"How was your vacation?" a woman friend asked.
I closed my eyes and sighed voluptuously. "Wonderful. Mr X was amazing."
My friend gasped. "But what about Mr M?"
I frowned a little, confused by her question. "Mr M and I are still an item."
She looked like her brain hurt. "Both??"
"You know I'm poly..." I told her.
"Yes, but I don't get it. I thought you loved Mr M."
"I do. Very much."
"Then why someone else?"
"I love Mr X, too. And Ms Y, and Mr Z."
"I'm so confused," she almost-wailed.
I took her hand. "I love you. We've shared the same bed. Snuggled up, touched, shared comfort and tears. Most people would think we were lovers, that our friendship crosses certain 'boundaries', right?"
"But its not like that, right? Or, but they don't understand. Or, but its natural. Or, but we love each other like sisters. Being poly isn't about sex. I'm not a swinger. I love. Sometimes that love expresses itself sexually. Most of the time it doesn't. "
"But you've got someone in your life who loves you so much, Kay, and you love him."
"So why don't you settle down with him? Why other people?"
"One person cannot be all things to another--not for extended periods of time. Besides, why keep all my love just to ourselves? I mean, by your logic, if I can't still be loving with Mr X and Mr Z because of my relationship with Mr M, then I shouldn't be loving with you, or Ms Y, either."
"That's different. We're not sexually involved."
"It doesn't matter. It feels good--being with you feels good. And it seems like the dominant culture thinks that if you are in a relationship with someone and you enjoy feeling good with someone else, you're being bad."
She looked thoughtful. "That is a bit of a stretch, Kay."
"Oh really?" I leaned forward. "What if you were a man. Or I was. Would feeling good with me --you know-- massaging, hugging, laughing, talking, sleeping together -- would feeling good with me be something your Mr M would have problems with?"
"Well, of course."
"Why of course?"
"Yes, why? Why does a change in gender change the acceptability of us being loving with each other?"
"Because it could lead to sex."
"Sweetie, I'm bi. I like women and men. So by your logic, you and I shouldn't snuggle and we certainly shouldn't sleep in the same bed together."
"Oh Kay, don't be silly. Its not like that between us."
"No, it isn't. You know that, and I know that, but people outside our relationship don't. They draw their own conclusions, right or wrong."
"So what does that have to do with Mr M and Mr X?"
"Only Mr M and I really know what our relationship is. The same with me and Mr X, and me and you. I love, sweetie. I don't have sex with everyone I love. But I love everyone I have sex with. And whether or not I'm having sex with someone is of far less importance than loving them and being the best possible person I can be in that relationship."
"It makes sense when you apply it in terms of you, but I don't see how it works out in the real world."
"I think it probably works as well as or better than monogamy. Time will tell which works better, serial monogamy, or polyamory."
She nodded, looked thoughtful for a moment. A sly, somewhat furtive expression lighted her face and she leaned forward. In a whisper, she asked, "So who is better in bed, Mr M or Mr X?"
"I've no idea," I answered.
"You've lost me again," she said.
"I know. Lets leave it that way."
Labels: conversation, polyamory, relationships