Saturday, 3 September 2011

Of Pavlov, Buttons and Capybaras

There are a few warnings for this post, both about sexual content (it's vague, but it's there), and generally TMI about me and my relationship. It's also very tangential, as I kinda just wrote this on the fly.


For the past while my zucchini and me have been working out what, exactly, we want out of this relationship and what we're willing to do.

This has been very, very slow and difficult going, not only because neither of us are particularly good at the whole 'talking about emotions and such' thing, but because the English language wasn't designed to have this sort  of conversation. In fact, we've found (I've found) that the English language is particularly bad when it comes to talking about anything which is non-normative at all, let alone feelings.

(I should probably explain right now that he's quite comfortably heteroromantic and heterosexual, whereas I, quite obviously, am comfortably aromantic and asexual. (Yes, I am aware of how strange it is that an aromantic asexual is willingly entering into a relationship which is both romantic and sexual*. However, it's working for us right now, and hopefully will continue working for us for the rest of our lives). As you can probably guess, this has lead to a few miscommunications and erronus assumptions on both our parts.)

The other night, it got to the point that we were adlibbing metaphors on the fly as we discussed what I wanted/felt and what he wanted and felt. One of these actually is useful for the both of us, so we're sticking with it for now. (I'll explain it in a bit, I promise). 

However. Before we discussed this, he was feeling a fair bit of turmoil as he was under the (incorrect) assumption that whatever feelings/sensations I'd receive from any more physical actions would be less than someone who was otherwise orientated (i.e. sexual) would recive from the same actions  (e.g., that if he were to preform an action which would normally be sexual for both parties, such as caressing a body part etc., that I would receive less sensation than someone who was equally sexual as him would), instead of different sensation to someone who was sexual.

As far as I understand it (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong/explain it better/put in your two cents/etc) and as far as I can conceptualise it, sexual people (and society as a whole) has a hierarchy of touch. At the bottom, you have the touches which you're expected to share with everyone you meet, like handshakes and pats on the shoulder and such. At the top, you have the ones which you're only meant to share with certain people (Shagging, etc.). This mostly coincides with the sensitivity of said location for touch (i.e., your nipples are far more sensitive to touch than your shoulders generally, etc.), along with the relative softness of the skin at that location. As it is a hierarchy, it is expected that you will want to have as much of the top 'ranked' actions as possible, and that you will value the top 'ranked' actions far above those at the bottom.

Most sexual people tend to have this hierarchy instinctively.

I don't. I have a line, instead.

On my line, there are still categories of touch, some of which are the same as society's. People, depending on how much I trust them, have access to categories. (S has access to all of them**, random stranger has access to one or none).

However. I don't place the same hierarchy on them that society does. Society wants everyone to try and get as much of as many 'top ranked'  actions as possible. I just want to get as many actions as possible. I don't care whether it's hugging, or cuddling, or kissing or whatever, I just want lots.

Quantity, not 'quality', is me. I want lots with the people I trust, and the actions become 'higher ranked' for me not by what they are but by who they're with. Thus, shaking hands with S is of a higher rank then hugging K. Something which ties into this is that, and I'm not sure if this is because I'm ace or because I'm just wired that way, I don't see most actions as inherently sexual. I see them more as "this feels good (SPAM THE ACTION)".

This leads to the metaphor I was talking about earlier. For S, who has, up till now, been in purely heterosexual romantic/sexual relationships, this is more than a little weird/different.

And this is where the Capybaras and Pavlov come in.

We used the metaphor that S was Pavlov, who so far has been dealing with experiments on dogs*** (experiments in this case standing in for romantic/physical relationships). Each dog had a huge control board of buttons which make it feel and do certain things. So, as far as Pavlov knows, push a particular button, dog gets hungry and eats. (standing in for sexual...ness. Yeah, my English is failing me, it's nearly 4 am)

However. This relationship is as if Pavlov (who done all his work with dogs and so knows, generally, how they react to having a particular button pushed) has just been given a Capybara.

Which, quite obviously, is not a dog. And Pavlov doesn't know how the Capybara will react when he pushes the button he pushed to get the dogs hungry. It might get hungry and eat, but it might also start dancing. (The Capybara, on the other hand, is just happy to have Pavlov paying attention to it, and so doesn't really care what buttons he tries to push. Both reactions are positive, anyway).

At this point I worried about S getting something out of the whole thing, because as he's stated before what he generally gets out of the more physical side of things (other than the pure physical stimulation) is causing pleasure in the other person. However, continuing the metaphor, he explained that Pavlov is just happy to get data, even if it's not the data he's got in the past.

Then, because we have this need (I. I have this need, and I drag S along with me) to extend metaphors far past their logical ending point, we started having the buttons stand in for causing pleasurable**** reactions in the other. Thus, it became a case of "(other) reacts well to this particular action. SPAM THE BUTTON!" Thus, as part of a nerdy, sewer-located joke, S commented that a Mortal Kombat line***** would have been appropriate at some points during his visit ( it was tangentially relevant too as a common tactic in the game for many players is "spam all the buttons").

There were some more bits added, but that's the basic summary of the metaphor. (I am aware it probably doesn't make much sense to anyone who is not me or S. I don't actually care, though I will attempt to explain in further detail if anyone wants to ask me questions in the comments section)

*This is another problem I've run into recently. How do you define when something is sexual? Sometimes, when me and S preform an action, like rubbing each other's backs, it is nonsexual in nature. Other times, it is sexual in nature. Other times, he finds it sexual and I don't. Yet, at the heart of it, it is the same action(s).
(I am aware the answer is probably "you just know", but I am not comfortable with this answer, because a couple of times it has gone from something that was distinctly not sexual to ...something that was, and I was not really aware of when that happened. (S, I know you're reading this. This is not a bad thing, more of a "Huh, I fail observation forever" thing, with me trying to look out for landmarks for next time)

**Nominally. At any given point, however, I may not allow him to do so. Much like he has a keypass to a building, but sometimes the building is locked and the keycard won't let him into said building. He still has the permission to enter the building, he just can't at that point in time.

***Not to say anything about his previous girlfriends. They're, as far as I know, very nice people.

****Not necessarily sexually pleasurable. This also extends to general hugging, and such.

*****If you can't work it out, I'm not telling you.

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