Codependency or Polyamory
In a comment on “what’s in a name,” I was asked what my opinion was “on a person that needs more than they ever get from one person? Is it possible to have a deep lovin relationship with two people at the same time?”
What an inspiring and intriguing question! Definitely worth its own blog 🙂
Need more love …?
Stating that you “need more than you can ever get from one person,” touches on something larger – it implies that one person is supposed to be enough. And certainly marriage and the societal concept of monogamy say that in some socially agreed upon legally binding ways, we must accept one person as “enough.”
So when does monogamous marital bliss slip into something more leeching?
When we say we can’t live without someone or when we describe them as “my everything,” I’d say we lean toward an unhealthy balance that leaves a lot of fertile ground for codependency.
FACT: To be clear, every relationship – even healthy monogamous ones – require solid outside & tangential relationships where each party finds an outlet beyond the primary love relationship.
Stating the obvious?
Maybe it seems obvious but I don’t believe everyone defines commitment and monogamy the same way. I had a friend who told me that when he and his wife squabbled, any interim contact with a man except her own brother was tantamount to cheating.
I dated someone once that thought he should be my “everything” –meeting all my needs (or striving to). He even resented my desire for a confident (regardless of gender) because he claimed it indicated his failure at being enough for me.
I regularly hear couples discussing and / or coming to outright arguments over where friends and outside activities fit in their relationship / budding families. The entire idea of getting a “kitchen pass” is based on this very premise.
These examples make it clear: our definitions of monogamy and loving relationships vary wildly and perhaps require the reminder:
“Every relationship – even healthy monogamous ones – require solid outside & tangential relationships where each party finds outlet beyond the primary love relationship”
Assuming we lean away from enmeshing ourselves with our partner, how far away can we stray before we tip the scales in the other direction?
If not codependence then … polyamory?
Of course, I don’t mean that seriously. But how do we address our requirement for freedom? Do we really need to get our needs met from a smorgasbord of friends and acquaintances? When is my best friend somehow something that encroaches on or threatens my love relationship?
This concept affects so many friendships and love- relationships of all kinds. Here’s what that might sound like:
- We’ve always done stuff together but now my best friend has taken up Activity-x without me and has found a new social circle because of it.
- My friend has a new boyfriend who doesn’t deserve her – I wish she’d break up with him. That loser is stealing my time.
- My friend met someone new at work and now she seems to like her company more than mine.
- Is it fair of me to be resent my husband’s weekly poker night with the guys? The time he spends conducting raids online with his guild? What about a Bachelor Party at a topless club?
- Does my wife seriously need a scrapbooking night? Her coffee clutch? Her girls-getaway cruise to Jamaica?
- What about if my spouse loves to reading alone in the study? Or plays their instrument in the band at local nightclubs?
In the end, all of this boils down to boundaries.
As with most things I blog about, this one ties back to loving yourself.
Boundaries begin with you. Each of us should love ourselves enough to have our OWN boundaries of what we are and are not willing to sacrifice in the name of love / a relationship.
Sacrificing too much because we didn’t consider our own boundaries (or didn’t consider ourselves WORTH having solid boundaries) lends itself to our victimization.
I was one of these people. For thirteen years, my “boundaries” gradually got erased and re-drawn closer and closer to my core self until, at the end of a thirteen year marriage, I no longer existed. I was the very definition of a codependent.
Just as you define your boundaries, your partner(s) have a right to define theirs – and those boundaries are just as important.
Discussing these sets of boundaries and coming to an understanding of what respect and fulfillment means to each of you is critical to both of you finding happiness within the relationship – OR discovering that your happiness lies elsewhere.
So CAN you love two people deeply simultaneously?
I think our hearts are boundless and carry infinite love so yes, simply put I think you can love as many people as you choose to, each of them uniquely, deeply and authentically.
Can you also have romantic sexual relationships with all of them?
I suppose that will be determined through a series of open honest discussions on boundaries…