Our guest post today comes to me from a very articulate and intelligent blogger; Bydarra@hotmail identifies as a heterosexual, male, middle aged, kinky, poly, and a tech geek residing in central Texas. There are other labels he embraces but they aren’t as relevant. Much thanks to him for providing this person insight into practicing polyintimacy.
I think his post is incredibly important in the way he describes the ordering of our important relationships- whether they be with friends, romantic or sexual partner, or something else entirely. It echos what Forever the Queerest Kids has always stressed- knowing what works for you in your relationships and going for it.
When I was young (20ish), I read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This turned out to contain the seeds that would germinate over the next 25 years and eventually result in my abandoning romantic monogamy (after the end of a 17 year marriage) and seek to put my thoughts in order. This was, in part, an academic exercise but even more it was an attempt to figure out how to implement relationships that would be meaningful and authentic for all involved.
I identify as polyintimate which I define as pursuing relationships in which participants strive for intimacy to whatever degree they are able. A sexual component may be included but not necessarily. Some may have more emotional depth. Whatever elements come into play, these relationships encourage us to be our authentic selves. Polyamory is but one avenue of this philosophy. Whatever the model of relationship, the one true thing is that time and resources are finite. As such, some relationships will receive more than others. Some people play a greater role in our lives. Sometimes that’s by chance. Sometimes that’s by design.
My involvement in the online public polyamory community revealed that my thinking diverges to a degree from many practitioners. I think this is because of my nature. I’m a geek who can be a bit OCD about order and trying to get concepts to fit together in a consistent fashion. As a result, I’ve figured out how polyintimacy can work in my life. A part of those thoughts are laid out in the following paragraphs.
Unlike many who practice polyamory, I see a validity in identifying the priority of a relationship. The terms Primary and Secondary are valid as long as we have some way of defining them for ourselves and those we are involved with know where they stand. For me, these terms go beyond polyamory. My son is a Primary relationship. My brother is not. He isn’t even on my radar in this. A very close friend could be Primary though not remotely romantic. So how do I define these gradations of intimacy and commitment? Those are the key elements for me. Let me stress that these are not specifically romantic. These frameworks should be applicable to any type of relationship from professional to personal; from platonic to romantic…
A Primary relationship is one where I see the other person as a long term participant in my life and vice versa. I consider them in my long term plans. I may not completely change those plans to accommodate them but I will modify my plans to maintain our relationship as best we can. This relationship is the kind where families exist… We sacrifice what we want when the others’ need is greater. Maybe we sacrifice what we need for our Partner(s). How far we go is up to each of us to decide. I love these people in some context. They’re my family of choice.
A Secondary relationship develops from a Tertiary. In some cases, it may be a negotiated relationship such as Mentor/Apprentice, Dom/sub, etc… Sometimes it may be more egalitarian and organic. In any event, participants have an expressed commitment to each other and the relationship. There is a much greater degree of intimacy that has been achieved over time. In a romantic context, I see this as the beginning of polyamorous involvements. Love is not necessary but it is a probability that it might develop.
A Tertiary relationship occurs when I’ve met someone and see a potential for growth beyond the casual acquaintance. I’ll spend resources in getting to know this person better. There will be a lot of conversations about philosophies, interests, plans, etc… to determine if there is a basis for increased intimacy. This takes me beyond the basic chemistry/’shiny’/appealing stage. If the growth of this relationship is mutual, I’d define this as the place where it has begun. At thispoint, we discuss what’s happening, decide to move forward or not, and begin negotiating future involvement.
Beyond this are acquaintances, buddies, strangers, and the rest of the world. Not all relationships fit easily into one of these ‘levels’. Many of mine fit somewhere in between. Some move between one level and another.
As a closing thought, I think it is profound to note how Bydarra also acknowledges the fluidity in the way that we relate to ourselves and our partners. Our relationships were not meant to stay stagnant, but to evolve the way our personal identities do. I find his story affirming and encouraging, so thank you again for writing!
Stay true to yourself, and be cool, queer kids.