As I’ve alluded to elsewhere on this blog, Chosen Family is incredibly important to me – probably partly because it is the only family I have. (I have a story not uncommon to many other queer people: I am estranged from my family of homophobic religious conservatives mostly because of my sexuality.) This means that, since I left home at the age of 17, I have tried to surround myself with a community of likeminded folk.
My Chosen Family is my community, my support system, the unique network of people with whom I share bonds of many different kinds of love. Non-lovers (those with whom I do not have a sexual relationship) are as much a part of my Chosen Family as my lovers. They are my logical (as opposed to biological) family – and I have chosen them all intentionally and for specific reasons. They are all amazing people who I admire greatly and cherish having in my life.
Having multiple partners and lovers in my life means I consciously prioritise spending time with non-lovers. Occasionally this may mean spending less time with my partners, but I find that my lovers and non-lovers often want to mix during social events. My eros, agape, philia, and storge often get muddled up and party together, and I love it that way. (To find out more about these different kinds of love, see Polly Oliver’s post on it here: Ancient Greek Conceptions of Love)
For me, being polyamorous means recognising that love and human connection is not necessarily prioritised more or less by the sex we are having or those with whom we live, are related to by blood, or otherwise have normative arrangements (such as a link by marriage). Indeed, I view my partners first and foremost as my friends – it is the foundation upon which all my romantic relationships rest. My friendships, in whatever form, will likely last longer than any lover relationships.
Polyamory turns normative frameworks for having and viewing relationships on their head. However as polyamorous people we may still occasionally run into the pitfall of viewing sexual relationships as the only, best, or closest type of intimacy. We may think that if we find someone intriguing, fascinating or fanciable that the first course of action is to try to date them or otherwise become lovers. Although we may have the freedom to pursue a lover relationship with them, sometimes our best connection with them may be found as a non-lover.
When having multiple relationships, we may struggle with our calendars, seeming to only find time for our lovers when juggling our very hectic schedules. If we get caught up in scheduling out all our time with lovers at the expense of our non-sexual relationships, we miss out on important benefits within the poly community: having poly-minded friends with whom we are emotionally close (but not sexually involved with) means that we can provide support and advice for each other when we encounter challenges in our lover relationships in a way that our lovers or other partners never could or should.
Many poly people (though not all) share intersecting interests in challenging boundaries and assumptions about gender, career, politics and many other types of prescribed societal expectations. We can provide support for one another in all aspects of our lives where we seek to challenge boundaries and societal expectations. Much of that support can be gleaned from our non-lovers: after all, all of us have many more people in our lives with whom we don’t have a sexual relationship than people with whom we do! As people who live our personal lives outside a heteronormative monogamy-minded framework, our freedom to explore varying types of intimacy, whether sexual or non-sexual, is our greatest strength.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each
month seven bloggers – ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin – will write about their views on one of them.