Best-Of Advice

On filters, rules, and minor delusions

Dear Coquette,

How do you know when to let your guard down? How do you know when to stop being a guarded bitch and actually let someone in?

You shouldn’t have a guard. You should have a filter. There’s a huge difference, and I promise, it’s a much better way to live.

A guard is a fear-based defense mechanism that you put up and take down over and over again to protect yourself from your own vulnerability in intimate relationships. It’s an exhausting exercise that can weigh down your soul.

A filter isn’t fear-based. You don’t have to put it up or take it down. It’s a permanent part of you that requires a certain amount of inner strength and a well-defined set of personal standards, but it allows you to embrace your vulnerability.

The real trick is accepting the fact that a certain amount of emotional pain is inevitable. Sometimes relationships are gonna hurt, and there’s no getting around it. People who keep their guards up are living in fear of that emotional pain. When they let their guards down, they’re just living in denial of its inevitability.

People with filters accept the inevitability of emotional pain, but they have the self-discipline to mitigate chaos and negativity by either processing it, or cutting it off at the source.

I’m in an open marriage with a man who only respects logic. I don’t like it when he goes and has playtime with his partner when we have the kids. I’ve asked him to save it for when the kids are with their bio mom, but he refuses. I’ve said that the sentiment applies to me, too. He says I’m being emotional and not asking him in a way that makes sense, so he’s going to keep doing it. He’s right, though; I *am* emotional. I also think that it’s not an unreasonable request. What should I do?

Your husband is being a jerk. He doesn’t respect logic, not really. He’s just found a way to convince you that your emotions are invalid whenever there’s conflict in your relationship. Well, guess what? Logic is not the opposite of emotion, and being emotional does not mean you’re being irrational.

In any open relationship, both partners get to set ground rules. You’re not trying to set a double standard, nor are you being unreasonable. The kids are more important than your open marriage, plain and simple. The bottom line is that neither of you should get to put playtime over parenting.

Don’t let him fool you with his line that you’re “not asking in a way that makes sense.” It makes perfect sense. He just doesn’t like restrictions being placed on his playtime, and he’s reacting like a spoiled brat.

Don’t put up with his selfish behavior, not for one more second.

What do you say when somebody tells you they’re a part-time model?

Just smile and nod. The world is full of average people eager to display their manufactured identities. It’s best to allow them their minor delusions.


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