All you need is.

Love
Listen up kids, the statement is as follows.
Love is rare.
Self-explanatory, love is a limited resource.
Therefor, love is precious.

I’m here to tell you that is a lie.
If you’re still reading, that means you’re open to this notion, or at least curious. Good. Curiosity is an understated trait. It means you’re open to learn, discover, and listen.

Why would I say something like that? Why would I claim that love isn’t precious, or rare?
Do I resent love? Did I lose it completely? Am I insane?
No. At least, I think not. Then why this extravagant statement?
Allow me to sympathize with you. I think I understand where you’re coming from.

 

Nobody said it was easy
Here’s how my perspective on love got formed;
I grew up in an average household consisting of a cis-male and cis-female parent, my little brother and myself. We endured struggles, like any other family. I never wanted for very basic needs as food, water, or a roof over my head. Growing up, my Psychological Needs concerning Survival were always met.

However, looking at the other levels of Maslow’s Pyramid, I wasn’t the most fulfilled child. I wanted for Safety, often, especially in my prepubescent years. As a teenager, my Social Needs weren’t met. And don’t even get me started on the Esteem level of it all. Then again, looking at our Western Society, and my surroundings, I can safely state, yes, I grew up in a pretty average household. I was a pretty average child, teen, prepubescent, youngster. Therefor, I’m sure some of you can relate to the following struggles.

In our household, support, encouragement, time and attention were often something to be fought over with my sibling. I grew up feeling very pressured to do well, since love from my parents appeared to be conditional at times. Achievements gained me love, disappointment gained me rejection. Because of this, I often felt like I had to be the best, the prettiest, the quietest, the smartest. That I had to excel in some way. Walk the line. Make my parents proud.
Herein lies not on only my productivity, but also my perfectionism.

In schools, I learned that it’s a lot easier to hate than to love. It’s especially easy to hate minorities, as they are already viewed as lesser than you, and you’re less likely to be punished, for putting them in their proper place. I also learned that if you happen to not dress, look, be, think, or behave as the average person does, or is expected to, you’re almost insured to be bullied. Children can be very cruel, as they learn about hierarchy, power, and other social structures.

In teenage heartache I learned that rejection feels horrible. I also learned that you can survive it. I learned that venting, talking, media and entertainment can be powerful tools in dealing with feelings, especially unpleasant ones. I also learned that it helps to hate on the person who rejected you, as a way to reclaim your power, and avoid the hurt altogether.

In puberty, my parents went through a pretty nasty divorce. Due to a lot of circumstances, I had to be there for my mother, and my sibling, both emotionally and financially. This was so demanding, that I disregarded the need to address my own changing body, mind, and general development. I often felt very lonely. I often felt like no one was present there, for me. And in all honesty, I felt like that was because I wasn’t worthy of support, or love in general.
In my first relationship, this structure continued. I had to be there for my partner, and was often expected to disregard my own needs yet again. At that age, I’d grown so desperate for love, I was willing to compromise anything to keep it. At that age, I thought it was stupendous that someone was capable of loving me, as I had the self-esteem of a depressed turtle. At that age, putting the other person first, was something I’d grown to see as normal. Something society saw as normal.

Blame is not the point. The point is, I am not alone and a lot of people grew up in similar, or far worse situations then my own. The point is, we survived. The point is, we learned a great deal in the process.
So thank you for hearing me out for a second. I want to share this information with as many as possible. I don’t want anyone to have to go through all that, alone. I want my story, my learned skills, my views on love, to be shared. To help you, and others, understand.

 

You better work, bitch.
Point in place; this society with its many faults, spans a wild variety of youngsters who all have one big thing in common. We’re all told that we’re special, that we’re deserving and at the same time, we’re starved for attention. Greedy, self-obsessed, selfie-taking, ego-trippers, that’s who we are.
To this mix, we add marketing of the perfect family, binary gender roles, and a dash of body shaming. Starring the successful dad, the young, sexy, dutiful wife and one or two beautiful children. I’ll try to not spin into a rant on equality here, albeit it’s worth one. And there you have it kids, this is it.
This is the medication that you are fed on a daily bases, through all sorts of publication, that chants “This is the formula to fix your miserable life.”
The rigger is that nowadays, you’d need good come-off to make it big. But!
It’s not a free ride either. You have to earn it. Earn your happiness, so to speak. Your appearance, education, sexuality, physical fitness and capital are what will grant you with a prince in shining armor, or a beautiful princess to be saved. Fail, and you’ll have to make due with a slob in a broken down Pinto, or a princess who, let’s be fair, isn’t much of a lady at all. Don’t fuck up here kids, because that partner is your ticket to your happy ending.

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This board-game pretty much says it all. If you don’t look like the people in the picture, you’re probably going to lose the game.

 

With media, popular culture, and education as our daily reminder we know that,

A — Sex is a commodity.
B — Money is everything.
C — The world is monogamous.
D — Your happiness is wired to your relationship status.
It’d like to address point A, first and foremost. True, we’ve moved on from the absurd notion that sex should not be persuaded for pleasure, but solely for reproduction.
Thank God.

But after this milestone, we’ve invented a church of our own.
The holy grail of status. And linked to that, point B, income. Capitalism.
How does capitalism find its way in relationships? Through ownership. We, often subconsciously, think that we “own” our partners. They’re our special someone. They are ours, are they not?
We put regulations in place, of how we are to behave when owned, or owning someone. Furthermore, whom you own, reflects, on you. For men, being a good, scrap that, great! lover is a requirement. More partners, means better grades, means a better spouse. Therefor; when male, sex = good. For women, we’re expected to be goddesses between the sheets without exploring too much in practice. Babies and no spouse = bad, therefor, when female sex = bad. Mind you, the sheer horror and shame of dating a known slut? It’s a wrinkle in any suits ego. It devalues your stock.
For intersexuals, transgenders or other non-binary individuals? Media would have you believe they don’t even exist.

 

Sex is the deal-breaker nowadays. It’s in advertisement, it’s in teenage clothing, it’s everywhere.
It sells! Exitus acta probat and more power to you.
Sex is a race to get an orgasm.
Sex is a way to make your marriage better.
Sex the fast-track to more likes.
Sex is a way to bind another to you for life.

 

Horny, horny, horny
This so called sexual revolution of ours fails to conclude the error.
Pleasure. Where did that go?
We haven’t revolutionized sex. We’ve objectified bodies, and have made sex into a currency of sorts.
Sex is not to be traded for something else. Sex is fucking perfect the way it is.

Yet society insists that if you’re not getting anything out of screwing someone, you might as well just become celibate. Especially if you identify as female and announce that you enjoy sex for the heck of it, people tend to gobble-eye.
Because of slut-shaming, a hair in the haystack of deeply rooted cultural values, a lot of (trans-)women are down-right scared to admit that they enjoy sex. It seems that being frigid evokes intelligence. Reputation, people.

Additionally, not many people look at sex the way I look at it. At least not openly.
First and foremost I see sex a a pleasurable activity. It allows me to discover myself, my body, it gets me high, it allows me to bound with those I hold dear. Great combination, and I think, the only physical exercise I truly enjoy.
Secondly, I need sex alongside sleep, food and an occasional big, smelly dump. Takes the edge off. Sex, in Maslow’s model, is considered a Psychological Need. Considered just as important as access to food, housing, or water.

Side note; Maslow’s theories are just that, theories, and on top of that, ancient. Therefor, they are a projection of average cisgender male sexuality. Personally, I think sex fits better in the Social level of the pyramid. I like to see it as glue in an interaction, instead of an uncontrollable need that only affects your bodily functions. That’s called masturbation. But, I chose to use this well established, easy to understand model to base my arguments on, since it’s just that. Popular culture. I’m not a scientist, nor a sociologist, or a psychologist. I’m a blogger, and excuse myself in advance for not addressing the whole spectrum that sexuality resides in.

Maslow states; humans have to get their Psychological Needs met before they can move up the steps of the pyramid towards happiness. If not, their intelligence dwindles to that of a chimpanzee and they sit stressed out, frustrated and laugh at penile jokes all day. This much I can agree with. Just take a look around. No doubt you know one highly frustrated individual, who usually makes inappropriate sexual jokes, at any given time of the day. Yeah. That person.
Yes, sex is important to the average human being, and when deprived of it, they aren’t happy people. So not only do I want sex, I need sex. And that’s perfectly normal.

Furthermore, my philosophy in life and sex is “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
Dear reader, I have sinned. I enjoy my body and I try to make the most of my limited time on earth both in and out of bed. I am an advocate for hollow animistic pleasure.

 

Papa, don’t preach
In my sexual exploration, I came to a couple of realizations, prior among them that even though I enjoy sex, one-night stands are not the way to go for me. After, I would feel drained, exhausted, like I’d stolen euphoria from the days to come. A down not unlike the down one experiences after drug use.
Additionally, sex with strangers is, if anything, mostly awkward.
When having sex, hormones get inevitably released and if there’s no room for conversation, or a safe-minute interlude of cuddling, the whole experience falls flat. I need to connect with my partners on a level that reaches beyond the bedroom. I need to feel loved, as a whole. Not just for my vulva, or my sexual experience. Feeling objectified is never fun.
Not to mention, sex with strangers often happens after a long night of cocktails, dancing and more mixing which leads to hangovers. Not a nice thing to combine with emotional instability. To top that off, when intoxicated, my judgment dwindles and I’m more likely to engage in unsafe sex, exposing myself to danger.
Aside from obvious risks, like STD, or pregnancy, there was many a sex-sprain to be dealt with after such an encounter, because I couldn’t feel my limits. Yes, this may sound hilarious and in retrospect, living it certainly makes for great stories to tell, but I can guarantee you, it’s not a fun thing to experience.

I did a lot of things that weren’t beneficial to my well-being. And I started to consume more and more alcohol, in order to cope with the emotional strain.
In this, I know I’m not alone, in the age of Tinder and late-night booty calls. Even though, when you have sex with an intoxicated person, you are technically committing the crime of rape.

The real wake-up call came when I found myself unable of enjoying sex when not intoxicated. I’d become so good at seeing sex as a commodity, especially during the short time I was involved in sex-work, that I’d lost touch with the entire experience. It scared me, to see myself in such a state. I had become unable of connecting with people and caring for others. I’d gotten manipulative, vengeful and very competitive. I guess you could say I started seeing things from a stereotypical masculine perspective.

 

Baby, don’t hurt me
After all that, I had a breakdown, no self-worth, a minor depression and I made whirl into absence.
Around the third week, I was ready to sniper hand-holders, drop-kick unsuspecting cuties in the middle of a make-out-session, and declare full on war on all lovers.
Needless to say, abstinence didn’t cut it for me, either.
I was sitting a friends house, who pointed out my unsustainable mood-swings. My friend in case had broken up with his girlfriend the week before. We were whiny, lonely, rejected and as it turns out, we were both very horny. Enter V, the friend with benefits. I still believe this structure to be a great patch for singles worldwide.
This relationship model provides you with all the benefits of a one-night-stand, but at least you know for certain you’re not doing it with your far-far-cousin, and you’re unlikely to forget each others names. Seeing sex as a possible activity between friends mostly results in having in-jokes, which is finger licking fun. And since this sexual partner is your friend, they’re more likely to respect you, and care for you as you’ve already established trust. They’ll give you a cuddle and help you move in your Ikea furniture without expecting a marriage proposal.

I however, soon, fell into the pitfall of all friends with benefits. We were getting romantically involved. He demanded that I stop seeing other people. Because, that’s the thing you’re supposed to do. Society dictates that if you love someone, you have to either get married or split up and then hate each other. Saying “I love you” is a ticking bomb that, if not answered with caution, could cause you to lose it all.

I rejected my friend, since the thought of a committed monogamous relationship scared the crap out of me. We had an ugly break-up. But it was well worth it.
I know very well that Monogamy is not my thing. Polyamory is.

 

Boys don’t cry
My friend was devastated. Said I’d toyed with his feelings. Because of point C — the world is monogamous, he had certain assumptions in place to how this would all play out, and was shocked to learn, that no, that was not how it was going to go down. Not only was I doing something unthinkable; stepping off the relationship escalator, I was also refusing to continue having sex with him altogether.
Friends with benefits rule. As long as you communicate. Openly. And freely. About barriers, and boundaries, and most importantly? Feelings. Don’t just depend on “supposed to”. Because supposed to? Hardly ever really works out. In V’s case, he thought he had done the proper thing. He’d stepped up. He told me he loved me. And society had told him, all his life, that this meant he was entitled to receiving something in return. However, his expectations weren’t met. He’d given me his heart, and I’d passed it right back, ripping it in the process. Therefor, I was a bitch.
I’d hurt him. I was wrong. I was the bad partner. And promiscuous at that! Therefor, we couldn’t possibly go back to our default setting, and save our friendship. I was now, simply, forever a person to be despised. Sad, right?

All this could have been avoided if we’d talked more. Or if he didn’t assume sexual intercourse with me to be his given right, for the remainder of our life together, once established.
I get it. Rejection sucks. But it is not the end of the world, either. In coping with this, it’s easy to be an asshole. I’ve been an asshole. It’s so easy, to rage to your friends and spit on that scumbag that led you on. It’s the way break-ups work, right? It’s socially more acceptable to hate your ex, rather than respect them, or befriend them.
You know what’s not easy? To come forth and be vulnerable. To admit you had feelings for someone and they did not feel the same way about you. It’s horrible to admit to yourself, and then the world, that you feel hurt. And scared.

Now, add to that slump the factor that we’re never supposed to feel hurt. Especially not if you identify as male. Crying is for wusses, empowering break-up songs for winners. If a lover turns you down, that’s the end of it. Done deal. Next. While really, you had so much before and not that much has changed, except with the way you are to interact with each other now. That’s life. People, and things, change, all the time. But you shared secrets with this person. Enjoyed lubricants and movie nights alike. You can un-follow someone on facebook. You can’t un-lick their asshole. I’m just saying; why throw all that trust away? It wasn’t easy to get there. Tossing out your lovers like they were one-use-only condoms, is fucked up, when you think it through. You’re treating people as if they were things, worse, disposable things, and that is simply unethical.

But it’s what society expects, so without giving it a second thought, we discard our could-have-been-the-ones, instead of valuing them for all they did mean to us. Consumerism.

This behavior puts a huge strain on love.
On saying, “I love you” without quickly regaining balance with a “, just as friends.”

 

Living on a prayer
Loving someone is dangerous, because once given away, you’re left with a hole where first infatuation resided.
Saying “I love you”, leaves you powerless.
We’re told that loving is finite, and to love someone means giving up love for so many others, because you can’t love more than one person completely.

Only, this whole notion is based on nonsense. Loving isn’t dangerous. Dependency is.
Saying “I love you.” should fill you, and the person of your affection with nothing but happiness. Not angst, paranoia or expectations.
You can well love multiple people at the same time without becoming a crazy person. You can love your friends, parents and your significant other, all at the same time. Right? That love you have for them, is it not different, depending on the person? If you have children, one more does not automatically imply less love for the others. Every relationship we form, is entirely new, and incomparable to another, because we are all unique individuals. Therefor, to compare relationships, to give them prices, to list them based on importance, is ludicrous. Not to mention, downright impossible.

Yet your romantic sex-partner, your “life-partner”, your spouse, is supposed to be this super-important person, whom you have an amazing relationship with. An entity that overrides every other relationship out there. That is the number one. Your very happiness depends on it.
How? Why do we uphold this stupendous ideal, when practice, and divorce rates have taught us it’s not all wine and roses? It’s not healthy, you know, to put that much on one person. There is no way you’re going to find someone to fit this mold, this “missing” puzzle piece of yours. And to stay that way, forever.

Healthy relationships are relationships that let both partners grow in their own way, strengthening each other. Not relationships that deprive both partners from growth for a fear of change. A partner won’t fix you. You must make you whole. A person is not a puzzle piece.

 

 

All by myself
Yet, society sees it at such, when it comes to romance. Once you find “The One”, you’ll be complete and everything will be sunshine and rainbows, for ever. Flipside, as long as you’re alone, you’re not complete and something must be wrong with you. Point D — Your happiness is wired to your relationship status. Single at Christmas dinner? Time to drag out the pity-platter. You, yourself, that’s not enough. You’re nobody until somebody loves you.
Facing events like these, year in, year out, we compromise. We don’t think it through. We adapt our dreams, and hopes and wishes, and learn to fit the mold. Many people end up miserable in the mindset of supposed to, and after a mid-life crisis go through all the ups and downs of divorce. Silver lining; out of those divorces sometimes come complicated, new arranged families with two fathers, and/or three mothers, and often, a new baby-brother that work out incredibly well.
At this? No one bats an eye.

Yet when I say I’m polyamorous, and I chose to share my life with more than one, people fail to understand.
Sometimes judgmental, they’re obnoxiously blunt at best.
“So. What’s better? Sex with boyfriend? Or with your girlfriend?”
“How does that, like, work?”

I get asked questions, often by total strangers, that aren’t only invasive, but often demeaning.
Thankfully, I’ve not been gay-bashed. I have however, been scrutinized. Put down. Ignored. Told my relationships don’t matter. Are a “phase”. Once could say every relationship is a phase, nowadays. A three-monthly phase.
People refuse to acknowledge my relationships. And if they do, they do so negatively. I’ve recently come face to face with the presumption that if I chose to have multiple partners, I’m doing my partners wrong. I’m taking advantage of their nativity and love. As long as I refuse to chose it must mean I’m scared of commitment. Because of that, I am actively hurting my partners, and causing them harm out of a selfish disposition, and need, for freedom. I couldn’t be emotionally invested, if I’m not sexually exclusive. My break-ups aren’t real. I caused them myself, because I opened my relationship up, and thus, it was doomed to fail from the beginning. I can’t rely on support, from my monogamous friends, when I am struggling. And that sucks.

While really? I communicate and manage my relationships often in a more mature, constructive way then my monogamous contemporaries. Because Polyamory is better than Monogamy? No. It’s not some evolution of our social structures. Polyamory has been around forever, like swinging, or being gay, it’s just never been recognized. Monogamy is a relationship model, based on needs we no longer have thanks to medical revolutions like birth-control, and STD prevention. It’s a bit outdated, now that we live up to three times longer. And it’s unpopular with the youth. But Monogamy is still a robust model, and a perfectly fine option. Vintage, one could call it. But it’s not the only option.
Romance, sexuality and relationships are not one size fits all.

I don’t hate Monogamy. I hate the assumptions, and gender-roles and default settings of what we’re supposed to that come with it.
I hate that it pretentiously states that it’s the only one with right idea. I hate that it makes us not want to talk about our feelings, and needs and dreams, and wants, especially not with the person we love the most, in fear of shame. In fear of being discredited. In fear of being called less, and weird, and winding up alone. Monogamy needs to step off stage, dust itself off, and let other people talk for a change.

Polyamory doesn’t have a default setting, and that is maybe, it’s greatest strength.
It has forced me to communicate better, own my shit and be a better person. And these lessons? They’re for everyone. So listen up.

 

I love you. And you. And you.
Once you let go of this idea that love is,
A — The holy grail for your life to revolve around.
B — A commodity to trade.
C — Finite in quantity.
D — A power to wield.
the possibilities are endless.

Opening up to this mindset is very hard work. It goes against common knowledge, it goes against the values everyone takes for granted. It forces you to come face to face with yourself and start taking responsibility for your emotions. You are in charge of your happiness, not that illusive prince(ss). It’s all up to you. People will disagree with you at every turn. Tell you it’s down right impossible.

Love is precious, yes, I agree. Not because it is rare, or finite, but because it is a truly selfless, beautiful emotion to experience. Love is not something to earn, as you’ve been led to believe. Love can’t fix you, especially if you don’t love yourself. Love isn’t supposed to hurt. Love isn’t something to go to war for. This is not ancient Rome.

Love isn’t a limited stock you have inside of you that can be stolen.
Love is not a resource, it’s a complex mix of emotions.

Love evolves over the years, it changes with you. Love is undefinable, versatile and has nothing to do with possession, money or worth. Every person defines love in a different, unique way, akin to the person they are. Love is thrilling. Love is new, every time you experience it. Love is amazing.

And the really good news?
There is more than enough to go around.

Consider this is a heartfelt call from me to you. I’ve been there, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been in codependent, hurtful relationships. I’ve been abused. I got out. I’ve looked, and learned, and broadened my horizons. I took the time to define love for myself, and question what it means to me. I know what I want. I know what I need.
And I encourage you to turn inwards, and ask yourself; what do I need? What place does love have, in my life?

Stop judging, stop being a disaster tourist. Stop grudging and shaming and hating. Get gasping. Get curious. Start thinking for yourself. Maybe Monogamy is for you. Maybe it isn’t. And if it isn’t? It’s going to be okay. You are going to be okay.

Get educated. Read a book. I recommend this one. More than two.

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Mary-Ann

Mary-Ann

Illustrator, Blogger at Sugar No Milk
Sugar No Milk, an artist from Ghent, Belgium. Makes comics, plays around with Hand Lettering, lets lose on the wall with markers and writes in her free time. She tends to have an opinion on everything. Feminism, gender, sexuality and BDSM are but some of the topics she adores to discuss. All activity is accompanied by a dangerously large mug of coffee. One cube, no milk.
Mary-Ann

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