By Reza Ganjavi
Traditions have engraved in our heads that love is exclusive because tradition just cares about reproduction and having a stable setting for offspring. Today's modern legal systems somewhat provide that setting -- and as humans, our intimate relating is not just for reproduction. As humans, we are able to relate to artistic and sacred qualities. In some cultures and languages, love is a lot stiffer than in others. In Germanic cultures, I am told, the word love is reserved exclusively for close family.
And "love" is one of the most abused words -- it's commercialized and beaten up, but it points to something so powerful that it cannot be polluted. Holy books go as far as saying love is God -- the essence of all being, core of creation, that envelopes all and does not deprive anyone of the possibility to be one with one's own essence.
Stepping out of traditional realm, many people have explored different ways of relating -- open relationships -- half-open relationships, etc.
Key for me is responsibility, so one does not pollute one's own, and another's energy. And being in the present -- so one is not kissing someone and thinking of another.
But I've seen a lot of ways people handle this topic -- e.g., I was invited to a friend's for a week in a cosmopolitan city. Her boyfriend was away on business trip. She was chatting with him in the morning online, and then giving me sex lessons -- she was more experienced, though she was my age, and it was refreshing for me to hear it from a woman's perspective, what a woman likes -- very educational -- and things many guys don't know.
So was she cheating on him? I'm not a moral judge, but our contact did not reduce from her love for him, did not hurt him or negatively affect him in any way -- and in fact, enriched her so in turn it enriched their relationship. I am not prescribing or judging. Just sharing an experience.
On the other hand, what is not good, is to be in intimate contact with someone and not being fully there -- thinking of someone else at the same time.