I had planned to go camping with my lover's girlfriend, and a mutual friend of ours to a group camping event. Not a poly camp, but a recreational club with chapters in different towns. We're not really "out" and most of our friends, including the one we were going camping with, just assume that we're close friends. My lover isn't into the club, and works weekends anyways, which is why he wasn't coming.
Anyway, lover's girlfriend got called in to work, and so it was me and the mutual friend. I don't know him super-well, but got to know him a little better over the weekend. As I get to know people, I become more comfortable around them, and I relax my boundaries, beginning to offer more smiles, hugs, and talk about my personal life.
When he dropped me off at home after the weekend, there was a moment of awkwardness, and I realised he was disappointed that I wasn't offering a kiss goodbye. Now, in my mind, all I had ever been offering was friendship and affection. But I think in his mind I had possibly been offering romance. While I think he is a great guy, I am neither attracted to him nor looking to add any romance to my life at this time.
I spent time with him in discussion, enjoyed meals together, and so on. He graciously offered me a foot rub, which I accepted, and at one point we sat side by side with our knees touching. He bought me an ice cream cone. I hung around in shorts and a bathing suit top, and he likewise took off his shirt in the heat of the day (and asked me if I'd be offended about it, which surprised me at the time... why would I be offended?) Looking back on it, I can kind-of see how it *might* be concieved of as a very innocent date. But none of those things are out of line for my idea of reasonable friendships, and in fact look A LOT like how I am friends with, for instance, my lover's girlfriend.
So, I theorise that we have differing ideas about the boundaries between friendship and romance. Does anyone else have experiences in similar situations? I value his friendship and don't want to hurt his feelings. I don't want to lead him on, but I also don't want to have to regulate myself around him all the time and avoid showing affection when I feel it. I plan to mention these things when I see him next, and I hope it will go well, but I'm not too hopeful. I get the feeling that he doesn't have a lot of experience with open communication and I believe he will be uncomfortable.
The part where my lover isn't out is, of course, part of the complications in my thoughts on the incident. My lover thinks the mutual friend is unaware of our relationship, and doesn't discuss polyamory with him because he's not open to it. I think it's impossible that the mutual friend hasn't observed the closeness between my lover and I, including a possible kiss goodbye here & there. I worry that such an observation may have influenced this friend's perception of his interactions with me, and I am not really free to discuss my relationship with my lover with the mutual friend in any case.
All this to say, I'm a bit stressed over it. I feel a bit guilty because I feel like I should have seen it coming, and I wonder if it's wrong to be a touchy-feely kind of person if it's going to hurt people.
And then I also feel irritated with him for placing expectations on me. An offer of ice cream should be precicely that, and not part of an equation that ends in a kiss. I don't get that reaction from other friends who have an interest in dating me... they accept where my boundaries are different from their own without taking hurt from it. BUT they are also the polyamorous ones...