My idea of a relationship is one plus one equals three.
These are the words of Shan. A sex educator. I heard them on a clip on Youtube which you can find here. A conversation about monogamy versus polyamory, actually a conversation I would really suggest you watch. Anyway, I heard her words and this idea that society lives finally clicked in me.
At minute 18:40 in the video, they pose a question in the group for discussion. The question is, ‘I would feel incomplete without my partner?’ And Shan disagrees, enthusiastically, I assume that’s how she does everything.
She says she doesn’t connect with that. She imagines at the end of a relationship she would feel a number of ways, sad, disadvantaged and I might even add relieved. But what she can’t connect with is the complete loss of self.
You see, to Shan relationships are one plus one equals three. Where two complete people meet and through their interaction, a third springs up. A third complete person.
And it occurred to me. This is what happens whenever people interact, not just relationships. Whatever it is. The office, school, a date, church, every single interaction, there is always an imaginary third that lives.
I think this third is a paradox because in a sense they are at once the most powerful and fleeting person in the interaction. This is why people act so different in groups than they do when alone. It is the third, the presence of the third alone is so potent it changes the behaviour of the individuals.
But then again, when the interaction stops. It is the third that gets the axe. The first axe. So in a way the third is both the strongest and the weakest link. It is this third we are changing when we say society has indeed improved because in a sense the rest of us remain as we were.
I find this an interesting notion especially since we are always talking about changing the world and how that connotes with changing ourselves. And while I do not disagree with that. I think perhaps changing the third is just a tad bit more efficient. The whisper of the third does a lot more than the example of one of us. It’s the difference between using an elevator to lift something to a top floor of a sky scraper as opposed to having someone take the stairs with it in hand, in fact I think the difference is much more drastic than that.
The next question is, ‘So, who is the third?’ The law. Religion. The Internet. Our conscience or what. This I must admit I cannot answer but it would certainly be wonderful if this mystical third could be adequately isolated and truly utilized to ‘change the world,’ as we all so often proclaim.