Commitment and Polyamory
So I got married last year, and I have (and have had) some other relationships in my life that are pretty serious. Committing to another human being like that can be a scary thing. I think there's often a misconception about what it means to make a serious commitment to someone, and I think that if you asked 4 people what "commitment" means, you will find yourself with at least 5 different answers. Folks get anxious shortly before the culmination of the commitment, often wondering about how to navigate change or regret. I don't worry about that, and I think it's because GROWTH is the only thing I believe in committing to with regard to another person.
The commitment I make is one of supporting my partner(s) (and myself) on a journey of growth. That’s really the only commitment I can offer to another person. For me, there’s no expectation that the commitment (or the relationship) has to stay static (in fact: I prefer that it doesn't!) I expect us each to grow and change individually, and together. I expect the relationship to change as we do. There’s no guarantee that any commitment that another person and I make to each other now, with our very best of intentions, are things we’ll be able to hold up in exactly the same form over time. I go into the commitments knowing how we feel and what we want right now, expecting only that we will jump off the cliff of adventure together as we discover things about ourselves and each other along the way.
It is a scary thing to say, “I am showing up for YOU, for ME, and for US, even if that means that what we have tomorrow looks nothing like what we have today." Me showing up for another person means being willing to walk away from a particular structure, aspect, or even the relationship itself if it is harming either one of us. It can feel vulnerable and terrifying to commit like that, but I see it as committing to another person's whole wellbeing: even if part of them being well doesn't include ME.
If you are in my life, I am fiercely committed to your growth, your autonomy, and your right to know yourself and enjoy your life as fully as possible. Even if your path to doing those things doesn't include me. Part of me supporting you means being willing to get out of the way if I'm hindering your journey. As scary as that sounds, it’s the only honest commitment I can make, and it’s the only one I care about receiving in return.
I think this is also why I am still very close friends with so many people who were once lovers of mine. I'm not friends with ALL of my exes (I tend to think that belies some codependency and questionable boundaries), but more than half of our wedding party was comprised of former sweethearts of mine. I think that's because of my determination to let relationships grow and change as the individuals within them do.
A lot of this dovetails with my being polyamorous. We were asked a number of times prior to our wedding, "Why get married at all if you're not going to be monogamous?" The thing is, we are committed to supporting each other through change and growth in our lives. For me, that doesn't have anything to do with monogamy.
(And no, this isn't secretly some vaguebook post about the health of my relationships; I was just musing on commitment earlier today and thinking about what it means to me.)