[Note: I'm gonna go ahead and post the whole chapter..they're short by book standards, but probably long by post standards. I'm also going to throw in a disclaimer that I don't exactly entirely agree with how he describes opening up relationships at the end of the chapter and that it seems to take a smaller view to it than what it could be]
Say Fuck It in Your Relationships
And thus we enter the minefield. This is maybe the most difficult area of your life to understand how saying Fuck It in any way can do anything but fuck up your relationship. Let's see why.
Relationships are like the Piccadilly Circus of your meaning city.
They are indeed. Relationships are where it all happens, where all the action is, where a lot of your attention is focused and where collisions often occur. The other areas of your meaning city are more predictable: your job is more predictable, as are your friends (generally), as is your health, etc. etc.
But with relationships, what matters really matters. The meaning of it all affects us to our very core. A relationship is about us... and the most intimate way we deal with the outside world. The stakes are higher. And everything is invested:
- If something hurtful is said, we feel it deeply.
- If we don't feel heard, we feel like children.
- If we think we love them more than they do us, we feel pain.
- If we think they love us more than we love them, we feel guilt.
- If we get excitement from someone outside the relationship, we feel confused.
- If they get excitement from outside the relationship, we feel jealous.
If life as we live it is about the relationship between us and the outside world, then your relationship with a partner is the finest thread of that relationship.
In a relationship, we are deeply attached to success, and immensely pained by failure. Because everything is a relationship matters so much, the potential for pain is enormous. And many of us do live out the fairly constant pain of our relationship(s). This means that the early days/weeks/months of relationships can often be the most turbulent, as things matter so darn much.
After years within a relationship, things tend to matter less, the stakes are lower and the potential for pain reduces.
In relationships, your meaning environment can change rapidly. This is commonly known as falling in love. When you fall in love, other things matter less. Sometimes the only thing that matters is that person. All your normal perceptions of the world go out of the window. Any rationality that you apply to your life can evaporate.
So people who fall in love commonly: leave families they previously adored, give up jobs and positions, lose friends, change their beliefs, lose their dress sense, lose any sense, start listening music they previously thought was naff.
Love does funny things to people. Zillions of songs have been written about just this effect. Romantic love, then, is apparently a key challenge to the Fuck It way of living, as love seems often to be about the meaning of someone else to you and the subsequent attachment and dependency. We think that these qualities are part and parcel of loving someone.
Saying Fuck It can have some surprising effects. The problem is that it's very hard to see what Fuck It can do in a relationship. How could any good possibly come of your partner feeling less attached to you or feeling less like you're the center of their world? We love all that dependency and attachment stuff in relationships.
Have you ever played the reductionist love game with anyone? It goes something like this:
"Would you still love me if I was really fat?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I was scarred in an accident?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I had no legs?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I had no arms?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I couldn't see?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I couldn't hear?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I had no teeth?" "Yes of course."
"Would you still love me if I couldn't think, was in hospital in a vegetative state?" "Err, yes, of course."
"Would you still love me if I was dead?" "Yes of course, darling."
"What, forever?" "Yes, for you, forever, darling."
It's a very funny game. And a very moving game. And one that works out well if you keep on saying yes. But what is it that the person is asking? Would you still love me if I reduced down to the very point of non-existence...would you still love me then? Phew, that's a pressure: "Yes, even if you weren't there at all, in any sense, I would love you."
In love we want a lot. We want all the attention. We want it to last forever: We want it to be perfect. And we throw everything we have into these desires.
This is attachment and dependency. And this is a very obvious and large potential for pain.
The possibility of saying Fuck It is like the story of the two-dimensional people.
Imagine people living in a two-dimensional world: nothing has three-dimensional shape, everything is lines and shading. These people simply cannot conceive of a three-dimensional world...It is beyond them. If you tried to explain it to them, they wouldn't get it. But take them into this new world. Let them live it for a while. And the instantly get it and see how utterly amazing it s compared to their old 2D world.
This is what it's like to start saying Fuck It to things. And especially in relationships. From your position in a loving attachment to someone, it's very difficult to see how feeling less attachment towards them could improve things. But let's have a go.
Think of a relationship where you were deeply in in love with someone: smitten by them (and this may well be your present relationship, of course). Remember what it felt like to be attached to them: loving their attention and looks...waiting for their calls...cherishing time with them above everything else. And remember the flip side, too: getting anxious wondering whether they loved you as much...getting jealous easily...getting frustrated with yourself for being so dependent on someone.
Now imagine in that relationship what it would have been like to have taken things a little less seriously. Imagine if you'd not taken things so personally. Imagine if you hadn't worried about whether it would last forever. Imagine hanging on less to the relationship and letting the other person breathe. Imagine them mattering a tad less to you. Imagine that "you" weren't at stake in the relationship.
And here's the strange thing: It doesn't mean that you love this person any less. In fact, this may be where definitions of love start to strain at the leash. Because the clingy attaching romantic love that we and everything in our society supports as "love" can transform into another kind of "love" when we stop clinging.
It's an unexpected outcome, but when there is less meaning, the love seems to increase. Try it, but it's a 3D world for normally 2D people.
Part of the reason for this, of course, is due to tension and relaxation. When you are attached and dependent, there is an enormous tension in the relationship. There is no room for anything to move. As soon as something shifts, things start to snap, like a very tight spring just snapping.
When you relax everything-when you relax out of your attachment and investment in the relationship-ther is more space and room. And just as chi
flows more readily in a relaxed body, the love flows more readily in a relaxed relationship.
So you're scared of your man/woman running off with someone else- Fuck It - there's plenty of men/women for you out there.
Whatever your issues and tighness in your relationship, see what it's like to say Fuck It to them. Just speak out your issue now. Then say Fuck It and see how it feels.
"I don't feel she find me attractive like she used to...Well, Fuck It."
And so on.
Whatever stage of your relationship you're in, poke your head out for a mo and see what its like when you feel that things don't quite matter as much. Feel the relaxation. Fell the freedom. Then carry on with your life and see what happens.
Like the energy that flows through a newly relaxed body, love and energy might start to flow more through you and your relationship. Well, this is what could happen:
- a new life enters your existing relationship and you move to a different level
- you realize that this relationship is wrong for you and you leave it
- the love grows in your relationship and at the same time you recognize you want love from other people, too.
The third one is potentially the most confusing (and interesting). You might find that the increased love you're feeling is hard to contain (in your relationship). And you might work towards a more "open" relationship. This is also commonly known as "having your cake and eating it". It recognizes the perpetual and opposite urges that most human beings have: to be with one person forever...and to be with everyone else, too (usually for a considerably shorter time, such as one night).
This appears to be a difficult and dangerous path. But are monogamous relationships easy and safe?
If the whole idea freaks you out, say Fuck It and move on. One day you might want to, err, fuck it, and you can come back then and re-read this bit.