There are a lot of songs about love, so musicians must know what they’re talking about, right? Sure, why not!! Let Prince Rama’s Nimai Larson heal your heart with her new column, Totally Nights, and if you’re feeling “so destroyed,” drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who live for love will live forever!
Dear Totally Nights,
I love your column. I am a big fan of yours. I've been "single" for over almost two years now and it has been one of the most amazing times of my life. I say "single," but in reality I've had a number of meaningful loving exchanges and have been seeing pretty much the same man consistently for the past 9 months and I think I am totally in love with him. At this juncture, many people would ask, "Is he your boyfriend?" And as much as I love him, I cringe at this word.
Why can't I commit to being in a relationship? I am committed to being in love. I am committed to treating people with respect. I am committed to treating myself with respect. But beyond that, the word "relationship" holds too much baggage for me and I would much rather engage in something that has no baggage, no limits, no bounds beyond both people being totally true to themselves. In my own past, I have only known relationships to start out honest and end with both people lying to themselves. It has made me wonder if relationships in general are some sort of externally constructed social contract we believe in, like science or religion, but that holds no individual regard for the inner human condition.
I guess the relationship advice I seek is more of a fundamental question about the nature of relationships themselves, and why when we fall in love humans feel a pressure to choose to be in relationships over choosing to just remain in love. Is just "being in love" such a bad thing?
-- Fall in Love Every Day
Dearest Fall in Love Every Day,
Love is an intense feeling of deep affection that can exist between many people. But what defines a relationship is its emotional and sexual exclusivity between only two people. It sounds like you are fully accepting of where you are right now-- ready for love but not ready to limit your love to only one person. The Spanish word esposas means both "wives" and "handcuffs." Similarly, the word relationship could mean "happiness" to some, but "shackles" to others.
Do not limit yourself by living in fear. Fear, F-E-A-R, means False Evidence Appearing Real. Think about a deep sea diver. If those guys thought too much about what could happen thousands of feet below the surface and meditated on what appeared to be a threat in their mind, they would never get to explore the beautiful depths of the ocean! Taking the plunge and diving deep into love can be scary if you are letting your mind guide you. Let your heart guide you, that's where love comes from! In my experience, when Real Love happens you don't think twice about it.
My dad always says "Slow love is good love." There's no rush to starting a relationship. It sounds like you have experienced what happens when you commit too quickly -- both people are lying to themselves. The most loving thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to NOT repeat the same patterns of your past relationships. A lot of wisdom comes from breakups. The wise person learns from their experiences and therefore will not let those mistakes play out in future relationships.
By saying your past relationships hold baggage, you are already projecting onto your New Man that a relationship with him would turn out the same as your previous failed relationships. He deserves a blank slate! And I'm sure you expect the same treatment from him. You have the power to totally eliminate your chance of bringing baggage into a new relationship by letting go of your past baggage! As Fleetwood Mac says, "Let yourself go, let love begin." It is your choice: live in the past or live in the now. Focus on what you have in front of you: a lovely budding romance. Your previous boyfriends have nothing to do with that.
You say you've had a number of meaningful exchanges with other people while your love has remained constant for this man. Until you feel like you've learned all you need to learn from other men romantically, do not consider yourself in a relationship. The expectations to be exclusive will only lead to disappointment, feeling misunderstood, and then resentment. POOF! You got that baggage you were trying to avoid bringing into your new partnership. Be honest with yourself and with your New Man if you are not ready to be exclusive. Maybe he will be let down, but honesty will ensure a healthier relationship in your future.
The only "shackles" in a relationship are the ones you've designed for yourself. Let them go! You got this, girl! Enjoy being in love for as long as you truly need without a solid exclusive commitment. That way when the time comes and you both feel equally ready for a relationship, it can truly mean happiness.