I’m often asked about couple compatibility or whether or not mobile phones have drawn partners closer, how I regard public displays of affection (PDA), or whether people need closure with their ex. Sometimes I respond and sometimes I don’t, saying that I don’t have a partner. “You don’t have a partner?” I replied, “Yes, I am single.”
I realise I have to address this question in public at some point and not escape with a smile as I have often done. So, I answered, “Never found anyone. Actually, however utopian it may sound, I am married to literature. It is very difficult to find someone who will be my second wife.” And then I added, “But I love many and that too without any guilt.” If one eschews the family structure then one can avoid the guilt. I believe the traditional family structure was formed as a safeguard against the irresponsible behaviour of human beings on the path of civilisation, but with progress we have seen newer family structures. Being single is also a family structure, and though it might lack certain advantages, it gives precedence to the individual over a group.
Friends and family argue that one needs someone whom one can share things with and who will care for you, especially in old age. But does marriage guarantee that, especially an arranged marriage?
A person like me who jealously guards his literary space and is not willing to compromise on that front will require someone equally immersed in that space to be compatible. I have not met such a person so far. A married person has a spouse and kids as first priority before he/she can indulge in any literary activity. This raises the question of responsibility. I would not like to marry and end up being an irresponsible husband and father.
Often I feel that living a different kind of life itself adds literariness to that life, makes it pregnant with possibilities, even if never actualised. Why can’t I live my life as literature? This is a creative challenge, because it demands that I create an intellectual and emotional utopia. It goes beyond the binaries of right and wrong and is rather amoral, for it is the only space where life as art survives and thrives.
“So, you believe in polyamory. I could sense that,” came the rejoinder. Immediately I felt the need to explain and said that I enjoy the state of being in love. To do something for someone when one is not duty-bound to do anything gives one such a high. To care for someone just out of love and not because one is in any relationship is so much better and selfless. From the people I love I don’t expect anything more than friendship. Living a life with the chronic symptoms of falling in love every now and then and being in love with more than one person at the same time might be seen as aberrations in social behaviour. But I realised that facet in me without any guilty conscience and have been living with the sense of being in love most of the time in a controlled manner without letting my feelings reach their logical conclusion. Why should I sacrifice one love for the sake of another, and not have it all?
Related reading: Am I immoral for loving three men?
Love should make me liberal, magnanimous and all-encompassing. It should make one love more, rather than put restrictions, unless one is willing to commit to a single person. The former state of polyamory is natural and the latter state of commitment is social, born out of the need to protect the family structure.
“But the others with whom you are in relationships, do they understand it too?” I answered that I had crushes and infatuations when I was really young, but I found no single individual had everything I wanted and I did not have everything they probably expected. Some have called me commitment phobic. Perhaps I am, because if I commit I must provide steady income, proper attention and mental fidelity, none of which I cannot guarantee. But very lately I have expressed myself to a few. To those whom I have confessed my love I have also confessed the multiplicity of my love. And I am glad that they could understand my point of view.
Loving someone can be platonic too, whereas being in a relationship has a sexual side to it. That is why I say I don’t have a partner and I am single because, even though I am in love with a few, I am not in a relationship with any.
Related reading: Open relationships and love
I choose not to have a family, in favour of having multiple loves. This can also be seen as living in utopia, but at least it does not make me miserable with longings.
And then my inquirer revealed that she too felt this way except that she plunged into marriage before she realised it. I replied that I believe many married people think this way. Most often if someone follows a different value system it is misinterpreted as a wrong value system or no value system. We must not forget that we are in a society where polygamy, polyandry, monogamy, matriarchal households, patriarchal households, single-parent families, and joint families have all existed. So, there is nothing wrong in being single or loving more than one person at a time. Those who do so with a sense of responsibility are not wrong, just different, and society must accept them.