where i end and you begin // some thoughts on relationships and freedom
where i end and you begin
is the most important space for a relationship of whatever kind. i have been thinking a lot about this expression lately. more than two years ago i wrote MOMO 2 and despite my expectations it seems like a lot of people were interested in these thoughts. MOMO 2 wasn’t an endpoint in my reflections on relationships, much more it marked a stopover. no wonder – the relationships we have with others are constantly growing and changing.
currently i started to (re)read everything relationship related in my personal library. it all started with “the ethical slut” which was a really good read. i didn’t read it with any special interest in the main topic polyamory, but in relationships in general. a few thoughts that caught me especially were: “each relationship seeks its own level, or will if you let it. like water you and whatever person has caught your fancy can flow together as long a you let it happen in the way that is fitting to you both.” (p. 49) i think so often we block relationships and despite of meeting the other person as the one they are, we tend to put everybody and every kind of relationship in one of these little labelled boxes. but the truth is that every relationship we have is unique. you don’t know what is possible as long as you didn’t give it a chance to happen. and what i mean by this is not necessary sex or romantic love. it can also be a creative collaboration, a non-sexual, but nevertheless also physical close relationship, making plans for the future together, caring for each other or considering to raise kids together one day. for me it’s not either romantic relationship or friendship, i think most of our close relationships are floating in between these or maybe even more categories. when we get away from pushing other people in a certain box we also stop to put all these expectations that come with certain roles on others and ourselves. instead of blindly expecting certain things from others we need to start asking. and that is a good thing, because nobody is here on earth to please all our needs and tell them by mind reading.
in another text on romantic monogamous relationships i read about the weight of all these expectations we usually put on this kind of relationship – like being accepted fully as who we are (whatever this means), having great sex, having plans for the future, caring for each other, always only desiring each other etc etc while i read it, i realized that these were exactly the kinds of expectations i had experienced in my romantic monogamous relationships without reflecting on them. it is as simple as that – we all get socialized in this kind of relationship and it is really difficult to take other paths when it comes to intimacy because we are really poorly prepared with the knowledge and emotional tools to do so. i should clarify – this text is not about judging romantic monogamous relationships. it’s simply – instead of blindly following patterns we never choose to learn we should reflect on them. for me it makes a great difference to just do something or to consciously decide to do something. i want to have relationships where in the space between me and you we have the freedom to be honest about our wishes, desires and needs and out of these we can create something meaning and respectful. and this also means not to judge other’s people’s needs and ideas about this relationship. there should be the safe space to speak about all these things honestly and to make the other person feel welcome with whatever is important to them.
i was really touched when i read the text “nichtmonogame beziehungen” from recipes for disaster. it all comes down to “be honest in an dishonest world”. this can be so scary and difficult. especially since we all grew older and bring a lot of package with us in every new encounter. and obviously being honest makes us vulnerable. but i think: why should we pretend to be someone who we think/guess the other person likes? why shall we play “cool” if we are not? i don’t want to be liked as somebody who i am
not. of course a whole and constant “i” does not exist and somehow we always play theatre/create a certain picture of us, consciously or unconsciously. but every time i was honest about my feelings/expectations/wishes i got something back for it. not always what i wanted and/or expected, but at least the satisfaction to be true to me/my desires and others. i hate these walls built out of unspoken words, unsaid things and silent wounds. they cause so much harm and i still haven’t figured out completely how they start to happen in romantic and intimate relationships. i feel like by naming our wishes/desires/needs we create a room where we can explore with others what our connection is about. that’s certainly not something i do with people i just freshly met, but for a more advanced relationship it is an important practise.
from my personal experience i can also summarize that too many expectations can bury the most beautiful feelings. the space between me and you should also be the space to be responsible for our own feelings. this was another enriching thought i found in the ethical slut. nobody else is responsible for how i am feeling. by this i don’t mean that other people have a right to treat me in a bad way, without respect etc. and leave the responsibility for these actions by me. i mean that i own my feelings and that i am responsible for my feelings and needs. instead of projecting them on others and being codependent i can take action, i can ask for help, take care of myself, decide to leave a situation/person that isn’t good for me. which means i have the control instead of blaming others.
i want to meet other people truly. i don’t want to put a label on them. others are not here to play a certain “role” for me, to complete me (i am already incompletely complete in my most beautiful way). i want to see others and i want to get to know them, their desires, wishes and needs. i want to create meaningful relationships based on respect, honesty, caring for and supporting each other. i want to grow together. i long for honest connections. i want to listen to others, i want their “noes” and “yeses”. i want to respect their borders and i want mine to be respected. and i believe that for all this and more there needs to be space between where you end and i begin. not as a ditch we can not overcome, but as a space to define our relationship on our terms.
(not finished yet/still in progress)
this text was first published in my personal zine momo 4 with love/rage in november 2014.
find and older essay on this topic here: the way à deux is only half thus far.