Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Safe Relationship Path

While discussing the concept of polyamory with a friend, she replied in typical monogamist think: "But where will the relationship go?" She was talking about  my secondary relationship: the person I see who I am not married to and don't live with.

Her question is a glowing beacon on the reason that our monogamous culture can't accept polyamory as a lifestyle. For them, relationships follow a pattern; they have to "go" somewhere. I was told when I was young that I would meet "the one" (presumably my soul mate) and fall in love, and date, and marry, and have kids and grow old with this all-encompassing completion of my soul in the form a living, breathing person. Talk about pressure. How does even the most willing of individuals live up to something like that?

How many beautiful, loving relationships end because one or both partners believe the relationship has to go somewhere? How often do movie couples split because one wants kids while the other feels compelled to see the world? Must be that they weren't "meant" for each other. This is what we're taught by Hollywood, books, our parents, the old lady down the street.

We are finally living in a society that questions religious beliefs like never before. Yet humanity seems to be stuck with this notion of "one and only forever." Relationships, whether they be friendships, romantic, sexual, take on forms of their own if we let them. And they're not permanent forms either. They're constantly in flux. Society doesn't place such stringent restrictions on our friendships. In fact, friendships span generations, time, space, race, and any other barrier. But if you want to be more than friends ... well, there's only one way to do that kind of relationship.

I suggest fear is the reason for humanity's inability to let go of this childhood fairy tale. Being vulnerable with a lover is so much more dangerous (we think) than with a friend. So, if I'm going to submit myself to the possibility of being truly vulnerable with someone, then it's going to be within the safe, predictable environment of "the right path." This way I can't get hurt, at least that's what we think.

We all know how it ends though. Rarely do people who start out on this path make it to the "growing old together"  stage. (Kudos to those who do. But I hope you did it out of joy and not obligation.) No, people get divorced, they have affairs, they break up, they end up in jail for domestic violence. This is a safer way to be vulnerable?

The truth is there is no safe way to be vulnerable with another human being. That's what makes it so beautiful, wonderful. You take the chance and you fly or you fall. In the end, that's what makes it all worth it.