~NEXT GEN FEEEEELS~
I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t that fond of them before because, well, basically Kishimoto somehow ruined his original characters and his new characters simultaneously in the span of one chapter? (I’m looking at you 700) But being able to reimagine next gen through the DoS lens has made me appreciate all of the characters more.
Like, now I want to figure out how the Konoha Twelve become adults and decide (or not) to become parents (or not). And, you know, sometimes they’ll mess up–they’re not going to be perfect at things–but I feel like, just like how the generation before them (or, at least Shikaku) said fuck traditions, I’m going to do what makes me happy and marry the woman I love, that their generation is going to do the same. Or at least try.
Let’s see… for Gaara’s feelings about the situation… He’s definitely less jealous than Sasuke but more… afraid almost? It has to do with his self worth and, you know, his continuous surprise that people love him.
The way I see it, he accepts the smallest bits of affection from people and doesn’t expect more and he’s devoted to them in return (ie his love for Suna even though most people are still scared of him probably). And seeing as how Shikako is the first person who believed in Gaara, she gets to experience that first hand. Not Naruto, not his siblings, Shikako. And in DoS we see that he’s constantly surprised by how much faith she has in him (oh god my Shikaara feels).
So he’s not exactly expecting her to leave him for Sasuke for good, but he thinks he wouldn’t be surprised. (He would be and also hurt, but since that’s not going to happen it’s a moot point). That uncertainty and nervousness that the NGSS have with Sakako, Gaara has in a different way with Sasuke. And it’s not like he holds it against their kids for not being biologically related to Shikako, but a part of him reluctantly keeps in mind that Sakako is biologically hers.
Okay, so, regarding mono/poly relationships:
It’s okay to ask your question–it wasn’t ignorant or rude or anything, and considering what I’ve been writing in my fic and A/N it’s totally relevant and not weird (I only took so long because I went to an event for five hours and I wanted my full attention when I answered this). So I would like to answer your question but I also am not exactly qualified, seeing as how I don’t have much experience with relationships personally and more besides I’m either demi/aro and ace.
That being said, I have witnessed a lot of different kinds of relationships and also somehow spent an entire year acting as some kind of romantic guru for a group of six women and their various respective partners and, trust me, there were a lot of situations coming up so… I’ll tell you what I know/think but I also warn you to take it with a grain of salt: I am no expert in this.
Different people obviously have different preferences and limits. And even then, those are general and occasionally there will be exceptions to rules. If we use Naruto characters then I’d say something like:
Sasuke is monogamous. Not even a serial monogamist (which is someone who only dates one person at a time, but has dated multiple people in succession) but–like I said in a previous post–a “one and done” monogamist. His “one and done” in DoS is Shikako, and his exception is Naruto. (Probably in canon, his “one and done” is Naruto and his exception is Sakura).
Which isn’t to say that he never feels attraction to people who aren’t Shikako (or Naruto) but it doesn’t really settle. It’s like noticing something on the side of the path, and you maybe stop and look at it, but you never actually go off the path or down a different path. Like, if Shikako (and Naruto) didn’t want to be with him romantically, he probably wouldn’t be with anyone romantically at all. That’s it–one and done (+ one exception).
… I don’t know why I chose that path metaphor, it doesn’t extend very well. Um… Keep in mind that mono vs poly doesn’t correlate with romantic or sexual orientation. So Sasuke is probably demiromantic bisexual, but since we’re talking about mono/poly that doesn’t really matter to this particular discussion. Also everything I say about characters’ orientations and preferences is REALLY just my interpretation and not in anyway canon for DoS (or… actual canon, but that’s just duh)
Shikako, in contrast, is poly. It’s not like Sasuke is her one and Gaara is her exception, it’s if she finds someone she likes, she’ll let them know. If they like her back, and they understand her limits then that’s it. If I didn’t headcanon Kiba as aro pansexual (and her as demi/bi-ro and demi/ace) she’d probably also be in a relationship with him–as it is their orientations don’t really match up so they’re just platonic bros.
Shikako’s dislike of marriage/being tied down is separate from her being poly. Take the Sai-Ino-Sakura trio. They are poly and about as close to three-way married as legislation will allow them. Ino is poly, Sai I’m not too sure about, and if Sakura is mono then she’s a different kind of mono than Sasuke. She’s more a prioritizing kind of mono (not an actual term as far as I know) in the sense that she kind of ranks who she likes and since Ino ranks above Sai that makes Ino her one. She’s probably at least romantically attracted if not sexually attracted to Sai as well, but not as much as she is with Ino.
And I’m not saying Sakura prefers Ino over Sai, or sides with Ino over Sai, or would drop Sai if Ino said so. But it’s like… for her, she and Ino are dating and Sai is their very close friend who happens to also be dating Ino. It’s totally fine with her, and maybe she’s even a little relieved (not just because Sai takes up more than his share of child rearing) but because she likes knowing that Ino is happy and loved and also appreciates someone else making her happy and loved. As a friend, she wants Sai to be happy and loved as well, but she feels no personal motivation/desire to BE the person who makes him happy and loved.
(I hope I’m getting across here, anon, it’s hard to articulate and I keep waving my arms in crazy gestures as if that will help at all)
If Ino didn’t want to be with Sakura, Sakura would probably move on to someone else, fall in love and be monogamous with them–she’s a serial monogamist, if you want an example of one here.
Gaara I am also not that sure about, mostly because I feel like even he doesn’t know? But if he is mono it’s definitely less like Sasuke’s one and done (+ one exception) and more like Sakura’s serial monogamist. But he might be poly–he definitely wouldn’t say no to having a concurrent relationship with Naruto (but again, that’s probably a bad example since Naruto seems to be a lot of people’s exceptions) while he’s with Shikako, but there’s really not that many people who I can imagine him with romantically so the designation is a little difficult.
Well, okay, I have written Dreaming of S(elfishness) and I feel like that has my subconscious headcanons there so I just need to unpack it? Hm… Gaara is mono or thinks he has to be mono or didn’t even know poly was an option, so when the engagement happened he didn’t even think to discuss the possibility with Shikako which is why she was upset. Because as far as she understood his actions, he got engaged and didn’t want to talk to her which she interpreted as him being mono and choosing Hokuto over her AND NOT TELLING HER ABOUT IT IN PERSON.
The problem with situation in the Walking Around series isn’t so much that Sasuke is mono and Shikako is poly, it’s that Sasuke is a possessive bastard and expects everyone to be the same. If it were two Gaaras, they’d be more than okay with Shikako being with both of them some of the time. Okay, that sounds weird. If it were… If it were Toki and Gaara, (assuming Toki is mono which) they wouldn’t have the same festering expectations/feelings of abandonment that Sasuke has.
Okay, that’s not being fair. Another part of the problem is that Shikako’s chosen partners are in different country and she literally cannot be with both of them at the same time. So Sasuke also resents that his and Sakako’s time with Shikako is reduced so greatly. As I said before (in this previous post) if it were Kiba, Sasuke wouldn’t mind nearly so much. He’d probably even be willing to figure out a living situation that includes Kiba and the nonexistent Shikaba(?) children–massive house, two houses next to each other, etc etc.
Mono/poly relationships are situational like most other relationships. In the Sai-Ino-Sakura trio, it totally works because they’ve probably got very clear channels of communication and even if Sai and Sakura aren’t romantically together, they are friends and make it work. I have seen such a relationship work in the real world–the Ino and Sakura equivalents are getting married next year and the Sai equivalent is going to be maid of honor.
The Sasuke-Shikako-Gaara trio doesn’t work because it’s not really a proper trio. Sasuke and Gaara? Do not like each other at all. They are not friends. Shikako was probably explicit about not being married to Sasuke, about being poly, but Sasuke probably didn’t fully understand what he was agreeing to but isn’t willing to break up with Shikako because she’s his one. I’ve seen something almost like this and it… well… I kind of saw it failing from the beginning because of similar problems, but they wanted to try anyway. The Sasuke and Shikako equivalents were able to break up amiably–but the Sasuke equivalent wasn’t the one and done kind of mono like her fictional counterpart so she fared better than Sasuke would.
It does depend on your limits and preferences. More people in a relationship does mean more limits and preferences and emotions to juggle–it’s difficult to manage, it’s true, but for some people it’s worth it. If you don’t think you can handle a poly arrangement, then that’s nothing against you, that’s just outside of your limits. You and your partner have to be aware of that. If your partner is poly and you’re mono you both have to respect your differences: whether that means your partner stays monogamous even though they would prefer a poly relationship, or you accept their other partner–maybe you’ll become friends–or, maybe, you might just have to break up. Relationships are as much about function as they are about emotion. If you love each other but you’re not compatible, it’s better for both of you to not be together in that way.
And, you know, maybe you’ll be more like the Sakura kind of mono–in that you personally are mono but you are okay (or even more than okay) with your partner being poly and having another partner. Monogamy can also be emotionally taxing, if you are each others’ be all end all. If you are romantic partner and sexual partner and roommate and best friend and therapist and war advisor and financial partner all together and it’s a lot of pressure to be all of that for one person. Some people can do it. Some people can’t.
I personally would probably be more of the Sakura kind of mono because I’m always so relieved when the people I love have other people who love them too. And that’s even if I were mono–I don’t even know what I am, so it’s not weird to not know and be interested and wondering, still.
Love is hard and weird and relationships are complicated whether there’s two people or three people or more than that. So long as everyone’s clear on what they want and what their limits are and when they’re not happy. Because it’s okay to enter a relationship not really knowing your boundaries and realize while you’re in the relationship that, hey, you’re not keen on this. You and your partner(s) will have to work out a way to fix this problem. Sometimes the solution may mean breaking up, but at least you still have the memories of when you were happy and learn more about yourself.
I think that’s it. Wow that’s long. I hope I answered your questions, even if you said I didn’t have to. I did want to, really, it was just intense and I needed some time to wrangle the words.
(Speaking of, thanks! I’m glad you like my writing – and even maybe some of my brainstorms/recordings if you mean all of the content on here? 😀 )