Saturday, December 13, 2014

Intimacy, Relationships, and The Problems of Monogamy

What is intimacy?

Intimacy is the creation of genuine connections with people. Some people see that sexual intercourse is the only "real" form of intimacy. However, I think that this is a narrow-sighted view of what intimacy is.

There is a wide array of things that can create intimate connections with people. Simple gestures that convey a loving attitude are intimate. Sharing similar views on certain topics can be intimate. Being excited about an idea can be intimate. And sex for sure can be intimate.

And therefore, when monogamous people insist on the exclusivity of sex I see it as an indirect declaration that sex in the only thing that matters in a relationship. I think sex is important, but by far not the only thing that is important.

So, when we see that restricting sexual intercourse is an indirect attempt to restrict intimacy a large array of problems come into light.

If someone takes seriously the idea of restricting the intimate connections that their partner has with other people, there is far a lot more than just sex that needs to be restricted. A simple conversation can be intimate, and how are you going to control that? Are you going to prohibit your partner from having meaningful conversations with other people?

Let's say a couple had a rule that they are not allowed to have deep meaningful conversations with other people in order to restrict intimate connections. What is the definition of a "deep meaningful conversation"?

For example, you can sit with someone and talk about something mundane... Like say, the weather. Let's imagine the following conversation:

- "Hey, the weather is nice today."
- "Yes, it is a lovely day today."
- "Did you watch the news? Do you have any idea how the weather is going to be tomorrow?"
- "Yeah, it is going to have some light rain tomorrow!"
- "Yay, I love rainy weather!"
- "Me too. Why is it that you love rainy weather?"
- "I just love going out in the rain. The feel of rain drops splashing my face is fantastic!"
- "Oh wow... I have the same feeling too... It's just so liberating!!"
- "Liberating... That's exactly the word I would describe that feeling!"

Looking at the conversation above, it might seem to some people to be about two people just conversing about the weather - nothing intimate about it. However, this conversation can be seen by some as an intimate conversation where people are sharing how they feel. A simple conversation like that can be the start of a great relationship, if the two people felt connected at a deep level, and sharing that attitude towards the rain had deep significance to them.

So, if you were in a monogamous relationship, how would you feel about your partner having that conversation with someone else?!

What if the conversation took a deeper turn? Let's say the two people started talking about the weather, and ended up talking about their dreams and aspirations. Maybe they both were for example atheists, and created a connection when they both became honest about their views of something that goes deep into the human psyche like religion. Maybe even they shared stories of having to fight social pressure to conform to mainstream religion, and so they felt a deep intimate connection?!

What would you think of the following conversation:

- "Hey, the weather is nice today."
- "Yes, it is a lovely day today."
- "Did you watch the news? Do you have any idea how the weather is going to be tomorrow?"
- "Yeah, it is going to have some light rain tomorrow!"
- "Yay, I love rainy weather!"
- "Me too. Why is it that you love rainy weather?"
- "I just love going out in the rain. The feel of rain drops splashing my face is fantastic!"
- "Oh wow... I have the same feeling too... It's just so liberating!!"
- "Liberating... That's exactly the word I would describe that feeling!"
- "Do you know what else I find liberating?"
- "What?"
- "Being honest with other people."
- "I agree. And in that spirit, I want to share something with you about myself."
- "What is that?"
- "I am an atheist, and it plays a huge role in my views about life!"
- "I am not atheist, however I am an agnostic! But wow, that was a really brave thing to say, seeing how much atheists are frowned upon in our society. I face a lot of negative reactions about my agnosticism, to the point of being afraid to tell others that aspect of myself!"
- "I do too, however I felt a good connection with you, and so I felt at ease sharing that with you!"
- "Yes, me too. The feeling is mutual, I also feel ecstatic that we could share that about ourselves."

What do you think of THAT? Now imagine that instead of the conversation above, the following conversation happened:

- "Hey, the weather is nice today."
- "Yes, it is a lovely day today."
- "Did you watch the news? Do you have any idea how the weather is going to be tomorrow?"
- "Yeah, it is going to have some light rain tomorrow!"
- "Yay, I love rainy weather!"
- "Me too. Why is it that you love rainy weather?"
- "I just love going out in the rain. The feel of rain drops splashing my face is fantastic!"
- "Oh wow... I have the same feeling too... It's just so liberating!!"
- "Ouch, I am sorry. I have a girlfriend. I sense this conversation is becoming meaningful. I am not interested in any conversation that goes beyond 'That's a nice weather!'... I prefer to only have meaningful conversations with my girlfriend."

What do you think?

I personally would feel abhorred by such over-protective fear of human connections and intimacy, that people feel they have to sabotage any meaningful intimate connections with others.

In my view, sex is an advanced stage of such intimate connections. It's not much different than simply cutting of a conversation that have just become interesting and meaningful. Relationships by their nature advance as people become more accepting and in tune with the other person. So, whether you cut off the conversation just when it has become interesting, or cutting off a relationship just when you feel that sexual intimacy is just few inches away, it all about sabotaging and being afraid of intimate connections happening between people!!

It's just an arbitrary line drawn in the sand!!

Also, if you were a person in the business of disallowing their partner from intimate connections with other people. What is sufficient protection? Even a seemingly innocent conversation about the weather can turn out to have an intimate aspect to it. So, what are you going to do? Ban conversing altogether?!

So, it really does not make sense to think you can simply make a bunch of rules to restrict intimacy.