Post by Jillian Oliveras
This post is part of a series exploring queerness, intimacy + relationships/polyamory as experienced by our shop assistant, Jillian. They’d like to keep the conversation going, feel free to reach out to them!
Why are relationships so often viewed as linear? Why are romance and friendship viewed as so completely separate from one another? If we imagine them as two lines- why can’t those lines intersect? Can’t we dance infinitely between them without heartbreak? Can’t we dance infinitely between them without expectations?
As I welcome another decade of my life (wow!) I find myself thinking about this more often than not. I began wondering about non-monogamy years ago, but my former partner was too insecure for me to even express any kind of thought regarding my openness with love (they DID always note their jealousy over the way I connect and develop relationships with folx). It took my biggest heartbreak for me to fully comprehend how subscribing to traditional societal standards of what relationships + partnerships “should look like” can lead to very unhealthy codependency, at least it did for me and the emotionally abusive relationship I somehow found myself in.
In the last year I’ve read and reread the book “Many Love” by Sophie Lucido Johnson at least five times (and I listen to the audiobook once or twice a week while falling asleep). This book made SO much make sense for me in regards to how intimacy and relationships work, particularly because Sophie centers the first part of the book on understanding our friendships and the intimacy of those relationships. As Sophie states in one of the first pages of the book, “polyamory is about shifting my definition of love to embrace the diversity of relationships in my life, and about allowing myself to prioritize all of those relationships according to their demands”.
Now, again, I’m writing this from my own experiences and explorations so not everything might click for you AND THAT’S OKAY- intimacy, love, and romance are unique for everyone and every relationship. Do romantic relationships require sex or can they exist without it? Can friendships involve some level of physical intimacy without feeling the pressure to do or be more? Opening myself up to fully understanding how I prioritize my friendships and friend-dates this last year also gave me the opportunity to explore other types of intimacy, such as romantic friendships. At one point in the book, Sophie asks “isn’t there love that exists beyond ‘friendship’ and outside of ‘lover’ and paradoxically both inside and outside of ‘family’?” If you’ve never heard the term “romantic friend” before- I have someone I go on some very cute dates with now and again (and who I talk to pretty much daily), sometimes we’ve kissed and held hands, others we just hug (A+ hugs). Overall, we have a deep and profound connection, but our relationship is not contingent on sexual desire (and has not- up to this point- involved sex).
When it comes down to it, polyamory isn’t about having sex with a lot of people, it’s about intimacy and love. Polyamory isn’t about a fear of commitment, it’s about a different kind of commitment- being committed to honesty, transparency. Polyamory is about open lines of communication between all parties. Sophie made it all click for me in Many Love when she said “it’s not really about letting the people you love do anything. It’s more about allowing yourself to let go. In releasing whatever possession you think you have over another person, you give yourself permission to not worry about it. Mistrust is a heavy burden to have to lug around all the time”.
I’ve been scared for a while- could I ever trust someone again? I crave intimacy but claim to be terrified of it. Ask yourself though- can you feel intimacy from across the room with someone you’ve never even met?
Here is a great comic that presents a lot of ways in which people practice non-monogamy that you may or may not know about. I’d like to encourage you to look at your relationships (romantic or otherwise) and explore intimacy and connections in a way you haven’t before! Feeling the capacity to tap into so much more love than you thought you had access to is a beautiful gift.