The Question Of One

As someone who doesn’t speak from a history of extensive intimate relationships, I want to issue an explicit disclaimer before I rattle on that if I misplace my words, we should all blame my naivete, not me. Having said that, I give the best relationship advice that I know of; usually this is just the very obvious solution that those involved are too emotionally blinded to see.

One of my nearest and dearest recently came out of a fairly intense and relatively long-term relationship. Through the many conversations and problems that were discussed over this relationship, a certain philosophy came to light: why do we have to be with just one person? Now, I know this question doesn’t attract a calm, reasonable response, if you aren’t with just one person you either belong to a heavily criticised religious group, are a delusional youth in an open relationship, or a slut, or even a cheater. Now that we’ve gotten the name calling out of the way I hope we can all sit down , take a deep breath and start to think a tad logically,  even if logic never prevails in these kinds of emotional situations.

Listen – being romantically involved with just one person for the majority of your life is a pretty strange concept. I know, it’s the 21st century and people can get divorced and have lots of great romantic relationships, but we’re all pretty much sticking to that little life tale where we find our one real, true love and get to spend all of our time with them. I don’t know about all of you guys, but once you stop to think about this ideal, once you get past the arguable obsession most of us have with finding an end to this tale, it starts to sound a bit strange. It only seems like the done thing because it’s normal now and everybody wants it, so yeah…I guess it really is the done thing. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense to everybody out there.

My aforementioned nearest and dearest often asked, “Why do we just have to be with one person all the time?”, and although one could respond with  a multitude of answers like being faithful, because of love and all that, this question is usually met with a shrug and a sip of a beer from the crowd.  And whilst you may be sitting there thinking shut the fuck up you damned naïve, ignorant fool, my little exploration of polygamy is not completely ungrounded. Yes, I asked Google ‘Why do you have to be with only one person?”. Google had next to nothing relevant to say, and just suggested some thrilling related searches to me such as “can you tweetto just one person” and “can youhave just one chicken”.

I’m going to stop there and flip to the other side now, because I don’t actually want to promote polygamy [despite popular belief]; I just want to talk about it. There are lots of faithful lovers out there and I have to admit that if I was asked for an open relationship and wasn’t feeling in a particularly new age mood, I would probably use the conversation as a segue to a break-up.  Not that I’ve never been faced with this conversation – just that when I consider the prospect I feel the instinctive “bad idea” thought creeping in. Although I’ve mentioned the strangeness in the notion of one, it’s this apprehension that makes me think that while open relationships might be ideal for some, they aren’t built for the long haul and rarely work out as planned. I have the idea of the one stuck in my head for sure; I don’t look to the future and see a life filled with multiple simultaneous lovers leading to a practical life.

For some reason, one that maybe only a Disney film character could explain, true romance only exists with the one. As you can probably tell, it’s a struggle to articulate just why exactly I’d say no to an open relationship, and frankly, I’m struggling; words often fail me when it comes to emotions, it’s that little gap that language can’t bridge. Maybe it’s this little gap (which isn’t exclusive to love and romance) that holds the answer to why so many of us are caught up in the ideal of one and don’t want anything else. While I’m sure many could list some kind of scientific or logical reason for sticking with a special one (less paperwork if you don’t get a divorce is logical, for one), it’s all those feels that matter, at least for us in the western world.

Yes, in the end, none of this can really be governed by words, logic, or seemingly strange ideas we should consider twice, because when push comes to shove it’s those emotions that determine relationships and a want and need to be with the one you. Okay, maybe I did run you full circle through a strange forest of multiple relationships only to wind up all the way back at the nice one you had in the first place – but the journey wasn’t without warrant. If someone ever says, ‘Hey, how about we try a day without being exclusively exclusive together ’, don’t cry and freak out. Instead think ‘well, it was a pretty strange idea in the first place,’ especially with all the billions of people out there.

To sum up this confusing mess [also possible great relationship advice you needed], I’m going to leave ya’ll with a quote from Lena Dunham, and whether you love or hate her, this will or would have made sense to you at some time;

“I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time, thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me.”

And there you have it.

Image source: Petra Collins at Dazed.