Jan 07, 2024

I am at a juncture in life. I have thoroughly been enjoying the life of a single, but over Christmas I met a woman who has shown interest in spending time with me. Furthermore, I do not know what her intentions are, I only know that I do not want to step into another romantic relationship.

And yet, merely the opportunity of a relationship has been a fascinating experience over the last fortnight.

For a week after Christmas, I was assailed by dreams involving sex and nudity. The allurement of the flesh, the ecstasy of joining physically, the warmth and softness of another body next to mine. And all the emotions that come with new beginnings, then all the emotions of it going ‘wrong’ in the sense of not meeting our dreams and the eventual downfall.

During that week I regularly had to return my thinking back to the reasons why I don’t want another romantic and physical relationship - snoring, reading with the light on at night, not doing things I want to in order to spend time with a partner, the little irritations and arguments, the tit-for-tat. As someone who enjoys time alone, all of these are good reasons for avoiding another relationship.

At New Year’s, we met again for a coffee. The days leading to this meetup were filled with mental and emotional turmoil, mainly about how to broach the subject of not wanting a romantic relationship, but also with the devil’s advocate lending its prodding of ‘why not!’ offset by my rational mind repeating the reasons mentioned above to stay well clear.

So if not a romantic relationship, then a friendship instead? But I also found myself uninterested in starting a friendship for the sake of a happenstance meeting of two people. I’ve got plenty going on in my life that fills all my time, so why complicate it with an unnecessary waste of time passing pleasantries in coffee shops. Okay, so I love coffee shops, and the chance for some conversation now and again, but not regularly unless there is something to be gained progressively from the time invested.

I have turned down the opportunity for another meeting this weekend under the guise of it being too busy for me. It is, but there is also opportunity if I so desired. I thought I was reluctant to raise the issue of not wanting a romantic relationship because it may hurt her feelings, or bring her disappointment. Both of these may be true, yet I also have to be consciously aware of my lingering codependency shadow, and question whether my avoidance of wishing emotional hurt on her is more related to an avoidance of any guilt or blame being attributed to me. Certainly, the thought of being blamed for ‘leading her on’ is placing a socially-acceptable time limit on how long I have before I raise the topic of ‘only friends’ with her. This is the trap of codependency, no matter what choice is made there is the opportunity for being blamed, despite the decision being done with great care and considerations; and when blame is received having gone through this depth of care and consideration, then it cuts even deeper.

So the question raised is whether it is possible to have a deep, emotional, fulfilling friendship with someone we are biologically drawn to copulate with while excluding the copulation? I asked this in a relationship group and their responses backed up my own experience that yes, many friendships exist in this way.

The next question, then, is why I am not energised by the idea of starting a friendship that may develop in this way?

What came to mind was the double-slit experiment of modern physics. But before I get into that, some more context is helpful.

Receiving the attention of a potential relationship was the catalyst for some powerful self discoveries and soul-searching around my true desires. To go through the flush of attraction while being completely available to pursue it, but observing it from a perspective of not wishing to step onto the train, has been fascinating and enriching. There is a liminal period right here with all its energies and subtleties that cannot be regained once the next step has been taken. And yet, to stay within this interesting moment and to delay that next step is also to be disrespectful to the other person - to leave her hanging, so to speak, in uncertainty when she may also have exposed some of her vulnerability in reaching out with possible hope for connection. (Or maybe, in the interests of science, maybe I should sacrifice her to the betterment of greater understanding!)

Once I take the next step, to steer the relationship from romantic to friendship, I also collapse this fascinating liminal period of a new relationship, and instead of travelling the valley of romance we would be travelling the valley of friendship. Yet I have no particular desire to traverse either pathway, to walk yet again through the valleys I have travelled numerous times before.

And this brings us back to modern physics, and the double-slit experiment. The premise is that electrons move in a wave-like formation until they are observed, at which point they act as individual objects again.

At the moment, my new relationship exists in the ‘unobserved’ state, where it is wide open and wave-like. Probabilistically, it could be romance, or friendship, or a wild chaotic blurring of both. The act of making the statement in my next meeting collapses the potential of the relationship, bringing it back to that ‘observed’ state in the double-slit. Once the statement is made, we both have to act like single electrons again and the potential of flowing like a wave is lost (usually forever).

I liken this to me currently wandering freely in the natural forest, then by chance happening across a well trodden path. Do I follow the path laid by others, or do I keep the freedom, flexibility, and diversity of the enriching forest?

Maybe this is why people enjoy voyeurism; not necessarily maliciously, but because it is a way of observing without altering the state of events.

These battles, or attempts to prevent the collapse of relationships into the duality of romance and friendship, have been happening for decades if not centuries. The evidence for this is in the practices of open-relationships, of polygamy and polyamory, of quad’s and so forth. Maybe we need another option, the do-what-the-hell-you-like relationship, and don’t label it at all. Maybe the Zen of romance, the no-relationship-relationship, the pragmatic romance, the hedonistic companionship.

Or is this too big a step for current civilisation, where we still seek safety through routine habits, through attachment to an idea of commitment, where our understanding of safety lies in the reliance on and trust of another to ‘always be there for me’. I believe we can successfully nurture without torture, and it’s time to awaken to our true potential. Bring back the concept of villages raising children instead of childminders and crèche’s. Let us collaborate while sustaining our individualism. Let us Collabualise in a true commons of Collabolization.