Carob and I are ride-sharing with Brian, a guy we've recently met. I pick up Brian, and go to C's work. While we're waiting for C to come out (har har), Brian asks me:
"So what's the deal with you and Carob?"
Me: (pause) "Well, we're really good friends"
B: "Oh. So just friends then."
Me: "Um, well, you could say we're lovers... but I'm not monogamous... and I am with someone else too who I've been living with, just he's not in the country right now... "
Later Carob was amused but also a little face-palm about it. He suggested: "Carob's my boyfriend and I'm also happily married to someone else."
So simple, yeah? Too
Nah, I see his point. I just haven't figured out how I like to put things... I really don't like saying I have a husband (not sure why)... I hardly ever call Sage my husband. Only when I really have to. I'd rather use his name, and I definitely do with people who know him or know of him. With people who don't know him, I tend to say "one of my friends..." or (less frequently) "my partner" or "one of my partners"
(Actually I was teaching recently and I told an anecdote beginning "One of my friends...", then realised I was talking about S, and joked "... ah, I'm married to him now, I should really stop introducing this story as 'one of my friends'")
But seriously? I find it difficult to know what people are getting at. Friends and lovers, friends who are lovers... Surely, they're not just interested in whether or not we're having sex. And you can have close intimacy with friends... I kinda don't get the distinction between friends and "just friends"
but I'm okay with being bemused. Just from time to time there are some possibly avoidable awkward moments in conversations with other people.
Both Sage and Carob have no issue with the labels.
Sage introduces me as his wife (as a side note, in private he calls me "mife" (man-wife) - I love it!)
Carob calls me his girlfriend
I call Sage my... friend
and Carob... also my friend
They don't mind my reticence as such, but I don't think they get what my hang up is. I'm not exactly sure myself, though every now and then I have a go at teasing it out.
that I just want to feel unique or undefinable. Or maybe it is (I hope not, but egos can be weird like that.)
What's so wrong with summarising things as Carob suggested: "I'm happily married, and I also have a boyfriend"?
I guess maybe I feel that it's too neatly boxed. People could say "oh, okay" like those words convey something more meaningful than "we're all really good friends". (Mm, maybe the generic word "friends" suggests a different kind of intimacy, with no sex or romance, and a looser sense of commitment... maybe?)
Maybe I just am passionate about friendship! I don't like the idea of "just friends" being some kind of lower level of importance, and I'm politically against using words that indirectly cheapen the ideal of friendship.
Hmm, that feels closer to the core of it than any of my other guesses.
That said, sometimes short and clinical works best.
Earlier this year, I went to the doctor for something that was hard for me to see a doctor about, and I asked whether Sage and Carob would come along with me. They were okay about it, but asked me how I would introduce them. I thought that a very quick summary would work best.
I said to the doctor: "These are my partners, S & C"
She said, "Sorry?" and I repeated it, and then she said "Oh, okay." and we moved on.
Perhaps I should try that more often