8 out of 10 times when someone asks me if I have a girlfriend, my answer pisses them off. I’m not sure why. I guess I’ve just been blessed to meet a lot of people who care a lot about my love life ?
That’s why I was always unsure about writing this post, even though I feel like there’s some real value in it. Luckily, a couple of nights ago someone told me she’d really find it an interesting read, and I was reminded of something I experienced while writing our album last year:
The songs I felt most insecure about, the ones I almost kept “hidden” from the rest of the band were without exception the ones they liked most. So I guess that means I have to share this thing, right?
So… Are you ready to get pissed off?
Just kidding, as long as you’re open-minded I guess you’re safe ?
What Is a Relationship Exactly?
If you follow the standard definition, it goes something like this:
Step 1. Boy meets girl (or boy meets boy … or girl meets girl …or girl meets Eiffel tower )
Step 2. They decide to be sexually exclusive… congratulations, you now have a relationship!
Of course a definition like that -even though it includes homosexuality- still excludes a lot of people. What about swingers for example?
For the rest of this post ,I am going to use the term “relationship” in a broader sense. You have some kind of “relationship” with every person in your life: Friends, lovers, co-workers, family members, pets, slaves… all those relationships are different from each other and they all contain a unique mixture of ingredients:
• Shared memories
• Shared interests / opinions
• Shared goals
• A similar sense of humor
• Lifestyle compatibility
• Engagement from both sides
• An exchange of value
You can have two friends or lovers to whom you relate in a totally different way, even though you’d use the same word to describe each relationship.
It would be weird to make up different words for every relationship in your life of course. But you can just feel what it’s like to to be with them if you want to know what the 2 of you “really are”. At some point though, you’ll get into a situation where you have to introduce them to your friends or family. So to know what to say when that day comes you, ask them the scary question:
“What are we?”
And that’s when the two of you start to use…
Human beings like to label stuff. We want to understand things . And it can be frustrating if we don’t find the correct word for something. (Dammit, how do you call those bars the cashier puts in between every customer to know where the next person’s groceries start? Or those plastic things at the end of your shoelaces?)
We hate not knowing what something is. So we create labels to define the things we see around us and make sense of the world. Understanding gives us peace. But these labels always come with limitations, while the underlying reality does not. For example, we’ll define people as “gay”, “straight” or “bisexual” while the reality of gender and sexual orientation is much more complex, vivid and colorful.
We can try to fix that situation by creating more and more labels to include all the shades of grey but that’s a never-ending process. Because if you want, you can always go deeper. (That’s what she said.)
While this obviously shows the use of labels can be a good thing, when it comes to relationships they also have a very big down side I’m sure you already have experienced in some way:
When using labels, we skip a very important part of the communication process.
Depending on the environment we grow up in, we attach certain meanings to certain labels. Being “single” has a totally different meaning than being someone’s “husband” or “boyfriend”. That’s simply how a label works, it’s a word associated to a concept. The problem is that different people have slightly different concepts associated to the same labels in their mind. Yes, they will be similar in their essence, but the details can vary tremendously.
For example: What do the labels “wife” or “husband” mean to you? What are some things you can or can’t do when you’re married?
Take a moment to decide for yourself, then remember that definition while you’re reading this short story:
A few months ago a married girl asked me if I was still together with my ex. I’m not.
“Did you love her?” , she asked. I nodded in agreement, to which she replied “Well, then marry her!”
I told her that would be the worst idea ever. And that even if we were still together I wouldn’t be interested in marrying anyone right now.
“Then you don’t love her.” She said.
She looked very sure of her opinion.
I tried to tell her that I don’t believe in the idea that you need a contract to prove your love. And that just liking someone a lot doesn’t make you compatible. But in her reality it clearly was not possible to use the label “love” for someone you didn’t want to marry. The thought of me not having the same opinion about love or marriage visibly upset her as she tried to convince me to admit I didn’t love my ex.
Later that night I had sex with her while her “husband” was watching and encouraging us.
Interesting, right? Not only did we have totally different ideas about the meaning of “love”, I’m pretty sure the idea you had about what you can and can’t do as someone’s “wife” was slightly different from hers as well ?
Labels are useful, but when applied to relationships they’re always looking for trouble.
What if you and I were…
• …Best friends: Is that an exclusive position? Are there any other “regular friends” competing for that title? Is it a constant power struggle with clear winners and losers? Or does that just mean we spend a lot of time together at the moment?
• …Regular friends: Does that mean we can absolutely never have sex? Because let’s be honest here: I’m pretty sure there’s one or two friends you’d definitely bang if you were a 100% sure they wouldn’t start to act all weird and different afterwards.
• …Fuckbuddies: Does that mean we can’t emotionally bond?
• …In a relationship: Will you be mad if I don’t text you for a full day?
• …Exes: Does that mean I have to hate the new guy and all your friends have to say the new girl is a slut. Even though she’s gorgeous and has a great personality you’d actually like if you met her?
• …Dating: Hell, I don’t even know what that means ?
(On an interesting side note: The “Mosuo” people in China have no word in their language for “husband” or “wife”. They only use the general label “azhu” meaning “friend”. Incidentally, they also have no word for “jealousy”. Something we’ll talk about later. )
These conflicting associations are where labels start to fall short. If you answer the “What are we?” question with a label, you assume the other person knows exactly what your personal boundaries and your expectations of the relationship are. While in fact they can think you mean something completely different.
Just sayin’. You probably wouldn’t like to marry someone only to discover later that her definition of “wife” was that she could have sex with me in front of you. That’s the kind of stuff you better get clear about before.
If you don’t communicate about everything you expect the label to mean, you are bound at some point to come into a situation where you think the other person does “something you simply don’t do to your [insert label]”. While he or she may not even be aware (s)he’s doing anything wrong.
That’s avoidable drama 😉
Aligning with the Flow of Life
All of us have a path in life. If you would look at your entire life’s journey drawn out on paper you’d see that you started at point A (your birth) and followed that path all the way to point B (your death) (duh.)
The way you get there wouldn’t be a straight line though. Your path always twists and turns and you reach many dead ends on the way towards your goals. That’s how life goes. It’s not linear. It’s a fun, unpredictable adventure.
I believe relationships form when someone else is on a path that aligns well with yours at that moment in time. Since you are both going in similar directions, you bond with that person, leaving you both better off than if you were to stay alone. It’s great to be with a friend or lover and feel like you are “in this together”. (That was not a threesome reference.)
Of course both of your paths can never be completely identical (or you’d be the same person). You might grow together and take all the same twists and turns for 5, maybe even 10 years but at some point they will probably diverge. This can be just for a moment, or a permanent change of direction causing a loss of compatibility between the two of you.
This is natural and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A lot of friendships are amazing while they last but slowly start to grow apart without any real hard feelings, only to reconnect later when both paths start to align again.
As you both go on with your lives, the way you relate to that other person is constantly changing as well.
You could even go deeper and say that we all have “different” paths that we’re on simultaneously. Your career path, your spiritual path, your interests, hobbies, sexuality, etc.
Remember how I called every relationship a unique mix of these ingredients?
At one point you may be extremely well-aligned with someone on a sexual level but not at all when it comes to a similar sense of humor or shared interests. As you both progress on your path, some day the sexual tension might be gone but you’ll now find yourself with a shared goal you’re working on or a high level of comfort and intimacy. Of course the exact opposite is also possible.
I don’t believe that we are meant to find “the one” and spend our whole lives together with that person. It can happen, yes. But it probably won’t stay that way, unless you are both growing in compatible directions. Or if you are willing to accept each other completely, including the sides you don’t like and the other relationships in your partner’s life.
I’m not saying it’s impossible. One of my best friend’s parents actually seem to have an amazing loving and understanding relationship even after decades of being together. It feels like such a warm home to be in even as a guest. It’s amazing. But the fact that I even found their specific relationship worth mentioning amongst all those others should be an indicator of just how rare that sort of thing is ?
Why lie to ourselves and try to force every relationship we commit ourselves to, to be “the one” for each other?
Yes, it’s great to have that intention, don’t throw it away. But if it’s clear that you are no longer a match, don’t build your dream house on a foundation of fantasies. Or worse, settle for someone who doesn’t meet your expectations just because you’re afraid to end up alone. That last one is a definitely a commonly cooked recipe for disaster.
We tend to see relationships as something static. As if we could just get into them and stay in that fixed position forever. But they are not. It’s all pretty simple really:
People change. So relationship dynamics change even faster because they involve 2 (or more) people changing at the same time.
Change x change = More change
That’s exactly where labels fail. Even if you communicate what they mean up front, your desires, expectations and feelings towards each other can change while the label stays the same. At that point dissatisfaction can start to sneak in because the nature of your relationship will be confined by the idea you both had about what you two “are” to each other. Thus restricting your freedom to let the relationship flow where it wants to go and enjoy it as it really is. Because if you think in terms of labels that means according to the standard narrative that once you are not “boyfriend & girlfriend” anymore, you can no longer do the kind of things people in a relationship do together. Even if you would both want to.
It may seem like a label gives you some kind of security that the other person won’t be gone the next morning, but it doesn’t. Whatever your label is, it can be over in a heartbeat. It actually gives you less freedom to relate to each other in whatever way you’re feeling at the moment. Since you now have to live up to the expectations of the label day in day out. Even if you are going through a phase in life where what you actually feel bears more resemblance to a different label.
The label is an illusion anyway. Whatever relationship you have with someone, you have. No matter what you call it.
You can call it “boyfriend”, “just friends” or “fuckbuddy” all you want. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you both feel what you feel. A lot of times people stay in relationships that are clearly long dead or in which the reality has become more friend-like.
What’s happening there is that both people’s “paths” in life are diverging, but they can’t accept so they start to resist it and get clingy.
You start to believe that as long as the “label” is there, the love is still there. But in reality the love is gone whenever it’s gone. And when it’s gone, you can keep that label as long as you want, but it will only prevent you from letting other positive things into your life.
If you look at the process of evolution, you’ll see that the species that adapt to changing circumstances are the ones who survive. The species who stubbornly try to stay the same while living in an environment not suitable for them anymore, go extinct.
That’s exactly what’s happening here. If the dynamic between you is changing, the only way to “save the relationship” is to allow it to flow where it wants to go, not to try to “force” it back into an empty box with a label on it to make it seem like something’s still there.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the most beautiful box you’ve ever seen. It’s still a box.
Love is meant to be free, infinite, beautiful and pure. Not to be boxed.
You can’t change the natural flow of life. If you went with the natural flow of things but came to realize your paths don’t align anymore in any way: Deal with it. Allow the other person to become just as happy without you instead of treating them as if they are your only shot at a happy love life. That’s like saying your job at McDonald’s is the only possible way for you to ever make money. It’s simply not true.
If that sounds bitter, it doesn’t have to. The fact that no day in this life will ever be the same as the one before is actually what makes it beautiful. (Okay, I admit: Groundhog Day seemed like a fun thing to experience too ? )
After having read all the above and realizing how almost every relationship you get in will probably end at some point, you might ask yourself: Why would I even get into a relationship in the first place when I know it will all be over anyway?
Well, why would you even start watching a movie when you know it will end anyway? Because you’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
There is nothing more amazing than being with someone and allowing your love to flow freely in whatever direction it wants to go. If you’re in it for the long run, that kind of relationship can nurture you both, heal you and open you up to a whole new world of emotional and sexual experiences. It also brutally confronts you with any personal issues you have, urging you to fix them and become a better person.
Why rob yourself and the other person of that amazing experience just because you know it’s only temporary?
Hell, your life is only temporary ?
To lead into the next part of this post: Since there are billions of people walking around on this planet, that means at any point in time you also have thousands (if not millions?) of different people whose paths align with yours in one way on another. Each of them can bring out different things in you and stimulate you in a different way. Confronting you with different personal issues that provide a unique opportunity for growth. While some of them only align with you for a night (or 45 minutes), others may do so for years and years to come.
This means that at some point, for whatever reason, it can technically be possible that you meet someone outside of your relationship who at that moment in time aligns even more with your path in life than your current boyfriend/man/best friend.
What to do?
The Myth of Monogamy
When faced with the situation that you are attracted to (or emotionally interested) in someone other than the person you are currently in a relationship with, it can be very unclear what’s the right thing to do. Should you break up with them? Or would it be best to cheat on them just once to find out if you would regret it afterwards. Maybe hen it could show you if they are really the one or not 😉
If you just read that and considered it for a moment: What is wrong with you? That was some downright terrible advice 😉
I can imagine for some people it’s really hard to choose between the person that really excites them in ways their partner doesn’t, and the “secure” long-term thing they really enjoy even though it has become somewhat predictable.
You don’t want to give in to temptation the moment the grass looks greener on the other side, only to find out the connection wasn’t what you hoped for and that brief moment totally wasn’t worth losing the best thing you ever had.
But what if it turned out to be everything you dreamed of and you are actually throwing away a real chance at something better by staying faithful to your current relationship?
And what if you did cheat on him, found out it was indeed something great and you now find yourself torn between two people not knowing who to choose?
These situations definitely happen. I don’t believe we are limited to feeling love for just one person at a time.
I know at some point I have felt love for 2 people at the same time. It confused me a bit for a week or something because it went against all that I had been taught about love when growing up. But after I took some time for introspection I had to conclude that I was definitely feeling it.
It’s kind of funny how most people don’t seem to have any problem keeping multiple intimate friendships at the same time, parents can love their different children equally and music lovers can love different artists at the same time. But when it comes to romantic relationships, all of a sudden we don’t ever openly question the idea that it is impossible to like more than one person. We just assume that if you love two different men, it’s not real love. If you love your two children though, that’s definitely real love.
Weird, isn’t it?
Yes, I do admit that when I’m in love I experience some phase of “infatuation” in the beginning where I suddenly lose interest for 95% of all other women on this planet. But that’s only a phase. And it’s possible to be in that phase with more than one person as well. Especially if you meet a lot of new people every day.
I’d even go as far as to say that as a species, we are not monogamous by nature.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for us to do. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 4 years. It wasn’t “hard” to stay faithful and I’ve had some of the most amazing times of my life with that person. But that doesn’t mean that we natural are monogomous. It’s something imposed on us by society and religion because it had certain advantages at the time for the organization of a sedentary society?
Don’t worry, this is not some kind of crazy conspiracy theory, it’s pretty clear if you follow the facts:
First of all, no matter how much we claim to be “monogamous”, if you take an honest look at everyone around you, very few people are behaving like it. I’m referring here not only to cheating but also to one night stands, sex-only relationships and the “serial monogamy” practiced by most people in our society.
In every major organized religion (Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism), a man who cheats on his wife is said to deserve a severe punishment. In a lot of major countries even to this day, men and women who commit adultery get stoned to death. In other countries they practice female genital mutilation on a large scale in an attempt to control women’s sexuality. In our modern western society luckily the punishment is a lot less severe: Your partner leaves you and you probably won’t be “winning” the divorce.
Yet, even after centuries of barbaric violent punishment and social “condemnation”, people still cheat on each other all the time and in many cases on a regular basis.
Think about that. Even in societies where a small extramarital fling can cause you to be stoned to death, people still find it worthwhile to cheat on each other.
If monogamy is so natural for us, as opposed to having multiple partners, then why would such a ridiculously large percentage of people risk their reputations, families, careers, even their legacy as president of the united states for something that totally goes against our nature?
I don’t think it would be hard at all to just do “what’s natural” if that was the case. As the word says, it would just come “naturally”. You wouldn’t need a contract (marriage) to promise the other person you’d do what people naturally do. That sort of natural thing wouldn’t even be questioned. We’d just meet someone and automatically become monogamous. And you definitely wouldn’t need to be scared with all kinds of social (or brutal) punishments to prevent you from doing something unnatural.
I know I don’t need punishment to prevent me from eating shit ? I just don’t because it doesn’t feel natural, get it ?
Let’s be honest:
If you woke up tomorrow on a tropical beach where you could do absolutely anything with anyone you wanted (including multiple people if that’s your thing) and no one else would ever find out about it or get hurt: What would you do?
You dirty little slut! I knew it ?
Now what if you could make that same fantasy come true in real life?
What if you could have all the judgment-free, guilt-free sex you wanted?
Would that be such a bad thing to have into your life? And do you realize it is actually possible if you release all the mental blocks you have around love and sexuality and stop believing in socially constructed norms hammered into you during your childhood?
Those sexual desires you never talk about with anyone because they are so wild and free, the ones that make you feel odd sometimes because you wonder if other people have them too: They are there. They exist for a reason. And that reason is not to suppress them all the time. They are there because if we pursue them consciously, they bring people together, they make us happy and solidify the connection we have with a certain person, whether you’d label them “friend”, “husband” or “stranger”.
But wait a minute…
If you were to do that, wouldn’t that be…
If up until now you had the idea that I was writing this thing to justify cheating, don’t worry. I’m not. I’ve never cheated on anyone in my life. It disgusts me to see how many people can cheat on their partner yet continue to live picture perfect lives for years on. In fact just seeing that happen a few too many times with otherwise trustworthy people actually made it really hard for me to trust people at one point.
Still I can somewhat understand why it happens. If people constantly suppress the true nature of their sexuality to fit into what’s considered “normal behavior” they only make that urge harder and harder to ignore. Then when they finally give in to it they find it extremely hard to admit having done something that is so openly frowned upon by all the hypocrites surrounding them.
Instead of throwing stones and pretending we are without sin, why not just be honest to each other about our desires?
I used to think that all cheaters were bad people. But seeing how many people cheat in spite of their good intentions, I realized that they are not.
I have no idea how women justify their cheating when talking to their friends, but a lot of men just go and blame it on their “uncontrollable manly urges”. Which is a very weak and cowardly thing to do. If you know you have these “urges”, then just be unapologetically open about them up front. If you believe it’s part of being a man to have multiple sexual relationships going on, great. But it’s also part of “being a man” to be proud of who you are and stand up for it. Own those desires and make no excuses for them, don’t try to hide them or lie about them. If you want to be a man, be a man at all times, not just when it’s a convenient excuse to make up for your lack of willpower and respect for women.
…and I could say the same for women of course. Be proud of all that you are. Don’t sneak behind people’s backs to get what you want. Love yourself in all your wild beauty. And grant yourself everything you truly want to experience, whether that means being monogamous or not. But be honest so you don’t break any hearts from people you love.
Because really, what is cheating in its essence?
Is it the sexual or romantic encounter with someone outside your relationship that makes it so wrong?
No, it’s the lying, denying, deceiving and the breaking of promises to the people who trust you most. Doing something for selfish reasons when you know it will hurt someone you love.
If you really find something like that worth doing: Why can’t you just be honest about it to someone who you are so intimate with before the damage is done?
And really, if you tell them and that person doesn’t seem to see the value in being honest, then I think they’d be the kind of person who would probably cheat on you. At least now you know ?
“Unconditional love”. We all love the idea and we all experience a deep yearning to feel it in our lives. Still it is rarely ever practiced by anyone.
Perhaps you might have felt a love that comes pretty close to it one time. Or maybe you even feel it right now:
That moment when you look at that person and think “I love everything about you. Every inch of your body. Every weird personality quirk. Your stupid jokes that are secretly funny though I don’t like to admit it. I love all of you, warts and all.” (I mean flaws of course, I really hope that person doesn’t have any real warts ? )
When the “conditions” changed. You still supported that person through and through. Maybe they suffered from a depression or drinking problem at some point. Maybe they didn’t have enough money for the two of you to move in together and you really had to work to stay together… but you didn’t mind at all because you loved them so much.
Good start. But that’s still not real unconditional love.
Real “unconditional love” means just what the word says: That there are no conditions necessary for you to love the other person. That you love them no matter what. (That said, don’t be stupid and think you have to stay with an abusive partner because you “love them unconditionally”;-))
• Do you get angry with your girl if she wants to go out with her friends and you think her clothes are too revealing and the club too risky? Sounds like you’re putting a condition on your love then.
• Do you get disappointed if she just wants to spend the night cuddling while watching reality TV while you hate that garbage. Kind of a conditional love you got there, methinks.
• Would you leave them if they slept with another person? Well, that’s clearly still a condition to me. Yes, consent is important when it comes to sex. But third-party consent? That’s something different.
You can even flip this around in a way you might have not realized: If you take pride in being a strictly monogamous person even while allowing your partner to have others, that actually still prevents you from loving him/her unconditionally.
This may sound a bit confusing but it makes perfect sense:
If you choose that person as your only possible lover in life, you are actually putting the full responsibility for the fulfillment for all your romantic, intimate and sexual needs on them. You are literally making them your only supplier of those feelings. Not only is that a lot of pressure, it is totally unfair.
Being monogamous literally means that if at some point the two of you have different sexual wants or needs there are only two options:
• One person participates against his or her will.
• Do nothing and feel unsatisfied about your sexual relationship.
What do you even do in this case as a monogamous married person who identifies as bisexual?
This reasoning is not only limited to sex. If you enjoy doing certain activities with your lovers that the other person doesn’t enjoy (long walks on the beach, watching reality shows while cuddling or dressing up like my little pony characters at annual conventions), you’re left with the same problem.
Yes, you can always compromise on small incompatibilities, like which side of the bed you sleep on or what color to paint the walls of your house in. It would be stupid to fight over that, but if you “dim down” an important part of your life, you’ll both come to resent each other over time. Even though the seeds of love might still be there, that’s a poison environment for anyone to be in.
You can change your relationship a little to make it fit into your lives, but you can not change your entire life to make it fit into a relationship. It’s just way too big to fit in there. (…is what she said, of course.)
If you put limits on someone’s love, you are also limiting the amount of love you can receive from them.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Maybe, if we had the courage to look into our own hearts when we say that “the other person doesn’t love us like they used to”, we would see that in fact it is us that are not loving them enough.
Often when you feel that way you are simply loving them conditionally. And you feel hurt because they violate your conditions in some way and don’t behave like you want to. As if loving you implies certain duties and responsibilities.
Now you might be thinking “That’s a very cute theory, Pep. And I know the world would be a better place if we all embraced this. But what about jealousy? I can’t choose not to be jealous? Can I?”
Or maybe you might not be the jealous type but you just want those skanky bitches to get their damn hands off of your man?
Why Do People Feel Jealous or Possessive?
We fear that if our lover would get involved with someone else, that would be a threat to our relationship. We’ve been taught all our lives that love is a zero-sum game. “If he kisses someone else at a party, than that must mean he loves me less than he used to”, we think. “And if she would date someone behind my back, than that could mean she’d drive off in the sunset with that guy and what we have would be over.”
So in essence, jealousy is caused by two things:
Our own insecurities and the incorrect idea that the other person’s love is a finite resource.
Looking back on experiences I had I can say this has been true for myself as well.
I was never the jealous type (perhaps even a little too naive in the past) until at one point I was staying with my girlfriend in Berlin (who lived there at the time) and I noticed she was spending a lot of time with a guy who I knew was interested in her. No bad intentions on her part. I just knew he was into her so I didn’t want her to be around him.
For the first time in my life I experienced what it was like to be jealous, I totally couldn’t stand the thought of them spending any time together. Why?
Since I had to go all the way to Berlin to see her now, her love had become more “scarce” to me. I didn’t see her as often as I used to and the thought that in some possible future someone else could maybe receive more of her love than me made me unhappy.
In hindsight I wish I would’ve told her as soon as she moved there for a year: “You only make memories like that once in your life. I don’t want to limit that experience for you in any way. So whatever you feel like doing in Berlin, just do it. Go crazy and create some cool memories for you to look back on.”
But my love was too conditional. So instead I got jealous even when she was being the perfect girlfriend. How many other people would use “What happens in [slutty vacation destination of your choice]…” as an excuse for cheating even without their partner’s permission while she didn’t?
Much later, at the end of our relationship we totally weren’t sure if we should break up or not. Some things about what we had were simply too good to leave behind. So we decided to just “break up for a couple of weeks and see how it feels before we decide”. There were no real limits at the time except that we communicated that we wouldn’t kiss anyone else in front of each other because that might be too hurtful.
Then one night I was with her and she kissed another guy. I was really pissed off at her because she disrespected me by “breaking that rule” and wasn’t considerate about my feelings. However when I observed those “feelings”, I realized that it actually didn’t bother me at all to see her with someone else. I had just expected it to hurt because society raised me to believe it would.
I realized that guy was not making her love me any less. He was just some other guy she enjoyed being with. I also felt secure enough about my own value as a person to not start to compare us or anything. I was still mad at her for the rest of the night, but it started to go away as I realized that there was no reason to have that rule in the first place.
I am convinced that a big part of the jealous or possessive emotions we feel are simply there because it is the social norm. We’ve been taught that it is a natural human emotion.
Is it though?
Fear is certainly a natural emotion. And just like all our other insecurities, jealousy is an expression of fear.
But whether or not someone else’s sex- or love life makes you feel insecure depends on your evolution as a person and the society that you were raised in. There are definitely social circles, even entire societies in which jealousy as we know it doesn’t seem to exist.
What if we didn’t grow up listening to songs and watching movies that confuse love with possessiveness and desperation? (Really, Bruno Mars? You’d jump in front of a train for her? , That’s a serious sign of mental illness, buddy ? )
What if we as a society weren’t constantly suppressing women and men’s sexuality , making love appear as a scarce resource to us?
What if you had enough confidence to realize that the first person who loved you wasn’t your only shot at love in life?
What if you didn’t have to worry about him leaving you on your own to raise the kids with little money?
Seeing that jealousy is nothing but a reflection of your own fears and insecurities, the way to fix it is to fix yourself, not try to control the other person.
Once you remove the fear from your jealousy, you realize that there is actually nothing left.
It’s been said that fear is the opposite of love. Which one would you rather surround your partner with?
A wise man (or woman, and come to think of it I don’t know who it was so I’m not sure if they were wise) once said:
If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it means it was yours. If it doesn’t , it was never yours to begin with.
When you talk about these things with people and “nonmonogamy part” comes up, they often seem to think you have some kind of commitment issue. As if you cannot be committed to someone while seeing other people.
What is the most important nonnegotiable thing you are committing to when you start a relationship?
If you answered “sexual exclusivity” please think again ?
What about: Each other’s long-term happiness? Making things work so that you can both have the life you dream of while spending a lot of time together because that makes every moment better?
By the way, here’s something scary about the nature of commitment:
Just like the reality of your relationship can be totally different from the label you give it (Haven’t had sex in 5 years? Feel free to call it “marriage” but the reality is that you’re friends at best.), the same can be true for your commitment.
Commitment is not a contract, it is a state of mind. If you were to meet that same person again, knowing things would be like they are today, would you still renew the commitment? If not, you already aren’t committed anymore. Stop lying to yourself.
Maybe your parents and teachers told you that if you “made a commitment you have to stick with it”. But the reality is that you can not “choose” to be committed. You either are committed, in your heart, or you’re not.
You can act in a committed fashion all you want. But at that point you are no longer committed to your partner’s happiness, only to your own self-image of being “a person who takes commitment seriously”.
If you’re committed to your monogamous relationship and you find yourself “not cheating” just because it would be morally wrong, chances are you are not committed. You know what true commitment is?
Not cheating because you wouldn’t want to hurt her for anything in the world.
We’d all like to believe a commitment (like marriage) is permanent, because let’s face it: We don’t want people to leave us. But the reality is it still happens. Sometimes you just aren’t committed anymore. Things change. Constantly.
So when you commit, do it every single day as if it was the first time. Commit every day because you still love that person and have the genuine intent to spend the rest of your lives together. Not because you once decided to be in a relationship and now want to take responsibility for that decision.
Wouldn’t it be much more beautiful and fulfilling to know that every second someone spends with you is spent because they genuinely love you as a person and not just because you once decided to be “boyfriend & girlfriend”? ?
Conclusion: Free-Flowing, Label-Free Relationships
Putting all these parts together, you might feel like this post contained more questions than answers. Luckily that wasn’t the point. Most of those thoughts and ideas were simply a build-up to some practical tips you can apply if you want to take the jump and allow yourself to experience love in all its beauty, even if it might not fit the picture other people painted for you:
First of all, start to become aware of your path in life and how it flows next to the lives of others. Keep observing how you feel around the people you spend most time with and what keeps you together. If you feel attracted someone other than your primary partner that probably has a reason. So allow yourself to explore that connection. Life is short. Spend it with the people you love. And don’t cut any possible connections out of your life just because you already “met 1 person you like”.
Realize this is the same for your partner and they can also meet other people who they can connect with. No problem, you both want each other to be as happy as possible, right? Maybe you even end up both liking the same person and it can lead to some pretty cool adventures! The key here is that you are completely honest to everyone you meet, no lying, hiding or sneaking around after anyone’s back. Hurting other people on purpose has nothing to do with love.
“But why would you want to continue to meet new people if you already had a lover that makes you happy?” You ask?
Why read another book if you’ve already read one you liked? Why watch another movie if you’ve already seen Airplane!, Anchorman and Avatar?
The only reason we think we should only experience one person’s love is because it’s what we’ve been told all our lives.
By the way, just wondering: why do all the best movies start with an A?
Second, replace the use of labels with open, clear and honest communication.
What are your expectations? needs? Desires? Boundaries? Feelings about each other?
Don’t do this just once, but continuously through the relationship whenever something comes up. Don’t hide anything that bothers you. Don’t leave any positive things unspoken.
Let go of any expectations you have about your relationship with anyone. Stay open-minded. Expectations open up the door to disappointment. If you go on a date with someone with the expectation that you’ll either end up kissing or that the date failed, you are cutting yourself off from all the other possibilities. What if you just end up having a good intellectual conversation, or even become business partners? Who cares if you don’t have the chemistry to explore physical intimacy together (at this moment).
At the same time, don’t just use “staying open to any outcome” as an excuse to hold back from escalating physically ,trusting that “the flow of life will just take care of it”. That’s not “letting things flow”, it’s “not being authentic”.
In the end what is a broken heart? It’s what happens when a relationship fails to live up to the expectations you had attached to the label. These labels are an attempt to predict and control both of your futures. But as you know that is impossible to do. So accept that relationships can go anywhere they want to.
If you don’t want a broken heart, don’t get attached to a specific outcome for the relationship. And allow yourself to ride the rollercoaster of love, even if it takes you to some depths now and then. It’s when you go down you start to feel how much you love it. Don’t close your heart to this experience because it’s uncomfortable, open up and embrace the feeling. It’s this instability and chaos that makes people want to go to amusement parks, why not allow yourself to fall in love, it’s cheaper?
Lately I’ve even started to leave these labels behind me completely and just refer to everyone I know by their names unless I want to respect their privacy. Who cares if they are friends, acquaintances or romantic affairs? They’re just people, and I relate to all of them based on who they are, not what we are. Whenever that “What are we?” question pops up in my head I remind myself that “I have no idea what we are, I just know I like it.”
Third, don’t commit to the commitment, commit to the love. If you stay together because of the relationship you are trying to turn the present moment into a copy of the past. The only thing that matters is the connection you feel right now and enjoying it while it lasts. Commit in the morning because you still want to, and set the other person free when it’s clear your love has run its course no matter how hard it is.
Knowing it can be over any second might seem scary, but it’s not. It’s exciting. It’s pure, real and breathtaking. Every second spent together is a true second if you know the other person can leave whenever they want. It makes you treasure every single of those seconds because you know what you feel is real, and not a result of a label you’ve both grown attached to.
Does that mean ditching them after one bad day? of course not. You can have long “bad” periods while your paths still align. Or the precise connection you feel can shift. Maybe one day you just want to talk, another day you want to cuddle in silence and on yet another you want to pour hot candle wax all over them while you tell them they’re a worthless piece of shit that only exists to serve you. That’s all fine. But if it’s clear that you don’t work together anymore, then that’s something that needs to be confronted.
You can act as if this is just some crazy theory from an upcoming blogger. But no matter how many labels, systems and rules you make; The underlying reality of life stays the same. Love goes where it wants to go and doesn’t listen to labels, rules or promises.
So if you had to choose: What would make you happier? Holding on for the rest of your life to a pretty label while your paths have already gone different ways? Or treasuring every beautiful moment you experience as intensely as possible with anyone while it lasts, aiming to leave everyone you meet better off than you found them?
I’m convinced that when you are willing to be courageous say “whatever we have, can become anything” to everyone you meet, it will literally become anything that the magic and chemistry between you two can create. Which is so much deeper and richer than when you confine it to a beautiful box with a label on it.
True love is not assigning someone a specific role in your life and feeling hurt when they color outside those lines. True love is accepting them as they are while encouraging them to grow at the same time.
True love is free, beautiful and limitless. It’s letting that person be themselves in every way.
It’s when you love to see that person happy just as much as you enjoy making your self happy. Even if that means other people in her life (or your shared bed). Even that means not seeing him when he’s pursuing his dreams of becoming an astronaut. Even if that means having an uncomfortable conversation with your friend when you know it can help him.
Let go of all jealousy, work on your own self-esteem and remain in a place where you’d be perfectly fine alone. But stick together anyway because it makes your days so much better you’d be a fool not to ?
Love exists in the now. Don’t take it for granted that someone will still be available to you in the morning. Don’t expect anything. Don’t reduce a woman to a wife or a man to a husband. Let them be whatever they are. Don’t try make your tomorrow predictable, because it isn’t.
Let go of all that you’ve been taught and dare to embrace the beautiful chaos and complexity of human interaction. Let everyone’s love (including your own) flow free in whatever direction it wants to go instead of trying to capture it, and watch the magic unfold.
Are you ready to take the jump?