I am going to desperately try not to write a book here about what a real relationship is and about what real love is. But, I am going to express upon it. Because, it needs to be honestly looked at and addressed with a rational moment of thinking. For I hear it all the time from people, and it really bites me to sit and listen and not interject what I know when, by what’s being said, I know my words are not wanted. It saddens me to listen to people telling on themselves about the false love they have been cultured into thinking as being real love, and taking pride in the behaviors that this false love leads towards. So, somewhere, someone needs to brings some clarity to this perception of what relationships are based upon emotionally. We’ve had enough break-ups over false love and serial monogamy.
I’m going say something here with every intent to be as clear as possible on this subject matter and it is this: Intimate relationships, whether love relationships or marriages, are not about forming and engaging in a monogamous relationship together. This is humanly unrealistic to even attempt – despite how often we now do so, and the only way to attempt it is to gamble that you can find that “one right” person for you – out of the near six billion around you. Is it even rational to believe, much less insist, upon “one right” person, expect to find that one person, and expect that one person to meet your every emotional, sexual, psychological, and lifestyle need? The very idea of one right person is based in a false idea that love is a commodity that is limited, finite, and in danger of being lost or stolen if another catches the eye – or, more often, the heart. But, love is not a commodity, and it is not limitable to just one person realistically. The idea of this leads to irrational emotions, such as our society’s most favorite – jealousy, which leads us down the road of destroying our relationships, rather than investing our time in culturing and supporting them.
Do you think it is rational to get all emotionally bent out of shape over someone of the same or opposite gender showing interest in your significant other? Would you fly into a white-hot rage if you saw someone hanging around your husband or wife while you’re not at home, and feel that this anger and/or aggression is justified? If you said yes, then, you really need to take a close look at the reality around you. Further, you then need to ask yourself, “Am I seeing myself clearly?” As much as some of us would like as humans to impose our ideologies upon the very real aspects of living in this world and expect the real world to conform to them, the reality is life simply doesn’t work this way, and frustration and heartache is the most common result of trying this. Life is inherently complicated, accepting this and working with it is the better way.
Love is not an object. It is not something you possess. You can possess a person. But, possessing him or her doesn’t mean that you love him or her. So, if love is not an object that you possess, then what is it? Love is a feeling. A feeling that does not respond to shoulds and shouldn’ts that we impose upon our lives. It grows organically, in many directions, and doesn’t confine itself readily to singular shapes … aka, people. We have feelings for everyone in our experience of life. Some we love, some we hate, and some we both love and hate, depending upon our mood or what time of the month it is that we happen to have interaction. We love or stifle our feelings of love for many, for more than one. I cannot stress this last one enough, for many and all at the same time. This is an unavoidable reality to being human, and it is a terrible thing to confuse love with institutions of commitment. Because of our relationships and how we stricture them, when needs are unmet, disaster eventually ensues. Unless, that is, you are determined to never address or outright deny your needs for the sake of a relationship ideal. I find it hard to accept that such relationships are actually happy ones, by the evidence of all the emotional grievances and the amount of serial monogamy occurring in society.
Relationships are about commitments, not about protecting the expression of love. Commitments are agreed upon actions for mutual benefit, not about absolutes that can or should never be violated. You are always flirting with relationship disaster in insisting on the latter, or expecting that the agreements of a relationship will not have to be talked over and tweaked a bit in time. It is unrealistic, because people change over time, so the relationship changes between people, and mutually agreed upon obligations and responsibilities will have to be renegotiated. These are just the obvious facts of living life as a Human. So why are we destroying perfectly good relationships over ideals that aren’t even realistic to live by in every day life? I’m talking about the “me only, and only me” syndrome, and the “until death” do we part. Absolutes do not control reality, so “cheating” (the breaking of poorly addressed commitments treated as absolute and unchangeable) and divorce run rampant in our societies.
It is a ludicrous idea that one person can meet all your mental, emotional, and sexual needs. And trying to establish this “ideal” as a standard is the cause of most relationship hardships and breakups. It’s not realistic, and imposing unrealistic expectations upon very real interpersonal experiences leads ultimately to disappointment when the unrealistic expectation is violated. It is ludicrous to expect someone to honestly share exactly your view on relationships and to expect that to never change. People change over time, and so do their views and needs. This is just the reality of life. For example, what do you do if you and your spouse begin your relationship or marriage as a sexually open relationship and the spouse decides in time that he or she really insists upon a monogamous sexual relationship? Or, what do you do if the two of you start off monogamous, but one of you realizes that monogamy is not properly meeting the inherent nature and needs? Do you just abandon a good thing, end the relationship and try again? Why would you do that?! Is it because you mistake the ideal for the real?
Relationships are an art in mutually benefiting compromise for the sake of shared good. Don’t you think that unwillingness to compromise will lead to a half-hearted intimate experience? If you can’t see this, you might want to ask yourself if you are really suited for a relationship, then. Because, if you’re really serious about your relationship, you will compromise your ideals for the sake of what makes the relationship worthy to keep. Or, you’ll do as most do, sacrifice what is best for you for the sake of keeping the relationship you are investing value in. The latter is not necessarily the more noble, just the choice you make based on your present values. But, I must ask, why is this even necessary in the first place? Seriously? Aren’t we the ones that design and engage in our relationships with others?
What is love precisely? Is it what pop culture teaches you that love is? We all know about this – love at first sight, can’t see anyone else but the one your infatuated with, must have exclusively at any cost, and so forth. Has it ever occurred to you that this is not love but, rather, an all too common example of human lust? A passionate desire for something. So, why would you base this as a reason for getting married to someone, when we all know that passions fade and wane or outright change over time? We are talking about realistic expectations, here, and knowing what real love is. I would venture that most people are more in love with their idea of love, than they are actually in love with the significant others in their life. And this is because they don’t actually know what genuine love is, on a cognitive level. What is love? Love is a feeling that generates a desire to connect. Love is an action or, more precisely, a variety of actions that result from this sometimes deliberate and sometimes accidental connecting.
You know you’re in love with someone when you’re willing to embrace them just as they are, seeming perfections and annoying obvious flaws. You know you’re in love with someone when you seek to do the little things because you know this will make them happy, not because you’ll get anything out of it yourself. You know you’re in love with someone when you are willing to continue the commitments and, by default, the relationship with someone even when it is obvious some of the details and lifestyle conditions will or must change. This is an inevitable fact of life, that things change over time, and re-committing under new negotiated circumstances is necessary. We nurture and provide for our children out of love, we stand by and support our friends out of love, and we bare ourselves and make ourselves vulnerable for the sake of sexual pleasure with our lovers and/or spouses out of love. All of this requires an act of commitment that, when repeated again and again, fosters and allows love to grow. One does not have to start out loving to experience love. But, if one acts with caring and compassion, has a genuine interest in relating and giving, one is bound to experience real love within his or her lifetime. Love is a feeling that you grow within you through conscious choices to genuinely connect – with another and with others.
Now, let’s address jealousy briefly, what it really is. It is a compound emotion based on competition. It is a feeling one gets when one hasn’t properly matured into an adult yet emotionally. Jealousy is based in the idea that one’s love or the love of one for you is a scarce commodity that can be taken away by another who gets involved. It’s a highly irrational notion. It presumes that there is only one kind of love, and that love is the same no matter who you are sharing it with. In all reality, this simply isn’t in any way true. No matter how much we convince ourselves that it is so. The fountain of love never actually runs dry, rather we turn off the valve to its flow. And every sharing of love between individuals is unique. As unique as the mixture of their personalities when they are relating together. It is not only probable that you and I will fall in love with more than one person at the same time in life, but very likely that this will happen. This is normal and healthy. I must ask, why are we shutting off the valve to the expression of “romantic” love to others, when we are presently already involved, if love is not actually lost between – but is rather unique and still flowing – between you and your “first love” or spouse?
When we have two children in succession, do we lose love for the first one in favor of sharing now all with the second one? Are we not able to keep multiple friendship loves? Why are we treating relationships any differently? What is so wrong with a polygamous or a polyamorous marriage arrangement? We have love for our children, love for our friends, and love for our relationship partners. Our love for our child or for a friend is not diminished or lessened by the love we have for a present or new sexual partner. So, it is the same with having more than one intimate partner that we are in an intimate, sexual committed relationship with. Each love is unique, and grows if we take care of it and withers if we don’t on its own. And it’s a denial of our mutual responsibility in this to blame the state of love between us on the love existing between, say, my partner and his/her other. Love is not a finite commodity within humans that must be divided out evenly between individuals based on categories. Life and our emotions doesn’t actually work this way, it is the trap of modern idealism. Rather, the more love we give to others, the more love we discover that we have to give. We foster it, and this is the self-evident reality for all who embrace and attempt it. Provided you’ve worked out the tendency towards childlike jealousy brought on by a culture that says you are mine and mine alone, and yours is mine, too.
Ask yourself honestly, have you found that “perfect one” meant just for you? Were you really so blessed and lucky out of all the 6 billion humans in the world to have just happened to be born so close to or luckily ran into your “perfect” compliment and match of a mate, ideal for you in all ways and in every way? Or, are you just trying to convince yourself this is so, because you believe in this human idealistic absolute? As well, since when does the heart listen to the rationalizing mind, or the universe for that matter? We all know that our partners are in some way less than ideal or perfect in matching up to all our needs in an individual. But, we still love him or her, anyways. We don’t impose such perfections upon our friends, rather we just get another friend to make up for what the first friend doesn’t quite have. And now we have two friends that we love as dearly as the one! Why not work with what’s actually real, and enjoy our relationships and their psychological, emotional, and physical benefits? Why not model our marriages and ideals, for that matter, along our natural leanings? How many sexual partners to begin with, if you or society allowed yourself to sexually explore, did you go through to find a marriage partner? Who told you there has to be only one, and for what reason were you told this?
Since when does a marriage or a relationship have to be exclusively two partnered to be a good or ideal marriage? When commitment and communication is there, meaning when a relationship is grounded on what’s real and when we are honoring our agreements, just what is so inappropriate about having multiple sexual partners? To the issue of multi-partner relationships I say, “Come right on in!” For realistically, it is “the more, the merrier!” It will be the end of cheating and divorce in an attempt to meet needs not being met. I will never support or encourage monogamy as a relationship ideal. I never have, and I never will. For the best relationship arrangements are the ones that work best for all those involved. Whether these arrangements take the shape of a monogamous relationship or a polygamous relationship or an open partner relationship, this part does not so much matter. Provided there is communication on and commitment to the agreed upon relationship goals and obligations, and a willingness to mutually adjust these as life and individuals change. And *this* is the standard we should be upholding, for the sake of maintaining the healthiest relationships we can in society. Ones free of destructive emotional hardships and rampant acts of divorce and remarriage.