Love Relations: Locked vs. Liberated

Where there is love, there is life. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Two weeks ago, I watched a lady, called Karen Johnson, talking about science and non-duality – Entanglement, Love and Union.  She introduced her speech by saying that she was going to talk about “Applied Science – one of the greatest mysteries of all ….. Human Relationships.”  Everybody laughed mockingly ‘what an intricate science.’  She continued.  “They befuddle us, muddle us, bedazzle us and twist us around into all kinds of new shapes.  Relationships have great potential within them…”

She reminded me of a question asked by a friend, “Seble, do you think human beings are created to be monogamous, especially men? If no, why is monogamy idealized when many men and women cheat in relationships?”

“Why do many non-monogamous individuals’ consent to see their partner meet and enjoy the company, passion, including their partner finding sexual fulfilment with others?”

Some think that the demand for monogamy which expects complete sexual or emotional linking might be not only impossible, but unfair.  They believe since humans have multiple desires which cannot be met by a single individual; multiple relationships should be explored to meet the insatiable desires.

Historically, we know that many powerful men have avoided monogamy for the privilege of having multiple female partners, typically through having multiple wives, concubines and mistresses.  David J. Lay, in his book of the Good Men, stated that monogamy is idealized and the idea of monogamous marriage works because a commitment and bond between two partners that meets needs for social, emotional, and physical intimacy, as well as financial, familial, and pragmatic needs in ways that no other relationship strategy has as effectively satisfied in current society. But, despite the effectiveness of a seemingly monogamous relationship, history shows that the ideal of monogamy, with the expectation of sexual and emotional fidelity, is not apparently suited for everyone.

This took me back to what I saw in Paris.  I saw a couple of bridges having romance symbolized in love locks.  The practice is that a couple writes their names on a padlock and locks it onto one of the bridges. They then throw the key into the river as a symbol of their undying love.  I read that this practice is not peculiar to France; it is common in many European countries, Australia, Canada and some states in USA.   Sweethearts lock their symbolized padlocks to a bridge, fence, gate, or similar public fixture, write their names or initials inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.

I kept on wondering how many of these love locked couples really lasted their love life until death, or is it until affair do us apart, or divorce do us apart, or any challenges that shake the foundation of their commitment do them apart?  Aren’t they aware of the nature of human or were they led by ideals or were they fooling themselves into thinking that they would never have infidelity both at the emotional and physical level?  Same thing when couples exchange vows, they use rings to symbolize their commitment to each other and they psychologically lock themselves in the relationship they chose to abide.  Whether we symbolize commitment by locking it in a bridge or on a finger, some people continue to cheat.

People express love in theatres, movies, dances, choreographs for it is the force that draw, incredible desire to express itself, the fuel that fire the heart.  Love has a full force to unite.   This month Valentine’s Day was even celebrated in Addis Ababa by many couples. Mid-February dedicated for lovers.  Some extrapolate the Day and not limiting it to couples but extending it to all family and friends that show good love relations though not locked.  Though the practice of celebrating love is enjoyable, if baffles me into thinking “Shouldn’t love be celebrated always by our life style?”

Relationship provides inner connectedness, a kind of looping occurs as couples decide to be in the life of each other.  If we do not agree on the general rules how to govern them, the potential to create damages is high.  I am not here to argue for or against monogamy, non-monogamy, polygamy, bigamy, polygyny, polyandry,… all sorts of relationships societies construct to live by.

However, I would like to focus on the principles that make relationships work for they highly influence human satisfaction.

1) Commitment – This is the core element that keeps relationships to operate at their optimal level.  Though I am not personally for non-monogamous relationship, even those who claimed that their relationship was non-monogamous allow their partner find fulfillment with others consensually.   They equally agree so they don’t feel that one is betraying the other.  When relationships break, they break the heart and it is because inner connectedness cannot be broken easily without causing a lot of pain.  Instead of asking “Are we created monogamous or to be cheats?” Let us change the question to “How can we develop the discipline of abiding by our decision?”  This gives us more power to command our love life than feeling victims of our natural tendency.  Symbols whether locked on a bridge or a ring on a finger can be fake securities if there is no inward commitment to abide by our decisions.

2) Honesty – Even people who settle for short-lived and momentary connection cannot dismiss “truthfulness” is a bigger virtue to have satisfying relations.  With honesty comes trust.  Agreement whether verbal or written is essential to work towards a goal.  In all sorts of relationships, we cannot develop trust if our basis does not stand on the ground of honesty.

3) Clarifying expectations – What do you want to get in relationship? What do you value? One person may want to enjoy the best of the two worlds: secured monogamous relationship but also having affair to meet other desires as they arise.  However, will this equally apply for the partner you reached agreement with? Double standard usually leads to feeling treated unfairly.  Hence, by being open about our needs and articulating what those needs are to our partner, we can improve our life, and that of our partner’s and, therefore, our relationship.

In general, I would like to encourage you all to develop characters that build satisfying life.  This is what is transferred in all types of relations be it employee-employer, husband-wife, or partners.  The locks are meant to exercise discipline within a confined relations which at the end is more liberating for love demands discipline.  However, we lose the right meaning if we focus on symbols and days but not on character and virtues that fulfill the need for connectedness – applied science :).