Expanding Relationship Consciousness

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Expanding Relationship Consciousness
Exploring alternatives to traditional monogamy and the consciousness and philosophy behind choices

     I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the basic philosophical difference between people who think in terms of “either/or” and those who think in terms of “both/and”. The latter is the (albeit in its most simplistic form) basis of Tantric philosophy. In a non-dual world view such as Tantra, either/or doesn’t usually make sense. Either/or supports a belief that one must choose between two things; as if the world were not infinitely abundant with enough room for “both”. Tantra, with its non-dual perception, sees everything as part of a greater whole. From that frame of mind, it’s difficult to choose one thing as better than another.
     The “either/or” philosophy makes sense when one choice is appealing and the other is unappealing. But what happens when both choices are attractive? For example: what if you want to be socially monogamous with your partner but enjoy sexual relations with other people? In many cases, you choose both, but do so in ways that don’t support open, honest and loving relationships. In other words, you cheat. Cheating eventually supports the “either/or” mindset; by not being honest, you deny yourself the ability to have both options. Cheating destroys the foundation of long term relationships by eroding both trust and honesty. Without trust and honesty, you’re left holding the shell of a relationship.
     Most people don’t believe their partner would be open to alternatives to straight monogamy, so they don’t bother to broach the subject. But there is a whole lot of space between straight monogamy and full-on polyamory. The other day I was talking with a friend about the space between these two extremes. My personal point of view is that straight monogamy was fine when relationships lasted an average of ten years. These days relationships could theoretically last fifty years or longer. They usually don’t, and the most common reason they end is because one or both partner cheated.
     Another reason people don’t broach the subject of exploring alternatives to monogamy is that they’re confused. The relationship has gotten stale, and they think that means they’re not supposed to be with their partner anymore. It doesn’t have to be that way.
     What if more people explored other options to monogamy in an open, honest way? What if we expanded our perceptions of romantic relationships in ways that honored both partners but allowed for some space between the two? Could we honor our partners for what they bring to uplift the relationship, and without judgment look to others to fill in the gaps?
     It is unreasonable to expect one person to fill all of your relationship needs, even if that person is the man or woman of your dreams. In the “either/or” philosophy, you would have to shut down your desire to have whatever it is your partner can’t give you. In the Tantric point of view, you would both get what you can from your partner and get the other things you need from other people. I’m not just talking about sex, although that is an important component to a long term relationship.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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