This book introduces a novel concept to black and white thinking, to the one-way-is-the-right-way types, with regard to the experience of loving and how one might approach romantic relationships. Both, in their own romances, as well as in how we may look at and interpret others.
Sophie Lucido Johnson begins by recalling to us her childhood, in which her relationships were close female friends and then the typical infatuations from afar, until eventually dating and having boyfriends.
During this time, she reveled in and adapted the usual mindset of our culture at large, without much further analysis or depth of thought. Which is that you choose one person to love and (presumably) remain with for the foreseeable future. Eventually, she grew dismayed and confused, even disillusioned on realizing that in each relationship she experienced, there would ever be things that arent an ideal fit or do not fully satisfy, no matter how much she might like or even love this person.
Things weren’t matching up with the belief we are spoon fed from childhood as a certainty that in one person, specifically the ideal and “right” romantic love, one will find fulfillment of all their needs. With the “right” one, (we are told), you should be perpetually content, ever overflowing with bliss, all will go swimmingly as you ride off together into the sunset without a single look back. And if this isn’t the case, well, then you just haven’t found the “right one” yet. Talk about a recipe for lifelong discontent and ever searching until the end of time.
We are supposed to find the person who will be our sole partner for physical intimacy, best friend, therapist, emotional support, co-parent (if you want children), perpetual plus one, financial adviser, and then some. Its no wonder a lot of people are ending up dissatisfied and frustrated a few years in.
A relational actuality is more along these lines (and this is my own point): we all have hundreds of particular individual “connecting points,” if you will. Unique to each of us. These can be and often include things like: our passions and hobbies, ways we personally prefer to be loved, personality and personal temperament, life goals and dreams, personal interests, etc.
Usually in our closest relationships, a significant number- even a majority of these connection points match up. However, even in the best, most awesome, emotionally close relationships, there are connection points that do not align or fulfill. Even if its just a few, there will ever be a small number that just do not. This is totally normal. Its impossible to get all our needs (aka connection points) met from one single relationship. We can certainly get most of them met, but not all from one person.
The author, Sophie Lucido Johnson also notices that, even while she is loving and caring deeply for say, “Jason,” she still develops and experiences feelings of attraction, affection, and caring for others. Sometimes even deeper senses of these feelings than we are taught are “appropriate.” This is also, despite what our culture tells us, normal.
We can love both our parents at the same time, we can love each of our siblings, can feel the same strength of care and affection (aka love) for several friends simultaneously, can love more than one pet. You get the idea. Its one big “duh,” our being able to love many people. The human heart is very capable of, even made to do this.
Therefore, being able or choosing to love more than one person in a romantic realm is not immoral, nor impossible or untrue. Instead, its merely a personal choice, as well as comes down to an individuals personality and temperament.
The author recollects her experience, emotionally and literally, of navigating such herself. Of realizing that actually, she is maybe more inclined towards having a couple of meaningful, deep romantic connections at any given time. She takes us through both the rewards and wonders of this, as well as the challenges and painful aspects. As monogamy also has its own set of challenges and positives, (all situations, relationship styles included, do). She is merely sharing a different relational experience. No better, nor worse than a more traditional one.
She gives us an honest, vulnerable, touching account of her emotional journey and the particular relationships that shaped and lead her through this experience. This is a great book, even for those who are staunch monogamists.
Its an eye opening, idea challenging, worthwhile read. Helping to bring light to the thought that there are different ways of loving. That monogamy isn’t the right way, the only legit and genuine way.
(Want evidence that monogamy isn’t the ideal or best way? Just look at the stats and relational landscape. Some half of all marriages end, and that is not including the significant numbers of people who either: stay together unhappily, or cheat. If a product broke or malfunctioned this frequently, only working half the time, and even then often had troubleshooting errors, we would toss it out. Remarking that its totally flawed, unworkable, that something new needs to be come up with. Interesting we haven’t done that here….even as the evidence makes such a suggestion plain. That maybe, there is a flaw with the system instead of the people personally. Monogamy is not the #1 ideal or right way. Its one way, and a valid and right way for many. Its also not the right way for others and that is just as legit, authentic, and ok too).
Because our culture says monogamy is “the way a relationship should be,” most of us just mindlessly adapt this as to how we approach our own relationships without much questioning or consideration, then sometimes running into issues with it down the road.
For some people monogamous love is their preference, more natural inclination, and wish. This is a wonderful, romantic, and legit thing. For many others (most of whom do not discuss it for fear of major stigma, judgement and shame), it isn’t the right way. They find their heart more inclined towards forming deep, emotionally resonating connections with a handful of loves. That is totally ok too, as well as equally authentic and good. It just depends on your own temperament, preferences, and inner feelings.
Instead, this book invites one to truly ponder ideas such as, is this actually, authentically the right relational style for me? And, awareness that what might be right for me now may also change and evolve over time. As well as, coming to understand that there is no “right” way to relationships. Its whatever way works for the two people involved. There are many right ways. This varies to the individual, their temperament, their way of both loving and preferring to be loved, their values, etc.
This book is a necessary musing on such. A thought provoking, worthwhile, and inspiring read. No matter your style of loving, this is a great book in terms of the subject matter and message behind it, worthy of your time and thought.
If your curiosity has gotten the best of you, grab your own copy by clicking the cover image above!