Dating a hippy?
April 29, 2009 7:38 AM   Subscribe

So, I've hit-it-off with someone and things seem to heading in a certain direction... there's only one catch: she's a big hippy (not-sizeist) and I'm not.

Everyone involved is about 30 yrs. old and so we are old enough to know that people have differences and can love each other despite them or maybe even because of them... on the other hand, I have a background in the hard sciences and am, generally speaking, a rationalist. So, when she starts talking about 'energy' I have to keep my mouth shut and try to translate it to something I feel more comfortable with. Then, of course, there are musical and assorted cultural differences: jam-bands, really?

Obviously, this is about me dealing with my prejudices against hippies, but I wonder whether the differences are just too great to pursue things. Perspectives? Experience with hippy/non-hippy dating?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You'll find that all the energy-talk and jam-band-event-attendance is just a manifestation of a desire to be and connect with other people. That being said, if you can lighten up and enjoy her company, it'll probably turn out to be a positive experience. You'll most likely eat better and spend more time outdoors. In the meantime, you can both work on incorporating each other's views into your own, which is what happens in any meaningful relationship, yeah?
posted by jon_kill at 7:47 AM on April 29, 2009 [7 favorites]

The differences are as large as you make them. Work on your own issues and figuring yourself out, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you'll find yourself more accepting of her and her lifestyle. Personally, I think it sounds like a relationship that will challenge you - and that is most certainly a good thing - so long as it doesn't result in your acting negatively towards her for irrational reasons. Acceptance of yourself and others is a wonderful thing to learn.
posted by Rewind at 7:49 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do her hippy qualities annoy you a little bit now? Because they'll grate on you like crazy if you date this person, once the infatuation wears off.

If your world outlooks are different, I don't think that's a deal breaker. But if she ascribes everything to energy and the spiritual because that's all she can understand, it might be a big warning flag to you.
posted by Happydaz at 7:51 AM on April 29, 2009

Intellectual incompatibility is more trouble than the relationship is worth, in my opinion. I'm mostly a "double-blind clinical trial or GTFO" type myself and find spending time with anyone of the vocal "ZOMG crystals" persuasion to be irritating. If you guys don't talk about that sort of thing a lot, maybe it'll work, but otherwise prepare to bite your tongue a lot.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:56 AM on April 29, 2009 [8 favorites]

You should see the reruns of Dharma & Greg. I haven't seen any final episode but they're having fun in the first couple of seasons.

But seriously, you might just have to date her until it goes sour and you can't stand her anymore. It's likely that she probably thinks you're going to be irritating with all your facts and figures.
posted by anniecat at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Being aware of "energy" (whatever that means) is (in my opinion) a way to take in, and if necessary respond to, information -- the underlying and unspoken dynamics of a situation, another person's mood, one's own gut, whether a crisis is brewing. A rationalist may say that it's body language, or being more self-aware, or being attentive, that's all good too.

Can you imagine that she is not dumb, but maybe uses different language and constructs? Can you imagine that her language and constructs are useful (and by useful I mean literally useful -- not useful meaning makes her feel better but useful meaning helps her take in information, think about things, process, make decisions, etc.). If you can wrap your head around different doesn't necessarily mean stupid or wrong, that would help.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:04 AM on April 29, 2009 [17 favorites]

On further thought, if you're not making a choice between two people, or dating her for a short while is impossible for some unknown reason, you might as well go ahead and date her. I mean, if you like her, why not?

We can't really tell you anything about how compatible you'll be.

"Energy?" Well I go to the gym so I can have more energy, physically. When I'm around my friends and we are having fun there is a good energy in the room. When I engage in creative pursuits, I find myself energized by it. When something bad is about to happen between two people there is certainly a sense of energy in the room, the nature of which is open to debate. So she uses the word energy. So do you, probably.

In all honesty she'll probably get tired of the stick up your ass before you get tired of the tree in her living room.
posted by jon_kill at 8:10 AM on April 29, 2009 [6 favorites]

Labels like that don't really mean anything. Either you enjoy her company or not. If she is an idiot then you most likely won't. I have friends who are into that whole scene and they are my friends because we have things in common that are more important than what kind of music they listen to. I don't think you will really be able to get much guidance from people who have never met the person you are describing.
posted by ND¢ at 8:12 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

So, when she starts talking about 'energy' I have to keep my mouth shut and try to translate it to something I feel more comfortable with.

That you're keeping your mouth shut is more problematic to me than anything else. It's one thing to have intellectual differences, even strong intellectual differences. It's another to be totally unable to talk about them--even if these are strongly held beliefs, if she really likes you, shouldn't she also respect your viewpoint on things? I'm not saying that you should try to convert her. But I'm saying that you should be allowed to state your opinion.

The music stuff doesn't really matter, though, honestly. There are plenty of things you can do with someone besides going to concerts.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:19 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is she dumb and annoying or not? The 'energy' thing is really a red herring. I mean, a lot of physics amounts to different degrees of bullshit. If you are telling us you hit it off, I suspect this other stuff isn't actually that big a deal. You'll find out soon enough if you give the relationship a chance.

And yeah, you could always watch Darma and Greg to see how it works out on TV.
posted by chunking express at 8:22 AM on April 29, 2009

I actually made it for a couple years with someone who wanted to talk to me about the ghost in his mom's house and our potentially incompatible astrological signs.

But the truth is that I cringed inside every time we went anywhere and he opened his mouth to start talking about that crap. I think for me, the reason it lasted so long was that he intimated to me when we started dating that his father died before he was born, and if he didn't believe in spiritual things, then he would have to admit that he would never know his father. That tugged at my heart-strings, and I'll admit I'm a big softy for someone with a psychological sob story, so I let it slide for a long time. But it wasn't a source of joy in our relationship. And even worse, I began to feel like a monster every time I had an uncharitable thought about the ghost shows on TV or the astrological star-charts he liked to put so much stock in.

I think the bottom line is that this is an insecurity and control issue. She feels the need for some organizing structure in the universe and she needs to have control over how it manifests itself in her life. So asking her to admit the limits of human comprehension and drop the crystal licking is not likely to be successful. About as successful as asking us rationalists to admit that we can't know everything either - and that maybe the crystal lickers are right.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:27 AM on April 29, 2009

Respect is key in any relationship.

Do you think its interesting when she gives you her perspective on things, or do you find it annoying? How does she feel about your "rationalist" perspective, does she find it intriguing or unnecessarily limited and uncreative?

Figure that out by continuing to date.
posted by RajahKing at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have different worldviews, it happens. You have to ask yourself if you respect her beliefs.

If the answer is no... it's no.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I once dated a girl who believed she had powers to see the future, could contact with ghosts, and a bunch of other things. She was a bright, chipped, amazing girl to hang around, and we lasted 4 years. We broke up for other reasons, but as far as I know, she still thinks she has these powers.

It wasn't something I brought up, and it wasn't something we crossed very often. I thought it was a load of hooey, but she was awesome, so it really didn't bother me.

Just a data point - it can work. It really depends on every other factor, and whether you can look at her every time she brings this up (I mean, how often does she bring this up?), and not think she's being daft.
posted by SNWidget at 8:35 AM on April 29, 2009

A huge factor is going to be how strongly each of you feels that your own approach to the world is the "one true way." If you think her world view is dippy and stupid and wrong, or if she thinks yours is myopic and limited and wrong, it will be hard for your your relationship to flourish. If on the other hand you see your worldviews as merely different and possibly complementary, it might work out well.

My wife is very intuitive, while I am a scientific method guy. She is very good, and can be shockingly correct in her judgment with very little information. It works out well because each may have a leg up on the other depending on the situation. She is generally better in social situations, I am generally better in mechanical ones. She has sometimes entertained the idea of there being some sort a psychic component, and I have learned to bite my tongue and silently recite the Shakespeare quote about there being more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in my philosophy.
posted by rtimmel at 8:37 AM on April 29, 2009 [8 favorites]

I don't think having a sense of spirituality that everyone can't relate to is a sign of insecurity as greekphilosophy said--that's an extreme oversimplification. It is, as you alluded to in your post, a different way of looking at the world.

Anecdotally, I know a couple that has been married 17 years. The woman is a practicing Shaman, believes in all of that "energy" stuff, very liberal etc (she does have a different day job though-so she is also successful in the professional world). The man is a hard-core republican and an engineer to boot. I think it works because they both respect each other as people and don't think it's important that they necessarily believe the same things in terms of spirituality. It can cause friction some times, but mostly they're in a rhythm about it.

The question to ask is that if you can actually, truly respect that she sees the world in a different way without starting to feel disdain towards her. If you have fun with her and have other things in common you should try it out and keep going with it until it doesn't work anymore--just like with any other relationship.

On preview rtimmel has it just right.

Good luck!
posted by Kimberly at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2009

Half a dozen years ago, I had a brief relationship with a massage therapist and "energy worker" who bought into everything from magic crystals to believing that dead moths or birds flying by were "signs" of some sort, which she spent considerable time interpreting.

I consider myself sort of a hippie in the sense that I align with leftist causes, try to be kind, am pro-legalization, and make an effort to enjoy myself as much as possible without working too hard. But when it comes to "energy" and any other superstition and mysticism, I'm strictly a rationalist.

This relationship was tons of fun at the beginning. But when the usual relationship problems started cropping up after month 4 or 5, and she approached them from a spiritual perspective, things went south very, very fast. YMMV.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:57 AM on April 29, 2009

Hmmm, what must she make of you? Think of that the next time you start to notice something. Or address it openly if you can -- she may be able to explain herself better than you might expect. But sitting back and being judgmental until you can't take it anymore sounds like the worst way to begin a meaningful relationship.
posted by hermitosis at 9:08 AM on April 29, 2009

I'm a pragmatist/realist/pessimist whatever and dated a guy who went through a Sikh phase (who knew there was such a thing). He was a full-on, lentil eating vegetarian, who meditated, used words like "energy" and "chi," and smelled like patchouli. I adore(d) him. We had our moments of strife, for sure, but none related to the aforementioned. In fact, we're still friends almost twenty years later and I still think back on some of the things he introduced me to.

So I'd say keep an open mind. I agree with the above posters who say if her hippy quirks irritate you now, that irritation will grow to full-out annoyance in which case it's best not to attempt a relationship. But if you can view it from the standpoint of "we speak different languages, but have the same core values," then, yeah, give it a shot.

What also needs to be gauged is intensity level. If this person is continually spouting off about her beliefs to the point it's embarrassing you in front of friends or colleagues...yeah, not so much. If she's trying to convert you, yeah, no. But if she's an intelligent soul with whom you can banter intelligently, you may find you have an interesting little window into a different belief system. Even if you don't agree with that system, there's a certain pleasure to learning how other people think and live, which may or may not be your thang.

Musical differences? Meh. Put on a tie dye and enjoy the show. Drag her along to a science oriented museum as a quid pro quo.

Good luck!
posted by December at 9:10 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Keeping my mouth shut" is a huge red flag.

Look, if you think her beliefs are flakier than corn flakes, tell her now, in the cuddle stage of the relationship, when it can be just one of those precious differences that make you guys unique as a couple.

If you wait and tell her a year from now, while you are in the middle of an argument about whether or not she should lend her friend the money to launch a palm-reading business... well, let's just say you will not like the energy.
posted by selfmedicating at 9:18 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a hippie. I like tie-dye, granola, peace, hippie folk music, etc. I'm also a rationalist, atheist, Darwinist and skeptic.

Instead of ignoring her when she talks about energy, ask about it. Maybe she has an interesting view. If you make a habit of ignoring her when she talks about things you don't approve of or disagree with, the relationship is terminal.
posted by theora55 at 9:43 AM on April 29, 2009 [4 favorites]

As long as people use terms like "energy" to refer to parts of life that science hasn't really tackled yet, it doesn't bother me. Most of the hippies I interact with don't espouse beliefs that are totally contrary to my scientific ones. They may not necessarily be logical or rational, but they're usually speculations that extend on rather than contradict observations.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:52 AM on April 29, 2009

I'm a reasonably religious person (mainline Protestant Christian) who has been happily married for 9 years to a lovely man who hates all organized religion and religious belief. I mean, Christopher Hitchens level of hate, without the drunken bloviation (or the lucrative book and lecture contracts).

So, yeah, you can have a good relationship with someone who disagrees with you about a very fundamental issue. That said, I never discuss religion or spirituality with my husband, and when he goes on about it I remind him politely that this is an issue that we differ on profoundly and he should save his rants for his fellow priest-eaters.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:59 AM on April 29, 2009

I think selfmedicating hit the nail on the head. Be open and honest, and let things flow from there. If she's allowed to express her views, you need to be allowed to express your views even if they're not the same as hers.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:14 AM on April 29, 2009

Can you tease her about it?

Oooo wow! Like energy, man! Coooool! Peace, love, dope. . .and energy!

It may keep you honest with yourself (so you don't have to keep quiet and let it turn your insides into knots) and may expose her willingness to accept or reject your teasing. If she accepts it and maybe teases you back you may have fun with the whole thing and relax. Hopefully, if you're a techie (like me) she'll fire back by mocking you with her best Jerry Lewis "Absent Minded Professor" impression (for instance). That might be fun.

And if she gets offended you might realize you don't want to hang around somebody who can't take a joke.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 11:50 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you tease her about it?

Teasing someone about something you have contempt for is, in fact, just being crappy.

I think plenty of other people said it right - there's a big difference between talking about "energy" when you're using a convenient metaphor for intangibles and talking about "energy" as some sort of metaphysical junk.

I, as a marginal introvert, say that I'm drained by interactions with people. My darling fiancée, as a marginal extrovert, says she's energized by interacting with people. Obviously there's not some actual transfer of electrons or calories (except for that one cannibal party, but I digress...), but I don't find anything problematic about that phrasing. Even if someone said they were totally jazzed up by the energy in the room blah blah blah, I might roll my eyes a little but I wouldn't think less of them.

You need to decide if this woman's beliefs are incompatible with your scientific bent or if she's just verbalizing things differently. Sometimes those of us with a technical background forget that a lot of people simply never get any indoctrination in how to describe some of these concepts any other way than in what can, to us, seem a little hippy-dippy.

Or maybe you even can come to the conclusion that a lot of this stuff doesn't matter. The person who doesn't know that fusion is involved in how the Sun creates light is still warmed by it. The mechanism of internal combustion is mostly meaningless to the millions of people who get behind the wheel of a car. If you have a similar moral outlook and goals it may be that most of this doesn't matter.
posted by phearlez at 12:48 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I certainly went through my psychedelic drug-fueled fascination with "energy" and eastern religion. I can still appreciate a jam band, I still own a couple tie-dyes, and I think Buddhism is pretty cool. My wife is a straight fucking arrow, she's smoked pot twice in her life and humored me by going to Burning Man once but that's as far as it goes.

But we also have a ton of other common interests and it is no chore whatsoever to tone down my hippie tendencies and still maintain my self identity. So, I would say it can work. I guess it may be an issue in your relationship if she's not aware of where you really stand on the hippy-"energy" issue, or if she finds your stance incompatible with being intimate with you, or if you two don't have enough other common interests.

As with all things having to do with relationships, communication is key. Far out, man.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:59 PM on April 29, 2009

One rule. If she says she's feeling a certain way, she's telling the truth.

Bad energy's making her feel uncomfortable? Forget the "energy" — she really does feel uncomfortable. Strange omens making her worry about a friend? Forget the "omens" — she really is worried. Deeply meaningful dream inspiring her to rethink a decision? Who cares where the dream came from — she really does want to rethink the decision. She's feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after a reiki session? Who cares if it's a placebo — she really feels better.

Hell, she likes jam band music? Who cares if it is better or worse than what you listen to — she really does like it better

If you can follow this one rule, you two have a future. But any time you find yourself dismissing your partner's feelings, it's a bad sign. You don't have to feel the same way. You don't even have to think it's a logical way to feel. But you absolutely can't write her feelings off — not as "probably PMS," not as "trying to get attention," and not as "hippie bullshit" either.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2009 [4 favorites]

I had a hippie roommate that was into energies, myself coming from a hard science background. We reached an area of agreement deciding that perhaps her 'energies' could be forces yet to be identified by my 'science.' There are a lot of studies that illustrate the mind's power over the body. There are a lot of things that science can't (yet) explain. If you two are good at agreeing to disagree then what you'll end up with is a partner that is constantly giving you a different perspective and from a scientific standpoint new ideas are never a bad thing in my opinion.

As for music? I think that is an issue with all couples. If I had a dime for every time I was forced to listen to the Dixie Chicks I could buy the Dixie Chicks, put them in a far away place, and never have to listen to them again. (Side note - Cool jamish bands that maybe you both can like Explosions in the Sky, Six Organs of Admittance.)

I guess my point is all couples have these differences to a degree, just not so obviously as y'alls' might present themselves. If you care about her regardless of your different opinions and lifestyles then that to me is an indication that the core of things is worth stickin' with. Diversity is cool and when done right is way stronger than homogenization.
posted by Gainesvillain at 2:36 PM on April 29, 2009

Teasing someone about something you have contempt for is, in fact, just being crappy.

Well, no it's not. Furthermore, he never said he had "contempt" for her hippy energy. That would be your own interpretation. I suggest we let him decide what he has and has no contempt for.

If he does actually have contempt for hippy energy I'd suggest he lighten up a bit. Maybe tease her about it. Perhaps in the process he'd be teasing himself (again with the lighten up). If he doesn't have contempt, if he "gets it" and understands the playful nature of teasing he could open up a liberating and fun chapter of their relationship.

Some of the best relationships I've had started out with teasing very gorgeous women. . .especially about their looks. Get with the program, man.

Furthermore, it appears your fiancée should tease you a little more since it seems you need to lighten up a bit, Francis.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 2:47 PM on April 29, 2009

I'm just over thirty, and as I've grown older, two things have changed -- I don't see people as falling into stereotypes as much anymore (this may be because they do so less, or because I think that way less), but also, when I do, I have less tolerance. Putting those together, it's become easier for me to go with my gut about who I want to spend time with and who I don't. Someone might've been A Geek or A Jock in high school, but if they're still largely presenting themselves as that rather one-dimensional and externally-oriented persona, (or if I personally reduce them to that because something grates on me so much), then I'm not interested. But it sounds like this isn't an easy or obvious decision for you, which is interesting in itself.

Is what you dislike here linked in any way to something you like about her as well? (Sensitivity, supportiveness, awareness, cheerfulness, flexibility, friendliness...) If you've got some push-pull / attraction-repulsion going on with this attribute of her personality, there might be some internal shifts or explorations going on within you that you might want to pay attention to.
posted by salvia at 2:47 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you should give it a bit more time to see what she is really like because people can be multi-dimensional. I should know--- I am a corporate lawyer/litigator, originally from NJ (with a NJ attitude) and am very practical. Accordingly, my speech pattern is very direct and practical (I don't talk about about "energies" and the like). This is the side of me that most people see at first glance.

But when people get to know more of me, they find out about my other, "hippy-dippy", side. I love to dance barefoot on the grass in my back yard, am very interested and believe in things you can't see or touch (like feelings and intuition) and am a HUGE fan of the Grateful Dead. I think drum circles are great fun to dance around and love the smell of patchouli.

My point? My speech pattern and personality that I portray to the world-at-large do not reflect the whole of who I am. I say give it a chance to see if she has other sides as well.
posted by murrey at 3:49 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Good points made by all here. I would add that it's possible to see her different point of view as a resource rather than an encumbrance. If, for example, you're dealing with someone's delicate emotional stuff at work, it sounds like she'd be a good person to ask about ways of dealing with that. And if she needs a good counterargument against someone's bullshit, you'd be her go-to guy.

About teasing: If either of you should ever find yourselves undermining the other person's assertions with snippy little comments, it's over.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:12 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think that having a existential part between two people can be a fun ride in a relationship. If each of you come from some point of mutual respect ... unpuzzling communication with an alternative vocabulary and viewpoint is really a great experience with the right person.

And that person has to enjoy the thought or feeling that that type of communication develops, as well. I think that this is rare, though. It requires open minds from participants that rarely afford that commodity to people outside of their peer group. This askme points to that.

And no doubt each of you probably have quite a bit to learn from each other. But if you find yourself sighing and being dismissive of his/her impenetrable at-peace-brothers-and-sisters-come-hug-Mother-Gaia-and-what-have-you, then perhaps a friendship or simply an acquaintanceship would suffice.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 4:33 PM on April 29, 2009

yeah I agree with all the rest that the whole reference to "energy" above there is a red flag for developing communications issues.

mister lfr is a laser wielding mechanical engineer with a hefty grad school degree. I'm a secretary with no formal schooling past grade 12. I read tarot and am a recovering Catholic, he's a cynical Jew with a grounded logical approach to everything. I am going to a Decemberists show in May, he doesn't much care for their species of whinecore indie-pop, so I'm taking a mutual (girl) friend instead of him.

What makes it work between us two is that we know about all these things, we accept them, and we have moved on past the initial "really?!" reactionary stage. We're also both mutually respectful of those boundaries; i.e. he keeps his mouth shut when I read cards for his friends and I don't roll my eyes when he goes on for ages about the nth degree of his mortgage refinance budgeting plans. And by mutual respect, I mean mutual - I also don't read cards for him or torture him with Andrew Bird albums, and he doesn't nag me about balancing my checquebook or harp about the cost of taking him to a nice dinner once in awhile. He has learned to respect my instincts about people to the point where he'll ask me about how I read the dynamic in a tense family situation and I let him give me investment advise.

Ultimately we have far more in common than those shallow surface traits anyhow. We are both competitive cyclists, both fascinated by things like weather, astronomy, science, etc. We both watch far too much Top Gear and How It's Made, and when we aren't together we can waste 4 hours on idle IM chat with each other, and Youtube Wars(tm) is one of our tried-and-true ways to crack each other up / defuse an argument or just change the subject. We are both Apple product junkies. We both work in related biotech industry jobs. We both get unholy glee from driving his fancy souped-up WRX way too fast down gravel mountain roads. We play chess and Scrabble and card games with each other, and our friends. We enjoy the same sorts of divey out of the way Mexican joints, cheap local brewpubs and underground $5 music shows. This is all to illustrate that we have a real, deep, loving connection and so much other stuff in common, that the fact that he's a highly educated realist and I'm a bit of a hippie myself doesn't honestly matter all that much.

So in the end, I think what you'll have to figure out is if the similarities trump the differences and go from there. But if you don't have open communication and mutual respect, and aren't able to bridge that gap, then it's a good bet you'll not get very far with this one.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:38 PM on April 29, 2009

I'm very hippie-esque for someone who didn't actually live through the 60's (I was raised in Vermont by Buddhist parents and went to an alternative college with no grades where someone honestly got a degree in frisbee, so I've got as much cred as anyone my age can get). I talk about the vibrations of the universe in all honesty. In my defense, a lot of that is part of my Buddhist practice, which is y'know, a belief system involving lots of "energy."

My partner is a rational hard-scientist. He's getting his PhD in engineering and his entire life is dictated by what is rational and logical.

If you've ever seen it, my life is Dharma & Greg.

Everything's fine. We get along fabulously.

If you don't like this girl, it's because you're not compatible, not because she likes jam bands. Think about how many other people you've dated who listen to [insert awful thing here]. I mean, really. I could make the same argument that I couldn't possibly date someone who considers KISS to be his favorite band, but here I am. It sounds like you're looking for excuses for things that you don't like and putting them in the category of "hippy" so you can say "Oh, she just does that because she's a hippy." Be fair to her. You don't subscribe to her belief system and you don't like her music. Either that's a big deal for you (which duh, it is, you're writing about it on the internet) or it's not.

If you're not compatible, you're not compatible. This is true of all permutations of hippie status.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:52 PM on April 29, 2009

About teasing: If either of you should ever find yourselves undermining the other person's assertions with snippy little comments, it's over.

I agree since that's not teasing. It's being snippy and petty.

I'm beginning to get the impression that very few people know the ins and outs of relationships. To be expected, I guess, but so far it looks like a template of sorts can be built from the myriad responses in MEFI. The template for answering someone seeking emotional/relationship health seems to be:

Plan A: Get therapy
Plan B: Just be open and honest.

I assume anyone who has spent one minute reading MEFI has already read these options so I constantly try to venture out into something more meaningful than Plan A or B. So let's try this again.

If you know the value of teasing, when you tease:
you're having fun
you're playing
you're not being spiteful
you're testing the self-confidence of the other person (very important in a co-dependant world)
you're BEING self-confident
you're being honest
you're being relaxed

If you don't know the value of teasing or if you get offended when teased or don't like to tease back:
you're not having fun
you're very serious
you come across as thin skinned
you appear to be self-conscious
you're uptight

It's not that complicated. You did it when you were kids. It works as adults too. The only reason you think it's bad or wrong or "snippy" is because you think so after a whole lifetime of social conditioning or religious hang-ups or pontification from television personalities. In other words, you've forgotten how to really talk to people.

Do me a favor anonymous. Next time she talks about "energy" and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up do this: Put your eye lids at half staff, put up your index and middle fingers in a "peace" sign, slouch your back and say, "Energy. Wow, man. I can dig it. That's heavy." That's probably very unlike you so there's a chance you can make it funny. If you want to throw in a very personalized bit of "geek speak" you can keep the same hippy look on your face and add, "Is that like potential or like kinetic?" or "Yeah, man. But is it conserved energy? That's the question, man."

If she smacks you on the shoulder with her mouth wide open in that "Oh my God!" manner and calls you a brat. . .you did it right. If her eyes get narrow and her lips get tight and she gets offended (by that?) then she's probably not very fun (it's all about body language). Brat is good. Brat is what you should strive for. Be brave! (Chicks dig that.) Be more of a brat.

The alternative is silence and swallowed words and nervousness and therapy. Remember, be brave!

Cheers and good luck.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 5:54 PM on April 29, 2009

I would also agree on the difference between sniping and teasing. I've been on both sides of this, and I would agree that when you notice yourself or your partner sniping, it's over. There have been studies done that show that contempt is more poisonous to a relationship than anger, and that's definitely the emotion that is present in sniping.

'moonMan teases me all the time: about being a hippie, about my tendency towards laziness, about MetaFilter... etc. I know that it's teasing and not sniping because he does it with a sincere smile and if I get upset, he comes over and gives me a kiss and says "Hey, I was only teasing." I can tell, even through the silly comments that underneath it, he truly loves and respects me, even if I do things that he thinks are kind of ridiculous. In turn, I tease him about WoW and the amount of time he spends at work (28 hours a day!). Our relationship is just fine.

It's hard to explain the difference, but sniping makes me feel very defensive. Teasing sometimes makes me momentarily annoyed, but never makes me feel like I'm all of a sudden playing defense. Like Lord Fancy Pants says, if she slaps you on the arm (my relationship involves a LOT of playful slapping and I'm not ordinarily a violent person!), you're doing it right. If she looks actually angry, that isn't teasing, it's sniping, and you should apologize and then consider your motives.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:23 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

I wonder whether the differences are just too great to pursue things

No, the difference is not too great. You use the same skills you use when she asks you to see a romantic comedy even though you're really a superhero thriller kind of guy, or wants to have tapas even though it's your least favorite.

It takes the following things:
respect, for her beliefs, for her reality, no matter how clueless you feel about them;
interest, you have no idea what she's talking about, but she sure seems excited so you want to hear a little more;
companionship, it's not really your cup of tea, but you love to see that look on her face when she's so excited, so you'll go with her to the concert;
alignment, it matters to you, you matter to me, so it matters to me, even though I am not necessarily engaged in it; and
love/like/infatuation/some-type-of-strong-emotion, to give you the energy and desire to do all of the above.
posted by agentwills at 8:39 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

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