Updated: May 22, 2020
NOTE: This post was originally published on July 25, 2018. On May 7, 2020, my re-designed website went live, simultaneously re-publishing all of my old blog posts.
From an early age, we’re set on course to find the one. That’s how our parents did it, their parents, their parents’ parents and so on. Every so often, when the one isn’t quite the one we thought it would be, we look for another one to settle into and stay with long-term. The longer the better.
I’ve encountered a number of non-monogamists in recent years and while I found their lifestyles immensely fascinating, I just couldn’t see myself living that way, with so much uncertainty….
I got really intrigued a year or so ago when I read about a non-monogamist who swore by the lifestyle, saying that it helped them deal with their feelings of inadequacy. Finding a perfect match where all needs are mutually met is next to impossible. As such, there are bound to be areas of incompatibility in exclusive arrangements. This inevitably leads to compromise and ultimately to dissatisfaction or, worst case, dissolution of the partnership. Conversely, they argued that by forming multiple partnerships, the potential to have your needs met increases significantly, just as your ability to meet the needs of others becomes much less cumbersome. With the weight lifted, you can achieve more success and be more happy.
Who wouldn’t want more happy…?
On the other hand, I had met some folks who were in multiple partnerships and found themselves spread too thin. Going back and forth, trying to juggle their commitments. It looked exhausting….
Either way, I was in a committed partnership at the time and felt like opening things up might be a little risky. I mean, what would my partner think? That I wasn’t as committed as I once was? What if they didn’t like my proposal for non-monogamy and ended things? What if we agreed to open things up and I suddenly found myself being replaced?
So, I stayed put. I mean, it’s not like it was a bad relationship. It just didn’t have that same sparkle it used to have… I was still happy enough, you know? As time wore on, every time my needs were not met I questioned whether I should be giving my all when I wasn’t getting everything I needed in return. I questioned whether this abstract feeling of ‘security’ was worth missing out on other opportunities that were presenting themselves.
Growing more and more resentful, I watched these opportunities begin to pass me by… Then, I was very surprised to learn that a coworker friend, who had been commiserating with me for some time had been having a secret affair. It was positively titillating! The way she was courting in secret, having some of her needs met on the side. It was giving her the confidence to stand up for herself, not having to rely so much on the one.
I’ll admit (though I felt guilty about it) I started flirting some after that… Scrolling though prospects, setting up a profile, seeing what else was out there and fantasizing about what my life could be. Still, I never dared put myself out there, no matter how green the grass was…
Eventually, my friend found a way to have all of her needs met and decided to leave for good. And she’s never looked back.
Meanwhile, my partner discovered my profile and decided to call it quits.
At first, I was devastated. How could I possibly live without them? It was a less than perfect partnership, sure, but I had become accustomed to it and knew what to expect.
Soon, I realized I was better off. Unexpectedly and unbelievably so. I hadn’t been happy for a while, I knew I was compromising much more than they were and now, I was free! Free to pursue as many partners as my heart saw fit!
Career-wise, that is.
Since my recent “break-up” I’ve realized that I never want to have a job again. By that I mean I don’t want to have just one job, one source of income, etc. While some folks find security in sticking it out long-term, and perhaps some career-paths are better suited for that kind of trajectory, I have always found myself uncomfortably compromising my value/values for fear of losing my livelihood.
Aside from pursuing my long-time goal of being self-employed, I’ve also set out on a path towards having multiple sources of income so that as opportunities come and go, I won’t be putting so much pressure on them to meet all of my needs in terms of salary, creative challenge, passion fulfillment, and so on.
Most importantly, I believe that having other “partnerships” to fall back on when others end or don’t work out for various reasons will give me the autonomy I need in my career. The guts to decline offers when they go against what I believe and the freedom to stand up for myself when something isn’t right. Not to mention the flexibility to pursue creative work without worrying about how it conflicts with my 9-5. While I am well aware of how much more work it will take to make this entrepreneurial leap, I have also seen how much more rewarding it can be to be in control of your career and that is something worth working hard for.