I’ve talked about polyamory and monogamy before. It’s love and love is important. Usually though I’m arguing on the side of polyamory. It can sound like I’m giving monogamy a bad name. It’s not because I think it’s worse but because I feel the need to defend polyamory; monogamy is considered normal so it doesn’t need support. That’s not good enough. I’d be doing a disservice to my philosophy if I were to neglect a topic due to it’s common nature. So here’s my argument in favor of monogamy (which I’ll refer to as pairing now).
Consciousness is that Strange Loop of self reflection. One of my earliest posts, “Love is the answer to consciousness”, explained how love can help with the loneliness inherent in being self aware. This was about love in all its multifaceted nature, but now I want to narrow our focus to a simple paired bond. But first we must step back to see the flaws in being unpaired.
Take the Strange Loop metaphor in a literal visual sense, as in a point orbiting around an object: it can spiral inwards, outwards or remain in a steady loop. Clearly there’s far more opportunities for it to do anything but remain stable; inwards and outwards are the probable outcome. That inwards spiral is depression, the outwards is mania. To be clear, I’m not using these terms medically I’m doing it socially. Clinical depression and clinical mania are not things I am qualified to speak on. These are lesser but descriptively similar states arising from your own consciousness, things which you can literally think your way out of.
The inward loop of depression is the self loathing feeling you wallow in when you feel isolated. As you descend further inwards it saps your will to escape.
The outward loop of mania is when you lose your grounding. This can be from physical isolation, but it’s more commonly from emotional isolation. When your ideas are no longer challenged they lose touch with reality. The extreme example is the artist who recently became famous and is fueled by sycophants who don’t question them. Their art loses meaning and is simply self aggrandizement. This is the most obvious example but by no means do you need to be famous to do this. Many people reach this emotional isolation because they have trouble with their ego and with empathy. They push people away that challenge them because it makes them uncomfortable. And so they lose their grounding.
Pairing is a way to fix these problems because a partner is perfectly suited to intervene. They’re close enough to jog you out of either state. They’re not stuck in your strange loop so they don’t necessarily get sucked in and blinded. When someone is close enough to you to break through any barriers we may put up, they can tear us out of that depression or send our manic spiral back to reality.
There’s another perfect visualization for this. It comes from a similar area as the Strange Loop (it’s also chaotic mathematics), called the Strange Attractor. It’s a visual metaphor though, not a “real” connection but I find imagery helpful. The top of this article has an example. The two ‘attractors’ are the different selves, the relationship is the path traced by the point. It never repeats an identical path and it never spirals towards one solitary point or away from them.
Conversely this is also an argument for remaining an individual in a pairing, of not merging into one entity. It can be tempting when madly in love to spend all one’s time with the object of your affection, of taking on their traits as your own (and hopefully these feelings are reciprocated). This is a mistake. When you’re too close to your lover, you lose the ability to ground their spiraling self. You get sucked into the depressive state or you fly away on the mania. Individuality is necessary for being a supportive partner.