Are you one of the dolts asking, “Why would he do this after he was married?” Lemme see... maybe because members of congress (like members of the human race) get horny sometimes? And sometimes male members of congress, like many members of the male (and female) sex, think with their genitals? And sometimes men -- even married men -- jerk off on internet porn? Weiner was horny and went online and flirted and spanked the monkey a few times. He created his own porn, his own interactive porn, like millions of other Americans have done, and continue to do, every fuckin’ day. And the Internet provided Wiener with the same thing it provides for tens of millions of other men (and women) in monogamous relationships: needed release and safe variety.
And yeah, if you’re married, your man has a secret stash of porn hidden somewhere in the house, and he’s jerked off on an image of someone other than you. And it’s quite probable that he’s fucked you at least once while fantasizing about another woman. And any man that denies it is either a liar, or a sexually motivated serial killer.
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-=[ The Games People Play ]=-
The one absolute in the study of human behavior is that people do things because they get something out of it. People's actions, however seemingly ridiculous, serve a purpose.
During a session, I once had a therapist tell me I had to learn how to parent myself. This may not sound particularly earth-shattering, but I had never even entertained that idea -- I never thought that could be possible. It was a liberating moment that also held some fear for me.
Modern research shows that the childish notion of being separate and apart is a myth. In fact, it’s a very destructive myth, just take a look at what we’re doing to our ecology and you quickly realize that this particularly American brand of “rugged individualism” (the “me” attitude) has dire consequences.
Along with the potential of being thoroughly destructive, we are all intimately connected -- though many of us feel isolated. Our neurology is a feedback loop. How infants interact with their mothers, for example, has a direct impact on the structural development of the brain. Infants need physical handling as much or more than food and those who are deprived fall into irreversible mental and physical decline.
Adults also need as much physical contact as children. Sensory deprivation for example, can lead to temporary psychosis in adults. But because close physical contact is not always available, we seek emotional fulfillment in other ways. Someone exploring the internet, for example, may seek emotional “strokes” from his or her friends’ list in the form of adoration or positive feedback. In the same way, a movie star may get his strokes from fan mail. A scientist may get hers from a positive commendation from a leading figure in the field.
In transactional analysis, this “stroke” is seen as the basic unit of social action. An exchange of strokes is a transaction and hence the phrase, “transactional analysis” describing the dynamics of social interaction.
Bear with me here, there’s a point to all this and one I feel you will find interesting.
For argument’s sake, let’s take this as a given -- that we have this psycho-biological need to receive strokes or intimate fulfillment. In this context, people consider any social participation -- even negative ones -- as better than none at all. This primal need for intimacy is also why people engage in games as a substitute for genuine connection.
In short, we play a game, defined as a series of transactions, to satisfy this inner hunger for intimacy, and it always involves a payoff.
Still with me?
Let me take this a step further. Most people will deny playing games because most of this happens beyond or outside their awareness. For them, it’s a normal way of interaction. Games are like playing poker in the sense that the better we can hide our inner motivation (essentially that we crave intimacy), the more likely we “win.” In a professional context the payoff could come in the form of a raise in income or a promotion; people speak of the “real estate game,” or “playing” the stock market. In the relationship world the payoff is usually some emotional gratification or an increase in control.
I had a participant, a former contract killer (a “soldier”), who once compared himself to a newborn infant in the following way:
“You ever see when they first bring babies home from the hospital? How sometimes they have to put mitts on babies because otherwise they will scratch themselves? Well, that’s how I feel sometimes. Like I can’t help but hurt myself or others and I need psychological mittens to save me from myself.”
Rewind back to the time with my former therapist and you can begin to see a model emerging. We all have within us different states or selves:
The attitudes and thinking of a parental figure (Parent)
An adult-like ability to rationalize and accept truth (Adult)
The attitudes and views of a child (Child)
In any given situation, we can emphasize any one of these inner selves, and sometimes shift from one to another quite easily. For example, we can take on a child’s sense of wonder, creativity, and curiosity, but also a child’s tantrums and inability to empathize. The point being that within each mode we can be productive or unproductive, effective or ineffective.
In playing a game, instead of maintaining intimacy to get what we want, we succumb to the temptation to act childishly coquettish, or take on the wise, rational aura of an adult.
Let the games begin!
Here are a few basic games people play. They may vary a little, but they’re basically variations on the same theme:
The most common game between people in a relationship is the one in which one complains that the other is an obstacle to doing what they really want in life. For example, a person who may not be aware of her fear of real intimacy may choose emotionally unavailable men and then complain of a lack of intimacy. The game then becomes, “If it weren’t for you, I would... ”
I believe people unconsciously choose partners because they want to be limited. I see this in much of the work I do around complaints. My experience has shown me that if you follow the breadcrumbs of your complaints, you will come face-to-face with your own bullshit. Playing the “If it weren’t for you, I would… ” game gives us the excuse for abdicating responsibility for our own lives, or looking at our fears.
Another common relationship game is when, in response to a solution-centered suggestion, the partner says “Yes, but... ” and then proceeds to find everything that could go wrong with the solution. In Child mode, this allows the person to gain sympathy from others for being inadequate to the challenge. In Adult mode, we would be more willing to explore and maybe even be open to the possibility or potential of the solution.
These games are like worn out loops of the same tape -- being played repeatedly throughout our relationships. It’s amazing how transparent the games appear on social networking sites, with all the trespassing of boundaries, the naked grab for attention, the openly desperate manipulation for sex. And the one common trait is that all involved deny playing the game! LOL!! Go look and you’ll find a long comment thread populated by game players, passing judgment on someone who’s been caught playing a game.
But these games are in actuality the scripts we inherit from our childhood and though they are limiting and self-destructive, they are also a form of psychological comfort food -- a way for us to absolve ourselves from looking at our own issues.
For many people, games have become so integral to their way of being that they feel compelled to create drama, or manipulate those they come into contact with, because they fear they won’t be as interesting otherwise. The more games they play, the more they expect others to play them too. A habitual game player will end up with a dysfunctional (even pathological) tendency to project or read too much of their own motivations and biases in others.