When is it a "relationship"?
Lately I've been grappling a lot with what it means to be in a relationship with someone. In a way, we relate to everyone we know, so we are in all sorts of relationships of varying types -friendships, sibling relationships, business relationships, etc. When it comes to the "I'm in a relationship with this person" kind of relationship, though, I can't quite figure out where the boundaries are, or whether it just feels fuzzy to me and is clear to most other people.
My tag line reflects this to some extent. I have a husband, and that's clear. I have C, who agrees that "boyfriend" is a pretty accurate descriptor. This relationship involves a lot of love (another fuzzy term), physical intimacy without penetrative sex (my husband's restriction, not ours), and fairly limited time together. I have L, who doesn't feel like a boyfriend in any way, but we've loved each other a long time, definitely have romantic feelings and sexual attraction, frequently turn to each other for emotional support, and we hug and kiss. Beyond that, I have several men in my life who I love dearly, some of whom I feel romantically and or sexually attracted to and others not at all, some I see often, some I flirt with, some I have very personal conversations with, but none that I kiss beyond perhaps a peck on the cheek during a goodbye hug.
How many relationships am I in? Sometimes I think 2, sometimes 3, sometimes more. Sometimes I feel like it's the physical expression that defines it: I get naked with C, so he counts, but not with L, so he doesn't, but I do kiss him pretty passionately sometimes, so maybe he does count. That seems like a pretty trivial aspect to determine things by.
Does anyone else feel confused this way? It feels like a part of why I identify with polyamory. I don't really feel like relationships are either on or off for me, but like I have them with everyone to varying degrees. It has made it harder to draw the line when my husband says he won't befriend anyone I'm involved with. We've defined that as physical intimacy beyond hugs and kisses, and that works as far as clarifying his boundaries, but I'm not sure physical expressions should be the criteria for defining relationships.
Thoughts? Anyone else not sure how many relationships they are in?
Married to a monogamous man 15 yrs, mother of 2, dating C 3 yrs, and in a romantic friendship with L more than 20 yrs