The model of relationships that we in Europe – or more broadly, the Christian world – follow is relatively peculiar because I can see in it no advantage except from the point of view of commercial relationships.
I think it was instituted in an old patriarchal society where you would marry into money (the girl’s family having the initial disadvantage of fielding all the cash) or use marriages increasingly as a means to do nothing but cement relationships between powerful and wealthy families. Why two individuals would decide on a marriage, that is an exclusive union that brings with it unnatural strains and few advantages except perhaps the illusion of permanence, is a puzzle to me.
There is love, of course, and love binds, as people say. But I consider love to be better expressed in acceptance than in acquisitiveness. To allow someone to be who they want to be is a greater expression of love than saying I want to own you.
So why enter into an agreement of mutual ownership? Business and tax reasons? Comfort? Laziness? Or actually Love? Puzzling, isn’t it?
I’m not saying that it is an unnatural thing for two people to decide they want to spend their life with each other – this is a wonderfully beautiful thing – but to artificially limit this by inflexible borders is what I find unnatural. Perhaps it is my nature as a traveler, but I find borders to be woefully artificial things.
I also wonder how much of a role egoism plays in creating relationships that consist of mutual contracts of ownership. I believe that it is true that I define myself through you, that is, through all the yous that I meet in my life. If you are an expansive and free-willed person, so will I be. If you are tied down by my own wishes and desires, what will you be?
Also, there is a purely mathematical element involved here. If it is possible for two people to coexist and cohabit, it is possible for three people to coexist and cohabit. If it is possible for three people to coexist and cohabit, it is possible for four people and so on. The variables increase, but the essence remains the same.
I do not simply mean a collection of sexual affairs – that is something that is possible within or without any framework of relationships and requires very little imagination (it helps if you’re moving around, though). I am thinking about alternative models of human and also sexual relationships.
Of course that is complicated, requires a lot of investment and understanding and imagination. It also requires you to think differently about ideas of ownership, especially about the strange concept that you can own another person and make decisions for them. It requires you to water down your own ego quite a bit and accept the presence of other people in your mind and heart.
I am simply ruminating here – when we are young we are implanted with these ideas of ideal relationships and unfortunately it is almost always the same model that causes lots of heartache, guilt and secrecy and suppression of desires while wanting nothing but exclusive happiness. But ideally, I think, the world is full of possibilities for relationships in all forms, shapes and colours. Some might be brief and highly sexual, others slow and deep, others friendly, light and puzzling.
Permanence or something lasting might develop out of some, but not because we cast the image of permanence on top of them, but because we look back and forward and realize that there are trails in both directions.