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people should have many intimacies



relationships • 13.02.05   

The general rule is that you are only really supposed to have an intimate relationship with one other person. Anything other than that is a breach. And intimacy doesn’t just have to be about sex. There are other kinds of understandings where the connection is expected to be exclusive where what is shared is only shared between a person and their full time singular partner. Serial monogamies aside, it follows that in the course of a life-time you should only experience one intimacy. So whoever you choose, probably at a relatively early age, that’s going to be it!

To me that is a nonsense. Intimacy is one of life’s treasures, one of the few true goods available to us. It helps with all kinds of growth, emotional development and understanding; it engenders compassion, makes one feel invigorated and confident, purposeful and just about as alive as it is possible to feel. It is the key to a meaningful life.

I believe people should have many intimacies running concurrently. But of course the bounds of convention don’t allow for that. The exclusive, monogamous relationship sees to it. It is the centre-piece of the social structure. You go out with the confines of that at peril. With this, all the numerous benefits that might come from a broader experience of intimacy are lost.

I think that if people were in general better constituted psychologically then the idea that those close to them may also share a similar type bond with others would not be so threatening. It would be a healthy part of common understanding and to the benefit of all. Everyone would gain from it because the goods that come from multiple intimacies would feed back into the other relationships one had, intimate and otherwise. Consider that when a person has an affair the passion can sometimes be rekindled in the previously dormant relationship.

So this is another lesson to be learned for the future: how to get over these primitive and elemental jealousies that demand exclusive monogamy; how to open up the greater possibilities that can come from exploration, having many relationships, associations and intimacies from which everyone over the piece can gain.