For some reason, last night I ended up doing a lot of LJ-surfing. I ended up adding some folks to my friends list from Convergence, which was kinda nice. And I tracked down some deeper topics and spied on some discussions that were happening in other's journals.
I happened across one that was really interesting-- it had to do with marriage, and how this woman had decided that she was never going to get married again. She had determined after her divorce that marriage was an outmoded concept in today's society, because with women and men being on a much more even footing than they were even a century ago and the speed and richness at which we live, the sense of ownership that comes with marriage has no place anymore.
And I remember thinking the same exact thing after my divorce oh so many years ago. The thought that there should be some less-permanent contract rather than the all-or-nothing of marriage seemed very good at the time, like re-evaluating where you are on a yearly or five-year basis. People change. Needs change. We grow, and sometimes we grow apart.
That divorce came about for different reasons, but in dealing with issues of relationships, I tend to go deep and analyze everything that I can.
So with the more recent breakup, I am once again searching the back forty of my inner mind. And lo and behold, I come across the question that keeps surfacing:
Why be in a relationship at all?
This question sits in my mind like a huge tree that has fallen in the forest where no one can hear it.
It's not like I need to be in a relationship. Hell, I know a few people who haven't been seriously involved for a long time, and they are some good people.
Support and companionship are good, but those are the kinds of things I can get from close friends. And truthfully, I'd rather have a dozen close friends than one relationship partner.
Sex and intimacy is a bit more complicated. The mechanical parts of sex are relatively easy to deal with, either with masturbation or with a sex professional for those who swing that way. Physical intimacy is a bit harder. Having a regular sex partner has some distinct advantages, because everybody likes things a little different.
But realistically, I don't want to become involved with someone just because of sex. At least not in the long term.
I want something deeper.
I want Love.
Wow. Okay, what is that? Other than the question that has plagued mankind since we first set flipper upon the shores of the teeming gene pool, what makes Love different than friendship and sex?
One thing that I came up with is this: a sense of belonging or completeness. And frankly that pisses me off, because it implies that I am somehow not complete within myself, and that goes against everything that I believe.
Perhaps there is a "special" emotional connection. I'll buy that, because I remember being in love, and I remember the specialness. But I was also in a damaged relationship, so that may have been an artifact of the dysfunction, or it may have ben infatuation, or lust, or a mixture of a number of feelings that I just can't identify now.
Come to think of it, all of my relationships have been damaged.
But that "special" connection-- why isn't that something that I can have with friends? Why can't I give of myself unreservedly to the people I trust?
Oooh, trust. Big meaning for such a small word.
Part of Love is trust.
But I can trust friends.
However, usually I hold back something. I reserve a part of myself, keep up a wall between the real core me and them. And the OneTrueLove is someone from who I don't have to hold back anything. I can trust without reserve.
I think I'm onto something here.
For a moment, let me extend to polyamory. In the true sense of the word, polyamory is "many loves", and I take that to mean more than just getting a lot of sex. I take that to mean that you have significant relationships with more than one other person.
However, from what I have seen, most poly relationships tend toward a primary pair with a secondary partner, sort of a modified monoamorous situation. Even most poly quads tend to have two primary couples, rather than an equal foursome (and yes, there are exceptions).
The tendency is to couple with one other person.
Okay, regardless of whether this fits for everyone is really moot. For me personally, it fits. I recognize that when I am in a relationship, I have a strong bond with one other person.
But is that a real bond? Is the concept of the OneTrueLove something that is programmed, that is expected, that is only illusion forced on by society?
Genetically, males are predisposed to mate with as many females as they can get their schvanztuka into (pardon the graphical imagery). Yet we tend to bond one-on-one, at least in western civilization. Pre-christian civilizations tended to have men of power and wealth having many women (harems), probably because they could provide for many women. Of course, women back then were considered more like livestock, thus the term "husband".
I think it's illusion. The practice of having many wives was indicative of great power, and the Church did not want any one man to symbolize that power, because it could detract from God.
That's probably a bit simplistic, but you get the idea.
So in theory at least, I am capable of loving many women. Perhaps I should consider a harem.
Then again, maybe not. I have enough trouble with one woman, let alone several.
And I don't know how intimate and trusting I could become with several women, let alone one.
Back to the issue of trust: what do I have to lose by trusting? Might I be embarrassed? Arrested? Killed?
Well, yes, I suppose all three. There are certainly some things in my life that I would be embarrassed by if they became public knowledge. Like that one thing I do with my... wait, never mind. And I have certainly done things in the past which were technically illegal, and perhaps even unethical. And one only has to look as far as a Shakespeare play or the news to find instances of one spouse killing another.
Hell, remember Loreena Bobbit and her solution to her hubby's little sleeping-around problem? I think that was a relationship-ender right there. (Though oddly enough John Wayne Bobbitt went on to have a career in bad porn. Go figure.)
But even if I decide to have no secrets, and I live my life in as legal a manner as possible, there is still a trust reserve.
Emotional risk. The risk of being hurt emotionally.
To paraphrase Dr. Smith: "Oh the pain, the pain...".
Yes, it hurts like hell to get dumped. It hurts like hell to be betrayed. I spend a lot of time avoiding that pain. But is there a reward that is worth the risk of the pain? The good feeling that comes from being in Love?
Dammit. There should be some way to get that good feeling without the risk. Something like drugs...
Or exercise... the endorphins. Another drug.
Perhaps we are all slaves to our body chemistry after all. Meat puppets.
You know, I am twipped by the knowledge that none of these ideas are new. They are old, some are centuries old. I am not unique in my explorations of the psyche and the makeup of love, nor am I unique in not finding concrete answers.
Maybe I don't need to.