On poliamory and intuition
I suppose I have been involved in polyamorous scenarios for most of my life. Polyamory has been for me a way of existing in the world. When using this word I must specify that I view polyamory as a term that can be used not only to describe encounters of a sexual nature but also employed more broadly to define a desire to connect to people on an empathic level, in the sense that the only way I can relate to another on a personal level, is through an empathic understanding. That is, I attempt to feel my way through human interactions rather than think my way through interpersonal relations. It is through this sensing/feeling state that I then assess the kind of human interaction I might have with this or that particular individual.
As a dancer, I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not place movement, touch and intuition at the forefront of being human. This heightened state of physicality and this way of life have undoubtedly affected how I interact with people.
To opt for the intuitive rather than the rational is, I suppose, a choice. The desire to connect with many people has often led me to place lasting friendships on the same level of importance as sexual relationships. In doing so I have attempted to reduce the hierarchy between one form of human interaction and another.
I have always related to myself as a free woman. I am most definitely not a serial monogamist. Though I have experienced coupledom and cohabitation, on the whole my affairs have often been intense and brief. For me sexual satisfaction and sexual compatibility have been at the forefront of my choice of partners and have always overridden any traditional idea of beauty, physical attractiveness, age or relationship status.
I am a firm believer that, if you have a strong connection with someone, this connection will continue no matter what changes the relationship itself undergoes. That whatever the status may be, the relationship should be allowed to change with the growth of each individual. In my mind relationships should ideally shed layers of skin and morph whilst the sense of self of each member is allowed and encouraged to develop and transform over time.
Life is a fluid series of unexpected events. Why shouldn't relationships also be allowed to change?
Is it that if the relationship changes, we no longer have control over the person we are in a relationship with?
If we look at different relationship models and our relation to “ownership” I would argue that we need to differentiate between our behaviour when experiencing fondness, affection, lust, and our behaviour when experiencing all of these emotions whilst also being in love .
Ultimately falling in love is about loss of borders and loss of control. And no matter how many people we may love in a lifetime there are only a mere few with whom we can truly experience being in love. Indeed this is the moment when any rational thought process goes out of the window. And we all know that in order to embrace that boundless and all encompassing feeling we must jump, out of that window of logic and into the unknown. No matter how well we try to contain the water through the dam, it will eventually overflow. And that is why when we fall in love we cannot help but experience irrational feelings of jealousy. Possessiveness is a side effect, and, like all side effects, we can either choose to bear it and exercise self-restraint or we choose to increase the dose.
On the other side of the spectrum, when fondness and attraction are involved without the dynamic of being in love, then along with sex one can assume many different roles without necessarily feeling cheated out of love.
Be it in a long-term relationship or a brief encounter, it is undeniable that sex necessarily goes hand in hand with emotion. To deny this simple and very direct truth is to deny human nature at its most basic level, since sex does bring up emotion and sex with emotion is quite simply better sex . Moreover, I do feel that we have a higher probability of falling in love with the person with whom we have the best sex and that one-night stands, although rewarding in many ways, do not provide the same amount of sexual depth. Equally I would argue that even one- night stands should be respected for what they are and celebrated by maintaining an ethical relation/follow up to the intimate moment shared.
Like everyone, the way in which I relate to people and relationships has a lot to do with how I perceived myself and others whilst growing up. As a child I was painfully shy. Bullied through middle school and undergoing rigorous military-style ballet training since the age of six, once sexually aware, I quickly associated sex and pleasure with freedom and independence.
The model I had of coupledom at home was a loving but tempestuous one, which
primarily highlighted female models of self-sacrifice. Moreover, growing up in Italy, where the culture is still patriarchal at heart, I came of age sexually with a militant desire to claim my own empowered and independent identity. And that included sexual experimentation that purposely avoided locking myself into a loyalty that went beyond sexual compatibility to include long term relationships. Now in my thirties I can honestly say that I think I spent the whole of my twenties terrified that coupledom equalized loss of identity.
The times that I tried to fit into the model of boyfriend and girlfriend cohabitation, my fear of loss of independence to “twoness”, ultimately always had the better of me. I simply could not see “coupledom” as a positive self-affirming experience. Perhaps this is also because I felt the need to chip away layers of history that pictured the ideal of the female as the sacrificial lamb, the one who must, above all, facilitate the success of her man, or risk being the main contributor to his failure. For, since the beginning of time, the woman is the gatherer and the man is the hunter. I feel we still have a long way to go until we rid ourselves of this differentiation amongst the sexes.
On the whole I have enjoyed my freedom immensely and have truly had time to revel and know how wonderfully rewarding it is to spend time on my own. After all, since we are born alone and die alone, knowing how to be alone is a good skill to acquire, for only when confronting one’s self can we truly know ourselves. And how can we truly interact with one another if we do not know ourselves?
No matter how many times I have experienced heartbreak, I am still an optimist when it comes to human interaction. I believe that ultimately there are several kinds of love in life, none of which can really be encompassed in this or that definition. Despite the technological age, love is still as mysterious and ungraspable as it always was and always will be. Thank God some things are still able to escape classification.
As long as we live and are, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty would put it, “the flesh of the world”, we will interact with and through our perceptions and our emotions. Just like the baby knows what warm or cold is through having touched and felt the meaning of the word, lovers can only truly feel love rather than will love into action.
I believe we equally desire the momentary and transient as much as the constant and secure. These opposite positions are constantly pulling us towards our very own paradoxical contradiction.