Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What About Long Term Committed Relationships?

One of the social models for success is the notion of long-term committed relationships. It is often sold to us as the only really worthwhile arrangement that can exist between men and women. Everything else, such as short-term flings, one night stands, and polyamory are frowned upon by many people. These people generally see these things as a waste of time and "morally wrong". In their minds, anything which isn't 100% commitment should not be tolerated within a relationship.

Now, as for things that are morally wrong, I am against stealing, killing, deception, manipulation, and greed (to name a few). But where this definition becomes perverted is when people start justifying irrational selfish behaviour with stretches of moral reasoning.

What's wrong with seeing more than one person at a time?

What's wrong with having sex with more than one person at a time?

What's wrong with not wanting to commit to only one person?

The truth is that there's nothing wrong with these things. People naturally socialize with each other, and with socializing comes the possibility of something more, such as intimacy and sex.

On the other hand, you have people who are committed to only one person, and are therefore off-limits sexually to anyone else. That's great if that's what you truly want.

But not everyone wants that. Some people would be happier if they were sharing themselves with more than one person.

The naysayers would call this "selfish" and "wanting your cake and eating it too". Why is that? Just because I don't want to be with just one person doesn't make me selfish. More than likely that person is being selfish for wanting me all to themselves. Even the times that I'm away from them they still have ownership over my actions. How ridiculous is that? This does not seem rational to me. But only with the standard and accepted social model do people think this way. However, this reasoning doesn't apply to children. For example, what if a child complained that it's not fair that his brothers and sisters are getting attention too because he wants it all for himself? Would you take him seriously? I doubt it.

If someone truly wants to be in a committed relationship there should be reasons for it other than looking out for number one. For example, if there are kids involved and they need attention and support that's a good reason right there. You should not be out meeting other people at the expense of not looking after your dependents. However, when there's an opening in your schedule, go ahead, meet other people.

But if I have to commit just to make someone feel better and more secure then its no-deal. Am I disrespecting that person? No. Not any more than a parent is disrespecting his child by giving his siblings love and attention too. But it appears some people can't grasp this because their all-or-nothing, black-and-white view of the world doesn't permit it.

But what if the person you are with gives you everything you want? It's possible, but it won't be true for everyone. It's likely that they can give me a lot of what I want, but there are other things which I must get elsewhere. And this might not have anything to do with them. What if no single person can give me what I want because what I want is to be with different people?

"Doesn't this mean the person you are with isn't good enough?" Again, more stretching of morality. It's certainly possible that one person can make me very happy. But the problem isn't necessarily that they aren't making me happy. The problem is that I can't be with anyone else. I have to close myself off to new experiences just so I can hold on to my current experience. That might be okay for a while but after some time has passed I will start thinking that it's dumb to do that. I would be thinking: You mean I can never spend romantic time with anyone else? Ever? Even when I'm away somewhere and no one would get hurt? It's like saying I can never eat pizza again because it might hurt the feelings of the ice-cream man. You will eventually start resenting this restriction.

These are considerations that must be addressed. But rather than address them head-on, many prefer to deal with the consequences. There are people who lie and cheat and say whatever they think they must say in order to satisfy expectations. It's like role playing, and each person is acting out a script that is imposed on them by society, and which doesn't necessarily come from their own ethical insight. But unlike actors, these people tend to get emotionally invested in their scripts, and are hurt as a result.

How many so-called pristine arrangements end up in the gutter because of unrealistic expectations?

Most people who adopt the social model for success end up unsuccessful.

It's much better to be honest upfront and say what you really want, no matter what it might be.

"I want to be with you. But I also want the freedom to be with other people. And don't worry, I'll play safe."

That's all you would need to say. If they balk, you can try convincing them but it's usually a waste of time. It's much better to find people who already think this way. By doing this you are screening out a lot of selfish people. And you are screening-in a lot of intelligent people who are in the habit of questioning things before reaching their own conclusions.


TLH said...

So i don't know how old this post is, but I just wanted to reply. I was involved with a guy who may or may not have been a psychopath. Theis PUA crap has made it impossible to tell. It explains alot of his actions and retaliations though. He was also adamant that he required multiple partners because of his race, or DNA or something ridiculous like that. I get the whole argument. I think that if you want to sleep with a lot of people then go a head. I don't judge anyone who isn't trying to manipulate or change me. It doen't make you a bad or evil person to not want a commitment. I probably won't be going after any fairy tale endings anytime soon. But just because a person doesn't want to sleep with multiple partners it doesn't make them stupid, or narrow minded, it just doesn't work for them.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is anything morally wrong with mutually consenting adults engaging in one night stands, flings, etc. But at certain point you begin to realize that your happiness depends on settling down with one person. I have never, ever met a man who went thru his life going from one woman to the next who ended up happy on his death bed. Once you get in your 40's, stuff starts happening. Your parents start dying, your health starts fading, you move on to a new job, your retirement goes up in smoke, etc. People who have to endure this stuff alone without someone who is truly committed to them suffer greatly. A one night stand or a partner who isn't committed to you is not going to give you a shoulder to cry on. They won't understand what it means to truly be there for a partner who is grieving for a lost parent, etc.