Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Emotional self-confidence

I decided to go green yesterday. I had a meeting with a customer which was a two hour drive. By train it took me just as long, though it allowed me to catch up on some sleep and on my way back, to catch up on some work as well.

A teenage couple was sitting nearby. Well, I didn’t know they were a couple till I happened to look at them and saw this very naughty look on the girl’s face. I realized that her foot was slowly rubbing up against his leg. I figured they were at least more than just friends.
Then the girl did the classic kitty kat stretch, which told me that an important statement was coming. Know what I mean? It goes like this: lazily stretch your arms above your head, with face turned towards the side, a look in your eyes that sais you’re ready for bed - totally relaxed, then slowly turn your eyes back to the boy with a suppressed smile… then the statement can be made. Hers: “I so hope this thing will never become like this boyfriend/girlfriend thing, and we’d be exclusive or something. That’s way too boring.” Foot rubbing up against his leg a bit more..then a giggle.

I was surprised by her words, it made me wonder whether it could be true that this young girl was truly not emotionally attached? Was she maybe an example of a young girl that is just looking for fun and feels no social or moral restrictions? Was she really that into physical pleasure as she was so eager to signal to the boy?
I drifted away in these thoughts while looking out the window, after a while I looked back at them, actually still in a sort of wonderment, when I saw her in tears. The guy asked why she got so emotional all of a sudden. She answered that he was acting so distant and cold. He placed his hands on her knees and asked her what she meant. She dried her eyes and said she was just acting silly because she was tired and that he shouldn’t pay too much attention to her.

And then I knew that it was all an act. She was so dependant, maybe even desperate, that she pretended to be some kind of n y m p h o just to keep him. She was trying to be what she thought his ideal girl was, the girl he would never get bored with.
How sad. I wondered if the boy knew. Would he forever think of her as the young n y m p h o he was with or would he realize she was just too much in love with him? Did the girl know she was not so into s e x as she pretended to be? Maybe she convinced herself that she was indeed happy with their “non exclusive, non boyfriend/girlfriend thing”?

This dependence, this fear of losing someone and the willingness to do something to keep them, I recognize this from my relationships before I came to faith. And I must say that living in polygyny has taught me independence. It has taught me that it doesn’t matter whether a man loves you more or maybe less than another woman, whether he is attracted to other women or not - you don’t lose anything, you are not worth less because of it. My life and me as a person are totally unrelated to how special I am to Mr.Hubby. That’s so liberating. It’s important to have a warm and understanding relationship with your partner, which I feel I do. But he may go if he chooses to...And I have no fear of losing him.

I am sure many women have learned this through their life and I am not saying one should be in polygyny to get to this point. It just happens to be so with me.


Anonymous said...

Oh whatever, your husband sleeps with other women. Stop judging.

Hidden Sage said...

Impressive post. I think it takes a lot for people to reach what you've reached. Emotional independence is really tough to develop. I suppose polygny would either help strengthen it or destroy it, depending on the person.

@Anonymous: So what?

Anonymous said...

i realize you are just putting out your own thoughts here but really, you are wondering about her social and moral restrictions??

I personally have no issue with the way you live your life. I do take issue with you passing judgement on others. And then using your pop psychology to justify your lifestyle. Just a bit smug for my taste.

Safiyyah said...

Oh my; another anonymous.

Greetings Third:

I have missed your posts!

I also think what you are talking about can be called "emotional integrity" - too many women, and some men I suppose, lose themselves in relationships.

Anonymous said...

I'm only anonymous because I can't be bothered creating a blogger identity.

3rd wife doesn't want people to judge her and critisise her about her polygynous lifestyle, so what right does she have to judge others? Plus, the girl is young, she has her whole life agead of her, and many things can and probably will change in her future. Teenagers will be teenagers, but 3rd wife is a grown adult who is openly (well not so openly) flouting her lifestyle, talking about how great it is having to share her husband. I think the teenage girl will eventually learn how she should act around males, but 3rd wife I'm afraid, has little chance of learning what and where good male are.

Safiyyah said...

@ anonymous

If you can't be bothered to create a blogger identity, you can at least sign your name.

You sure do put a lot of effort into criticizing Third.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the other Anonymouses. Your "insights" are expressed with a tone of arrogance and you are incredibly judgemental of others.

It's obvious you need to feel special and superior to others. You try just a little too hard to justify your lifestyle which I interpret as deep-seated insecurity.

I suppose that when you were that young woman's age you had it all together.

You were brilliant and decisive and you had emotional maturity and stability; you were confident around men and you knew all the phychological ins and outs and archtypes which enabled you to NEVER make poor choices when it came to your love/social life. Right?

A word of caution: It's been my experience that when a person is so smug and arrogant about their life philosophies and their judging of others, the Powers That Be will arrange your life so that you'll have to put your money were your mouth is.

If your perfect world did fall apart with Mr Hubby it would be interesting to see if your ideologies and biases would serve you well as you say they will.


Donald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donald said...

How has 3rd been arrogant and judgmental in this post? It seems to me like 3rd just feels sorry for this girl because she's not being true to herself — she's trying to be something she isn't and doesn't see it. Maybe 3rd misread the situation, maybe not. Either way, I don't see how she has been arrogant or judgmental. Opinionated? Maybe. I think you're allowed to be in your own blog!

I'm pretty opinionated myself about many things (as are our 'anonymous' friends here). But I'm a bit confused when it comes to the topic of people dependency. Codependence? Interdependence? I've read books on these topics and I'm still not sure I get it.

Should we really be independent to the degree 3rd describes? I don't know. There would sure as heck be a lot less pain in relationships if that were the case, but isn't there something magic about needing someone and they needing you?

I don't know. Like I said, I don't feel like I've got a great handle on this topic. But perhaps if people could stop bashing 3rd for a bit, we might get some more constructive discussion about it.

PS. I do wish there was a way to edit these posts. Deleting and reposting is one option but then you leave a trail of deleted posts behind you. :)

Anonymous said...

Why should I tell you my name? It is none of your business. I chose to post a comment on here anonymously. There is nothing more to say about this topic, other than 3rd wife (she isn't actually a wife you know... just a partner) needs to take her blinkers off before she goes e-bashing a teenager again. She does not have a perfect relationship, hell, she barely sees 'Mr Hubby'. How can she even justify her views when she can't even tell her own family about her relationship?

Ya'll are pissing on (don't quote me) 200 years of feminism. 1 man + 1 woman = right, 1 man + 4 women = wrong.

What happens when 1 of the 'wives' gets a thrush infection? Does 'Mr Hubby' go round handing out tubes of caneston apologising for wife x's little problem? Are all potential wives STI tested before entering the fold? What if current wives want to embark on a sexual relationship with a male other than hubby? Would hubby have a problem with that?

I'm not joking. It is not right...

*Sits back with popcorn*

Anonymous said...

Reply To Donald's Question:

"And then I knew that it was all an act. She was so dependant, maybe even desperate, that she pretended to be some kind of n y m p h o just to keep him. She was trying to be what she thought his ideal girl was, the girl he would never get bored with.
How sad. I wondered if the boy knew. Would he forever think of her as the young n y m p h o he was with or would he realize she was just too much in love with him? Did the girl know she was not so into s e x as she pretended to be? Maybe she convinced herself that she was indeed happy with their “non exclusive, non boyfriend/girlfriend thing”?" (quoted from 3rd's original post)

Character judgments ala 3rd:

3rd labels the young woman as: a nympho, possibly desperate, dependent, pretending ("acting" regarding her feelings about the guy and how much she likes sex), and trying to be the guy's ideal girl.

Prime examples of 3rd making character judgements against the young woman. If you go through her prior blogging posts you can see a pattern emerge that justifies my response.

What you call bashing I call being honest and holding someone accountable when they are being hypocritical.

As for my 2 cents regarding 3rd's indifference as to whether Mr Hubby loves her less than the other wives which she attributes to her strong sense of self and independence:

IMO it is not healthy for a person to chronically compromise themselves physically or emotionally for any relationship out of fear of losing their significant other. It is possible to maintain one's sense of self and one's self-respect while giving and loving from the depths of their soul to another which constitutes that magic you're talking about.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, these women who live this lifestyle truly desire only a "part-time husband" and psuedo-domestic help so they're not burdened by the day-to-day chores of running a household or child rearing.

Think about it - they're not solely responsible for the man's sexual needs, so their off the hook there. They got other women in the home to share all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, errands, carpooling, and babysitting needs. Basically, they're part-time wives and mothers.

I think they're masochists at heart too. Seething with jealousy and insecurities regarding where they land in the man's pecking order of who's the best out of all the wives, and they intentionally put themselves in these degrading situation.

I don't think half of them are truly honest with themselves or others regarding their lifestyle.

BTW check out Hidden Sage's blog "Eliza and Polygamy". It's an eye opener.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous without a name:

If you want to criticize 3rd's attitude, that's fine- I guess everyone has an opinion. But, if you want to go around and make statements about feminism and how polygamy contradicts this, then please think it through a little more.

I want to ask you a question: Who says that feminism = 1 man + 1 woman? You have a VERY simplified view of what feminism is and what it entails. Feminism is about women feeling empowered - YOU do not define what it is to be empowered.

This all boils down to what our definition is of a "strong woman". What does that entail and what is contradictory to this? These are sensitive topics, but a little open mindedness and respect goes a long way.

o0UmmHasan0o said...

salam sis, in so many ways your blog has helped me,

so sis... its award time


3rd... said...

I commented a few days ago using my smartphone, which has worked in the past but for some obscure reason it apparently hasn't this time..

I was really happy to read Safiyyah's comments.. nice to hear from you again, thank you for the kind words!! ;)
And Donald had an interesting question. Do we have to be so independent? Is it a good thing.. I have been pondering on this. I do understand what you mean when you say there is something magic about needing other and them needing you. That feeling is magic, life is so boring otherwise. I pray for that dependancy, towards my Lord. And I am no where near that, but that total submission and unconditional love towards God.. I so yearn for that. Pray for me Donald, that I may reach that before I die.

@path2felicity - welcome! I believe I haven't seen you here before. Your question is a valid one. I actually believe polygyny can leave more room for feminism, exactly because women can devide the tasks among them. I get to work on my carrier, meet friends, attend social events, at no expense to my relationship..

@UmmHasan - thank you so much for your kindness.. I commented on your blog as well. Happy to have read that post. It was very nice.

@ all the different venonymouses
I am not sure what to make of all the accusations.. I never tought anything bad about the girl nor did I judge her. I just feel bad about the way our society conditions girls and boys to live up to the images in music or even adult videos. It's just so distorted. If anything I passed judgement on the society we live in - definitely not the girl.

UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

I so had something to say but I forgot after I read all the comments.....BLAH....

new#3 said...

I truly don't know why anyone comes here to criticize...anyway, none of us are perfect.
To answer the part time thing, some perhaps find that to be a good thing, leaving alot of time open for personal pursuits.
"Your husbaqnd sleeps with other women. Stop judging." wow..that is very hostile and unnecessary. People in plural marriages are being judged by YOU. so stop.

Donald said...

At a guess, I'd say they come here out of morbid curiosity, and they attack because something about a woman defending this lifestyle makes them feel threatened. People tend to attack what they fear. They don't understand your lifestyle because it doesn't fit with their world view — with their preconceived view of how things are or how they should be. So rather than try and understand, they have made a character judgement. You're a square peg, and their view of the world is one with round holes.

People can attack something out of the right motives too. I suppose if you really believe that all polygamy is oppressive to women, then you ought to speak up out of love. I just think people are often blinded by their own prejudices, and don't really go into these discussions with their eyes open.

I wouldn't be discouraged by this. My role model is Jesus, and if we look at how he was treated in his lifetime we see that he didn't fit in either — especially with the religious leaders of that society. They didn't listen to his words because they pre-judged him to be out of line. He threatened the status quo, so he was attacked.

To be honest, I think many people in my own church would judge me if they knew my views about polygyny. It's just one of those topics that people form very strong opinions about and don't want challenged. People equate polygamy with barbarism, abuse, misogyny, and all sorts of untold evils, and in their minds to allow it is to tolerate all those evils.

Interestingly, it's one of the few things conservative Christians and secular society seem to agree on, even though the Bible considers polygyny a legitimate lifestyle. Divorce and remarriage (serial polygamy?) is common within the church, even though the Bible clearly teaches that God hates divorce. People aren't even that surprised when young people in the church are found to be sleeping around. But I guarantee you, if someone in a conservative church was found to be in a polygynous marriage… now that would be a scandal!! It wouldn't matter if the relationship was one of mutual love and care — most people would judge them without knowing anything about their relationship.

Donald said...

3rd said: 'I pray for that dependancy, towards my Lord. And I am no where near that, but that total submission and unconditional love towards God.. I so yearn for that. Pray for me Donald, that I may reach that before I die.'

3rd, I truly believe that God honors a heart that wants to submit to him. You're right. That should be our goal — complete dependance on God. You have challenged me because I am no where near that either. Please pray that for me too.

The scary thing is though, in my experience it seems to be in times of great difficulty or suffering that God teaches us to depend on him. I want to pray that prayer, but at the same time I don't want the suffering. I guess that's when we have to trust that God knows best — that if we submit to him, he will take care of us and give us real life.

Safiyyah said...

Ameen Donald to what you said about a heart that wants to lean toward God.

From Islam:

The Prophet (saw) said: "Whoever is mainly concerned about the Hereafter, Allaah will make him feel independent of others and will make him focused and content, and his worldly affairs will fall into place...but whoever is mainly concerned with this world, Allaah will make him feel in constant need of others and will make him distracted and unfocused, and he will get nothing of this world except what is decreed for him." (Tirmidhi)

I use the above for my email signature :) Kind of like a constant reminder to myself :)

Anonymous said...

The Third,

I have done a lot of studying about religious polygamy and there is one thing that I just can not come to grips with as a woman.

Why does it seem like God asks women to make most of the sacrifices in these kind of marriages? Why is it that God seems to give the man so much and the women are the ones who must give up so much in the polygamous relationship?

I ask this in all sincerity and not to put you down. You seem to be very thoughtful and intelligent. I am truly interested in your thoughts about these questions.

Let's take some aspects from your life for an example as they are similiar to many other religious poly marriages that I have read about. If I read your blog correctly this seems to be your situation in this marriage.

You support yourself.
You only get to see your husband
one or two days a week.
You have to delay having children
for now.
If and when you do have children
they will have a part time father
as he spreads himself between
four families. In many ways you
will have to raise them like a
single mom.

Your husband on the other hand -

Has four wives - he is never
alone, or lonley unless he chooses
to be.
Has children and decides his
schedule with them.
Can choose to add more wives any
time he wants, without the consent
of the other wives.
Has a variety of sexual partners
that are sanctioned by God.

On the surface, and I can't seem to get pass the surface, this just seems so unfair and unjust. I don't know why God requires this of women.

What are your thoughts and insights from living this lifestyle?


Donald said...


Are you a new Anonymous? I like that you put forward your point of view respectfully, without belittling 3rd. I'm interested in 3rd's answers to your questions too, because I think some aspects of polygyny must be hard for the women. But as a man, I would think polygyny must have its share of unique difficulties too. Your description of the man makes him sound kind of aloof and self-centered, as though he never has a problem with limiting time for his wives or children. What if the man genuinely loves each member of his family and wishes he could spend more time with each one? I imagine this would be hard on him too.

I'm in a monogamous marriage so I can't comment from a polygynous perspective, but as a parent of four children, I can say that time obviously works against us. Our first child received an amount of individual attention from us that just isn't possible for each subsequent child. Having said that, the fourth child now gets the benefit of having a big sister (who he absolutely adores) to look after him sometimes when mum and dad are too busy. So the experience of each child is different — not necessarily better or worse, but certainly different.

In a polygynous marriage, would it not be similar? If the wives love and support one another, would this not have its own unique benefits over the typical monogamous marriage?

Okay, I should shut up now and let 3rd answer for herself! I just wanted to share a different perspective as it relates to my experience.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for a man's perspective. My questions were definitely written from a woman's perspective.

I agree with you that there are difficulties for the man also. However in most of the poly marriages I have read about, (I am monogamous also), especially the religious based ones, the husbands are the ones making the choices to add more wives, not the already existing wives. So if there are difficulties, it is because he has chosen the difficulties. Not so for many of the wives.

Also it could be true that if the wives love and support each other there could be unique benefits not found in mono marriages. However, once again that does not seem to be the case in many of the poly marriages. The wives typically do not choose each other. Often there is competition, distrust and ambivalence between the wives, not love and support.

I have read about some poly marriages that do have the benefits you describe and they sound wonderful. In these marriages the husbands and wives decide together to add additional wives. The wives are close and love each other as sisters. The husbands love their wives equally and treat them all with the utmost love and respect. The families co-exist as one whole family, not separate families sharing the husband.

But, these marriages seem to be the rare ones and usually not the religious based ones. It should be the opposite, don't you think?

Third, I am still very interested in your thoughts since you live this lifestyle?


Donald said...

Nice comments CM. So glad to see some more balanced and intelligent discussion here than the likes of 'Oh whatever, your husband sleeps with other women. Stop judging'!

I agree — the decision to introduce another wife into a family is a huge thing! It permanently changes the dynamic of the family and affects everyone, so it makes sense that everyone should be on board with the decision.

I hear what you're saying about religious based marriages too. If someone's faith is said to be based on love, we might expect their marriage to reflect that love. But sadly, regardless of whether we're talking about mono or poly marriages, divorce rates (from memory) are pretty similar between religious and secular couples. To me, that says something is wrong with our 'religion'.

I believe religion really means nothing if it is not rooted in genuine love — the kind of love that puts the needs of others above or on par with our own. But that's a big enough topic for another day.

Anonymous said...

I'll be very surprised if 3rd answers your questions, CM. I think she would be hard-pressed to answer them honestly without compromising her delusions in respects to the true dynamics of her "marriage".

Hopefully she'll prove me wrong because it would be interesting to see how she tries to refute the validity of your questions.

She's been asked the same types of questions in the past but seems to only acknowledge those that enhance her justification and defense to participate in such a relationship.

I agree with you that it seems that the majority of these poly relationships are steeped in misogyny and it seems to me that everyone involoved are part-timer's. IMO these folks are fully committed to the idea of polygamy, but not necessarily to each other in the sense of love and respect. It seems to be more like a tribe with mini coups going on all the time.

When there is no love and mutual respect for one another between sisterwives, and if all involved don't do or want what is in the highest good for the family unit to stay healthy, then basically all you have is a situation where a married man has the consent of his wife to engage in a sexual and emotional relationship with multiple women who are also fully aware of a wife and one another.

Not a very healthy scenario if you ask me.

On the other hand, if all involved have equal say and committement to one another and the relationship then it could be a really wonderful blessing. I too think these are rare cases.

Anonymous said...

I hope if and when 3rd has kids, she doesn't get welfare cos she is a 'single mom' I totally agree with the last anonymous comment. All these questions we as monogamous third parties pose to 3rd rarely get answered. I would still love to know what happens when a 'wife' gets thrush... Must be fun. God forbid if a new wife has a STD. I highly doubt there is a clause to get Paps for each new wife. This is why I am so against polygamy. It is always the women who get affected worst. Not the men. I really pity 3rds view of the world and of polygamy.

Safiyyah said...

Hello Friends!

Actually ... let's look at it this way:

Anytime a man (or a woman!) has more than one sexual partner, the concerns of thrush, yeast infections, and even HIV, present a very real threat to the couple.

Whether a person is in a poly situation or merely "screwing around" with other sexual partners with/without his/her partner's consent ... the concerns are the same, in my opinion.

In a plural marriage, where all the issues are up front, I think one can assume that responsible couples would have good communication about issues like this.

Even in a mono marriage, certain issues, like yeast infections or herpes, can be spread back and forth between a man or a woman even if there is no other partner in the picture.

So, communication is the key.

I also think that the sexual aspect of plural marriage is actually only ONE aspect of the whole plural marriage picture.

The title of this post is "emotional self-confidence" not "sexual self-confidence".

Yes, people will respond to questions, Anonymous, if they are presented in a respectful manner. Sometimes the tone of a comment urges someone to ignore it.

Actually I thought that the 11:49 coment of CM was presented in a respectful manner. After all, if one really wants answers to these types of questions, who better to ask that someone who lives it like Third?

Feel me?

3rd... said...

@CM, thank you for your nice comment... I really appreciate your genuine interest and the willingness to try and understand the religious aspect of it.
Have tried to answer your questions - please read the newest post! x