It’s been a few years now since I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am polyamorous. It’s been less time since I’ve grown to be able to explain this to friends. Let’s be honest, it’s not how most people believe they should work (though I’d argue that, if we stripped away the cultural taboo, it would be exactly the way most people do work, as human animals, not products of our diverse moralities). Even while most people have seemed to be quite accepting of it, I don’t think it’s something that is really understood by most of them. “It just never works out,” say some, which is, to be fair, true of all sorts of relationships. “Someday you’ll want someone who really cares about you,” say others, who seem to not understand that I do have people who really care about me, and have the potential to have multiple who do. Which leads to “admit it, you just want lots of sex and no commitment.” For those people, I have to ask them to think about the difficulty of carrying on a single relationship. Why would anyone bother having more than one if it wasn’t deeper than that?
I realized this long before I ever had words for it. I found myself harboring multiple crushes of equal strength throughout highschool, and simply not acting on any of them, for fear of eliminating the others. I also found myself strained and torn apart when I did try to play the monogamy game, ultimately failing before I started. I spent many years trying to avoid all serious relationships, because you can’t screw up if you’re not even trying. Little by little, however, the terms and the concepts came. It’s always refreshing to realize there’s a word for what you’re feeling, that others have felt it too, and that it’s not so clear-cut good-and-bad as you’ve been taught. Love isn’t exactly something with limits. Time is, sure. More relevant to our sense of relationships, there’s also a limit to how many plots of land and dukedoms you can bequeath to illegitimate sire. But the chemical reactions we call love, well, think about all the people you love. The family, the friends, the animals, the people you don’t know but who you feel short bursts of emotion for. We are surrounded by amazing people, and yet “love” is reserved for only one at a time. I think it’s why great relationships fall apart… we find another fully different, fully compelling human being, and we have to make a choice, and that choice inherently involves losing some amazing person in the ether. When we think of the reality of dating, the many serially monogamous choices we make trying to find one special person we will love forever (until we break up, in which case we insist it wasn’t love), the artifice doesn’t hold up. I don’t look at non-monogamy as refusing to commit, but as refusing to deny myself: instead of leaving a trail of awesome people who aren’t perfect, I can maintain friendships and even relationships that are many things I enjoy, even if there are flaws I do not. For all the difficulty of operating outside of convention, I think my life has been made better by being open and honest with myself in this manner. For what it’s worth, I’ve figured out what love feels like by realizing that I can be loved in an unconventional context. Without the pressures, it’s allowed me to actually explore my emotions.
“Crush on Everyone,” by Jonah Matranga, in his Onelinedrawing guise, sums it all up surprisingly well. The refrain of “please let me find out” carries through, from the sexual to the oddball, from the unpredictable to the frightened and fragile. The title alone sort of sums up the experience… anyone and everyone could hold some new experience, some new lesson, something we will find appealing. For me, finding out is what a conventional relation style doesn’t hold. It doesn’t allow deep connections with diverse people, because you’re only “supposed” to have one deep connection at a time. That ability to find out is something I highly value. I have never felt it has dulled the love I feel for anyone else, but it has opened doors and windows and my eyes. The right people can be a beautiful thing, and life is to short to throw them away. Indeed, when Jonah sings of trying to understand this everyperson’s shortcomings, their inability to see greatness, their blackouts, their pure, unadulterated fear, he’s saying that not only does he want to be with these diverse people in the better times, but that he truly cares enough to stay through the bad ones.
So there’s a lot to this song, then. Because there is the obvious yearning, as well as the heightened need for honesty. But there is above all a curiosity for interesting human beings. The not really knowing what you’re seeking, but openness to finding basically anything. The willingness to explore the superficial basics, to the intriguing life stories, to the deepest, most fragile and embarrassing parts of a person. Jonah even sings the ridiculous “large intestines” line earnestly, and that makes it all the easier to empathize. It is realistic, not asking for forever but for a chance, for the ability to share time with someone. And it becomes sweet and sad, instead of pathetic and creepy as our widespread cultural mores would like us to believe it to be. Because in the end, no matter how earnest we are, it still feels like begging to be given a chance, and there’s still the fear of the conventional world sneaking up on us. That’s something any of us can understand, that fear, that sadness, that knowledge that our best intentions still need to be cleared by another. That’s what makes the song tender and sweet and quirky enough to get into anyone’s heart. But it also humanizes a concept that we frequently think of as the opposite of what we humans should do.
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