Because it’s been such a common topic lately…

…and the next bubble-headed bitch to avail me with tales of what she’d do to her boyfriend/husband/fiance if he ever slept with another woman is likely to get a rude earful from me. Also, Valentine’s Day is Saturday, so this is sorta vaguely topical.

I believe in love. I’m pro-love. I believe in lots of love, and I’m strongly in favor of most of it. I believe each love is individual and unique to the people involved in it, and I believe that’s fabulous.

Seriously guys, I’m not kidding when I say I’m a closet romantic. Jane Eyre competes with Stranger in a Strange Land for favorite book placement, and I fell for Jane first. I like the chocolates and sensual dinners, walks on beaches, and myriads of little acts and gifts and words that share intimacy and passion. Like the Greeks, I accept that it exists, that it could happen to me, and that while it’s probably not the most objectively great thing to go through, I won’t care at the time.

I believe it’s okay to be alone, that nobody needs other people to be happy. I also believe it’s better to be alone by choice than lack of alternatives.

But I don’t stop there. I believe in friends and friendship and that if you’re doing it right, the people you depend on for happiness are people you love. They’re the family you choose to have, who you protect and counsel and sooth and entertain because they’re yours and they’re forever. They aren’t actually forever, but neither is real family. Live like they are. I believe in the intimacy of familiarity, the passion of platonic connection, friends with benefits, and skipping straight to the old married couple stage. If romantic love is an insanity you cling to while it happens, this love is the sanity you cherish because it makes you whole. Romantic love is a vacation. You might spend some time there with somebody, but eventually the trip will end. You either have the second love to fall back on, or you fall apart.

I believe in keeping people when you can, and cutting cleanly when you can’t. A network is stronger with more nodes, and more connections between those nodes, and I’m not going to add loneliness to my life just because the network grows. Love is a plurality by its nature, and I want to see and experience as much of it as I can. That means feeling happy and proud when my friends find something to love in each other, and expecting that they’ll feel the same for me. It means staying open to your next new love, and encouraging others to as well. It means understanding that what anybody feels about anybody else has nothing to do with you. It means giving yourself freedom by granting it.

Always, always and forever I believe in being an adult. Be calm. Be rational. Take joy where you find it and leave misery go. Be responsible for yourself. It is nice when others accommodate your foibles and neuroses and insecurities, and you should know these and be fair about them. You can measure the strength of your relationships by your trust in sharing these, and their acceptance thereof. But they are your responsibility and you have no right to accommodation until others grant it. Relationships are like at will employment. Either party can terminate the arrangement at any time for any reason or no reason at all. So behave.

I only ever give two pieces of advice in a relationship. Which piece depends on the context. The first is, “Yes, you should pursue them. Go as far as feels right at the time, pay attention while you’re doing it, evaluate the outcome when you come up for air.” The second is, “That’s not working. Break off that relationship.”

I don’t believe in working at relationships. The thought of a meta-discussion about my own relationship with the other person involved breaks me out in hives. Relationships are what they are, and you can catalog them until you’re blue in the face, but it’ll be the same relationship when you’re done. The question isn’t, “What are we, where are we going?” but, “Am I happy? Are you happy?” Having sex with somebody does not magically make roping them into some sort of social bondage where you affix labels and put up fences to mark your territory okay. The transformative aspects of sex are much subtler, much more sublime, and deserve to be treated as such. Sex can by a synergetic force, i.e. your relationship after sex can be greater than the sum of your pre-coital relationship and sex. That doesn’t change the fact that the relationships just is whatever it is. You are welcome to work at your broken relationship to mend it into something you can both tolerate, reopen lines of communication, re-establish trust, whatever. But leave me out of it. Be an adult, value what you have, and if you’re doing that and things are broken, the cost of fixing them is much higher than it’s worth. Move on.

Despite the ever popular prediction that I’d grow out of my rebellious counter-culture silliness and joint the normal masses I’m getting less comfortable with possessiveness in relationships. It feels abusive and cruel to me. I’ve gone from somebody eager to proselytize about this cool new way of doing things I’ve worked out to somebody who avoids vocally polyamorous people because they’re usually hypocrites, and gets quiet and uncomfortable while women compare notes on their leash-maintenance techniques. Instead of saying, “But how do you get hurt if he sleeps with his best friend while you’re away?” I’m excusing myself from the room. Because I believe in love, and watching people suffocate each other and torture themselves with it is depressing.

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5 thoughts on “Because it’s been such a common topic lately…

  1. I know I’m being a smug little poly twit here, but…
    …and the next bubble-headed bitch to avail me with tales of what she’d do to her boyfriend/husband/fiance if he ever slept with another woman…
    …congratulate him, and ask to meet her sometime?
    ~Sor

  2. I’m with you on a lot of this. Watching my coworkers plan fieldwork for months on end in southeast Asia, I can just see myself: “Bye honey, going to Thailand for nine months. Enjoy your year of morally obligated chastity that I can’t enforce and probably won’t know if you violate. Use this ethical dilemma to remember me by!” I mean, I said it before and I’ll say it again: I married my career, and any SO is by nature going to be ‘the other woman/man’.
    I still think your “I don’t believe in working at relationships” is crap, though. You’ve just outlined a list of very specific expectations for how you want a relationship to go, which is fine, until you meet someone with different expectations. Could be because the mainstream got them harder than it got you, or because they just have different issues and needs, whatever. Sure, you’re the queen of avoidance; sure, those meta-conversations are awkward; sure, it’s particularly easy for you to just steamroll past them and impose your expectations on the relationship and make it work out through sheer force of momentum, until it “stops working out” and you cut it loose. I just don’t think that’s how it ought to be done, though.
    That’s just me. In any case, what on earth brought this on?

    • In any case, what on earth brought this on?
      Children. Loud, annoying, fully grown children inside my, “This is Anaea’s time with cool people” space.
      Re the working on relationships bit, we definitely disagree, but just to be clear a, “I’m angry at you for X” conversation is okay and good while a “Let’s discuss our relationship qua relationship” conversation is either pointless or a sign of huge, terminal problems. Granted, I think that because the level of personal insecurity required to need that kind of conversation is a relationship-shattering turn off for me. I know that’s a personal quirk, but it’s not going anywhere so I’ll just be upfront with it and then nobody gets to act surprised later.
      I should have included a paragraph about how I don’t believe in yelling/fighting. Oh well.

      • “I’m angry at you for X” is good. “In relationships, X tends to piss me off, just FYI, so if you’re prone to doing X let’s talk about it now before we have to have the ‘I’m angry at you’ conversation” is better, or so it seems to me. Not necessarily ad nauseum, but. It’s a reasonable thing to expect.
        I mean, as far as I can tell, “Let’s discuss our relationship” discussions really boil down to, “I want this. Are you willing to give it to me?” And so long as you cut out all the passive-aggression and, yeah, the yelling, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

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