Thread: On Not Looking
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:30 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is online now
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Default On Not Looking

I was recently introduced to a long-standing "mindvirus" called "The Game".

Even by mentioning it, I may draw the ire of people in the grips of said mindvirus: you see, the only way to win the game is to never think about the game. You can make someone lose the game just by mentioning it. The most mean-spirited way of doing this is to say to someone: "You just lost the game."

(Sorry to anyone whose day I spoiled by bringing it up! There is a cure, though. See this: http://xkcd.com/391/ )

Now, why do I bring this up?

My wife and I started discussing polyamory back in March of this year, and we both took to the idea of it very quickly. As a matter of principle, I reject compulsory monogamy and embrace honesty and freely-given consent as the basis for healthy relationships.

In the first flush of enthusiasm for the idea, I joined OKCupid and polymatchmaker.com, and set out to look for another relationship.

But, the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable I am with that way of going about things, as though rejecting monogamy requires that I seek a girlfriend.

To make a long story short, I quit OKC . . . then rejoined OKC . . . and am now quitting OKC again. I quit PMM, then rejoined PMM, then quit PMM again.

I've reached the point at which, while I remain open to possibilities, I'm not actively looking for a relationship. If I find myself getting close to someone, by and by, I'll know what to do, but I'm not going to hang around online with the express purpose of finding someone to be close to.

Part of the reason has to do with a love-hate relationship I have with the internet, and with computers generally. I am trying to limit my exposure to screens, the better to live what the poet Wendell Berry calls "a three-dimensional life". ("Stay away from anything that obscures the place it is in", he writes.)

Part of the reason has to do with the fact that I've got a lot going on right now, with my marriage, my children, my career, and my very time-consuming avocation (traditional music and dance).

But part of the reason is also that I now find myself with a very odd outlook on polyamory that reminds me too much of "The Game": it seems to me that a good, healthy relationship can develop only if I'm not looking for "a relationship".

If, in the ordinary course of my busy life, I find a mutual interest developing between me and someone else, I'm now free to see what might develop from that interest.

But to look around at the world sizing up candidates to be "my girlfriend" - as though it is a job vacancy that needs filling - seems wrongheaded, artificial, forced . . . and puts a kind of distance between me and anyone with whom I might, in the fulness of time, develop a deep relationship.

Like "The Game", I can only succeed by not thinking about succeeding. I just have to get on with living my life, upholding all my present commitments, and let things happen (or not) as they will.
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