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Old 11-15-2010, 11:56 PM
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Default poly friendships...

In poly communities, what is the difference between community members, lovers and friends... it seems blurred to me... or am I just being well, me?

Who are my friends? Who are just community members and how do people know the difference between lovers and the rest of people they hang out with when they have friends-with-benefits, tersiaries and intimate friends mixed in together.

Is it individual description? Is there a set sort of fall back definition like primary and secondary and does it kind of trickle down from there to people who are invested less in or that are acquaintances? How does one know where to invest their time and effort in terms of all this confusion? Or maybe I am the only one confused?
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:03 AM
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i don't know. sorry. i am still looking forward to going to a poly get together once the time is right.

i guess it's different from swinger parties & clubs, where everyone is just having sex!
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:42 AM
MyNameIsMaam MyNameIsMaam is offline
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Oh RedPepper - such good questions! I was just discussing this with someone I have started dating.

The world of polyamory has such breadth, and the people in it each seem to have their own personal definitions of even the most frequently used terms.

Some people seem to be using the term "poly" to indicate they will sleep with anyone they date. Some people use it to describe that they only sleep with people whom they have feelings of "love". Some people use it to describe intimate friendships that don't involved sex at all.

It's a little confusing to me too!
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:35 AM
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I think it boils down to outlook.

Some people feel a abundance of love, for anyone they encounter who is enjoyable, good, and brings positive attributes to their life. Love is love, and they drink it all in, from various forms.

Others like me, might see poly love as a direct link to being romantic-love oriented. I have a clear line between friends and lovers.

I don`t have romantic feelings for friends. I can love them dearly, but its a different kind of love.

So for me, it is easy to seperate friends, from acquaintances, from lovers, and so forth.

I might of made this more confusing,..hmmm.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:53 AM
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Its a tough one no?

I really struggle with understanding it... much to Mono's annoyance I might add. And most people around me, ah well, what can I say, I like to figure things out if I can, even if it means just figuring that it isn't figurable.

I am like SJ, friends are friends and lovers lovers... the thought of intimacy with friends alarms and repulses me somehow. I don't want to see or be involved with them while they are getting off. I struggle to bring myself to think of what they would even look like. Not because I don't like them, it is just too close. To intimate a detail. I'm glad they have a private life... because its PRIVATE. ha! What the heck would there be to talk about if I knew so much detail. It would be like talking to a lover no? How do you talk to a friends when you are sexual with all of them? how could you possibly not reach some level of connection and depth if there is sex involved? Yet people do... bizarre and confusing to me...

Yet, I have a friend that I am intimate with and a boyfriend that I am not and several friends that I could see being intimate with, but likely it wouldn't happen, and others that I certainly couldn't... The ones I have sex with I am by far more close to... that is the line crosser for me... is it for friends that have sex together or do they just get on with their day as they would had they not had sex?

It is as bizarre to me and interesting as the whole mono/poly thing. How could peoples brains be so different? Or is it to do with experience and how they have gotten to where they are that they are where they are?

Do people who have sex with anyone that catches their eye have as much confusion as I do? I sense a lot of judgement and pride in their ability to be so "free?" "lose?" "open with themselves?" the balance seems to be out on that one.... maybe I'm wrong on that one, I don't know. There seems to be a lot of talk on that being sex positive when I see it as only a part of being positive... positive to me is being positive about ones own sexuality and boundaries, not about how many and under what circumstances one fucks...

Is that it then? Is this just how it is? or am I out to lunch?

I'm glad to hear others are confused.. maybe we can work some of this shit out?
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:32 PM
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Good thread!

This reminds me a bit of the conversation we had at the group where we talked about casual sex and poly. We ended up agreeing that people have different views on what we termed "recreational sex". Some people view sex as an activity (rather like dancing? .. I'm trying to think of an analogy that is physical and pleasurable that one does with friends as well as partners, here). Other people view sex as an emotionally intimate act that is something to be shared only with a select few: those who meet a certain level of emotional intimacy. Quite a few of us fall somewhere in between on this spectrum.

I have no idea why some people are wired to enjoy recreational sex and others aren't, but I suspect it's a complicated combination of experience, culture and possibly physical/chemical elements (similar to the reason some people are highly sexual and others don't have much interest in sex at all). My personal view is that it's all good, so long as people communicate their preferences to each other.

I'm one of those people who falls into the category of "someone who can be sexual with friends and not feel weird about it afterwards". I find sex deepens my bonds of friendship OR romantic love with those I engage with. However, I don't feel a need to be "in love" with everyone I have sex with. I view sex primarily as energy which is healing, healthy and pleasurable. I do not want to share it with everyone (because I'm not attracted to everyone) but I don't want to limit sharing it with only those who are my "partners".

I'm careful to ask people how they feel about sex before I engage in it with them. I'd rather keep a friendship than cause hurt or confusion by adding sex to the mix if it's not compatible with their beliefs or values. I value my own sexuality and the sexuality of others. I guess the closest I can come to describing how I feel about sharing sex is that it's almost a spiritual experience for me, though of course it's also physically pleasurable and is one of my favourite ways to express intimacy with my partners. Sex is sacred, but for me that doesn't mean it should be kept for only a few people. I feel a special connection with everyone I've had sex with, whether they are friends or life-partners. I just don't equate this special feeling with romantic love. It's more like a sacred love and connection (and this can coexist with romantic love, but it doesn't have to).. does that make sense? Surely I'm not the only person who feels this way!

I agree with Redpepper about the definition of "sex positive"; this has less to do with who you fuck and more to do with how you value your sexuality and others' sexuality. You can be sex positive and never have actual sex with anyone at all!

Oh, I also wanted to add that I don't have any trouble separating out friends from lovers/partners in my own mind. I just don't use sex as the criteria to distinguish between them.

Anyway, that's sort of rambly, but hopefully it helps add another perspective!

Last edited by geminigirl; 11-16-2010 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:32 PM
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For me, sex doesn`t come into the equation of wether someone fits into the poly category, or one of the others.

It`s strictly about my feelings. Do I feel something for them that is romantically inclined ? There have been people I cared for, felt that spark, that chemistry, that for one reason or another, I was unable to persue the romantic interest.

Knowing I felt what I did, means I didnt have them in a 'friend' category.

I like being a voyeur. I also like directing. So for me I can be in a sexually charged environment, and as long as someone isn`t putting their hands on me, I am fine watching others. I am careful not to give mixed signals to people. I try and respect other peoples boundaries as well when in those environments.

I guess for me, it boils down to touch, and romantic interest. I have to be romantically interested in someone in order to be touched by them, or want to touch them. They can be as sexual as they want with each other, as I only care to control me.
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:49 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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I find the line pretty easy to discern actually. Can there be some overlap, sure, with the right person maybe and depending on history. But its still there

Friendship has the largest range of "types" for me. I can have sex with friends and not be romantic. I can be very cursory and average with friends. I can also be deeply trusting and emotionally intimate with some friends about some topics. But if there isn't a romantic aspect, or a lust aspect, they are just friends. I do find people can slide in and out of this type of friendship, but it usually remains the same long term.

In reality I am new to friends becoming lovers. Thats a whole new transition, not one I had ever believed would happen with me. However it has now happened and I can still remember the when and why it happened. In my head it clearly transitioned from friend to lover. Its also been very rewarding to get to know SJ as a friend and then suddenly it clicked into something much deeper.

The other way was far more difficult for me. Understanding how to make someone, who in my head was a lover into "just" a friend was a real fight. It took me a lot of introspection to learn how to turn off the romantic side. It was a lesson that was required. The lines however are still pretty clear.

A lover to me is something all encompassing. Not any one aspect. Sex, romance, friendship, deep connection. I can have a deep connection with a friend and not have sex. I could go through all the iterations but a lover is all of those things, not any one piece. Its helped me clear up feelings for past people and also put into perspective casual sex and why, in reality, I have never done it. Everyone I have been with I have been friends with or remained friends. Its just not in my DNA.

These things can come in passing to. I can feel that fireball of everything inside of me, but it blinks away in an instant. I enjoy and loathe that kind of love, but it is still romantic love and still very different than friendship, even if I love that friend.

I suppose for me, this was easier to separate out who aren't just friends vs trying to define who is a friend. Lovers are so rare and specific that its easier to pull on that than define friendship. At least in my experience.

Last edited by Ariakas; 11-16-2010 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminigirl View Post
I guess the closest I can come to describing how I feel about sharing sex is that it's almost a spiritual experience for me, though of course it's also physically pleasurable and is one of my favourite ways to express intimacy with my partners.
Sex is indeed a spiritual experience for me, but like my other spiritual practices, I don't go to church with it, so to speak. I guess I practice more in solitude and with those closest to me... as I do my religious practices also.

Talking of church...and relating the two... I haven't been able to find a group of spiritually practicing people that works for me or a group of people that works sexually either. Other than the threesomes I've had that is... The experiences I have had have been like my figuring out what spiritual beliefs I feel comfortable with. I have tried many churches out and have been welcomed by the ones I have been to, but I am left feeling pulled in and convinced. In the sex parties I have participated in I have experienced that also... encouraged to do certain things by the fact that others have been turned on...leading me to do things I wouldn't normally. I think there is a trust thing going on there in that. I think part of it is that I question who is being lead and who is actually really attuned to their sexual boundaries. Maybe because of my own experiences, maybe from what I have heard from others about theirs. What I have seen?

The workshop I am putting together is to offer the experience of boundary building together and without the sexual component being realized in the workshop. I have input from friends about what they would hope to gain in a workshop... any one here willing to put some input about what they would look for in a workshop about sexual boundary building? I would love to hear?
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Originally Posted by Superjast View Post
for me I can be in a sexually charged environment, and as long as someone isn`t putting their hands on me, I am fine watching others. I am careful not to give mixed signals to people. I try and respect other peoples boundaries as well when in those environments.

I guess for me, it boils down to touch, and romantic interest. I have to be romantically interested in someone in order to be touched by them, or want to touch them. They can be as sexual as they want with each other, as I only care to control me.
I love this... I can really relate. I haven't been that careful about mixed messages though, and will likely not be in a position to practice that any time soon. I think largely, being under the influence of something is a really bad idea in this realm as I have seen peoples walls and boundaries go down past where they would normally be comfortable. Some seem to think this is an awesome thing in terms of those they are with "loosening up" but I question the safety in that sometimes.
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Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
The other way was far more difficult for me. Understanding how to make someone, who in my head was a lover into "just" a friend was a real fight. It took me a lot of introspection to learn how to turn off the romantic side. It was a lesson that was required. The lines however are still pretty clear.
Making a lover into a friend I have never had difficulty with although it is a hard transition that can last for a time. I guess I have never been in a situation where I would want to continue the sex part... all my feelings stay the same after the break up, it generally isn't about loss of love, just compatible goals for the future. What hurts is when they see it as loss of love and move away from me emotionally. Once invested, I find it extremely hard to be okay with that pull.
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Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
A lover to me is something all encompassing. Not any one aspect. Sex, romance, friendship, deep connection. I can have a deep connection with a friend and not have sex. I could go through all the iterations but a lover is all of those things, not any one piece. Its helped me clear up feelings for past people and also put into perspective casual sex and why, in reality, I have never done it. Everyone I have been with I have been friends with or remained friends. Its just not in my DNA.
I get what you are saying Ari, but could you explain the last line that relates to DNA please? I'm not getting how that relates. thanks

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Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
These things can come in passing to. I can feel that fireball of everything inside of me, but it blinks away in an instant. I enjoy and loathe that kind of love, but it is still romantic love and still very different than friendship, even if I love that friend.
I enjoy and loathe that too... it drives me crazy! I don't see it that different than friendship, I don't think... it kind of doesn't have anything to do with it really as I don't really see it as rational. It's just desire I don't act on for fear of ruining the friendship or because in the long run it wouldn't be worth it... perhaps the spiritual side of getting together with a group of others plays into this more and gives a place to act that out... I don't know? I haven't really experienced this longer than a moment and when I do, the person is then considered as an option for a lover rather than a friend... if that makes sense?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
I suppose for me, this was easier to separate out who aren't just friends vs trying to define who is a friend. Lovers are so rare and specific that its easier to pull on that than define friendship. At least in my experience.
good question... what is friendship...? which is part of what I was asking originally. You have a point though, maybe its easier to define who is a lover? Friendship is a far harder thing to define for me other than it doesn't include sex.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:46 PM
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I would be very interested in talking with you about ideas for a sexual boundary workshop, RP! (But of course you know that already.. )
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