I've been deep in thought recently about what it means to be a friend. There are different types of relationships that are considered forms of friendship, romantic partnership being the most unique of them since they usually involve monogamous intimacy. A decade ago, someone told me that romantic love is a modern concept of our time that hasn't always existed, therefore is a utopian figment of our imagination. Unsurprisingly (and sadly), this person is still single, probably forever (alone). His cynicism made me question my ideas about love so much so that I presented an essay on love at a French speaking competition. I won first place at the local level and third place at the provincial level. Actually, I won first place at the local level only by default as no one else signed up to compete in my category. The high school newspaper omitted that small detail in the article praising me. There was even an announcement of my winning on the school intercom and everything...but I digress. Let's explore love in a very analytical manner.
Love can hurt if someone we love loves someone else. If something "hurts us", or makes us uncomfortable, does that make it wrong? Western culture considers cheating to be wrong even though it's an act between two consenting adults that is seemingly harmless. I've narrowed down the unethical underlying issue with cheating as being an act based on lies. No one likes being lied to, and the worst thing you can do to an autistic person is be dishonest with them. But how would you categorize instances where there's honesty about extra-marital affairs?
Friend: You see that guy over there?
Me: Yeah, the guy who was just flirting with you?
Friend: He flirts with everyone! Him and his wife are swingers!
I know a few people in open marriages and both parties are always truthful about their adventures. From what I gather, the criteria for such a relationship works against a lot of aspie idiosyncrasies: the need for routine, not understanding complex social nuances, and seeing relationships as deeper than just a flesh attraction.
That being said, autistics are unconventional and may find acceptance and freedom of expression in alternative lifestyles. I would think that such a romantic situation would arouse jealousy, a natural human emotion, to surface more times than what is healthy. Practically speaking, meaningful relationships are already hard to juggle with only one person; adding another would be a crowd. But that's just me.
Historically, polygamy was practiced by kings and prophets alike, but this practice differs from infidelity as there was never an expectation to be monogamous. Many religions worldwide practice polygamy and it has been going on for thousands of years so it can't be inherently wrong to have more than one partner. A parent loves all of their children, a sister/brother loves all of their siblings, and a person can have more than one friend. If you can love more than one partner in your lifetime (those who divorce then remarry, widows), who is to say that you can't love more than one person at the same time? Why is the expectation of being with one person a cultural norm? I'll relate this back to Montaigne's philosophy on friendship. He thinks it's almost impossible to have more than one close friend (and a significant other is the closest friend there is); the more people you throw in the mix, the less intimate the connection. Friendship saturation means that after you've fulfilled your need for a deep emotional connection with someone, no further relationship of this depth is required.
If our purpose in life is to co-exist, (a.k.a) to love, it would be ideal to grow this virtue to the best of our ability in terms of quality as opposed to quantity. It's okay to want many connections, were social beings after all, but not at the expense of one soul-altering companionship. Sharing isn't caring if it's not equal. Choosing a partner isn't about playing the field, it's about winning the game. Eenie, meenie, miney, more. More love, less lovers. Less is more.