Q: With all the red hearts still floating around, it got me to thinking. Do you think there’s just one person in the whole world that’s perfect for us? What about those people that never find anyone, and spend their whole lives alone? What about those people who juggle several partners at once? What’s right?
A: Ah, Valentine’s Day – the chocolate maker and florist’s favorite time of year. Love is in the air, prove that you love someone by giving them something, preferably something expensive that sparkles in the sun and costs more than a year’s salary. That’s the American way. Create a life choice, then demand that everybody else adhere to your choice, saying it’s the right thing, the good thing, the ONLY thing to do. We’re supposed to grow up, find somebody suitable (PLEASE make them the opposite sex, and preferably a lot like yourself in skin color, religious beliefs, political affiliation, and economically – it’s BETTER), get married, buy a mortgage, er, I mean house, have at least two kids (hopefully one of each), work at a job, and on and on. Rules and regs, folks, rules and regs. What happens to those brave few who
venture outside the norm? They can get ignored, ridiculed, persecuted, or worse.
It’s not like that everywhere, but look around you – can’t you kind of feel the expectations pushing in on you? It’s fine if that’s what you WANT. But what if you don’t have that American Dream? What then? Do I think there’s just one person in the world that’s meant for you? No. I used to, but now I think that as we change, our tastes in partners change, and if we’re already WITH someone, they need to keep changing, also, or your relationship is probably doomed. So if you think that you should stay with someone “till death do you part” then you may find yourself wishing for an early demise. The kind of person I was attracted to in my 20’s looks dramatically different than who I’m with now, and the man I’m with now has changed since I met him – we both have. But face it – being in a relationship is really hard work – it takes being open to compromise, and coming back day after day to try again, even when you’d rather just watch TV and forget about it. Simply put, I don’t think relationships are for everyone. Friendships, yes; but the day-to-day living with someone? Hard work. That’s why I don’t judge people who choose NOT to get married or live with somebody (or have children, for that matter). Now, if they WANT to be with someone and they aren’t, that’s a whole other thing.
When I hear someone tell me they want a boyfriend, but there aren’t any good men in Fargo (or wherever), I look at them and wonder how comfortable they are with themselves, how much they love and accept themselves, and how worthy of love they feel. I think you can find love pretty much anywhere you are (even Fargo!), but I think it all starts with us. You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. But maybe you DO love yourself, and you’re still alone. That would be a great opportunity to take the time for some self-work and reflection. Take some classes, journal, take trips, learn something new. You don’t have the distraction and work of another person sharing your life. It can be a really rich time. I call that “monk time.” We all get it, even if it’s only in really short bursts, but it’s important, whether single or committed. It helps you retain a sense of your self, which is crucial in any kind of relationship. It helps you stay in a relationship with yourself, connected and communicating. That then allows you to be fully with someone else, and can only help you – if you already ARE with someone, or WANT to be with someone.
Those people who feel the need to be with several partners at once? I’m admittedly judgmental about that – I think it’s a really bad idea. Why? Because when you’re in relationship with someone, it’s really emotional, and you’re sharing a part of yourself with another person. If you do that with a lot of people, then you’re spreading yourself too thin, and there’s a danger of losing yourself in the shuffle. You get scattered, aligning yourself with all of your partners’ lives and patterns. Plus I have a really strong monogamy gene – I think it’s best for everyone involved to only be with one person at a time. So, no – I don’t think multiple partners are good. In tennis; yes. In love; no. The bottom line is how are you able to be in a partnership; first with yourself, then with someone else. Rules? I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to what everyone “should” do. Love is love, and love is good, and love is necessary, and love is easy… until we get in the way. Then it’s up to us to muddle our way through to some solid ground.
I once heard it said that a good relationship is the closest thing we’ll come to heaven, but a bad relationship? The closest thing we’ll come to hell. Alone? Fine, if you want to be. With one other person? Hopefully it works for you. More than one person? Save the groups for bowling or basketball. Otherwise, keep it simple and keep it sweet. That’s all.
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