IMG_20131023_101027I few days ago I was asked to think about the difference between giving and allowing. It’s an interestingly simple question, but I thought about it for a long time. I’ve tried to ask this question in different situations: work, relationships, drinking/smoking, coffee, sex, food and came to a few early stage thoughts on some of them.


Allowing has to do with control, be it either self control, or control by some authority. When I think of it in terms of food, it mostly has to do with restrictions (or diets). Allowing can be about foods that are allowed (or ‘good’) or allowing to have something cheeky. It makes me think of living by a law and doing the things that are allowed according to the law. Sometimes this is a law made up by yourself, sometimes it is a law laid upon you. Laws that will inevitably be broken and for which you will be punished. It’s a stressful concept.

The feeling I get when thinking about giving food to myself, it has to do with nourishment. When giving food to someone it has to do with care. It doesn’t really have anything to do with rules or laws, but with wants and needs. It’s an all in all more relaxed feeling. Feelings of restrictions tends to make people (and other animals) want to rebel I think. Some things become a lot more desirable when they are restricted. And in a way it also blocks a feeling of enjoyment when you are only ‘allowed’ to eat something, in stead of being given something.


Back when I was in Australia I had a bit of a thing about being addicted to coffee. In a way it was a bit of a personal psychoanalysis-experiment.  I found that I made the decision to allow myself a maximum of 3 cups a day. This was because I felt like I was drinking too much of it and felt simultaneously out of control,weak and over-controlling. Very interesting. I only just noticed that I seem to have moved out of that now, being back in Edinburgh, where coffee isn’t everywhere and I kind of forgot about ‘my addiction’. Now I seek cafe’s out every now and then, sit down and treat myself (or give myself) a well made coffee while reading a book or writing. I drink a lot less coffee now, have no issues limiting my intake and feel like it is something I look forward to, without stressfully needing it.


I think many people allow for sex to happen, instead of giving themselves to someone. I think there is a very real pressure onto boys (and men I guess) to sweep women off their feet, perform like a real man and slowly persuade a girl (or woman) to go further and further. At the same time there seems to be a sense of pressure on girls (or women) to be manly (edit: or maybe just very confident and uninhibited) about sex and just do it. There seems to be a bit of an idea that when you go beyond a certain point, there isn’t really a way back, either because it makes you look like a prude, or because it would hurt the boy’s/man’s masculinity (as widely described in Cosmo…) Something you usually don’t want to do to a person you’re considering being intimate with.

Allowing things to happen is sometimes easier than speaking up and making a fuss. Allowing for sex to happen makes it easier sometimes than asking yourself the question ‘do I really want to do this?’. Feeling that sex should happen (because you’ve already gone this far, or because you’ve been in a relationship for while and haven’t done it in a week) I believe causes a lack of intimacy and causes a certain detachment.

Making the conscious decision to give yourself to someone intimately because you WANT to is incredibly empowering and exciting, be it casually or within a long term relationship. I wish this was a bit clearer in teenage education on relationships (a.k.a. Cosmo-type glossies and tv) instead of the idea that men turn into cavemen as soon as they think of sex and you need to accommodate this(or indeed use/manipulate it). Men are not like that, maybe some act like that, but definitely not all, and women shouldn’t treat men as such either. Its disrespectful. Wouldn’t it be a horrible thought to know that someone you’ve slept with merely allowed you, and wasn’t in fact sure that that they really wanted to? I think that would be devastating for most people, men and women equally.

I wonder if allowing for something automatically blocks your ability to give something. The shift from allowing to giving I think needs to be very conscious and is not very easy. It takes confidence, trust and love for oneself. All those things you will find in self help books, the hard things that some annoying people are born with.

I think I’ll need to think on this one a bit longer as well…

Food, sex, coffee, I think that’s all for today


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