“Damien, you are an enigma and I don’t understand you.” – A comment during a performance review, circa 1990.
Labels are awesome. Really they are. We use them all the time to simplify our lives and keep us safe. Our ancestors used them with great success. For instance, some animals can be labeled food, others can be labeled eaters of us. We can group labels into meta-labels too, eaters of us can be under the label dangerous things, and dangerous things can be under the label things to run away from.
This however, is were we run the risk of getting ourselves into trouble. It is easy to allow erroneous entries in our taxonomy, or get the associations reversed, for instance, dangerous things may be things that make us afraid but it does not necessarily follow that all things that make us afraid are also dangerous things. It is also easy to fall into the trap of believing that an object’s labels, somehow define its limits, rather than just some of its properties.
If you are like us, it may feel like your life has been specifically designed to shatter labels. That’s because (as we discussed above) labels rarely fully define real things, they are like tags on a social media site, filling in a tiny piece of detail, adding a small brush stroke, saying, this, can sometimes be associated with that.
Here are just a few of the many labels that could apply to Angelica and I:
Reading that list, I’m sure you won’t have a problem picking out at least two labels that seem to contradict one another. And that brings me back to the quote at the top of this article. We are all enigmas, the totality of our selves defy the labels that apply to us.
As Enigmas we should strive to treat labels the way a NASCAR driver treats his sponsor’s caps while being interviewed on victory lane. Wear the one that defines us right now, discarding it the moment it has outlived its welcome, making room for another that we like better, and sometimes swapping between contradictory ones at a moments notice.
Opening up your relationship can be fraught with uncertainty. You are very likely traveling uncharted waters. If you are like us, you are probably looking for reassurance that you are following the right path. Just be aware that in these instances it is easy to forget what labels are, and begin to believe the labels we adopt define traits that we should aspire or conform to.
For instance, what does it mean to be a Swinger?
Does it simply mean being ethically open to having sex with people outside of your primary relationship? Or does it carry additional meanings? Like how or how often you have that sex, where you have that sex, how you feel about the people you have that sex with, etc?
Can you call yourself a Swinger, communicate with your partner, follow your heart, yet do it the wrong way? Depending on who you ask, you could certainly come away with that impression.
We occasionally call ourselves Swingers, we are open to full swap, we like same room, and are overjoyed to be friends first. But those labels do not define the only way we could imagine doing this, or even how we will define ourselves tomorrow. More importantly, we would never assume that others would feel the same way.
We believe that we should all strive to embrace our inner enigmas. While doing so, I suggest we try to accept those around us as enigmas too.
So, the next time you are talking to someone, try this: When they say, “We are Swingers.” Say, “That is awesome, what does Swinger mean to you?”
Damien & Angelica (AKA: Mr & Ms Enigma)