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Old 06-26-2012, 09:19 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Default 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?
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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
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2012, 12:10 AM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
Does anyone else feel confused this way?
YES!

I have some friends now that I love more than any friends I have ever had, nothing physical, just good friends, but I would cry for a week if I couldn't see them again for some reason. I think before (in my previous life ) I was afraid to let myself love other people so deeply. While not poly, allowing myself to be open to loving other people no matter what dynamic our relationship takes was a big step for me.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:58 AM
wildflowers wildflowers is offline
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I'm not particularly confused by mine, but I agree there are lots of gradations. Do you need for yourself to define which ones are "relationships" or is it just for dealing with your husband? My take on it is that as long as you are comfortable with how each interaction is playing out, and on the same page as the person on the other side, does it matter all that much what you call it? Sometimes it's hard enough to just work out the interaction!

I think opening up to the idea of multiple romantic relationships, and basically being more honest about my feelings and accepting of my life, rather than feeling parts of it need to be hidden, has helped in all my relationships, romantic and otherwise - maybe this is kind of what SNeacail was saying too.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:01 AM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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Originally Posted by wildflowers View Post
Do you need for yourself to define which ones are "relationships" or is it just for dealing with your husband?
It's not so much that I need to define it, as it is that I'm wondering if I'm the only one who finds these things difficult to define.

I think as far as my husband is concerned, we can just go with his boundaries, which have to do with physical intimacy, but I sometimes wonder if it is dishonest to refrain from telling him about my various feelings of romantic and/or sexual attraction in varying degrees to a whole lot of other people we know. I know some monogamous people feel it amounts to cheating when you develop feelings for other people, but sometimes I don't even know if what I feel counts as that kind of feelings. It's just not black and white.

I bring this topic up more to find out whether this is a common perspective among polyamorous people. Are you always in a defined number of relationships, or are the many social relationships in your life each unique in the degree and mix of intimacy, attraction, flirtation, closeness, trust, etc.?
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:11 AM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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Default me too!

yes I am also confused

I'll copy this from what I wrote on the Poly quiz thread:
"Then there is a guy I've been dating on and off for about a year. He has a girlfriend who knows about me and objects. He is forever breaking up with her and getting back together with her. He has very major commitment issues and I think (after a year of trying to figure him out) that to him, I am his ideal woman because I am married and would never claim him.
Right now, we meet about once a month for drinks and we catch up. It's not going anywhere, the relationship is not sexual anymore and I am finally ok with that, but he is still important to me."

This guy was apparently not important enough to get mentioned in my sig line, still sometimes I feel I am in a relationship with him, however unorthodox.

For me, poly is very much about fuzzy lines and undefined relationships. In a traditional, closed, monogamous marriage a friendship like I have with this guy (heavy flirting, sleeping together even though we don't have sex, kissing occasionally, being emotionally preoccupied with each other) would definitely be considered cheating. However in the poly relationship I now have with my husband, everything is possible, almost everything is 'allowed' as long as we talk about it openly. This opens up so many possibillities for so many different types of relationships.. so yeah, it tends to get confusing
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:05 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Quote:
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.
I feel/felt that way. And I think I was good at the dating/non-dating thing. I'm not sure how I'll be later if we open up again.

Like you, not all reached the loverly place. Even my then main lover (who later became my husband) thinks we had 2 "official" dates total. LOL.

It's a fuzzy thing, and I enjoyed the fuzziness of it, and I enjoyed the fact that each rship I was in could unfold however it went at its own speed.

But yes -- they were all different speeds and at various degrees.

GalaGirl
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