I have posted several blog entries about how poly relationships work. But I guess I mostly only talked about managing jealousy and having safe sex. I never talked about love.
A recent article a friend posted on Facebook suggested that you can only love one person at once. This is one of the two vanilla stereotypes that make me crazy. There are two:
1. You can only really love one person at once.
2. There is a ONE perfect person out there for you, and you must search for “the one” where everything just “feels right” with them.
First let’s talk about loving more than one person at once.
I love my husband and he’s currently stuck in school where I can’t be, so I have to spend a lot of time chatting with him online and making skype dates. And it’s more than that; I troll the internet searching for naked pictures of hot Asian women in bondage gear to send him. I save links to articles he would enjoy and send them to him when he wakes up. I think of him every moment of every day and I think of ways to make him happy.
I also maintain several boyfriends who are long-distance. I keep in touch with them because we dated and it was fun, but then we had to move away for work. And now we live apart, but I didn’t stop loving them and they presumably didn’t stop loving me. So we e-mail and text and keep in touch. I call these “to be continued” relationships, because if we lived in the same place, we would presumably pick up where we left off.
In addition, I have two boyfriends here in Oregon. And while neither of them are long-term material for various reasons, I can’t have lots of sex and fun moments and cool adventures with someone without growing to love them. I’m not made of stone.
I even have an ex that I am still ridiculously in love with and talk to all the time. (Yes, my husband knows.) Usually no one achieves “ex” status because I move around a lot and when I have to leave a place, I don’t stop loving the people there. You can’t break up with someone without a fight, in my opinion.
An ex involves a breakup. And Mr. Geek and I had a break up; maybe the worst one I’ve ever had. We even fought, which I don’t do with most people. And that doesn’t change how I feel at all, cuz I still love him to death and he knows it.
That is not all the relationships I am maintaining. There’s more. But, those are just the main ones. And this does not include friends, family, or the 300 Christmas cards I send every year. This doesn’t include lots of people who take up my time. I have never had sex with my drinking buddy here, but we still go out to lunch and spend lots of time together, so it still counts as a relationship that takes time to maintain.
In the article written by the judgmental vanilla guy, the claim is that you can not love more than one person at a time because really loving someone takes all the hours in a day.
Well, I have been in that kind of relationship. The kind where you ignore your family and friends and spend all your time with ONE person. You blow off girls night out and D&D (or whatever you do for fun) and you just spend all your time staring into the eyes of “the love of your life” all day. It is very unhealthy to behave in this manner. We all did it in High School and remember what happened? Remember how inconsolable you were when you broke up with your High School sweetheart?
Love like that has no balance. When one person is the focus of all your energy you become obsessive, jealous, paranoid, and delusional. Your imagination runs away with you every time they smile at another person. You worry about where they are when they are not with you. You insist that you would kill yourself if they died because you could’t live without them. This is not healthy behavior. This is High School behavior, and you’re meant to grow out of it.
Part of growing up is learning to maintain more than one relationship at once. This means you still see your friends even when you start dating someone new. You still call your mom. You still participate in your hobbies (whatever they may be.) You don’t loose yourself in every new relationship, because as you get older you learn that you need to keep your life in balance and never let one aspect of it overtake the whole.
And yes, some people never get as far as balancing more than one intimate relationship. For some, one is all they need and all they can handle. And that is okay. I am not judging that lifestyle.
But for some of us, it’s not like that. Some of us love more than one person at a time. And neither of those lifestyles is more valid or “real” than the other.
And now to say just a few words about “The One.”
This is a concept that is constantly reinforced all over society. You see it in movies and sitcoms and you hear people say it. “She wasn’t ‘The One.’” or “Well if he’s ‘The One’ you should get married.”
Look people; this is a mythical idea created by Disney and its not okay. You do not have ONE person who is the other half of you and that you must search forever to find. And when you find them it’s not going to be all magical and easy because love is hard work if you want to keep it, no matter who you are in love with. Love that lasts requires always courting the other person, and you must never stop bringing flowers and telling them that they are beautiful. You must never stop thinking of them when you are apart and finding little ways to show them you care. Because if you stop maintaining a relationship with anyone, no matter how compatible you are, it will die.
There certainly are degrees of compatibility. I am not terribly compatible with a football fan who is vanilla and doesn’t like to hike or watch geeky movies. Meanwhile, give me a goth kid who is a freak between the sheets, intelligent, and likes to ride roller coasters and I melt into a puddle on the floor. I swear I swoon every time I see Elon Musk speak. A D&D geek who builds spaceships is maybe the sexist thing on Earth!
So, you know, you are going to be more compatible with some people than with others in terms of interests and such.
And then there is chemistry. You’re going to have it with some people and not with others. Scientists speculate that it has to do with a woman’s ability to smell a good genetic match, and that “chemistry” is the feeling of someone you would make healthy babies with. That may well be a big part of chemistry. Who knows? But it’s a thing you won’t have with everyone, even if you may like the same movies and have the same interests.
So there are people you fit better with than others. And if you’re going to get married you should certainly choose the one you get along best with. I married my best friend and we have great chemistry and similar ideas about the world, as well as a few common interests. We have great conversations and we’re able to reason through rough patches without fighting.
But that doesn’t mean that I am going to build it up in my head and say that my husband is ‘The One’ because that is nonsense.
Here’s what you do; you pick someone and you say “I want you.”
There’s no big secret and no one person that is perfect for you. You just pick a person and you decide to make it work with them, and then you do.
Maybe those of us in the BDSM community are farther removed from the Disney ideals. I don’t know. But my friends know this stuff, and it isn’t until I watch a sitcom or talk to some vanilla folks that I even remember this stuff is out there.
So please, can we just admit that love, with anyone, needs to be maintained to last? And if you really love more than one person, you can put in that maintenance. It really is that simple.