I describe my own state of dissatisfaction as the way I had lived my life in a perpetual (and somewhat destructive) state of careening... from one monogamous relationship to another.
Decades of it.
That heterosexual, homogenous and socially imbued sense of "this is the way it goes". Dont get me wrong....I gave it my all....three marriages and one heck of a lot of learning that I would never swap for anything at all. In most cases it was a case of overt and covert societal conditioning that guided my decision making, both learned from family and that of exterior forces, friends, community.
I still love everyone in my own way. I do not have any regrets in my heart about any of it.
I've learned how to put a boundary now between that and tipping back into the co-dependent me I hated to be. That constancy of keeping secrets, restraining myself constantly from showing others affection and mostly just stopping myself from being me.
I am considering the whole perspective on what I'd previously framed 'relationship'. I have been encouraged to consider the term 'relatedness' and it has made perfect sense.
That key difference in relating deeply to someone else, to others, and to empathetically understand their needs and maybe even meet some of those.
Give, not just take.
In meeting Magali McDuffie I met someone who did not view the world and the whole relationship treadmill as an answer to life, prepared to politically put forward and explore new ideas and a person who was deeply invested in growing, no stagnating - arghhh....settling down.
I had finally met the person I had climbed the apple tree with when I was a child, the same soul who despite our profound language differences, gender difference and age difference celebrated these and communicated from a soulful union, physically exciting, emotionally fulfilling, intellectually challenging and spiritually inspiring.
We spoke of the terrible things that came of being restricted in who we spoke or speak to, who we had or have friendships with, how we related or now relate with others and what we thought about.
For me it is a repeat sadness I experience when I speak to others and in them recognise the tell-tale signs of the stagnated relationship, the hum-drum of the mortgage treadmill, the late night porn separation, the need for affairs to remain sane in a sexless bind of a capitalist nightmare.
The endless innuendos and empty rhetoric testing...everything locked up in a self centred bubble. That drowning in alcohol, shopping for the sake of shopping, big house, five cars and that dream of retiring, having worked on everything else but themselves.
Ok...moving along now...the analogy I drew in my head was like this.
Picture a bridge with those lock things that people get inscribed with their names on them. Young couples, old couples, gay couples, lesbian couples. Coupled. Paired. Married or just still dating, themselves.
Binary. One. Two. On. Off. Up. Down.
Love as locked.
Locked in, locked up, locked into one way of being where anything but that way creates immediate jealousy and eventual separation. True, many people endure, see it through, concede and eventually live in character mode never knowing anything more than what they came eventually to accept.
Yes, I know of men who have been married "happily" for 50 years and who have been shagging other men for almost as long...with their Wife either blind to it all or prepared to let that little secret be unspoken of.
In fact, the concept I learned soon after was actually real and ready to collapse. That bridge actually did exist, was groaning with the sheer weight of those who wished to show the world that their romance was in fact....a lock. Locked into other locks.
Image: Pont des Arts
The word relatedness on the other hand opens up a completely new dimension, that of the way of being where two people (or more) can connect at an intimate and loving juncture, where the attributes of friendship and affinity have no boundaries other than to bring knowledge back together, not apart.
No locks, no symbols of supposed passion, no signs to others that everything-is-ok-with-us!!!
Acknowledging difference, respecting and treating well, in constant gratitude.
At this point I'm going to introduce the variables or actors onto the life stage. That of the physical self which so easily finds attraction, connection and intimacy in and of others. Then there is the emotional self, filled with every known behavioural idiosyncrasy and riddled with years of good and crazy experiences to draw upon.
Then we have the intellectual self that draws down on knowledge, experience and curiosity enough to kill a cat.
Lastly, the most important of all is that of the spiritual self, the ethics, morals, beliefs, and higher order instinct that tells us when we are growing or compels us to move and shift when we are not growing.
That spiritual part of us all that completes us as soulful beings.
In being with another person there doesn't seem any sense in locking them up, signing legal documents that binds together and serves only to inform who gets what when you eventually move on. Why do we agree to do such things to each other?
Encouraging them to grow, to explore, to learn and to have fun instead.
The hardest quadrant or part of ourselves to understand is the emotional investment we make each and every time we connect with others, that in fact we could and always need to evaluate or "check-in" on that side constantly. The emotional buy-in, connection and loving relatedness is often the quadrant which is the noisiest and most needy.
The physical connection is easy...but keeping across how we are with others in the three other quadrants calls for constant re-evaluation. Love at the centre. Loving relatedness...not a relationship where you are mine and I am yours.
No expectations nor "open" relationship fiasco where it becomes a "dont ask, dont tell" connection. Agreement. Verbal contract. The emptiness of hookups, swinging or random blow jobs.
The idea being that if love is the centre, the foundation for how we relate with others then there is potentially an inexhaustible amount of love we can give and receive. It also means that jealousy is not a part of relatedness because the primary partner we relate closest to then shares in that love, experiences that connection, intimately knows the details of the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual bond and in fact becomes inextricably part of it - in excitement, in loving kindness and in enjoyment of their partner having fun and being pleasured themselves.
In essence the bond becomes shared three ways or more. That does not mean however, that there is a sexual union between anymore than those in the primary relatedness!
Always make no assumptions, ensure the privacy of others and create no secrets because they always surface when you least expect and eventually all is known.
Now picture a circle with two people standing in it. Back to back facing the world and more often than not facing each other, loving deeply and sharing everything. The circle is not complete, not closed, not locked. There is a small gap in that circle that means that circle of relatedness is never closed or shut off from change.
The circle is the relatedness of a primary - where the possibility of connecting with others is encouraged, where that love/lock is replaced with love/free-to-be.
Love is the key - not sex!