There are some tricky issues in communication. Many of us have our sensitivities and our embarrassments. Not many things under the sun are new. I think a lot of Americans have a fairly fairytale sense of how romance should be, a sense that doesn’t mesh with reality. This is one example where communication gets chopped up because there is a poorly defined unattainable perfect standard to which we all fall short.
If you want just marriage, just one partner, for the whole life, by all means say that. But you can’t assume that. You can’t assume that anymore than you can assume that white culture is the right culture or that men understand female concerns. It’s beyond stupid to actually give that idea credibility because we’re dealing with highly subjective things. But we think that way often accidentally even though we don’t mean to approve of stupid ideas.
I think that if you love someone you help understand them and help support them even to the extent that they end up doing things that you don’t need or want but it’s not all about you if you are loving someone and you have any notions of practicality and efficiency so that you want your love to make a difference. Take a scenario I’ve been playing with where you’ve got a woman who wants a man and only one man and a man who had genuinely loved more than one woman. And to complicate this woman actually loves this one man because they click in so many ways. The difference of love pluralism might be one of the very few issues. What happens?
I know the text book American answer is that the man obviously needs to pick one woman he wants. But I’m saying there are other options AND that other similarly obvious beliefs are just as myopic. I’ll explain.
For starters each person is in charge of themselves and to think otherwise is counterproductive. Regarding two people: you and me, whatever quest you are on we meet when my quest intersects your quest in some sort of tangent. Your quest through life is important to you and mine is to me. If you are important to me then your quest is important to me at least meaning I would like to see you continue to follow it as you see fit. Your quest can’t be to remote control my behavior because that will create obviously conflicting objectives. You won’t succeed. I can’t support you down that road even if I love you and the whole relationship fizzles.
What remains unfair is methods of deceit. It’s wrong to be tricked into something where the deceiver absolutely knew the trick was being performed. There are bad people out there. Being open to individual quests does not imply that all quests are worthy just that each person has their own and it is the path that brings people together initially so it fed the interest and you should perpetuate that which makes your connection greater, meaning you should respect the quest of your loved ones.
Sure, I’m not really solving problems I’m adding complexity. But you do get several things from this. It seems to me that some of our less virtuous feelings such as jealousy, loneliness, enviousness, and rage are based on the fact that everybody is experiencing a similar quest and understands all the same values and priorities and somehow you’ve been victimized, left out or tricked in a way that it’s obvious to everybody what they did. These feelings suggest that a crime was in fact committed. For jealousy, the crime was one of disproportionate benefits going to the undeserving. for Loneliness the benefits are attention of people you value. Rage makes you feel slighted and immune from condemnation in trade and then you can go on the tirade.
We can sidestep all that. A person cannot be anything but what he is. He is more than one action but how much more? We’ll have to find a way to determine that on a case by case situation. Remember you don’t necessarily understand their quest, only that they are on one. Until you actually look and figure their quest out, you can’t compare yourself to them without overlooking a seriously important aspect of their individuality. Individuality is so important that looking at people as individuals instead of as women, as men, as Christians, as Arabs and treating them with women, men, Christian, or Arab gloves is considered bigoted. Treat me with your individual gloves, you asshole.
So the woman could love the man who loves more than one woman because the woman loves the man for something she sees and she gets something from the interaction. She might take advantage of his actions with the other lover to understand him better through observation. She might have her own things that she would pursue and now she has time. She might withdraw her love and move on. That’s her choice to make her choices. And when you love someone as she does him, she should leave his choices to him.
So when I was dating several people at the same time (great people all of them), they might have been low self-esteem people. They might have had all sorts of negative reasons why they would let me have their trust and intimacy. But I think the only real surprise was when I ended up very much favoring one of them because I had thought I wouldn’t be loving one person so much so soon after a previous relationship had gone all to hell. But if I ask you for something and you say yes to me, I cannot be held to a higher standard where secretly I totally know what you really meant. I will want to have considered what you really mean. But ultimately, I need to depend on you to be true to your quest. If “yes” is not on that quest, say “no”.
Isn’t that the way partners get true respect and true autonomy? When we stop trying to reign them in and think for them and instead try to work with them?
P.S. I have an awesome partner with no complaints. This post should not be seen as a complaint with her because I have none.