Polyamory, at its core, is to me an opportunity to allow any relationship in my life to become what it is meant to be. Of course that is within the constraints of any relationship the other person may already have. But if I had to define poly, for what it means to me, it doesn’t come down to wanting or needing a specific number of lovers or loves. It comes down to being open to whatever may become of any new relationship that comes along.
Functionally, as an example, let’s say I have a close friend, male or female. Maybe we are new friends and just met a month or two ago, or maybe we have been friends for a few years. Suddenly we find ourselves flirting or experiencing an attraction to one another. In a poly situation, we talk openly about this attraction. It’s not assumed (as it may be in a monogamous relationship) that just because we feel an attraction, we will go on to have a romantic relationship that will include sex. It is then up to the two of us and partially any other partners in our lives to decide what will work for us. Close friends who cuddle, maybe make out? Friends who have sex once in a while for fun? Partners who are in love and may even go on to cohabitate? Something completely different or a combination of these? In my ideal poly situation (not saying that things are always ideal… like in any type of relationship or lifestyle), there is no pressure to be anything in particular. Many or hopefully all of the assumptions are dropped and what you are left with is the freedom to do what works in each individual situation. You’ve stopped painting all relationships and the possibilities therein with the same brush.
Right now, Veronica and I are figuring out exactly who we are to each other. I seem to be seeing her more, again. I hadn’t seen her in weeks… maybe a couple of months. It had been a long time. Her relationship with the other woman, the monogamous woman who was making rather unwelcome demands on Veronica’s time, didn’t allow for us to spend time together; or at least Veronica wanted some time to work it out with the other woman, and I wasn’t bothered by that.
So as Veronica related to me today, for a period of at least a few weeks, she more or less stopped seeing me and our poly friends for the sake of the other woman’s comfort. I missed her but was also going through a period where I welcomed the solitude. I think most of us go through these times, when we look within and want lots of time to relax, focus on ourselves (working out, writing, sleeping, reading), and don’t want a crowded social calendar. Hank was away for about a month and I just spent a lot of quiet nights alone, which at this point was really nice.
To be clear, Veronica did send me a detailed and really thoughtful message explaining why she had been withdrawing. We talked about it and agreed that we both feel that we will be perfectly happy to reunite after whatever period of time is needed, and that she should feel free to take some time to sort through her more complicated relationship with the other woman.
So here we are, in the position of figuring out what we are to each other. I personally love the ambiguity of it, and from the discussions we have had I believe Veronica is very comfortable with the freedom of boundaries in our relationship as well. I say that we are figuring out what we are to each other, but it is just as much a matter of not figuring it out… of letting it be whatever it needs to be at any time. I suppose the point is, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t every relationship be rooted in the moment, in now? I do think it’s important in a committed relationship to work at it, to, for instance, work on yourself and your own issues to help the relationship and keep it healthy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work at a relationship. But when it comes to a lover or someone you are dating, I do think that it’s kind of sad to fall back on assumptions or cultural expectations to decide what your relationship should look like, how often you should see each other, rules you have with one another, and so on.
So what is my relationship with Veronica in this moment, now? I refer to her as my “kind of girlfriend” or “my girlfriend whom I haven’t seen in a month.” I am in love with her and to my knowledge she is in love with me. I’m very attracted to her, and we flirt and plan to continue to sleep together. The sex is hot, and playful, and fun. That is now, and I have no desire for that to change. I feel completely okay with her having relationships with anyone else whom she pleases. I understand we may see more or less of one another depending who either of us is seeing or what is happening in our lives, and I feel fine about that too. All in all, I really like the nature of our relationship and the possibilities I see in it, and I feel really at peace about whichever direction it may take.
There is also another relationship I am starting to try to sort out, if it moves any further beyond where it is now. He is a friend I met through both the poly group and a bisexual support group one of my friends started. I’ll call him Marc. He is in a long-term, committed same-sex relationship and identifies as primarily gay but to my understanding he is looking for basically what I am looking for: someone of the opposite sex to cuddle and make out with and probably not anything sexual involving genitals. We kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle (love it!) at a friend’s party a couple weeks ago, and then made out and cuddled at a party I threw this past weekend. I couldn’t believe the smile on my face. I was so happy to be kissing him and be near him, and yet that pressure to get naked and get him inside me was not there. It was so nice. We agreed we’d both like to make out more. We have a date tomorrow night, just bubble tea and dessert and talking about what we’re looking for, I presume. And hopefully some hand holding, and then making out in the car after. Aw, he is adorable and awesome and I’m really giddy about this. It seems so unconventional at face value but makes so much sense to me.
So there, from my own life, a couple examples of what relationships could look like. That is what mine look like right now, in this moment… we will see what they are in a month, six months, a year! They may be very different but I can only hope I’ll be at least as happy then as I am now.