“For me, it’s not about waiting around until I find the one I want to settle down with…I found my ones, there are multiple ones, and that’s why I’m keeping them in my life.”
~ Multiamory Podcast
I think I’ve said here before that I’m a bit of a relationship anarchist, and it’s actually one of the main reasons that I practice polyamory. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, there are lots of “definitions” out there (as there is with everything). Good Ol’ Wikipedia states that relationship anarchy is “the belief that relationships should not be bound by rules aside from what the people involved mutually agree upon.” While I do agree with this definition, I’d like to dive a little deeper into my personal views.
My personal outlook: My romantic relationships/sexual entanglements are not inherently or automatically more important than my friendships. No one has blanket hierarchy (read: no one “always” comes first). Entitlement demands (“you have to do this because I was here first”) get an annoyed side eye from me. There’s freedom to express intimacy with someone as I and that person see fit (example: I display physical affection, like holding hands, with platonic friends regularly). Relationship escalator type events aren’t required to make me feel validated – I like designer relationships and defining the commitments within each one individually, creating successful relationships across a spectrum of entanglement intensity.
So what does this look like in my life?
When my best friend who is an attorney was pregnant, she spent a day in our (platonic life partner) group text, explaining which of us she put in charge of what in case she passed away during delivery – who was got power of attorney, who would plan the funeral, who would raise her child, who would make the decision to pull the plug, etc. Nobody, not even her husband, batted an eye on who she chose for what.
In high school, I was told by several people that people would think I was gay by the way I interacted with my female platonic friends. I, of course, ignored them (after snickering because I already knew by then that I was bi so yay if someone thought something about me that was true). Then I hung out with my female friends and we laughed at how “weird” we were because we simply enjoyed each others company.
When I was in college, I had a pretty serious monogamous relationship – one of the two monogamous relationships I attempted. At the beginning of our relationship, this man noted several times that I was very close to my best friend, Ade. While writing this post, I looked back at my past g-chats with him. In 90% of them, I was either with my best friend OR I mentioned her more than once during the course of our conversation.
Eventually, he let me know that he thought our relationship was a bit “too close.” That when we both got husbands, we would have to “let go” of the relationship we held because no man wanted to play second fiddle to a friend. I “hmmm”-ed him, but secretly felt uneasy about what he was saying. Why shouldn’t he play second fiddle to someone who I had a deeper connection with? And when did they start competing in the first place?
I schedule a Valentine’s Day Girls Night with some friends after asking around. A guy I’m dating gets upset because I won’t cancel it after he finally asks if I want to do something for Valentine’s Day.
“They’re your friends,” he states. “You can see them anytime.”
“I can see you any time, too, whenever you get around to scheduling with me. I already made plans that I want to do. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you! Let’s meet up the day after?”
My four closest friends and I giggle about how when we’re older, we’ll have a big house and be like the Golden Girls. I can’t tell if they are just joking or actually think it’s an awesome idea like I do.
I screech as I see my friend, and she tackles me. We wrestle on the floor for a bit, then we sit with her on my lap and cuddle while we peer at our phones. Our boyfriends sit across the room, hanging out, while one of our friends jokes “Ew! Why y’all always touching each other!” and laughs.
At a polyamory munch that I haven’t been to, I’m pleasantly surprised to see a few people that I know and actually like! We embrace, chat, laugh. The next time I see one of my friends who was at the munch, she tells me something that has us chuckling the entire time we’re hanging out.
“You know that munch you came to? The guy at the table I was sitting at, with the hat, asked if we were partners after you left. He couldn’t for the life of him understand how we were just friends but interact the way we do!”
As I fill out paperwork for my new job, I put down my youngest sister’s name as my beneficiary for my life insurance and 401k. Even though I’m married and have 2 other partners at that time, that’s the name I automatically put down without any thought.
“Daddy, I’m sorry. I’m going to go see “The Greatest Showman” with Ade before our date night. Just wanted to let you know. We can still see it together, or we can see something else. Whatcha wanna do? I love you!”
A partner and I lay in post-coital snuggles, murmuring quietly to each other about everything and nothing. We haven’t given what “we” are a title or passed any traditional relationship milestones, but I feel a deep connection with him and I feel content, satisfied, and loved in our relationship. He says this sentiment out loud, and I smile.
“So are you and [Daddy] gonna get married and have a few little ones scurrying around soon?” My coworker asks.
I give her a small grin. “We aren’t,” I say as I waltz out of the office, up the elevator, and out the building where Daddy is waiting to pick me up for our weekly movie date. I give him kisses after I hop in the car. Tuesdays are our day, because we said so and because we want to. No matter what.
“Once you’re living together, he has to know that that means you’re more important and ya’ll have to spend that time together,” an acquaintance counsels one of her friends.
“Why?” I ask. “Just because they are living together doesn’t mean that time is automatically hers. I mean, if you moved in with her, would you just assume that when she comes home from work ya’ll are watching TV together without asking? Why is it any different?”
::blank stares:: “Because he’s her boyfriend!”
I stop giving input.
Essentially, for me, ALL my relationships are important and are held to the same standards – I don’t hold partners to higher standards, and I don’t allow friends to get away with stuff because we’re “only” friends. I don’t get more upset if it’s a partner upsetting me versus a friend or a family member. I like to keep a small network of people, preferably less than twenty, that are my people.
My connection with each and every person in my life is different, yes. But each one is important. Whether they are friends, family, partners, or somewhere in the squishy in-between, I decided that I wanted them in my life and I wanted to nourish our connection. And that is commitment. That is significant.
That is love.