The more the merrier

 

This post was cleverly scheduled to come out on Valentine’s day; but as those who are familiar with this little corner of the Internet will know, I am not the most punctual of people. Indeed, when asked why I do no take up writing as a profession (assuming I could write professionally), the foremost reason I cite is my inability to meet deadlines. What is life, I daresay, without a little bit of procrastination, and the gnawing regret that comes after the time to affect change has passed?

Ah, but there I go again; prattling on about something that has nothing to do with the theme of this post. Today, sitting by a steaming mug of filter coffee, I wish to talk about the nature of romantic relationships; rather, the nature of relationships in general. More specifically, I wish to present my case in favour of something we’ve come to learn more and more of in recent years: polyamory.

I have long been of the opinion that for any relationship to be truly sustainable, it needs to have a certain degree of “openness”. Relationships which are rigid in their definitions and closed off in their approach to society often find that a claustrophobic environment is non-conducive to their growth. The reason for this, to me, seems quite simple: we are complex beings with complex needs, and so we need to derive our sustenance from a host of people, and not just one person at a time.

Don’t you think it’s a little impractical, really, to assume that one person is able to satisfy all your emotional, physical, and intellectual needs? Conversely, isn’t it a little unfair that you are required to fulfil the very same needs, single-handedly, for someone else? I can, of course, see the charm in this: that one person is all you need for everything, ever, is undoubtedly a charming concept, but how much practical value does it really hold?

Humour me for a while, and picture this: you have your significant other with whom you have a blossoming relationship. Yes, there are fights, but you are able to “kiss and make up”, and you perceive things through rose-tinted glasses. Now it just so happens that you are plagued with an issue which your partner is not adept at handling, or which requires a view which your partner is unable to provide. You seek solace in another individual to whom you attach some value, and your qualms are put to rest.

Polyamory, most people fail to understand, is not just about having multiple sex partners, though that is very much a component of it; neither is polyamory a way to justify promiscuity. Polyamory is about understanding that more than one people should be allowed to influence your thoughts on love, career, sex, and all the other facets that make up life. Polyamory is about embracing the change that is brought by opening up to more and more people, instead of being confined to a box, with only one other mind for company.

Yet another aspect I’ve seen people have trouble with is that of relationships being a spectrum, and not a binary switch between polyamory and monoamory. It IS possible to sustain an emotionally polyamorous relationship without also making it physical. In fact, that has largely been the nature of my relationships for a long while now, and it has caused me little to no discomfort. On the other hand, it is also possible to have a physically polyamorous relationship without having an emotional one. There are hundreds of other combinations which abound when one truly considers the diversity of people, their needs, and the rationale behind relationships in the first place.

As is often the case with my personal posts, I shift the blame for things onto society. Society has conditioned us to make two things an integral part of our lives: labels and definitions. We spend our early years growing up in a society which has an obsessive need to label and define everything, relationships included. A couple who does not wish to label or define their relationship is still called a couple, because how else are we to attach stereotypes and conventional tropes to them. Even the most progressive of us get caught in the rigmarole that is the need to define, if not label.

There is a person, of remarkable intellect and a face which the gods must have forgotten to fault, with whom I sustain a relationship. What kind of relationship, you’d be tempted to ask, and therein lies the problem. Is it not enough that there is a relationship of some sort? That there is something physical (barely, to my displeasure), something intellectual, and something emotional in this relationship is enough of a definition. Our need to define things by assigning labels to them limits our expansion and growth as human beings; this is a belief that has only strengthened with time.

It is not as though I have taken a pledge against labelling, however; I understand the need for certain labels, such as defining certain things as harmful versus safe, or correct versus incorrect. Where relationships are considered, though, I cannot understand the obsession with monoamory, which seeks to lay possessive claim on another person. Relationships are deeply personal things; in fact, they are deeply interpersonal things, and with over seven billion people in the world, to limit the interpersonal interaction of a person to just “the one” other person seems to me inherently selfish.

Bonds are fickle things; they break and form in the blink of an eye. Bonds strengthen when they are allowed to mingle with other bonds, and form a network. Polyamory provides for that chance; the chance to strengthen not just one, but many bonds, by exposing the individual to the treasures of the human mind. Yes, there is a chance that in a polyamorous relationship your paramour would give someone else more importance than they would give you, but that is a risk you both are taking. And, in my very honest opinion, the risk and the (possible) jealousy are worth it, because at the end of the day, you are developing a more honest, a stronger relationship.

 

The inverse of sugarcoating

This post comes more than a week late, but then, I have never been known for my punctuality. Fortunately, it just so happens that the person to whom this post is dedicated understands my ongoing feud with time and deadlines, and so I am (I hope) off the hook.

This being a birthday post, I suppose timing was of the essence. Indeed, I had sat down to write this post in an alcoholic stupor last Sunday night; I soon discovered, however, that inebriated and articulation are not the best of companions. The post, as a result, came to a standstill. As anyone who has ever missed deadlines will tell you: once the time has passed, delays are easier to actualise than effort. However, I like to cling to the desperate notion that everything happens for the best; had the week not intervened between this post and the birthday itself, maybe the post wouldn’t have been as meaningful as it is now.

The title of this post is a phrase which the said person (to whom this post is dedicated) has used, often, to describe the way I express my views and opinions; implying, of course, that I use words which are too harsh to convey emotion which is, in essence, very pleasant. The original draft of this post was a smattering of powdered sugar on a mountain of maple syrup and honey, which is yet another reason this post feels more natural to me than the one which would have gone up on my friend’s birthday: it’s more honest.

Usually, when I undertake the Herculean task of dedicating a post to someone, it involves my assessment of their qualities and the subsequent zeroing in on the quality which I feel most strongly towards. This, however, is not the case today. It is not that the person of whom I speak is devoid of any startling qualities, nor that the person is burgeoning with a plethora of qualities from which it would be impossible to choose. No, the reason that this post doesn’t fixate on any one aspect of the person is because he, in his entirety, has done something for me which I value greatly: he has educated me in matters of which I was painfully ignorant.

Much of this educating took place after the rather tumultuous but exceptionally well-timed end to our brief courtship period. The subsequent friendship is something that I’ve come to cherish and learn greatly from. Wisdom, however, isn’t at the root of these teachings; it is not as though I have been specifically lectured on certain areas. This teaching comes from one of the most rewarding human experiences I have ever had. Not wisdom but honesty, I feel, drives this education home. The honesty of expression and feeling which my friend carries; his ability to wear his heart shamelessly on his sleeve, despite how much ever pain it may cause him; and his need to derive emotional sustenance from those he loves are the things I look towards when I feel lost in my own warped emotional psyche.

My friend has, on more occasions than I can count and with substantial damage to his inner peace, challenged my notions of correctness and emotional complexity. He has provided me with the perspective of diversity by showing me how powerful emotions can be, all while being highly delicate. He has shown me, time and again, what it means to be truly honest with oneself, even as I champion brutal honesty to the world. But more than anything, he has helped shape my ideas of the kind of interpersonal relationships I would be willing to have; ideas which were founded in reason, but perhaps hadn’t been actualised until the development of our friendship.

One of the greatest things which I will always be indebted to him for, though, is pushing my tolerance to limits I did not know I dared approach. I have always been less tolerant of dissent than I would like to believe, and this reflects heavily in my interactions with people. This beautiful, honest person showed me that my insatiable need for learning and growth, which I’ve always claimed was at the centre of my being, would never be realised unless I opened myself to things which I disagreed with and, far more than this, things which I had never even considered.

Even as I write this, I find myself edging dangerously close to a pit dense with the sorrows of nostalgia, which, I am afraid, is a luxury I cannot afford at the moment. However, one essential aspect of my friend remains to be mentioned, and poetic convenience has decreed it such that it be the last thing I discuss, glorifying it all the more. The aspect of which I speak, of course, is unbridled growth. It amazes me to see him growing as a person in every second of every day, but not being afraid to build again should he fall back. Whereas I take things from him and use them to further my own arsenal of introspection, he takes things from all around and uses them to accelerate in life. Indeed, it is satisfying to see that he is able to sustain his rate of growth, even as I am mine, and yet remain in tandem with both our ways of life.

Ah, but now emotional indulgence veers dangerously close to this rather well thought out, and unnecessarily long, (belated) birthday wish. Before I submit myself to the annals of sentimental gratification, I feel it best to set my (metaphorical) pen down, and wish my friend a lifetime of growth.

Happy birthday, my love.

Beware the wrath of words, dear

As is the case with almost all of my posts, the inspiration for this particular piece came from a conversation I recently had with a friend (if a romantic interest with no foreseeable future can be so called). Before I can delve into the finer details of the conversation, however, I must apologise to whoever does me the great courtesy of following this blog for my rather long absence. The world seems to have taken a strange dislike to me, and nothing I do seems to set things right. More on that later, though. For now, I am back, presumably to vanish for another three months, but we should take what we can get, no?

The conversation which serves as the theme for this post is the very definition of escalation. Those who are familiar with me will know the tales of my eloquence, of the extent to which I take the expression of simple emotions. The friend whom I spoke of, as it happens, did not fully comprehend that about me at the time. In a display of endearment, I happened to use words which, by some arbitrary ruling, carry great weight. I was chided for “throwing such words so offhandedly”, with the assertion that “when you say it, you should mean it, otherwise when you actually mean it, what will you say?”

As things in this world are wont to do, this got me thinking about something which I’d already been pondering for quite a while now. I reflected back upon all the squabbles and quarrels I’d been a part of in my recent past (recall the tale of me getting a present from a friend, which I spoke of in “You can’t call people fat!”) and saw a pattern emerge: almost every fight I’ve had for a long time has been due to words being taken wildly out of context, just by virtue of their existence.

Too much importance is attached to the words that people use; not the meaning of the words, but the words themselves. It is true what they say: the pen is mightier than the sword. Words, simple in their crafting and majestic in their construction, are consuming in the hands of someone who knows how to wield them. There is overwhelming evidence of this today: poets and writers carry the capacity to reach places within you that you yourself didn’t know existed, making you question the fact of your own existence.

It has become so easy to be manipulated by people who know just what to say and when to say it, just because we put too much importance in the words that have been used. No one seems to care about the intent behind the words, or who they’re coming from, or the context in which they’re used, or anything, really. Words that have arbitrarily been assigned greater value than others are now off limits unless the situation warrants them because they can somehow lead to cataclysmic effects. Based on what, though? Who decides that certain words will hold this destructive power? As far as I am concerned, the culprit is the archaic notion of correctness. I have been trying, for a long time now, to get people to be comfortable with using whatever words they wish to use, whenever they wish to use them. Imagine if we weren’t burdened by the need to be linguistically appropriate all the time: we could explore not just language, but the human psyche itself to great extents.

The example that comes to mind is the word “love”. “Love” is possibly one of the most weighted words in the English language. Glorified by Hollywood and the like, it has become apocalyptic in its power, and all but a taboo in terms of usage, especially in interpersonal conversation. Saying that you love a person (Plato’s notions of love are being generously disregarded here) is tantamount to asking them to take a chainsaw to their families and drown in a sea of their own filth, irrespective of the intensity of the emotion expressed. “Love” is a beautiful word, and I’d like to be able to use it as and when I please, without worrying about the repercussions.

I believe that meaning comes from your knowledge of the person, not from random sounds that they make with their tongues. When time comes for me to actually mean the words that I previously used, apparently callously, I’ll do it by honest expression of emotion, not words which have been used a thousand times over. I don’t want to express my love for a person using the same words that a rapist uses to express their love for sexual abuse or even any other way that is considered conventionally correct.

I do not deny that there are times when the word itself carries the power to cause harm, but those instances are rare. Callously throwing around the words “nuclear holocaust” at a Japanese peace gathering is unacceptable, no matter what the intent, but to extend the same limitations to daily conversation, to words which form a part of our regular speech, seems to me a rather silly venture. The converse of what I say also holds true: just by virtue of using words which don’t carry as much weight as others, people cannot fully express the intensity of their emotions.

That words are a human enterprise seems lost upon people. We created words for effective communication, and it is shameful that we have become slaves to them today. Lifeless scrawls of manmade ink on manmade paper seem to control our thoughts, feelings, and eventually actions, all three of which are greater than anything anyone might have to say. I like to think that I have learned enough and seen enough to know how to express myself fully when the time comes to do so. Continuing along the same lines as the example above, I am confident that whenever, and if ever, I reach a stage where I want to translate my feelings of affection into words, I’ll have the right tools in my arsenal for the job, not because I claim to be some sort of wordsmith, but because there will be an understanding between us at that stage which will facilitate communication.

If it so happens that my particular way of expression does not translate as such to the other person, I’ll learn their way of expressing, and they’ll learn mine, and a stronger community will take existence.

 

 

 

Je serai poète et toi poésie

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Ah, yes. No one says it like the French. This post attempts to defy the cliché of a “Valentine’s Day post” by becoming part of another one: the “end of Valentine’s Day post”. However, the contents of this post are not meant to stir up deep, thoughtful emotions about love. No, this post is more or less a tribute to the lovely lady whose picture is shown above, whose recent adventures in the world of relationships I have had the pleasure to understand.

You see, caught in the spirit of the Valentine month, I was unable to keep myself from wondering what exactly it was that made relationships work. What was it which held couples together? What was it that brought two people, no matter how unlikely, together in one of the strongest bond which exists between people? My search for the answers to these questions led me to a potential well of information, which turned out to be surprisingly cooperative. It is due to her willingness to share with me her emotions regarding the relationship that I am able to write this post today.

Her relationship seemed to me to be, for lack of a better word, perplexing, and I sought to understand what made this particular relationship work, more than I did what made relationships in general work. What followed was an interview of sorts, the details of which are best left to the imagination. However, the subject of interest here is the inference which we can draw from her responses.

Upon careful and rather extensive questioning, I came to some conclusions, which I care to voice here, for no other reason than because, well, I can. As a reward for satiating my curiosity, I had promised my friend that her time would not be spent in vain, and that something productive would come out of this interview.

The highlight of the interview was undoubtedly the discovery of the motive behind the existence of this relationship. The ten minute long session yielded this result: my friend is in this relationship because it offers her hope, a sense of a greater purpose, if you will. It gives her hope that there is something bigger and better out there, something bigger than any of us, and something better than anything which we have at the moment. I found that gesture to be particularly endearing: that a person could be hopeful due to another person is very endearing.

Another important discovery I made as a result of my unimpeded questioning was that it wasn’t so much about the person itself in a relationship, but about what they offered. According to my friend, her partner offered her a constant to hold on to, something which she could fall back upon when everything seemed to be going up in smoke. To this, the question which naturally followed was: what was your constant before this person came into your life. Her answer itself to this question is, again, immaterial. What we concern ourselves with is the fact that whatever it was that was her constant before, it hadn’t left her. Her partner had merely added on to her sense of stability, which fascinated me to no end.

However, there were some things which confuse me now, as they did at the start of the interview. Needless to say, each of those things merits a post on its own, and so the scope for mention of those qualms is beyond that of this one particular post. The one thing which I would like to shed some light upon, though, is something which I have frequently been accused of. People say that I am too dismissive, that I take away people’s faith where it is not my business to interfere. My friend made me think along those lines: what right do I have to tell her what to do with her relationship, or cast my scepticism towards relationships, on her?

None whatsoever. Which is precisely why this is not a post where I preach, or talk about my beliefs or opinions. This is a post destined to show how a simple girl, who admitted that she considered herself to be on the selfish side of things, decided to share the most valuable possession in her bonnet: her life. For she made it clear that she sees no end to this relationship, at least not in the near future.

The interview, which I can only assume was nothing short of an ordeal for her, showed me many things, particularly the one which is mentioned hence. The ability to see greatness in people who seem to be the worst of the litter is one which can be found even with the most unpredictable of people, and that in that greatness can lie the definition of one’s existence.

This isn’t a claim to, as mentioned above, deep and soulful love. This is an allusion to how even the most perplexing of relationships, and even the most unlikely of couples, can show how things are done. Happiness is the key here, as it is everywhere else, and the key is best found when a pair is on the lookout.

Does this mean that my stance on relationships and commitments has changes? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t like to admit anything just yet, in case the Valentine hangover passes, and I find myself under a mountain of promises which I had no intent of making in the first place.

So good luck to my dear friend, her partner, and their relationship. I wish them all the very best in life, and will attempt to keep my cynicism away from their blossoming relationship.

Happy End Of Valentine’s Day to all.