I’ve been in sexual relationships for over twenty years as well as having made a study of them in the last seven. The more I study, the more I see that many problems in relationships seem to be problems of dependence and commodifying a partner.
Dependence comes in many forms — emotional, physical, financial. If you are in any way of the mindset, “I’m screwed if I must live without my Dear Love,” you’re no longer in a relationship involving equals and choice. You are not with that person solely because you choose to be with that person. At least part of the relationship is tainted by a commodity that your Dear Love supplies.
This commodity could be myriad in nature. If you’re monogamous (or exclusive in any way), it could be something as simple as sex. If you’re a housewife without the emotional understanding that you do have marketable skills, you depend on your SO for food and shelter, for God’s sake — your actual physical survival. That’s heavy stuff. You’ve very much removed an equals mindset. (Remember, I was a housewife for over 11 years, so this is not a high horse, but a deeply considered opinion backed up by painful experience). The commodity could be emotional in nature. I can recall an SO being my basic emotional reason for staying alive. That’s a nowhere place for anyone on either side of that prickly fence. The true relationship of equals can only happen when you say, “Yes, I love you and want to be with you, but if something happens where I am not longer with you, no matter how much it will suck and how painful it will be, I am fully confident that I will have a rich and fulfilling life.”
I’m not saying that it’s desirable to be cavalier about your love. If you lose a loved one, it hurts. There’s just a difference between “hurts” and an idea that your life is somehow not going to be any good any more if you don’t have that partner. It’s important to realize that your quality of life is in your own hands even if things go south between you and your partner.
To have a full relationship between equals, there must be no dependence. You really cannot need 1 your partner, but must be with said partner because it is a free choice made from a position of strength and independence. No, this does not make for a tepid relationship. No, it won’t have the bright crayon strokes of drama. Instead, the pleasures will be subtler and more natural. Bright and beautiful? Sure, but the brightness will be the restrained choice and beauty of a Maxfield Parrish painting. Instead of the scotch bonnet spiciness of mono-faceted flavor, it will have the blended richness and satisfaction of a good curry while still retaining a fair amount of that wonderful spice.
1Just because I know I’m gonna get this as a reply from someone please allow me to point out that if you have physical issues your partner is helping you with, your need is for help, not the specific individual.