“You don’t have to say you love me
You don’t have to say nothing
You don’t have to say you’re mine
You don’t have to say you love me
I just wanna tell you something
Lately you’ve been on my mind”
Things are different now, than they were before. I’ve grown. I’ve changed. I would barely recognize my old self if I happened to run into her. Her. Them. They. Him. Me. Who even was I? A different person. A different time. A different reality. Things have changed.
I no longer see things the same way. I couldn’t go back now even if I tried. Even if I wanted to…but I don’t. The possession. The jealousy. The anxiety. The stress. The confusion. Trying to shove myself into boxes, multiple boxes, always boxes. I wasn’t happy then, but I didn’t understand why.
What do you think of when you think of strings? Attached or unattached. What do those strings look like? What do they feel like? Are they keeping you grounded – without which you feel destined to float aimlessly? Are they holding you back – like a leash forced onto you as you beg to run free? Are they safe? Are they dangerous? Do they make you feel loved? Are strings the feeling of knowing you have someone to come home to? Are they the same as plans and goals and working towards a common future?
When you think of attached strings…do you imagine the ropes you cling to as you climb up the side of a mountain, or something invisibly moving you as if you were a puppet? When you think of unattached strings…do you picture balloons accidentally being set loose into the sky where you can never reach them again, or simply a variety of multiple pieces of jewellery – necklaces and bracelets – all complete and whole as they are but not tied to each other? Does any of this feel familiar? Does none of it? How do you interpret strings?
In relation to relationships, especially romantic or sexual ones, people tend to hold very specific and limiting views about strings. When they say “no strings attached,” they mean something casual. They mean that it can be fun, but there’s no commitment. No promises. No plans for the future. This is it. Often this refers to sexual encounters, or other sexual arrangements – like friends with benefits. But it can also refer to just about any situation in which you engage with someone on a certain level with no agreement to add anything else into your dynamic.
It is here that I have found my truth. I cannot agree, or disagree, 100% to anything involving the future. I cannot say for certain where my life, or the love within my heart, will lead me. I refuse to confine myself, my potential, my dreams…by any restrictions in the form of forever promises. I cannot promise you a forever of anything. It just isn’t realistic. Even people who mean those kinds of things when they say them… it’s unlikely that their minds and feelings and plans and ideas, etc. will never change. People are always changing, always growing. It isn’t a bad thing, either.
In fact, it is a really good and healthy thing. Stagnation of the mind or heart can lead to toxicity and depression. Comfort isn’t bad. Familiarity isn’t bad. Though, assuming that things of familiarity will always, in every circumstance, be the ones to bring you comfort…is madness. And, to assume that comfort is always the thing you will be needing – opposed to inspiration, challenges, excitement or exhilaration – is absurd and naive. You will always continue to grow and change. Your wants and needs will differ from one moment to the next. That is just a fact.
What does this mean for plans and commitments and your future? And what does that have to do with strings? To me – plans and commitments can be made without strings. A plan, or commitment, in itself, isn’t necessarily a string. It can be, if it’s inflexible. If it refuses to change and grow with you. Strings, as I’ve come to see them, are things that keep you stuck in one spot. They tie you to one location. That location may be something that is moving in a direction you want to go; like being tied to a train headed towards your destination. But it doesn’t allow for any deviation from those initial plans, regardless of what may happen in your life. It isn’t understanding. It isn’t forgiving.
I ONLY love without strings. I refuse to add strings into the equation, ever. I want myself and my partners to be free to move in any direction they choose at any point in time. I don’t assume I can tell the future, and I don’t expect my partners to either. I have hopes and dreams. I make plans. I coordinate with others. I work together with my partners to create our shared existence, but that existence is ever changing. Growing. Every little decision one of us makes alters the make-up of our shared reality. And I am 100% on board for that! I don’t want a stiff, inflexible, heavy life plan for myself and those I love. I want something that can ebb and flow with the air around us. I want something that can weather a blow, that can shift and transform when it needs to. I want something that is fluid.
I have life partners, but it is different for me than I think it is for most people who use the term. My life partners may not be in my life all the time. They haven’t committed to be by my side through thick and thin. We simply have a mutual understanding that we will always love each other, and that as we maneuver through life we will continue to love each other, regardless of what life throws our way. Though the form, or type, of love may shift over time. We will let life determine the details. Sometimes we may see each other everyday, and sometimes we may have no communication for multiple year spans. When we are there – we are there. And that is what matters.
Does this mean we make no effort to have control of our own lives, and just go wherever the wind blows us? Yes and no. We make choices. We make plans. We set goals. We dream. We try to decide what will be best for us now, and later on. But when things come up that shift the direction we’re headed, or when something appears that could allow us to do so, we are free to make those choices without the feeling of being weighted down to anyone or anything. We make conscious, educated choices…but we GET to actually MAKE those choices. They aren’t pre-determined by us or anyone else. We don’t have to ask permission to live our own lives.
Like a beautiful unchoreographed dance that bumps along with the beat and flows with the melody. Our lives are able to follow the natural music that we feel within us. When the music slows down, we can slow down. When the music speeds up, we can speed up. When we feel an internal need to twirl or leap, we do. We live life and express love as it is. We don’t try to be something we’re not – even if that’s what we used to be. We acknowledge the process of our own never-ending self discovery. The journey is enjoyable. We aren’t worried about the destination, so we don’t need to get there quickly. After all, the only true destination is death. All other steady moments are simply stops along the pathway of life. Nothing is permanent.
I understand and accept other ways of existing. Other ways of loving. Of life. I recognize that my experiences are my own, and not those of others. The message I am trying to provide here isn’t one of trying to shape you into something else. Something you’re not. My life is not your life. My love is not your love. My truth is not your truth. That’s okay.
My goal, in writing this piece, is hopefully to simply give you another option. Another perspective. Another way of thinking about the world, and relationships, and people. The more we know, the more we can understand; and the more we understand, the more likely we are to accept people the way they are – not the way we want them to be.
There isn’t one right way to love or live. We are always learning, and what we learn will continue to transform us. As individuals. As a community. The human race as a whole. The way we live and love will continue to change over the years. My hope is that we will all continue to grow, the way that is best for us to grow, alongside the ever-shifting reality we exist in. Coexist with others who are different from you. Allow your truth, and their truth, to be valid and seen and embraced.
Don’t force anything.