The idea that we aren’t suited to monogamous relationships has been a subject of debate for ages. Hopel
essful romantics will argue that not only are we suited to monogamy, a monogamous relationship is the best possible relationship attainable. On the flip side are those who’ll claim monogamy is an unnatural dynamic for us. Things like our biological imperative are frequently referenced as rationale by not just polyamorists, hedonists, and sensualists, but by everyday folk who’ve simply had difficulty making monogamy work.
This topic was in the news recently thanks to a candid interview Playboy magazine published with actress and chanteuse Scarlett Johansson in a bit of shrewdly deliberate Valentine’s Day counter programming. E! News expanded on the topic in an article that quotes a number of other celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Cameron Diaz, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who voice support for the contention that monogamy just isn’t workable.
Ms. Johansson, while respectful and reverent of the theoretical concept of monogamy, claims it’s “hard work” for “everyone.” Then makes the leap that her claim “proves that it’s not a natural thing.”
Ms. Johansson has been married twice, so undoubtedly a lifelong monogamous relationship is something to which she aspires. But her extrapolating her own inability to achieve one into it being an unnatural concept for everyone is both presumptuous and laughable. She hasn’t done it, so therefore it’s not doable. Really?
For sure there are probably plenty of people out there, both in and out of monogamous relationships, who either wholeheartedly agree with the “unnatural” characterization or who are open to the possibility that Ms. Johansson is onto something.
For what it’s worth, here’s where I come down on the subject of monogamy. I can understand why a high percentage of people feel it’s unattainable or unsustainable, that it’s ongoing hard work, a grind. Even unnatural. If one isn’t in a relationship characterized by True Love, not in an Everything relationship, then the bottom line is that it will absolutely be an effort to remain in that relationship in a monogamous way. Imagine perpetually trying to get the square peg in the round hole. It just ain’t happening, no matter how hard you try. To varying degrees, that applies to a pretty big percentage of romantic relationships.
The heart seeks not only love but True Love. That’s the romantic Holy Grail. The Powerball Trillion-Dollar Jackpot. To realize a True Love/Everything relationship, you’ve got to be willing to define exactly what’s important to you in a partner and a relationship, then, when you manifest/meet that person, be willing open your heart fully without expectation. You gotta give big love to hope to receive it. That’s just how it works.
From my own personal experience, as someone who’s been married and divorced, and nearly married a second time before finding True Love in middle age, I can assure you that monogamy and True Love are a seamless whole, inextricably connected to each other. Monogamy isn’t “work” when you’re in an Everything relationship. It’s the opposite: your connection to your partner is so deep, strong, and ever growing that the notion of other possibilities is absolutely irrelevant.
It’s surely the case that for celebrities like Ms. Johansson and Mr. Hawke there’s no shortage of opportunity, of possibility, available to them. Perhaps that reality undercuts the conviction and fearlessness required to open the heart fully, be truly vulnerable and exposed, since those choices carry with them the risk of failure. With so much opportunity, there’s less motivation to step outside the comfort zone, to risk rejection. Why freely offer more of yourself than you’re comfortable offering, when someone who you consider a perfect match is happy with whatever you’re willing to offer? Oh, it turns out they’re actually not down with your limits? Adios, then! Who’s next?
To reiterate, just opening up your heart to someone doesn’t mean you’ll end up in a True Love relationship with them. There’s always the chance of rejection. But if you want an Everything relationship, want True Love, you’ve gotta give everything of yourself. No holding back. And do so without expectation of reciprocation, by the way. Hope for it, yes. Never expect it.
True Love is out there, Scarlett! Don’t let cynicism and doubt forged by past experience obscure that truth. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying an Everything relationship. And for anyone in a relationship who agrees with the idea that monogamy might not be natural, that it’s perpetual hard work, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’re stuck in the square peg/round hole dynamic, bearing in mind that there are no right reasons to remain in the wrong relationship.
I visited Russia this month, spending a week in Moscow. My 16-year-old daughter is a student at Bolshoi Ballet Academy there, and since she had a couple weekdays off in observance of International Women’s Day, we took in a lot of the city’s sights together.
The highlight of my first night: a visit to Red Square, a place steeped in significance and history. Arguably the most eye-popping building on the square is St. Basil’s Cathedral, with its multi-colored domed spires. Completed in 1561, it’s an impressive structure — easily one of the most iconic buildings in the world.
Architectural cred and visual splendor aside, what really moved me about it was something totally unexpected and something I might not have observed if I first visited Red Square in the daytime: love, in symbolic form. See if you can spot it in the main image before looking at the close-up image below.
Perhaps it’s just whimsy but I’d like to believe that the universal symbol for love was a planned aspect of the design. “Whimsy” because there obviously were no electric lights illuminating the cathedral at night in the 16th Century. But since the front side of the structure faces roughly northwest, I’d like to think that at a certain time of year when the sun is out, the same effect can be seen during daytime.
Do I have a point? Yep, I do. Love is everywhere. When you set aside fear and embrace it, you’re not only constantly reminded of that utterly heartlifting fact, you manifest it everywhere you go.
There’s nothing like the feeling of full, hearts-blasted-wide-open connectedness with your romantic partner. It’s a feeling that gets right to the core of an Everything relationship.
When you don’t allow fear to prevent your heart from opening fully, that openness welcoming your partner to do the same, you’ll both experience the awesome, transformative power of True Love, as communication in all forms is flowing at 100%.
Does that mean that those of us lucky enough to be in an Everything relationship feel this elevating and energizing flow of maximum connectedness all the time, 24-7? Nope. Why? Because we’re human. We’re individuals who sometimes get wrapped up in and distracted by our own shit, our own emotions. And sometimes in those moments our hearts aren’t open fully. We say, do, or don’t say or don’t do something that causes our partner to withdraw a bit, to dial back the openness of their heart somewhat.
The triggers for these moments of disconnect usually aren’t intentional. But they still happen. A lot less frequently in Everything relationships than in non-Everything relationships, for sure. But a suggestion that Everything couples never experience disconnects would be flat-out wrong.
What does characterize Everything relationships, though, is the partners’ desire and ability to move past momentary disconnects, to recognize that when one happens it doesn’t mean that the relationship is somehow no longer quite as strong and pure as it was before the disconnect arose. That, believe it or not, moving past and beyond disconnects further strengthens and expands Love, offering valuable teaching moments contributing to individual growth that can only be a boost to the relationship.
If you’re feeling that you and your partner are spending more time in disconnects than you are enjoying the bliss of full-blast connectedness, look inward and ask yourself if you’re opening your heart fully and fearlessly. If you are, consistently, and that’s not welcoming your partner to do the same, or if you’re just not willing to do so, it’s possible that your Everything relationship is still out there for you.
If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying an Everything relationship, or are in a newer relationship that you feel is headed in that direction, when disconnects happen, and they will, don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t over-analytically explode a granular thing into a potential indictment of your relationship. The uniqueness and power of what you and your partner are lucky enough to share will rocket you through the occasional disconnect and actually bolster your togetherness in the process.
Happy Valentine’s Day! If you didn’t catch it, here’s my Valentine’s Day post from last year.
Make a Resolution guaranteed to elevate you and your reality in the new year:
Not to get too far into the semantical weeds here, but it’s imperative to understand that my usage of Everything doesn’t equate that quality with a specific person. Everything is the ultimate romantic relationship, True Love. While surely you enjoy Everything with a specific person, that person in and of themselves is not your Everything.
Sure, love songs sometimes equate one’s love with one’s Everything, and we’ll allow that creative license, but the fact is that Everything is a dynamic that you and your partner create by fully opening your hearts and growing in Love. Considering your partner to be your everything means that without that person in your life you have (or, worse, are) nothing.
You and your partner enjoy an Everything relationship. Everything is a state. A destination and a journey of the most amazing kind, free of need, free of expectation.
George Addair, a contemporary thought leader and devout advocate for the betterment of the human condition who passed away in 2012, is known for a short, powerful quote about mankind’s self-limiting nature:
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
While myriad quotes are variations on this core idea (and it’s likely that Addair’s quote itself is his spin on notions advanced by his influencers), in my opinion this one’s noteworthy for the blast radius of its impact. Get past fear and what you want is available to you. Elemental, potent, and true.
Given our use of the term Everything, applying a bit of reductivism to Addair’s already-concise quote yields:
“Everything is on the other side of fear.”
What fears prevent people from connecting with their Everything, their True Love relationship?
There are easily as many as grains of sand on a beach. A few headliners: I’m not good-looking enough. Not wealthy enough. Too old. Not witty enough, thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, charming enough, worldly enough, fit enough. I don’t have a flashy enough car, a nice enough house, a great career, a stylish enough wardrobe, enough hair…
The above are just the tippety-top of the tip of the iceberg. They can pertain to people who are either in a non-Everything relationship, or who aren’t in a relationship at all.
Then there are fears specific to those who are in non-Everything relationships but afraid to end them. A small sampling:
What if I don’t find someone better and end up alone? Will my kid/s suffer if I leave my marriage? Will I be able to make ends meet on my own? Will I be viewed as “damaged goods?” Will leaving devastate my husband/wife?
Fear’s primary value is to keep us alive. But beyond fight-or-flight, life-or-death situations, paying undue heed to fear results in simply existing, instead of living. The tagline of my favorite film, “The Shawshank Redemption,” is:
Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.
A slight tweak yields a statement specific to love, to the possibility of loving at 10/10 and experiencing that awesome reality:
Fear can hold you captive. Love can set you free.
I acknowledge that fear is a pervasive thing, and difficult to move past. Yet if you aspire to an Everything relationship, yearn for a Love so pure and True that it will empower and elevate you and everything you touch, forever, you have to be willing to let go of the fears that are holding you back.
If you’re in a non-Everything relationship, doing so could mean turbulence, disruption, conflict, instability, compromises in terms of lifestyle, and many other things that may prove challenging. But there is no other way to Everything, to True Love.
If you choose to remain paralyzed by fear–and it is a choice–understand a simple truth: you are keeping yourself and everyone connected to your present circumstances from the possibility of a better reality.
I chose not to let my existence be ruled by fear. And by so doing I found my Everything with an amazing woman. If you’re hoping to find your Everything, your True Love, you have the same choice ahead of you. It’s only by letting go of fear that you’ll be able to be at and give your best–to offer Everything to another.
And guess what? It’s only when you’re willing to offer Everything that you’ll receive it. The giving and receiving of Everything is so singularly, incomparably amazing that I’m committed to helping others experience it themselves. That’s why this blog exists.
Does this mean that you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone? If it’s Everything that you seek, almost certainly. A couple paragraphs up I mentioned that the ongoing choice of fear can keep you and those connected to you from the possibility of a better reality. For most of us, confronting fear decidedly means stepping out of our comfort zones.
So is there a chance that you could decide to step outside of your comfort zone, commit to live in and as love, yet not find your Everything? I can only speak of my own experience, and based on that my recommendation is that you open your heart and let it guide you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what happens.
The meaning of life is love. Not just the feeling of love, but transformation into love. An Everything relationship, i.e. True Love, can only arise when you open your heart fully and keep it that way. And it’s living with your heart wide open that empowers you to transcend the experience of love and become it.
Certainly one of the more controversial holidays/observances, Valentine’s Day for some is an awesome day, as it’s one when love and romance are more in the public conscience than they are on most days, and there’s undoubtedly something cool about celebrating your own personal romantic glee on a day when so many others are doing the same.
It’s probably fair to say that those in a great relationship probably look forward to V Day more than do those in a relationship they wouldn’t characterize as “great,” and, almost surely, especially more than those who aren’t in a relationship at all. Although a certain contingent of those in great–or even Everything— relationships may take a dim view of Valentine’s Day, some lamenting it’s a fabrication of the jewelry industry, the chocolatier mafia, or the greeting card cartel. Or feeling it’s disingenuous to make special one day a year when expressing one’s love, desire, or both for another is encouraged, because that’s something that should be done all the time, effusively and extensively.
You won’t catch me arguing about that. One absolutely, positively should constantly be expressing one’s love for one’s partner, open heartedly, expansively, authentically, and eloquently. With no expectation of reciprocation. Because the act itself is the reward. You’re lucky enough to feel all these amazing things and it’d be a disservice to your partner and the relationship itself if you chose to keep those feelings to yourself. And constantly means daily, bub–even multiple times a day. In person, via text/IM, on the phone, via love notes tucked into lunches, taped onto coffee mugs, by your actions, your energy, etc., etc. The possibilities are endless.
Undoubtedly some guys reading this post raised their eyebrows during the preceding paragraph. Here’s the deal: expressing your feelings, your heart, your love in genuine, full, fearless, fun ways, frequently, is not inherently in conflict with manliness, with masculinity. Expressing fear-based insecurities like need, jealously, clinginess, possessiveness–decidedly unmanly.
Even though I revel in the constant expression of my feelings of love, I definitely don’t look askance at Valentine’s Day. Not at all. As someone lucky enough to be in an Everything relationship the last 2+ years, tomorrow will be my third Valentine’s Day with the love of my life, Lien. Nothing overly extravagant about our plans: dinner at a nice restaurant, a box of her favorite pastries, some flowers. To us Valentine’s Day ain’t about the “things,” it’s about celebrating and honoring how absolutely lucky and happy we are, feelings that continue to grow in strength each and every day, and that we celebrate and honor every day.
There’s not a romantic relationship out there that won’t benefit from the partners being open-heartedly expressive with one another. If you’re already there, congrats! If you’re not but you’d like to be with your current partner, then let go of fear and speak from your heart.
If you’re in a relationship you’d like to exit because you’re sure there’s a better romantic reality out there for both of you, maybe it’s best not to open-heartedly express those feelings on Valentine’s Day. (harsh, a bit…) But seize the opportunity to clarify your feelings and thoughts and start taking definitive steps toward that new reality.
What if you’re not in a relationship at all? No reason to feel “left out.” Get over yourself and let that person you’ve had a secret crush on know how you feel. Or take time on Valentine’s Day to work on your definition of your ideal partner as the first step toward manifesting that reality for yourself. And as part of that envision how the two of you will be celebrating future Valentine’s Days together.
The “Love is…” single-pane, syndicated cartoon that’s been in major newspapers for decades is sometimes schmaltzy, sometimes not terribly on target, but occasionally gets it right in a way that resonates.
Here’s one from Saturday’s LA Times that hit the mark for me:
The empowering, heartlifting, ongoing individual boost one experiences as a result of an Everything relationship does indeed make everything–and anything–seem possible, achievable.
So Everything as we define it here, with a capital E, most certainly begets everything.