On relationships…

I’ve had a few people via conversations with me ask me to consider writing about relationships and polyamory at some stage. Some things have been occurring to me lately that perhaps I’d like to write about. I’ve resisted thus far because all of this is so subjective and based on personal experiences that shape our views and engagement. However, subjectiveness aside I appreciate that the time I’ve spent thinking on this may be of value to others, and that we could converse together about it.

I don’t for a second plan to speak from some kind of expert platform, it’s not my style. I will be speaking from personal experience and the knowledge and wisdom I’ve learned from various spaces from academia to friends and loved ones, courses and talks and workshops. I have a deep abiding commitment to thinking on and exploring love, relationships, intimacy, friendship and connection. So while I won’t take some kind of expert platform to speak from, my personal voice has the weight of this commitment and the time I’ve invested in these spaces. 

 

Like being good at sports, an umbrella:

To begin with, I thought I’d give you an analogy. People ask me about ‘being good at relationships’ either with reference to identifying that I seem to be, or their desire to be. Saying you or someone is good at relationships, is a little bit like saying someone is good at sport. It’s not untrue, but it’s a very broad assertion. Being good at sport is made up of being good at various skills and activities in varying ways. You may be good at endurance running and not so great at sprinting, for example. So, being good at relationships is similar, being good at a range of skills and activities varyingly within a large umbrella of understanding that we identify as ‘relationships’.  Even saying someone is good at communication is something of an umbrella, because there’s also a great deal to the space that is communication with varied skills to learn and gain competence in too. 

 

Being good at relationships, my history:

I have worked hard, intensively hard on my skills in relationships and communication for a long time. Early on this was fueled by a deep desire that comes from feeling denied connection and relationship for many years as a child and teen, that when I first really experienced connection and friendship I was intensively invested in keeping and nurturing it. That space of fear and desperation gave way to more mature desires and a self-confidence that understood how having amazing relationships was part of what made sense to me as a person moving through the world. It was part of what I wanted to always be involved in, growing and developing and honouring. 

Communication came much later, I was so terrible at it for so long! I was intensely passionate in my communication, but clumsy and people struggled to understand what I said, what I meant. Frustration was often present amidst good will, but it wasn’t really satisfying for any of us. Things ‘click’ as they do sometimes and understanding blossomed and a whole lot of little things regarding how to communicate more effectively came much more easily to me. In mentioning this history and my immaturity, I hope to convey that all the things that make me good in any way at relationships are learned skills, and thus shareable and able to be given away and nurtured in others. 

 

Relationships are like snowflakes:

No two are the same, and this is true regardless of what the relationships are and whether you’re a monogamous or polyamorous focused person. Once you understand that all the people in your life are the relationships you are in, there’s a consciousness that can come to you in how you engage in those relationships and build or nurture connection with people. 

One of my biggest beliefs about relationships is that each relationship is sovereign in itself, existing for its own defining reasons that are not dependent on any of the other relationships surrounding. In this way, no relationship you’re in can take away from the other relationships you’re in, the only ways things can impose or encroach is through the choices made to allow this. This isn’t to suggest that relationships don’t relate to one another, they do, someone introduced you to someone else, a group of you share a particular interest and pursue it together. Choosing to view relationships as sovereign with their own boundaries still allows you to recognise and appreciate the ways in which different relationships enhance each other. The difference here is abundance in contrast to scarcity.  

 

Enoughness:

There is enough. You are enough. Those around you are enough. 

I can’t say that enough, so I will say it again: There is enough. You are enough. Those around you are enough.

Any skill with relationships builds on your own trust and confidence in yourself, and awareness of your own imperfection and fallability. It’s a journey, not an exam. There are no relationship police who will knock on your door and arrest you for being bad at relationships, and neither will they accord you any medals for being good at it either. It’s a personal thing, and it’s about choosing and choosing and choosing again to develop these skills and maintain them because doing so is important or valuable to you.

Part of what I’m talking about here is the need to understand that, at no point will you get it all right, and it won’t magically all come together. There will be moments of ease, where things flow with joy and delight, but that won’t necessarily be constant, and nor should it if the relationship is growing in my opinion. Understand that, you will make mistakes, that there will be hard and difficult parts to the most amazing relationships, that you will demonstrate moments of great insight and skill, and other moments when everything comes out wrong. Keeping hold of this in your mind with reference to your self also creates the opportunity for you to allow others the benefit of this undestanding. If you allow yourself to be imperfect, it is easier for you to have space for others to be imperfect too. 

It’s not about getting it right, it’s how you go about getting it right, and getting it wrong. Space for understanding, for forgiveness, for uncertainty, for reassurance, for acknowledgement, for speaking, for listening, for sharing and for moving forward. The idea of enoughness is an idea that dismantles the pedestal that we can put people on, or be put on ourselves. It is an idea of gentleness, of compassion, of kindness and respect. The world tells us in so many ways that we are not enough, that the people around us are not enough… learning enoughness is about an intentionality toward shifting how you listen and speak to the world about being or having enough.

 

In summary:

I’m not an expert, but I have a lot of personal experience and investment in learning about and understaning good relationships and communication. I’ve been asked and am willing to share this with you. Firstly, being good at relationships is actually about cultivating skills and experiences in many places and recognising that all the relationships in our lives are unique and important for themselves. Lastly, there is enough and you are enough and the people around you in your life, are enough, there is potential enough. There is enough. 

I’m talking about relationships generally, but my view of the world is polyamorous and this colours and textures how I perceive and relate things. It’s still relevant for monogamous people, and people not in or interested in romantic relationships, but I still think it useful to mention. I also want to know what you’d like me to talk about. Have we had a conversation recently or in the past that you wanted to revisit, or expand on? Are there things you’ve wanted to ask me or find out what I think about something and haven’t had an opportunity? Ask me, I’m listening. I have some particular things I want to cover in this series of posts, but it is more important to me to find out what you want and focus on that. 

4 thoughts on “On relationships…

  1. This is exactly the conversation I was wanting to have with you in person, and it’s given me some new words and ideas that I’ll be mulling on and seeing how and if they could fit with how I move through the world (such a beautiful expression, and I can see in my own way how it applies to everyone!). I want to be like Cordelia Naismith from the Vorkosigan saga, how she moves through the world and leaves phosphorus glowing trails, where she’s given people ideas and useful techniques to be a flawed, human being who nevertheless moves towards greatness.I appreciate the clarity of having the chance to read your thoughts and personal experiences in a clear, well-structured article intended to share the benefits of your experiences. And I have a more solid grasp on how to view my relationships, and why I’ve been struggling with coming up with words to describe how I feel and what I need in my interactions and relationships with people. :)Enoughness and sovereignity – I’ve been thinking about these concepts, and it’s extremely valuable for me to read my thoughts and feelings and how it could apply to my life, and how I think and act, whether on my own, or with others, through the lens of your extensive experience. I understand the place you come from, and classifying yourself as experienced rather than an expert, I think, is such a lovely way to put it. I don’t think conversations like these, or working on such skills is something that occurs to many people, and at the start when they see an example of someone practicing such habits and techniques (and for me, I immediately wanted to know how to do that, too!), looking into the vast ocean of things that are useful to know when you want to know what’s it’s like, flying and being a Giant, it’s quite daunting and scary, wondering how you could ever get there yourself. But when one starts to, little by little, move towards the best they can be (and that does mean not being amazing all the time, and learning how to make mistakes, retrain yourself to fit with a larger world of different kinds of people and different kinds of spaces), identifying their talents, their awesomeness, and building a truly supportive network of family, friends and trustworthy, amazing people to be around, it’s not so impossible.So thank you for helping me reach a headspace where I feel like I understand a little bit more about what relationships are and how they can change and may be changing all the time. 🙂

  2. Callisto says:

    Enoughness is always a big thing with most people, and I also think most people won’t understand what enoughness is. It’s terrifying to take that leap into the unknown, and I think on a base level the issue of enoughness affects every thing we do, from deciding to work every day through to reaching for those dreams. I worry I am not enough, and I am pretty sure about 90% of my friendslist would laugh at that, since I always seem to be a bit of a handful! But sometimes I’m not; and when I sometimes need to stretch my wings the issue of enoughness is there, lurking in the background. We all have *enough* deep inside, and it’s learning *how* to tap into that which is key. As my newest friend on youtube says, everything of humanity has brought you to this point. That’s a whole lot of humanity that’s on your side. 🙂 We have to dream to reach for the stars, and I’d rather do that, than hide under my rock wondering if I am *enough*

  3. Xin says:

    You are an astounding person for thinking the way you do. You are a fantastic writer for being able to express yourself so well. I wish everyone could read your writing.

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