Love Letters to Humans (no. 53) — on Prioritizing Comfort

Right to comfort: The relational fuckery of insisting on our own intellectual, emotional, or physical comfort, even at the expense of someone else’s peace and labor—often coupled with punishment if they do not comply.

To clarify, comfort per se is not relational fuckery. The fuckery lies in prioritizing comfort over our own growth, over other people’s (or our own) well-being, and over the opportunity to connect joyfully and deeply with someone we say we love.

Right to comfort (with an occasional side order of punishment) might look like this:

Prioritizing comfort doesn’t always mean our own. Context matters. Sometimes we are the ones demanding comfort, and sometime we are the ones complying with the demand. (Again, comforting someone isn’t relational fuckery… prioritizing their demand for comfort over our own wellbeing is.) When we participate in prioritizing comfort we are making relationship agreements based on dependency, not sovereignty.

Right to comfort (with an occasional side order of punishment) might look like this:
Refusing to listen when someone questions our thinking • Anger when we are inconvenienced • Resentment when we are misunderstood • Expecting people close to us anticipate our emotional wants without us having to say what they are • Expecting people to withhold their big feelings and challenging thoughts around us • OR • Withholding our big feelings and challenging thoughts to avoid punishment or retaliation • Scrambling to anticipate someone else’s unspoken emotional wants and responses to avoid tension or conflict • Offering the labor of over-explaining or over-listening so that someone else won’t be upset • Disproportionate guilt at having inconvenienced someone • Refusal to question someone else’s or our own thinking

Relational Practice: Sovereignty

Where does your emotional comfort depend on someone else hiding who they are and what they have?

Where do you hide who you are and what you have to keep someone else from being uncomfortable?

What intimacy, trust, freedom, and joyful connection are possible when you risk discomfort?

This is the last of a series of posts drawing from Tema Okun’s article, “White Supremacy Culture,” which has contributed so much to my understanding of how oppressive contexts impact how we show up in our relationships. I’ll continue writing about other ways we participate in relational fuckery. Thank you for reading along and reaching out when something moves you. I’m so grateful to connect with other humans who care about nurturing right relationship.

Starting in February I’ll also be hosting a series of free 1:1 conversations, “The F-Word Conversations: Explorations of Forgiveness.” I want to hear from you what you’ve learned about forgiveness—what it is (and isn’t). I want to hear your stories and experiences of forgiving and being forgiven, not forgiving and not being forgiven.