Posts tagged social commentary
AN acquaintance recently discovered her long-time partner had gone back to smoking and she left him. For many people, that would seem extreme, given seven good years together. But for her it was part of an unspoken system in relationships that I have dubbed EDB: emotional deal breakers.
As with business contracts, it’s the non-negotiable clause. We all nurse a secret rule or set of rules that if broken are not forgivable, and breaking them is considered a breach of verbal or non-verbal contract.
She says it wasn’t the smoking — which she deplores. That would have distressed her because she is a reformed smoker and a health nut. She would also have been peeved about his lack of strength of character. But neither would have been deal breakers. She said it was trust.
He’d created such an elaborate facade around his behaviour that she was horrified. ‘‘If he could lie so effortlessly about such a stupid thing, then what else could or would he lie about?’’ she wondered. He’d rush to the shower after work, and soak his own shirts in the laundry at night. Which prompts the question, was he also unfaithful? She said she contemplated that, too. But she didn’t want to know. ‘‘Deceiving me over a two- year period is enough, regardless of the cause.’’
While her strength is admirable, it’s surprising. I know many women and men who’ve forgiven their partners for far worse: heavy drinking, infidelity, gambling and lies. I know one woman whose husband is so self-destructive and overweight, he has given himself a heart attack and now emphysema. He still won’t take responsibility and she won’t leave.
Why are poor behaviours deal breakers for one per- son and not another? Psychologists say it’s to do with childhood patterns. For instance, studies have shown that women who grew up with violent fathers are more likely to attract and tolerate an abusive partner. Similarly, an unstable, narcissistic mother might prompt a man to be drawn to such women, often with the desire to resolve something unresolvable, or play rescuer.
Such underlying motivations can be classed as repetition compulsion disorder, behaviour akin to pouring water into sand.
There will always be huge discrepancies between people’s deal breakers. But I do issue a sharp warning to the complacent. EDBs change with life experience. One day your partner’s values may suddenly shift. The kids might leave home, or a partner may enter therapy, and something snaps. Finally, it’s enough.
Being clueless about what matters to your partner is dangerous. As he was leaving, the smoker said to his deceived girlfriend: ‘‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It was only five to six ciggies a day.’’ I rest my case.
AMONG my peers there was much sadness over the recent death of Sylvia Kristel, star of the 1974 erotic film Emmanuelle — a film we grew up with, and which became so popular that it made soft-core erotic cinema fashionable. The film received widespread prominence in the US when Columbia Pictures agreed to distribute it after noting that its audiences in French cinemas consisted mostly of women, which meant the movie could not be regarded as ‘‘mere pornography’’. (more…)
ABOUT two weeks ago, a woman walking towards me gave me a big grin. I felt immediately self-conscious because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Were my pants on inside out, was my hair standing up in a strange way? I wondered if maybe I knew her.
As I walked closer she nodded. I stopped and asked: ‘‘I’m sorry, do I know you?’’ She shook her head. ‘‘No, I just thought the colour of your hair looked beautiful in this light.’’
I was taken aback by her friendliness and the nice compliment. And it occurred to me afterwards that having a stranger smile at us in this country is so unusual that we feel thrown. Which contrasts profoundly to life in America. (more…)
“Please missus, please pen,” cries a little boy amidst a throng of children all begging for pens and school books. But I’ve just run out.
I’m in the heart of Africa, in a village in Tanzania. Like many villages it’s wracked by poverty; no running water, no electricity. Malaria is rife. Though many children are now being educated, far too many lack the basics for school such as pens and note paper.
I’ve gone and bought a box of pens to give the kids. It cost me the equivalent of two dollars to buy 50 pens. And yet most parents can’t afford even this. I stand throwing pens into the crowd of anxious faces and clawing hands as my partner snaps photos. Later we will look at the photos in the safety of our hotel room and be shocked by the desperation.
I’m back! Here are the three column blogs I wrote during the break on how to avoid holiday blues.
How to avoid becoming an +++hole. this time of year
It’s that time of year where we all like to make New Year resolutions and atone for crimes big and small we’ve committed during the year. Well, at least I do. It’s a ritual I do each year instead of driving around to bad parties, caught in traffic and feeling unsatisfied. I sit down with those closest to me and write a list of all the things of significance that happened during the year; all the things I’m grateful for; and all the things I want to change. (more…)
IT’s interesting that while people who haven’t got jobs or have been recently laid off tend to despair, actually having a job doesn’t ensure happiness.
A global study reported in The Wall Street Journal claims that almost a quarter of the global workforce is depressed. Apparently, 92 per cent of people surveyed linked the state of their mental health to job performance and only 12 per cent claimed to be optimistic on the work front. The respondents came from a variety of industries, but mainly in the financial and professional areas.
We should respect those who help with sexual problems not condemn them.
I’VE known several sex surrogates and have admired them all, which is why I was so surprised recently to hear that a Melbourne sex therapist had called them glorified prostitutes and called for an end to the practice.
Surrogates are women or men who get paid to provide what crooner Marvin Gaye pined for — ‘‘sexual healing’’. The practice is sex therapy with a touch more, as advocated by sexuality pioneers Masters and Johnson in the 1960s. It’s used in conjunction with traditional therapies to provide help for erectile dysfunctions such as impotence and premature ejaculation, intimacy issues and marriage problems.
Sex surrogacy has a reported 95 per cent success rate in Australia, according to a study presented to the World Congress on Sexual Health in 2007. (more…)
IT’S been a horrible few weeks in the world, and a hard time for sensitive people. The daily news has been so distressing and appalling that if I were not a journalist, I wouldn’t turn on or read the news.
As it is, I can’t read the papers over breakfast, or watch television news over dinner, as what I see often makes my stomach turn and I can’t digest my food.
Last week there were two or three stories that had me feeling ill and powerless, but I soldiered on, feeling dreadful: children hit by cars, abused, murdered, starving; the massacring of animals; revelations of torture. But something snapped one morning after one particular story: I was in the bathroom putting on make-up, then I was suddenly crouched on the floor, crying. My partner tried to comfort me but I said this to him, and I am saying it now.
Olympic swimmer Kenrick Monk, recently broke down crying and admitted he invented a story about being hit by a P-plate driver as he rode his bike to training. Monk, who is 23, faced the media to confess to having made up the elaborate hit-and-run story to hide the fact he hurt himself when he fell from his skateboard.
‘‘I didn’t know what to do. I panicked, I freaked,’’ he said, tearfully explaining that he couldn’t tell the truth because he’d fallen off ‘‘something that a 10-year- old can ride’’. With the Olympic trials coming up in March, he had been too embarrassed to admit he suffered two broken bones in his elbow from such a stupid and irresponsible accident.
‘‘I lied,’’ say the spate of cheating men and women caught with their pants down each week. ‘‘I lied because I was scared, fearful, depressed, anxious, I had a sore tooth, a gammy foot. I lied to save you from having hurt feelings. I lied because it was in my best interests, wasn’t it, and if I didn’t you would have been angry at me. I lied and I will lie again. Everyone does it all the time, so why not me?’’ (more…)
I WAS woken last weekend by a screeching drill across the road. Fair enough if you want to do a bit of home reno but not on a Sunday morning at 7.30.
Due to acoustics, given the height and proximity of terraced houses in our street, even the quietest noise reverberates. A conversation across the road is audible, so it can be presumed the fellow understood the implications of pouring such an unsavoury cacophony into the street. I guess when you gotta drill, you gotta drill. (more…)