Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-15-2012, 05:11 AM
umbraven's Avatar
umbraven umbraven is offline
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Ontario
Posts: 3
Default What is exclusive to Romantic love?

In the absence of monogamy and sexuality, what differentiates romantic love with that of friendship? I want to know what the essential difference between 'love' and 'in love' is.

If I am polyamorous, and I chose to date someone who is also polyamorous. How is that any different then us both being single?

Polyamorous dating seems like just a label. If I am polyamorous, and I chose to date someone who is also polyamorous. How is that any different then us both being single? What defines an "official relationship" as in "we are dating"? Is it just a hierarchal system? I'm dating X so their needs come above my other lover Y (whom I'm not dating.)

This has come up for me recently. I have moved to a new city to live with a man whom I am very much in love with and he loves me. We chose not to use the label of dating.

Before he left for a month long trip, he mentioned how great it was that we're friends and how sex doesn't define our friendship. I agreed.

Then he went on to say that we'll still be friends in the event that he starts dating someone. And although I have some issues with jealousy that I'm sorting out I told him that I'd love him even if he loved another woman as well.

(Very understanding right?)

But then he says, oh, well most women want monogamy so you and I couldn't have sex anymore.


I moved to the middle of nowhere to live with him and we share a bed, and love each other. That's sounds like a relationship to me, with or without labels and restrictions.

But am I totally insane to think that it's disrespectful of him to want to date a girl who won't share?

99% of what I feel for him is friendship, but there's this inexplicable piece that doesn't want to ever lose the physical AND emotional intimacy we have. I think that's called romantic love.

He says that saying I'm in love with him is ridiculous because I can't define it.

He seems to want to date other women his age (30) because he wants kids in 5 years and being 22 I'm not prepared to make any promises about that.

I feel like I'm being used as a placeholder. But intuitively I feel like he loves me and he'd never find a girl as awesome as I am.

But if he just wants to sow his seed then maybe I should go back to my city.

thoughts? suggestions?
Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2012, 08:13 AM
SchrodingersCat's Avatar
SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,448

Well first of all, "just dating" ends when you start cohabiting in a conjugal relationship. That's usually called "being partners." I can't recall ever hearing of "friends with benefits" who shared the same bed every night.

My impression of this is that you're being used for sex. Talk about getting the milk for free. That sounds like a super shitty deal for you.

I guess my questions are:
  • Why have you chosen not to use the label of dating / being in a relationship?
  • Was this a mutual decision or did you feel pressured into agreeing to it in order to be close to him?
  • Is he calling this "polyamory?"

Because to me, polyamory implies the people involved are in an official romantic relationship, usually with terms like boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/partner/spouse being deployed to describe the other persons involved.

I guess the basic difference between being single and being polyamorous is that there's another person involved who has their own feelings.

Maybe the best way to explain it is by hypothetical examples.

John and Mary are in a polyamorous relationship. Mary meets Fred and angels sing. They decide to be in an official relationship. When she starts spending 6/7 nights a week with Fred, John speaks up that he's feeling neglected. Mary realizes she's caught up in NRE (New Relationship Energy, that excited feeling you get about a new partner) and that she's treating John unfairly. So Mary scales it back a little bit with Fred in order to treat John with love and respect. After a few months and the NRE wears off, Mary achieves healthy balance between the two relationships.

Sandy is single. Sandy meets Derek and angels sing. They decide to be in an official relationship. When she starts spending 6/7 nights a week with Derek, Fifi (Sandy's cat) gets irritated that her cozy spot in bed is taken, and pees in Derek's shoes.

Bob and Jane are room mates. They have an agreement that when both of them are single, they can sleep together to get their jollies without exposing themselves to the risks of casual sex with strangers. Jane meets Chris and angels sing. They decide to be in an official relationship. When she starts spending 6/7 nights a week at Chris's place, Bob starts to masturbate in the living room so he can watch porn on the big screen.

Now where does that leave you?

Raven and Crow are in love and living together, but have decided not to call it a romantic relationship. Crow meets Magpie and angels sing. They decide to be in an official relationship. Magpie can't deal with Crow sharing a bed with another woman, so Crow tells Raven to move out. Raven is all like "WTF THIS SUCKS."

The way I describe the fundamental difference between "in love" and "love" is merely a question of current state. I have ex-partners whom I will always "love" on some level, but with whom I am no longer "in love." I usually believe that "in love" needs to be reciprocated. In other words, two people are "in love" with each other, and each one "loves" the other. I think of "in love" as meaning they are in a loving relationship together.

So if you love him and he loves you and there's sexual attraction, then I would think of that as "in love" personally.

I agree that it sounds like you're being used as a placeholder. If he wants to be with someone that can make him babies, and you don't want to make him babies, I don't see this as working out well for you.

While I like to believe that age is irrelevant, I'm starting to find that there are certain specific age ranges where long term goals and life plans become very relevant to current relationships. One of those seems to be 30's with early 20's. Teenagers are clueless, they barely know their name never mind what they want out of life. As you come out of adolescence and enter your early 20's, you start exploring "grown-up stuff" and thinking more and more about what you want your life to look like. The 20's are such a formative decade for what your adult life will be like. So much can change between 22 and 30. I'm turning 30 in two months, and I would never dare to say I'm done growing or that I have my life planned out. But I definitely have a way better sense of myself and what I'm like as a person than I did 8 years ago, despite the fact that I was convinced at 22 that I had it all figured out. You know nothing, Jon Snow.
As I am sure any cat owner will be able to tell you,
someone else putting you in a box is entirely different
from getting into a box yourself.

Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 01-15-2012 at 08:30 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2012, 06:51 PM
OpenandCountry OpenandCountry is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Greater DC metro area
Posts: 101

If you are living/sleeping together, that goes beyond "just friends" to me.

So his agreement with you is "be in a serious relationship with me, make sacrifices for me, (but don't say you love me) until someone who can bear my children comes along" ?

I have never met the guy, obviously, but this just feels so wrong to me. I wish you luck on your journey. I would get out of that relationship, or non-relationship, whatever you all call it. (confused?)
Bisexual, Hinge of a Vee with a mono boyfriend and poly husband.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2012, 07:50 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,285

So, is it fair to say that he would be in a relationship with you if you were his age and knew you wanted kids soon? Because otherwise, if you both love each other and are living together, I'm not sure why the heck you would avoid the word "dating".

Two polyamorous people dating is different than if they were both single because they've made some kind of commitment to the idea of being in a relationship, which generally means, if nothing else, that you don't just cast it aside when something else comes along.

Did you know, when you moved, that he didn't want to "date"?
Me, 30ish bi female, been doing solo poly for roughly 5 years. Gia, Clay, and Pike, my partners. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2012, 02:28 AM
MichelleZed MichelleZed is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 194

Um, so... if he finds this hypothetical other girl, are you just kicked out of the house?
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2012, 03:17 AM
NovemberRain's Avatar
NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 712

Schrodinger'sCat, that was beautiful. Thank you for that, it was especially helpful to me.
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own...
Robert A. Heinlein

Me: female, bi, (formerly hinge of a vee)
with FirstBoyFriend (FBF)(moderately long-distance)
and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who now lives in a house far away-with stairs I can't climb)
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2012, 09:59 AM
umbraven's Avatar
umbraven umbraven is offline
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Ontario
Posts: 3

Thanks for post!

I've realized that I want him to tell me he feels like I'm his partner. I want him to be as fiercely in love with me as I am courageously in love with him.

Friends who don't know him think I'm being used for sex. People that know him think that he's just testing how I feel about him.

We chose not to use the label of dating a year ago. I told him that I'd dated a girl and a boy before him, but it fell apart because of their jealousy. He argued that dating is defined by monogamy. And that if I didn't want that then I didn't want to date.

It was a mutual decision that I move in with him, and he's asked me if I want to date him exclusively. But I always reply that I have no problem with dating him, but I couldn't promise that I'd never develop feelings for someone else- though it would unlikely affect my relationship with him. (That's pretty reasonable).
So he said that I'd move in as a roomy, just like his futon crasher best friend.

Though early in the relationship he had told me that I was "THE ONE" (which I laughed at because he doesn't seem the type to believe in that)

So clearly this man was sending mixed signals. Everything was peachy, and he brought up questions like "What does commitment mean to you?" and joke about impregnating me. And so I thought this meant he took me seriously. At one point he told me he chased off a horny striper by telling her he was in an open relationship.

I went home and with my friends and toasted to being in an open relationship with him.

I admitted to feeling jealous about a one night stand he had with a stripper (who he doesn't like as a person). But I told him I was resolved to work on my possessiveness, but I'd need reassurance. He told me I was judging his sexuality, and that he loved me. However the commitment/relationship subject died, and he never brought it up again. He's not using the word polyamory. He uses the word friend like it's the highest compliment. And I alternate between thinking that's awesome, and wishing I could explain how it feels like more.

Before mentioning that he would be monogamous with a girl if she left her bf for him, he laughingly told me he didn't believe in "the one" anymore because I'd hurt his feelings a year ago.

I feel like he dumped my ass before going to Indonesia without me, but he's done all of this with subtle allusions to a relationship he very clearly have, call it what you want.

When he gets back in a week, I'm going to give him some time to acclimate and then bring up the subject. I want to create a safe space of honesty and tell him how his hypothetical actions would make me feel. and express that I feel like we're in an open relationship. If he tells me that's not how he sees it and not what he wants then I should go home and tackle the ensuing heartbreak. But maybe that's being melodramatic?

My problem is that I have no concrete demands. I don't want monogamy or even a label. But equality and respect would be a good start. I want to be regarded as his partner by him, I don't care what he tells other people. Because otherwise I feel like I'm deeply in love with my best friend.

I hope, anyway, that he and I come before his relationships with other women (particularly monogamous ones). If he was actually surprised to hear that I feel this way, or if he does not share my feelings, I'm in line to get stomped on.
If I'm really brave I can love just as much regardless of being stomped on. And that's what I've told him. But I'm not sure I should stick around and fall even more in love with him in the meantime.

I don't want to be the Bob in your scenario.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2012, 04:51 PM
AnnabelMore's Avatar
AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,285

Good for you, Umb. Being brave and forcing the issue is exactly what I would have suggested. You deserve to know where you stand. It sounds like some clarity would be helpful for him too, as he seems to have confused ideas of what is or isn't a relationship. Obviously, for many people, exclusivity is NOT what defines dating, otherwise, for example, my signature line would make no sense.

Since he seems confused, I would suggest that you take the lead in being clear in the upcoming conversation. Tell him that you want a serious (another word that might fit is "primary") relationship with him (which is what it sounds like to me), which means that you live your lives together and prioritize each other and are committed to each other. But, also tell him that you're happy for him to date others, and to possibly have other serious relationships, maybe even equally serious (co-primary), and that you would like the same freedom. Tell him that this would mean that you each promise to treat your relationship with the respect it deserves, which means NOT just dumping each other if someone else comes along but instead treating the relationship as its own valuable, unique entity to be nurtured (kind of like a baby, really).

He seems to think that if he takes his relationship with you (because you do, in fact, have a relationship even if he doesn't like to think of it that way) seriously, it means he's giving up the chance to have another relationship that could fulfill his desire for a co-parent. That does not have to be the case, as evidenced by many of the stories on this board. If he find this idea confusing, you might find it helpful to read some of the introductory essays at www.morethantwo.com and then recommend some to him.

Good luck!!!
Me, 30ish bi female, been doing solo poly for roughly 5 years. Gia, Clay, and Pike, my partners. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2012, 08:10 PM
Preia Preia is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 10

It seems almost that he is one of those "poly until the right one comes along" types. From some of the things you report him saying, he was hoping that you were that one. However, by still wanting poly, you were telling him that he wasn't the one for you. See in his world, you are only poly until you find the right person then you become monogamous. Since you didn't become monogamous, you don't love him enough for him, in his world.

In your world, you love him and want a primary relationship and yet want the freedom of polyamory which is what a lot us of here want. Thing is he wants monogamy and is afraid to straight out ask for it. That is why he called you "the one". That is why he tells you that when he finds the "right girl" they will be monogamous. Not because "most girls" want monogamy, but because HE wants monogamy. Otherwise, he would just date poly girls.

You have been communicating from a very different perspective. You are saying similar words but they mean very different things to each of you.

Last edited by Preia; 01-16-2012 at 08:13 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2012, 01:53 AM
nicraq nicraq is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: ireland
Posts: 17

where's the "like" button? ;-)
Reply With Quote

friendship, romantic love

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:29 PM.