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Confluent love has no commitment or intention to enter into marriage. It is passing and it is good while it lasts.
“It was three years ago when I became friends with a guy I met through a mutual friend. It was hard not to like him. He was sweet, charming and thoughtful. He became the friend I would call when I couldn’t sleep at three in the morning. I woke up one morning and realized I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
I had no illusions about the relationship because I knew he had a girlfriend from the start. I knew I was special to him, but did he love me? I was much too afraid to know the answer. I just held on to what we had, just happy to be with him, knowing deep in my heart that it wouldn’t last and yet hoping against hope that it would.
And then one day he told me his girlfriend was pregnant. I felt like someone had put a knife through my heart and twisted it in really deep. I knew at that moment that I had to let him go. I didn’t want him to see that the happiest day of his life was the saddest day of mine. But though I was slowly dying inside, a part of me
was happy because I knew he was happy. Walking away from him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but I never looked back, afraid that if I did I wouldn’t have the strength to let him go.
It’s been a year now since we last spoke. Even though we made a vow to stay good friends, there was also an unspoken understanding between us that I needed time away from him to give me a chance to heal. There are days when I still miss him badly and I wonder if I can ever really let him go. I know one day I will love again. But for now I just take it one day at a time knowing that if I make it through the day, then tomorrow will be easier” (The happiest and saddest day, By Joe d’Mango).
What is Confluent Love?
Confluent love is a type of romantic relationship which is attuned to the present postmodern times. In his book, “The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies,” the British sociologist Anthony Giddens (1992) describes confluent love as a type of love which is based on pure relationship. And pure relationship is a “social relation…entered into for its own sake; and which is continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfaction for each individual to stay within it” (Cornville & Rogers, 1998, p. 97). ‘Unlike romantic love, confluent love is not necessarily monogamous, in the sense of sexual exclusiveness. What holds the pure relationship together is the acceptance on the part of each partner, ‘until further notice’, that each gains sufficient benefit from the relation to make its continuance worthwhile (Giddens, 2011). Romantic love is a type of relationship which is often viewed as ‘forever after’ monogamous love. This type of love prepares people for the lifelong commitment of marital love after courtship and engagement.
Confluent love is different from romantic or marital love. In consensual love, the partners agree to have sexual relations with others whom they have no intention of marrying or, if they marry, do not necessarily see the marriage as having permanence (Kendal, 2014). The essence of confluent love is its contingency. It is not a “till-death-do-us-part” kind of relationship. It lasts as long as the lovers find the relationship mutually fulfilling. Thus, a one-night stand, a regular orgy of couples, or a temporary live-in arrangement or cohabitation with no intention of marrying, are some expressions of confluent love. Furthermore, confluent love, unlike romantic love, is not always monogamous. Sometimes it allows polygamous, bisexual or homosexual relationship. In this sense, confluent love does not conform to the criteria of true love as defined by the Bible and Church teachings. It has no religious dimension. It ends when both or all parties involved feel that the relationship is no longer working and satisfying. “The emergent morality of confluent love recognizes the rights of individual to happiness and appropriateness of ending relationships that are no longer experienced as fulfilling” (Goodwin & Cramer, 2009, p. 48). This emerging concept of love and commitment, facilitated by the liquidity of the world by the process of globalization and secularization, contravenes the religious understanding of marital love as sacred and a lifetime commitment.