To show love

It’s been almost a year since I’ve started on my poly journey, and one question has consistently been on my mind.

How do you show love in poly relationships?

In monogamous relationships, fidelity is an act of showing love. Turning down other potential partners/mates/attractions is an act of showing love and commitment.

But this does not apply in polyamorous relationships, which makes me wonder, how DO you show love in poly relationships? Especially long distance ones? Which also makes me wonder if there are conditions in which you CAN be in a poly relationship..and ponder over the nature of relationships themselves.

They say that love is a choice. Which to an extent, I agree.

If love is just a feeling, then fidelity wouldn’t represent love, because you may or may not feel love for the person you’re being faithful to in that instant, but you choose to take that action.

We can’t control our thoughts or feelings, but we can control our actions, and that’s what differentiates good people from bad people. Choice in actions.

But there IS also the love we feel, so how does it all tie together?

My current understanding is that you can perform actions to show love, to DO love, without feeling love. But FEELING love turns the act of showing love into something that is pleasurable for yourself, and makes it not a chore, not tiring and not a duty.

But that still doesn’t answer my questions of, so how can poly people show love? Besides the usual ways which we’ve learnt?

Because we grew up learning that the ULTIMATE gesture of love and commitment is fidelity. But the whole choosing on person over another thing is frowned upon in polyamory, therefore, how do you show enough love in polyamory?

What is the replacement to that?

See the smart thing about fidelity is that it’ infinite, it doesn’t take up resources.

But other types of showing love, like spending time, like gifts, attention, heck even phone calls and text messages, they take time and effort. That’s not infinite. And with more people you have to do those things for, it’s simply unrealistic to amp any of it up to a level where one feels the same level of love that fidelity does.

See, take someone in the military for example.

They don’t have the time or resources to physically spend time with their wives or even keep in contact, but the love is kept alive through the mutual promise of fidelity, there is a constant act of love being shown.

But say both of them are poly, they can each have a partner wherever they are, which is great, but they really won’t have anything tying each other together except for their thoughts for each other. But these thoughts are hardly seen by each other.

Even for friendship, say what you will, when we think about it honestly, we ARE less close with our best friends if we tend to not contact them, and whichever friend they’re closer with in terms of time spent together WILL actually be closer to them for that duration. The commitment of friendship and history together just means that you know you’ll always be friends and that it’s quick to pick-up the friendship again. But frankly, friends and family do make some effort to stay connected or reconnect. Via calling, or dinners or letters etc.

Perhaps it’s still my monogamous thinking, but basically, take away the difference in level of resources invested and fidelity, a couple will drift apart and become less close if distance is put between two, because there’s no other way to show love and commitment. And that they’ll both have a closer partner with whomever is closer to them that they have more access to show love to. Sure with the commitment and desire to be together, these two partners can pick it up again when they’re once again in proximity, but that also means that there’s no…certainty in that relationship. It’s like a very elastic ebb and flow, the partnership is tenuous unless time and effort is invested to keep the two close together, in the form of calling, letters etc.

You may FEEL the same level of love for a partner that is physically with you and a partner who is far away but unless you can show it in a manner in which the partner knows, love can’t be sustained just within your own head. Well it can, but a relationship can’t.

A relationship is a constant interaction, one action can be a LONG one, but it’s an ongoing connection and when it breaks…it breaks.

Which means poly or not, effort counts, and as much as we want to say love is infinite, in practice, it’s not. The space you have in your heart is infinite, but making sure everyone feels loved and important…there’s a limit to that. And at the end of the day a relationship isn’t a love story you write in your head, if that’s the case, why bother to date people? Just have as many imaginary partners as you’d like in your mind.

I understand that LDR poly couples will still make the effort to keep in touch, through calls, and plan trips, effort is kept to stay connected and I’m sure that’s a LOT of effort (of course it won’t feel like effort if you FEEL love for the person)..and so does discipline replace fidelity?

To not give into the easy way out of just forgetting that partner and focusing on the person who is closer and making an effort to overcome the distance?

I guess that justifies it, and so couples, poly or not, can be put in situations where they are literally unable to maintain that connection and end up choosing to take a break and pick up their relationship again when situation is more conducive , of course you can’t expect the person to still want that relationship, which I mean to be fair is true even with friends. We don’t always reconnect.

No one said they had to be eternal of course, relationships.

But still, I wonder, how do we…well find ways to show love that is as strong as the inculcated notion of fidelity?

Difficult questions.

To show love

What they don’t tell you about anxiety

They tell you you’ll be anxious, that you’ll be sensitive.

They don’t tell you that the adrenaline from excitement following a good day will make you anxious the next day.

They don’t tell you that any strong emotions can turn you into an illogical jumpy mess.

That you know you’re having a good day and everything’s fine,  but your body decides to be in fight or flight mode anyway because whatever regulators regulating your brain is dysfunctional.

But I won’t let today be a bad day, just because my body’s biology decides to be a bit wonky, my happiness is decided as much by my brain as it is my heart and mind.

I’ll deal with the jumpiness, wariness that stems from absolutely nowhere, and try to find comfort in the routine and a nice cup of tea.

And remind myself, because I know how it feels to feel like your hands and feel are dangling in mid-air even when they’re clenched and grasping, I appreciate peace like no other.

What they don’t tell you about anxiety

Importance of putting yourself first

It seems like an awfully selfish  thing to do, putting yourself first. But today, I’ve once again learnt why you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself.

I recently read that we find people needy (and therefore can’t stand them) not actually because of the other person’s needs, but because we subconsciously detest the fact that we are too weak to fulfill those needs.

I had a meta observation of that today. My mom called me to her room, I wasn’t in a good place this morning, sort of antsy, anxious, generally quite unsettled. So when I went to her room, I was just trying to keep myself in control and was annoyed at why she was ‘clingy’. Thankfully I knew I was acting irrationally so I didn’t act out. Which of course, thus gave way to my observation and realization.

On a normal day, when I’m in a good condition, I couldn’t have found her needy or annoying. I’d have been concerned, worried and eager to help. But because I myself wasn’t in a good place, I needed help more than I could give help, scarcity mindset kicked in and I just felt overall irritated and possibly even insecure/threatened/unsafe.

Which coincided very well with what I had planned on meditating on this morning which was: what am I dissatisfied about and how can I satisfy it?

I had planned on meditating on that because I realized I still wasn’t in a state to be happy for others despite not being jealous or envious. Which meant that I felt that their happiness or ‘good’ state was negating mine dissatisfaction, which leads to me feeling invalidated and thus the inability to muster up happiness for them.

Empathy doesn’t really work, when your brain is in ‘survival mode’ and is basically thumping you over the head with the ‘put yourself first’ stick.

There’s entirely too much glorification in self-sacrifice. True self-sacrifice is done happily, the act of sacrifice itself is carried out willingly and there’s no grudge in the action. Proper self-sacrifice comes from a place of love and the sacrifice itself brings joy to the person performing it.

Forcing yourself to put others first when you really CANNOT is..not good.

I’m not saying this to enable everyone to not be givers, but rather. If you’re not a giver, it’s worth pondering why not.

What is it that you’re so dissatisfied within yourself that you are unable to give, and how can you satisfy that so that you can receive even more from the gift of giving.

Ultimately, my reason for wanting to be able to be happy for others stem from the selfish fact that I want to feel happy being happy for others. It’s for myself. Therefore working out how I can be happy so that I can truly be happy for others is..rather self-serving.

But hey, if everyone’s happy, does it matter?

Importance of putting yourself first

Shared fantasy

Mutual goal, shared fantasy, common understanding, call it what you will.

I’ve come to realize that without it, a relationship is going to be in a very bad place.

What is this shared fantasy I speak of?

The relationship narrative aka how you envision the relationship to be like.

It’s really important to be on the same page about this.

You’d think a couple is naturally on the same page as to what their relationship is like given that they’re IN it.

But we all know that when you’re IN something, the more likely you don’t know what the picture actually looks like.

So it is entirely possible for a couple to have a COMPLETELY different narrative of their relationship in their head. The internet has enough memes about it that I don’t need to elaborate.

So as ridiculous as it might sound, it’s really important to make sure that as a couple, you know what your common narrative is for your relationship and how you want the story to unfold and continue.

Ultimately, what is a relationship if not two people working together to realize a shared fantasy?

That’s what communication is for, communicating what your personal fantasy is and to mash both together to create a story that you’re both happy with and work towards realizing it.

It’s fine even if the shared fantasy is no strings attached or lets be free and easy.

What’s important is that it’s shared and communicated and MUTUALLY AGREED.

Dr Gottman said that Romance is a promise to always keep things magical for each other. Well his daughter said that.

But what’s magical differs from person to person, it’s important to know what the other person finds magical. Some people think dragons are magical while others think fireworks are magical.

Shared fantasy means that somewhere in that story you have a dragon that maybe breathes fireworks. I don’t know.

I’m still working on communicating and creating that common narrative that we can work towards to. So I can’t really advise on HOW to communicate to create this mutual goal.

All I know for now is that this goal, fantasy or story, whatever you call it is important.

Because there’s nothing more satisfying that realizing this goal/story/fantasy as a team with your partner.

Humans are simple beings, have a sense of achievement and our brain happily awards us with happy chemicals. I suppose addiction is bad, but there are probably worse things to be addicted to than mutual satisfaction and happiness.

Shared fantasy

Invisible things in life

I am much too in love with the invisible things in life. The things that you cannot hold, but only possess mentally. The idea of love, the concept of aesthetics, sunlight shining through the window, the presence of the world and our place in it…

It excites me on a visceral level when something engages my invisible sense, to analyze the feelings which something brings to me. The power words have on me, how the wind blowing in my face activates certain brain chemistry, or simply appreciating beauty by just looking at something long enough to piece together the lines, color, light and shadow that goes into it.

It’s that moment when you let out a satisfying ‘ah’ after drinking a warm cup of tea or cocoa or coffee. When you step into a well-designed space and it pleases you. When you hear a song and tears start rolling from your eyes. When you look into the eyes of a loved one and feel the connection, as if it was tangible.

I’m a sensory person whose senses are far more internal than external.

It’s curious why I don’t love abstract art more.

Because it is abstract concepts that I am truly passionate about, that I find fills up my life, feeds the soul and is what I wish to bring to people.

Abstract concepts like beauty, like happiness, like connection, like authenticity, like wonder…there are no ingredients to this.

It’s not as if something bittersweet would be 2 parts sweet and 1 part bitter. There’s no recipe as to what elicits these feelings and senses in us. We can make good guesses and engage the five senses,but we not possess any of these concepts or feelings until we’ve actually interacted and understood them.

My love of the invisible probably frustrates many, for what can you do to make someone who isn’t into the tangible happy, to awe someone whose breath is taken away by the shimmering waters by the sea, lake and even drain?

And worse, how do you explain to others that appreciating the invisible in life is true appreciation of life itself? To humble yourself to attempt to comprehend the beauty of the world, which we cannot make nor capture. That it is somehow not a waste of time, when it is. The beauty of wasting time to just take the world in.

To explain the hunger and need to have these sense tingled and not that of something that’s merely physical.

I don’t know yet, and that’s either a very good or very bad thing, seeing as my goal in life is to design experiences.

Invisible things in life

Relationship protips and then some

Protip:

If your partner gets jealous about you doing something with a metamour and not them that they don’t enjoy (e.g. buy flowers). The underlying desire isn’t because they are jealous that you are doing that activity with someone else and they want the same thing. Chances are, they are upset that the same effort isn’t extended to them. It’s about the effort, not the activity. Which means, instead of wondering why your partner is such a jealous person, reflect if you’ve put in the same amount of effort and investment in this relationship as your other relationships.


Observation #1:

Every long lasting relationship seems to have their own thing, a common goal/motto/vision. Like libby and rob’s relationship anarchy thing. Communication and visualization.  Common growth thing.. a common goal or mission that they can work towards together.

(I guess it’s kind of like how all good companies have a vision they work towards and that’s why staff stays?)

Observation #2:

Dr gottman’s thing 5:1 really works.

1) your feelings are fleeting, you may feel bad about the situation right now but once circumstances change, you wont

2) a little positivity goes a long way. Do soemthing nice, make a small effort. You’d be surprised how well it works in preventing resentment

Observation #3:

We are actually happier with more autonomy and personal space in our life, more fondness when we are more independent. Maybe thats our rhythm, a little more distance and independence. And how do we maintain that while living together? (Provided that we invest the same amount of effort and love; quality not quantity!)

Relationship protips and then some