For most people, ‘non-lovers’ means ‘everyone who isn’t my girlfriend/boyfriend’ – or at least the vast majority of people they know and care about. For people in open relationships of whatever shape, that’s not always the answer. Admittedly, the majority of people I know and care about are also non-lovers, but the edges are a little more… blurred.
You hear people talk about how one of the advantages of poly is that ‘relationships can find their own level’, and sometimes it’s true – I have some dear and beloved friends who I’ve occasionally gone to bed with in the past, and may do so again in the future, but that’s not particularly relevant to our usual relationship, that of friends. It’s lovely to know that it doesn’t really matter either way, and that sex is not a Big Deal. I think of them as friends, not lovers, even though the edges of the definitions are blurred.
On the other hand, I have many equally dear and beloved friends who I have absolutely NO interest in in that way, and vice versa, and even contemplating the idea in abstract makes me feel slightly uncomfortable – these are often old friends, from university or ex-housemates or old colleagues, though not always. These are the friends who are more like a sibling relationship, and I love the comfortableness of these friendships too. In particular, I really value the easy friendships I have with some of my straight male friends to whom I am effectively a boy.
I suppose my point, if I have one, is that people who are new to poly (and sometimes not so new…) can get a bit DATE ALL THE THINGS. After all, if this person is attractive and interesting and poly, why shouldn’t I date them? Aside from the calendar and scheduling issue, sometimes new friends are just awesome in themselves. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – the friendship you can have with someone that you have never and will never have a sexual or romantic relationship with is different, and awesome. And if they’re poly too, that’s extra-awesome – you can talk about your lives without having to qualify or explain, or get their advice on relationship problems without worrying that you’re overstepping boundaries or putting them in an awkward position.
I thought about talking about metamours here, too, but I feel like that’s a subtly different subject from ‘just’ non-lovers – the wonder of the Poly Means Many project is that I’m sure one of the other bloggers has something different to say about the topic! Some of the people in my life that I most admire are metamours of mine, one way or another, and I am delighted to be connected to such an incredible network of fiercely intelligent, funny, kind, creative and loving people.
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.