Symposium Tuesday questions, Venue edition

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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41 Responses

  1. Boegiboe says:

    The first time I got to help launch a spacecraft, Jason was due to leave in a few days for an educational summer in Europe. My shift was 6pm-6am, and so those last days he was in the States we spent almost no time together, and I felt bad about it. Once he was gone and having a good time, I was better able to focus on the job, and he began having a great time, too. When you’re taking care of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of hurtling robot, it’s nice to be able to put everything and everyone else out of your mind.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    I’ve only been in one romantic relationship and it wasn’t a good one. After I ended the relationship, I felt a lot better. More in line with your question, when I hear stories about bad or terrible relationships than I’m happy to be single. The single life has its down sides but lot of people seem to stay in really terrible relationships because they can’t imagine living the single life. I know humans are social creatures and all but the pain that many people endure, and often this pain is real, physical pain, simply to say they have a partner is ridiculous.Report

    • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

      It is insecurity. The ability to tell yourself that “nobody else will love me except Him”.Report

    • zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I know humans are social creatures and all but the pain that many people endure, and often this pain is real, physical pain, simply to say they have a partner is ridiculous.

      Throughout history, for women this was often a necessity. Divorce is much looked down upon, yet I’d argue of great value for it allows people exit from enduring such pain and hope of a better relationship. In my estimation, we spend to much time concerned about the demise of the traditional family and not near enough time considering the quality of that family’s family life.Report

  3. zic says:

    I’ve had a long and difficult time learning that, as a straight woman, friendships with men are difficult and (mostly for the men,) confusing; friendly gestures get translated into potential partnering gestures at a disturbing rate. And this happens not only with the men a woman is friendly with, but with the man the woman is partnered with in the form of jealousy or the male-friend’s partners.

    So my best answer to your question is in forming deep and abiding friendships with men. True love forms a problem in several areas here — the potential jealousy of my partner, the potential jealousy of my friend’s partner, and the potential confusion that friendship might be license for something more.Report

    • Patrick in reply to zic says:

      I had a problem with this once.

      A hundred billion years ago a lifetime away.Report

      • zic in reply to Patrick says:

        I’m curious about the details (not personal, necessarily):

        1) She was confusing partner/friend signals;
        2) You confused partner/friend signals;
        3) Friendship troubled her partner;
        4) Friendship troubled your partner;
        5) Other (please explain).Report

      • Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        I didn’t really date, at all, in high school. I had an eighth grade crush and a junior year infatuation (both stories in and of themselves, one of which is embarrassing and one of which is cute)… but generally I thought that high school girls were silly. Certainly not worth heartache. When I got to college, I was very amused by how many of the guys were just freaked out at the fact that there were women around.

        And then on the second day of orientation I met a woman with whom I just clicked, like we were old buddies that had met again after ten years. Over the course of the next couple of weeks we established a great friendship. She had just broken up with a college guy over the summer (senior in high school dating a college freshman) and really wanted to not have a life of drama this year. I was more interested in just getting to know people and enjoying freshman year. I thought.

        And then one night we both got silly and wound up making out for a couple of hours, something for which I really wasn’t prepared. And I fell like a ton of bricks – the problem with not interfacing much with women up to that point is that there was a lot of buried need that I didn’t know I had.

        A week later she broke up with me, because she really didn’t want a life of drama, and she really did want to just focus on school for a year.

        Unfortunately, we were on the semester system and we had signed up for mandatory-for-the-rest-of-the-term seating assignments in Bio 101, so I got to spend the next three months sitting next to her, every day.

        It wasn’t the last time I bullshitted myself about how I felt about somebody, nor was it the last time I developed romantic feelings for somebody who didn’t reciprocate them, but it was the last time I did both of those things, together.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

      @zic Interesting. I actually find friendships with women to be easier as a committed man. The more committed I am, the easier friendships are. It was always more complicated for me when I was single. That dangly thing isn’t dangling and I have a clearer idea what to possibly expect and what is transparently not expectable. (No, it wasn’t the case that when I was single I thought every overture of friendship was something more. It’s just that now I don’t even have to confront the possibility. I don’t want something more, and that should be apparent by the ring on my finger or the mention of having a wife.) It was also easier for me, when I was single, to form a genuine friendship with a woman that wasn’t. The more she wasn’t single, the easier the friendship.Report

    • Damon in reply to zic says:

      I can kick in on this, as I met a gal on a dating site, she determined that we weren’t a good match, but still wanted to be friends. Now, I like this chick, and she works in theatre, something I have not been exposed too much. I find her fascinating. So, caveating the fact that I like her and might be interested in something more than friendship, I always have to be on guard for misreading any “signals” or gestures she has made. (I say might because she has aspects of her personality I find disagreeable and she can be “difficult” at times-but that’s another story) Here is a few that made me “twice think” to determine if I was projecting or not.

      1) While walking to the theatre, she stopped me, grabbed my arm and hand, and pulled me closer, to tell me some very exciting news. While doing so, she was fumbling around with my hands then abruptly let go. (Possible “oh shit am I sending the wrong signal to him?” move)

      2) Sitting in the audience of a play, one of her friends, who was working on the production we were her to see, comes up and they begin chatting. She grabs my arm with both hands and responded to his inquiry about something “my dear friend (my name) invited me”.
      Now, she NEVER touches me, except for the obligatory hug, so I notice when she touches me.Report

  4. Kazzy says:

    Riffing off this in a slightly different direction, I only met Zazzy after deciding not to try and meet anyone. I had broken up with my previous ex about seven months before, though didn’t fully cut off ties until a couple months later. I then spent a few months rebounding hard, desperately trying to connect with any girl who caught my eye and then trying to turn anyone I was fortunate enough to connect with into “the one”. This led to a good deal of misery. Not only because of all the failed attempts, but all the angst and stress at trying so hard. I only had about 6 weeks left in the city I was in at a time and having sworn off long distance relationships, decided to focus on my friends during that time. Lo and behold, that was when I met Zazzy. As luck would have it, we ended up in a long distance relationship for two years (that became longer still when she got deployed overseas shortly after we moved in together) and the rest is history. But had I not genuinely decided to forgo love, I don’t know that I ever would have found the love I so thoroughly enjoy now.Report

    • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’ve often heard people say that if you want to meet someone, stop trying, but I’ve never heard of such a method producing such a spectacular success until now.Report

      • Kim in reply to Chris says:

        I often recommend to people trying to go to events where you can meet people who share your interests. It seems a bit easier (to me) than going to bars.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @chris “I’ve often heard people say that if you want to meet someone, stop trying, but I’ve never heard of such a method producing such a spectacular success until now.”

        I’m one of those people, but I think the reason I believe it to be good advice is somewhat different than what you’re thinking.

        My observational experience is that when people declare either publicly or to themselves “I’m going to find a boy/girlfriend” or “I want to find someone to marry,” they invariably end up in poor relationships that don’t last, and often end somewhat embittered.

        “Not looking” has the advantage that you do a better job choosing the right person — that in fact that person becomes the reason for the relationship, rather than the relationship being the reason for that person.

        It’s why I always thought the authors of The Rules to be border-line evil snake-oil peddlers.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        The important thing about “not looking” is that you really have to not be looking. Some people say they aren’t looking and then actively eschew even good opportunities. Other people “don’t look” by putting out an deliberate “not looking” vibe all the time secretly looking. Both are unlikely to succeed.

        The night I met Zazzy, I went out with some close guy friends and just said, “Hey, let’s go have a good night on the town.” Even after we met, I remember thinking, “She’s cool and all, but I’ve got other things to focus on.”

        Had I had any conscious thought about making something work with her, I surely would have flubbed it up. Once it became clear that there was a there there with her… well, then the work began.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Chris says:

        I never found this to be useful in my case. As soon as I stopped looking, I’d have multiple people interested in me, which was its own horrible drama.Report

    • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

      I love stories like this. They’re incredibly common too, which I suspect may actually be the problem with much of on-line dating and, perhaps, dating in general. When the dates are in support of finding my one true love, the stress on that date must be tremendous. If the date fails, it fails on this huge level of your entire future.

      It’s way too much pressure on any date, any chance meeting.

      When we stop looking, and focus on ourselves, our friends, our ‘now,’ it seems like maybe we’re more attractive, more desirable, and in general, less pathetic.Report

  5. Angela says:

    When did your solitary state make your life better?
    I met my first love in college. We dated for several years, continuing after graduation with both of us getting good jobs, etc. We did not live together, but spent much time at each others places. After I bailed on graduate school, I was thinking about life, and what I wanted, and where I wanted it to go. I was 25 years old and wanted to know where our relationship was heading. I didn’t necessarily want to get married right away, but I wanted to know if that was where he saw the relationship going. Instead, he told me he wanted to break up.
    After about a year, during which we had both dated other people, his grandfather died. He called me, and hearing the pain and sadness in his voice, I realized I still loved him. He came over for dinner and we talked about his grandfather and the visits to California we had made together. Then he said that he realized he had made a mistake, and, if I would take him, he’d like to get married.
    I was shocked and surprised, but also overjoyed. We planned the wedding, did the pre-Cana thing, ordered flowers, booked the hall, etc. About 3 months before the wedding date, he got cold feet. He wasn’t ready; he wasn’t sure he ever would be.
    We postponed everything, telling people we were still engaged, but the date was changing and we didn’t have a new date yet.
    When the initial wedding date came up and nothing was resolved, and I didn’t see any effort on his part to come to a resolution, I gave him an ultimatum: couples counseling or I was done.
    While we were still engaged, I was preparing to live my life without him. I changed apartments, changed jobs and made decisions by myself and for myself. While I had hoped we could be together, I would not settle for what he was offering and so starting planing my life without him.
    Eventually, with the help of couples counseling, we decided to get married. Our 25th anniversary is in June.
    I think my strength and assurance that I would be just fine without him was an important part in being able to agree to be with him. We got married because we wanted to; not because we had to. We both knew we could be without each other, and live happy, full lives. But we have a better life together. And I’m so glad that we could keep forgiving each other and reaching out for each other during our difficult courtship. Because being married to him has been extremely great. (And, for whatever reasons, we have never had any significant challenges within our marriage. It’s been very easy being married to him. Maybe all the drama beforehand took care of conflicts afterwards.)Report

  6. Reformed Republican says:

    Things with my second wife ended badly. For the last year or two of that relationship, I was miserable. It wore on me, and the strain made me something of a jerk to some people who were close to me.

    Once things were finally, cleanly, over and done with, and I had a week or two to grieve, I had a moment where I suddenly realized “holy crap, I am happy now.” Then I realized how truly unhappy I had been for such a long time. Being unhappy had become normal, and I no longer noticed it. It has been over 2 years. I am still single, and I am still happy. I spent the majority of my life since my teens in one long-term-relationship or another. Being able to focus on myself and my son, and spend my time as I please, is wonderful. It has been a period of self-improvement. I started exercising. I learned guitar. I started spending more time with friends.

    I have not sworn off relationships, but right now I am happily single, and I am not putting any effort into changing that.Report

  7. NewDealer says:

    When I read fucked up divorce or domestic dispute stories (Gawker ran one about a woman who pulled a gun from her vagina during an argument), I got glad about being single.

    More seriously with job and recession stuff, I can’t imagine what it would be like to graduate from law school during the recession/law school crisis. I have friends who were married and/or had children and were looking for work and not getting any or juggling family, school, and work. Being single in law school was good.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      Is pulling a gun from your vagina even possible? Its something that civilized people shouldn’t think about. Kim, please do not respond to this.Report

      • Rod in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I saw the same story. Near as I can figure, either it was a very small gun, like a Derringer, or… yeah.Report

      • dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

        considering the terrible ideas involving their butts that people plan, carry out, and then have to be rescued from via the emergency room, a vagina gun seems almost classy.Report

      • Rod in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My personal favorite is the story from England concerning the Vicar, who was hanging curtains in the nude (as one will), slipped and fell (as will happen), and landed squarely on a potatoe (which one naturally has laying about randomly in one’s house), necessitating removal of said spud from an orifice I shall leave to your imagination. Priceless.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Two words: Fusilli Jerry.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        It was a million-to-one shot!

        (Which implies that half of the people on the Discworld have something weird up their butts.)Report

      • Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Wouldn’t a prerequisite for hanging curtains while naked be…already HAVING curtains?

        I was minding my business
        I was lifting some lead off
        The roof of the Holy Name church
        It was worthwhile living a laughable life
        To set my eyes on the blistering sight
        Of a Vicar in a tutu
        He’s not strange
        He just wants to live his life this way

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        If I when my wife is sleeping
        and the baby and Kathleen
        are sleeping
        and the sun is a flame-white disc
        in silken mists
        above shining trees,–
        if I in my north room
        dance naked, grotesquely
        before my mirror
        waving my shirt round my head
        and singing softly to myself:
        “I am lonely, lonely.
        I was born to be lonely,
        I am best so!”
        If I admire my arms, my face,
        my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
        again the yellow drawn shades,–

        Who shall say I am not
        the happy genius of my household?


  8. Maribou says:

    I spent most of my teenage years being convinced I would NEVER be with ANYONE oh WOE is me.

    And then I haven’t been single since I was seventeen.

    However, I think it was incredibly very useful that I lived alone and dated non-exclusively in college, because it really helped me to understand that I was capable in a lot of ways that I wouldn’t have believed if I’d gone straight from living at home to being married or shacked up.Report

    • zic in reply to Maribou says:

      @maribou, I’m having some trouble reconciling these two things:
      And then I haven’t been single since I was seventeen. and However, I think it was incredibly very useful that I lived alone and dated non-exclusively in college.

      It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I think I’m confused about what you mean by single.Report

      • Maribou in reply to zic says:

        I was neither married nor cohabitating nor sexually/romantically exclusive.

        But I had, nonetheless, serious / important / what-I-in-my-seventeen-to-twenty-year-old-naivete-thought-were-longterm relationships. I’ve always thought (since I was 17) that at least one of the people in my life romantically was there permanently (insofar as I trusted anyone to be permanent). So calling that “single” feels a bit silly.

        I’d rather not get into more details than that as it is complicated and messy and parts of it are quite unpleasant (and the parts that aren’t, at all, unpleasant, sometimes engender unpleasant reactions from random strangers on the internet).

        It wasn’t a particularly happy time for me – or, I suppose, it was happier than my adolescent years, so it’s more that the plentiful happy bits were extremely particulate, scattered through a base of unhappiness and Important Learning Experiences – but in retrospect I’m really glad I lived alone for three years. Not even roommates. That was a useful set of lessons.

        (I wasn’t answering Russell’s question, so much as saying ‘I can’t really answer the question but this is the closest I can come.’)Report

      • Maribou in reply to zic says:

        @zic Sorry, I should @’d you on the reply above. Still not used to using those :D.Report

      • zic in reply to zic says:

        @maribou I understand.

        I think, though the details vary, that we have much in common — difficult child hoods where we suffered much wrong beyond our control, feelings of being unwanted by the people we wanted to want us, and in our late teens early 20’s, the discovery of depth and character that comes out of those childhood hardships when you bother to process it in some moral fashion and apply it to your life and treatment of others.

        Plus, you’re a librarian. Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve had the best time with the librarians. They don’t match their squelching reputation in real life, not by a long shot. The first people I’ve sought out for friendship in every new town I’ve called home.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:

      If I may, I’m going to riff off @maribou in two different directions.

      First, how we define “single” matters. It bothered both Zazzy and I that we had to check the “single” box on a number of official forms until such time that we were officially married. When your options are “Married”, “Single”, “Divorced”, and “Widowed”, you are shoehorning a whole bunch of people into the single category that really aren’t. I understand that the term is appropriate legally, but it was always annoying. I imagine this is considerably more of a frustration for those among us who cannot get married but would otherwise like to.

      Using the definition that Maribou does here — “liv[ing] alone* and dat[ing] non-exclusively in college” — opens up a time in my life that was actually very formative. During my first three years of college, there were brief periods when I was dating someone exclusively, but otherwise I was doing the single/mingle thing. I learned a lot about myself during these times, as both an individual and a partner. I refined my taste, insofar as I got a better grasp on what I liked and didn’t like in a partner. And I got to work out some of my less desirable habits. In the moment, I might have complained about wanting more at certain times. But all in all, I am fortunate to have had those years.

      * I had roommates, most male but one female, all of them ranging from “just a friend” to “just a roommate”.Report

      • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        I get this. I’ve been in a relationship longer than many of the married people around here, but we’re not married, so officially I am single and she’s divorced. It rarely bothers me, but it certainly doesn’t convey the right information.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        It didn’t become an issue for us until we were engaged and on the verge of marriage. We were living together so, practically speaking, we were married. But it was still the single box for us. It was a very minor annoyance that quickly dissipated as soon as we moved onto the next page of the form.

        I think this points to yet another area where the conflation of legal recognition of emotional commitment is problematic.Report

  9. Darwy says:

    When my first marriage went south, it was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me.

    I finally had the chance to blossom into my own person, who was independent of anyone else – I wasn’t ‘the daughter’ and I wasn’t ‘the wife’ – I had a chance to actually be ME. I didn’t have to ask for permission to go out with friends; I didn’t have to inform anyone of where I was going to be, what I was going to do or how much money I was planning on spending.

    It was a wonderful time.Report

  10. Damon says:

    As to the OP, right after my divorce. I always was someone who enjoyed “alone time”, but I got to do it ALL the time then. Complete self indulgence-if I wanted to not bath or shave and watch tv all day, I could.

    Of couse, that does get old.Report

  11. Burt Likko says:

    I probably needed to be single in law school, so as to get through it. The loneliness got to me at times, though.

    After that, I really had no particular reason not to be in an LTR and wanted to be. My failure to have found a mate for this phase of my life was probably a net handicap — I settled for less on the career front for longer than I would have with a serious partner advising me, I didn’t move about geographically or meet as many people socially as someone in his mid to late twenties should have.

    It all got better in my thirties but that feels like it was too long a hammock period.Report