I am not a mathematical person.
I cannot tell you if 1+1=2, mathematically speaking. I know there are arguments, apparently both ways, where some say one plus one equals two– and some say it does not. Don’t ask me for the mathematical proof, please.
I am, however, a relationship person. In relationships, 1+1=X. I would have said equals three, but it’s often more than three. If I’m going to make up a rule, I’m going to ensure its consistency.
You might have heard, “In polyamory,” or “In non monogamy,” such and such is true. Which is generally true. I mean that thing probably exists in polyamorous relationships. But most things extend to any form of relationship. Because relationships aren’t just Capital R “Relationships.” They are connections between people. It’s not only the Consensual, Romantic, Agreed On Relationships.
I tried to get around this rule when I first dated. I believed 1+1=2. Me plus my partner. Simple, right? I held the mindset, “I am with My Person and only My Person.” It worked well enough. I never allowed myself to grow close to any of my partners. I kept my place, and I kept them in theirs. It worked for me– up to a point.
Which is when I met my Master.
I started off the same with Him. I was perfectly happy being the “side relationship.” After all, it was the same for him. I wasn’t allowed in his life, but he wasn’t allowed in mine, either. When it was him and me, it was just him and me. 1+1=2. Why did I need to learn how to do anything apart from what I needed with Him?
But then I started wanting more. And that meant getting to know his Life. Which inevitably meant building relationships beyond 1+1=2. Because his life included his people. Just like mine involved my people.
I never wanted, nor had, a Romantic relationship with anyone else in my Master’s life.
To be fair, I took my time adjusting. I did not have much to do with most of his relationships, whether romantic, work related, familial, or platonic (most of our current mutual relationships we formed after we met). But there were still four people left that I had to learn to build relationships with, if I wanted anything serious with him. Obviously they’d be different kinds of a relationship, but a relationship nonetheless.
This meant his three children. It also meant his then primary relationship, his at the time wife. I started working to connect with her.
I learned first hand about the 1+1=X rule, and how inevitable it truly was.
She tried very, very hard not to acknowledge me. But It didn’t end up meaning that she didn’t know me. It meant she got less close to him. Even them (eventually it started to negatively impact her relationship with the children).
Because the rule didn’t care whether it was acknowledged or not. It just cared that I was now involved in his life. The closer I got to my master and the munchkins, the worse it got between her and me. She could not accept that we shared a space. But ignoring a physical reality doesn’t mean it goes away. If I ignore a door, I still run head first into it.
The rule kept strong. I eventually recognized and worked with it. As I did, my relationship with him grew stronger. To the point of being my rock in this life.
She kept up the opposite.
When she married her then boyfriend, now husband, he, too, tried to live the 1+1=2 rule. In his mind, like hers, their marriage was about Them. The two of them. He told the munchkins he was “there for their mother, not them.”
But, as I mentioned, the 1+1=X rule doesn’t care if you consent to it or not.
So her relationships continued to disintegrate.
I felt bad, still feel bad. Nobody had ever explained to her how consent worked. Or the 1+1=X rule. She thought opening up the relationship meant she and her husband got to pick out each other’s partners. And if she didn’t like me, at the very least she shouldn’t ever have to be annoyed with my presence. But my master had no interest in controlling her relationships, nor her controlling his. Nor did he have any interest in hiding me.
Oh, I wish I could explain to her! When you date a person, when you want to be in their life, you have to accept all of them. That meant me accepting her, as an existing relationship. It also meant her accepting me as a new one. I was a part of him, now, just as she was.
You know how some people say you need to accept all of a person to be in their life. This isn’t entirely true- but it’s not entirely wrong. I’ll say this, most people want you to accept all of them. Accept them, their friends, their family, etc (at least the ones in their life, if they don’t speak with their father, you don’t have to either). If you don’t, that usually means limiting or losing the relationship altogether. Depending on what part of them you don’t accept.
I’m cautious now when I start to interact with a person. Because I never know if I want to keep them on the side, or grow close. If I do grow close? Then I’ll start to become a part of their life, too. Which means their people. Which means 1+1=2….3….8….12…and so on. Whether or not I end up becoming best friends or lovers…or mere acquaintances. The 1+1=X rule doesn’t care about scale.
It’s important to remember the other relationships, because they just might entangle with yours.
That’s what an entangled relationship means. Even if I never enter a Best Friendship or a Romantic Partnership with any of their friends or partners, I am still going to end up sharing space. Connection. And I want people that I can have that base level of relationship with, because I prefer a harmonious environment. Which I’d argue most of us want. I don’t meet many who go, “Oh, yeah, I hope there’s a lot of trouble between everyone I love. Keeps life interesting, you know?”
I do not want to be besties with every single person my partner(s) are dating, let alone with every person connected to said partner(s). That is frankly unrealistic and generally undesired. But I will always respect the 1+1=X rule in my relationships with them. Because that is reality.