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.
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 “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.
So you’ve met a phenomenal person you’re quite romantically excited about and vice-versa, and things are off to a strong start. While there are infinite possible ways to meet and begin a relationship, once underway there are only two possible eventual outcomes: you either end up together forever, enjoying Everything, or you don’t.
While there can be myriad variations of and details associated with “you don’t”–all those whys and why nots–there really are only two underlying scenarios that can lead to that outcome. From the guy’s perspective, they are:
Wrong girl, Right time
Wrong girl, Wrong time
Completing the spectrum of scenarios that either lead to Everything or don’t, from the standpoint of a guy seeking his Everything, the desired outcome is obviously:
Right girl, Right time
Anyone who thinks in a symmetrical/completist manner may wonder if a possible variation is missing on the non-Everything side, namely Right Girl, Wrong Time–the culturally ingrained “the one who got away.”
There isn’t. Quite simply, if you don’t wind up together in a lifelong relationship characterized by True Love, she was not the Right Girl for you, period. No matter that you were together for a few years, were married, have children together, etc. She is not the one who got away. The Right Girl does not “get away.” In other words, having your Right Girl is fully synonymous with having your relationship Everything. Except in the case of an untimely passing, one cannot have had Everything.
Each of the two non-RR scenarios has variations:
- In WR, you could realize she’s not your Everything, or she could realize you’re not her Everything. Or both of those things could happen. This could occur soon after the start of a new relationship, or after a lot of water’s gone under the bridge. In either case, you are ready for your Everything—she’s just not it.
- In WW there are a few permutations, from her being the wrong girl at the wrong time from your perspective to the opposite, to a mix of those.
RR is quite straightforward. It is, simply, Everything in both directions, i.e. True Love. Crack out the Cristal and toast to your mutual good fortune!
Zooming in a bit on the concept of Wrong time, there can obviously be a range of considerations that make the timing component unfavorable. You or she could be dealing with a health issue, an emotionally all-consuming family situation, a period of intense financial difficulty (this characterized my situation for several years, during which, in addition to having scant resources for dating, I also questioned the likelihood of an RR situation arising for me). It also sometimes happens that you meet a potential soulmate while either you or she isn’t entirely unattached, relationship wise.
For guys, it should be fairly evident that the most difficult scenario is the version of Wrong Girl, Right Time where the sense that she’s not the right girl comes from her, not from you. Regardless of the specifics of a given WR situation, though, the result can be a dynamic where you, she, or both of you are biding time, i.e. hanging onto what you can of the relationship while you, she, or both of you keep an eye out for what’s next. We’ll cover the perils of biding time in a future post.
While the WR and WW scenarios are sometimes easily identifiable, or manifest quickly, it can also take time for what you thought/hoped was a RR relationship to resolve into either WR or WW. This can take mere weeks…or decades. Basically, those of us looking for Everything may view new relationships through RR-colored lenses–we so very much want to find our Everything!–especially in cases where we haven’t precisely defined the nature of the Everything we seek.
Similarly, RR can also take time to congeal. In cases where RR becomes the outcome, sometimes you may know it in your heart of hearts from early on but that awareness is not as quick in coming for her, vice-versa, or you both arrive at that conclusion, and not always simultaneously, after being together for a while. There’s no preferred path to RR. Here, as in most things, results trump process.
While the “True Love at first sight” version of RR is clearly the most unabashedly romantic and whimsical, RRs arising from that rather rare circumstance are functionally no different than RRs that take a bit more time to manifest.
Since Everything can’t be forced, it’s best not to over-analyze your relationship to the point where you suck all enjoyment out of the present moment, and/or apply undue pressure on your potential soulmate, yourself, and the situation in general. Because by doing so you run the risk of turning a potential RR into a WR. Instead, be true to yourself and follow your heart. If she’s your Everything, and vice-versa, this approach will yield positive results.image credit: http://www.sharonebardavid.com
Romantic relationships come in infinite forms, comprised of a multiplicity of attributes, including but hardly limited to degrees of emotional intimacy, love, friendship, trust, physical intimacy, loyalty, sexual attraction, respect, shared interests, common goals, honesty, fun, and many more.
Regardless of the specific ingredients, the overall spectrum of the quality of relationships, from bad to good, goes from unhealthy/dysfunctional–of which there are also myriad varieties–to True Love, that most rarified, desired, vaunted form of romantic connectedness that joins two people in a way that simultaneously blurs the line between them yet bolsters them individually, that only gets more exciting, deeper, and more heartlifting, more amazing over time. And while there are varying degrees of being in a romantic relationship there are really only two possible statuses: in one or not in one.
If you believe that True Love is not only possible, but possible for you–if it’s something you
want insist on having in your life, then there’s only one route to take: Everything or Nothing. Defining what and who you want as your ideal romantic partner and refusing to compromise is the only way to get to Everything. Concepts like “enough” or “good enough” need not apply, as they won’t get you there. Equally important: knowing who you are and being willing to offer Everything fearlessly and authentically.
There’s long been a movement out there in the Self-Actualization universe revolving around the concept of learning to want what you have. Outside of the one relationship scenario where this strategy makes sense, namely the case of not having previously grasped that what/who you have actually does represent your Everything, so you come to the realization that you actually already do have exactly what you want, actively accepting less is a surefire pathway to disappointment. Granted, it may take years, even decades, for the realization that your relationship isn’t an Everything relationship to set in, but given how brief our time is, is spending any more of it than necessary in a relationship that you know is somehow lacking really the best approach? (this topic will be further explored in an upcoming post) I suppose that depends on your priorities and your sense of what you deserve.
My pathway to my relationship Everything is an interesting and circuitous one. It involved a late start with respect to sex (virginity lost junior year of college), a first love that led to marriage, then parenthood quickly followed by divorce. Then a near-miss with marriage to the wrong woman. Followed by a more-than-five-year period of dating and not dating, that chunk of time most notable for my having only at the very end of it defined who it is that I want as a romantic partner. Sometimes I look back in amazement that I dated sporadically for over five years without having defined who and what I wanted in terms of a woman and a relationship!
In retrospect it’s absolutely no surprise to me that I didn’t find my relationship Everything until after I–duh!–defined it. Then, probably about six months later, a woman walked into my life who embodied it to a tee. She and I now reflect on the two chance encounters that set in motion our eventual togetherness, how strong and heartlifting our connection was from the very beginning. Strong enough to power us through complicated and at times trying circumstances. As I write this post we’ve been together for eighteen months, and our connection continues to grow and deepen, our excitement about being with each other, our wonder, sense of awe, and gratitude about having found each other, continues to go only one way: up. And that’s the only way it will go, forever. About that neither of us have any doubt.
The Love of My Life, Lien, and I are living proof that it’s possible to have your relationship Everything. If you’re not in a relationship and feel the beck and call of True Love, sensing in your heart that it’s out there for you, the first step is to define who you are, and the next is to define who and what you want, what you deserve, romantically speaking. Then think about the latter (who/what) nonstop. Visualize it, dream it, manifest it. And trust that it will happen. Your unwavering conviction and certainty will ensure that it does. Then be willing to give Everything, knowing that it’s the contentedness and bliss associated with that–the giving–that will create the environment for your partner to do the same, each of you offering your unique gifts in a selfless, fearless way, without expectation of any return or reciprocation. It’s this that nourishes True Love, that allows it to be ever expanding, ever deepening,
If you’re in a relationship and have come to the realization that your partner and the situation do not represent an Everything dynamic, and never will, you have to decide whether or not following your heart, pursuing and realizing Everything, will ultimately be the rising tide that lifts all proverbial boats (like your responsibility to your kid/s, for example).
Basically, reduced to its essence, it becomes a choice between hope and fear. How do you want to live your life? You can fear that your decisions will have negative ramifications for you and those you love, or fully believe, to the deepest part of your core, that hope, specifically the hope for penultimate Love, will lead you to exactly that, and touch every part of your life in amazing ways.
To me, it’s a no brainer. And it’s that positivity, that unwavering certainty that Everything is possible, that compels me to write about what I’ve been lucky enough to experience, hoping that doing so might in some way help others realize their Everything.
image source: debretts.com