The Sex Trap: What Polyamorous People Do Versus What Monogamous People Think We Do

Lego people, arranged, in a rainbow color formation. The closest Lego person is red, next closest is orange, next yellow, green, blue, and purple (as you get further away from the camera)
Image by The Magic Tuba Pixie / CC BY

Today’s post is a guest blog post from Daphne Matthews.

Daphne is a former journalist who has been involved in various BDSM communities for over a decade, including time in leadership. She is the author of The Gambler series of books: Backed Into a Hand, Aces and Spades, and her latest book — An Offsuited Pair.

Daphne’s regular blog is DM’s Words. And check out what she wrote for Poly Land:

The Sex Trap

To monogamous people, polyamory must look like it’s all about sex. I mean, surely having multiple romantic relationships translates into constant sex.

Right?

Why else would we bother if we weren’t getting laid all the time?

Even those of us who should know better can fall into this trap and assume that sex is the defining factor in a poly relationship.

In other words, if you’re not sleeping with someone, are they still part of your poly circle?

At a gathering of poly friends recently, I listened to a woman describe one of her partners as a close friend. They weren’t sexually involved, but they engaged in activities that her other partners weren’t interested in. I don’t remember what these were. Maybe it was riding roller coasters. Maybe it was watching a certain type of movie.

It didn’t matter. I was caught off guard because this isn’t usually how I think of poly partners. I also realized that I am in a similar relationship. There is a person in my life who I see fairly regularly, but it’s most often to simply hang out. We see movies together, comfort each other when needed, and support the other’s interests. In one case, we sat on my living room floor watching Christmas movies and putting together Lego.

This person is important to me. Their happiness and well being are important to me. Our time together often feels intimate, even when there isn’t sex. It’s a friendship with some unusual benefits, but benefits nonetheless.

This is not to say that all close friendships should or even can be considered part of ones poly circle. I’ve known my best friend for more than 20 years, and there is nothing I’d be afraid to tell her. But it’s a different type of intimacy and I’m struggling to explain the difference, even to myself.

What Makes Someone Part of Your Poly Circle?

Is it the potential for a sexual encounter? I’ve had sex with the person mentioned above, but that’s rarely the goal of our time together. The best friend and I, on the other hand, are never going to have sex. She’s as straight as can be and I’m not attracted to her in that way.

Is it the way we prioritize time together? I look forward to seeing my best friend, but she lives a couple of hours away, and we each have busy lives. Others, I’m able to make time for on a more regular basis. When making plans, they are among the first to come to mind.

Is it the physicality? I hug my best friend. Long, close hugs that are absolutely intimate to a degree. But we don’t snuggle. And I’m never going to drunkenly make out with her at a house party.

I’m honestly not sure what the answer is here. All I know is that some friendships feel different. They belong in the poly category for reasons that may not entirely make sense to anyone else.

But I’m okay with that too.

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