Better Scared Than Safe

a black and white cat sitting in a basket, peering up over the top of it
Image by qmnonic / CC BY
“Please do not understand me too quickly.”

-André Gide

*

“Page, it’s eating me up. I never know what he’s thinking. If I could just see his thoughts, everything would just be better.”

It was like talking to myself. Their relationship was solid, he clearly loved her. A lot of her insecurity stemmed not from her new love, but bad treatment from former partners.

Risking hypocrisy, I said, “I get it, I really do. Think about it this way: Not knowing is what makes it fun.”

*

As Esther Perel writes in Mating in Captivity:

Faced with the irrefutable otherness of our partner, we can respond with fear or with curiosity. We can try to reduce the other to a knowable entity, or we can embrace her persistent mystery. When we resist the urge to control, when we keep ourselves open, we preserve the possibility of discovery. Eroticism resides in the ambiguous space between anxiety and fascination. We remain interested in our partners; they delight us, and we’re drawn to them.

One of the book‘s premises is fascinating. Basically, in relationships there are competing needs of safety and security versus variety and novelty, which produces an inherent conflict that needs to be dealt with, one way or another.

And this doesn’t just pertain to relationships, it’s essentially the human condition.

*

It’s part of why polyamory works so well for me. Even when considering just my anchor partner Skyspook, who arguably knows me better than anyone ever has, the fact that we both are open to and actively explore other social connections (whether friend or lover or some place in between) means that our inner landscapes change constantly. I have a solid sense of who Skyspook is and he, me — but there is always an element of mystery, a sense of dynamic change. And it’s glorious.

And the effect is even more dramatic when considering friends and partners that I’m less entangled with.

It’s true I have times when I’m insecure or fearful – but dull moments are blissfully rare.

 

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