“Awww,” Skyspook said. “You loooove it.”
“Sure, I love it… in my hate place.”
Skyspook often describes his own process of learning how to communicate in relationships (nonromantic and romantic, poly, mono, or otherwise) as going vegan with his emotions.
What he means by this is that he’s as upfront and as authentic about his feelings as possible, in a way that formerly felt scary (much like Crucial Conversations).
I’ve heard him have deeply emotionally honest conversations with his parents that humbled me. One of these days I’m going to interview his mother for the blog or one of my other poly-related writing projects because she’s super interesting and one of the most sex-positive, poly-curious monogamous people I’ve ever met.
Anyway, Skyspook’s emotional process got me thinking about the transformation I went through when I started out as vanilla and mono and ended up kinky and polyamorous (through a dubious mixture of curiosity and self-challenge).
One of the weirdest challenges I ran into was figuring out the difference between something being easy and liking it — or something being difficult and disliking it. The water got even muddier as I explored masochism – although I am a physical masochist, emotional masochism is definitely a thing for me. And something that’s challenging can be really rewarding in and of itself — especially so if it leads somewhere good (helloooo delayed gratification). But even if it doesn’t, a good struggle can feel great.
So I started to speak about these various love-hate states in 4 rough categories.
Love in the Love Place
This is a very straightforward category. This is just plain old loving something. Sheer enjoyment. No downside. Easy. Feels suuuuper good.
Loves it. Loves it. Loooooooves it.
Hate in the Hate Place
This is the other really obvious category.
You know when they have some triple chocolate explosion flavored ice cream? That’s what this is. Only with hate.
You hate it. Hard. And you hate hating it every single minute of every day.
This is usually reserved for things that violate my personal values.
Love in the Hate Place
This is the first kind of odd one. Loving something in the hate place is masochism central.
You dislike some aspects of it while it’s going on, but you do it because it challenges you, and the challenge gives you a head rush and a sense of gratification, regardless of how it all shakes out or what it leads to.
You’re doing the “wrong thing,” but it feels soooo good.
Schadenfreude, delight in the misery of others, also goes here.
Hate in the Love Place
This is when doing the right thing feels really, really wrong. More in the spirit of adulting and delayed gratification (Please see the Torture of Compliments and Poly Sherpa).
In the early days, I called Skyspook a “Vitamin shake Dom.” Because he gave me the world’s most fucking wholesome orders. All things for my own good. I knew why. But it sucked. I did it. Hated it.
For example, going back to school and finishing my degree was arguably the most elaborate order I’ve ever been given. He also ordered me to therapy.
Sometimes doing the right things feels so, so wrong in the short term. I hate them in my love place.
Just My System
These is just how I personally describe my mixed emotional states re: enjoyment and loathing. I’m sure a bunch of you all have different and potentially better ways to describe yours.
The important part I think is understanding that while love and hate can line up perfectly, they don’t necessarily — not for everyone, all the time.
What’s important is to check in with yourself and sort all that out.