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-   -   Non-sexual partners (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40624)

InfinitePossibility 02-14-2013 08:05 AM

Non-sexual partners
 
I have been pondering this for a while. People here sometimes talk about having non-sexual partners, boyfriends and girlfriends.

I have to confess that I don't understand what is meant.

I suppose that what I'm asking is - what's different between a close friend and a non-sexual partner?

Thanks :)

IP

InsaneMystic 02-14-2013 08:31 AM

The spelling? :D

I've basically reached a point where I think partnership/relationship is pretty much an empty label, to be filled with whatever the partners in question decide for their unique situation. That may or may not include sex, may or may not include romance... may or may not include a thousand other things.

Partnership == that thing two (or more) people have who call each other "partners". That's the best objective definition I can give.

I wouldn't mind overly much if peeps called what I have with R. a friendship - because, at its core, that's what we are first and foremost, each other's best friend. There's some kind of very hard to define "extra" energy between us, a special place in each other's lives, that made us arrive at calling it a partnership (and, in fact, joke about how if we were more "conventional" folks, we'd be pretty likely to end up married to each other :p)... even when that "extra" isn't sexual, and doesn't fit all too neatly into stereotypically romantic categories, either.

Cleo 02-14-2013 08:33 AM

I have what I think could be described as a non-sexual boyfriend. I call him Knight and I wrote about him on my blog here

It didn't really start out non-sexual (we used to kiss and make out a little and he turned me on, a lot) He has a lot of issues regarding sex and it became pretty clear pretty fast that we would not have a 'normal' sexual relationship. We slept in the same bed a number of times, the first couple of times it was enormously frustrating because I was so turned on by him and he would never do more than cuddle me and hold me and kiss me (if I was lucky).

We are still what I would call 'dating', although we no lnger spend the night together we talk about this sometimes as a possbility for the future. We meet about once every 2 months for drinks. Very, very occasionally we kiss. We often touch, he holds my hand, I ruffle his hair. I think if someone who doesn't know us saw us in a bar, they would think we are very much in love, the way we talk so intensely and stare in each others eyes, and that we are probably going home and have amazing sex :p

So I guess that answers the 'what's different between this and a regular friendship' part ?It feels very diffferent to me - I love him with a different kind of love, he's not my friend, he doesn't mix in my social life, we don't meet or connect in between dates. When we meet it's very intense and emotional. It hasn't always felt like a healthy relationship to me and I did break it off a couple of times, but now that I have learned to accept the boundaries, I can anjoy the possibilities.

AnnabelMore 02-14-2013 01:32 PM

I think it's a good point, that partnership means different things to different people. To me, a "partner" is someone with whom I am consciously cultivating a relationship with the intention of continuing to know each other more and more deeply, supporting each other's goals and development, and finding meaningful ways to include one another in our lives. Very similar to friendship, and yet more charged, more deliberate. It comes down to a combination of intimacy and commitment that's mutual and acknowledged.

Intimacy means a lot of things, and it often means sex. Yet, I've had friends with benefits with whom I have definitely not been in a relationship. Sex, therefore, cannot be enough to define something as a relationship rather than a friendship. Nor, I've found, can its absence be enough to "downgrade" a relationship to a "mere" friendship.

If a marriage becomes non-sexual, are the spouses still in a relationship? Would they be so even in the absence of the legal contact that binds them? I think that, in most cases, people would agree that they are. If we accept the idea of a non-sexual life partnership, then, to use the poly parlance, is it only primary relationships that can be non-sexual and still be relationships? No, I don't think so. A secondary partner is, in most cases, a good deal more than a friend, and it's not just the sex that makes it so.

Those are some initial thoughts, on a subject I'm still working out for myself.

nycindie 02-14-2013 01:43 PM

It is confusing to me, too. All I know is it's not for me! I want sex as much as I can get it. I would be much too frustrated by having everything but sex in a relationship. Then again, I don't want a partner, either.

AnnabelMore 02-14-2013 01:48 PM

Another way to think about it. Imagine a relationship, whatever that means to you... let's say two people who go on dates, do special things just for the two of them, rely on each other, etc. Very close and loving. Let's say they have sex twice a week. That's definitely a relationship, right?

What if they have sex once a week? Still a relationship? Of course.

What about twice a month? Once a month? Every couple of months? Once a year? Never?

At what point does the sex reach a threshold that's low enough that it's no longer recognizable as more than a friendship? Is there such a point?

And what about people who are asexual but not aromantic -- are they incapable of relationships?

opalescent 02-14-2013 02:50 PM

There are a lot of things I don't get. Non-sexual romantic relationships is one of them. But I don't have to get them to know they exist and work for some people for a whole slew of reasons.

My marriage ended in part because it had become a non-sexual relationship.

I do know it is not for me. One never knows but I cannot see myself being happy in one for long.

InsaneMystic 02-14-2013 03:12 PM

@ Cleo... does Knight identify as asexual? You definitely made me wonder there, because there a number of parallels between your story and my 'ship with R..



As for the frustration of sexless 'ships... well, I obviously can't relate to that, seeing as sex isn't on my wish list at all. Just saying that one of the advantages about polyamory is that I can fully "outsource" the sex, so to speak - her sexuality being an area of a partner's life that she's free to share with others, so I don't have to feel guilty about "never putting out". ;)

I think that "mixed" 'ships between asexuals and sexuals are infinitely easier to make work on a poly basis than if you'd struggle with a monogamous model, which is all too often going to end up as the rock-and-a-hard-place decision between either "charity sex", or involuntary celibacy for the sexual.

Cleo 02-14-2013 03:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by InsaneMystic (Post 184548)
@ Cleo... does Knight identify as asexual? You definitely made me wonder there, because there a number of parallels between your story and my 'ship with R..




Not really. He likes to talk about sex an awful lot, although I realize that doesn't mean anything when it comes to putting your words into action.
It's just that he has VERY specific kinks and preferences and fetishes. He's told me about some, but not all. And even with the few things he told me it seemed to me that the circumstances would never ever line up to the point where he could have sex with me. Another thing is that he definitely feels guilty towards his GF (who knows about me, but doesn't like that he sees me, even if we only meet for drinks - I guess she realizes, too, that we're not just friends even though it's not clear what we actually are).

nycindie, opalescent - if he were a partner I saw regularly, who was more a part of my life, I dont think I could handle it, because I still am very attracted to him and the fact that he doesn't want to have sex with me does, every time, feel like rejection. But once every 2 months I can handle that, and I enjoy the things that are good between us.

StudentofLife 02-14-2013 05:37 PM

AnnabelMore wrote:

Quote:

What about twice a month? Once a month? Every couple of months? Once a year? Never?

At what point does the sex reach a threshold that's low enough that it's no longer recognizable as more than a friendship? Is there such a point?
InsaneMystic wrote:

Quote:

I think that "mixed" 'ships between asexuals and sexuals are infinitely easier to make work on a poly basis than if you'd struggle with a monogamous model, which is all too often going to end up as the rock-and-a-hard-place decision between either "charity sex", or involuntary celibacy for the sexual.
My experience has been that relationship can be defined differently, even between the two people theoretically having it. With my last relationship before Pidge, after 5 years of involuntary celibacy on my part, I thought of myself as his former girlfriend/current health aide. He was still thinking of, and describing us to others as a romantic couple. If he had been the type of man for whom a poly relationship might have worked, perhaps things would be different. But in my book, one person calling it a relationship doesn't make it so, if the other person defines it differently.

This is a fascinating conversation. I hope you all keep going, it's thought-provoking.


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