(as a sequel to this post)
Which wasn’t geared towards choosing one’s lifelong partner based on sexual or reproductive relationships. Instead, the person (or persons) one chose to link one’s life to could be a sibling, a friend, or as one of several alternatives, a sexual partner. One would still have sex of course, but that relationship need not be the primary one. One could still have children and the father/mother of the children could still play important roles in their lives but need not live together.
Like marriage, these relationships would have social and legal sanction so that the emotional and financial investment in them has a degree of protection.
Could this work?
I have seen girls who as best friends have a far closer relationship than the ones they share with their sexual partners. And yet, the sexual relationship is expected to eventually take primacy in the form of marriage. Ditto with siblings.
In same-sex families where the child has been conceived through a donor, the biological parent of one gender is not present. Yet, the children grow up fine. Heck, even in tribal societies, children are often reared by the women of the tribe with the dads stepping in now and then to play a supporting role. My own father was away for long periods of the year; however, he played an influential role in our childhood without being present all the time. What seems to matter is a stable environment more than the presence of both biological parents.
Of course, it is utterly convenient to have a partner who is all things in one – best friend, lover, financial partner, caregiver, fellow parent. And some people might find such a person. But in most marriages this is not really the case anyway.
So what if two best friends or siblings decide they are going to be lifelong partners? They could live together, adopt a child or a puppy, invest their savings in their future together. They would have independent sexual partners who feature in their lives in the way best friends feature in the lives of married people – as supporting actors. They might have children with their sexual partners and look after them together. Their union should be legally recognised so they could immigrate to other countries as partners, have inheritance and other important rights. At the end of their lives, being contemporaries, they have as much chance of being there for each other as married people do.
The only flaw I see in this hypothetical set up is that it doesn’t shatter the quest for The One. Thus, like marriage, there will be pressure to find the one person who will satisfy most needs to hitch one’s star to. I initially thought that the relationship need not be restricted to just two people but I don’t think three can share the same bond as two, invariably power relations and group dynamics come into play. Moreover, it might be difficult from a legal standpoint to link the dependants and rights of three, while two is still manageable.
So partnership of two it must be. But one with extended scope so that one is not restricted in one’s choice to just half the world on a gender basis or an even smaller number on a sexual compatibility basis. Possible?