Saturday, March 17, 2012
Triangulations of the Heart
I was under the weather yesterday. It's a situation that's always a bit unnerving since I live alone. What if something went very wrong? I always wonder about that when I don't feel well. Fortunately yesterday I realized whatever virus was passing through me was mild, hence was able to turn my mind to other things.
I've been thinking about the love triangle (because I'm finally watching Mad Men on netflix, probably). It is an essential human dilemma in this culture at least, which is why it appears in virtually every story, book, movie, song, and poem. The truth that most of us are not monogamous but we live in a society that expects monogamy, that demands stable, long term, exclusive relationships, puts people between a rock and a hard place. The heart opens, but if we follow our hearts, there will be hell to pay. Prior to that hell is a lot of lying and sneaking around.
Lately I've wondered whether any choice is "right" in these situations. What is a measure of having done it right?
The situation of the love triangle reminds me of the difficult stories in the Torah that Rabbi Manewith said are meant to challenge and provoke, make us examine and re-examine our values and ethics. There are tests in the military and elsewhere that do not have correct answers and can not be aced. They're tests of character rather than knowledge or expertise. Perhaps in our society, the love triangle provides rich opportunities to plumb the depths of our hearts, minds and bodies, to discover the things we need to change, or to understand our deepest desires, or both.
In my prime, I occupied every corner of a number of romantic triangles. Perhaps I learned from these experiences, perhaps not. What I remember about them is that they are very challenging but very compelling, too. I don't think back happily on these experiences when I look at them whole, but I treasure bits and pieces, blissful moments spent with the person I wasn't supposed to be with, or the way in which the affairs I engaged in helped me appreciate my primary relationships. It worked that way sometimes, it really did.
At least for me, there was never a happy outcome because according to the rules of monogamy, taking part in this sacred drama meant someone would betray, or be betrayed. What a set-up!
What's the alternative? Some people choose to keep their hearts closed to all except the chosen partner, and it seems to work well from what I've seen, though I feel sad imagining all the possible expressions of love these people denied themselves. Polyamory is another option. There are plenty of people who believe it's best to bring it all out into the open. They toss out the conventional rules and seem to live quite happily with the openness. I'm the first person to admit I'm not monogamous, but polyamory has no appeal. Even one relationship is impossibly time consuming and difficult to manage. But consciously taking on more than one at a time? Whoa. I always feel for the #2 wife in these situations because she must yield to the #1 wife in all things. That can not enhance self esteem, hey? But maybe I just don't get what polyamory is about.
Is it any wonder that I've spent most of my adult life single? Ha!!
Shabbat shalom, y'all.