What do you call your relationships? In hetero monogamy, it was one of a few choices that both parties agreed on with little debate: boy/girlfriend, fiancée, husband/wife. In an open relationship, I’m finding it to not be as easy. Is it something that both partners need to agree on? Or can you think of him as your boyfriend but to him you are good friends?
That is what is on my mind this week. As a monogamish person (I fall somewhere on the spectrum between swinging and poly- thank you Dan Savage) I find myself in a relationship (I hope I can at least call it that) with a man who, prior to me, was monogamous. When he became a free agent we stepped gingerly over the line and had our first kiss. Which had been fantasized about, by both of us, for a year prior. Talk about sexual tension. I think we broke a world record. Now here we are 6 months into our enhanced relationship and I find myself craving a name for it.
Why do I need a name for it? Well, when I was talking to new lifestyle friends and they asked if I was poly, I was saying no. Now I have this guy who I’m in love with, that isn’t my husband, and that kinda makes me…poly. I think. That’s where the title comes in handy.
Let’s assess. I know I love him…check. I know I want to do naughty things to him…check. Is that a “good friend?” Well to me, a 40 something, 20-year married lady, that is certainly not a friend. However, to this much younger single man, I am his good friend. And oh, yeah, he says he loves me too, we kiss and have titillating phone conversations and go on dates. We also just planned a 4-day trip together next month, sharing a hotel room, which inspired a groundbreaking conversation with my husband. That is a liberal definition of a good friend.
So why are titles important? Or are they? In Opening Up, the bible on open relationships, Tristan Taormino interviews a woman who talks about how when you’re open or poly you get to be fluid in your relationships. You can enjoy kissing someone and not need to know if it’s going somewhere. Or if they are your “boyfriend,” and you don’t need to make decisions about leaving another relationship or it will be considered cheating. Phew, that’s a relief!
When I ask myself why I want my guy to admit we are not just “good friends,” it’s partly to make sure we are on the same page when it comes to the intentions of our relationship. So if we got those clear do I care if he calls me his “good friend” and I call him my boyfriend? My lover? My intimate friend? Perhaps not, just as long as he calls me. (I couldn’t resist.)
If I’m going to abandon the conventional definition of married and give monogamy the middle finger, I may as well get to the place where I don’t need labels. But what I do need is clear communication and partners that care about us being on the same page. We’ve articulated our expectations. Do we text? Do we talk on the phone? How often? Do we go on dates or do we just meet to fuck? All of the above are options on the menu of the relationship; let’s just get on the same page. Then no one takes anything “personally” and we just get to have lives filled with juicy people doing juicy things to us!