“The day you stop learning…”
I learned something new about W the other day, and he about me. A minor thing, though interesting to us both; all the more so because we were both surprised that we still, after almost four years, have things to learn about each other.
Perhaps this should not be so surprising. Once upon a time my father said to me, “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.” Perhaps that holds true for relationships as well. Maybe the day you have learned all there is to know in a relationship, when there is nothing left to discover in it, is the day your relationship starts to die. W has said he believes that monogamy doesn’t make sense anymore because we live so much longer now. This jives with the above, perhaps: after twenty or thirty years how can there be anything left to discover about one another?
I have never been known so deeply by anyone as I am by W; I feel at times that I know him not at all, and have endless discoveries to make, endless truths to uncover. And yet at the same time I feel more connected to him, and have a deeper understanding of him, than of anyone I have ever known.
Outside of my marriage, and before poly, I tended to have relationships that lasted about two years. After that they died (what to me was) a natural death: I grew bored. There wasn’t anything left to learn, to know, to discover. My marriage would have (and possibly should have) gone that way as well. About a year into things with the Ex, I knew I didn’t want the same things he did: marriage, kids, a mortgage, a “normal” life. Unfortunately I’d started things with him looking for exactly that (thinking: that will make me happy) so when things turned out that way, and I got pregnant with our daughter, it seemed unfair to deny that to him, even though I knew by that time that for me, it was a mistake. It wasn’t a bad marriage, and he wasn’t a bad husband, but I never truly fit into it.
Still, I tried. At about the eight year mark I knew I was done, and tried to leave. We were apart for about six months…but we were both broke, we had young children, we did love each other. Boredom seemed a bad reason to divorce someone, especially when everyone told me (over and over) how lucky I was to have a husband like him, how wonderful he was, etc.
We got back together.
I had affairs. Love affairs that were both sexual and non-sexual, and purely sexual dalliances. Through one of them, I accidentally discovered BDSM. I loved my Ex, and wanted nothing more than to find a way to be interested in him again, excited by him. I introduced him to BDSM. What followed was five years of intense discovery of each other, of learning and excitement and joy and pleasure for us both. It literally saved our marriage. But I had also discovered something else in those affairs: I could love/be excited by/enjoy sex with someone other than my husband. Love didn’t have to equal monogamy, and in fact, for me, it didn’t. This realization clarified so many things in my past relationships. I had been falling in love and like with multiple people my entire life, but with only one model of relationships to learn from, monogamy (or serial monogamy), I had dutifully broken up with each “last one” in turn as I moved on to the next, even though I never truly fell out of love with the previous person. I just wanted…more. Another. Or the freedom to experience–to discover–another. And while my Ex could handle some things, that was not one of them, and was eventually the reason we broke up.
It is partly that freedom to discover and explore that keeps my relationships – now of 8+ and 3+ years – vibrant, interesting and strong. The other part, of course, is all the other things that make good relationships good: communication, love, respect, affection, genuinely liking each other, honesty, decency. But it is this spark, this sense of still having things to discover, that keeps things alive, keeps us all interested.
Or at least me.
I don’t know if the Guys have the same drive and need for diversion, for discovery, as I do. Or rather, I think that W does, but Ad may get his need for it met thru me as opposed to needing to find it on his own. Perhaps that is one reason he is content with me having Otherloves, and not feeling the need for them for himself. W’s a different animal. I think his need for variety is just as deep as mine, but he also feeds that need in his own projects, with other people occasionally, and with introducing variety in our relationship – which, in turn, feeds my own needs. So…we all kind of feed each other and feed off each other. :-D
Maybe that’s the true key, a constant feeding and refilling of those reserves, of those needs. Giving, taking, learning, discovering.