Skip to main content

may 4 {what's your relationship status?}



Relationship dynamics are interesting.  Not just how one person relates to another, but also how relationships are structured.  I think for the most part, people and couples in general fall into two relationship categories, single or married.  Those are the only two boxes available to check off on any form that asks, right?

But what about all the other kinds of relationships?  What box do they fall into?  Social normatives are extremely narrow for a myriad of reasons and the sad part is, whether it's preconceived gender norms like boys not wearing pink or broader social issues like women getting paid less in the workforce, that we often simply default to certain beliefs without really thinking through them.

One thing that had me thinking about all of this the other day is the way women connect and relate.  There is a huge continuum of social interactions, and especially feelings, that we have towards one another as fellow human beings.  Without throwing gender preference into the mix, I was thinking about how girls are often really intimate with one another.  There is a deep emotional sharing that happens and I have seen how this also sometimes overflows into more of a physical intimacy as well.  I'm not talking about sex (which is also a term that is fairly subjective), I am talking about more general touching, hugging, snuggling and the like.  Maybe even kissing, in a sweet chaste way, is in that mix as well.

The acceptance of intimacy between women is very different than it is between men and women, and men and men.  But if we think about all one-on-one, non-familial relationships we have with anyone, male or female, they will all land somewhere in the social realm of "complete stranger" to "intimate partner" (and by intimate, here I mean both emotionally and sexually).  When it comes down to it, even when we are coupled or married or in whatever relational structure we subscribe to, we all still continue to have relationships with others and those relationships are still as complex and layered and valid as the ones we have formally committed to.  We don't stop relating to, and feeling, towards other people.

Relationships are subjective and constantly shifting and there are infinite points on the continuum, where most of us exist, that have no labels or social definitions.

It is so important to think on our own terms about how we want to define (or even not define) our relationships with others, and to question what social norms say about those labels and how we are "allowed" to interact and feel.  Because what happens is all of these narrowly defined boxes and black and white ideals create judgement, guilt and insecurity in ourselves and in others which ultimately limits our relationship possibilities.  Shouldn't we be able to relate to our girl-friends and guy-friends in the same way and however we want?  Because on that continuum, in our private thoughts and feelings, we actually do, it's just our actions that are carefully metered.  It is the same formula of attraction, chemistry, shared interests etc. with every person we meet and form a connection with, or not.

A conversation needs to happen, and should be allowed to happen, with ourselves as well as with our partners about whether or not we actually do believe in monogamy and other expected social norms, just as we can and should be able to decide what religion we choose to follow.  Single and married are not the only relationship orientations we experience, nor should they be the only ones acknowledged, accepted or discussed, which is exactly why we all have to talk about it!   I'm not completely sure why we don't.

But are we truly willing to give up other relationships in the periphery, or even worse - feel badly about them, because they aren't seemingly acceptable and within in the context of relationship or gender norms?

Because what I see actually happening in most relationships is that intimacy is infinitely definable, gender preference gets blurred a lot of the time, sex is not always about love and that is more than okay, and blindly accepting one way of life is limiting the depth and breadth of all of our relationships.

The truth of the matter is, is that we actually do get to decide and create whatever kind of relationships we want to have and how we want to exist in them!  For too many people this is a news flash, and really it should not be.  We need to communicate honestly and more openly about it all, and accept all of our relationship needs even if they don't look like everyone else's.  That kind of honesty and ownership is love and true intimacy at every level, and the payoff of the resulting freedom and happiness, as with any other shared truth, is pretty huge and not something I think we should so easily be willing to sacrifice.

We might do better as a culture if we all explore and communicate on broader terms more about our relationship beliefs and needs and less on relationship status and the accepted labels they fall under.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Inner Alchemy Cards: Build A New World Deck

Our next make-your-own card adventure is finally here! Inner Alchemy Collage: Build A New World Deck (online) is an artful exploration of language, learning, inspiration, and collaboration, that delves into important ideas around activism and systems of oppression. This is a way for us to examine and disrupt harmful dominant narratives, tell new stories, and inspire one another to use our creativity and personal power to help build the collective world we all want to live in! In the end you will have a beautiful and meaningful handmade deck of 35 oracle cards to use as unique a tool for guidance and reflection whenever you need it.  I'm your host,  Mindy Tsonas Choi , an artist, organizer, radical belonging activist, and the founder of the Be Seen Project - a grassroots initiative resourcing BIPOC artist and makers working in activism. Join me along with other stellar artists, makers and co-creators who have also been exploring social justice and activism as part of their creativ

The Cost of Selling Belonging

As someone who use to sell belonging and believed I was creating something universally magical , I now have fresh eyes on the harm that I once caused. I understand what can (and was) incredibly healing and impactful for some, was at the same time excluding, marginalizing and undervaluing others. First, to anyone who ever felt like they did not belong to anything I created because they were unable to afford it or felt like they did not have the social capitol to join -  I am sincerely sorry for not seeing you sooner .   To our entire creative community as a whole, I urge us all to think about belonging in new and equitable ways, and to do the work of dismantling these hierarchical structures that leave so many people out of the circle. We all deserve to have access to creativity and belonging, and I'd go so far as to say both are fundamental basic human needs and rights. Selling belonging can look like... Creating spaces and experiences that can only be accessed by buying in at one,

what's in a name?

It’s May 14, 2020 and I’m on a transnational call with a social worker and translator of the SOS Children’s Village offices in South Korea. It’s 7pm my time and 9am the next day in Korea, which adds to the surreal quality of the moment. It is my first long distance call following my inquiry with the organization documented to be my first place of entry into the system, found in my Korean records (the acquisition of which is an incredible story in and of itself). It was July 21, 1972 and I was 5 months old. It’s a small miracle the organization still exists, and an even bigger blessing that they took such time and care in searching for information and to talk it all through with me in person. I try not to cry as the call connects. What I learn is a lot of small details about that fateful evening which amount to nothing traceable, but still feel like huge missing pieces of my life. I was left near the entrance around 7pm under a small tree, wrapped in a blanket with only a name scribble