By Mystic Life
The reason most traditional relationships end is due to one (or more) of what I’ll refer to as “The Three D’s”: Drifting, Dysfunction and Desire.
Drifting occurs when two people evolve in different directions, and no longer feel a common bond that they once shared. Of course, a certain degree of variation in interests and values is typical, but when members of a relationship have significantly “drifted apart” they often decide to end their relationship since it no longer feels compatible.
Dysfunction occurs typically in the forms of emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Although it can be hard for some people to admit that their relationship has become so unhealthy, the relationship must heal, end, or result in perpetual misery. When a dysfunctional relationship ends, few outside observers feel that there is a true “loss” so much as the opportunity for a new beginning.
Desire, the third “D”, is also a common cause for the end of many traditional relationships. Monogamous relationships end when someone gets caught (or admits) having an affair. In some cases, honest people choose to admit they have feelings for someone else before acting upon their attraction…but the outcome is the same. Another way in which desire ends relationships is when someone suppresses their resentment for the fact that having a partner “prevents” them from being with someone else, which can lead to subconscious sabotaging of the relationship in order to attain freedom. Additionally, someone who suppresses the positive energy that comes from having other attractions can experience a “deadness” they may not even understand, which can be a catalyst for the demise of their relationship.
As you can see, out of these three ways in which romance dies, desire is the most complex and varied dynamic. The reason that desire for another person is generally seen as “bad” is because it triggers a sociobiological response of jealousy, which is seen by virtually every mainstream culture on Earth as legitimately unacceptable. When a partner’s feelings threaten your sense of security, and your society says you should leave them for it…that will be what most people tend to choose. This is where polyamory comes in.
The primary way in which polyamory represents a paradigm shift in how we think about love is that although polys can understand drifting and dysfunction leading to the end of a relationship, desire for others no longer needs to be a deal breaker. By eliminating your partner being with someone else as a reason for no longer loving him or her, you will create a more sustainable relationship.
So if it leads to more solid relationships, why don’t more people choose polyamory? Because letting go of the impulse to control another’s feelings (so that you experience more security) is generally not viewed as a viable option. We are socialized to believe that it is more justified to attempt to shame another person into a state where they suppress their feelings, which often leads to cheating. Many monogamous relationships involve some form of cheating in an attempt to experience freedom and diversity, while not allowing one’s partner the same options. Of course, this attempted “solution” to jealousy results in a lack of integrity, and (in my opinion, and experience) results in bad karma by taking away a partner’s ability to choose whether or not they would stay in a relationship if they knew the truth.
This has resulted in a world where many monogamous people are much more well known by their friends than their partner. Their friends often get to hear about all of their feelings, including attraction to other people, while their partner gets a filtered, non-threatening version of who they are. This is not to say that there are no human beings who honestly feel romantically attracted to only one person. It is to say that there are millions, if not billions, of people who experience a tremendous amount of inner conflict regarding monogamy.
On the poly path, we receive what we are able to give. By contrast, if you could have as many partners as you wanted, and your partners could only be with you…your ego would be most pleased. If we could kiss, cuddle and make love with whomever we cared for while not feeling threatened by our lovers having feelings for anyone else, it might make us feel safe, but it would smother our personal growth. Therefore, the only way to experience the freedom that allows our relationships to not be based in suppression and resentment, is to learn to let go of control. There are many people on the spiritual and/or personal growth path who allow monogamy to be the one facet of their life in which they believe they should still be allowed “attachment.” It doesn’t work. Attachment to anything or anyone still leads to suffering. There are no loopholes.
Scarcity thinking is at the core of jealousy. When we fear that our partner loving another will lead to not enough love for us, there are two ways that we can replace our impulse to tantrum with self growth:
(1.) We can work on deepening our self love. Unless we get to a place where we truly, lovingly embrace who we are, our sense of self will always be at the mercy of the choices of others. Many people have gone their whole life without self love. Its importance is not just a cliché. Self love is crucial, and requires core psychological work which can lead to liberation. If you haven’t attained self love, polyamory will only multiply your suffering by increasing your attachments.
(2.) In addition to deepening love for yourself, you can open your heart to new partners. If your current partner has feelings for another, one trick that your ego might play is the idea that “s/he is the only one for me, and nobody else could ever be so compatible, so since s/he’s not going to be as available, my life will be forever horrible.” If we convince ourselves that there are too few polyamorous people out there, or that we can only have one soulmate, we will create unnecessary suffering when our partner falls in love with another person. However, it is helpful to keep in mind that life never gives us more than we can handle. Therefore, if you feel that the only way to cope with your partner loving another is to run away, attempt to surrender to what is unfolding, and open your heart.
It may seem easier to leave a partner who loves another…but is it really? Anger, judgment, and societally reinforced self-righteousness provide little comfort if you are throwing away a connection that satisfies you on many levels. If you and your partner have not drifted apart, and your relationship is not dysfunctional, polyamory offers a philosophy of love that doesn’t require desire for another to necessitate parting ways.