K-Lo Retro Part V: Bad Good Romance

[From 23 July 2010]

text from Ryan
From my partner, after a week-and-a-half without seeing each other

For a variety of reasons, I often feel shy about celebrating this relationship. Given all the bullshit, grief, and even trauma that most of us young people endure in our love lives (and I’ve had my share, with more to come in the future, no doubt), it feels weirdly rude or dissonant when somebody speaks in detail about a marvelous partnership. Cute couple-y photos, fine; wedding or baby announcements, ok. But in general, no news is good news. Conversations are for commiserating over heartache, analyzing a transgression, or dishing about a new lover.

Besides, it’s a little difficult to even define what I mean by a “marvelous partnership.” I don’t mean pleasurable, necessarily, though it certainly is that. But for me, the relationship’s best attributes aren’t your typical high highs — the dizzy, heady, mind-blowing, earth-shaking, dare I say passionate feelings.

Instead, there’s deep comfort. Profound mutual respect and care. Trust. Confidence. Generosity. Wonder. Humor. Steadiness. Openness — which means both closeness and spaciousness. And the kind of love that radiates outward, illuminating not only the partnership itself but our engagement with others, too.

Culturally, many of us young people are quite savvy and adept at analyzing relationship dysfunction. (Avoiding the dysfunction is another story.) But when it comes to flourishing romance, the best we can do, it seems, is chalk it up to luck, destiny, or maybe hard work. (“Relationships take work,” I’ve often heard — with little elaboration on what that work entails, save for some intimations about compromise, gift-giving, ‘communication,’ and remembering anniversaries.)

Another reason I’m loathe to laud my situation is that I don’t want to reinforce pernicious myths about the supremacy of monogamy. We’re taught that qualities like trust and love come from monogamous relationships (and monogamous relationships only), rather than being brought to them.

I’m no relationship expert, but I do have eyes. And from what I’ve seen, very few people in our culture can develop healthy monogamous partnerships. Especially not without the benefit of some ethical, non-grasping, non-monogamous loving experience, or at least openness to that framework for intimacy. Not to mention some genuine comfort with being alone. Personally, I probably strengthened my relationship skills the most during the year when I was single and celibate, traveling solo and studying dhamma (including Thich Nhat Hanh’s Teachings On Love, on loan from my friend Erin).

See? There I go again, gettin’ all squirrelly writing this post about ‘my relationship WIN.’ Well it’s not a win, it’s just what’s happening, and there’s patience and enthusiasm and true love involved, and those are pretty great things.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! See you Monday.

One thought on “K-Lo Retro Part V: Bad Good Romance

  1. jeffliveshere December 7, 2010 / 8:50 am

    Really enjoying the “retro” posts…have linked a couple already to friends and partners…

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