Can we turn the frame on relationships upside down, now, please?

I wouldn’t do what this woman is doing. But I respect her right to make the choice to wait for an ambivalent partner, especially as she has turned that energy and attention more to herself than to him. It seems right to me, because she’s directing her energy to herself. He’s learning what he needs to, and so is she.

But reading the comments on the post make me insane, because each poster likely TOTALLY believes what s/he is saying. The beliefs expressed, those I share and those I don’t, are so limiting, and so projective of their values rather than understanding of hers, that it makes me completely nuts.

Reading this, you have to understand:

1)The fiance’ did the “traditionally” right thing and broke the engagement before getting involved with the “other woman.”

2)SHE was the one who insisted they need not break up.

This does not sound like the usual manipulative crap men do when they define their masculinity through acts of infidelity. It doesn’t sound like co-dependence.

This sounds like, to me, honesty.  It also sounds like she is choosing a third option, over “ultimatum or leave,” that I find refreshing because I believe this is one of many ways to go about building a healthy love, even if the odds are for her it won’t be with this guy. Even if everyone’s intentions are totally good, this couple is surrounded by people who won’t support an unconventional choice. Culture is oxygen, and this particular oxygen has a lot of old-school attitudes polluting it.

Here are suppositions about relationships I encounter a lot. Less, slightly, because I’m married, but I had my fair share of narrow-minded stupid both during my first marriage and while Mike and I were dating. Bear in mind, I say these things from the status of a monogamous relationship:

    1. It’s important to have a relationship. (No, it’s not. It’s important to have a series of relationships, perhaps, in a community and ideally family sense. What these people mean is “you need to get back your social status with a romantic relationship.”)
    2. The only working option for a romantic relationship is traditional monogamy.
    3. Unless it has the absolute possibility of permanence and commitment, it’s not worth engaging in.
    4. If not monogamy, polygyny. No one would even consider she might enjoy a partner of her own at the time, for her own pleasure and maintain her loving connection to her partner. That would make her a “slut.”
    5. Women’s value has the span of a fruit fly. She better hurry up and find someone to replace her partner, because her value as a woman and a human being will disappear in a “poof!” of being over 30. Perhaps she will die before she can mate. She better “hurry up.”
    6. It’s more important to HAVE  a partner than it is to have a partner that suits you. There are commenters urging her to “be available for the next person,” as though it’s a mere matter of replacement. It’s clear to me that this woman does not do casual relationships, something I can relate to and respect. From that point of view, you don’t just replace a person when you share a real connection.
    7. To consider any possibility other than “exclusive” even on her side is immoral, even though both parties appear to be fully informed and consenting to the relationship. Why? Because, more or less, “The Bible/Mom/the religious authority says so.” This failure to distinguish  between basic civility and outright, somewhat malicious control under the guise of “what’s good,” is infuriating to me. No one will ever campaign on a platform of “Legalize murder and theft!” (Pro-“lifers” can STFU.) At the same time, we need to start distinguishing bits of the Biblical outlook that we live by that don’t work, and if you read the Old Testament, relationship jurisdiction had more loopholes than goats, but only for penis-holders. I’m a full believer that the Bible, for the most part, was written by manipulative and self-serving human beings, so I just don’t buy into the “right and wrong” that supposedly formulates how relationships are “supposed” to work.

      I don’t think, at her age, I would have made the choice she’s making. At the same time, I think for her, it’s a good choice: the only way to absolutely prevent divorce is to not get married, just like the only way to totally avoid STDs is to not have sex. This gives her the time to be who she needs to be, as a whole and I hope healthy individual. If that person is someone who can wait for her partner to choose or not choose her, I admire it. If she were the type to expand the relationship and really go counter-culture with polyamory, I’d respect that, too.

      In one of the many piles of books on divorce I’m reading for Divorcing a Real Witch, an author stated that only 10% of America actually lives in the nuclear family ideal. Given that around 30% of younger Americans end up moving back in with their parents because of life disasters beyond divorce, it looks more like we’re going back to our original system for those aware US history actually started before 1950. Not just divorce but death, job loss and illness force reconfigurations. Why does the white picket fence configuration break so easily? Because, for most people, the nuclear family ideal doesn’t actually work for everyone. Engagement and marriage are the first steps almost always to building a nuclear family structure – but while the marriage may last for decades, the family structure still has an excellent chance of changing as children grow up and parents need support in old age. Deferring for the sake of true compatibility seems like a strong choice to me.