Entry 62

Meaningful Relationships (Part 1)

»Everybody wants to be loved – nobody wants to get hurt. But you can’t have one without risking the other.«

[quote from the character “Cleo” (portrayed by Riann Steele) in the British sitcom Lovesick]

The first time I took note of the phrase “meaningful relationships” in the context of ethical non-monogamy was in the by now widely available Polyamory guidebook “More Than Two¹ by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. In their comprehensive work, the two authors call for efforts to establish “meaningful relationships” wherever possible. “Meaningful” in this context encompasses “sense-giving”, “significant” and “relevant”.
What F. Veaux and E. Rickert consider in their view as the most important aspect of “meaningful” they define in the middle of their book, where they expand it with the term “empowered relationships”:

»People who are empowered in their romantic relationships can express needs and ask for them to be met. They can talk about problems. They can say what works for them and expect that their partners will try to accommodate their needs as much as they can. It’s not possible to make a person feel empowered, just as it’s not possible to make a person feel secure. The best we can hope to do is to create an environment that welcomes participation and encourages empowerment.[…]
Non-Monogamous relationships often highlight the gap between our perception of our power and the reality of our power. It is often easier to see someone else’s power than to see our own. If our partner begins a new relationship, we might see how he invests in the new relationship, and we feel powerless – without recognizing how the established structures, history, commitments and shared life experience in our already existing relationship give us a tremendous amount of power.
Without this strong internal sense of trust, security and worthiness, we will find it nearly impossible to be aware of our power in our relationships. When we feel unworthy, we feel disconnected.[…]
Empowered relationships rely on trust. Trust your partner to want to cherish and support you. Trust that if you make your needs known, your partner will want to meet your needs. This requires courage. Building relationships on a shared understanding of needs means having the courage to stand in the face of a negative emotion an d ask, “What is this feeling telling me? Is there a need that is not being met? Is there something I can do to enlist my partner as my ally in dealing with this?” If you’re the person whose partner is experiencing emotional hardship, it can be tempting to read this chapter as a way of saying “You have the responsibility to deal with your own emotions, so I don’t want you putting restrictions on me.” That is partly true, in the sense that you can’t solve someone else’s problems for them, and if your partner places restrictions on your behavior, those restrictions rarely resolve the underlying issue. But it’s a mistake to put what Douglas Adams calls a “Somebody Else’s Problem Field²” around a partner’s distress. If you care, you will help. Behaving with compassion means working together to overcome relationship issues. That’s how relationships become strong and healthy.[…] Resiliency in the face of adversity is a powerful tool for building happy relationships.«

Strictly speaking, Veaux and Rickert’s preceding text describes what the scientists S. Cohen, L. Underwood, and B. Gottlieb emphasized in their “Guide concerning social support measurement and intervention” (first cited by me in Entry 14):
Thus, intimacy is a cardinal process, defined as feeling understood, validated and cared for by partners who are aware of facts and feelings central to one’s self-conception.
Contributing to this perception is trust (the expectation that partners can be counted on to respect and fulfil important needs) and acceptance (the belief that partners accept one for who one is).
Empathy is also relevant because it signals awareness of an appreciation for a partners core-self.
Attachment also contributes to perceived partner responsiveness, notwithstanding its link to interdependence and sentiment, because of the fundamental role of perceiving that one is worthy of and can expect to receive love and care from significant others

With regard to all the above statements, “the door”, as the witty saying goes, “swings in two directions” – and I have already dedicated a separate bLog-Entry to both of those “directions”:
In Entry 46 I first made it clear that – as Veaux and Rickert also describe – we ourselves are first invited to explore and get to know our “core self” so that we can develop a good understanding of our own self-worth in the first place.
And in Entry 53 I describe how important it is for us humans – especially as participants in a (loving) relationship – to be “considered” by the other participants. All the relationship experts cited above agree that a trusting relationship is fundamental for this, which enables both a positive climate for the expression of self-efficacy and the experience of “being-perceived-and-respected-in-this-self-efficacy”. Finally, this form of perceived self-efficacy is crowned by the all-round contribution to the striving for identity, life design and meaning that is expressed in this way by each participating individual.
Only in this way, however, do the essential supra-personal common identity, a vision for co-existence and a sense of community emerge for a relationship at the same time – and rather in a version in which all participants can perceive themselves and in which they can therefore accept themselves and the others in a benevolent way.

From here, it is only a small step to realize that this “bundle solution” can only be obtained as an inseparable comprehensive package, which is why it only works holistically. Because, to quote myself from my Holism-Entry 57 »’Holistic’ is every request, every thought, every action, if the resulting process benefits as many participants as possible (or even better: all!), who are involved in the process.«

However, in order to really be able to do this, we have to train – besides self-acknowledgement and considerations about others – another incredibly important characteristic that has always been shimmering in the background on my bLog (e.g. in Entry 33), namely ambiguity tolerance. In view of global crises and widening social gaps, this edgy expression is currently being discussed more frequently these days –since “ambiguity tolerance” simply means that individuals are able to view unfamiliar stimuli in a neutral or open way. Ambiguity-tolerant persons are able to perceive ambiguities, i.e. contradictions, culturally conditioned differences or strange information that appears difficult or incomprehensible to understand without reacting immediately aggressively or evaluating it one-sidedly biased.
Thus, “ambiguity tolerance” is presently a rare, yet highly sought-after commodity. And that’s no wonder, since we as “children of a Reality of Separation” (see Entry 26) reflexively tend to judge others and to “declare ourselves as separate from something” due to our habitual automatisms. And, unfortunately, both in terms of “the others” as well as in terms of possibly contradictory or unconsolidated parts of our core self³. Which is precisely how we usually block our way to sustainable relationship conduct, which, as the psychologist and community researcher Scott Peck pointed out, intends to be based on tolerance and integration: »Community, togetherness and loving relationships require it that we hold on a bit when things get uncomfortable. All of it requires a certain amount of commitment. Our individualism must be balanced by commitment. […] Perhaps the most important key to achieving this goal is recognising differences.«
I have already quoted this text passage in Entry 33, the Entry in which I also mention a song by the singer/songwriter ‘Alice im Griff’. Her song shows for me rather distinctively where self-denial (dating an AfD-voter) verges ambiguity tolerance (allowing an omnivore eater his meat dish) on a personal level. Ambiguity tolerance, with Scott Peck’s famous integrative phrasing of the crucial question “Why not?” has in a sense to be our everyday “bread and butter” in ethical multiple relationships – especially when following an oligoamorous model. Precisely because we can very quickly put ourselves at the “other side” of that question when it comes to “imposing ourselves” – and thus for the other participants to “endure ourselves”. I describe this correlation in detail in Entry 43, at the end of which I summarize »Without the ‘imposition’ that we all probably occasionally are for our familiar group in this way, we also couldn’t become their hero and sources of all-round well-being the next time or the day after. To be human, to be with each other, means to accept both occurences regularly – in respect of us as well as in respect of the other participants.«

Nevertheless, we still often have a hard time with the emotional burden of impositions and endurance – so that we regularly still take refuge in (artificial) separation³, hoping that “all of that” has as little to do with us as possible. But at the same time this also immediately robs us of our ability to empathize and to change our perspective empathetically. And what was the wording of Gandhi in Entry 54?: »You and I are one: I cannot hurt you without hurting myself.«…
Our recurring flight into separation is thus, with regard to the holistic “we”, more or less as if we ourselves were to cut off an arm or a leg: Always painful and dramatically disabling.

We should no longer do this to ourselves. And “ourselves” I consider at this point in a global, almost transpersonal sense. Because separation is artificial, it has to be, since it is always only a rather deficient shelter when in our fear or similar distress we no longer know where to put ourselves.
Unity, connectedness is our actual and natural state (see also Jean Liedloff in Entry 26), our genuine, whole and healthy state.
In his brilliant workCloud Atlas, the author David Mitchell makes one of his main characters realize:
»All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.«

With our step into the world of ethical non-monogamy, if it really has earned this term, we have already overcome many conventions.
And by beginning to think of our human connections holistically, we can refrain from separative categories in relational matters such as “friends”, “acquaintances”, “family”, “loved ones” for the purpose of no longer limiting our emotional expression or experiential possibilities.
Oligoamor it becomes, if we strive therein with our quality management to follow fundamental ethics encompassing all times and many cultures; ethics, which Immanuel Kant once described in 1785 in his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals as follows (and which exists however in many other forms world-wide):
»Act in such a way that you utilize humanity both in your person and in the person of everyone else at any time as an end (=goal), never merely as a means (=tool/method)
The centuries-old Buddhist and Hindu Dharma teachings state it even more compactly:
»Do not harm anything or anyone – not even yourself.«
And F.Veaux and E. Rickert concretize:
»Cherish your partners. Cherish yourself. Trust your partners. Be trustworthy. Honor other’s feelings and your own. Seek joy for everyone involved.
Own your shit. Admit when you fuck up. Forgive when others fuck up. Don’t try to find people to stuff into the empty spaces in your life; instead, make space for the people in your life. If you need a relationship to complete you, get a dog.«

I couldn’t say it any better.

¹ Franklin Veaux & Eve Rickert: More Than Two – A practical guide to ethical polyamory; Thorntree Press; 1. Edition (1. September 2014)

² Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Book 3; 1982 Serious Productions, Ltd.

³ “Oh, come on, Oligotropos. A little bit of separation or detachment is pretty human and healthy, in order that everything doesn’t dissolve in such a big mush of indifference…”
Is that so? The philosopher Hannah Arendt, whom I quoted for the first time in Entry 39, spent her life dealing with the scientific processing of the phenomenon of how gruesomely mass-murdering Nazi- and concentration camp commanders could at the same time interact with their families in the evening as loving fathers and husbands or even experienced subtle emotions during the tunes of classical violin concerts.
Modern research has revealed that they succeeded in doing so only through a categorical and almost dissociative “situational separation” in their minds, which reached a sad climax during the nationalist world-view of the Third Reich. The fact that this required a social climate of isolationism and divisiveness that had developed over a rather long time, and which is a sad by-product of an occidental-dualistic mindset, is shown, however, by movies such as The White Ribbon. This mindset is still part of what is called “Reality of Separation” in Entry 26 to our present day.

Thanks to Tyler Nix on Unsplash for the photo!

Entry 61

Oligotropos and the Oligoamory

The beginning of a new year usually offers an opportunity to look back on previous achievements. And since I had also done this for the first time in January 2020, I would like to start a small “tradition” herewith, providing another summary of my expedition results on the remote island of Oligoamory so far.

The inaugural year 2019 was marked by the disclosure of Oligamory’s “general parameters”.
This included the realisation that Oligoamory had much more in common with e.g. community building and the search for self-chosen relatives than with just another feasibility model for multiple amorous arrangements. Concerning this, two milestones were to establish the correlation that freedom and commitment are not mutually exclusive opposites, and that an invisible emotional contract presumably begins to form almost simultaneously behind all incipient human close relationships, which contains reciprocal or universal attributions regarding the scope for the shaping of the relationship by its participants.
This revealed a background that calls for a high degree of awareness, both in terms of one’s own potentials and limitations in terms of relational capacity, as well as in terms of compassion and communication with the other parties involved.
In this way, it also began to emerge that “good oligoamorous relationship conduct” requires a constant commitment to all-round trust (including trust in oneself!) – and the courage to face new developments and one’s own “blind spots”.
In this sense, Oligoamory turned out to be a kind of “path of development in loving relationships”, where all participants assist and motivate each other in bringing forth the “best version of themselves”.

Green, my friend, all theorie is…

Thus I entered the year 2020 – where it really became psychological quite often.
In January, building on the ideas above, I invited my readers not to stray too far into some more tempting distance in their search for the supposedly “best” or “better” catch, but to first explore appreciation, care and satisfaction in themselves and in the relationships they already have.
Since wherever we go we “take ourselves along”, this is literally one of the most important “home-chores”, since a mutual wholeness – as is the aim of Oligoamory – needs a committed centre. And this, I tried to show with Entry 43, must be highly human and built on an all-round trust, so that all participants are allowed to show themselves vulnerable to each other.
The confession of one’s own insecurities and the realisation that “trust” always also contains the very important part of “trusting oneself” led to three entries that were very strongly influenced by humanistic thoughts:
Already back in 2019, I invited people to become a courageous “somebody” in Oligoamory, which I expanded on in Entry 44 with the component of authentically showing up as the same person in all aspects of one’s life. Our fellow relationship participants benefit from this attitude when it comes to the values of consistency and coherence, which are so important to Oligoamory, making it easier for all partners to assess and appreciate each other.
Entry 45 specified this by promoting a day-to-day relationship that would strengthen the important variable of “familiarity” – characterised by a tolerance of human fallibility that might eventually grow into acceptance and, in the best case, even respect.
In Entry 46, I finally concluded that awareness and self-knowledge have their starting point in our self-worth – in the sense that we should be worth it to ourselves to feel “secure enough” in our loving relationships to be able to allow ourselves and others to be whole. The oligoamorous spark of every benevolent sympathy is hidden in the (self-)realisation that others are much more similar to us in most aspects of human existence than we usually superficially believe.

This was followed by my four-part “History of Oligoamory” 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 in which I showed that concerning Oligoamory

  1. our potential is usually always greater than that which we believe ourselves to be capable of;
  2. every sense of self begins with the permission of individual feeling and an access to one’s own inner life;
  3. multiple relationships have a better chance of success when they represent a balanced synthesis of self-realisation and (small-scale) community building;
  4. there needs to be a constant process of awareness raising, perception, entitlement and participation so that all those involved may also recognise themselves as valuable in a broader perspective.

In Entry 51, I subsumed the results of this series concerning the dimension and suitability of Oligoamory as a deontological state of mind (sounds complicated, but basically means that in any target-achievement, the approach to the target is more decisive than the ultimate target – according to Václav Havel‘s quote: »Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something has meaning, no matter how it turns out.«), a humanistic view of humankind (who would have guessed…) and a commitment to awareness and attentiveness.
Consequently, the following Entry 52 revolves once again around the topics of “assuming (overall) responsibility” and “personal accountability” within a relationship.
Entry 53 then expanded on an older Entry (14) about how we might be able to recognise and manifest our significance in a model of shared values – corresponding to a committed loving relationship. The oligoamorous answer is to “include the other participants into one’s own decisions” and equally to experience how oneself would be “integrated” into theirs.
In order to enable this experience, I showed in Entry 54 that for this purpose in such a ” shared whole” – as a (loving) relationship-network represents – , there must be a high degree of agreement on the perception of integrity and commitment, as this is the only way to establish equal worthiness and mutual respect for each other.
Since such consensual ideas are not automatically established from the beginning, I added in Entry 55 how our own conscious acknowledgement of the other participants can help in this process by allowing us to admit our own heterogeneity and our own points of conflict – precisely because this gives us the chance to finally let go of our reflexive standard reactions of compensation or avoidance.
To this end, in Entry 56 I call for allowing and enduring all feelings as deeply as possible (not only the “pleasant” ones)! and thus to agree to the permission to really let oneself be taken over by the emotional energies, as these are the source of true empathy and identification.
With this step, I finally “outed” my Oligoamory in Entry 57 as a holistic system in which feeling, thinking and acting in relation to each other (especially regarding the persons involved!) constitutes the pivotal point. In this way, each individual in Oligoamory is both an protagonist and at the same time an experiencing part of the whole, whereby a high degree of “feeling alive” can be achieved.
Which “tools” and which questions would be useful for the first steps into Oligoamory was the subject of Entry 58
…and in Entry 59 I devoted myself once more to the multiple-relationship evergreen jealousy, this time focussing on the more mundane aspect of “envy”, which revealed that most of us still very often think in terms of inner downward comparisons, as well as not taking good enough care of ourselves regarding the implementation of co-creation and self-efficacy.
Finally, Entry 60 substantiateded what “devotion” means in Oligoamory: the courage to face one’s own fears over and over again in a loving relationship in order to actively prevent relationship-poisoning through acquired assumptions and a still unresolved, hidden fear of life.

Dear readers, how quickly is a year’s summary completed.
At the same time, I realise how much a bLog with such a topic is basically a self-revelation online and in XXL…
For personally I must confess that for a long time no year with its events in the world outside has confronted me with old fears and internalised resentments as much as 2020.
And since I am diligently writing about the “ideal Oligoamory” here, this has made it very clear to me where the limits of my own ability to relate and love really exist in that respect.
Current example: In 2020, I, Oligotropos, experienced a federal and state government which, in my perception, behaved like my former authoritarian parents: Despite not knowing exactly what was going on and sometimes being powerless in the face of a highly complex issue, restrictions were imposed at intervals that were difficult to calculate, using a paternalistic diction of the vocabulary of blame and punishment, which in their very wording usually implied that they were unappealable…
“Woah, that Oligotropos… Is he also such a covidiotic contrarian now…?”
Indeed, it is very easy to see here how quickly things can go off the rails. And if they can do this in this way in public discourse, then how soon will this be the case in our personal (loving) relationships?
In the light of day, an UFO-dwelling observer who could not know my inner state, and who would only watch me through a telescope interacting with my surroundings, would surely be deeply puzzled by my statement above. She, he or it would probably even say:
“That Oligotropos-guy? He virtually lives in self-isolation under normal circumstances already…! Why has he suddenly gone off the deep end? Almost nothing has changed for him! Well, yes, he now wears a mask when he goes shopping. But before, he didn’t go on holiday, didn’t eat out, never visited a disco, hardly ever went to the cinema, rarely met acquaintances, barely left the house, hardly ever travelled out of town… – what’s wrong with him now?” And this UFO-dweller would be completely right.
For beneath my surface, invisible to UFO-dwellers, I am (to quote Mrs Estés again from Entry 60) dragging my own skull-teeth rattling fears and chests full of preserved resentments (to quote myself from Entry 35) with me.
I cannot know what judgement the history books will make about our present time and the present political decision-makers – but unfortunately I notice how I react to the present time and the political decision-makers – and I am passing judgements already.
I obviously wear glasses – and probably hearing aids too – that translate what is happening “out there” at the moment as “personality-relativising fundamental criticism” ¹ towards myself. I, who come from the above-mentioned, highly authoritarian parental home, consequently see values such as freedom (of action), autonomy and self-determined thinking curtailed at present. Maybe, if my birth family had been more caring and genuinely compassionate, I would certainly judge somewhat differently and probably be much more likely to see the numerous prudent acts of protecting human life, of resourcefulness and solidarity, for which, however, I have a much less biographically conditioned perception.
So what will happen in my own loving relationships if, for example, my existing partner says to me that …because we are just about to add the new patio, it would be better if I just wouldn’t/stop….
Regardless of what the second part of her sentence would actually be: my inner biographical highway (see Entry 36) has already switched to “patronising restriction of my personal freedom” – and in the discussion that would inevitably ensue, I will hear almost every one of her arguments as “personality-relativising fundamental criticism” ¹ – to hell with radical honesty or non-violent communication

And then it would take a lot of trust, even more love, a lot of unravelling of the sad pile of bones and shards² and plenty of courage on all sides to restore even such a supposed “trifle” to some degree of adequacy appropriate to the original beginning of the conversation. And allt this, when in a different mood I could possibly have heard in the basic message also care for our resources and a request for support…!

Dear readers: If you have ever wondered in which visionary cloud-cuckoo-land of multiple relationship paradise your Oligotropos imagines to exist – and whether his fingers would never have wavered over the keyboard when writing down his ideals, then I freely confess: Yes, the fingers have wavered (just recently – and massively – by half-time of Entry 58…) and no, a “multiple-relationship paradise” in which fully integrative goodwill prevails everywhere and where the constant courageous wind of acceptance and enduring blows, he himself has not (yet) realised either. For I too carry myself along everywhere I go, haunted by the ghosts of my past and just as regularly sabotaged by my all-too despondent assumptions about what might come.

Therefore, I would like to encourage all of you out there to take good care of ourselves, precisely because we will regularly fail and despair due to our own disposition. In that case it is good if there is someone else with us willing to untangle the pile of bones or shards² scattered all over the place. And it is an enormously important contribution to a more understanding and peaceful world if we can admit to each other that our own enthusiasm sometimes carries us off course in our zeal, so that we suddenly fall back into the old familiar dictate of our habits and fears. Ingrained – but very uncharitable – pathways that all too readily want to suggest to us that whoever is not unmistakably “in favour of” – must surely be certainly biased “against” us. Yet these are often old voices from our past that haunt us and still want to belittle our living present – to deprive us of the air and the vision to perceive what actually “really IS“.

In respect of that, the Irish folk singer Ursula O’Keeffe from Kenmare once wrote the following words:

»One day when our wings got strongwe take our chance to fly;
And when our branches have grown tall
we reach up to the sky.
That day then life will come and gently open up the door
And memories of our childhood days will haunt ourselves no more.«³

I wish us all – since our lives are finite – that we do not let too much time pass until that day, before we get together and prove ourselves as bold flyers and strong trees.

¹ The keyphrase “personality-relativising fundamental criticism” has become a somewhat cheerfully cautious signal here at home through many discussions and occasional arguments when things threaten to get too heated. This is often the case when one party in a discussion feels shaken in the foundations of its existence by some remark of the other party, feels devalued or even ridiculed. Very often in these cases it has turned out that the person concerned is suddenly caught in an old programme in which former inner critics and evaluators have turned the received communicative message into a nasty self-deprecation, flanked by a musty jumble of resurgent former rejections.In the rarest of cases, however, it is the case that interlocutors (even in controversies!) who have affection for us want to achieve such an effect.Then it is good to quickly find out the actual reason for the strong inner turmoil in such a moment, in order to reveal which underlying fears or bitterness(es) have just been triggered – in the hope that this perception will lead the conversation back to constructive cooperation.

² With the “pile of bones” I refer once again precisely to the “skeleton” from Entry 60, which the psychologist Clarissa Estés uses there as a symbol for our inner tangle of longings and fears.

³ Refrain of the title “One Day”, 1992 © by Fairing (Irish: féirín = gift); this is the band name of Ursula and Frank O’Keeffe from Kenmare, Ireland. Their musical home is Sliabh Luachra, a remote rural area in south-west Ireland, north-east of the Kerry Mountains.

Entry 60

The Skeleton

In these days and weeks, in which for present reasons there is an increased risk that we experience our fellow human beings and those things with which they confront us as a plague and a burden, I remembered one story in particular, which I myself read for the first time in about 1997. It was presented to me at that time by the fabulous Clarissa Pinkola Estés in her already legendary book “Women Who Run With The Wolves“. I have modified the following story for this bLog a bit more towards a multiple relationship context, as it is now being told around the campfires of the Oligoamorists.
In any case, the original version, the original book¹ and the even more detailed in-depth psychological interpretation of the myth are warmly recommended to all my readers.

The treasure trove of the Oligoamorists is teeming with heroes and monsters, idols, mythical figures and chimeras. Some of these stories have travelled a long way themselves and come from other cultures, like the following example. The tale, sometimes known elsewhere as “The Skeleton Woman” and sometimes as “The Skeleton Man”, is simply called “The Skeleton” on the island of Oligoamory – and it is told as neutrally as possible, since the essence of the legend could fit any biological sex or social gender….

No one knew any more how this abandoned human being had once ended up at the bottom of the icy sea. In any case, it had been lying on the seabed for some time, and the fish gnawed the flesh down to the bone and ate the coal-black eyes. Henceforth, it floated under the waters, sightless and fleshless, and the carcass was turned over and over by the current.
The fisherfolk in the area stayed away from that particular shore because it was said that the spirit of a skeleton was haunting it.
But one day a young fisher arrived there from a distant region and knew nothing about it. A rod was cast and our fisher waited, unaware that the hook of the rod was about to be caught in the ribs of the skeleton!
A tug could already be felt and our fisher thought with joy: “Oh, what luck! Now I have a great fish on the hook that I can feed on for a long time. Now I no longer have to go hunting.”
But the skeleton, underwater, became more and more entangled in the fishing line of the unsuspecting fisher. Our fisher almost fell into the sea, but then the skeleton was lifted out of the sea with all possible strength. But “Ewww!” and “Yuck!” our fisher exclaimed at the sight of what was entangled in the line, rattling, covered with shells and creatures. The creature was quickly given a blow with the fishing rod, then our fisher fled away from the shore as fast as he could.
But the skeleton continued to be attached to the fishing line, and since our fisher did not want to let go of the precious rod, the skeleton followed wherever the path was going: Over ridges and through hollows, the wriggling skeleton thus remained in pursuit until nightfall. But finally our fisher arrived at the homely hut.
Rushing through the entrance in a hurry, panting, and sinking down, trembling with fright, on the shared bed of the already sleeping companion was almost one.
Inside the hut there was complete darkness, so one can imagine what the two inhabitants felt when, after a while, they lit an oil lamp and not far from them, in a corner of the hut, lay a pile of bones that was in complete disarray: One of the skeleton’s knees was stuck in the ribs, the other leg was twisted around the shoulder – and everything was entangled in the long fishing line. Our fishers companion was at first horrified and then angry at what had come into the house as a kind of strange attachment. And outside it had become even colder and the wind was already shaking the rafters of the hut.
What exactly caused the two residents to unravel the bones and carefully put everything in the right place, no one later really knew. Perhaps it was the threat of loneliness outside – but perhaps it was also the warm light of the shared hearth which made the skull of the skeleton not look quite so ghastly any more. In any case, both suddenly felt sympathy for the skeleton.
“There, there,” they murmured softly and spent half the night carefully untangling all the bones of the skeleton, putting them in order and finally even dressing it in warm clothes so that it would no longer be cold. Afterwards they exhaustedly fell asleep and only a few tears ran down their faces from the fright they had overcome.
But the skeleton now crawled to their side, approached their cheeks with its mouth and carefully drank these tears. Then the skeleton drummed on gently the hearts of the sleepers and began to sing softly: “Oh flesh, flesh, flesh…”, and “Oh skin, skin, skin…”. And the longer it drummed, the more flesh and skin settled on its bones. The being sang for everything a body needed, for thick hair, clear eyes, a good nose, fine ears, dexterous hands, strong hips and an agile body.
And when it had finished, it sang away the clothes of its bedfellows and crawled under the covers with them. It nestled close to both of them, skin to living skin. So they all awoke, tightly embraced, clinging to each other.
It is said that from that day onwards, these new companions never had to suffer from any lack or deprivation because they were no longer afraid of anything, and many of our people still believe it to this day.

The natives of the island of Oligoamory adore this somewhat spooky story because it has everything a true love story needs: The search for a “nurturing treasure” to end the perpetual “hunting around”, the discovery of the “treasure”, which one actually often fails to appreciate at first due to its “outwardness”, a subsequent phase of flight and rejection, finally an “evolvement” and the courage to trust and to relax, resulting in the integration of fears and desires into a sustainable relationship.

If one is willing to commit oneself to the story, as the imaginative natives do, then it seems to be created particularly for a non-monogamous context, which confronts all those involved much more likely with the possibility of emerging new relationships than the good “Old World of Monogamy” usually does. Mrs Estés writes about these “emergence”:
»The first phase of love is described in dozens of tales from all over the world. And in this story, too, the fisher catches “more” than was hoped for. “Oh, that’s one big fish!”, the fisher hinks full of anticipation, not suspecting that in the next moment a “prey” will come to light (and “water” psychologically almost always stands for our subconscious), which at first overburdens one’s own powers. […] Inexperienced fisher do not yet know what they are really looking for, starving ones cast their line to fill an inner void; the mentally wounded fish for consolation for earlier painful losses.
The pleasure-seeking self of most love-fishers is, on closer inspection, often not even interested in love, but in entertaining diversion. Then the ego² says things like: “I just wanted to have some fun with XY. Why am I suddenly confronted with these entanglements and fears? I don’t want to have anything to do with that!” […] At the beginning hardly anyone of us is ready to work for a deeply fulfilling love. We would prefer it if the once attracted “treasure” would not make any further demands. Of course, we know that in this way we can never develop ourselves and thus never become a “treasure” for someone else.«

After this shaky start, the story describes that even potential partners do not react with enthusiasm or even immediate “compersion” toward this new “unfamiliar” thing that is brought into the commonly shared “home”. It is much more like in the Tale of Anday and Tavitih : Whether one likes it or not – consciously or unconsciously – the “unsettling” is in any case ” dragged into” that which is already in place. Suddenly it “takes a stand”, a “whole world emerges³”. In the story, the lit oil lamp is a symbol for this realisation, which causes that – which came in as an attachment in the darkness of the subconscious – to ” manifest” itself clearly.
The ” eruption” of a whole new world into an existing relationship immediately confronts all partners involved with the theme of “finiteness” (which is why the image of a skeleton as a newcomer is really appropriate): Both one’s own finiteness and limitations are touched upon (among them weaknesses in one’s self-image such as old wounds and injuries, fear of declining attractiveness, etc.) as well as the finiteness of the relationship – even if it only means that from now on it cannot be the same as it was only a few moments ago…
My version of the narrative therefore also suggests two possible developments at this point: Perhaps the “shared hut” now won’t be able to withstand the storm that is already rising. It is possible that the events are driving the residents apart, that loneliness (or perhaps more gently: aloneness) outside is preferred to enduring “controversies” inside.
But the story wants to give hope by describing the other alternative: For it is obviously not (only) the fear of loneliness that makes those involved stick to each other. There is also the warm light of the oil lamp and the hearth, “which made the skull of the skeleton not look quite so ghastly any more”. And thus the story points to the already existing resources of the existing relationship – in this case light (the will to raise awareness) and warmth (compassion, empathy). And even more: such a hearth also quite literally stands for a reliable material basis that potentially might provide for “More Than Two”.

But in the story, at that moment, it isn’t certain yet whether this “More Than Two” will work at all. Mrs Estés elaborates:
»When things get tangled and scary in a loving relationship, most of us already see the end approaching. […] Because in fact one is never ” fully prepared”, the timing is never convenient.«
In the corresponding chapter of her book, she emphasises that it is at this point where the self-righteous usually make things easiest for themselves by rejecting everything grave and difficult in a crisis and even congratulating themselves on their “freedom from such tribulations/entanglements/attachments”.
As a Jungian psychologist, however, Mrs Estés in her book straightforwardly exposes the “grave”, “difficult” and “unpleasant” as our lack of consistency and perseverance, coupled with a self-image that would contribute to premature condemnation, thereby emphasising what separates rather than what unites (keyword “Reality of Separation“):
»Untangling a skeleton implies infinite patient painstaking work to find out how everything is connected. And in doing so, we encounter the resistance of the ego, especially when it comes to tasks that at first glance are associated with fear.«

Well, in the story, the protagonists find the path to sympathy because they realise “when they look at it by light” that the thing that has come into their house is basically a human being like themselves. And that, strictly speaking, is already the core of sympathy, this realisation: “That one over there” probably feels the same as I do – thus establishing a basis for mutual understanding. The German writer Julius Grosse once wrote: »When sympathy settles in, it is only one more step to love.« In fact, this is also true in the story, because another “ingredient” must be added to sympathy – before love can finally unfold.
To that effect, the aphorist Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach phrased already in 1880: »Trust is the most beautiful form of courage and is established through consistency«.
It is precisely this establishment of trust among the participants that is at stake in the last part of the story, after the “initial mess” has been sorted out. As a symbol for this trust, the story employs sleep, in which we all become completely unprotected and vulnerable every night. What almost seems like a magical act in the narration is in reality exactly the “leap of faith” for which the above-mentioned courage is needed, because it involves nothing more than the greatest possible self-revelation for all involved partners – in the words of Mrs Estés:
»The tears draw the skeleton closer to the couple [the existing relationship]. Without these tears, it would have remained piecemeal – and thus only a mere object of desire.
Those tears stand for mourning and (self-)healing: We have all hoped at one time or another that one day someone would come to heal all our wounds, to lift every burden from us. It can take decades before we find out that no one is doing this work for us, especially if our own wounds are projected outwards to avoid dealing with them internally.«

So what matters now is whether the transition from a phase of unacknowledged fears (albeit already accompanied by sympathy) to the greatest possible openness and honesty will succeed. Because now that trust is at stake, it will become apparent what the other participants in the relationship – or in the story: the drums of their hearts – are made of: Will the relationship take on “flesh” – meaning substance – as it apparently succeeds in the story.

As the author of this bLog, I appreciate Mrs Estés’ narration because in it she combines the psychology of love with the motifs of romance and dynamics that are important to Oligoamory:
»’The Skeleton’ demonstrates us that community and fellowship, across all increases and decreases, all ends and beginnings, produces what we perceive as true love and true devotion. […] In the process of love, countless deaths are died, many seemingly final endings are reached, and yet the essence of the relationship continues to exist as long as those involved understand that the eternal alternation between growth and decay is the true constant in any relationship. Those who unconsciously assume that ending points can impossibly already hold the next starting point are too fatalistic to endure even a single so-called ending within a relationship. Then the horror becomes too overwhelming to fully commit to one’s loved ones, because such devotion ultimately means nothing else than willingly surrendering oneself to the cycles of ever new endings and beginnings.«

In essence:
»The story describes what fears (=death energy) demand from a relationship: They demand that tears, real feelings, that heart and skin must be given. They demand that all participants must be able to merge with them and endure the fact that their connection thereby involves far more than just “being nice to each other”. They demand that love should be based on a shared will to learn and a willingness to confront old adversities. […]
Restless lies (deathly) fear beneath the surface of every relationship, until it has managed to take refuge in the bed [i.e. in the innermost and most intimate place, so to speak] and there is no escape any more. If then tears of understanding sympathy are shed, those involved are rewarded a thousandfold […] and all live on, yes, in happiness and peace with each other, in each other, through each other.«

¹ Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (originally 1992), revised and expanded edition 2017; the author Clarissa Pinkola Estés Ph.D. (*1945) is the daughter of Mexican parents , holds a doctorate in multicultural studies and clinical psychology, is an active Jungian psychoanalyst, researcher of narratology and a recipient of the Medal of Honour for Social Justice in the USA.

² As a Jungian psychologist, Ms Estés uses the term ego for our self-designed, rather static self-image, which we construct as an assessment about ourselves. Thus, our mental “ego” tends to be oriented towards the “familiar/conventional” and is increasingly sceptical towards re-evaluation and expansion of experience.

³ Refers to the quote from the author Anaïs Nin I used in Entry 6 »that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.«

And thanks to Ekaterina Kuznetsova on Unsplash for the great photo!

Entry 59 #Envy

They call me mellow yellow…¹

Recently I wrote to an acquaintance of mine – that when it came to polyamorous multiple relationships – in almost all cases in which those affected complained about “jealousy” flaring up, I could almost always identify good old, tangible envy instead. And if I then took a Sherlock Holmes-like look at the circumstances of the accompanying scenarios, I would almost regularly find quite plausible reasons for this good old, tangible jealousy among those affected – as well as in the privileged behaviour of their “concerned” partners. And envy would therefore often be justified because of these privileges – and it would, in my opinion, often point to a discrepancy in the (empowerment)status of the participants or would indicate a blind spot in their emotional contract.
Why do I think this is so?

The “Biology of Envy” takes us back to the mid-1990s of the last century, when researchers Giacomo Rizzolatti, Vittorio Gallese and Leonardo Fogassi discovered what were later called mirror neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys: When another monkey in the side cage received a raisin, certain neurons in the brain of the neighbouring monkey observing this process “fired” as if it had received this raisin itself.
In the following decades, however, further research showed that these “mirror neurons”, which are closely linked to our brain’s own “reward centre”, had their pitfalls: Monkeys, which at first had comfortably been eating pieces of cucumber for weeks, consistently refused them as soon as they were once fed a (sweeter) grape. Thus their cage neighbours, who were watching, denied cucumbers henceforth accordingly, although they had never received a grape. Therefore, if we are envious, are we something like “foreign-determined monkeys”?
The Indian neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran, on the other hand, announced in 2000 that “thanks to these cells, the brain can easily translate an observed scene into something experienced by itself” and predicted that the roots of compassion and the neural basis of the ability to understand others could also be found there. But once again 10 years later scientists like Kai Vogeley in Cologne or Claus Lamm in Vienna determined that mirror neurons would only register an observed action as such and make the actions of others comprehensible. If, however, it is necessary to immerse oneself in a person’s actions or to empathize with their emotions, our brain would have to surrender the field to other mechanisms that depend to a large extent on our personal experience.
And brain researcher Richard Kinseher specified: “Our brain is designed to enable us to react immediately and quickly to a current situation in order to ensure our survival; in this respect, swiftness takes precedence over accuracy. If we would perceive an activity, our brain would immediately activate the best matching experiences from memory for this observed event. This process would be a “re-experiencing” (= “resentment”) of a stored experience. By re-experiencing a situation, we could understand it as quickly as possible – but at the same time, the reactivated experience would always activate the information that we had experienced when learning the original experience. This re-activation of experiences as “re-experiencing” would certainly be a “pre-judgement” – but as such it would be the beginning of a new decision-making-process, in the course of which readjustment and correction would be possible, if there were enough time for it.

The latter depiction – specifically the one involving “resentment”, which I also describe in my Jealousy-Entry 36 – puts “envy” in this sense much more into the context of our psychology than our biology. And there is a much higher probability of this, because as early as 430 BC the Greek philosopher Hippias of Elis wrote: »Envious people are doubly miserable: they are not only angry about their own misfortune, but also about the happiness of others.« By which Hippias demonstrated already more than 2000 years ago that envy necessarily needs a conscious kind of “downward comparison”. How necessary, only a medieval epigraph could express more clearly: »Against itself envy is a harsh judge, against others a tyrant.« – which illustrates that an envious person not only tortures its surroundings with “the suspicion of being disadvantaged”, but in the first line looks at her*himself that way.

Verena Kast, psychotherapist and professor emeritus of psychology, once summarized the previously mentioned “downward comparison” as follows:
»When we feel the sting of envy in us, or when we are completely overwhelmed by feelings of envy, then we do not feel good, and in any case we feel that we are in an”inferior position”, with the conviction that we are in a completely unjustified way worse off compared to others, without having any possibility to change this in any way.« and she adds »In situations that appeal to our envy, we are not objective: we tend to perceive the achievements, the character, the possessions of others with a magnifying glass, but our own with a reducing glass.«

But what exactly happens in us if we experience our partners in an “open” relationship – or in an already established multiple relationship – with a new lover, for example; especially if they spend time together, perhaps even enjoy short vacations, share sexuality?
In one of my comments on Entry 36 I compare jealousy with curry by calling it a “multi-component-emotion”. Verena Kast writes something quite similar about envy: »In the emotion that we call “envy”, various other emotions are at work, such as sadness, anger and hatred. Envy is thus a composite feeling; this means that some of the emotional components involved may be more prominent. […] As a rule, we can still deal with envy as long as it is an identifiable feeling. But envy can also take the form of a very strong suge of emotions, an affect, so that nothing else counts in our lives – at least for a certain time – except envy, the envied persons and the thoughts of how to free ourselves from this horrible affect, which then usually results in fantasies of retaliation.«
Here comes into play what Richard Kinseher called above “re-experiencing” and “re-activation” and what I called in Entry 36 the “highway in your mind”: An increasing manifestation of experienced disregard, of suffered debarment and endured indifference, caused by many similar and connected experiences during the course of our life. And yes, it is true that such episodes obviously arose subjectively at some point in the personality of the “envious” person. Verena Kast specifies:
»”Grudge” as envy is also called, is a mixture of anxiety, feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, of anger, hostility and feelings of inferiority, combined with feelings of – mostly suppressed – grief. […] It is the reaction to the fact that [in our minds] we still are not always the best child of the dearest mother.«
Verena Kast explains the consequences: »We feel violated in our self-esteem. Admittedly or not, our self-esteem is out of balance, and we need to re-regulate ourselves. […] For feelings of envy are – although mostly masked – tremendously aggressive feelings; they are attacks on our own self-esteem and on the self-esteem of other people. But if our self-esteem is constantly under attack, we are much less creative than we could be, we are much less competent in dealing with everyday life; we are much less satisfied than we could be, and we react more easily with hostility.«
So, while Richard Kinseher had described above that we could probably make readjustments and corrections in our decision-making-process if there were enough time – then it is easy to see here that we will most likely not be able to do so in a “resentment-rush” of envy. Obviously, just as with jealousy, a “continued attack on self-esteem” – e.g. by the environment showing no consideration for the jealous person and relying on a “hardening effect through habituation” (e.g. by maintaining the manner, frequency and duration of meetings with new/other partners) – is more likely to have the opposite effect of imminent escalation.

But why did I talk in my introduction especially about a discrepancy in the (empowerment)status of the participants or a blind spot in their emotional contract*?
A key position is taken here by the above mentioned “inner best child of the dearest (inner) mother”. For strictly speaking, this formulation puts its finger in a wound concerning our own self-care. For which we are all primarily responsible ourselves today, since our biological parents will usually no longer appear on the scene to make up for past shortcomings in terms of former rejection, exclusion and disregard towards our “inner child”. If we have now crammed our potential partners in that “need-fulfillment-manner” described in Entry 58 as a patch into such deficit gaps, then we must now realize again in the bitterest way that another human being can never be suitable for such an intentional purpose.

But what if we are the “patch” or the “need fulfilment” of the others – or if we have built most of our existing partnerships on such a premise over a long period of time? In this case, the phenomenon “envy” does 100% justice to its status as a valid emotion – since all emotions are fundamentally intended for us as warning and signalling mechanisms that are essential for survival – and which are therefore supposed to put us in a state of self-preservation and self-efficiency. Verena Kast illustrates this mechanism as follows and appeals to our self-efficacy: »The feeling of envy signals to us, in other words, that we no longer agree with ourselves. Either we have to make more out of our lives, or we have to change the idea of ourselves, adapt it to reality or change reality.«

How I comprehend this? On the surface, envy might seem as if, while drinking tap water and eating stale bread her*himself, the envious person would accuse the rest of the world of indulging in jelly beans in their absence. Thus, applied to a mutual emotional contract, one could perhaps accuse the jealous person of the already mentioned “grudge”, in a sense that – if the jealous person were to have its way – nobody would ever be allowed a “treat”: Any shortage would have to be perceptibly evenly distributed among all, because just then, and only then, it would it be okay.
In fact, I, Oligotropos, have spent several years in such a fallacy (not as the jealous person, but as the supposedly “restricted” one).
Actually, however, this gloomy way of thinking is a 180° reversal of the principle, to which I would like to invite by means of Oligoamory: Exactly the fullness, the “more than the sum”, must be evenly distributed in a perceptible way for all participants!
In practical terms, this therefore cannot mean sending one person to work for more than 40 hours a week, while another person uses those “day off” thus gained as an opportunity for various dates. This is even more true for vacations of any kind, which parts of a so-called multiple relationship want to spend 1:1 with each other without the rest, because quite apart from the resource “time” almost in every case also the resource “money” is affected – where it has to be checked properly to what extent that was contributed by whom and in what way according to existing liabilities from implied emotional contracts. And this includes even more the respect for existing partners, where it speaks for itself when somebody says around a potential date “What’s the thing? Why don’t you get somebody yourself…!” (Good old envy couldn’t have revealed a higher degree of interchangeability and/or arbitrariness more easily…).

A true multiple relationship worthy of the name requires for all parties involved the participation in theCelebration of Life (quoted in my Entry about Emotional Contracts) and thus in the jointly generated abundance instead of a”distribution of shortage(s)”. Only in this way can we succeed in moving from the downward comparison of the destructive nature of envy to its constructive side and its upward comparison: What can we, what can I change? Where am I (already) self-effective? What lies within my power?
Loving relationships (and the emotional contracts attached to them) should allow us room for both co-creation and self-realization.
Therefore, relationships are always problematic when we perceive them as places to which we are fatefully “bound”, because there are “always worse things in the world – and by which we believe that we at least do not deserve anything “better”. Which means that we are merely repeating the patterns of our past with all its subordination (And do we really want to experience a [multiple] relationship with former dynamics of powerlessness today?).
Active participation and access to the “joint cake” therefore includes beating one’s own drum loudly and pointing out one’s own competencies as well as the awareness of potential shifts in the distribution of resources. In this way envy is perfectly allowed to be a motivating force for us, especially in a relationship to “distinguish” ourselves.
And thus “envy” becomes a rather valuable (warning)signal in multiple-relationship contexts and as “bigger brother”, has also much more frequent cause and reason to appear than its sister “jealousy”, who in my eyes is distinctly more related to issues of trust and attachment.
I leave the final word to Mrs. Kast, who once more summarized how important it is to perceive and be perceived with noticeable, all-round appreciation in every loving relationship: »It is important for our self-esteem and a resilient sense of identity that we can express the joy of success, as well as that other people perceive what we accomplish, what we do. […] If we don’t allow ourselves this joy, we reduce our self-esteem and thus also our competence to actively shape life.«
((So eating jelly beans is actually more enjoyable if you a) jointly savour the yield and b) really get actual jelly beans instead of being allowed to enjoy merely the eating pleasure of the others…)

¹ Line from the song Mellow Yellow“, written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan in 1966.

² Verena Kast: “Surpassing oneself – envy and jealousy as opportunities for personal development”; Patmos Verlag; 2nd Edition (February 2015)

* “Emotional Contract” – I remind: “Implied acknowledgement and agreement – as a result of a mutually established emotional close-knit relationship – regarding the totality of voluntary yielded obligations, self-commitments and care which have been reciprocally contributed and are potentially enjoyable by all parties involved.”

And thanks to muse Svenja, who once again got the wheels turning with her input.

Entry 58

Power Of Three ¹

While in the last three entries I have once again dealt with the philosophical and spiritual background of Oligoamory, this time I would like to concentrate a (little) bit more on its actual practice. Since I have been confronted in the past few weeks more often with the question “what” would characterise somebody as a “real Oligoamorist” – or “how” a relationship is distinguished as “oligoamorous” in a competent way, I have pondered which aspects should be considered from my point of view, whenever someone wants to get involved in an oligoamorous kind of relationship.
I have already addressed these aspects here on my bLog at various points – and I will refer to them accordingly; however, it was important to me to sketch a more specific three-step process, “how” the initial steps toward an oligoamorous multiple relationship on a personal level might look like.

Question 1: Why do I want to be part of an oligoamorous multiple relationship at all?

First and foremost – as I already counted “sincerity” and “honesty” in Entry 3 among the basic values of Oligoamory, it is imperative that we apply them to ourselves as consistently as to any potential partner(s). And it is not without reason that in Entry 46 I declare “self-knowledge” to be one of the most important ideals of this relationship philosophy. Moreover, it is almost an established fact that a strong focus of ours should always rest on a very important relationship: That one to ourselves.
Since the media and social networks are usually happy to promote at this point the advantages of the multifunctional fulfilment of needs by increasing the number of optional partners, it is again extremely important for me (since Entry 2) to emphasize that this kind of “resource exploitation” is never the intention of Oligoamory. Alas, many open relationship models and unfortunately also a lot of “multiple lovers” in Polyamory are rather short-sighted concerning this issue.
Becoming aware of one’s own needs, even that we have needs at all, how their “mixture” – or rather their level of “(ful)filment” – is currently composed in our life, is indeed a very essential part of thorough self-perception and self-knowledge. Unfortunately however many people then stop exactly at this point of their self-exploration journey with just this level of knowledge, thus elevating their identified need(s) to their top priority and thereby to the argumentative starting point of their aspiration for multiple relationships.
But if we visualize our happiness like a traditional, upright standing rain barrel, where the needs are – so to speak – the barrel staves (the planks that make up a barrel), then our well-being (which is the contents) in this happiness-barrel can only rise as high as the shortest stave allows. If, for example, our “staves” (= needs) such as safety, communication, creativity, efficacy, etc. are tall and strong, our happiness-barrel can still not hold more well-being than the only half-height stave “comfort” allows, if we have a deficit in exactly this need, just because this plank is shortened or reduced: Since exactly at this point, any “more” well-being that we would try to gather in our barrel will be drained precisely via this “shortened” need.
So if we have a need, which is “curtailed” in this sense, then we feel above all its “shortage” in a sense of neediness – since “only” this darned one stave would have to be mended or raised, so that we could experience “more” happiness and well-being (which the other staves would easily and surely provide!). If we would now give in to the above mentioned, medially praised, short-sighted need-management, we might now try to stuff a person into this “need-gap”, so that he*she*it both prevents a further outflow of our well-being at this point and also provides for an overall increase of our happiness-level…
Get it? Does it dawn on you why this can’t work – at least not as a basis for any relationship at eye level?
On the one hand, in this way we “use” a person like a requirement (and this is something people will notice sooner or later – and will react with resignation, flight or rebellion), on the other hand we try to solve our own problem with a completely useless manipulation: Another ordinary mortal-limited-fallible human being CAN never be able to fill this “gap” in ourselves. Even more: Due to his*her*its mortal-limited fallibility we will regularly a) experience disappointments with this person, if – in our view – it does not fulfil the function, which we have assigned, properly, and b) we have thereby also created a scapegoat to the outside world, to which we can constantly attribute guilt or blame, if the filling level in our own “happiness-barrel” decreases for any reason.

So when I speak of self-knowledge and consciousness-raising in regard to Oligoamory, I mean that we should become extremely honestly aware of our own internal weaknesses and strengths. For this is where the issues are to be found that are not immediately smoothed and levelled out in a multiple relationship, as with a soothing layer of warm chocolate, but rather exactly those that we will (have to) deal with and work through in the process with our potential loved ones, as they will usually come to light very quickly (and most likely with some intensity).

Question 2: Do I have enough space for another complete human being in my life?

Already from the section above a partial answer to this question automatically results. For if I cannot fragment or compartmentalize other people in order to employ them as “quickfix”, as patch or fill-in for one of my deficits – shabbily concealed under the polyamorous flag of “multiple love” – then to my understanding it is part of the content of the adjective “ethical” in “ethical multiple relationships” that I regard every “him”, “her” or “it” as a complete and legitimate person, and consequently grant him, her or it all the appreciation as personality and living being that I desire for myself as well. Precisely because of this unconditional “grant” I already ask in my Entry 30

  • Whether there is room for a WHOLE (additional) person in my already rich life (I recall the Anaïs Nin quote from Entry 6, “that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born”).
  • Whether I’ve tidied up my “inner space” sincerely enough to let a (additional) person in – or if I only provide a tight spot in front of my best-decorated showcase.
  • Whether I am currently a secure harbour where another person can be safe enough to get rid of their “everyday armour”.
  • Whether I have enough inner certainty that I do not have to cling to myself, in the panic of losing myself – but have both an arm for me and an arm for somebody else to welcome him*her*it, to encourage him*her*it – and to endure him*her*it.

Without the factual capacity (in terms of rather down-to-earth resources, including time) and the courage to get involved with a “whole person”, we too will otherwise not be able to find peace in a multiple relationship (strictly speaking: in no relationship!), because – as I wrote in Entry 55“»getting acquainted with each other« means seeking answers to the questions »Who are you – Who am I?«”. Precisely for this purpose, however, all parties involved need a certain degree of certainty that the others in this process are about as serious as oneself concerning the goal of intimacy, familiarity and closeness in matters of integrity and commitment.
Someone, who is available in such a case e.g. only for a few hours at the weekend and otherwise manages his remaining everyday life like a small private kingdom, appears in this regard more or less as coherent as a counterpart, which during a conversation is fixed all the time to the display of a mobile phone…
In one of my comments on Entry 55 some time ago I quoted the therapist and author Mike Hellwig², who once said “that – in order to establish a sustainable relationship with one another beyond the usual society-conforming role clichés – partners are required who are aware that they may be compensating and who are willing to consciously open their wounds, to virtually seek them out and show them to one another.” In this respect, one might criticize that I might be putting too much emphasis on “shortcomings” or at least on “curative potential” in my version of Oligoamory. But that is not how I want to be understood: I choose mainly the “tough”, “hard” or supposedly “problematic” examples, because in my experience it is very easy to handle and enjoy almost every relationship in reasonably cheerful weather. This usually also requires little active personal determination. But whether we are in the process of building a mature relationship with eye level on all sides, will always only be proven in a storm, when not everything is running smoothly or things fit harmoniously together. And exactly for this purpose it is important that we have clarified for ourselves beforehand whether we are prepared – because it could become difficult, unpleasant, and unsexy – to allow another person to touch us “completely” in our very being with difficulties, with unpleasant sides and unsexyness. And if we are prepared to accept uncertainty within us that we cannot always know what this in turn will trigger in ourselves. Which is why I emphasized in Entry 55: It’s oligoamorous, if we really want that.

Question 3: What about my existing emotional contracts?

One of the most important entries on this bLog is Entry 9, in which I refer to our invisible and mostly implicit “emotional contracts”, which we establish in each of our close relationships. If you want to celebrate yourself now because – to your knowledge – you have not yet entered any relationship in this sense and consider yourself to be supposedly “contract-free”, I would like to say that almost all our closer relationships with living beings are subject to emotional contracts, be it relatives in need of care, parents or children – but, of course, also pets, volunteer work or even jobs.
In my opinion, “ethical multiple relationships” differ from “unethical multiple relationships” by our attitude towards the question of how we generally relate to commitment and self-obligation: Are we the “moral chameleon” that I have already mentioned in some of my entries, which changes depending on surroundings and circumstances – or are we striving to maintain our once declared attitude with integrity, even if this means that we might not be able to hide away for once, maybe even have to prove the ability to take some blows?
The latter would in any case be a good quality to own as a representative of a non-conformist way of living and loving, e.g. if one gets into inevitable contact with the “normal world”.
By their very nature, emotional contracts are great things: because by them we prove to be predictable relationship-shareholders who care for their stuff – and own their sh*. At the same time, they are incredibly dynamic; they actually call for a high and transparent level of communication with the other beings involved in the contract, because it is so important that all parties really understand the same thing by what has been agreed upon. At the same time, this creates a leeway which must therefore always be collectively readjusted and also leaves room for renegotiation and expansion.
But since, precisely for this reason, “emotional contracts” are not watertight written treaties that forever gather dust in some locked up safe, but, as I wrote in entry 9, “highly subjective, »felt« arrangements of giving and taking (or more gently: contributing and enjoying) in human relationships”, their true quality is revealed a little more in our attitude toward them than in their virtual content.
This means: A person of integrity in a relationship signals respect for the other participants in a relationship by speaking and acting in such a way that the other participants can recognize that the person speaking or acting is part of a committed, larger “we”.
What seems to sound so complicated here, I have explained in Entry 53 and simply called it “considering the others”. It is the opposite of egocentricity and mere self-interest – and if we succeed in reflecting this kind of appreciation to the people with whom we already have some kind of relationship, then the rest, as they say, are (negotiable) details. Multiple relationships deal with human beings on all levels – therefore it is of enormous importance to give this “human factor” top priority on all levels, be it towards ourselves, be it towards a person in whom for whatever reason our interest has flared up – and especially towards those persons with whom we are already in a (close) relationship.
The mindset towards our existing relationships (and thus our “existing contracts”) shows how our self-imposed integrity (= acting in constant compliance with the personal value system) is linked to our overall attitude of appreciation and predictability.
I write “overall attitude” because a careless or trifling approach towards established commitments in existing relationships speaks a clear language, not only – how we will most likely treat the next desired person in the same way – but also how we will probably address ourselves inside us as well: Someone, who (for whatever reasons) isn’t worth all this…
We therefore prove to be self-efficient and responsible when we start to integrate our desire for multiple relationships especially within our existing emotional contracts. Because at this point at the latest, we have dealt with resistances of the “human factor” on various levels – individual, in partnership and super-personal.

So, if a motto of soccer is “keep the box clean”, I would recommend, with regard to Oligoamory, to start with the care for these three boxes:
1) Reason for own desire
2) Space in your own life
3) Existing emotional contracts

I wish you the very best!

¹ I borrowed the title for this entry from the fantasy-author Diane Wynne Jones, who – by the way – established with this book 1976 an impressive example for integration and cooperation.

² Mike Hellwig, born in 1964, after studying the German language and literature, turned to psychology and developed the method of Radical Allowing as a therapist.

Thanks to jacqueline macou on Pixabay for the photo.

Entry 57

Twosome? Threesome? Wholesome!

In the concluding statement of my previous Entry 56, I call for wholeness in our (loving) relationships, whereby I literally reveal my Oligoamory as being deeply imbued by holistic ideas.
Regular readers of my bLog will have noticed this anyway, since in almost every second article I invite them to experience each other as “more than the sum of their parts” when participating in multiple relationships and the adventure of such a kind of special togetherness.

After reading my last Entry, I noticed that I consider it important to “take a stand” one more time, concerning the background of oligoamorous thinking and acting in that regard.
And that’s why there will be a theoretical section at first, until I try to describe at the end why I have chosen that approach for myself (and thus also for the Oligoamory) – especially in terms of both “personal relationship capability” and pragmatic down-to-earth conduct of relationships.

Since the middle of the 20th century, two approaches to systems and forms of organization have developed; meanwhile, both are regularly applied to biological, technical, sociological and even psychological contexts:

On the one hand, there is holism, which is based on the proposition that systems and their characteristics have to be considered as a whole – and not just as a mere composition of their parts. Holism holds the view that a system cannot be fully understood from the interaction of all its individual elements, and that the meaning of the individual parts depends on their functional role in the whole.
A simple example is the famous “baby’s rattle”: If we were to take such a rattle apart, we might end up with two shells, a handle, and a few plastic beads, but we would not be able to reveal the actual “main function” of the object – the rattling sound.
The same would probably happen to us if we would try to reproduce 100% correctly a human organism: We could assemble all elements completely and absolutely precise, but we would not be able to evoke “life” or even “consciousness” this way.
And even if we were to observe a complex organization such as the “United Nations“, we would have as constituents people, buildings, logistics; we would identify committees and councils, financial flows, a charter, sub-organizations and much more – but these components alone would not be enough to explain the success of the UN in restoring peace and stability, for example in Liberia (UNMIL).

A completely different approach, however, is pursued by the conception reductionism. It assumes that a system as a whole is determined by its individual components. This includes the complete traceability of theories back to proper observations, of terms back to tangible entities, or of logical correlations back to causal events. Thus this theory assumes that a cause is followed by exactly one effect, which in turn is the cause for another effect, and so on.
Based on our examples above, reductionism would conclude that the impact of the plastic beads on the shells of the rattle – due to the movement of the object – could convert the kinetic energy of the particles into sound waves.
Reductionism would also probably argue in this way that “life” or “consciousness” are causal consequences of the 100% correct arrangement of all components in a living being, which eventually would functionally build up on each other in their processes.
Similarly, the success of the UN Liberian peacekeeping mission would be reductionistically comprehensible, since the path of the process from the application to the last soldier leaving the country could be traced in detail, step by step, consecutively through all parts of the organization.

As so often in philosophy and science, it seems to be once again only a dilemma of one’s own point of view and choice of method, in which way one tries to explain a certain result…
Therefore, in order to slowly approach our own domain of “relationships”, I would like to apply both approaches to the example of a piece of woodland that contains different habitats (light, shadow, water, different soils, etc.) and is home to different living beings (microorganisms, fungi, plants, animals).
A holistic approach to this issue would be what we usually call “ecological” today: Such a forest represents a complex, structured system of elements that interact with each other in a variety of ways and thus produce properties that can no longer be explained by an isolated view of the individual elements. Environment and biodiversity influence each other in such a way that in the end a state is reached in which the community of species becomes a unit together with the habitat it has created (Example: Fungi live in symbiosis with the roots of a tree, so that the tree grows more efficiently, by that the tree nourishes numerous other animals, whose leftovers in combination with the shade of the tree benefit again the fungi in the soil below etc.).

If, on the other hand, such a piece of woodland were to be examined in a reductionist way, all the components present in it would be considered separately and independently: There are spots in the soil with acid pH, several basalt rocks, there are puffball mushrooms, some pines, eight squirrels, a fox, etc. This approach is based on the individual: In that area all features and species coexist that have arrived there and have found suitable environmental conditions. They are not bound in their existence to fulfil functions for others or a more comprehensive context. And even evolutionary this argumentation would be plausible: Evidentially, nature holds on to all components, as long as they “do not disturb” a system (The “residual horns ” on the heads of giraffes are such an example. Among giraffe-progenitors, these horns must have played an important role once – as among most other herbivores. Regarding present day giraffes, these “remnants” are simply still there, because they “didn’t get in the way” during the further evolution of the modern giraffes).

And with this we have already stepped on oligoamorous soil.
You haven’t noticed how?
Well, because also in the world of multiple relations there are exactly those two different viewpoints, which I have presented here in such detail.
There are the reductionistic trailblazer of personal freedom, who postulate verbatim that “even in a loving relationship they are not bound in their existence to fulfill any kind of function for others” – and there are the idealistic holisticists like me, who want to emphasize that in our loving relationships we’re all together and that togetherness and corresponding interrelated actions are the pivotal point of every “common whole” and every “mutual we”.

I personally furthermore believe that we simply cannot afford a reductionist view, at least not in those relationships that contain that sublimely metaphysical component “love” as bonding characteristic. For reductionism would indeed mean that we would surround ourselves with circumstances and people, who would thus be part of our life, “because they do not disturb / don’t get in the way” [which means: no one has to put in any committed contributions!]. As I already wrote in Entry 2: “As a result the danger of seriality and substitutability increases in my opinion. For my part, that would display a rather unethical treatment of my loved ones – and I myself don’t want to be viewed or even treated accordingly by my beloved vice versa. […] And what might befall us if one day we ourselves become ill, senile or handicapped? How much loving and caring is left in such a strategy after that?“

In Entry 54 I quote Mahatma Gandhi with the holistic statement »We are one, you and I. I can not harm you, without harming myself.« Positively formulated, the wise Indian tried to describe in this way that a conscious togetherness arises from the realization that every effect we perceive in the outer world originally started as a cause of our own inner world. For beyond this, Gandhi also wants to express that every selfish thought (“I want it now/immediately…”) will always evoke merely selfish effects, which even in the best case results in mostly indifferent or insignificant “successes” for ourselves. At worst, any attempt to gain an advantage by exploiting the weakness, inexperience or neediness of others inevitably leads to our own disadvantage in a relationship medium term.
“Holistic” on the other hand is every request, every thought, every action, if the resulting process benefits as many (or even better: all!) participants as possible, who are involved in the process.
Let’s think briefly about our forest example above, in case the mushrooms at the foot of the tree would start to ignore or damage the tree. They would thus not only immediately end the maximization of the general benefit of their “activity” (far beyond the tree and themselves!), but in the end would also deprive themselves of their basis of existence.
In relationships – and entirely in our loving relationships – we are always part of a larger “whole” in a very similar way. And as no part of it can fight against (or ignore) another part in the medium term without damaging itself, so the well-being of all participants depends on the recognition of this interdependence in the interest of the whole (See also Entry 53: To “consider” the other participant).

You diligent readers* who have followed me so far: I have to admit that in this respect I myself often still feel like the buccaneers in the film “Pirates of the Caribbean” – asked to reach the legendary “Isla de Muerta” – for as Captain Jack Sparrow puts it: “An island which can only be found by those who already know where it is…”.

Even the American psychiatrist and psychotherapist Scott Peck, who has devoted much of his time to relationship and community building, once said in an interview that living in committed, love-based relationships is not a ” cure-all” – in the sense that once you have established such a connection in a holistic way, you will no longer have to overcome any difficulties and will only feel good all over. On the contrary, Peck explained – because reality would still continue to exist. Frankly, he would even admit that in his opinion (loving) relationships are always more dynamic, more emotional and therefore even more painful due to more participants than an existence as a solitary being. But therefore they would also provide e.g. more and deeper joy.
On the whole, for him the most characteristic thing about a living “in relationships” was not the fact that it was less painful, but that it felt more alive in every dimension.

The Franco-American psychologist Richard Beauvais (1938-2019) has summarized this in my view beautifully and poetically as follows:

»I am here because there is no refuge,
finally, from myself,
until I confront myself in the eyes
and hearts of others, I am running.
Until I suffer them to share my secrets,
I have no safety from them.
Afraid to be known, I can know neither myself
nor any others; I will be alone.
Where else but on this common ground,
can I find such a mirror?
Here, together, I can at last appear
clearly to myself,
not as the giant of my dreams,
not as the dwarf of my fears,
But as a person, part of a whole,
with my share in its purpose.
In this ground, I can take root and grow.
Not alone anymore, as in death,
but alive, to my self and to others.«

Thanks to Tomislav Jakupec on Pixabay for the photo!

Entry 56

Where (only) pleasant feelings abide…

Once upon a time there lived a king who had set his mind on choosing only the most beautiful of all women as his bride. Merely to find this “most beautiful woman”, he spared no expenses and no efforts – and the selection process for a suitable choice was already the most elaborate and demanding thing the world had ever witnessed until then.
In the end, however, it was indeed possible to finally select the fairest one of them all who met the king’s expectations: nothing less than the most perfect woman on earth.
The wedding was of course also celebrated with appropriate splendour – but the king was not yet fully satisfied in his quest for perfection. After all, it had to be ensured that the woman at his side would remain the most beautiful of all beauties; yes, it seemed absolutely necessary to the king to increase the gracefullness of his wife even further.
For this purpose he summoned the best physicians, who, with countless feats of art and even daring operations increasingly enhanced the queen’s aesthetics to its highest bloom. As a result the queen’s physical grandeur became so indescribable that no other woman on earth was even remotely like her in perfection.
The king was satisfied and so he lived happily and contentedly for a while with this astonishing miracle at his side. But after a while, it seemed to him that there was still a kind of shadow, some barely tangible flaw, which nevertheless seemed to disturb the absolute harmony of his wife’s appearance. Therefore, he once again called together his most excellent scientists and doctors to eliminate this very last fault.
The scholars decided on one last risky procedure, which the queen would have to endure – as she had done so many times before. The treatment required hours –
and ultimately the most unique, perfect and flawless corpse the world had ever seen was stretched out on the operating table.
That strange shadow, that irritating “last flaw” had been life itself…

Dear readers, I have told you this somewhat gruesome fairy tale of ancient times yet once again, because I have been observing a phenomenon in our world of ethical multiple relationships (such as Polyamory) for some time now, which regularly and worryingly reminds me of the aforementioned story.
For in recent years, it seems that doctrines from the self-help- and self-optimization-scene have increasingly permeated our lifestyle, which for example claim that only “good” feelings set people free, make them peaceful and ensure (self-)evolvement – while “bad” feelings are always toxic, imprisoning and prevent development.
As a result, many people who struggle through the jungle of multi-relationships end up like the tragic king in the tale: The obviously “bad”, the disharmonious, this flaw anyway, has to be removed so it finally feels “right”. Sometimes at all costs.
This price is then paid – corresponding to the queen in the story – first and foremost by those people and loved ones who are close to us. Because it’s usually in our encounters with them that we are actually confronted with “bad feelings” from time to time: Basic emotions such as anger, sadness and fear – but also more complex feelings such as envy, jealousy, mistrust, disappointment, remorse or gloom. This in turn feels ” burdening ” for us, inhibiting and immature. Of course, “This” means “They” : our fellow humans with their unresolved, sticky emotions and feelings, which in contact with them and those drag us inevitably down…
But we ourselves – like the king – want to experience harmony in our evolved relationship without such imperfections. After all, we have already risen above the petty limitations and resentments of monogamy, so such narrow-minded restrictions by our potential partners should not worm their way through the back door into our new, better and happy world of multiple relationships. Consequently, all that is needed is a determined treatment – and such “irritating flaws ” are eradicated: We just have to surround ourselves constantly with people, with whom we experience invariably “pleasant feelings”, where everything is easy, everyone is free and evolved at all times. We let go of the bad feelings – and of the people who might spread them in our lives; that way we even gain more space for the good and beautiful…

Whoever has read the fairy tale with me at the beginning, however, knows what the ultimate result of such an approach will be: In the end, we’ll end up sharing our lives with a bunch of corpses. Masterful and admirable corpses. But corpses nevertheless.

First of all: By way of analogy, climate change e.g. is currently teaching us, when it comes to weather, that arbitrary classifications into categories such as “good” or “bad” are no longer necessarily meaningful. During the 1960s, “always sunshine” was still a promise for the Beach Boys or the Mamas & the Papas, but today even for an average farmer in Central Europe it already poses a threat to existence.
Concerning feelings it’s quite similar to that effect. Thus, “always sunshine” would mean to follow the path of the fairy tale king and forcefully prune away all other feelings. And since feelings cannot really be “removed”, we could at least – according to countless self-help and advice pages – “let them go”.
However, maybe these good advisors are merely misunderstood in our fast-moving age, because most people who seek advice simply turn “letting go” into “not admitting” – since that is something we humans are very well and routinely capable of doing. But from then on we have to get along with our eternal “sunshine”. And along this path we are threatened with one-sidedness, drought and finally a “beautiful corpse”.
The bLogger Elias Fischer has written a long article on the subject on his site, which describes in great detail the effects of what happens when we try to “not allow” certain feelings full article: Here – but only German version available). In my opinion, the most impressive consequences he points out are the inability to describe all of one’s own feelings (because some of them have been sorted out as “bad” and are no longer sufficiently dealt with) – and the concomitant loss of the full breadth and depth of feelings and emotions as a whole (Quote: “If we refuse to feel anger, shame, fear or sadness, then as a result at some point there is no real vital joy left as well. No joy that fills us intensely and ecstatically.” ). Or rather none that really feels alive and intense any more, I would like to add.

In my Entry 43 on the subject of commitment, I have already briefly sketched out why we contemporary humans are so quickly inclined, like the fairy-tale king, to pick up a scalpel and prefer to separate rather than preserve what actually belongs together as a whole.
Because otherwise we would have to be able to handle all our feelings.
Oh yes, I know: First of all these unresolved, sticky feelings of other people…
But especially with the allegedly “negative/bad” feelings it becomes clear very quickly each time that e.g. the sadness, anger or fear of other people (which we do not want to endure) are sadness, anger or fear for ourselves – which we cannot endure. And this is something that most of us have not learned properly, since entire generations ahead of us have already willingly taken up the scalpel, dissected our freedom – and created thereby a reality of separation (see Entry 26).

Interestingly, however, a certain group of people in the field of multiple relationships, who see themselves as particularly “liberal” – and who derive from this virtue that certain characteristics or behaviour must not be evaluated under any circumstances – seems very quickly prepared to assess feelings, especially those of their counterparts, according to whether they are “good (promotive)” or “bad (obstructing)”. And thereby sorting it out – saying what you want and getting the life you deserve¹ – that’s how free I am…!
But our closest people and loved ones aren’t jammed coffee can or a skirt that comes back from the cleaners with a stain. For deep and binding relationships this attitude is simply no applicable.

And anyway – that freedom in whose name lightness and easiness is repeatedly claimed – and one knows masterminds like Erich Fromm², Eckhart Tolle or even the whole of Buddhism on one’s own side where it is said: “Free yourself from suffering!”. Here in the western world we really want to get a grip on this “suffering” with the ultimate intention of an ideal performance at all times.
Yet the Buddhist “suffering” precisely wants to explain that we humans are not (or at least: quite rarely) in equilibrium. That we – like the overzealous king – fear our own flawedness and even our own mortality, only to conjure them up all the more by our extreme ambitions.
On the contrary, “equilibrium”as for example Buddhism teaches, contains all facets, has to contain all facets in order to be true and complete.

Accordingly, as the blogger Elias Fischer has already indicated in his essay, by dividing feelings into “good” or “bad”, “liberating” or “imprisoning”, “developed” or “immature”, we are denying ourselves an important part of our own full and sincere self-expression.
In Entry 45 I wrote about the “Wonderful Ordinariness of Being” in which we may experience ourselves as human, fallible and tolerant.
If we want to be immersed in our relationships intensively and deeply – rather than to believe ourselves to be superficially free of suffering – , then it is very important for us to realize what really allows us to be free in such relationships.
What is truly permissive in a committed environment?
It is the permission of the self-effective and empowering statement to be allowed to express and acknowledge all our feelings: “YES, right now I am [please enter the appropriate feeling here (choose from this list if in doubt)]!
If we allow ourselves and those close to us to do so, then the confrontation with the feelings of others doesn’t always have to be so threatening for us. Because, as a bonus, a permissive person is surprisingly almost always also an empathic one. He*She*It can show its counterpart credibly: Here’s an address for you. I’m listening to you. Without suggestions for improvement, without appeasement, without a story of my own to counter yours.
Such a “somebody” can allow itself to be energetically touched as well – whereby the afflicted person experiences the most important thing of all: You are not alone in this.

If “love” is the strongest form of mutual affection and the greatest possible expression of joy that the other living being exists in my world (I write “mutual” because otherwise it might remain “infatuation”), then it is right and important to strive for interconnectedness and commitment.
Thus, the degree of true freedom in those relationships that may possibly develop from there grows with the degree to which we give ourselves permission to be whole (rather than perfect) in there.

¹ Alexandra Reinwarth, “The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a D*ck: The Art of Saying What You Want and Getting the Life You Deserve”, Grand Central Publishing 2019 – Self-help book around the central decision-making questions “Does it annoy me?” and “Does it affect me personally?”

² Erich Fromm, “The Art of Loving”, 1956

Thanks to Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash for the picture!

Entry 55

Getting naked

What is the reason why many attempts towards more or less successful multiple relationships begin with an initial event of shared sexuality?
Is it because of the pre-emption of the certainty that dwells in our deepest depths that we are all ultimately the result of a sexual encounter between human beings anyway?
Do we therefore want to feel (once again) such connectedness in a tangible way and therefore long for a closeness that literally gets under the skin, for intimacy “in the flesh”?

In this case, (early shared) sexuality might turn out to be of little help, especially if our neediness in terms of connectedness, familiarity and intimacy is rather high (and concerning most people in western industrial nations at the beginning of the 21st century it is quite real – this neediness!). Once released, we therefore quickly behave like starving creatures who are introduced to an exquisitely prepared banquet: We hastily scoop the croutons out of the soup, toss the duchesse potatoes into our insatiable mouth and finally pillage the dessert buffet – because its food is the sweetest and easiest to consume…
Appreciation or even assessability, however, is unlikely to be achieved in this way, regardless of whether food or people are concerned. Something that for example a former acquaintance of mine had to experience painfully, when she was intentionally and surprisingly sprinkled with tealight wax on such a first date, where the participants, in the frenzy of passion, had not verbally exchanged anything about what “jointly shared sexuality” should include for all parties…¹
But even without “surprises” of this kind, the chance is rather small that quick sexuality, as a mutual “compatibility test” in terms of intimacy and closeness, can actually serve this noble purpose. Such (pre-)consummated sexuality will in all probability never really lose its “in-order-to-character” and thus turn into a rather serial “peak episode”, which the author couple Gerrard and French once described in their novel “Killing me softly” ² by quoting a mountaineer with the following statement: “New infatuation is like a mountain First you sacrifice everything and make every effort to climb it somehow. When you finally succeeded, you might try to climb it in a few different ways; then you move on…”.
That’s what I meant by “in-order-to”. Because that way, in the end there may remain some kind of shallow feeling. After all the courtship, after all the passion, after all the intense physical (but certainly also psychological and spiritual closeness and fusion): Was I after all ( just ) an accomplishment, an overcoming in someone else’s calculation? Or was he*she*it in mine?

Somehow we cannot get around Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s fox³ and his “becoming familiar with each other” [amply quoted by me in Entries 25, 27, 32, 42 and 52], if our oligoamorous wishes aim at “attachment”, “intimacy” and “predictability”. “Becoming familiar with each other”, that “forgotten” art…
Even the “Little Prince” tries to evade into seriality in the corresponding scene by replying: “But I don’t have much time. I have to make friends and learn many things…!” It is good that the book has become such a mysterious bestseller, though, because the prince nevertheless decides to embark on the experience of “becoming familiar with each other”.
But why, for example, did “The Little Prince” become such an edgy and not easily accessible book in this respect? Why is it almost cryptic in parts, its final twist almost tragic – at least sad, so that many readers often put it back on the shelf with mixed feelings and still return to it again and again in later life?
Probably because the author Saint-Exupéry recognized and expressed that the “becoming familiar with each other” includes a component that early initiated sexuality (I referred to at the beginning) can never accomplish.
Because mutual “familiarity” ( or trust – to which I have already devoted Entries 15, 26, 27 and 43) simply isn’t a “one-way street”. It is even much more than an obvious two-lane road, because a not always visible part of this connection leads directly into our own inner self. I can only really establish familiarity and trust towards “the others” or towards “the world” if I can extend it equally towards myself (Entry 15) or towards “my world” (Entry 26).
But haphazardly (“Oh, let’s just do it and not label in advance where this might lead to…!” ), uncertain (“I don’t really know if I actually want that…” ) or with a hidden agenda (keyword: “peak-episode” ) this won’t work.
In the best case we want to protect ourselves like the „Little Prince“ with an event of early shared sexuality from an alleged loss of elsewhere possibly more usefully invested life time. In the worst case, we thereby avoid possible – and very probable – pain, which we will most likely encounter on every exploratory journey into ourselves in order to build up trust, to “become familiar with ourselves”.

“Oligotropos, did you really just wrote »in the worst case «?”

Yes, I did, because in my view that is the very core of my Entry today. Just as I called the book “The Little Prince” »edgy« and »cryptic«, thus world literature since biblical times has been full of these stories about symbolic or literal quests into our own self. This “quest into ourselves” is thus a human topic towards which we cannot close ourselves off in oligoamorous contexts – and I wrote “in the worst case”, because everything else amounts in my opinion to an active looking away, to ignoring and (self)denial, which will do much more harm to us and our relationships than any unpleasant truth or any old pain we might encounter in ourselves during our introspection.
For it is highly probable that in the confrontation with ourselves we will not only encounter pleasant and harmonious aspects. But how else could we ever face ourselves – and consequently also our loved ones – and commit ourselves if we do not dare to explain who we are? Exactly that means »daring to be someone« which the educationalist Reinhard Kahl and the philosopher Hannah Arendt emphasized in my earlier Entry 39.
“Becoming familiar with each other” and “Becoming familiar with oneself” means to allow each other (and thus ourselves as well) the time to show each other courageous answers to the questions: Who are you? – Who am I?
The fact that these questions are neither to be asked carelessly nor to be answered thoughtlessly is shown by Lana and Lilly Wachowski very significantly in their series Sense 8 (Season 2, Episode 2), which was created between 2015 and 2018. When reporters try to trap the protagonists using the tactic of provoking a banal or impossible answer, they respond: “Who am I? Do you mean where I’m from? What I one day might become? What I do? What I’ve done? What I dream? Do you mean … what you see or what I’ve seen? What I fear or what I dream? Do you mean who I love? Do you mean what I’ve lost?”

»Easier«, »more quickly« or »less complex« than these questions (and the answers to them!), an »explanation of yourself« will hardly be possible, if genuine attachment, real intimacy and true predictability are to be the common goal. For all these questions are all aimed at our realness, commonly called “authenticity”. But “authenticity” is not a fashion label or just some pretty lifestyle phrase that a person can merely claim because it smells of sophistication and supposed maturity. “Authentic”, in other words “genuine”, means to impose, entrust, endure and respect what is alive right at this moment, here and now. This also includes human patchwork, unresolved and unsettled elements that aren’t always pleasant or appealing.

Personally, one of the great challenges of ethical multiple relationships in my opinion is to maintain different relationships without compartmentalizing the other parties involved (splitting them into separate features, see also Entries 2 and 44). To achieve this, all those involved need precisely the curiosity and the courage to become acquainted with their “inner diversity”, i.e. their contrasts, their heterogeneity, their irregularities, their bewilderment and their spheres of tension, and to accept that it is also from this diversity that the ingredients emerge which transform a multiple relationship into “more than the sum of its parts”.
Thus, a multiple relationship could, at some point, become a living image of this “choir of our multiple inner voices”, which eventually defines each and every one of us as “us”…

Why is this requirement so important concerning Oligoamory, why is it so essential for this particular form of “multiple relationship with (only) a few participants”?
In Entry 5 I quote my own birth family with the bold expression “Friendship is a wonderful »maybe«, family a wonderful »must-have«!”
Whereas in the series “Sense 8” (Season 1, Episode 8) the character “Wolfgang”, played by actor Max Riemelt, says about a member of his family of choice: “He’s my brother. And not by something as accidental as blood – by something much stronger.” And when asked “What’s that?”, he replies: “By choice!”
Hence, successful relationships with true attachment are much more than a convention (a »must-have«). They are also much more than an option that we can arbitrarily “add” (a »maybe«).
They are conscious choices of volition by which we commit ourselves to each other, precisely because we are aware of the special and unique nature of the connection between ourselves and the other person, in which each of us is allowed to be a whole ” someone “.
It is oligoamorous if we really want that.

¹ Absurd example? I am afraid that all absurd examples seem ridiculous – precisely because they (unfortunately) really happened. And whether this is the most bizarre example in my little box of reminiscences, I don’t even know exactly, because there is also the story of a peanut butter jar, which once was pulled out in the heat of a first date-night…

² Nicci French, “Killing me softly”, Standalone Novels 1998, New edition: Penguin 2008

³ In the 21st chapter of the novel “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry the protagonist strikes up a friendship with a fox. The story can be found online HERE.

Thanks to WSNNY on Pixabay for the photo!

Entry 54

All together now*

Concerning my last Entry 53, another idea emerged in my mind, which regularly appears in almost all Polyamory discussion groups from time to time.
Discussions there e.g. might start like „Well, my sweetheart, Konrad, he is such a great polyamorous partner, but unfortunately his wife is strictly monogamous and therefore poor Konrad wouldn’t tell her about his other poly-advances, because she would never be able to understand that – but, good Konrad, alas, he also loves his wife and would like to keep her as well– in short: Anyway, that’s why he doesn’t talk at home about him being poly and all – and, of course, he never mentions any of his other relationships…“.
Or they say: “You know, my girlfriend has a metamour¹ in our network/polycule², who behaves totally polyamorous in her direction, but he would have to separate that for himself, because on the other hand he also conducts several sexual affairs on/off with two or three women, but that wouldn’t be polyamorous at all, and therefore they wouldn’t know anything about his lovers in the polycule – and of course not about each other as well…”.

In a nutshell: How do we want to react if someone in our network of loved ones – in the first, or even in the second or third line of acquaintanceship – practises “non-ethical non-monogamy” – in the Queen’s English: is dishonest in one or more directions or cheats straight away?

“Oh come on, Oligotropos…”, I can hear them already calling, “You’re uncompromising, strict and controlling…!”

Am I?
As early as in my second Entry I criticize tendencies in the polyamorous scene, which primarily postulate in the name of “free” or “universal” love, that our love – if it were to be “evolved” – would above all have to be unconditional and devoid of need. People who are attached to this way of thinking wish that “love-fulfilled” and “mature” beings should »let each other be as they are«.
“Ok”, I reply, “of course I can leave all those human beings out there »as they are«, comma – but.”
And “comma – but” refers in my view precisely to Entry 53 and likewise to Entry 33 quoted therein.
In that Entry 33 I describe the heartfelt sigh of the singer Alice, who fails to reconcile the AfD-membership of her potentially chosen mate with her own ethics, her own view of the world. So does that render Alice “unevolved” and “loveless”?
I don’t think so – but, evidently, in this case she puts her own ethics and her own well-being in that regard first. Of course, for the sake of her potential partner she could also choose a socially acceptable evasion and tell him “Oh, what each of us thinks and does politically, that can be left out of our loving relationship…”.
But Alice obviously knows that there are certain boundaries in human life and in human relationships that can never be completely “eliminated from the equation”. And that’s probably why she turns on her pillow sleeplessly in the music clip, while realizing that the same person with whom she is currently sharing familiarity and closeness may tomorrow spray synagogues with anti-Semitic slogans or even might manhandle Syrian migrants.
So if I would let a person in my relationship »be« in such a case, then this would already be my search of an excuse for myself why I would rather not include certain characteristics of him in my love…
Or expressed in a more consistent – and hence uncompromising – manner: Yes, of course I can let all human beings out there »be as they are« – BUT I could not be in a familiar, close and intimate loving relationship with all of them, because some of their qualities would contradict my personal view of integrity and responsibility.

“All right, Oligotropos. So by now you have now shown in two of your Entries why – despite an open attitude and some integrity – not every person would be a suitable romantic partner for us. But don’t your demands concerning the metamours (i.e. partnerpartners and their other optional partners) push far beyond any reasonable goal, since you are trying to manipulate hemispheres beyond your control there?“

Mahatma Gandhi once said “The smaller sibling of violence is called indifference”.
If he would be able to read this Entry, he would probably now pluck at my sleeve and say: “Remember the knotted carpets…!”
„Knotted carpets ???“
“Yes, what the oligoamorous natives said about the knotted carpets, in Entry 7! Do you remember their example concerning the dishonest and the honest carpet dealer?
Let me extend their example by one more dimension:
Suppose you have found an excellent dealer who serves you sincerely and to the best of his abilities. In that case, would you be able to live in peace with the fact that he treats only you in this way and continues to treat everyone else with inferior quality and minor dishonesties? For example, if you had just concluded a good bargain with him and – while already departing – you would notice him deceiving the next customer as you walked away – how would you feel? Would you be relieved not to be treated like this? Would you perhaps even be gloating over the fact that the next person was affected – and not you? Could you »leave them be« because it wouldn’t concern you personally, and go your way in complete composure?“ “Dearest Oligotropos,” the famous Indian would perhaps continue, “we humans possess this ‘composure’ or rather ‘indifference’ usually just as long as we ourselves aren’t the deceived ones… So – how can you be sure that you are always treated correctly by your supplier when you have long been aware that your trusted (business) partner behaves like a moral chameleon towards his other loyal customers?“

Oh, darn – the Oligoamorists and that Gandhi, they would be right. Because all the other things they also addressed in Entry 7 would fit perfectly into this “example extension”:
My “total freedom” and my »letting everyone be as they are«, is – if I want to enter into trusting and predictable relationships – brought into a balance that is beneficial to all sides through responsible integrity and consistent commitment. Which means that all parties involved should have a similar conception of “integrity” and “commitment”.
And only then a relationship in the oligoamorous sense would be sustainable ( = consistent/suitable/satisfactory – see final paragraph of Entry 3) – because in all other cases, as far as my (business) partners are concerned, there would always be something irritating scratching in the back of my head and in my heart: “Today they behaved like that – and I just can hope that they will repeat it tomorrow… They treat me like this – but I can see that they treat X like that; I don’t want to be treated like X…”.
Such “scratching” will lead to a permanent, subliminal anxiety after just a short period of time, as we can never really be constantly reassured. And permanent anxiety leads to the fact that our famous inner “alarm switch” gets stuck half activated – what scientifically is called “stress” – and that is exactly the opposite of any satisfaction or “being at peace”.
So with indifference or by actively looking away, I continue to sanction dis-peace in my network of relationships, which in the end will always return to me in one way or another. For it is precisely regarding loving relationships – no matter whether they are tied across corners or around three edges – that another Gandhi saying applies: “You and I are one: I cannot hurt you without hurting myself.”

Concerning Oligoamory, there is no way around complete goodwill and network-wide respect for one another. Because otherwise it would be a bit like in the joke about the tea-party where the wife comes home at midnight and is confronted by her husband: „Petunia, why do you return so late?“ “Oh Vernon, every time one of us left, the others talked about her so badly afterwards, I just didn’t dare to leave…!”
So in such a case, indifference can even be the smaller sibling of disrespect, when for example someone in your polycule says: “So, Olaf’s still with that vegan drama queen he was dating last weekend?” or “Yeah, Cathrin is sleeping over at Mona’s, that left-wing-bimbo, I don’t know what she likes about her, but thank god I won’t have to cope with her at all…”

In the end, if we were able to include all other participants in our favourite-people-networks into our relationship- equation, we are also talking about energetic hygiene. Or, as psychologists and psychotherapists would call it, the “emotional field”. Or to put it prosaically – if you’re more down-to-earth –, “the overall mood”.
In “The Tale of Anday and Tavitih” in Entry 6, I quote Anaïs Nin, who recognized that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
In this sense, relationship-networks are like colourful solar systems into which new planets or suns are sometimes literally “born” – and of course it plays an enormous role in the dynamics of distance and proximity, of all-round magnetism and equilibrium, which energies such a new world adds to the unfolding “solar system”. Because energetically, in terms of the emotional field or the mood, it is very soon no longer possible in such an (overall) system to assign exactly where “mine” or “yours” begins – since all participants aim hopefully and intentionally towards a common “ours“. And thus the “moral” of the “Tale of Anday and Tavith” gains once again even more importance:
»Namely, what a strong force the others are in ourselves.
And how important it is for any oligoamorous relationship to recognise the unrefusable presence of the people involved in the other participants. That it is important to understand that one contains the others involved in oneself as soon as any loving relationship starts to emerge.
And that it would be a wonderful goal to respect these other persons in the hearts of all the parties involved and to love them passionately and dearly therefore.
But that it is at least important for mutual success to accept the other loved ones in each other, in order to perceive yourselves further as whole human beings and to value each other as such.«

Insincerity, even if it comes across as socially accepted whitewashing or as an accepted “blind spot”, can therefore have no place in oligoamorous relationships. For in the end we would not only be advancing towards a “reality of separation” (see Entry 26), in which we give up our responsibility for the fact that all people are equal – at least concerning their dignity. We would also deprive ourselves and our loved ones of the opportunity to make informed choices – and therefores deprive all of us of our freedom.

*Key line of the famous song by the group The Farm, (version 1990)

¹ Metamour – compound word made up of “meta” = with + “amour” = lover. Intentional meaning: The partners/lovers of one’s partner(s)/lover(s) with whom one does not necessarily have a direct sexual/intimate relationship.

² “Polycule” is a humorous portmanteau word made up of Polyamory and molecule and refers to a group or series of people who are in an ethically non-monogamous loving relationships with each other. Since the “structures” of such groups, when sketched for illustrative purposes, can look like hydrocarbon rings, complex molecules or other medium-chain compounds, the witty expression “polycule” was created.

Thanks to Steven Lelham on Unsplash for the photo!

Entry 53

“If everyone provides for himself, everyone is provided for.” (Proverb)

It was only this month that in a conversation with a dear person – who for some time had largely disappeared from my life – we suddenly touched the subject: “When do I experience »value« in a relationship / When does a relationship (or the person*s with whom I am in that relationship) acquire a certain “value” in my perception?”

First and foremost, it is very important to note that “value” in this context is not to be understood in an evaluating sense of “good”, “moderate” or “bad”, but rather as “significance”, “relevance” or “validity”.

This issue is of considerable importance to me concerning Oligoamory – and in various entries therefore this topic already appeared time and again on numerous occasions. However, to underline my thoughts on this – and to show the ramifications regarding the different aspects of Oligoamory – I would like to contribute a specific entry in respect of this topic today:

When I thought about the matter again, I could basically establish two categories.

For simplicity’s sake, I’d dare to call the first category “extremes” – and I talk about it in great detail in Entry 33, where I address the topic of “Integrativity in our loving relationships” – or more precisely: The question of whether love really enables us to look beyond all the idiosyncratic nooks and crannies of a fellow human being we cherish.
And by this I don’t refer to those somewhat trivial peculiarities that each of us more or less unconsciously displays in everyday life, such as not recapping the jam jar, leaving worn socks on the sofa or breathing out noisily after drinking (and even these occurrences have the potential to develop into long-term relationship killers…), but I am referring to – precisely – “extreme” characteristics, which, if they are openly revealed, are most likely to destroy the core of any relationship and the underlying interpersonal compatibility. As (negative) examples I mention in Entry 33 features such as cruelty towards animals, misogyny¹ or even a right-wing extremist attitude. But it would certainly be possible to find seemingly less dramatic qualities; because presumably also the potential love between a quasipalaeolithic meat-fan and a convinced Vegan would put the mutual peace of mind soon to a tough test regarding “composure and inclusiveness”.
By this I intend to express the following: Considered from a “higher perspective” – e.g. from the point of view of an extraterrestrial who observes humanity through his binoculars – numerous philosophies, even radical or extraordinary ones, might have a comparable, immanent validity, which would always only be evaluated by human criteria as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”, “abnormal” or “conform”. But regarding a specific relationship between two or more people, however, the contradictions and conflicts of conscience that would result from contrasting or directly antithetical sets of values would almost always be literally disintegrating.
Very important – and that is why I would like to emphasize it again quite clearly: In the sense of good inclusiveness and integration, I firmly believe that these “extremes” shouldn’t account for more than 1 to a maximum of 5% of counterarguments as to why – in Scott Peck‘s own words² – someone is not suitable as a partner in a relationship. And that regarding the remaining 95 percentage we would always be able to work jointly on our capability for goodwill, consideration, forbearance and inclusion.
Nevertheless, this first category of “extremes” already contains rather important characteristics that may have a considerable impact on the “significance”, “relevance” and “validity” of a (loving) relationship and for the respective parties involved – which therefore, in my opinion, always have to be addressed immediately, directly and honestly “whenever a relationship is being initiated.

Anyway, the second category, which I would like to call “Togetherness”, has a much more relevant dimension for our relationship reality.
For this purpose I would like to refer again to Entry 25, in which I quoted the nice sentence “There are always relationships…” and I added: Also with people, with whom one regularly interacts in everyday life, e.g. with cashiers, mailwalkers and car mechanics.
In that entry, I already mention that even such “everyday relationships” can be deepened through small gestures: The cashier recognizes me as a regular customer, the mailwalker hands over my favourite magazine to me without any folds and ceases to me personally and the mechanic* takes a lot of time caring for my oldtimer. In all those cases I start to stand out from the crowd of otherwise rather uniform customers “thanks to” a few distinctive features, I obtain a personal profile. Even more: My counterparts begin to “consider” my “characteristics” into their own actions and decisions: The cashier is considerate of me, because s*he knows that I am not so fast when I’m stuffing away my shopping; the mailwalker rings the doorbell instead of stuffing my magazine into the mailbox; the mechanic keeps special parts in stock, because s*he knows that I will always prefer her workshop.
How much more may this “considering” will have a sway regarding loving relationships? Or rather: From an oligoamorous point of view, the extent of this “consideration” is an excellent indicator for the very question mentioned at the beginning regarding the “significance”, the “relevance”, the “validity” of a relationship (and the persons in it).
I concluded Entry 14 with the wonderful science quote “Thus, intimacy is a cardinal process, defined as feeling understood, validated and cared for by partners who are aware of facts and feelings central to one’s self-conception.”
If in this quote we emphasize the part where we are “validated” because of “facts and feelings” about which our counterpart know that they are “central to our self-conception” – then this means nothing less than the fact that in an (ideal) loving relationship the participants should “take each other into consideration” as often as possible in their own actions.
I’m trying to clarify:
What the scientists Cohen, Gottlieb and Underwood were trying to express with this sentence is that a quality which turns mere people into genuine “lovers” means to care for each other and to have meaning for each other. And that applies to participation and meaning in terms of one’s own speaking and acting, as well as in terms of potential decisions one has to make. This means “to include” your own loved ones into your own inner consultation process, e.g. when making (important) decisions, because these loved ones are dear to you – and therefore the effects that (may) result from your actions concerning these loved ones are no longer treated solely egocentrically.
Accordingly, a truly intimate, trusting, loving relationship would manifest in our minds by thought processes like these: “Does this action affect my relationship with X (and Y and Z…)? What would my decision mean for these people? Would my decision [e.g. for option a or b] affect our situation or the dynamics of our relationship in any way?”

As the examples concerning cashier, mailwalker and car mechanic already show, this is by no means theory – and in all our human relationships the degree in which we “consider/include the others into our decisions”, attach importance and and allow participation always plays a considerable role. This degree is actually quite well researched in another scientific model, which has become known as “Dunbar’s Number” (or “Dunbar’s circles”) as described by me in Entry 12.
Nevertheless, as for the somewhat theoretical Dunbar’s Number, the authors of the Polyamory bestseller More than Two, F. Veaux and E. Rickert, were concerned that the model itself might only provide a rather technical testimony concerning one’s own circle of acquaintances. Therefore, they propose to carry out a thought experiment with regard to one’s own loved ones and friends by asking what kind of answer one would receive if one were to give the information “I’m moving next month!”. I consider this question to be a practice-based masterpiece, since each of us could estimate rather well from his or her life experience what will happen:
Persons of the 1st Dunbar circle (i.e. loved ones who are a close part of our lives with real intimacy and familiarity) would accordingly either say: “That’s something you can’t decide all on your own…!” or they would say “Ok, I’ll start packing!”. Persons of the 2nd circle (who fit into the category “strong attachment and friendship”) would most likely be desperate because we would leave their immediate vicinity; they would (nevertheless) possibly offer us support with the move and they would closely accompany the whole process in any case, whereby it would also be important to them whether and how we would arrive in our new surroundings. Persons of the 3rd circle (who according to Dunbar are considered “acquaintances”) would probably respond something like “Cool, drop a card when you get there!” – and that’s it.
Of course, this thought experiment is also well suited if you swap positions in order to think about your own reaction considering the moving announcement of people which are supposedly dear to yourself.
Whatever the outcome of this experiment, its result will in any event provide an answer to the questions I have already addressed in Entry 37 on the subject of transparency: How much have we accepted the “other people” as part of our lives? Or rather: Do we consider them as a relevant part of our lives (at all)?

From an oligoamorous point of view, and especially for the reasons shown above, long-distance or weekend arrangements – or any form of purely situational organized relationships on the rugged continent of (ethical) non-monogamy – pose a challenge since in such cases I consider the danger of “compartmentalizing” (splitting a person into individual aspects), which I have so often criticized, to be quite manifest.
In Entry 45 I argue precisely in favour of “conducting our relationship(s) in everyday life”, because it is precisely there that we have the best opportunity to experience each other as truly constantly truthful, authentic and of integrity (I recall: that an individual’s actions are based upon an internally consistent framework of principles).
Because on the other hand: Whether I go out only in my sweatpants six days a week, beat up my dog with a riding crop behind the house and greet my migrant neighbour regularly with “Well, Saddam, how’s Jihad?” – how should this affect my loved ones who only visit on Saturdays, where I wear a suit and vest, play 24-hours Prince Charming, where the champagne flows and we only indulge in culture and sophisticated entertainment all day long? And what they are doing on the other six days – what do I care?
In any case, such an attitude would not be oligoamorous and it is hardly ethical at all. At best, it is comfortably self-serving, because the minimalistic points of contact with each other arranged in this manner allow so little common context that I would be most likely tempted to come up with the terrible neologism “Non-relationship” to describe such a configuration.

[A similar suggestion towards the “good old world” of monogamy by the way, I have already provided in Entry 5: Even in “normative” families, I consider it highly questionable if members show a fake smile to each other for the time being and display artificial obedience at the coffee table, just because grandpa otherwise wouldn’t provide additional 500 $ for his son-in-law’s carport…]

“Considering/including” our loved ones into our decisions is therefore an important indicator of the extent of our commitment towards the lives of the other people involved.
When we realize that we care about the belief, the mindset and the values of our partners, we can recognize that they have obviously gained “significance”, “relevance” and “validity” in our lives.
A fascinating bonus effect of such an attitude is that it is an proactive approach on our part and not merely a passive consideration (which, precisely because of its passivity, often has an oppressive or even sticky effect on many of us).
This is why we feel particularly “accepted” and “harmonious” especially in those relationships in which a very similar degree of “inclusiveness and proactive considering” is practised by all participants. For it is precisely there that we experience that only when everyone provides constantly for the others, everyone is really and truly provided for.

¹ “Misogyny: “Hatred of women” – see Wikipedia.

Scott Peck: The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (Simon & Schuster, 1987) ISBN 978-0-684-84858-7

Thanks to Carola for her inspiration and to Jess Watters on Pixabay for the photo!