Does a Benefit Make a Friend?

In the Facebook era, “friend” has become a verb.

It has also become a disposable noun; with the click of a button, we make a “friend”; with another, they are de-friended.  That’s not much of a friendship.

Recently, one of my partners described me as her “lover.”  And the younger person to whom she was speaking said, “Nobody calls them that anymore. Say ‘friend.'”

Leaving aside the lack of poetry and clarity in using the word thus, in the dating world, there is the concept of friends with benefits, a term that is so widespread it needs no further explanation.  Except, perhaps this: There is an important difference between friends with benefits and friends because benefits.

If the benefits go away and they do too, they weren’t friends.

That distinction may not be important to some.  But to those for whom a deeper connection makes for better sex, it’s vital.

Physical attraction may come and go. Friendships, though, endure. When you can have as much fun together doing whatever you do, and be as connected clothed as naked, that’s the good stuff. And it can’t be erased by a click.

That Time Again

"I will never understand why completely polysaturated people like you, who have so much love in their lives, still occasionally get the craving for an experience with someone new," I said to the mirror.

What is Polyamory?

People looking in: It must be orgies and heartbreak and sister wives and bliss and angst!

Polyamory as it is: Filling out medical power of attorney forms, one to be able to accompany a single partner to a colonoscopy, and another to add a meta to my spouse’s such form as backup for when she gets the same procedure.

Poly. It’s real life, just with a bigger cast.

Defend Yourself

It’s getting to be that exciting time again – the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, August 3-6. I’ll be presenting twice(!) at the conference, but there’s so much more to see. Come on down!

Here’s where you register: https://www.sexualfreedomsummit.org/summit-registration/

…and here’s WHY you register: https://www.sexualfreedomsummit.org/workshops/

Really, folks, – if you care about your rights to express yourself and control your body, you owe it to yourself to attend – and you’ll enjoy!

What I Mean…

…when I say I am part of the LGBTQ+ and polyamory communities:

  • I want to be who I am and love who I love;
  • I want you to be who you are and love who you love;
  • I want the world to respect who we are and let us love who we love.

The rest is details.

Notice of Erection

Thank you for participating in this date. Please be aware that depending on how matters proceed, you may find yourself in the presence of an erection.

The appearance of an erection does not require any action on your part. You are not responsible for relieving, encouraging, assisting, or any interaction with the erection.  This is true even if you were the inspiration for the erection and actively encouraged its emergence.

Should an erection occur, you have the following responsibilities:

  1. Nothing
  2. Nothing
  3. Nothing

The erection’s owner is solely responsible for whatever comes next. If your further involvement is desired, it may be solicited.  But erections happen.  That fact does not create any obligation on you.  Should the erection’s owner imply otherwise, please refer them to this text.

This notice is valid everywhere and at all times.

Thank you for perusing this Notice of Erection.

Who’s #1?

One of the faster ways to start an online pie fight is to bring up the topic of hierarchical relationships.

Some non-monogamous people practice hierarchy, in which one relationship is favored above others. (This is often the case, for example, when a married couple enters into polyamory.)  And, perhaps understandably, other people find ranking relationships distasteful and/or an invitation to treat other partners poorly.

But it’s worth noting that There’s a difference between a descriptive hierarchy and a prescriptive one. Descriptive is saying “I live with X and lived with them 20 years before Y came along, so there are aspects to that relationship not matched by the other.” Prescriptive is saying, “X will always be my #1, and no other may be allowed to rival that relationship.” It’s the difference between what is and what will be.

We will always have more experience with one partner than another. But so long as:

  • Duration of relationship does not equal or imply intensity or value of that relationship;
  • What one partner gets does not depend on what the other partner gets;
  • And neither can veto decisions about the other,
you’re working toward non-hierarchy.

Crossing the Beams

There are people you might like to have sex with,

and people you might want to play with,

and people you might want to make love with.

 

But when all three come together in one person,

one moment,

one bed…

There, in that moment, is bliss.

How Many is Too Many?

Can there be too much of a good thing?  For those in various types of open relationship, this question is a hardy perennial. If one partner is good, and two partners better, why not six? 11? 38?  Is the sky really the limit?

The answer, it seems to me, depends on the answers to a series of questions:

1. What is the nature of the relationships?  A live-in partner will take a different amount of time and commitment than a friend with benefits.  A local partner will likely take more time and attention than a long-distance one.   On the other hand, long distance relationships sometimes require chunks of time for travel or when the other partner travels to you (yay, but the calendar…)

2. Are you their only partner?  Relationships that are (Intentionally or by happenstance) monogamous for one of the partners may take more time and attention from the other partner than if needs are being met in each case by a variety of people.  Also, if one partner has a crowded social schedule and the other’s is freer, that can make the relationship more complicated, depending on the needs and desires of the less-busy partner.

3. What do you like to do together? It’s a lot easier to make time for an evening of Netflix and whatever then to get away for weekends – and there are only so many weekends.

4. What are your other commitments like? If you have an unusually taxing job, or family to look after, or your band does a lot of gigs, that limits time available for relationships even though they are not themselves relationships. Remember also that – especially if you’re an introvert – you need to schedule time for yourself alone to rest and recover so you can be a better partner– and the more partners you have, the more time you may need to schedule without them.

5. Do you have the sort of relationships where you can see multiple partners at the same time?  Like “pack” or “kitchen table” poly?  If so, that eases the scheduling and reduces the calendar impact of multiple relationships.  Some folks can work that way; some can’t.

6. If these relationships include a sexual component, how much time do you prefer to have between dates? Are you okay with a “shift change” approach, or do you prefer to have time to relax, shower, self-care, and do other things between dates?

And this list is only a start. I’m sure there are more questions, so chime in, folks! But the number of relationships you can handle at any one time depends on the people, on the shape of the relationships, and the demands  of the rest of your life. One size cannot fit all… and all cannot always fit.

A Personal Insight

…and not necessarily a comfortable one:

I am, by any reasonable standard, polysaturated. I have three local partners and four long distance relationships. My life is full of love and loving.

Yet I still meet people to whom I’m attracted, and want to begin wooing them. It feels like a need, even though all of my imaginable needs are well taken care of. When I try to figure out what I am actually desiring, the following comes back (and I recognize that it does not necessarily speak well of me):

I yearn for that moment when the other person realizes that they are in love with me.

The relationship could end right there; in a way, everything after that is dénouement. But I just want them to feel well cared for and completely supported and to know they have that in their life.

Yes, in some cases there is a sexual attraction, or at least a curiosity about what it would like to touch this person and bring them pleasure. But I can’t say that I often meet someone and want them in my life forever and ever; just to know they want to be is enough.

Weird. And I’m hoping that that’s not right. But I’ll keep thinking on it.