html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I got your permission right here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I got your permission right here.

I was talking to a friend the other day about meeting for lunch this weekend; he replied that he would see if his girlfriend would let him. I have heard this construction before and usually assume it means one of the following entirely reasonable things:

I’ll check in with my honey to see if we have plans I wasn’t aware of; or
I’ll check in with my sweetheart to see if we have been spending so much time apart that we should make seeing each other more of a priority than hanging out with other friends.

But I think my friend meant it more in the sense of permission. I think my friend meant “I’ll ask my girlfriend if she will allow me to have lunch with a (single female) friend.” I know that happens, but it is another for the long list of things I just don’t get. I’ve seriously dated, but I cannot ever remember having a sense that I needed to get permission to see anyone. It would never occur to me to ask my honey whether I could do something, including meeting up with friends who are men. I have always been in relationships where, within the bounds of considerate notice to each other, the default was trusting freedom. I can’t imagine living in monitored doubt, occasionally granting or receiving limited freedoms.

Since my friend’s girlfriend can’t restrain him, when he asking for permission to meet me for lunch, what he is really saying is “please may I go for lunch with her and not take too much shit from you when I get back?” Somehow, they have both accepted that notion, that permission is required to see friends and sulking is appropriate if permission wasn’t granted. In retrospect, I think my first boyfriend would have liked us to have a permission-asking relationship, which I didn’t notice for a long time because the idea was so preposterous. He would say a couple times that he wanted to go to dinner with some girl and I would assume that he was letting me know so that I could otherwise fill my evening. I would tell him that I had plans with the guys and if he sulked when I got back, I would figure that his dog was sick or he was moody or something. If I remember right, I was so astounded when he explained that he would like me to ask if I could hang out with my guy friends that the topic never came up again.

I’m good with whatever makes both people in a couple happy. If they enjoy that dynamic, more power to them. It isn’t for me, though.

29 Comments:

Blogger Dubin said...

Were you trying to have lunch with Justin again?

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. Yeah.

To be fair though, she's got the story a little hosed up. She's not free until 11:30am, and I've gotta be back in Palo Alto by 2pm, which is a little tight, if you start doing the math, and figure a 40 minute or so drive back down.

I told Kathleen last week that I'd go to some piano recital with her. Of course, she's not incredibly happy about the idea of me going to have lunch with a girl. And, she whines a lot in general about the female friends I have. But, I DO have female friends, and I see them on a regular basis. blah blah.

So, I didn't have to ask permission to go. I just had to verify the time of the piano thing to make sure I'd have time to be up in the city at 11:30am.

Justin

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My last boyfriend was very jealous as it turned out - I never knew until one day when I said something about thinking some girl was flirting with me -- he totally flipped. I think it was defensiveness because he knew one day it was going to end between us, it really just wasn't working out. If a relationship is strong and the people are in love there is no reason to be jealous. At least ideally. In any case, jealousy should be hard in coming, not a constant that interrupts each others lives.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, but I am horrible at explaining things. So, I probably got the story all hosed up for her.

Anyway, I've been in meetings off and on since 9am, time for a walk.

Justin

3:03 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin,
I kept it all anonymous so that it could apply to other similar situations I've been in. I totally understand about scheduling stuff. I'm sorry if I characterized your relationship wrong.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, whatever. I don't care at all. I just find it amusing.

And, if you'd check your e-mail, I said I can make it. You just have to tell me when and where.

Justin

3:28 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Holy crap, I was just making fun of the fact that Justin has a girlfriend who we think is high-maintenance and stuff. But Megan and I didn't talk about it, just for the record. I just was kidding around. Now I am smug about my own powers of guessing. Megan, do another one and I'll guess and you tell me if I'm right!

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I figured you were guessing Dubin. That's why it's so amusing.

To be fair to Kathleen on this one, she didn't get mad, or even give me much attitude. She just said that's fine, because she wanted to go do something herself.

Anyway,
Justin

3:36 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I can't check that account at work, because our IT people seem to think that the taxpayers don't want us to send web-based email. I don't really understand why the taxpayers want us to use our work accounts for our personal email, but that's the only explanation I can come up with. I'll reply when I get home.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://email.about.com/cs/yahoomailtips/qt/et032501.htm

yahoo pop3 mail. You can use outlook to check your mail!

Or, you can use remote desktop to access your computer at home. Or you can use VNC to access your computer at home.

If you had a cell phone you could check it through your phone.

If you had shell account somewhere you could probably check it with a text based web browser.

Soooo many options.

Anyway, I can probably wait until you get home.

Justin

3:54 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

Not a problem for me. If I spend the night with a girl because there is too much alcohol in my bloodstream to be comfortable driving home, that is OK (There was one girl, though, where she said "If you ever have to spend the night with that girl, I don't want the karaoke girls hearing about it.")

It goes the other way, too, although not as often (when she wants to spend a weekend in Vegas without me (with her three sisters - they get together somewhere in the United States every year), I don't have a private eye trail her. Once she wanted to have lunch with an old boyfriend and she did "ask permission", but I was surprised she thought it necessary.

If you don't trust somebody, what is the point of even being together?

(Although I suppose there are moments....one night while she was out-of-state she called home and had a sexy female English voice answer....she told me afterwards that she had a twinge of concern before she remembered that I had engaged a babysitter while I went to the company Christmas party)

4:05 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Or, you can use remote desktop to access your computer at home. Or you can use VNC to access your computer at home.

Tee hee. Have you seen Megan's computer at home?

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, remember, she doesn't have a digital camera. No one has ever seen any pictures, except of her paint job.

My guess is, the more important issue is she'd need an always on internet connection (DSL or Cable Modem), and she probably doesn't have that.

Justin

4:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I DO! Have DSL. I hate technology, but I do like fast Internets.

And Santa is bringing me a new laptop for the holidays. Please don't ask me for specs. You know that when I think about my new laptop, I imagine things like, sparkly carrying case or sitting in the cool cafe, typing to you guys, or even making mixed CD's for you (I didn't forget, Aaron.). But I don't think of specs, even though I sat next to my Dad and we made choices together.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well then, once you get this new laptop, all you'll have to do is leave it running at home, with remote desktop enabled, and the port through your firewall opened, and you'll have to know your IP address, which will probably change from tiem to time, so you'll have to keep tabs on it at your router.

Oh, you'll also have to give yourself a static ip on your local network, and set up port forwarding in your router to forward the traffic to your laptop.

Then, you just connect from work, and your laptop desktop will popup like you're sitting in fron of it. And you can do anything you like.

And, if you're really cool, you'll buy yourself a wireless access point so you can use your laptop, with internet, from anywhere in your house, probably even outside in your yard, or on the porch.

Justin

4:29 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin,
You know that I will do none of that, right? And that instead, I will either convince myself I enjoy my asceticism or wait until someone else rigs it up for me. Someone always does, simply because they are appalled that I don't have Flash or Firefox or whatever the kids are using these days. Then I make food for that person.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Yes, I'm familiar with the situation of a guy friend getting a gf or wife, then you get the sense they don't want you hanging around. And it's even harder after people get married. When I was single, I figured it was just because people worried I was after their man. After I was married, though, it didn't get much better. Some people even seemed to think it was inappropriate for a married woman to be pursuing independent relationships with men.

I realize now there probably are some good points to this. For one, it's valid for people to be jealous of emotional intimacy. Also, just jealous of time, which is sometimes a limited resource. And, there is a special dynamic between men and women. The woman (or man) may feel they're entitled to be the only one who experiences that dynamic with their partner.

Also, some guys -- certainly not all, but some -- will actually use you to make the gf or wife jealous. So you won't think you've behaved inappropriately, but you don't know how your friend has portrayed you behind your back to suit his own ends. And it's little comfort to the partner to know that you think her man is gross and you'd never sleep with him, if he has displayed interest in you.

But beyond that, some people just don't think it's a good idea for men and women who aren't related to be close to each other. I don't like that, but I can see the point.

Sometimes I have been inadvertently rude to male friends' partners, too, by ignoring them. It's not malevolence, just self-absorption and cluelessness. People don't care so much when a same-sex friend does that because, again, it's a different dynamic.

Finally, I think some people just care more about having friends than others do. There are people of both sexes who can have all their needs met by one person, and genuinely don't need much outside a relationship. So, they're confused and offended when their partner feels the need for outside relationships.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

"Someone always does, simply because they are appalled that I don't have Flash or Firefox or whatever the kids are using these days. Then I make food for that person."

I use this method of upgrading/fixing my technology stuff as well. It's very effective!

Also in 100% agreement with you on the opposite-sex friends stuff. My boyfriend used to ask me if he could do this or that and I was all, "Why are you asking my permission?" Apparently his ex-girlfriend was very jealous.

He's a little jealous too, but I'm breaking him of that. I'm off to Vegas this weekend with a male friend, for example. He's not 100% happy about it but since he doesn't want to go to Vegas himself I've told him that he just has to deal with it.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My initial reaction was that your friend's girlfriend is way too possessive and suspicious, but on second thought it's possible that she really wouldn't care about the boyfriend having lunch with you, but the boyfriend thinks she might care. He's just trying to avoid any situation that might offend her.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

7:54 AM  
Blogger M. LeBlanc said...

I hope maybe this is a generational thing. I remember I was having a conversation with an older relative of mine, and she asked what I had done on the weekend, and I said I went to hang out, drink and play chess at the house of my male friend J. She started asking about J, and found out he was married, and that when I went over there his wife was out of town, and chastised me, saying that it was inappropriate to go to a married man's house when his wife isn't there, even absent any hanky-panky. That seems quite strict.

My recent ex and I were very clear that no permission was necessary, and the only relevant conversation went thus: "So, you're cool with the fact that I'm sharing a hotel room with [male friend] on my trip to DC, right?" "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

It would be a big problem for me if I weren't dating someone that thought of male-female friendships as dangerous, as many of my best friends are men and I spent lots of time with them, including going on trips and meeting for Sunday brunch.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous shannon said...

I was in a relationship like this once, he was always hanging out with girls that he had once had sex with. In fact, he didn't have a single female friend that he hadn't previously had relations with. He always assured me that their meetings were purely platonic. I didn't trust him. I was terribly uncomfortable with the situation, a. because he was still sleeping with them, and I intuitively knew this, and b. because I was never allowed to meet them, presumably because that would make it a LOT harder for him to fuck them. So yeah, I totally agree, any relationship where either the other person requires permission, or you feel like you should be allowed to grant permission is BAD! Something in that relationship is dreadfully wrong. RUN! Ah the early twenties, how I never wish to go through that again.

1:13 PM  
Blogger HuntGrunt said...

I reckon length of friendship has a big influence on how people feel about this.

If a guy were to meet with an old female friend, whom he knew before he knew the girlfriend, cool. If he were to meet with a new female friend, though, it's easy to see how that would be perceived as a threat.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

> I was never allowed to meet
> them, presumably because that
> would make it a LOT harder for
> him to fuck them.

Probably true. Most of my female friends have met my wife, get along with her, and my wife actually feels they would protect her interests. I suspect if I tried to bed any of them they would look at me like I was slime.

I don't think I've ever gone out with a friend of either sex where she would not have been welcome to come along if she had wanted to.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two's company, three's a crowd:

There was great article by Stephanie Coontz in today's Observer called 'love and marriage' (if anyone finds a link, please post it ).

Basically, the turn to intimacy , and to sharing (thoughts, friendship ) only with one's partner is a relatively new phenomenon and is partly to do with we all work for longer (less time to socialise).

The increasing emotional dependence on marriage or romantic love is also a result of (according to her) fewer social obligations to friends and family (the fall of public Man?).

Makes sense to me: a bit of jealousy/suspicion is natural, no? (and perhaps better than indifference) but if it turns into possessiveness then that's a different thing.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My recent ex and I were very clear that no permission was necessary, and the only relevant conversation went thus: "So, you're cool with the fact that I'm sharing a hotel room with [male friend] on my trip to DC, right?" "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

I would have to say that such an attitude is atypical. It seems very doubtful if many people would be "cool with" the idea of having their spouse/partner share a hotel room with a friend of the opposite gender.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter: I know quite a few couples for which that is fine. I'm not sure what `normal' is in a population sense here --- definitely the sort of thing that selection bias works heavily on in ones own anectdotal experience, so I don't trust it that way.

For what it's worth I would say that discounting open/polyamorous couples, the ones I've known who have been like this are highly correlated with my perception of their maturity as people.

s.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous joeo said...

I am married with kids and that changes things. I pretty much get permission for every social occasion because someone has to watch the kids.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

But that's not so much permission as conscientious scheduling. When it is important like that, you both gotta check in.

********
I deleted my last comment so I could clean up a typo.

11:55 PM  

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