I was never explicitly taught how to love growing up, I learned from observing my parents, friends, the media, social norms, etc. There was only one consistent and accepted “norm”, fall in love, get married, and have kids. Through my own experiences, this wasn’t working, and after an abusive relationship left me hurt, confused, and with some baggage, I went exploring for a new message.
My first memory of having a girlfriend was from kindergarten. We would hide under tables together, and rebel against nap time. It was great until she left me for a much cooler, bad boy. In junior high, I fell in love and made painfully one-sided grand romantic gestures. A wonderful experience in learning that love can be one-sided.
Then in high school, in-between a momentous amount of flirting, and “girl-friends”, was my high school sweetheart. Years down the road I realized this wasn’t going to be my last relationship, surprise, ended things, and I was privy to one of my first of many abusive relationship experiences involving non-stop phone calls, text messages, and stalking. Rinse, and repeat, a couple more times. This is about the time I began to wonder what I was doing wrong, and considered if there might be a different way to date.
Herein lies the moment I opened Pandoras box. It involved discussion boards, articles, a variety of books relating to psychology, dating, and sex, and lots of questions. It seemed that there were no answers, only opportunities, and choice. There were no boundaries in terms of what was “right,” only what is right for you. The more questions I asked, the more experiences I had, and the further away I felt I was to explicit answers.
A large part of my journey attempted to answer questions about monogamy. The answers I uncovered helped me reframe monogamy as a restriction, and not an expectation. You are making a choice to restrict your sexual access based on the desire of your partner. Which made me wonder, why would you ever want to restrict someone you love?
As I contemplate the future of my love life my father’s advice runs through my mind “you know that there will be a tomorrow.” I know that when I fall deeply in love, I would want my partner to have any experience that could create happiness, even if that means non-monogamy because if I choose to be in a relationship, I should be confident that despite the conflict, we will be together. No other physical or emotional experience should threaten what we’ve built together. In theory, this makes sense, but in practice, we will just have to see.
I guess Pandora’s box is going to stay open for awhile.
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