“Well, yeah, Oligotropos… – your blog,” a friend from the social networks recently sighed. “But you always write that much … … and such long entries…!”
Dear readers: I plead guilty to all of these points. And when I say “guilty” I mean “causally” in the sense of radical honesty.
And when I was still quite active in various social networks, I occasionally even received the rather idiosyncratic comment “tl; dr” from recipients. This acronym originates from net-speak and stands for the words ” too long; didn’t read ”– and should mean in response to an article that is considered too long: “[The text was] too long; [that’s why I] didn’t read. [it]” *
But even such a fatuety can be surpassed with the bold introduction to a wellmeaning comment: “I didn’t read the entire text completely, but…” – and then the unwilling reader fires happily away…
Dear folks, who follow me into the wordy interior of the remote island of Oligoamory: At a time when simplification and bite-size information policy are often advertised as the imperative of the hour, I will not do this disservice to you.
Because I wouldn’t be honest if I would suggest to you that there are simple or quick or even universal answers to difficult questions in relationship matters.
Of course, I can understand the desire for simplicity and ease very well. And our brain is often an overly willing accomplice in this regard: E.g. if we are infatuated, it floods our existence with a bunch of the body’s own substances of well-being – which make us overlook possible discrepancies and sources of conflict in the initial process of getting to know each other. Or it switches to “autopilot” in long-term relationships and strives to shift any deviations from our coherent routine as far as possible into the background, so that the relationship’s “functional harmony” always obtains the explicit preference.
However, ethical (multiple) relationship management – in any case according to oligoamorous ideas – will not settle for the idyllic surface only. Anyone who embarks on the adventurous waters of non-monogamy must be prepared: That gets under your skin. Because ethical non-monogamy, which deserves the prefix “ethical”, requires us to be able to “move among our equals, [and] to be willing to reveal who we are” ¹.
That is why I also wish that the Oligoamory-project should not be seen primarily as a daily blog – in which the top entry contains only the author’s situational state of mind or his latest world-shattering new insight – but rather as a compendium of interrelated topics. In this sense, of course, I think it’s great if someone considers one of my entries to be a good one and particularly emphasizes it, shares it, etc. But as a mere “treasure trove”, ethical non-monogamy and Oligoamory would remain difficult to understand, because they would lack the supporting backbone without reference to all their (related) topics.
Once again: Oligoamory is not a “method” that you can use purely situationally, e.g. like office-yoga, separated from it’s original context. Oligoamory is a philosophy and a way of life that wants to invite everyone involved to discover their (self)entitlement and their (self)empowerment by reflective self-awareness.
And I can’t pretend that there is a “simple” shortcut key to that.
Even more: Since I chose “relationship management” as the basic approach for my ideals and goals, I would like to employ our close encounters with other people in manageable, trust-based communities as the “culture medium” for that self-awareness mentioned above. Accordingly, I don’t want us to be meditating hermits who will wake up at some point on our lonely mountain with a last “Eureka!” on our lips, but rather that we all are a self-development project on a living canvas – “Mobilis in Mobili” (lat .: “moving within a moving element”) ² so to speak.
Especially regarding the latter it is very obvious that – with so many literally “unpredictable” factors and influencing variables – we really have to muster the greatest possible courage to proceed without any autopilot or any externally generated recipe book. And that instead we should “dare to trust” ³ and practise a curious openness like a muscle that has so far been poorly trained.
That is why a major topic of Oligoamory is the unity of both free and committed conduct. In Entry 7 I explain that this unity can be lived consciously and without contradictions – and that this is actually not that difficult (Actually, I even believe that many people who are e.g. involved in environmental protection or animal welfare basically implement such a philosophy already, especially concerning their eating and consumption habits). Because in that regard the focus is on our personal integrity, our “individual actions based upon an internally consistent framework of principles (Quotation Wikipedia). Accordingly, those principles cannot be cast in stone for eternity: Because we are as alive as our surroundings with whom we interact. Therefore, constant observation, reassessment, learning and adaptation are an essential part of it.
In Entry 9 I therefore emphasize regarding the subject of the “Emotional Contract”, which lies – outspoken or not – behind every closer relationship, that it is important to know yourself rather well. Because in order to stand up for myself and to be able to negotiate and advocate for myself, I first have to know what I want and therefore have to take the trouble to get to know my own sensitivities and needs. Regarding that it is of no importance who my parents or teachers or bosses think I should be, but only who I really am just now – with my current strengths and weaknesses and my wishes concerning the pending relationship.
But because we often operate in default-mode based on a “predefined” self-image, I try in Entry 14 to highlight the complexity of what constitutes these “definitions”. And I try to outline that we do not all have the same good chances of dealing with our possible previous experiences in terms of “relationships” due to our disposition and our individual resilience. Nevertheless, also social science confirms that the recognition of our core self is the central task of our self-perception, in which all the favoured people of our choice play a very special supporting role.
Accordingly, I object in Entry 18 that it can sometimes be difficult for these “favoured few” in our vicinity, if they have to endure us during our sometimes strenuous efforts to develop our true potential. Because I also would be a dishonest author if I would try to conceal the fact that self-development does not always unearth purely beautiful or pleasant virtues.
But I also point out that such challenges can’t be hidden in a relationship of equal footing, which I explain in Entry 21 concerning ambiguity and Entry 37 concerning transparency.
In these contexts, I always point towards an attitude of utmost honesty, which in my opinion goes beyond mere sincerity, especially in the aspect of giving uncomfortable insights and feelings the space and the attention they need (yes, for everyone involved sometimes difficult to endure).
Acknowledging these “dark aspects”, I invite you not to bypass even phenomena such as depression (Entry 22) or a separated reality (Entry 26), since these are mostly facets of our being that have grown within us for a long time – which will never improve by simply denying, but rather will thrive and reinforce themselves – and thus will again build up difficulties in our ability to relate.
However, our “dark aspects” can also give us valuable information about our longing for (lost) intimacy – and what fulfillment strategies we apply for that pupose in the present. With that we have come a lot closer to the dynamic “We – and the others” and our place in it. And by that we might be able to unveil our true motivation why are tinkering with non-monogamous ideas – and where our talents and deficits could be in that respect (Entries 27 + 28).
That is why behind the philosophy of Oligoamory lies the almost relationship-anarchistic view of all of our loved ones as a whole community of affiliates/associates (of which we are a part), free of artificial classification or hierarchy. With regard to these self-chosen “associates”, it is therefore important which concessions and lazy compromises we would make to be a recognised community-member and how we can employ enough trust and inclusiveness to prevent classic structures of authority and trepidation (Entries 29 + 33).
And with that I’m back at the beginning of today’s Entry, where I mentioned that Oligoamory might be a philosophy which could lead to the entitlement and empowerment of all those involved in a relationship, as I distinctly emphasized again in my more recent articles 37 + 39.
As an explorer of oligoamorous realms, I thank all readers who make the effort to read my long (b)log-entries, to reflect on them and to talk about them. If there is anything I can wish for, I hope that we will all contribute to a more peaceful, conscious and inclusive world. Let’s do it!
* Source: Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia
¹ Quotation from Hannah Arendt; full length in Entry 39.
² Motto of the character Captain Nemo by the author Jules Verne – Captain Nemo, for his part, is certainly not a favourable example of a “community-being”…
³ Sounds almost like the well-known Willy Brandt quote (“We want to dare more democracy. We want a society that offers more freedom and demands more responsibility.”), but is only similar. Of course, I agree with the former chancellor in this aspect.