Here is the English version!
We live in a world where we are constantly online and get loads of impressions, inspiration and social interaction every day. Where we are increasingly interconnected; our networks melt together and give us access to more and more people and new contexts to explore. Where a date is just a swipe away. And so on.
Do you agree that the world feels smaller? It is no longer the boy next door we flirt with, but might also be a personal trainer in Barcelona where we are going on holiday, who we found with Tinder Plus. This supply of people (singles) never runs short and the grass always seems greener. A time where many have a thirst for freedom and where the probability, and perhaps sacrifice, to focus on getting to know one single person, decreases. On the other hand, we see a strong contrast. Couples hiding in a bubble, perhaps losing the passion between the sheets, and sometimes losing the glow in their eyes too, when trapped in the everyday chores with a person they have gotten to know inside out. So what do we have in between? Are there other options? And how long should exclusive relationship be the norm in our society and the main thing we strive for?
I don’t know, but I do think things are changing, as I hear more people talking about these things and consider alternative ways to have relationships. I personally think a lot about relationships and how to approach the concept. As a matter of fact, I doubt if we are meant for monogamous love relationships. A few weeks ago I went to the Museum of Sex in New York where part of the exhibition was about the animal world, where you can find examples of group sex and partner changes as a natural part of the animals’ behaviour. Just like in the human world, just that here it is seen as dirty, wrong and loaded with guilt, especially when it is labelled as infidelity.
But if humans would be meant to live in monogamous love relationships, why do we have so many divorces? Why are so many unhappy? Why are so many sexually frustrated? Why are we jealous? If it had been natural, why do we have to fight to make it work? “You have to work at relationships” they say. Yes I agree, but do you really need to struggle? I want everything. And I want it easy. And hell yes you have to work on relationships, especially the kind of relationships when we expect our partner to be everything to us: our soul mate who also reads our mind, creative sex partner with a never ending storage of passion, our psychologist when we are unbalanced and feeling down, an entertainer who can make us laugh, our stable company on the couch / on the road / in the grocery store / at dinners – and then she or he will of course be our best friend too.
And then sharing household adds more challenges – you have to compromise with routines, needs and your alone time. And yes, on top of that have a smooth, respectful and mature communication. You have got to work hard to make it work, that is for sure.
Marriage back in the days was established on more practical grounds, without necessarily love being involved, but the base was rather economical security. Thank god, the fight for gender equality has set the woman free (talking about Sweden) and we are no longer dependent on living together with a man in order to function in society, pay rent, or have children for that matter (see The Swedish Theory of Love).
So could one option be to lower the requirements and expectations? And what happens if we do? Can we accept that our partner does not understand our deepest thoughts, but we can laugh together, or that she or he cannot challenge us intellectually, but is crazily good in bed?
However, I think there are people who appreciate the conventional relationship with exclusivity, and can actually can find happiness with it. But I also think there are many who have a strong adventurous side, and then there is a risk that the relationship finally start to feel like a cage. What do you do then? It can result in lies, betrayal, disappointment and grief. I think more people would be better off daring to look outside the box. Can we as couples allow each other to be with others but still be together, for example? I do not know but I think some are capable of that, to distinguish the deep love from passionate sex, it might not always be the same thing, at least not forever. I see examples where one partner is quite satisfied but the other one wants more. Not that he or she stopped loving their partner, but there is something missing, still nothing to do with the love.
So security vs. freedom. It is difficult. Because we all need some kind of security, I do understand that. In an exclusive love relationship of two people where you decided that it is us agains the world, I’m sure a sense of happiness, tenderness, thoughtfulness, intimacy can thrive, it is more the expiring date I see as problematic. But after all, it is meaningful intimate relationships that make us happy, according to studies.
But security and confidence that can exist in a relationship can of course at any time be replaced by anxiety and frustration. It is not confident if I sit up and worry when my partner is out partying with work. It is not safe if I do not feel chosen or if my partner does not understand my needs. In these cases the concept of safety becomes an illusion where house, children and other external things become symbols that make you believe in it and cling on to it.
So what is a love relationship really and does it have to mean what it meant before? How does the modern love relationship look like? I think we are taking steps toward something in between the concepts that we know and take for granted. I want to believe that we are slowly starting to rethink the norm, but it will take time. With all this said, I am not against couples or exclusive relationships and I do not exclude the possibility that I will have that kind of relationship, but I find it tempting not to draw too sharp lines, daring to erase, draw and create new shapes and rules. It is about being true to yourself and your needs, and to be open to new ways to express and manage love.
Quite often I notice that when talking about a person you are dating, or sleeping with, one tends to always finish with the explanation but he/she’s not THE ONE. Like describing all positive sides and how nice it is to hang out “but there is nothing more, as in he/she is not boyfriend/girlfriend material. But why do we need to categorize and eliminate the chance for “something more”. Why can’t it just be nice or awesome or pretty good.
Trying to look at relationships and meeting people with a completely open mind is a challenge but very beautiful I think. Like meeting someone and just being in the moment; over a weekend, a month, or a year, for that matter. And to give that person all the freedom you can. It is a kind of relationship, but without promise and without controlling each other. Daring to drop the need for guarantee we always tend to search. Knowing and accepting that this could end at any time and that everything can change, is something that both (or all parties involved) are aware of. It is about taking responsibility for your feelings basically. And that is easier said than done, I know. But mastering it, I think you can find great harmony and positive emotion, without losing yourself and without limiting your own or your partner’s development, curiosity and happiness. Having said that, I know that those things can grow within a relationship too, just I have seen few examples of that.