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After two months of online flirtation and anticipation, I was finally knocking on her front door.
She greeted me, and I looked at her in three dimensions for the first time. She was even more beautiful in real life than in her pictures. This was largely due to the fact that all of her pictures were in the context of her experiencing life. Not in an Instagram way, either. An academic way. She was mysterious, not from the United States, and driven. We could talk about poets, musicians, authors, activists—she was well-versed in all the things close to my heart.
Beyond the fact that I was so intellectually amazed and in awe of her beauty, her purpose made me feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with her. She had her own world and would not spend any time taking inventory of mine. She hadn’t the time to explain to me everything I needed to do to win or maintain her love. She was polyamorous with no plans on altering her habits for anyone.
I have never been in love with a woman like that, but I realized immediately that if I wanted to experience this mad love that she was giving me, I needed to accept and embrace everything about her. If not, what would be the point? I was in love with “her,” not some version of her that was more convenient for me. It was everything about her that I desired. The package included her loving other people.
Isn’t that what love really is, though? If we go into a relationship with a person with some secret plan to change them to better suit our needs or insecurities, can we really claim that we love them? Or are we just excited about the thought of possessing them?
The first kiss convinced me that I was on board for whatever. The warmth and touch of her body. The aura of light shone off her like the late summer sun. Perhaps I have a tendency to delude myself, but I could swear that I never before felt anything so perfect or real.
As we walked down by the river behind her house, another revelation struck me: this moment when everything felt so incredible came with no promises and no future. This moment was really all I could be sure of. I mean, yes, it’s entirely possible that we will see each other for a weekend here and there while she is in the states, but our brains are generally programmed to be dissatisfied with situations like this. When we feel the sort of sexual energy and love that I know I was feeling, the normal response is to figure out a way to bottle it and hold it in your pocket for the rest of your life. The “will you marry me” and logistical puzzles start getting figured out.
Having to train our minds for the elusive quality of “the moment” isn’t that easy. Especially in this fictional world that we’ve been sold via television and modern literature. There is only one thing we’re supposed to do when we find “our person”—chain them up to us for the rest of our natural lives. And let’s be honest: that always works out so well.
I think the thing that most people miss when they see these posts about 85-year-old people in nursing homes, dying in each other’s arms, is that these stories are strange anomalies. That’s why they go so viral all of the time. This is the slightest of all exceptions to the rule of divorce lawyers and family court.
As a society, we kind of look at the polyamorous thing as something to be embarrassed about. In reality, it should be the other way around. What could possibly be more embarrassing than spending $40,000 for a wedding that has a 50/50 chance of survival? No one would ever consider spending that kind of money on a car that only had a 50 percent chance of making it further than five years, yet most have no issue with investing in a feeling that has proven time and time again to be fleeting and temporary.
The first time I ever felt less-than-foolish about the idea of being in someone’s life until we are both old and grey was when I realized that other people would be, too. I know myself too well. I am lusty and become infatuated with strangers all the time. So, if I have learned anything from this latest episode in my life, it is this: to love someone is to love who they are—every single thing about them. To tell someone that you love them but wish they would change everything about themselves…that’s not love. That’s bullsh*t.
Do the math: monogamy is for suckers.