slutty dispositions and truthful depositions
As Christopher Ryan writes on Sex at Dawn,
“Marriage," "mating," and "love" are socially constructed phenomena that have little or no transferable meaning outside any given culture. The examples we've noted of rampant ritualized group sex, mate-swapping, unrestrained casual affairs, and socially sanctioned sequential sex were all reported in cultures that anthropologists insist are monogamous simply because they've determined that something they call "marriage" takes place there. No wonder so many insist that marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are human universals. With such all-encompassing interpretations of the concepts, even the prairie vole, who "sleeps with anyone," would qualify.”And I agree. I think that putting all the weight of our wants and needs on one person is a burden that could sink any boat, let alone a relationship. One thing is find someone who really understands you and someone you want to share your life with, and other thing is to pin on them everything you ever wanted from a mate -sexually and emotionally- and expect to receive it. In that one relationship the other person is expected to give us everything we need and want sexually and emotionally. They are the one source of everything we expect from our other half.
The myth of the other half, what Plato told us about Zeus dividing that original being in two, jealous of their power, is a very alluring one. What could be better than finding 'the one' and then getting them to stay with us for a very long time? Forever? The idea of a soulmate, that one person who will truly understand you and love you unconditionally is a powerful motivation for many people who get in relationships expecting to be with the one person that has been predestined to be in their life or who belongs with them.
I think that it's more a matter of Eros. I do believe there are people to whom we are irrevocably attracted to. The desire to love and feel loved is human. But we can feel that attraction for more than one person. We can be monogamish and still preserve that idea that we are with the people we belong to, the people with whom we feel complete and happy. And it could be more than one person.
Love and sex can be free-flowing. I have tried the one person at a time kind of relationship and the more than one person at a time kind of relationship. In several permutations. And I think the most fulfilling relationships I have had are the ones where we are open. Or partially open. They have lasted from a few years to a decade. And was/are friends with many of those people for a long time after the relationship ended. The love was/is still there, even when sex and co-living were no longer part of our lives.
When we let go of jealousy and possessiveness I think we live more freely and more intensely. We enjoy the time and things we share with the people we love and get more of the relationship we have with them. It may seem silly, but once we let go of that 'mine!' mentality, we feel a little bit better, a little bit more predisposed to really appreciate that person who is with us.
Is it sustainable? It can be. It can be synchronous or asynchronous. You can open your relationship wide or partially. I've had both and they have worked well to different degrees. It depends of who the other part is. Is it for everybody? I don't think so. Some people really need the reassurance that they are the only person in your life or they can only deal with one person in their lives at a time. They need to be in it with you. It's a menage-a-trois (ou a quatre) after all.