschmitz and i reject the idea that the story of something so everpresent could *ever* be completed, or any conclusive answer *ever* be reached, within our rapidly changing environments and conditions
instead, we need to constantly investigate and pursue it, as a matter of both formal and personal inquiry, and reject any contentment that might come with easy solutions
@aschmitz i'm speaking to the way in which it ties in and is not inseparable from our politics in general, insofar as our politics are grounded in ethics, and ethics is the pursuit of justice in human relations. as a more-or-less universal experience, personal vulnerability and dependency (in a relationship, or beyond it) gives us a wealth of personal experience regarding the nature of human relations that is absolutely relevant to ethical questions at-large, which we can't afford to ignore.
@aschmitz to argue via the negative, i can't imagine HOW one can expect to tackle large ethical problems involving massive movements and interactions of people when one is not willing to even approach the small, personal, intimate interactions which make up their day-to-day
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