When it comes to intimate relationships, I am best defined as a ‘traditional monogamist’. I see this not as a matter of religious or moral conviction, however, but simply as a reflection of how I’m wired in regard to love, sex and intimacy. Personally, I find it difficult to imagine how I could become truly intimate with more than one person – getting to know someone, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically, in ways that feel most meaningful to me, takes time and requires deep trust and commitment.
Having said that, however, it would be extremely naïve of me to ignore the fact that, in the contemporary world, there is an ever-increasing prevalence of relationship configurations that do not fit the conventions of traditional monogamy. Dismissing or condemning such alternative approaches on the grounds that they do not conform to religious dogma or established societal norms is, frankly, taking the easy way out. It’s also perhaps somewhat disingenuous, considering the high levels of infidelity known to occur among those who conform to the monogamous paradigm. More importantly, in my view, it imposes a one-dimensional perspective on infidelity that, by-and-large, shows little interest in understanding, and offers even less in terms of grace and compassion.
My interest is thus not in either endorsing or condemning any particular form of intimate partnership. As I see it, all intimate relationships, irrespective of how they are configured, present challenges. We all have vulnerabilities and sensitivities, and when it comes to having our ‘buttons pushed’, there is nothing quite as effective as an intimate relationship. And in truth, I suspect that some of the more convention-bending intimate relationship configurations present substantially greater inter- and intrapersonal challenges than do conventional monogamous partnerships. It’s how we use those challenges that is the focus of You, Me & Rumi. Can we allow them to point us towards what we need to learn in order to ‘do’ intimate relationships in ways that are kinder and more compassionately loving? Infidelity sucks, no doubt about it. But condemning it has never been a particularly effective solution, and in the 21st Century there is a rapidly rising demand for the freedom to explore alternative approaches. But, again, within every intimate relationship there exists the potential for great harm and great growth. Harnessing the opportunities for growth, both personal and collective, is the concern of You, Me & Rumi.