I’ve been having a lot of really interesting conversations about non-monogamy, polyamory, and the like lately (and I’m fresh back from Burning Man, what an unforeseeable coincidence). One of these discussions surrounded the experience of discovering an incredibly special connection, which I initially called a “once-in-a-lifetime holy-shit-this-is-my-person” moment, and then updated it to more accurately read “rarely-in-a-lifetime holy-shit-this-is-my-person” moment, or RIAL HSTIMP.
Full disclaimer – I am not a relationship expert. That doesn’t stop me from having lots of strong opinions and pontificating at great length and without significant invitation. Enjoy.
Most people have experienced at least one RIAL HSTIMP in their lives, and it is a remarkable sensation. The clouds part, the chorus of angels sings, life is abuzz and aglow and alot of other a-related adjectives. However, one friend noted a reasonable objection to my acronym – the “my” part of “this is my person” is inherently, and very literally, possessive. Is it really fair to think of someone else as your person?
I thought about it, and decided I didn’t mean it as possessive, at least not in the way that a child shouts “my crayon!” and precludes others from crayon-access (whether or not how I “meant” it matters is a whole ‘nother question). Instead, I decided, I meant it like how I feel when I discover a really great taco shop. I’ll explain.
ANDREW PRESENTS: THE TACO SHOP OF LOVE
You’re walking around the Mission district of San Francisco thinking about all the tacos you’ve had in your life. Some really good tacos, some mediocre ones, a few tacos that we don’t talk about, a few regular taco joints you still hit up on occasion, that one kinda dirty late night taco shop that you secretly love but feel bad about visiting the next morning. But you’re definitely interested in finding some new tacos.
Impulsively, you take a left turn down a street you’ve never visited and find a little, unassuming taco shop. You step inside and already you’re excited. This place smells really fucking good, you think. You order your taco and sit down, and holy shit, this is it – this is the best fucking taco you’ve ever had. You’ve found it. Chemicals rush into your brain. This is your taco shop. Now, that’s not to say that you only want the taco shop to yourself. You’re excited for your friends (really, for anybody) to discover such a wonderful gem of a taco shop.
can you tell I’m hungry yet
Simply put, you’re in love. While other tacos are good, you could never see yourself voluntarily eating at other taco shops knowing that such amazing tacos exist so nearby (this isn’t to say that you have to eat tacos every day – we all get sick of tacos, even perfect ones with great bodies and really cool personalities). So, most days you eat at the taco shop, and life is pretty great. From time to time you may even sample other taco shops (you talk about it first with your main taco shop to make sure it’s cool), but they’re definitely not as good, and so you always keep coming back for more.
Over time, the taco shop starts to attract more devotees, which makes sense, because it’s awesome. While it’s still available for you, now you have to wait a little while. It’s not so bad at first – it’s worth it. But, you’ve begin to notice that the guy behind the counter keeps giving the extra guacamole to this total hipster dude who shows up about the same time as you every day. You inch up to the counter. “Out of guacamole again today?” you ask. He nods his head; the emotional conflict flickers across his face. You two know each other. You’ve been together for a long time. Yet, somehow, it’s not quite the same as it was.
You glance at the long-haired, leather-jacketed hipster dude just as he takes a delicious, magical, avocado-y bite of his perfectly crafted taco. Your eyes fall down and glance across your barren taco, sans guacamole. You feel sad.You’re happy for this hipster, in a way, but you really liked that taco, and now it’s not fully available to you. At least not like it was. You go eat Chinese food. It’s alright.
You’re not a selfish person – you wanted to share the taco shop with people. You’re also not a jealous person – you really are happy that other people got to experience it. You are also fully aware that other incredible taco joints exist in the world, even if they may be hard to find. You prepare yourself to move on.
What you really wanted was for a wink-and-nod agreement from the guy behind the counter. “I’ll always have tacos for you,” you dream of him whispering. “Would you like extra avocado?” he says as he caresses your shoulder.
google search: sexy taco man
If you love something, let it go.
You daydream of the guy behind the counter arriving outside your window, mariachi band in tow, frying tortillas over his head without burning himself somehow.
(waits for applause)
It’s possible to not love being around someone so intensely that alternative options are unappealing. Let’s try that sentence again without the double negatives. It’s possible to be ambivalent enough toward your partner that alternative options are at least equally appealing. It’s also possible to be selfless enough that you’re so happy for your partner’s happiness with not-you that you remain unbothered by their incomplete availability (I discussed this a bit last time).
The first route seems very unappealing to me. If my partner is roughly replacement level, what’s the point in having them as my partner instead of anyone else?
The second route seems extremely challenging and possibly unfulfilling. What’s the point in having a partner if they’re not reliably available?
Is there a third route that I’m missing? Is the first or second route not as bad as I’m cutting it out to be?