It's interesting to me. Commitment generally equals sexual fidelity for monos (plus often other stuff too). Commitment for polys? Is often some form of agreement... primary dynamic or some negotiated agreement.
I just don't view things that way. Commitment is only partially glimpsed by those "formalities." There's a presumed commitment behind them. But, the commitment should exist prior to formalization. It's kind of like the difference between ritual versus belief in religion. The ritual can reinforce or symbolize a belief but when it replaces it, the religious act is hollow.
And so, I tend to think of commitment as a wilful act of love. Wilful in that it takes both effort and the intention to maintain a connection/relationship. Act because it's something we do (and things we don't do) every day. And, it needs to be, of course, anexpression of love (note: a lot of things we do in relationships that we think are expressions of love are as often expressions of fear, guilt, aversion, etc. and not love). These daily wilful acts of love neither require or are created by those ceremonies or other formalities to codify our commitment - so that we can refer to it as something "real" (e.g., husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, primary/secondary, etc.).
I was listening to a workship that was co-led by Jack Kornfield (buddhist teacher and therapist) and Dan Siegal (psychiatrist and researcher). Dr. Siegal was talking about the idea that some people don't see relationships as real. They just haven't had the formative deep connections in life that allowed them to see "the table" that Redpepper talks about. And, when you're in a relationship with someone who can't see "the table" as a separate thing that two people co-create, the other partner's experience is very lonely. He pointed out that it's not that the person who can't see loves their partner any less. But, the result is that they don't feed the relationship in the same way as those who do. This "relational sense" as he called it, is a critical aspect of our inter-relating.
I think we too often put the formal constructs a priviledged place ahead of the underlying "wilful acts of love" that actually build and maintain 'the table' in the first place. Commitment, as such, is not a specific set of agreements but a set of actions that move to maintain, reinfoce and grow the relationship over time versus those that detract from it. That's real commitment.
And it should be perfectly compatible with a fully open relationship the guy is experiencing if he (and she) understand what wilful acts of love feed their union.
<<edit: I think I should expand on this in my next blog post. Thanks for the prompt RP!>>
Male, Straight, Poly
“Instead of getting better and better at avoiding, learn to accept the present moment as if you had invited it. And work with it instead of against it. And making it your ally rather than your enemy.”
Last edited by MindfulAgony; 04-03-2012 at 06:14 PM.