Starvation or Abundance?

Last October I posted a six-part blog-series Untapped Worlds in which I shared the many abundant ways for humans to find, tightly grasp, and experience the marrows of life, a fuller more impactful, vibrant, attaching life. Today I want to address a very specific part of this human experience.

For a few different reasons in different settings both in the past and lately, I have been in conversations, listening, and reading about a subject that effects all of us, every single one of us. It is very intriguing to explore and examine the various perspectives of What makes quality human intimacy. Quantity inevitably enters the discussion in some form and this is where I find the most fascinating definitions and points of views about love, sex, intimacy, and the mindsets people create for themselves. More often than not, two love-models or paradigms eventually appear. Due to my schedule this weekend, I want to just share a lens to these two models from two excellent resources on the subject of love, sex, and intimacy…

Many traditional attitudes about sexuality are based on the unspoken belief that there isn’t enough of something — love, sex, friendship, commitment — to go around. If you believe this, if you think that there’s a limited amount of what you want, it can seem very important to stake your claim to your share of it. You may believe that you have to take your share away from somebody else, since if it’s such a very good thing, someone else is probably competing with you for it (how could they!). Or you may believe that if someone else gets something, that means there must be less of it for you.

We want all of our readers to get everything they want. Here are some ideas that might help you over some of the obstacles on the path.

We call this kind of thinking “starvation economies.” People often learn about starvation economies in childhood, when parents who are emotionally depleted or unavailable teach us that we must work hard to get our emotional needs met, so that if we relax our vigilance for even a moment, a mysterious someone or something may take the love we need away from us. Some of us may even have experienced real-world hunger (if you didn’t grab first, your brother got all the potatoes), or outright neglect, deprivation, or abuse. Or we may learn starvation economies later in life, from manipulative, withholding, or punitive lovers, spouses, or friends.

The beliefs acquired in childhood are usually deeply buried and hard to see, both in individuals and in our culture. So you may have to look carefully to see the pattern. You can see it in a small way in the kind of complaining contests some people engage in: “Boy, did I have a rotten day today.” “You think your day was rotten—wait till you hear about my day!”—as though there were a limited amount of sympathy in the world and the only way to get the amount due you was to compete for it. Or remember how you have felt looking at the last piece of a very good pie, the secret salivation that made you greedy and territorial and a “selfish” person. When is it okay to want anything? People may think that if you love Bill that means you must love Mary less, or if you’re committed to your relationship with your friend you must be less committed to your relationship with your spouse. And then how do you know if you’re Number One in a partner’s heart?

This kind of thinking is a trap. We know, for example, that having a second child doesn’t usually mean that a parent loves the first child less and that the person who owns three pets doesn’t necessarily give any less care to any one of them than the person who owns one. But when it comes to sex, love, and romance, it’s hard for most people to believe that more for you doesn’t mean less for me, and we often behave as if desperate starvation is just around the corner if we don’t corner some love right now.
— The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures

bigger-tableAn additional lens…

When they approach romantic relationships, people often fall into one of two patterns. Some follow a starvation model, and some follow an abundance model.

In the starvation model, opportunities for love seem scarce. Potential partners are thin on the ground, and finding them is difficult. Because most people you meet expect monogamy, finding poly partners is particularly difficult. Every additional requirement you have narrows the pool still more. Since relationship opportunities are so rare, you’d better seize whatever opportunity comes by and hang on with both hands—after all, who knows when another chance will come along?

The abundance model says that relationship opportunities are all around us. Sure, only a small percentage of the population might meet our criteria, but in a world of more than seven billion people, opportunities abound. Even if we exclude everyone who isn’t open to polyamory, and everyone of the “wrong” sex or orientation, and everyone who doesn’t have whatever other traits we want, we’re still left with tens of thousands of potential partners, which is surely enough to keep even the most ambitious person busy.

The sneaky thing about both models is they’re both right: the model we hold tends to become self-fulfilling. If we have a starvation model of relationships, we may tend to dwell on the times we’ve been rejected, which may lower our self-esteem, which decreases our confidence…and that makes it harder to find partners, because confidence is sexy. We may start feeling desperate to find a relationship, which decreases our attractiveness further. So we end up with less success, which reinforces the idea that relationships are scarce.

When we hold an abundance model of relationships, it’s easier to just go do the things that bring us joy, without worrying about searching for a partner. That tends to make us more attractive, because happy, confident people are desirable. If we’re off doing the things that bring us joy, we meet other people there who are doing the same. Cool! The ease with which we find potential partners, even when we aren’t looking for them, reinforces the idea that opportunities for love are abundant, which makes it easier for us to go about doing what makes us happy, without worrying overmuch about finding a partner…and ’round it goes. We think our perceptions are shaped by reality, but the truth is, the reality we get is often shaped by our perceptions (Cognitive scientists talk about confirmation bias—the tendency to notice things that confirm our ideas, and to discount, discredit or not things that don’t.).

These ideas will also influence how willing we are to stay in relationships that aren’t working for us, both directly and indirectly. If we believe relationships are rare and difficult to find, we may not give up a relationship even when it’s damaging to us. Likewise, if we believe that relationships are hard to find, that may increase our fear of being alone, which can cause us to remain in relationships that aren’t working for us.

Naturally, there’s a fly in the ointment. Sometimes the things we’re looking for, or the way we look for them, create artificial scarcity. This might be because we’re doing something that puts other people off, or because we’re looking for something unrealistic. If you’re looking for a Nobel Prize–winning Canadian supermodel with a net worth of $20 million, you might find potential partners few and far between. Similarly, if you give people the impression that you’ve created a slot for them to fit into that they won’t be able to grow out of, opportunities for relationships might not be abundant either.
— More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory

The model we hold tends to become self-fulfilling.” I could not agree more!

Returning to the point of my six-part blog-series Untapped Worlds, the majority of scientists, especially sociologists and psychologists, postulate not as a “theory” but available mechanisms of innumerable abundant ways for an intrinsic and extrinsic nirvana if you will, WITH OTHERS! Getting there is not a myth or Mount Everest! Simply rewiring and remapping the mind and body in more balance is the first step. ❤

Would you agree, add to, subtract, or disagree? Share your comments below.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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27 thoughts on “Starvation or Abundance?

    • John, I thought the exact same thing. In a literal and metaphorical sense, America’s obesity rate explains much! Our insatiable consumption of resources and enormous levels of waste expelled relative to the rest of the world explains much! Our national numbers of divorces and remarriages explains much! Our nation’s rate of incarcerations and domestic and civil violence explains much! But Earth (for the moment) sustains, has sustained, and CAN sustain us abundantly! Humans, as one of the most intelligent dominate (loving?) species, can also sustain each other in a plethora of ways! No question whatsoever!

      And yet, these polarizing outcomes are intentional choices and behaviours, not freak random events. So when we continually “cheat ourselves” and others, why are we angry or shocked? Now, riddle me that? 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Slightly tangentially, then a recent survey indicated that 20% of under 30’s have had sex with someone other than their partner. Not remarkable? The thing is, that 20% did so with the knowledge of their partner.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t feel your video-clip is tangential at all Hariod. Now after the first 4-5 mins, beyond that data & graph, listening to 2-3 “Comedian’s” opinions is for pure entertainment, not really for clinical or social benefits. I am glad they pointed out the many various dynamics and influences on couples decisions. None are quite identical, which was and has been the major flawed perception of human nature by the 50-60+ year old generations — trying to pigeon-hole everyone; you Hariod being the exception. 😉

      What no one spoke about however, was HOW the non-monogamous lifestyle forces participants to think and be LESS egocentric and more compersive, gaining more empathy, a wider capacity to love, and perhaps the biggest value gained is improved understanding and articulation of Self, others, and Partners — acute communication. What I find when neutral or “average” commentators speak about or report on the open-lifestyle… they typically overlook or ignore the human management of people’s dignities; i.e. EVERYONE is of value and their value should/must be respected always. Fear and courage have a lot to do with those “people-management skills”!

      And let’s not forget the millions (billions?) of people who do not fall into “hetero” orientations or strict binary systems either! ❤

      Excellent stuff Hariod. Thank you for your feedback! It is always welcomed Sir!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thankyou professor, and who could argue with the points you make? Not even a hopeless contrarian such as myself! May I ask, do you have a view on LaVeyan Satanism, positive or otherwise?

        P.S. Arsene’s not been out-Pep’d yet! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anton LaVey and his Satanism? Interesting question Hariod. (chuckling)

          Umm, indifferent? I have no pronounced or contrarian opinions one way or the other on his philosophy, “church/occult”, except for two questions: Why use the word (and popular connotation of) Satan? And why name your Codes “The Satanic Bible“? I would think more positive creativity could have been employed.

          I think since I am familiar with Quantum Mechanics/Physics, metaphysics or the paranormal, and hold an affinity for mysterious spiritual matters as well as Bohemian (Epicurean?) indulgences… we’d find some agreements as surely as we’d staunchly oppose on other ideas. Should I ask why you asked such a question? 😉

          P.S. I’m content (so far) with my Gunners, but I feel every week this persistent, uncomfortable, itchy “rash” that doesn’t permit me to get TOO confident or TOO excited. It seems to be chronic I tell ya! 😛

          Liked by 1 person

      • The concept of compersion, as I have been learning, is definitely one that helps to keep happiness in the relationship. I thank you, Professor, for teaching me that! I am in such a better place than I was this time last year. I owe a lot of thanks to you and the education you’ve provided! ❤️😉

        Liked by 3 people

    • If you mean being judgmental without ever “trying it” — along the lines of saying I am scared of heights, skydiving is stupid… then I agree LS. As Walt Whitman sort of said it:

      “If you done it, it ain’t [arrogance].”

      Thank you for your comment Lonestar. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Starvation economics is a great way to explain the choking masses of overfed, overindulged unhappy folks out there. And there are many, unfortunately. It’s as foreign to me as can be, however. Both my husband and I feel blessed and full every day of our lives and it’s freely expressed in gestures, in the striving kindness of words and deeds both within our intimate lives and outside where we encounter others. It’s largely shared, too, in our Hawaiian community, and we feel once again quite fortunate to have discovered a collection of fellow humans who share the abundant qualities of themselves. Great post, however – and one I hope many may learn by. Aloha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah Bela,

      I’ve heard how wonderful, friendly, and healthy life is there for you Hawaiians. Fortunate you are indeed for such a community! Though it may not include open sexual relations, this “abundance economy” works in many other ways too. The fascinating realization is how so many people CHOOSE to “starve” themselves and others! 😉

      Thank you Bela. Please continue stopping by with your feedback; it is appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, thought I’d skirt the sexual issue altogether since I grew up in the 60’s…

          Hahaha! Bela, just know that you are still welcomed to share YOUR thoughts about all issues, including sexual! Just because you grew up in the 60’s doesn’t make your voice any less important. Geezzz, if it HADN’T been for the revolutionary liberating 60’s think where we’d still be wallowing. Ugh! Yuk! Women would still be forced into inequality and submissive roles “bare foot and in the kitchen” still! 😮 So many great things have evolved for WOMEN!!! Now… if we can just get the MEN to catch-up with all of you ladies we might have the Top ranked world “Happiness Score” rather than down in the teens or twenties, huh!? 😉

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Dipping my toes in this Professor and I struggle understanding that those who love me might not need to possess me but are happy for me to roost with them. My upbringing sees this as evidence of not caring or using. My heart feels this is real love

    Liked by 1 person

    • My upbringing sees this as evidence of not caring or using. My heart feels this is real love.

      I must agree with you Eye, that enslavement or repressive monitoring or suffocating affection is NOT the ideal way to express love to someone. On the contrary, showing one’s FULL acceptance for who someone is and wants to freely be, showing trust in a Love/Soul Mate/Spouse, etc, and their being, in their words and actions during perfect and imperfect times… is actually a love that runs so much deeper and wider than one that “chokes” or confines.

      Thank you so much for the comment Eye! Please share your thoughts and feelings more; they are always welcomed. 🙂


  4. Pingback: Not Who You Thought? | Professor Taboo

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