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. Because there’s no reliable way to know what X will be, except for it is greater than 1+1 (or 1+1+1, in case of triad and so forth).
I’d say, “In polyamorous relationships,” 1+1=X. But people in non polyamorous relationships inevitably end up dealing with other relationships that aren’t capital R relationships. I will therefore apply this rule to any form of Romantic Relationship (and honestly probably non romantic, too, but let’s not quibble).
I tried to get around this rule when I first dated, and it’s likely most of us have.
I believed 1+1=2. I held the mindset, “I am with My Person and only My Person.” I was dating my new person; I wasn’t dating any one of their friends, partners, or lovers. I never even got to know them, outside of the most casual of ways.
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. Again, I wasn’t dating his friends, or even his wife. I thought about it, but she wasn’t interested. Fair enough.
I wasn’t allowed in his life, by design, but he wasn’t allowed in mine, either. I never brought him round my friends or told my family about him. 1+1=2.
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.
I got to know his friends. Well, our friends. You see, we started making friends together. Sometimes I’d even meet existing friends of his. It also meant (gulp!) his three children. Who grew to love me, as I grew to love them. 1+1=5, maybe 6, maybe 20?
I learned first hand about the 1+1=X rule, and how inevitable it truly was.
While I acknowledged her, she tried very, very hard not to acknowledge me. Unfortunately for her, it didn’t mean she didn’t know me. It meant she got less close to him. Even them, as it eventually included her own children.
The rule, as it turned out, didn’t care whether it was acknowledged or not.
It just cared that I was now involved in his life, and he was in mine. 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. That’s what everyone told him. That’s what he had every reason to believe. He told the munchkins he was “there for their mother, not them.” Because in his mind, they were irrelevant to his relationship with her. While it was true that each relationship is unique and its own entity, however, the 1+1=X rule could not be avoided.
As I mentioned, the 1+1=X rule doesn’t care if you consent to it or not.
Relationships are a rather tricky creature.
Nobody had ever explained to her how consent worked, let alone the 1+1=X rule. She thought opening up the relationship meant she and her husband got to pick out each other’s partners. Then they would keep them conveniently in little boxes. Which could be disposed of if they got too inconvenient.
She learned this rule the hard way. I did, too.
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 may very well end up sharing space. Connection. Enough to maintain 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?”
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. Nobody need accept every single tiny detail of a person. But the biggest relationships in their life? Yeah, that’s pretty important. If they have a close relationship with their mother, it’ll make it much more difficult if she hates you.
Besties with my metas? Maybe. Mutually respecting acquaintances? Absolutely. I will always respect the 1+1=X rule in my relationships with them. Just as a matter of reality, nothing more.