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one twue way of cake baking, the

I’ve said before I don’t believe in one twue ways.  It’s more accurate to say I believe in many twue ways. 

The perfect Twue Way for You.

I like to bake.

One day, you ask me to bake you a cake.  Just “a cake.”  Oooookay.  I mean, I’ll do it quite happily.  But forgive me for thinking that’s a bit of an open ended request.

I arrive at your birthday party with an ice cream cake, or a lemon cake, or even a stack of brownies in a cake-like shape.  Depends on what I’m feeling.  Chocolate, strawberry, white, yellow, confetti…it’s all good.  I’m a lover of any cake, though I do have my favorites for my own consumption.

But I think we can all agree I failed if I show up on your doorstep with an organic vegetable loaf.  

But maybe you are more particular about what cake means to you. 

Which is absolutely acceptable.  Just because you are more limited in what kinds of cake work for you, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  Red velvet cake is delicous to many of us, but not if you have an allergy to red food dye.

You can like any sort of cake you like, in any fashion you like. I promise you that it’s okay. There is no wrong kind of cake to like. There may be more “impossible” cakes that you are unlikely to get quite right in a thousand years; but if you have the patience? No need to eat a cake that isn’t satisfying, when, after all, cakes are a luxury and an excess. Wonderful, but not necessary to live.

But sometime problems arise when you want a certain kind of cake– but you put in all the “wrong” ingredients.

You see, cakes are rather dependent on the ingredients you put in them. You may not notice if someone substitutes maple syrup for vanilla extract (depending on the recipe). But you are less likely to be fooled if they put in cocoa powder and you wanted lemon cake. Recipes exist for a reason, though they may be toyed around with, of course. Most recipes are something of a guideline.

Within reason. You see, if you want chocolate cake, you don’t make it with lemons. And you certainly don’t do so– and then scream HOW YOUR CAKE ISN’T RIGHT AT ALL AND WHY IS LIFE SO UNFAIR.  Maybe try using cocoa instead of citrus?

Same with Relationships.  

If you want a Relationship to be a certain kind of Relationship, you do have to do Some Things Right. Or else you run into a series of struggles, disappointments, and heartbreaks (which are inevitable, to some degree, but that isn’t what you want your whole life to be, is it?)

Want that perfect submissive girlfriend? Mass messaging women on Fetlife is not really the best way to go about it. I mean, sure, if you bake a cake at 10 degrees F, it’ll probably eventually bake into a cake….and if you message ten thousand women, maybe one will get back to you and turn into your ideal girlfriend. It could happen.

If you think you’re just guaranteed for the recipe to turn out right, with no concern with what you throw into the batter, well, good luck with that.

The possibilities are endless—

–but the paths that will lead you to YOUR perfect cake might not be.

Of course there are slight variations that won’t make much of a difference.  Add a spice or bake it a few minutes more or less.  Substitute a couple of ingredients.  Cake baking is an art, not a science. Art doesn’t have only way to be art.

But if I dump a bucket of water on a piece of paper, do you think it’ll magically turn into a gorgeous Monet-esque watercolor?  It is no different with cakes or relationships. Certain…choices have a greater or lesser chance of resulting in a desired outcome.

I don’t care about what kind of cake you want.  I don’t care what kind of cake you have. But you probably care…

And so I hope you think about the path you are creating. The recipe you are following. What is it you want? What is it that you are doing to get what you want? Are the two in alignment? Do they -generally- work for those who try that method? Or do they -generally- fail?

For what it’s worth, it’s okay to criticize how I make my cake. In a respectful manner. It’s okay to gently point out, “Hey, maybe you should try doing it a little differently? What about doing this technique?” You’re not screaming, “Don’t eat that cake, it’s disgusting!” You’re merely using your own experience to help me create my own, perfect cake.

Oh, relationships are far from perfect!

Still, I think it would be amazing if we all worked together to improve the recipes and got as close as possible to our vision of perfection in our confections.

Because, sure, sometimes you follow the recipe and you forget something. Or the oven is a little different than the one you used before. Or it just doesn’t work for whatever reason. Especially when you use human emotions, behaviors, and desires for your ingredients. It’s impossible to predict the outcome, every single time.

BUT.

We can stop just relying on hope, thoughts, and prayers to make ourselves happy in our romantic relationships– and, well, if icing hits the fan, that’s just inevitable. Nothing we can do to try better next time, right?

Or maybe not. Maybe we can do something. If we claim that Romance is The Most Important Thing In Life, maybe we should actually do some training towards it. We wouldn’t go to a doctor with no education, or even let a handyman come bust up our kitchen without training. But we’ll let them bust up our hearts with nothing but good intentions and a charming smile?

Relationships may be best that grow organically, so they often say. But even even a seed needs to be watered, or it will stay in the ground as a seed forever.

I just don’t see Doing Nothing But Waiting working out particularly well for more than a handful of us.

Which means we need to try Something.

By the way, I happen to know a lot of cake recipes (and far more than just the Romantic Primary Partner recipe, which, in case you’re curious, I know how to layer…)  

I may never be able to build a computer from scratch; or confidently add to twenty one (despite working as a blackjack dealer); or remember which year we fought the War of 1912.

Baking cakes, though? Kind of my thing.  If you ever want something in particular, please do feel free to reach out to me!  I might know the perfect recipe.

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“this seems like an exciting time for you” and other awesome alternatives to “that sounds complicated”

“Your life is complicated.”  

They weren’t telling their friend about a problem or a headache.  Just a simple recounting of latest happenings.  The response?  “Sounds complicated.”

If you don’t get why this is not the best thing to say, I can explain to you personally. Or read this more detailed explanation of why that isn’t something you should say.  That isn’t my focus here.

BUT–I’m not a jerk.

If I don’t want someone to say a certain thing, I should offer an alternative, right?

After all my life IS complicated. That’s not what irritates me.  It’s that all of our lives are complicated in some manner.  Complications beget a fascinating complex existence.  Yes, I have a lot going on.  I have a generous, resourceful, loving support network.  But so do most people, and do you go around telling everyone how complicated their lives are?  If you do, please stop it.

I have never had someone tell me “Sounds complicated” when they were speaking positively about my crazy, awesome life.

Instead they appeared to be trying desperately to find something negative to bring me down to their own meager existence.  I’m sorry your life isn’t as exciting as you want?  If you want me to help you manage your life a little better, I’ll do so gladly.  You don’t need to passive aggresively insult mine.

Anyway.  The next time you’re tempted to tell someone their [insert concept you aren’t familiar with] life is “complicated,” try replacing it with this:

“This seems like a really exciting time for you.”

Someone told me this recently, as I explained my recent life changes in a casual phone conversation.  I know that the other person probably hasn’t experienced most, if any, of what makes up my life. Didn’t really come up.

The point isn’t what they know or don’t know. What matters is those words made me feel good, unlike being told, “Wow, I couldn’t handle that.” Or “Sounds complicated.” Or “Are you okay?” Ugh. I didn’t even know that was what I wanted to hear, but when I heard it I smiled.

Being told that my life is exciting, instead of complicated? Made me feel warm inside. I heard, “It’s possible that I don’t understand you, but I am so happy you are living your life.” I didn’t feel weird or different. I hadn’t been told how I was “special” or “brave,” either. Which is great.  I just want to be able to share what’s happening to me, like anyone else.

I can’t guarantee that everyone will react the same, but at least you’ve tried. 

Because life isn’t a template.   Maybe they’ll still get mad.  Please just don’t use my words as an unthinking, default reponse.

Use your own, hopefully genuine, compliment. “Wow, that is really cool that you are living the life that YOU want, not what other people tell you.” Or “I haven’t experienced that, but I would love you to tell me more about it.”

Please just do not say, “I couldn’t do that.” Nobody cares that you aren’t able to do it. Or worse, “How do your kids handle it?” No. Just no. Maybe once you talk to them longer, once they have more trust in you, ask, “I have kids and I wouldn’t know how to tell them about my new life. Can you give me advice?”

What would YOU like to hear in response to telling a friend about your unconventional life?

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dear kitty: my son might be seen in public with people that aren’t his spouse! help!

DEAR ABBY: I am extremely upset. My son got married a year ago. We were very happy and have welcomed his wife into our family. He met us for lunch yesterday and announced that he and his wife have a polyamorous relationship. They will stay married, but both of them will date and have long-term relationships with other people.

My husband and I are in shock. We have been married for more than 30 years and have always been faithful to each other. We thought we had set a good example. They are asking to be able to bring other boyfriends and girlfriends to our family events. I’m heartsick at the thought of watching them be affectionate with other partners. My granddaughter was a flower girl at their wedding. How do we explain this to her? I love my son, but does a relationship with him mean I have to abandon the values I have always felt were important to uphold? Right now he isn’t speaking to me because he thinks I was not supportive enough when he told me. I feel like I’m being forced to accept this new lifestyle or not see my son. How should I handle this? —

DUMBFOUNDED IN DALLAS

[Click Here to See Abby’s response]

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED:

Well, let me first off say that you are not alone.  Public displays of affection (PDA) are gross.  Why would you bring that out of the bedroom?  But, don’t worry, it’s not too late!

Perhaps you have failed slightly in your upbringing of your son.  That is okay.  We’re none of us perfect.  First things, first.  No banging at family events.  Seriously.  How have you not already informed your son of this basic rule?  Yes, a lot of vanilla, monogamous folk condone public sex at family gatherings, and it follows that polyamorous folk would probably start a public orgy.  But YOU need to stand up for YOUR values.  

As for the values you are abandoning, don’t!  Stay true to yourself.  I don’t know what yours are, but I do know many values of polyamorous folk.  They believe in commitment, love, communication, healthy boundaries, and all sorts of relationships, including friendship. That kind of long term commitment is nasuating and unnatural.  Also, you shouldn’t emotionally invest in anyone not your spouse.  That’s what boarding school and nursing maids are for, to prevent any emotional attachment to one’s offspring.  This modern idea that mothers and fathers should spend quality time with their children is ridiculous and abandons traditional morality.

Still, that doesn’t mean your son should never see other women, in the right context.  Men, especially, need to spread their seed.  Quietly take him aside and tell him to sleep with other women on the side (no falling in love! use these women for what they’re worth, only!), like any normal man.  His wife needn’t know about any of this.

Yeah, that sounds like solid advice.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe…your son might have something to teach you.  A new way of living.  It might be scary to change, but I am guessing your son is actually an amazing guy that you’ve raised well.  He may have a lot to teach YOU.  As may his girlfriends.  If you’re open to it, grab a coffee with one of them.  Who knows?  You might find yourself liking the people he surrounded himself with, after all.  Trust me, they won’t bite you.  Unless you ask respectfully.

Yours sincerely,

Kitty

(Not A Therapist)