This is in large part an extension of my last piece, An Argument For Monogamy. I kinda failed to argue in favor of monogamy, it was more about Pairing which you can do with more than one partner (so not monogamy). Assumptions can creep into our thought patterns; one of them got into my brain, and I skipped an important step in my logic. I hope this rectifies it.
The Three Body Problem is a difficulty in classical physics where the paths of celestial bodies can be accurately predicted when you have 1 or 2 bodies, but 3 or more and we have trouble. The differences in the variables compound over time and we are unable to pinpoint locations. We can make some predictions, but it’s through chaos theory and it only give us estimations. As done before, I’d like to draw a comparison between chaotic physics and human psychology.
We need to be able to predict the people around us. It’s not that we should know exactly what people will do, that would be incredibly boring, but complete randomness isn’t good either. When we want to bond with someone closely, we need the greatest degree of predictability. This is the person we’ll rely on to get us out of our worst states. You need to be able to depend on them. Conversely, you need to be able to predict why they act and feel the way they do. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to help them through their problems. Understanding someone goes hand in hand with being able to predict them. Again of course, the extreme of this would be bad. It’s actually a really common problem to feel your partner has become ‘boring’. But I digress.
Understanding requires predictability. In the long term, you will change and your partner will change; you need to be able to continue to predict them. This is where the three body problem comes in. Human psychology is exceedingly complicated and additional humans increase said complexity exponentially. An unadmitted fact of our society is that many of us aren’t capable of comprehending this when it’s just two people. We can’t cope with more than our own ego, will, subconsciousness, etc. So trying to handle more than two… It’s exceptionally challenging, more so than most can handle.
Am I saying you can’t have an intimate pairing with 3+ people? Absolutely not, it’s definitely possible and it has definitely happened many times. It’s harder though and time will be a greater burden. It’s exponentially more difficult to predict the behaviour of more than one other person and this compounds over time. As all involved change, the likelihood of the relationship dynamics remaining stable decreases. That sweet spot of intimate pairing is narrower and more likely to break. If you’ve experienced the exception to this then I applaud you; you’ve done far better than the rest of us.
Like celestial bodies we can meet across the vast reaches of space.
But also like celestial bodies, we will eventually drift apart.
The more bodies, the more chaotic, the faster the system is flung apart.
But no matter the numbers, that tangled dance is wonderful
Each and every time.