I remember, many many years ago, having a chat with a guy I was at school with whilst he walked down the road, swigging from a bottle of red wine. At the time I was solely a beer drinker (with the odd Southern Comfort which is entirely down to Stephen King, yes I was very impressionable at a young age) so I asked him why the hell was he, a
17 18 year old, drinking what I thought was something reserved for the older members of society? Did he actually enjoy the taste?
He, drunkenly, admitted it was more because he liked to challenge the ‘norms’ of society, that he wouldn’t be swayed by peer pressure nor be told what to do. Looking back it was obviously mostly teenage rebellion, but hey it looked really cool! Did I mention that I was impressionable at a young age?
Recently, I’ve found myself thinking once more on the pressures that society can push on us, the unwritten rules we all seem to learn and the presumptions that so many of us make day after day. I’m as guilty of those as the next person, of allowing my conditioned responses to take over but that’s slowly changing and some recent events have brought this to the fore.
As most of you know, Kirsty and I are in an open relationship. In short (for there are many differing terms and definitions for our form of relationship*), we are open to the idea that there may be other people who could be part of our lives (and that could be in a variety of forms) and we are being honest and up front with our thoughts and emotions as we figure out how to be in this new and somewhat alien circumstance. It’s still all very new, and not that easy at times, but if it doesn’t work out we will know why and there won’t be any resentment, just two people happy to be monogamous.
What we’ve realised recently is that what we’d thought in the past were certain irrational thoughts, spiralling up from our own insecurities and fears (the very things which caused both of us to have some dark times in the past) are actually more likely to be, in essence, false guilt. Society teaches us that monogamy is the ‘right’ thing, so even being out on a date with someone else is ‘bad’ even if your partner is aware of it.
I guess it’s only natural that, after spending all of our lives with one set of rules that we’d be struggling at times to learn the new ones. However, we are learning that there are fewer rules than we’d thought and the main two are applicable to monogamy as much as polyamory; honesty and communication. It’s not easy being completely honest, both in saying “this will be really hard for me, but I’m ok with that” and in hearing it and trusting the other person in their honesty.
So, society be damned. Do your own thing, be respectful, honest and thoughtful as you go and never mind the naysayers and their negativity. Be happy.
* One thing that irks me, and it happens in many different places, across many different social situations, is the need for some people to apply labels. Human beings are complex creatures, no one is the same and we all have a huge range of things that carve and sculpt the way we think.