for the love of newline consistency

So what is it with line feeds at this site that if I, say, type in a line, then hit <return>, then type in another line, etc., they all wind up displayed on the same line when published... but then if I go and edit that mess to explicitly put blank lines between what I want to be single lines following each other, then they appear with blank lines between them?

Take this list for example (typed in as describe above):

- line one
- line two
- line three

How do I get consecutive single lines of text to appear? They appear consecutive single lines in the form buffer (textarea?) I type them into, as well as in a text file edited with vim, as well as when displayed by 'less' so I can copy paste to a textarea to create a speakeasy post, so I expect them to display that way as well.
I was messing with the way text was handled... and it turned out not working so well! Now things should be working the expected way!