people > places > things

I'm Probably Gonna Die Alone

Jessie Ma1 Comment

I don’t think that i’m meant to be in a relationship

But I do know that I’m meant to fall in love.

Again and again, with different people, places, experiences, and feelings. With different versions of myself.

Falling in, and sometimes out—of whatever form love comes to me.

Actually, I don’t know if i’ve ever really been in a “relationship”

All my past partners and I shared these intense, sweet, euphoric beginnings.

And then even more intense, bitter, torturous endings.

There was no middle part of actually being in the relationship. The reason was always the same: I didn’t want to be in anything.

Each blossomed and wilted. Year after year, person after person.

You can only write about the same pattern so many times before realizing that it’s a pattern.

And the pattern made me feel like there was something wrong with me.

Why was it so impossible for me to want to be in a relationship with someone? When for others, that seemed to be the natural course?

I loved them. I really loved them.

Does that not count?

says WHO?

I guess I haven’t met anyone that I 100%, without a doubt, want to be with.

But maybe a more realistic explanation is that… even if I met someone who could be “right” for me, the way I’m expected to be with them is broken. For me.

I cannot imagine having sex with one person for the rest of my life. I cannot imagine myself living with someone. I cannot imagine getting married to or having children with someone.

These status quos we’ve been conditioned to subscribe to (monogamy, living together, marriage, parenthood) were designed in a context with little relevance to my own.

In Vox/Netflix’s “Explained” episode on monogamy (an excellent entry point for anyone who’s curious, btw) we learn—

[Monogamy] was the main way that you increase family labor force, make peace treaties, business alliances... Marriage was invented not to do with the individual relationship with the man and the woman, but to get in-laws.

As we made a transition to the idea that marriage should be on the basis of love, it scared people… so a new idea took hold. Men and women need to find love and get married because they were two parts of a whole.

As we enter what I think of as uncharted territory, for the first time in human history we’re trying to develop relationships that are not based on coercion. Coercion of women by their economic and legal dependence, coercion of women by their bodies, coercion of men by the social and economic structures.

None of these reasons apply to me. I am completely financially independent, am involved in communities that support my need for belonging, do not believe in a religion that enforces marriage, and fundamentally think of my family unit as: me, myself, & I.

I won’t discount our just-as human yearnings for security and exclusivity. The need to feel unique and special to somebody.

But I want to challenge monogamy as the default. There are other ingredients in a fulfilling relationship that we discount in the name of convention. Ingredients that hold more personal value to me than the one rule we’re supposed to follow.

Because sexual exclusivity as the litmus test for love… doesn’t sit right in my gut.

It’s hurtful when someone cheats, but we misconceive the real offense. Being physically intimate with someone else isn’t itself a heinous act, but breaking an agreement you set with your partner is. Lying is. Hiding is. The jealousy may sting, but it is ultimately the betrayal that shatters the trust. “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

So if I were to distill a solution, it isn’t in the sexual fidelity per se, but in the ability to talk about anything, even difficult things, with your partner—and the fluency to find respectful ways for everyone to live their best fuckin’ lives.

I started reading about unconventional relationships structures: throuples, open relationships, hierarchical, polyamorous relationships, about couples who move through several of these forms throughout the course of theirs.

They are able to do so because the organizing principle of these relationships is not exclusivity, but simple, good ol’-fashioned communication.

I challenge other parts of the conventional dynamic as well. For example, I know couples who are committed to each other and even co-parent their kids—but don’t live together. I realized that I, too, don’t want to live with a significant other. Even if we spent most of our time together, I’d still want my own space. I think we’d both be happier.

I want to make my lifestyle work for me—not the other way around.

There is too much I want to accomplish in life to justify spending any of my time or energy forcing a feeling into a form. All this self-imposed pain and heartbreak.

So. My grand thesis is that Feeling A doesn’t have to translate to Action A just because someone, once upon a time, said so. You can do what works best for that feeling, for you, and for the person you share it with.

But first, you need to untether yourself from society’s, and even (probably) your friends’ and family’s ideas on how love “should” manifest. And create your own.

A different metric for love

Are you happy?
Are you challenged?
Can you be yourself?
Do you feel understood?
Do you respect each other? Forgive? Trust, without a doubt?
Do you allow each other the room to change, and promise to love anyway?

Love as a blob

In this piece from New York Times’ Modern Love column, the author writes about her polyamorous relationship—

“[Monogamy] is a beautiful concept that works well for a lot of people—approximately 50 percent of the couples that try it. But for me, commitment has little to do with physical intimacy…

I want to keep our family dinners going indefinitely. I want to co-parent our cats. More than anything, I want Luke to know that I will tell him the truth, and that when the truth is painful I will stop what I’m doing and tend to him until he feels better.

But I am not going to promise him that our love won’t change, and neither will he promise that to me. The fact that love absolutely will change is one of my favorite things about love. Rather, as the love changes, I hope Luke and I will be able to hold each other with compassion; that we will stay curious and empathetic…

I know not everyone wants to love this way. I understand fear of loss, and I understand wanting to hold something still when it’s good.

Ultimately, this particular shape makes sense to me: love as a blob that can’t be pinned down, as something alive, an animal that ventures from person to person but finds places to call home.”

what makes sense to me

I want to welcome self-designed forms of my love. Custom-made for each person, ever-changing, flexible, freeing.

I’ve explained my philosophy to a number of people that I love. Those that may have, at some point, wanted to pursue a more conventional relationship with me.

And every single one of them was able to understand, even if they don’t agree. They all respected me more for it, and reciprocated love back to me. In their own ways. On their terms, too.

If, in the future, I were to meet someone who isn’t as receptive… then at least I know:

We won’t have to pretend.

and if i meet someone i want to be monogamous with

I’ll know that it’s because I chose to be.

Not because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

And I’ll know that we have the permission to love each other in new and different ways.

I can’t control nor predict another person, and I never want to feel like I need to.

Understanding and loving someone, yourself included, is way easier than trying to control or predict them anyway.

i love, and I am loved

Yet I will die alone—that is a fact.

And so will you.

Whether you’re single with 12 cats or you grow old with your wife/husband, we all leave this world the same way we were born.

But between our first and last breaths, we’re lucky enough to feel connected to certain people we come across.

Most, we forget. But some become friends. And some become lovers. Some become strangers we still feel attached to.

In the end, I don’t think what we call them really matters.

What matters is that what we shared—in whatever form—was real.

Love you all.