Queerplatonic

A dear friend of mine recently introduced me to the word “queerplatonic.” Most simply put, queerplatonic refers to the deep, intimate, emotional connections sans a sexual relationship. It’s more than friendship, and different from a sexual, and sometimes romantic, relationship. The word zucchini is used to describe someone one’s queerplatonic, committed (perhaps life) partner. You can read about its meaning and subtleties at these links:

Definition

FAQ

And, from the fyeah blog:

“Can we stop using “intimate” as a synonym for sexual?

Yes. Please. There are other kinds of intimacy, after all!

  • romantic intimacy
  • physical but non-sexual intimacy (hugging, cuddling, etc.)
  • emotional intimacy
  • intellectual intimacy (where you can freely share your ideas and interests with someone)
  • activity-focused intimacy (where you do fun things together)
  • the trust that develops when you’ve known someone for a long time or been through hardship with them
  • probably some others I forgot”

I love distinguishing between different kinds of things- there are so many layers, even using words that seem so obvious. I’ve talked about that with regards to monogamy before, and the word intimacy is another that deserves investigation and interrogation.

I appreciate the use of the word queer in the word queerplatonic, as it speaks to the process of queering relationships. Let’s just upend everything we know, toss it around, and create something new and beautiful and conscious, shall we?

I’ve tried to think if I have felt “queerplatonic” feelings toward anyone in my life, and I am trying to think very specifically of someone that I have deeply loved in a heart-achey kind of way but didn’t desire sexual closeness with… I haven’t remembered anyone yet. I think I can pretty much say that anyone I have felt deeply connected to I’ve wanted to fuck, minus family. And the love I feel for long time vanilla friends seems like it might be a different feeling. And the human love I have felt deepen when a relationship has changed from a FWB to a non-sexual relationship also seems different. And now I’m thinking: Wait! There’s someone! Yep, that might be it. I could say that relationship is queerplatonic. Interesting.

There are just so many different kinds of connection, it’s hard to really name and describe and classify all of it.

Do you have any zucchinis in your life?

Life is Full and Delicious

Crazy past week: life is zooming ahead!

I am starting a new job soon- with the same agency but in a different role. It’s going to be far busier than what I have been doing and I think it will be a positive shift in my day-to-day. I hope I can manage a full work load and school in the fall.

I had a major freak out last week. I found out that somehow I had linked my blog (yes, this blog) to my main Google plus profile. Which means I had been sharing all of my blog posts with people in my circles- some random acquaintances from college and grad school, some family members, some friends. So Mom, Dad, other family, and people on the periphery of my life: if you’ve been following me along, that is totally fine. The irony of this situation is not lost on me. If you ever want to talk to me about stuff you’ve read on here, I am happy to talk. If not, that’s fine too. But I know that you know. So we’re good.

Some old news: that poly speed dating event J and I went to was cool! It was super well coordinated and there were about 100 people there! I definitely recommend going to the next one.

I’m excited about my next open women’s group. We are doing an activity where we will feed one another in silence for a little while- I think it will be a nice, intimate thing to do with one another. And I am looking forward to a new kind of touch and intimacy with some of my best woman friends.

My bestie and her fiance were in town this past weekend with us! It was fabulous, especially since I hadn’t seen her since October. We even took them to our fave nude beach, and they even got naked. I was extremely impressed- they had never been around any other naked people before. Wahoo, vanilla friends gettin’ a little spicy!

[My crummy part of the week: getting totally triggered by a comment a friend made yesterday about someone’s “perfect breasts.” No one is perfect, right? I vented to J several times throughout the evening, and told myself last night as I was trying to fall asleep that I would wake up feeling better. And I did. So I am making some progress on managing my negative thoughts.]

Stay cool this week; it’s warming way up!

Space and Love

Finally, finally, J and I watched “Her.” This is probably my favorite quote:

“It’s like I’m reading a book… and it’s a book I deeply love. But I’m reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you… and the words of our story… but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now. It’s a place that’s not of the physical world. It’s where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can’t live your book any more.”

How have you cultivated space, separateness, and stillness in your relationship with others? With yourself? Does allowing that space to exist fill you with love, gratitude, patience, and peace? Can you feel the depth of space within yourself? Between yourself and another? Can you let go in order to love? Can you let relationships settle and dive deep, letting them morph into what they want to be? What do you need to do for yourself in order to experience that space?

PS: I absolutely loved that movie. So poly and wonderful. My other favorite quote:

“The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love. I’m different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love you more.”

 

Kissing & Hook-ups

In the March issue of Psychology Today, there are two pieces that I wanted to discuss here. One is a short snippet on kissing. Interestingly, a study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that far more men than women would have sex with someone without kissing that person first (53% of men versus 14% of women). Would you have sex without kissing them first? (I know I wouldn’t. Well, for the most part 🙂 )

Another interesting finding from a study published in Western Journal of Communication found that couples who increased their kissing time (variable unknown- how long did couples increase their kissing time to?) experienced lower stress over time. The piece mentions that “just 15 minutes worth of kissing…can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol”- but I don’t know if that is 15 minutes per week or what. (J and I have been joking that it must be 15 minutes a day! Go get it!)

Another, longer piece discussed casual sex and hook-ups, and recent studies indicating that many young people who have casual sex later regret it. Gender-based differences were found in these studies: in “a collection of studies in the Archives of Sexual Behavior… [demonstrated that] On average, women most regretted the sex that they had; men were more likely to regret the sex they didn’t.” Women tended to be more regretful of losing their virginity to the “wrong person” while men tended to regret not being more “sexually intrepid.”

Have you ever regretted a casual sex encounter? Why? What happened?

I think this gets into a larger question about regret and the meaning of sex. If you learned something, do you necessarily need to regret it? Is your regret based on the meaning you ascribe to sex? What do you all think?

When Fantasies Hurt

I have seen a few different search terms in my stats that indicate people are searching for resources around what to do when a particular fantasy is hurting their relationships. I think the idea behind this scenario is that a partner has shared a fantasy with you and perhaps now you feel insecure about yourself or your relationship and maybe you wish you didn’t know about the fantasy. Maybe your partner is so insistent on sharing the fantasy, or even making it materialize, that you are closing yourself off from your partner and are starting to feel like you are sexually incompatible.

That is a tricky, and probably painful, situation. What do you do?

First, I think it’s important to recognize that everyone has fantasies. We probably have different fantasies, but we are entitled to our own. They are ours, just like our feelings and thoughts are our own. Try cultivating your sense of independence around your fantasies and work on respecting your partner(s)’s imaginative boundaries as well.

Second, it can be helpful to view the sharing of fantasies as an intimacy-building component of a relationship. Viewed from this light, when a partner shares a fantasy, they aren’t doing it to make you feel less-than or insecure about yourself or your relationship, but because they feel close enough and safe enough with you to share a vulnerable part of themselves. It could even be viewed as a form of coming out, depending on how deeply someone has held onto a fantasy, and how much it makes up their sexual identity.

Third, it could also be helpful to work on assessing your own sexual intelligence and your ability to be GGG (Dan Savage’s acronym for good, giving, and game), in addition to your sexual soft and hard boundaries. Is the fantasy initially squicky to you? Can you imagine indulging it in some way, in some circumstances? Are you willing to talk about it or try it? Is it something that is absolutely non-negotiable to you?

Fourth, I think that Dan Savage has it right regarding the idea that people deserve to evaluate relationships not just based on traditional compatibility measures (personality, finances, living, kids, religion, etc) but on sexual compatibility as well. Try thinking of sex as a distinct category that you can use in evaluating your relationship with someone. It doesn’t make you shallow or ungrateful to evaluate a relationship based on your sexual compatibility: it makes you honest and it shows you are invested in assessing the long term sustainability of a relationship. (Obviously, determining how important a sexual incompatibility issue is to you is important in this as well. Maybe the sexual incompatibility isn’t that important to you, and maybe it’s a huge deal. Only you can answer that.)

Fifth, approach your partner with your honest feelings and thoughts around the fantasy sharing and start brainstorming possibilities for moving forward. Is the fantasy triggering some insecurities for you? What do you need from your partner? Do you need your partner to stop sharing the fantasy with you? Do you simply need some emotional reassurance? Would it be helpful to have some boundaries around sharing- for instance, we can talk about the fantasy a few times a week, and other times need to be reserved for other erotic play/talk?

Lastly, if the fantasy is taking up a large amount of space in your relationship (maybe it’s turned into a “third partner”) and it’s not a presence you want at all in any way, maybe it’s time to come to terms with the fact that you are not sexually compatible and move on to more compatible relationships. (And: if your partner is pushing you to do things that you are not comfortable with, that is another flag that your relationship is not sustainable. If you are uncomfortable, that is a sign that the fantasies may not be for you and maybe that your partner is not respecting your feelings and boundaries, which is not a healthy or satisfying way to be in relationship with someone.)

I’ll say for myself that J and I have gone through a little bit of this. Not in terms of really sharing fantasies that hurt one of us (at least to my knowledge) but in carving out specific times for specific kinds of erotic play (“we’ve talked about that a lot this week, I want to talk about this other fantasy tonight”). I have also had flashes of jealousy before in hearing some of J’s fantasies, but those feelings have largely been founded in fears that the fantasy would turn into reality and feeling like I wouldn’t be able to handle it right then. When I can ground myself in the moment and see the hotness of his fantasy myself, I have calmed myself down quite a bit, and been able to enjoy our erotic sharing (and, am also able to emotionally calm down over the long run with the confidence that I could handle it if the fantasy turned into a reality).

Have you ever shared a fantasy that has hurt your partner in some way? Have you ever been hurt by a partner’s fantasy? How have you negotiated that?

fantasies

Equality & Sex

J sent me this article, and I’ve seen it posted in other places as well; it’s worth a read: “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?”

It’s an interesting proposition, and seemingly substantiated by well-known researchers in the areas of marriage, sexuality, and attraction: relationships marked by sameness and a high degree of intimacy are also marked by less heat. Thus, they tend to be marked by less sex.

The question that I still have after reading this article, though, is: Even if equality between two partners is correlated with less sex in the relationship, shouldn’t we be looking at other factors that lead to less sex?

My fear with this article, is that it will lead readers to say “equality causes less sex” (the correlation versus causation problem), rather than diving into the other factors that mark modern long-term relationships: sameness, intimacy, and an expectation that a partner meets 100% of our needs and vice versa. These factors seem to be the real erotic/passion “killers,” not equality.

Perhaps it is not men engaging in “feminine” housework that leads to a decrease in how much sex they have with their female partners, but the structure of the relationship which requires each partner to do everything for one another, as opposed to relying on other people in their social network. Modern LTRs are founded on the idea that one person will complete you and fulfill all of your needs, desires, and wants- they will be your best friend, motivator, spiritual coach, workout buddy, financial advisor, mechanic, and a sexual ATM (and perhaps a co-parent or business partner and more). Putting that kind of pressure on yourself and your partner is destined to kill some erotic energy- talk about stress and stretching your attention and focus, not to mention gluing yourselves together. Space seems invaluable in retaining the individuality and separateness necessary in order to still want one another.

The closing quote from Esther Perel is pertinent to this:

““It’s the first time in history we are trying this experiment of a sexuality that’s rooted in equality and that lasts for decades,” Esther Perel said. “It’s a tall order for one person to be your partner in Management Inc., your best friend and passionate lover. There’s a certain part of you that with this partner will not be fulfilled. You deal with that loss. It’s a paradox to be lived with, not solved.””

Except I would say that we can at least brainstorm around this paradox. I think ethical nonmonogamy does quite a bit to transform this paradox of LTRs into more of a continuum, in which you can choose a structure that matches the pros and cons you want out of a relationship: how much intimacy and closeness and eroticism and heat do I want in my relationship, and how am I going to go about getting those things? Will we live together? Have separate bedrooms? Share details about every minute of our days? Invite other people into our bedroom? Date other people? Travel and vacation separately?

What do you think?

This is another piece worth reading: “No Sex, Please, We’re on Medicare” Don’t fall into ageist baloney about older people not needing, desiring, or deserving sex, and heed one of the last lines: “Sexual health is part of health.” No, duh.

Our Party!

I’m very thankful for this blog as a way to make sure I keep track of relationship-y things… definitely including our Party!

It was really just a fabulous time. We got down to southern Oregon on Wednesday very late, and we both were so excited to see our friends and family. Thursday we took an easy day and were able to spend time with my family, extended family, and some of J’s extended family. Dinner, frozen yogurt.. we also met with our photographer, who was great and also kind of a nut. Friday I spent the afternoon with our woman Friends of Honor (my sister and her GF, my cousin, my two best friends from high school, my mom) getting our nails done. I thought I was going to cry when I saw my friends from high school- I hadn’t seen either of them in over two years! They’re just the same, but older, doing more adult things in their day-to-day. I love them so much.

That night we had our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and it was so fabulous. I am so glad that J and I made the decision to tell our officiant (the minister I grew up with) about our relationship last summer, because his extra remarks about our independence and strength and bravery were really special and moving to me. He is such an energetic and peaceful person, and it felt amazing to have him speak as our officiant. I was pretty nervous all Friday evening interacting with J’s parents and sister and brother-in-law; I had a stomachache the whole time and felt a little on edge, but I interacted with them minimally and did my best staying focused on everyone else there. It was pretty loving to experience that his parents and sister behaved politely and mostly warmly towards us.

That night we went to clothing optional hot springs with our fabulous sexy friends, J’s men Friends of Honor and couple of their partners, J’s brother, and J’s sister and brother-in-law. I definitely got naked, which was an interesting choice. I had a lot of fun, but I don’t know if J’s sister and brother-in-law did. (I can’t control if they did or not! But I know it was an interesting layer on top of everything else- ie them finding out about our relationship.)

J and I stayed together at the fancy hotel in downtown both Friday and Saturday night, and it was really nice to have a space completely to ourselves to relax in. I woke up early Saturday morning for hair time- the woman who cut my hair from infancy traveled up to Oregon from California to do my hair and all of the other girls’! It was really fun. It was a great way to spend more time with all the girls, and to catch up with my hair lady!

Photos started midday, and I just love that. I am such a ham, and I had so much fun with our whole group dorking around town. We walked down through town, into the park, playing around trees and on jungle gyms and in fountains. We arrived at the park about 45 minutes prior to the ceremony, drank water, said hello to guests arriving (a couple of old college friends, former supervisors from college, and other people we hadn’t seen in forever! AND several of our lovely sexy friends!)… and it also gave me time to get nervous. I was having performance anxiety!! The thought of being in front of so many people, having them witness something so personal, private, and vulnerable made me nervous. Right before J and I walked in together we held hands and he helped me shake the nervousness out. (Thanks lover boy!)

And the ceremony was beautiful. I am so proud of the words we chose.

Afterwards: more photos, and so much socializing. It was so great!!

The food was fabulous. Mexican buffet, delicious cupcakes. The band was totally rockin’. We danced so much! I felt like I was going to throw up at one point. Yes, it was that good. Ha!

I cried when it was time to say bye to my (long-distance) friends. Even though I don’t feel connected to my vanilla friends in the same way as I do to my sexy friends, we share a history and friendship that is important to me. And I miss them.

We spent the night after the reception with J’s guy friends, chatting in our hotel room. It was really fun. Despite our sexy friends’ and my woman friends’ best efforts of making our honeymoon suite sexy (flowers, relaxing music on an iPad, lube, chocolate, wine) we were both exhausted and were more satisfied with socializing with people we don’t get to see often enough.

We woke up the next day saying:

Let’s do that again!
That was pretty perfect.
I loved everything!
BEST PARTY EVER!!!


That’s the best, yeah?

And then the best honeymoon came! A trip to Glacier National Park for ten days, with the tail end in Canada (my first trip to Canada, wahoo!). We hiked our butts off, camped, stayed in historic lodges, and ate lots of pie and ice cream. Another fabulous experience for what I feel is a fabulous relationship.