Having a heart to heart
Having a heart to heart

… And getting a bit defensive!

News: Posted March 25th, 2019 by Alina

^ 23 Comments to “Having a heart to heart”

  1. DocMcConvoy Says:

    Poor Dustin. Basically Mark gets the gist of it… it is his fault… in some way. Only that you can’t call it “fault”. But to get that point across without the other one getting the feeling of being at fault… Dustin, I feel for you. I once thought about a speech to someone at fault I didn’t want to feel to be at fault for over 4 months. Still, the way I found was just ok enough for everybody to save enough face to leave the place with a little dignity. Again, poor Dustin.

    Posted March 25th, 2019 at 3:57 pm
  2. Starknight Says:

    To be fair, Dustin, that wasn’t exactly a stellar roll on an Explanation check, either… 😉

    Posted March 25th, 2019 at 7:12 pm
  3. HousePet Says:

    Blame the dice?

    Posted March 25th, 2019 at 7:37 pm
  4. PlimpertonSplimby Says:

    Dustin shouldn’t have to be anyone’s second choice. Poly, whatever, great, but he should find a situation that’s more equal. Ravenia is just collecting secondary partners and making it very clear that they’re secondary.

    Hearing Dustin talk like this is pretty heartbreaking. He’s settling for being a bit on the side because of childhood bullying convincing him that’s the best he can hope for.

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 2:25 am
  5. HanMK Says:

    What I’m thinking is that part of this might be that Mark doesn’t feel like an equal partner in the relationship. Did he know that there was a ‘Primary’ in the relationship? I know I would be upset if I entered a poly and then suddenly had sprung on me ‘Oh, and here’s the primary’, implying that I’m not seen as a equal partner, but more of a side-guy.

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 4:34 am
  6. Kobold Says:

    Wow… I’m seriously impressed by Dustin’s attitude. I mean… not everybody manages to be that secure about himself, especially not those who had a tough time in school. I doth my hat to you, Sir!

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 5:16 am
  7. Blackjoker Says:

    This is not an easy thing to discuss. Dustin (if I am wrong please correct me) seems to be trying to tell Mark that all of his insecurity is only hurting him. Ravenia was with him before and still chose to be involved with him. That can be an ego boost, but it can also be frustrating especially if Poly relationships are something you’re not used to.

    Dustin is handling it well, and is trying to help. Where I think the problem is is that Dustins method of explanation is somewhat less than ideal. I don’t know if there is a good way to put it to be honest, but the comment where he says that Mark never had to deal with weight mockery and things like that…yes it’s an appearance based concern and yeah, it sort of works, but it also comes accross as…unhelpful.

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 6:29 am
  8. Shinjischneider Says:

    Definitely both failed at their rolls.

    But Dustin is right.

    Jealousy is a feeling that comes from inside us. We don’t get jealous because someone else has or is something. We get jealous because we don’t have it or because it’s not about us.

    Just today i read a story of a woman describing the awesome sex she had last weekend with a one night stand.

    One of my first thoughts? “He ain’t that great. I could have done the same.”

    That’s just plain vanity and jealousy (and i don’t even want to have Sex with her.). Mark never really had to deal with this sort of emotions and he’s struggling.

    He should ask himself the following things:

    “Why does Ravenna love me?”
    “What are my qualities?”
    “Why am i really upset?”
    “What am i afraid of?”

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 8:44 am
  9. Eva Says:

    It’s really interesting to hear all the commenters’ takes on this storyline. It’s definitely illuminating a wide range of beliefs about self worth and whether poly relationships can be healthy.

    For whatever it’s worth, I think poly relationships can be healthy… but this one clearly isn’t at the moment. I don’t want to dump on Ravenna (I like her a lot actually) but I feel like if she was going to bring Mark into his first poly relationship she owed it to him to spend a little more time making sure he actually got some of the core emotional concepts here. If she didn’t want to do that emotional work, she could have at least recruited someone else to talk to Mark for her before things went badly. She’s sort of left him to swim or drown and that’s clearly not working out for anyone involved. :/

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 12:46 pm
  10. SeriousBiz Says:

    I’m constantly impressed by the comic’s ability to switch between silly geek humor and some seriously deep topics about human relationships (not surprised, mind you: a recurring theme of this comic has always been challenging society’s norms). It would be soooo easy to go the predictable mononormative route of presenting monogamous relationships as a one-size-fits-all ideal and the only fulfilling and ultimately “valid” kind of romantic relationship that everyone should strive for. Heck, that’s what we usually see in “mundane” media.

    Instead, the comic explores much more nuanced ideas about interpersonal relationships, such as treating jealousy not as a normal or even desirable feeling that springs naturally from healthy romantic attachments (as it is sometimes portrayed in the mainstream), but as an expression of an individual’s own personal insecurities and anxieties that they externalize on their partner instead of dealing with themselves. Similarly, Dustin’s infinitely healthier approach to relationships when compared to Mark’s rather immature attitude challenges the idea that one single person could or should be your be-all, end-all. Even leaving out poly relationships, it’s unhealthy and unfair to expect one person to fulfill all your emotional, physical and psychological needs. There is a reason couples should have their own lives outside of their relationship, no one person can ever be anyone’s “everything”.

    Weregeek: Come for the puns, stay for the thoughtful exploration of socially ingrained beliefs about what’s “correct” human behavior and how these beliefs affect the dynamics of human interaction.

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 1:10 pm
  11. TheCatCameBack Says:

    So there’s a lot of talk in the comments section about how this relationship isn’t healthy and that Raviena and Dustin should be doing better communicating with Mark, but here’s the thing: Mark isn’t communicating his feelings very well or dealing with them in a healthy manner. He should be talking to Raviena about his jealousy instead of pretending everything’s cool. He needs to evaluate if a poly relationship is right for him instead of continuing to bottle everything up. Dustin is clearly managing things well and doesn’t mind not being Raviena’s primary because he has a very steady and developed sense of self-worth and doesn’t need his partner to validate him. But Mark does to a certain extent. I agree with Dustin on this, honestly. The jealousy isn’t a problem with Raviena or Dustin or Damien, it’s a problem of Mark not effectively communicating and evaluating his emotions.

    Posted March 26th, 2019 at 6:55 pm
  12. lovefleetadmiral Says:

    I think this entire thing isn’t being handled well (not the comic, comic is doing great) Mark is clearly handling this poorly his emotions are boiling over but he’s not accepting it he’s just staying trapped in his pot instead of releasing steam. If he stays like this it WILL end badly…and could destroy friendships if it comes out at the wrong time.
    Dustin is also not handling this well, because it is coming off a bit like a ‘its your fault bro’ which is a horrible thing to do in this scenario. Also it does seem to be that Dustin is assuming a lot, yeah Mark might have been more ‘popular’ than Dustin was but that doesn’t mean Mark didn’t have issues himself. Hell he’s still having trouble being proud of being a geek. He isn’t used to being himself if he was then he would not worry so much about the larp like he did. He’s not in a good spot, he has known a lot of the people in the larp for months if not years by this point grown used to them and close but the girl he’s in a poly relationship with isn’t as into geek stuff as he is which makes him uneasy and brining in a wildcard REALLY is bad. Raviena didn’t surprise him with this, but she didn’t really give him enough warning. He hasn’t really met this guy so he got hit with everything (factor in Sarah shouting his attractiveness probably hurt as well, not cause its Sarah but because someone clearly is interested instantly).
    Mark isn’t doing well and the fact Dustin brought up ‘second best’ is really a poor message here. If your in a poly-relationship…or any really and your feeling like a silver medal at best you need to talk because the issue is either communication OR your partner. This case I think Mark is just not a good person for a poly thing, he’s not fond of this and I think he ultimately wants something more…devoted? I think he is better off with a monogamous relationship because he WANTS to be loved and he’ll give love in response BUT cases like this people are a bit selfish on love wanting it to themselves but not happy if the love their giving is shared with others. Maybe if this was a poly scenario where Mark and Dustin were ALSO into each other things might go easier but this isn’t one this is a case where Mark and Dustin are dating the same girl which is tricky.
    I hope things don’t blow up…because recently I feel like things been really crapping on Mark.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 12:40 am
  13. argentlupus Says:

    Had Dustin said “It is normal to feel jealous” instead of “It’s all on you.” I think it would have gone over better.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 9:48 am
  14. Faust Says:

    No one should have to feel “second best” in a relationship.. Even a poly one.. It’s pretty clear this relationship isn’t good for anyone, except Ravenia. Dustin also needs to learn how to comfort a friend without invalidating their emotions, or putting the blame entirely on their shoulders.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 12:55 pm
  15. antheridium Says:

    And, this is why I don’t like that school of self-help. No matter how you try to say it, the idea that the problem only exists because you perpetuate it reduces to saying that it’s your fault.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 2:22 pm
  16. This is a really interesting storyline to explore. I honestly don’t know how to feel.
    For my part, I know if I were to get into a poly situation I would be like our friend Mark here, except without the explosions. I would scream and wail and cry, possibly daily, feeling like I was a ‘lesser part’ or ‘spare’ … Except that deep down I believe that would be just; I am lesser.
    So as much as it’s creating a lot of potential danger for a lot of people, I actually kind of envy Mark not being able to bury these feelings completely.
    That’s probably weird.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 2:30 pm
  17. Thulcandran Says:

    TheCatCameBack is I think right here. Ravenia’s first text in this arc we saw was to let Mark know she was bringing Damien, since Mark might have forgotten after they talked last week, and express excitement about having all her partners in one spot. Mark says No problem, see you there, and clearly gave her the go-ahead when she brought it up last week. If he was feeling insecure, it IS on him to say something.

    And Dustin’s explanation makes me sad, but it’s worth pointing out that Mark didn’t mind sharing Ravenia with Dustin, because he didn’t feel threatened by Dustin. Dustin may well have had to swallow some insecurity when Ravenia started dating Mark, but . . . he just did that and moved on. It’s worth pointing out to Mark that he has to think of this a little differently than he’s used to.

    Posted March 27th, 2019 at 4:36 pm
  18. Aita Says:

    Dustin’s doing a damn fine job, and framing it in his own mind; he’s insecure about his weight, but he’s not going to let that fuck with his relationship or with Ravenia’s other partners. He’s pretty used to worrying about his weight, so the jump wasn’t that far for him.

    Further, he does see Mark as the attractive/athletic/popular type, even though Mark doesn’t per se, and the viewer may not (because it’s framed from his perspective). And I think that’s some damn fine writing.

    Ravenia doesn’t seem to have a “Primary”, either, from what a lot of things are looking like. Dustin seems very content in the relationship, even with his insecurities he’s handling them. Mark is new to it.

    The reason she’s close with Damien here, especially, is because they’re both outsiders to this group (in that he is, and she’s doing this thing with him). Aside from that, she seems to be very intimate and present with whoever she’s with. And I say this as someone who has partners of both sorts (RAs and people with primaries).

    So far as we’ve seen, she’s doing a pretty good job of checking in and being proactive, and would likely help with some of the emotional work, gladly, if Mark would stop lying to himself/others. Mark needs to pick up a book or something, and work to understand his new world.

    I feel like, while kinda restricted by format, this is a fairly healthy adjustment period and emotional workshopping for a poly group, and it’s wonderful to see people go through what I went through.

    I think it’s *beautiful* to see Dustin being insecure about Mark, and still stepping up to help him as a metamour when Mark is, in turn, insecure about Damien. That’s some amazing fucking character writing, there.

    Posted March 28th, 2019 at 9:26 am
  19. HanMK Says:

    Aita, Dustin introduced Damien as Ravenia’ Primary in the beginning of Febuary (2019/02/03/), so he definitely think of him as the primary, and as no-one corrected him I assume the others do as well.

    Posted March 29th, 2019 at 4:46 am
  20. Cydragon Says:

    reading comments i think people are skipping over the pain Mark is still clearly in over his Ex. in the scene he was looking at Ravena and her primary he literally imagined it was his ex telling him that he was a massive geek and that mark was not deserving of love at all.
    this entire arc looks like it is setting up for Mark to deal with his continuing distrust of partners and sensitivity about other people’s views of his hobbies.
    so yes, his preconceptions about poly relationships is important to the plot and is sure to make this an interesting and complicated slant to the story, but i think the meat of the story is more internal to Mark and could be told in any relationship. his messy break up with his first girlfriend and her Venomous reaction to the breakup is still effecting him and he is projecting that insecurity onto the current relationship through the vehicle of this new character that has been introduced as Primary.
    that said, if he did not know he was not an equal to the other members of the relationship and he suddenly found out at the game is there any wonder that he is taking it badly? if he entered a relationship with an entirely different view of what that meant to Ravena then he has a legitimate reason to be upset and insecure in my mind. She is the experienced party at this kind of relationship, he is learning from her. it really is a cruel thing to suddenly drop on an equal party that she does not see all partners equally.
    my two pence.

    Posted March 29th, 2019 at 8:58 am
  21. Eva Says:

    Cydragon reminds me that I’m still wondering when the shoe will drop with Mark’s ex. We’ve had two ominous “ex on the mantelpiece” stalking comics so far and some weird stuff going on with how she interacts with Sarah… but it hasn’t been followed up with anything happening on screen. She is clearly still haunting Mark in the “he didn’t deal with his baggage” sense, but that’s not quite what I expected as a payoff.

    Posted March 29th, 2019 at 3:22 pm
  22. Aita Says:


    I had missed that, so there’s that, but she doesn’t seem as toxic as some of the more worrisome stereotypes of them go, and that’s more what I was looking on.

    Cydragon: I fully agree, and I think it’s a fascinating take on both stories; representation aside, I think that Ravenia/Poly is a fantastic way to make him look inward at his other problems that he’s been having more generally, not just with relationships but with self-acceptance.

    Posted March 30th, 2019 at 9:18 am
  23. AtWork Says:

    I give kudos to the comic for handling this issue so interesting and well. Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to imagine being in Mark’s shoes. I would always feel … I don’t know, “used” and unworthy in a poly relationship like this, especially when there is a primary partner. It’s not the “I’m not enough” aspect but more the “So I’m somehow wrong and faulty, because you only love a certain aspects of me”.

    Posted April 1st, 2019 at 5:48 pm