So what is a "Relationship Pioneer" and how does anyone stay together happily for 10, 20, or 30-plus years?
I think a "Relationship Pioneer" is all of us that are not willing to throw away our "foundational relationship" because we need something more added over time: whatever THAT more is.
I like the term "foundational relationship" to describe the person that we make our home with. And yes, I am married and I married when I was 20-years-old: over 30 years ago.
My thoughts on all of this have shifted since 1980. I have evolved. And so have my relationships. And I have a happy enough marriage of 34 years. How did that happen? How did we stay married when so many marriages fail? I have some thoughts.
We live in a society that is opening to new ideas; but it's slow and even those of us who think and believe that we are living "outside of the box" worry about what the neighbors will think, or our kids, or name something. Throw a great big crayon marker around everything! There is still this need to somehow "conform." Why is it that we have this need to show the world that no matter how "out of the box" we may seem, we are still NORMAL. Like, "Father Knows Best" normal.
We are more willing to say that our foundational relationship is broken and burn down the house to go off and find some fictional person who will meet all of our needs.The result? Many people "marry" many times.
I get this. I lived in a completely traditional marriage for 25 years. I was married and "oh so innocent" before I went on my "Shameless Journey." And for the last 10 years, I have been exploring what it is to take apart and put together an evolving relationship without destroying it. And also importantly, without hurting or destroying the people and relationships that I bring into my life while I am in a foundational relationship or marriage.
I think that matters a lot too.
My own relationships have pushed me to the edges of my own relationship myths. I am surrounded by other sex educators and friends who are doing the same. Not only that, I am deeply into the work of counseling couples who are trying to figure this out.
Why is it more "acceptable" to ditch than to expand? Why do we label people "cheaters" and why do we encourage hiding our needs and desires? Why isn't it really acceptable to love more than one without having to diminish anyone?
And please, please, please -- don't start telling me how one way of being is better than another. I am sick and tired of the debate between the Poly Model and The Monogamy Model.
It's ALL COMPLICATED. And it's bigger than these labels. I am wondering if we need new language to describe what is happening and what is possible in long-term relationships today.
My truth is simple: if you don't want complications with other people's relationship stories, myths, egos and desires -- then I recommend you live alone. And, I don't believe in "Couple's Privilege." If you expand your idea of what a relationship is -- foundational and expanded -- you had better care about everybody. Each human being has a soul, desires, and needs. That is why they are in this expanded space WITH you.
It's all an evolution. It's not just about having "your cake." Being a "Relationship Pioneer" means that you are willing to challenge your own beliefs and trust in the people you are engaging and loving with.
This is my sage advice: If you want to be in a relationship in the long term, be ready to evolve in all ways. I mean it. ALL THE TIME. I don't care what vows you make, and candles you light. I don't care if you finally think you have it all figured out and met the "love of your life who will be all things to you ... FOREVER. Really, I call bullshit on that.
What fulfills us and makes us happy for 10 years during a certain part of our lives may change. This is not broken! This is evolution.
We are living way longer than we used to, and the world has shifted how people communicate and the options we have. Our sociological and biological lives are changing and perhaps it's time we changed the way we think of healthy, loving relationships.
If you are not willing to expand and evolve -- you will burn down your foundational relationship only to repeat the process. And you may also hurt some beautiful lovers and partners along the way.
Evolve or die.