A large portion of my adult life has been spent tearing apart what society has told me about relationships. I had a realization that the white picket fence life wasn’t for me, so I tried my best to tear down those misconceptions about what love is supposed to be and build my own fence. Relationships do not have to follow a formula. You don’t need to meet, date for a while, get married and have babies. Relationships can take so many different shapes and styles.
Sex and love don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You don’t have to love someone to have sex with them, and you don’t have to have sex with someone you love. Asexual people can still be in love with a partner, even if they don’t have sexual desires. Polyamory is a great way for people with different romantic and sexual preferences to get their needs met. I am panromantic, which means gender has very little to do with who I fall in love with. Sexually, I am primarily attracted to women. I have had mostly male partners in my life. Sometimes after I fall in love with someone I am open to being sexual with them (and enjoy it) but sometimes that never happens. Being polyamorous, if the other person reciprocates these romantic feelings, we can still have a loving relationship. We both might satisfy our sexual needs elsewhere.
Building Your Playground
I have heard this term before, I didn’t make it up, but I found it very relatable. Think of your relationships as a playground. You should educate your partner on your boundaries, and set up your ‘play ground’ to play in. This can include what emotional availability you have, what sort of play relationship you may have (kinky or just sexual) and at least for now what you want out of the relationship. Now obviously these things change all the time, but as these things change you can add and subtract from your playground. I might not be open to having all kinds of sex with you, but I might be ok with certain kinds of touch. Establishing this down to the definition of sex is something that more mono style relationships mostly don’t have to consider (but they still should).
When Things Don’t Work
I have had failed relationships because I could not meet the needs or expectations of partners. I went through a very long period where I was not ok with most sexual activity with male gendered people. Nothing was wrong with me, I just didn’t want to share that kind of energy. I tried to be very clear about this, but sometimes you need to make the determination that a potential partner will not be a good fit considering your current preferences. It is hard to determine who is really OK with your preferences so it is hard for me to give you very specific advice. All I can say is that if you don’t feel it, flee it. If a partner or potential partner cannot respect the boundaries of your playground then don’t let them play in it.
Try to be as clear with your wants (and don’t wants) as you can. If you don’t want to be penetrated, say so. If you are just having a hands off day and don’t want to be touched or cuddled, just tell your partner. This is a hard habit to break. Your partner’s needs are very important, but if it will cause you emotional and physical distress to meet their needs then you should not be hurting yourself to meet their needs. I tend to be very extreme in this, as I speak to my partners very clearly about what my needs are and what their needs are. If they have a need I do not feel comfortable satisfying, I talk to them about how they can get that need met. Examples of this are if I do not want to be sexual with a partner, allowing them more time to date and meet other people who will be open to more sexual touch.