Are We Lying To Ourselves About Our Feelings Towards Others?
Driving home in an Uber one Friday evening and my driver, let’s call her Mary, starts chatting with me. As it was a Friday, she asked me if I had any plans or a “hot date,” which of course led to the topic of our love lives and relationships. After I admitted that I had some drinks planned, I asked her if she had a “hot date.”
She got kind of awkward and replied, “My situation is a little complicated.” I asked her, “how so?” and she replied, “Well, I’m kind of in a polyamorous relationship. I’m not sure if you know what that means.” I told her that I did know what it meant, but I had always been curious about what it would be like to be in one. I asked her to explain it to me, if she was open on what it entailed.
She started explaining to me that she met this man at a show and fell head over heels for him. He was beautiful, intelligent, and brought everything she was seeking to the table, but when she found out that he was married, she backed off. He also felt a connection, however, and explained to her that he and his wife have an open marriage, and his wife, in fact, knows of Mary very well.
“Wait,” I asked her, “So his wife knows about you, but doesn’t mind when he goes off to be with you?”
“She has guys on the side too,” Mary replied. She then told me that she is currently dating this other gorgeous guy, who knows about her relationship with the married man. Even though they’re dating, however, she doesn’t feel that same connection.
This just sounded like monogamous dating, but with fancier labels. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who are dating the “hot but stupid guy” along with the one who is “kind of in a relationship but his girlfriend cheated on him three times so who cares.”
I had to ask Mary, “So if married man was single and said to you, ‘I want to be in a committed full blown relationship,’ would you say yes?”
“That’s never going to happen,” she told me, “And why does a relationship have to go somewhere? Why can’t it just be, you know?”
When I got home I thought about that last bit: why does a relationship have to go somewhere?
In a sense, she was right – why does it have to go somewhere? Did this girl have life figured out, while here I sit with my rules, my playbook, and my games, for no apparent reason? But then I remembered the first part, “That’s never going to happen,” and it made me sad for her.
She was obviously in love with someone who was never going to feel the same way she does about him. So instead of angry-drunk-messaging him, she worked around him and his needs, which I have to say, props to her – I could never do the same, but I’m not going to judge her for it. She’s getting enough of what she needs, and for some people that works and for others, it doesn’t.
I thought about dating and the relationships in my own life, even the careers I’ve had – every single one of them. Had I ever been in something where my heart was entirely in it, or was my heart, in a sense, trying to break the monogamy box I was putting it into? I live in a town where we have waiters who are singers and dancers on the side, where we will date someone because it looks good on paper, but our hearts are set on someone else. Are we just as polyamorous as Mary, but she’s more vocal about it? Are we too afraid to say what we need?
The best situations I have ever been in, whether it was being with someone, within the work environment, or simple life moments, have always been when my heart was fully in it. When I got myself into situations to try to replace those other things, it felt like I was getting the fake cheap version, not what was true in my heart. Even if forbidding my heart to get involved was probably safer and required me to be less vulnerable, it didn’t feel real.
So here’s my answer to the questions above: no, things don’t always have to go somewhere and no, sometimes things are not always ideal. But if your heart is in it, and you’re being honest with yourself, then you’re no longer polyamorous with your feelings.
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