An Evolution Into Post-Conventional Relationship

What relationship type do you adhere to? Conventional monogamy…open relationship… polyamory… relationship anarchy… non-monogamy… and what I am going to call… post-conventional relationship? With all the talk out there about how human beings aren’t meant for monogamous relationships, there are many other labeled options. Each one of these options is beautiful and each has their own rules and path, but you have to know what some of the rules are before you choose to enter into them. However, should you decide you want to engage the post-conventional, you are saying you want to live on the edge. You don’t want to take yesterdays discoveries for granted because you want to include your important learnings of the past and transcend into tomorrow’s learning and re-engage the fullness of every moment. That is not for the timid or weak of heart.

Reflections From LeAnne
Reflections From Le Anne

A question that continually arose in my head …what is the difference between the conventional (monogamous) relationship and a genuine post-conventional relationship and what are some of the key distinctions? The nature of classical polyamory today can be described as an escape from commitment. Why do I have to be with you when I can be with another person? Or, I don’t have to be with you because I have another. To be involved with more than one person in an intimate relationship means to be more committed, and not less. The key distinction and an essential piece here is commitment. The big difference between polyamory and genuine post conventionality is that there is a deep commitment to the other and that commitment is demonstrated as an essential responsibility to each other’s growth and unfolding. If you’re willing to actually step up to this way of operating in a post conventional relationship, then, from each person you are involved with, you are committed to be working on a different dimension of your life and be committed to working on a different dimension in their life. There is a commitment to be involved in each other’s lives and I am holding a piece of your story and that you are holding a piece of my story. The commitment means that I have something to learn from this person and I have to be willing to be impacted by them in the most profound of ways. The commitment means that you are committed to the emergence of the other’s story, supporting and encouraging their evolution into the highest and best version of themselves.

If you are committed to being involved as a sexual lover; remember that being a lover means to be a giver. To be a giver is to be committed to the growth of the other. Sexuality and our contact with each together is part of that commitment. We agree to not just do casual sex, because when you do casual sex, in the end, there is a greater exposure and vulnerability that in someways goes bad because sex is never just sex, sex is holy and a sacred contract. Sex is ethics and ethics is not casual.

I’ve been curious to explore and dive even deeper to this area of commitment, to discover and possibly even figure out (or even create) some of the answers to what commitment means and what levels of commitment are involved inside of a post-conventional relationship. If you are involved (or deciding to become involved) in a genuine post-conventional relationship that says you are even more committed…not running away from the hard stuff, with a commitment to the self and a commitment to the other.

Polyamory... it's complicatedThe first key aspect of commitment is time. If I’m involved with you then I’m committed to giving you a certain amount of time and we have to negotiate to decide what that amount of time is. This time commitment could mean that we write once a week, visit each other once a month or even twice a year, it might mean that we are together for a certain amount of time as long as we have that certain amount of time available. When the agreed upon or the right amount of time is not available anymore then we close down that dimension of the commitment. Lets say I want to be intimately involved with five people, I have to be willing to be committed to five people and each of them at a different level. This is why it’s hard to be committed to 20 people, we just don’t have the time. Post conventionality is a higher level of obligation, a higher time commitment then classical conventional monogamy.

The second aspect of commitment is saying you are willing to open yourself up to the new revelations that every day presents to us and not basing yourself in the precedent of yesterday. Sexual permissions of yesterday are not sexual permissions of today. Just because we had a sexual relationship yesterday doesn’t mean we will have one today. Another revelation, which isn’t so profound, is that there are different stages of life. You can have a stage of life where you are profoundly post conventional and then you can move to a stage of life where you say that you are not going to do the post conventional anymore and want to move into a classical monogamous relationship. This isn’t because you aren’t interested in the post conventional or that you shifted your position, but because at different times of life, different expressions work differently, both for better and worse.

The third aspect of commitment is creating ease, grace and drama free transitions. We negotiate our time commitment to each other, deciding what we are going to be doing together and then an issue comes up and someone gets busy… and there isn’t time anymore. Then what? You need to keep checking in, you need to create a spaciousness, you need to be relaxed, at ease, with a lightness around these transitions…no trauma no drama. You don’t create false drama; you are in the presence of the moment, holding it seriously and lightly. You have to look very carefully at what exactly the gift you are giving and what the gift you are receiving in every single relationship that you have to help make the transitions happen.

The fourth aspect of commitment is to be willing to liberate the other when you are not able to give to that person what they need. You are continually re-engaging the relationship, that is why it always requires commitment. You also have to be responsible enough to end the sexual aspect of the relationship when its time…we negotiated a container for the sexual part of our relationship for period of time, now we don’t have a container for it anymore and we don’t let the sexual engagements become a perpetual habit. In addition, when the negotiated amount of time is not available then we close down that dimension of the commitment to possibly renegotiate another agreement.

At a certain point in any type of relationship, you can see that the relationship begins to have a life of its own and we become committed to working through the issues that come up. If both people are committed to working things out then that changes the game. You have to work out what the sacred tradeoffs are. These tradeoffs or concessions happen in every relationship in order to create or get to the higher and unique “we” of the relationship. The relationship needs to be allowed to develop into the unique “we” and at the same time, the relationship needs to support the individuals. For example, if someone in the relationship isn’t willing to play, say in the realm of post-conventional or BDSM or anything else, are you able to liberate the other to play? Consider what desires and gifts you are bringing to the table. What desires and gifts is your partner is bringing to the table. How you are giving to each other. And asking, are we growing? We need to answer those questions in every single situation, whether monogamous or not.

I believe we all try to figure out how to do all of our relationships well, in a compassionate and loving way. Our individual desires are continually evolving and growing and changing. Let’s do the best we can to put our ego’s aside to support each other to become the people we want to become within the sacred container of a ‘we’ space, no matter what type of relationship we choose to operate from!