Leo and I are going to break up. At least, we’re both pretty sure that we are. We have been since the magical day we first kissed in Central Park. And, have been for two-and-a-half years. Now, before you worry your pretty little heads: Leo and I are still going strong. Our relationship delights and surprises and strengthens both of us every day and I’m 99.9% sure I can speak for both of us on that. So… why in the world would we be with someone who we don’t think we will marry? Why would we be in a relationship with someone who isn’t the One? Seems crazy, right?
How do we both know that the other isn’t the One?
First of all, you have to believe in a One to know if someone is or isn’t the One. There are a few reasons I’m not sure there’s a One. When I was an adolescent, my dad told me that love wasn’t simply some kind of magic, it was hard work. He said something to the effect of, “Do you think I wanted to hang around and change your diapers everyday? Of course not.” Love requires dedication and a little elbow grease (I guess I was a squirmy baby). Even though I was my dad’s first child, the child that made him discover parenthood, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. He had to work at it. Romantic relationships are very similar. Show me a partnership with the One that requires no work and I’ll show you a unicorn.
Second of all, I am not sure there’s a One because I’ve already, at the tender age of 29, had a few Ones! What are some things we like to think the One has? Humor, warmth, intelligence, that something special that lights us up inside? I am surrounded by people like this. Some of those relationships have progressed into the romantic, some haven’t. See, the thing about love is that it’s not finite. It’s not like I’ve stopped loving one person just because I’m in relationship with another. In fact, it seems to grow and multiply the more I give it! And every relationship and friendship is amazing and unique and special. No one holds the license on special.
Lastly, Leo and I both see ourselves in a long-term partnership. But, like I said, neither of us has ever intuited that the other would be that partner. But the amazing thing is, listening to and following our guts has been the foundation of our relationship. This means that our entire relationship is open to something that is beyond either of our egos. Of course, our egoic minds still create challenges, but when you’re constantly tapping into something beyond the ego, those challenges become that which provides lessons and growth to both of us.
Being in a relationship like this, free of the pressures of “is this person my forever person?”, allows us to be exactly who we each are without worrying whether or not the other is matching up to our ideals of what a husband or wife should be. I’m not worried about being the perfect mate and neither is he. So, we get to be as weird and neurotic and playful and effusive with our love as we can be!
So, being in a relationship with no thought of marriage or long-term commitment is all fun and games, yeah?
Well, no. It could be, I guess, if you want it to be. I mean, we’ve all had those fun flings, right? This isn’t a fling, even though it is often fun. But, our relationship has also been the container for some pretty intense emotional depths for both of us. I think that because we’ve let go of some of the expectations of what short- and long-term relationships mean, we’ve been able to expand our capacity for the full range of human relational experience. There is so much value in going through life with someone for the sake of of learning, growing, creating, experiencing pleasure, communicating, sharing, receiving, giving, being vulnerable, being strong. Being in a relationship is a crash course in all of these things and more.
Is it possible to be in this type of relationship intentionally and with transparency? Can we go into these types of partnerships fully – even knowing (or maybe, especially knowing) that they will come to an end, so why not give it everything you’ve got? And, if you’re going to be in a temporary relationship with your whole self, why not be in a forever relationship with your whole self? (And it’s all temporary anyway! Nothing really lasts forever.)
I want to know: Are there other couples out there who know that they’re going to break up eventually yet are still super happy and fulfilled in their relationship? How do the parameters of your relationship affect how you show up in it?