I spent most of my day yesterday watching the NFL playoffs and thinking about how to sum up this multiple partner relationship thing and with focus on why more than how… and this is what I came up with.
Back in the 60s and 70s, hippies were the subject of a lot of social derision because they tended to form communes that allowed them to live and, yes, love together while working toward a common goal. I mean, who does that when everyone knows that things shouldn’t be done like that?
History shows that not only did the commune hippies get it right but it was the way humans lived and interacted with each other before the advent of monogamy because it allowed a whole lot of things to get done that two people, alone, couldn’t accomplish easily or at all.
Those hippies caught all kinds of hell about what they were doing and not much attention was being paid to why there were doing what they were doing and, simply, the more people you have working toward a common goal, the easier things tend to be for one and all and, sure, that just wasn’t limited to day to day things needed to be done for survival but the hippies “remembered” that when you can have multiple sources of sex, intimacy, and even love, well, does it really get any better than that?
And, okay – some, ah, pharmaceutical intervention did seem to make all of that a lot more fun to do and be a part of but unlike society back in the day, I’m not focusing on this aspect so much as I thought about why communes worked for those fun-loving hippies.
Anyone who’s been in any kind of relationship knows that, at some point, the newness of the relationship eventually wears off and everything gets to be rather routine and downright “boring” and to the point where a couple begins to realize this and, when they do, the question comes up of how they can spice things up and get them back to the days when their relationship was new, fresh, and damned exciting.
The problem people have when it comes to answering this question is trying to figure out something they can do that doesn’t violate the rules under which the relationship is “supposed to” operate under. Now, this isn’t to say or suggest that imaginative couples can’t find ways to spice it up without breaking the rules or that once they find a way to add spice, they can’t maintain it… but a lot of couples do discover that whatever way they came up with is, at best, a temporary method; somewhere down the road, they find themselves right back where they started from and again asking what can be done to liven things up in the relationship…
But still with the intent on not breaking any rules. Most attempts to do this are eventually abandoned because it doesn’t take being a Mensa-level genius to figure out that in some of the things that might be needed to breathe new life into the relationship, uh, um, you need some outside assistance and of the type that the rules don’t allow but would make the day to day things involved in living a lot easier and, yes, that also means being able to have new and different ways to have sex (and you’ll notice I didn’t use the word “better” here and I deliberately didn’t use that word).
As discussed, how a couple goes about this can be as varied and complex just as what’s to be done can be. When this fails, it’s usually because folks are paying more attention to what’s going on than they are keeping firmly in their minds why they’re doing it.
Logically and intelligently, why this should be (at the least) attempted isn’t that difficult to figure out… but it’s that emotion-laden resistance that makes this seem impossible and driving the bus is that belief that it shouldn’t ever be done. This belief is so deeply entrenched in our minds that when we hear of other cultures who go about their lives and with the mindset that it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who does what as long as it gets done, we think of them as being uncivilized heathens for living and loving “commune style” and not paying much attention to the fact that what they’re doing is actually working for them.
We don’t see this or pay attention to it because we don’t believe that it should be done so since we tend to believe this, how can it work? Well, it works because it has to and the people involved are dedicated and committed to making it work because their continued survival does depend on it working and as best as humanly possible.
I’ve heard so many people express their opinions about this and quite negatively and, in the beginning, it used to piss me off… until I asked myself why it was making me angry. What I discovered was that the source of my anger was those detractors going on and on about what we were doing… and not paying one bit of attention to why we were doing it – and it didn’t matter that when I found myself having to explain things, I was talking about why more than what.
They just weren’t hearing the why of it; there was nothing I could do about that so it didn’t make any sense for me to be pissed off about something that someone else was, bluntly, incapable of understanding. I spent an equal amount of time listening to people prattle on about why such a thing didn’t make sense to them and that they wouldn’t do some shit like that… and it wasn’t so much that they were doing this that I paid attention to than it was listening to what they were saying and why they were and believe me, it taught me some seriously important shit about being non-monogamous as well as pointing out the source of this ever-present mindfucking that we’ve all been subjected to.
So, once again, instead of being and/or feeling pissed off, I’d often find myself laughing over such things and because I/we understood something that we’ve seemed to have forgotten, namely, it takes a village to do a lot of things for the benefit of the whole. For instance, when I was growing up, you seriously tried to stay out of trouble because if you did, you didn’t just have your parents to deal with – you had to deal with every adult/parent in your neighborhood and if they had to kick your ass right then and there, it got kicked, you got taken home, ratted out to your parents, who would then not only thank the other adult/parent for their intervention but would turn around and kick your ass again because, you know, you just can’t get your ass kicked enough to get you to understand that you shouldn’t be doing things to keep getting your ass kicked.
You try this today and you’ll probably wind up in court, huh? And I’d guess that as you read this, you’re focusing on what more than the why of it, aren’t you? Why? Because, at least back then, it was very well known that parents could only do so much in this regard because they had to work or whatever so keeping an eye on the kids wasn’t always possible… but if the adults in the neighborhood banded together to keep an eye on all of the kids, well, that worked… and much to the detriment of the kid who got caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing and even if that meant getting ratted out for doing it and letting the parents handle the punishment.
We’ve gotten away from this “village mentality.” We’ve also gotten away from the reason why communes actually make a lot of sense and, yep, we have most certainly gotten away from being able to enjoy and/or otherwise appreciate the diversity when it comes to having sex, being intimate, loving and being loved. As mentioned, the moment we get married or into a relationship, we are binding ourselves to the ideal that the two of us is all we’ll ever need when it comes to handling all of the shit life is gonna throw at us.
And then we find out that, nope, that’s not what’s really happening and it is one of the things that makes being in a relationship so difficult; we find, discover, realize that that even at our very best, we’re just not enough to face life’s challenges and, yeah, even for each other. We get to this point in the relationship and we choose to either keep struggling to pull off the impossible or we just give up, end it all, then either start all over again (and knowing that you’re gonna eventually wind up in the exact same place again) or resolving to never get into a relationship ever again.
And many people do ask themselves, “What if it didn’t have to be like this? What if there was a way to make the impossible possible? What if you could have your cake and eat it, too, while even sharing the cake?” The question usually can’t be answered because the mere thought of this can make one’s brain just lock the fuck up and for two reasons other than this is some complicated shit to think about: We’re not suppose to do shit like this… and we don’t know how to do it. Then it gets even more difficult when one person figures this out, sees that it can be done, sees the sense in doing it and even has a general idea how to get it done… and now you have to convince the other person in the relationship that there’s an answer to what we’ve been going through but in order to take care of that, um, we’ve gotta break some rules… and quite a few of them.
Otherwise, things between us are going to remain unchanged and stagnant and our relationship is going to die… and do we really want it to die an early death? Logically and intelligently, this doesn’t make any sense – and even you folks who are totally against such a solution are aware of this but ask yourself exactly why you’d be against such a solution…
And perhaps you’ll better understand what I’m talking about. People don’t think they can do this because they don’t believe that they can… and because they were taught, just like everyone else, that it shouldn’t be done for any reason.
We dissed the hippies back in the day for living and loving like this; we turn our noses up at the many existing cultures that live and love like this because, in our “more civilized” minds, this ain’t the way to do anything. There’s a new TV show coming on that revives and earlier show – “Sister Wives” – and if you’ve seen the promos, I’m sure there are a lot of people already forming their arguments against such an immoral thing to do… thinking more about what’s going on than why it’s going on.
And not really thinking about the fact that there’s only so much two people can do for and with each other as well as for the reason why you’re together in the first place. We’re quite arrogant when we think or say that just because we wouldn’t do such a heinous and greedy thing, no one should do it – there’s no reason for it.
And if this is what you think, I’m the guy with the utter gall to tell you that you’re wrong… because there are reasons for it and I have the temerity to tell you that you know what those reasons are because chances are good that your relationship ain’t exactly going as smoothly and as care-free as you think it should… or you’re no longer in a relationship at all because the two of you couldn’t figure out how to make it work and keep it alive… and not because of what couldn’t be done but because of what, in your mind, you weren’t going to do for your happiness or anyone else’s for that matter.
One of the questions I had to answer a lot is, “What if shit goes wrong?” My answer? “If it’s gonna go wrong, it’s gonna go wrong; it’s not that it goes wrong but what you do when it does.” And if you have enough people working together to handle whatever went wrong, the better the chances it won’t be wrong for much longer and more so when everyone involved is dedicated and committed to limiting the things that can go wrong and, again, to the best of their ability to do so.
It’s not perfect and, importantly, nothing lasts forever. Nothing. We all have bought into the “happily ever after” fairy tale only to discover that it’s a fairy tale – it’s unrealistic and we continue to believe that there’s nothing we can do about it to recapture the magic and wonder of those opening days of a relationship. When we hear of or see people who aren’t buying into this by doing the “unthinkable,” well, that shit is crazy, ain’t it? But don’t we also notice that the things that tend to plague us in trying to maintain a good relationship isn’t that big of a problem for those folks who have, for whatever reason why they’ve chosen to do this, seem to be doing quite well in such an impossible endeavor… while the rest of us are still wondering what we can do to make a whole lot of things better for ourselves and each other?
And especially those folks who are all alone right now and not in the loving relationship they wanna be in. Not in a relationship due to infidelity issues? Unable to get your heads together and come up with effective ways to solve those day to day issues that tends to fuck shit up? Sitting back and brooding about why things have stopped being as good and as exciting as they once were or even asking, “Is this all there is? Is there no more?”
And perhaps also understanding things have gotten to be so stagnant and stuck in place because they weren’t willing to do whatever was necessary to insure that the relationship can continue albeit in a very different way and direction.
We hold true that love is unconditional – and it is – but people? Not so much. We will tell someone that we love that we love them and that we’d do anything for them… and, looking at this a certain way, it’s a lie because we can easily think of a gazillion things we’re not gonna do for someone that we love, up to and including believing that the greatest act of loving someone is to let them go.
And we’ll let them go because, for the most part, there’s not a whole lot we can do for them beyond what we’re able to do as an individual. I’m still the guy who’ll ask you what, on the surface, is a simple question:
What if you had help with it? What if you could get some help? What if there was a way to banish the specter of infidelity? What if you could get help to make those ends do a better job of meeting? What if the two of you didn’t have to struggle with making the impossible possible?
What would it be worth to you, hmm? Sadly, many of us will answer this question along the lines of, “It’s not worth it…” and followed by all of the things that justifies this conclusion.
But what if you’re wrong about that?