Polyplatonic, but Open

{Oh, the frustrations of having internet connectivity issues in the summer. Yeah, I accidentally posted a double comment on the Call for Submissions, but we’re just ignoring that. Afaik, all tumblr redirects in the links have been fixed. This is a crosspost that’s been backdated to the original posting date, 29 Aug 2019.}

Carnival of Aros – Aug 2019 – “Relationships” from The Aro Anarchist on WP [Link to Call for Submissions] [Roundup] [Original tumblr post here].

What does an ideal relationship look like to you?

What a coincidence that I posted something back in April in response to the implication that I have one ideal relationship [link to the untitled post]. By this point, I can’t pinpoint an exact year where I first heard about polyamory, but I’ve been using poly-flexible long enough that I struggle with trying put all of my potentially conflicting needs onto the shoulders of one partner.

This doesn’t mean I have to have a minimum of a certain number of partners, and I honestly may find that spoons drastically affect the point where I get polysaturated after trying polyamory out. It’s rather noticeable in trying to explain the conflicting people of that hypothetical group, but whether there’s a sexual drive or romance drive involved, those two typically aren’t combined and directed at one person. Or to put it another way, I don’t default to wanting to have a romantic and sexual relationship with the same individual. (Unless the planets and stars align just so? But I can’t really predict if or when that might happen; so, it’s safer to err on the side of it probably not happening.)

In hindsight, I think knowing about appromour [link] and wavership [link] would’ve changed how I approached hypothetical Person E (QPP) when I first wrote that post. But the gist still stands that I’m open to doing activities a partner feels is romantic and/or others may read as romantic, even if I’m not sure I can differentiate romantic and platonic.

Do you consider yourself polyamorous or a relationship anarchist? What do those words mean to you as an aromantic person?

In my response to June’s CoA prompt (Imagine A World Without Amatonormativity [Link]), I mentioned that I first encountered amatonormativity from polyam discussions. I don’t quite feel confident in saying that I’m definitely polyamorous when I haven’t had actual experience with more than one relationship, so I’ve stuck with poly-flexible. Honestly, the realization that I’m somewhere in the aro spectrum/umbrella is still new enough that I’m more likely to consider myself a polyam person approaching the aro community.

While I can understand some of the foundational theory where relationship anarchists operate from, I actually haven’t really sought out solely RA (and not overlapping with polyamory) circles. It doesn’t come down to some sort of difference of ideas, opinions, or whatever that might sound reasonable. I just got the shitty luck of the first relationship anarchist I interacted with being someone I didn’t want to interact with any further so I avoided their circles, which extended to RA at the time.

These days, particularly on tumblr, it’s a bit of a coin toss in that I’ve typically found those who overlap polyam and RA in some way. Sometimes, it’s as simple as personally following an RA structure but interacting and tagging polyam because it is/was a larger community or had more frequented tags. For me, leaning into RA doesn’t seem to have room for allo friends who don’t want to fall into amatonormativity but aren’t really committed to RA themselves. RA doesn’t seem like a one-way endeavor, y’know?

How do you feel about various models that a-spec communities have come up with to talk about non-traditional relationships?

I suspect I tried so hard to poke at whether I might want a queerplatonic partner as Person E had to do with QPRs being the most commonly referenced non-traditional relationship model I’ve run into. It’s quite likely they still serve a need, or we probably would’ve abandoned this terminology, but sometimes, I have the distinct feeling that the vague, open spaces for what “queering a platonic relationship” looks like is a tad too vague and open for some people.

Honestly, I feel like I’m treading water with keeping up on friendship maintenance (particularly as it’s moved from in-person daily interaction from school environments to solely LDR/online spaces), and I haven’t really had the spoons for poking at non-traditional relationships. I have friends who I consider Important People, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier keeping in touch, let alone asking allo friends about whether they’re comfortable doing xyz that’s different from what they’re used to doing in friendships.

Not to mention that bridging the allo to a-spec gap in a friendship isn’t exactly the same as trying to ask about non-traditional relationships. It’s one thing to be like ‘hey friend, do you mind if I do x or say z?’, but once things start to stray too non-traditional, it gets into educational territory and explaining that I’m not trying to date them. (Or force polyam on them, break up their relationship, encourage cheating, etc. Have you had an allo explain what an emotional affair was to you? 10/10 don’t recommend.)

tl;dr While I can understand some of the foundations of relationship anarchy, I’m more likely to describe myself as poly-flexible due to longer exposure to polyamory circles. In theory, being able to split different attraction drives between a group of people works better than putting everything on one person’s shoulders, but realistically, I’m not sure if I’ll have the spoons for that in the near future, particularly when you take into account friendship maintenance spoons.

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