Circle, Triangle, or Square: Which Relationship Will You Choose?

In the three and a half years I’ve been with my last girlfriend, I’ve run the gamut between different social-relationship dynamics. When I first met Noelle, I was a very different person. Traveling the spiritual path with heart, I had come to understand love differently from the normal archetypes of society.

Love was something to be shared with all beings. To love the universe itself, as a whole and in each of its individual parts, that was the goal. Love is not sexual, as I realized, but because many people associate love with sex, and hence, the opposite sex, it is uncommon to hear of a man platonically loving another man, or vise versa. Realizing that love is not sexual, when it is based on a compassion and understanding for the unity you have with all things, one can open their heart to friends, to nature, to people on polar sides of society. It is no longer special in this place – no longer necessary to guard your heart from others and trap it when you find that rare soul who loves you back. In this light, it is natural to love more than one person, and natural to want to express that love in an intimate way with those whom you do find a physical attraction.

This isn’t a swingers lifestyle. It’s not based on lust or base desires. It really is about love. I realized several years ago that there was no substance to encounters with women that held no meaning. No lasting resonance. Truly, the meaning behind the act is what’s important. The forms we use (our bodies) are just the medium we use to communicate that meaning.

So, as the depth of ones caring and compassion for a person grows, so too does the form of expression to communicate that love – from a hug, to a gesture of the hand, to a kiss and to making love. If you have the right understanding, if you both share this conviction down to your core, being intimate with many people isn’t difficult. There’s no drama. No jealousy. Things flow quite naturally.

This was my conviction when I met Noelle. As we grew closer, always one to continue experimenting with life, I thought it might be nice to try a new relationship shape. Circle, triangle, or square? Since I had not yet tried being in a committed monogamous relationship, I thought that would be fun.

Making a commitment to someone is a strange and wonderful thing, I thought. There is a certain intimacy found in being only for one, to share oneself only with another. And for the coming years I got to experience the beauties and difficulties that accompany living with someone.

The funny thing is, after living this way for a certain time and accepting a different set of relationship premises, my thoughts and bio-chemical responses began to change. The synapses in my brain re-routed, filtering my experiences through a uniquely monogamous lens. For what seemed like the first time, I experienced jealousy when she flirted with another guy, well intentioned though it was. I grew new expectations about how much time we spent together, and what measure of the self we would let go of for the benefit of our mutual self. I became more possessive. And I should mention that in all of these cases, the effect was not to any problematic degree. These effects were all well within the bounds of what would be considered “normal,” healthy monogamous behavior. Nonetheless, when I look back on those years, I can see how my attachment to our commitment firmly rooted my experience. Over time, we learned to be completely trusting, accepting, and loving in this new environment, with a mutual willingness to grow and improve ourselves, and it was here that we found the true fruits of this form of relationship.

As time went on, our need to blossom and grow and stimulate parts of our brain accessible through the experiences that come naturally to single life, we decided to try experimenting with some interesting middle-ground dynamics. For a time, we tried “being together,” but able to kiss or make out with other people. Seeing how our commitment had blocked my vision to any sort of affection with all other women besides Noelle, she encouraged me to make out with someone so I’d feel more comfortable, as she did around guys. I kind of laugh wondering how this sounds to people, but I can assure you it made sense in the context.

Long story short? While she did end up making out with one of my good friends right in front of me (accompanied by a cosmically ironic narrative by yours truly) and after, when he uttered, “Anyone else?” I kissed him as well, the whole occasion was, suffice to say, an odd and ultimately quite funny experiment. After that didn’t work… quite as planned… we went back to the tried and trusted, while further exploring less definable shades of grey.

As I reflect on these last three years, it’s interesting to see how our relationship dynamics changed over the years and how our beliefs changed with them. It’s quite easy to get into a comfortable groove with this sort of thing. Society reinforces the monogamous form of relationship in a myriad amount of ways, conditioning us to believe a relationship between a committed man and woman is the One Right Way: the way man was meant to love.

Without the moral or religious stigma to predetermine my explorations, I have been lucky to try out a diverse array of romantic forms, and listening to my inner voice, I can say, now three years later with confidence, that my original belief about love seems the most true. When you remove the lifetime’s worth of conditioning we’ve received, loving many people does seem the most natural.

Boxes, of any shape or color have always seemed to limit ones ability to be or become, and to try and fit the complex and potential manifestations of love into rigged, one-size-fits-all boxes, does seem to be the less natural of the two.

In all my experiences and research into the human spirit, in witnessing the many forms people find to express themselves, I am never ceased to be amazed by the diversity one finds when unhindered by moral shoulds and ought-to’s.

Diversity is what works, again and again. For me, unconditional, free love – spiritual love – is the love I choose to create in my life. Centering my life on the love of the universe, I can stay in intimate connection with the truth all around me – the truth behind and within the forms. It is like when someone says “namaste” when greeting and saying goodbye. Namaste means, “I see the divine within you.” When I say this, it keeps me centered in my awareness of things. If I’m distracted or caught up in the moment’s drama, it takes me right back to that place of awareness. Open relationships, in the same way, help remind me that it is all of YOU that I love. I love the world, the universe – you and I – all of which there is no difference. It always takes me back to our heart cave, where we’re all one, all different.

Where we’re all… { }

May 2006

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