Tuesday, May 24, 2011

About Love - Part 2: Love and Curiosity

Curiosity is the most important aspect of love.

To love someone is to think that they are interesting. And for them to be interesting to you, this means that they instill a feeling of curiosity. The desire that emerges when you get to know someone, that you want to know more about them. Understand their feelings, experiences, views, and thoughts. Or more generally, understand who they are. This desire in my opinion is the most definitive feature of the emotion of love. And this desire is why a relationship is created and how the relationship is maintained.

Curiosity is the reason you make the time to sit with a person, have a conversation about all the different subject matters. It is why one would listen to another talking about their day, their passions, their opinions, or what have you. And it is through this process that intimacy grows and creates the experience of love.

And the satisfaction of this desire of curiosity and learning creates a very pleasant experience, which would reinforce the desire and be the basis of love.

Within this view, let's address how closed relationships and open relationships manifest their effects on the emotion of curiosity. While some people might interpret a statement of exclusivity from their partner as a positive commitment, I see it negatively. Because when we meet other people, our lives get enriched. In other words, we become more interesting in the sense then we have more things to talk about, share, and teach our partner. We as humans acquire knowledge and insight through our experiences, and the most profound class of experiences are interactions with other human beings. By limiting the depth of our experiences with other people, we are shutting the door for numerous experiences that will enrich our life, develop our personalities, and give us insight about ourselves, others, and life in general.

Consequently, the way I see things, someone who proclaims exclusivity is basically saving: "I have no intention of making myself more lovable, by the means of enriching my life." And in this sense, when your partner has no interest in enriching your life with the knowledge they give you, they are defying the very constituent of love, namely being worthy of curiosity, and consequently worthy of your time and love.

When you meet someone and find that they are interesting, that they have a unique perspective on life, and their mind works in a beautiful way; The more natural impulse is that you want that person to experience life more fully, because in that manner they are going to gain the insight and the experience to be more insightful and interesting. I find it extremely odd that one would think that someone is interesting, but not give them the tools to put their talent at work to come up with something that might as well be ground breaking!

Same idea applies when your partner asks you to be exclusive to them. They are basically saying: "I love you for a reason other than that I find you interesting." Which would consequently put into question whether or not they love you to begin with. Curiosity knows no bounds, and no matter how much you already know, you still have the desire to know more. If you have no desire to know more, then you have no curiosity, and when you are not curious, the emotion of love loses it's momentum.

And the idea of this deep connection between the emotion of love and curiosity is very evident in the general conception of 'true love'. Most people would argue that sex is not the most important aspect of love, but rather admiring and respecting the personality of the loved one. And this raises the question: How would it be that you admire and respect someone's personality if you don't think they are interesting? Or in other words, feel curious about them? So it seems to me that the people who profess that the closed-relationships model for relationships is compatible with the conception of 'true love' as being highly self-contradicting and self-refuting!

In this series:
About Love - Part 1: Love and Jealousy
About Love - Part 2: Love and Curiosity
Next: About Love - Part 3: Love and Sexuality
Next: About Love - Part 4: True Love

16 comments:

Rain said...

I honestly took the time to understand your point of view about this
You're suggesting open relationship because if we stick to one person we'll be missing a lot of experiences and opportunities that would change us??we'd have a boring relationship unless we meet other people?

Regardless that I personally consider this out of any question,don't you think people who truly love each other should dedicate themselves to one another?how is a healthy relationship if I'm putting you on the waiting list while I "live my life"
Do we only grow up,mature and change by dating?
Do we have to meet other people in order to become interesting and have stuff to talk about???
Would you truly be OK with a sexually open relationship??
That's supposed to be one of the things distinguishing us from animals..

If I had misunderstood the post,ignore my comment,and sorry!

Devil's Mind said...

There are many misconceptions about open-relationships in both theory and practice, and I am trying to clarify the picture.

And I am glad to answer your questions, because that's the best way to clarify the misconceptions.

"Do we only grow up,mature and change by dating?" - No, it's not the only way, but it is one of the ways. However, "dating" is not word of choice. I am talking about relationships that have depth and substance...

And no, you don't necessarily need to meet people to be interesting or have a non-boring relationship.

But the question is, if there is at least the possibility that meeting someone can make you or your partner a better person, then why not?

"how is a healthy relationship if I'm putting you on the waiting list while I "live my life"?" - Of course, that's unhealthy. Why do you think that an open-relationist would do that?! And why do you think the partner of such person would tolerate that kind of behavior?! It would be foolish to do that.

"Would you truly be OK with a sexually open relationship??" - Me personally, yes it is truly okay. I honestly don't see why people have their relationships revolve around sex or sexual fidelity. There is too much depth to relationships, and sex is merely the tip of the iceberg.

"You're suggesting open relationship because if we stick to one person we'll be missing a lot of experiences and opportunities that would change us??" - Indeed so. I believe that when the people involved in a relationship are more mature, more intellectual, more experienced, and their personalities have more depth... Then the relationship between them consequently would have more depth and meaning. And hence, the way I see it, investments in relationships with people other than your partner is also an investment in your relationship with your partner.

At this point the question that arises is: How can you make sure that the other relationships improve the relationship in question rather than cause it to deteriorate?

Well, it depends on the person's skills at handling relationships. It's true, if one is negligent and do foolish things like "put your partner on a waiting list" (as you put it), then of course this will not work.

But given enough effort and attention to relationships, one can indeed make things improve. My previous post titled "practical advice on interpersonal relationships" does address some of the ways such an arrangement can work. In short, honesty and communication are essential.

Israa said...

I read this article , liked it and then closed the window .
I really felt the urge to come back and say something , because what you said speaks about me , and what Rain Said makes alot of sense and I wanted to understand where am I between you two . so excuse me for this long comment I'm willing to post :)
Curiosit , as you said ,was my only motive to once like a guy , he made me curious , everything as exactly you described .
It matched me and my fear of commitment , i liked us to be apart and hold interst to each other , I also once said to my friend : I really hate the idea of marriage.
but that was one thing : it was my personality and inner conflicts and how I liked it to be. but another thing that you really dont mention is how this open relationship can by no mean be a PERMANENT relationship ,nothing like having a family with that partner of yours; because that other type of relatinships requires the ability to love even in the worst circumstances , not "selfishly " as long as the other dude keeps up to your preferances.
also when you said how living with different people fills us with experiences , it is true , its learning from human beings as they are open books ! but dont forget that oneday you'll need to be "One person" who is your true self , one not formed by who you meet or who you are with , that day , when you know yourself wholly , you can be with only One partner , your soul mate , one who reflects this one self of yours!

p.s : really sorry , its long and my personal openion that i never give to any one , but just take it or leave it ! :))

Devil's Mind said...

Israa, the topic of open relationships is very vast, and for that reason I am presenting it from different angles, one post at a time.

This particular series handles open relationships in terms of the emotional map the open-relationists experience.

In regards to the "permanency" of open relationships. Just like closed relationships, some relationships are long-term some are short-term. Personally, I am the kind of person who prefers long-term relationships. And open relationships works perfectly -if not even better- for long-term relationships.

The most common form of relationships in today's world is what is called "serial monogamy". That is people hook up with someone for a while, break up, hook up with someone else, and repeat the cycle. And the existence of this phenomenon is a very clear indicator of the inadequacy of monogamous relationships.

However, open relationships can have commitment if the partners choose to do so. Open marriages are a prime example of that. Two people choosing to be together for the long-term without closing their relationship. In open marriages, the partners choose to make a conscious effort to make sure that their secondary relationships do not take precedence over their primary partner.

Aseel said...

I agree with you about the correlation between curiosity and love... you did actually make a solid point there...

aside from all of that, don't you think that open relationships are a bit primitive, or let's just say a bit detached? this is why psychiatrists invented the concept of "give your partner a space" thingy.. a lot had been said about closed and open relationships and a lot of what had been said was misinterpreted.

human race has evolved and so is its needs and wants.. we have become more attached and we are social beings by nature. the need to belong is the motive and the drive for closed relationships and, to a more general sense, closed societies.. it kind of defines us as individuals "to belong to that race, that land, that nationality, that family, that person.. it goes on and on. it is an exclusive commitment one way or the other.

What you are saying matches the fruedan theory but messes up what other theories about human needs proved -pretty sure you know about these theories more than i do- "hierarchy of needs and McClelland's theory of needs"

all that i'm saying, there will come time when even you, the pro-open relationships, will want, or NEED, to belong to someone in a closed relationship and share the intimacy closed relationships have... exclusivity is not supposed to be forced, its a choice you make on your behalf.. and you do have the choice of breaking it too..

maybe women demand exclusivity more than men, considering of all bio-psycho analysis about us. but this does not mean that men cannot choose that too "willingly" :)

Devil's Mind said...

"exclusivity is not supposed to be forced, its a choice you make on your behalf.. and you do have the choice of breaking it too.." - So what's the difference between open and closed relationships?! If you can turn on and off the exclusivity switch, then there is no difference between the two! Unless you are referring to serial monogamy which is something else.

"aside from all of that, don't you think that open relationships are a bit primitive, or let's just say a bit detached?" - Quite the opposite. A primitive person cannot see beyond what is immediately accessible to them. Relationships in the past were motivated by immediate needs. However, the paradigm is shifting and we are becoming more concerned about conceptual values like love. An open relationship -in my opinion- is the ultimate expression of love. And so, -I believe- it exists on a plane higher and more evolved than closed relationships. There are needs and experiences that simply a closed relationship can never satisfy. Experiences of love and deep meaningful human connections.

"maybe women demand exclusivity more than men, considering of all bio-psycho analysis about us." - I don't like to engage in stereotypes; But women are generally considered more emotions-oriented than men... I find it odd that they would desire closed relationships. Maybe they are influenced by the predominantly male culture of the current world. Just a maybe.

Aseel said...

now you are going to make me argue which is something I dont like...

When i said exclusivity is a choice you make on your behalf and you can break it in a closed relationship i meant that you can break the relationship all together if that relationship is no longer satisfactory. NO one forces you to stay in any sort of relationships.. no one has that power on you.

open relationships are just too messy when it starts all the way till the end.. and it never ends well... not even in the movies.. and definitely not even in Europe..

A relationship is more than just the sensuality of love, its also about many other emotions mixed together in different portions depending on each individuals needs and personality. like safety, dependence, freedom, continuity, stability, the need to belong, the need to be wanted and desired, the need to care and be cared for, the need for fulfillment, and quoting from you, the empowerment that the relationship provides to each person.

this mixture of all these emotions along with many other emotions at different portions depending on the persons needs and personality all together are the formula of what kind of relationships we prefer to find ourselves in. Its not about "open relationships are right, closed relationships are wrong"... its all relationships... just some of us have different boundaries than others..

and i dont entirely agree with you on the last piece. "I find it odd that they would desire closed relationships."

you know, there is an old greek proverb- a male dominating culture too- that says: men may think they are the head of their families, but women are the neck, they turn them around to whichever direction they desire.
What you said was stereotyping. and females always have the upper hand even in a male dominating culture.. just no one admits what a woman would do to get what she wants.. but women demand closed relationships because it is embedded in our nature. we tend to protect our part of the world, and the people we love have a huge share of that part-

but at least just admit it, you are not into closed relationships because you are against the constitution of marriage " the couldnt-be-more-obvious form of closed relationships" that is imposed by society or religion.

if you dont want to be attached both emotionally and on a formal-legal-religious way to anyone because that's the kind of love you are seeking and capable of handling, then that is fine because this is the best kind of love that suites you. that's just it. its not wrong or right.. its the situation you prefer to find yourself in.

people who are in happy and healthy "closed relationships" are wayyyyy much more than people who are in happy healthy "open relationships". Observation is a basic data collecting method while proving a theory.

its all a matter of how much space you want to have in a relationship and how big that common ground you both are standing in together.

Devil's Mind said...

To make few things clear. I understand that open relationships are not for everybody, and that the best form of relationships is personal and depends on the person's perspective.

However, there is a general belief that "closed relationships" are an ideal that people should attempt to realize.

But I challenge that, and I consider it to be a myth. Now, if we are discussing ideals, it is different than discussing what works for me, you, or people in general. In terms of ideals, I believe that open relationships are the ideal, and find that I have the desire to fulfill that ideal. But as you pointed out, ideals depend on the criteria you use to measure what things are better than others.

"you are not into closed relationships because you are against the constitution of marriage" - Well, I admit that I am against marriage. But the logic you provide is reversed. I oppose marriages because they are closed relationships, not the other way around. As a matter of fact, I have previously made a post about my distaste for marriage.

And where do you get your information that closed couples are happier than open couples?! First, I wouldn't be surprised if this actually turned out to be true for two reasons: 1- Open relationships require more awareness and work than closed relationships, and not many people are willing to put the effort. 2- If someone engages in an open relationship without being completely convinced of its ideals, then they cannot make it work. So, since most people think, operate, and observe the closed relationships paradigm, then they will have numerous problems.

"but women demand closed relationships because it is embedded in our nature. we tend to protect our part of the world" - No offense, but I have to be honest here. How is this different from dogs that pee to mark their turf?!

And what exactly are those women protecting?! And from what?! Those two questions are really important. Try to think about them.

Aseel said...

:) I didnt comment to make you change your mind. and im not changing my mind too just because we have different perspectives :) we can always agree to disagree. you are right to say that relationships and how they are built are personal and depends on each couple..

Just to make one thing clear, I didnt say that people in closed relationships are happier that those in open relationships.. I meant the number of people in healthy happy closed relationships is much more than the number of people in healthy happy open relationship.. the comparison was a matter of numbers :)

Honestly, other than Oprah and Susan Sarandon, who broke up with her partner few months ago, I havent heard of any people who choose open relationships and last as much as these two did with their partners.

I base my assumption on observation.

I will look up for studies about the psychology of the human race based on gender and if i come across something interested i will keep you posted :)

Devil's Mind said...

The problem is that many people just accept ideas and ideologies simply because that what they know of. I just think that each and everybody should question the what and why of their convictions. I have done my homework and this is the result I came up with.

Of course, each person has a different perspective. And each person should pursue what's right for them. But what I find to be problematic is to just accept the "defaults".

And the most important aspect of our lives are the relationships that we have. For that reason, I find it really odd that people don't give thought to those issues, and just go with what everybody else is doing!

I am not trying to change anybody's mind... Just provide food for thought...

Aseel said...

you are right one should always look for that meaning in relationships.. But, what made you think that I, as a person, didn't.. Why would I be talking about "the art of losing" if i wasn't..

as you said, open relationships require higher level of understanding and so much work.. and if that suites someone then that is what they should demand and look for..

but to me, they all are relationships and its all about the space you want for yourself in a relationship and the closeness and common ground a couple has together..

I admire the space a person has in an open relationship i really do but I also want that commitment and loyalty and intimacy and trust closed ones have.. not all open relationships guarantee that.

my own vision about relationships is its not just about two people always looking at each other.. its also about looking at the same direction together.. never losing your individuality and by that keeping curiosity and at the same time having someone who would care for you to drop everything in their hands no matter how important it is to them to come to you when you need them to. too much space will make the two end up strangers :)

that was healthy food :) its nice talking about such issues because only then a person gets a better understanding of what they really desire :) thanks

Devil's Mind said...

I didn't say (nor did I assume) that you did not think of your relationships model. But sometimes only elaborate discussions can reveal the hidden assumptions that people make in their choices.

And when some assumptions are popular beliefs, then tend to go unchallenged.

Finally, thank you for thanking me, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. :)

Rain said...

You know? I was going to come here and say no-no to all of this
And then I remembered... this concept already exists in Islam(regardless it being granted for men only) but it's basically the same thing,so why am I tolerating it in that context but not this one?

I can kinda see where you're coming from now,but still this needs finjan ahweh w a3det ta2ammol zy el 3an jad

Didn't read all of the comments kman,sorry bs mo ja3bali lol

Devil's Mind said...

Well, I agree that there are minor (emphasis on minor) similarities between what I am saying and polygamy in Islam. But I wouldn't say that it is "where I am coming from". I reached this line of thought by independent thought.

However, if the fact that some of your objections are acceptable in Islam, and this motivates you to think and meditate about this issue, then by all means do that. And don't hesitate to share your thoughts once you do.

african woman said...

Hi there! I really love your topic! You made me realize something and you really enlighten me.

I so love this one:"To love someone is to think that they are interesting. And for them to be interesting to you, this means that they instill a feeling of curiosity. The desire that emerges when you get to know someone, that you want to know more about them. Understand their feelings, experiences, views, and thoughts. Or more generally, understand who they are. This desire in my opinion is the most definitive feature of the emotion of love. And this desire is why a relationship is created and how the relationship is maintained."

"If you have no desire to know more, then you have no curiosity, and when you are not curious, the emotion of love loses it's momentum."

I am quiet agree with this hence I'm in great doubt of my partner right now. We are in long distance relationship and whenever we have communications then I find him boring. Sometimes I love him, sometimes I don't care. I am really confused!Can you help me?

Devil's Mind said...

Dear African Woman, I don't think that any quick relationship advice can work, since I don't know much about the details and the specifics of your relationship.

I am personally not a fan of long distance relationships. My personal approach in the case of travel is to put the relationship in "halt mode", just live your life and resume your relationship as normal once your partner comes back.

The reason for that is that a long distance relationship is an incomplete relationship. A relationship involves seeing each other regularly, going out together, doing things together, and possibly sexual intercourse. Doing a long distance relationship is like trying to keep a man in a vegetative state living on machine support! It is no mystery that you will feel the spark gone in this setup. But if you wait for your partner to come back, you would miss your partner more and not dissipate your energy with a sub-par relationship while he's away.

Of course, here I am assuming that you had a strong short-distance relationship with your partner before you had to get into the long distance relationship. And this is only my perspective not necessarily going to work for you.

Also, if you have doubt about your partner, try to meet other people. My advice is to put an honest effort to make things work with your partner, but at the same time keep a healthy circle of friends, and maybe go out on dates.