Full stack relationships: where you get all your needs met from one person: friendship, co-habitation, sex, emotional support, etc. Typical utopian perfect partner/marriage, etc. that I and many other bought into.
A la carte relationships: where you get different aspects of relationship needs met from different people. Ps. Not necessarily poly or non-monogomous. What I'm trying to innovate in my own relationships.
I've been a full stack relationship person for most of my life. But then my relationships reached the limits of this paradigm. I wasn't particularly interested in the poly emotional noob clusterfuck. So for the past several years I've been exploring "the future of relationships" and what that means for me.
I've focused on having deep emotional connections with people at whatever level we can emotionally connect on. I've worked to eliminate a relationship agenda e.g. having an agenda where I want a relationship to go. It's been hard at times because I've found myself slipping back into a more committed relationship expectation. Such strength is this social programming. I've had to have hard conversations with people who wanted a committed relationship and I've had to be honest with myself for the reasons I didn't want to have them with that individual.
I still have internal conflicts. Of course there's the dream of some perfect puzzle piece that synergistically fits into my kind of crazy. A full stack relationship. But I'm scared to really dream that dream anymore. Because it's limiting possibilities. Because of past failure.
Then, there is the me of the now. Finding satisfaction with the a la carte options. Being emotionally present and deeply connecting at the level of connection that is available at the moment. But what are those a la carte options and breakdowns? I'm still trying to figure it out.
- Like what is the protocol for a bootie call? And is that just fucking? (not that anything is wrong with that.)
- What makes it a friend with benefits? I mean, what kind of friendship is it?
- And WTF does casual mean? Casual yet intimate? What kind of commitment is or is not inherent in casual?
- And how good of a communicator are you? And how honest are you with yourself, and in saying things that you know will be hard for the other person to hear?
- Or keeping your own emotions in check, being honest with yourself and your motivations? Meaning, do you have a sense of self-awareness?
And I have to wonder, am I keeping myself safe saying I don't want something serious because of past hurt? Of all those disappointments? Sure, I can be more vulnerable than ever, but I hold something back I used to share. A trusting possibility I no longer have. Not quite cynicism, but maturity?
Right now, the emotional intimacy I love best is in email. It's in this space that I can be vulnerable safely. You experience your vulnerability. I can think about what I want to say. Write out the words. And I can savor and return to yours. But the build up via email is often left un-realized due to the space-time continuum. You may be on the other side of the world, a completely different day.
Because words are not the same as lips, bodies, and messy sheets. Or a snuggle, a dog walk, a shared meal, and a laugh at YT videos. Or a shared bank account, utility accounts, keys, and a mortgage. All things you could get in a full stack relationship, that are hard to come by casually a la carte.
I wish I knew the answer here. I wish I could even figure out the a la carte categories, but I suspect the lines are not so neatly drawn and based on individual preferences. Society doesn't allow a paradigm for messy boundaries, not to mention to navigate the honesty and consent.
What I do know, is I miss having someone to cook dinner for. I miss having an excuse to dress up fancy and be taken out. I miss waking up with coffee (that I don't have to make myself). I miss the mundane logistical conversations. I miss having a joint bank account and financial/real estate goals. I miss going on crazy adventures and knowing I don't have to always look out for myself. Things I found in a full stack relationship, but am not really sure how to go about finding them a la carte...
... to be continued.
Update: A friend reminded me of her post... I fucking love this line: