on relationship boundaries and monogamy

Here is a post I saw today about how defining monogamy becomes tricky with aro spectrum and ace spectrum folk in the mix.  Go read it.  It’s got interesting points and I don’t have much to say on it, besidessss in response to this part added by paradife-loft:

And this also reminds me of how there have been times where I feel deeply unclear on the boundaries of what is acceptable with friends of mine in mono/romantic relationships, and thus pull away from doing things they themselves see no problem with because the entire set of rules and intuitions they’re working from is so unintelligible to me. I end up relying on the set of things that to me define my relationship with them separately from my relationships with other people as the boundaries, when those have minimal relation to what they’re actually seeing as the boundaries of monogamous relationships.

…This illuminated something for me with unexpected precision, because this… would explain at least a part of why I often feel weird about people dating people I know.  A kind of weird-feeling that is, for the record, really hard to talk about without it sounding like either criticism or romantic jealousy, and that I feel unfair for even feeling at all, which is why I don’t talk about it.  But here I am, pushing myself to talk about part of it.

‘Cause when I find out that someone is dating someone, I realize now, in light of the excerpt above, that it’s been throwing me into subconscious uncertainty over how that changes the rules for me as someone inhabiting the not-romantic slot with them, a status that only feels relevant and meaningful in my life when there’s anything to contrast it with.

Sure, yeah, there’s the obvious “no sex, no kissing” guideline, easy enough — but I don’t do those anyway, and that’s obviously not all a romantic relationship is.  But… not understanding what a romantic relationship is, all I really understand, or all that operates at that subconscious level, is that I’ll be expected to act definitively different towards them than their datemate does — except I have no actual internal framework for what that means, and so in practice what it feels like is that I’ve been demoted.  Like whatever the two of them do in public — sit close together, tease, cuddle — I’ll need to make sure to do less than that, in quantity or in kind.  Like I’ve become aware of some arbitrary upper threshold for intimacy that I previously didn’t have to worry about.  Which, of course, is unfair to resent when nobody has even directly told me anything of the sort, and this is all something self-imposed I’m imagining up in my brain.  If ever there were a relationship problem that could be solved by Communication, this is it.  But there are no scripts for this, and I don’t even know how to begin to approach it (if I decide to approach it at all).  And so I remain… unclear, on the boundaries of what is acceptable.

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8 responses to “on relationship boundaries and monogamy

  • luvtheheaven

    Whenever people try to define romance as separated from sex, like in ace/aro spaces, I’ve seen the temptation (and felt it myself) to add monogamy as basically a key tennet, except for how it doesn’t work for people who aren’t monogamous, so that can’t really be it, can it? But I think for so many monogamous people, that is a big part of how they experience what makes something romantic – the “You’re the only one” in terms of specific feelings or actions I guess…. So it’s complicated. I still feel like I need more of the poly perspective on these topics to see what they feel about these conversations.

    I actually had a couple conversations with my queerplatonic partner where he would joke “don’t sleep with other people” while he was away for 6 months out of the country.

    (It’s a joke because our relationship is extremely on the not-ever-sexual side of things, no sleeping together, etc.)

    But then I’d say, “No really, is there anything I could do that would feel to you like I was cheating on you?”

    And he’d reply “Not really.”

    Then we’d leave the topic alone.

    I feel the same way, for now. I think it might be a part of what makes our relationship not feel clearly “romantic” to me but rather makes me prefer the term “queerplatonic”. That there’s nothing I can imagine him potentially doing that would be “cheating on me”. We could be that way because we’re not monogamous, but I don’t think “poly” is the right explanation for it either. There’s not really exclusivity in a real sense in this relationship that I can pinpoint, at least not yet. There’s just things we happened to do as only us that helped build our intimacy, plus some vague type of commitment. If that makes any sense.

  • code16

    So eep :( (and while yeah this wouldn’t the the fault of the other people I’d want to note that well, it’s not yours either – not just in the ‘society doesn’t give scripts and approaches’ way but also, well, at least in my experience, situations where people treat their pretty specific ideas about how others should properly behave as something those others should not just do but have known about are a thing, that well, happens, and a lot of people have at least seen if not experienced. Which isn’t something one does to oneself, or imagines. (…I’m sorry, I don’t know how to say this well…)).

    Also, rather unrelatedly to this, I totally appreciate the link, because I’d conversely *never* thought of, like, monogamy and romance together, and this is… really interesting etc.

  • Silvermoon

    I get what you mean by this.
    Obvs I don’t know about you but I think with myself some of it might be subconsciously influenced by the scripts present in movies and other popular media- which tend to push a very narrow idea of what relations can be composed of and all that “if it’s this, it’s definetly romantic, and therefore it can only be done with the person you’re dating- and only them”- so when someone forms a romantic relationship I get feelings of “is this Allowed?”

  • demiandproud

    D’you ever run into the question whether to include the new person being dated into your friendship on this level, if their romantic relationship goes on long enough, and how that’d work?

    Also, interesting, ’cause I’m coming from the other end, where (culturally) you basically do not touch unless close family or in a romantic relationship, and trying to get some affectionate touching into friendships, period. It’s… new.

    • Coyote

      “D’you ever run into the question whether to include the new person being dated into your friendship on this level, if their romantic relationship goes on long enough, and how that’d work?”

      I generally feel an impulse to befriend my friends’ friends if we’re in the same space together, and that extends to datefriends. With friend-friends, this… sometimes works out. With datefriends that I didn’t already know before the dating started… I don’t think it ever has. Hard to befriend someone when, if the three of you are together, they’re fixing most of their attention on their datemate.

  • Linkspam: January 20th, 2017 | The Asexual Agenda

    […] There was a discussion on tumblr about asexuality and nonmonogamy.  Coyote also weighed in. […]

  • Siggy

    Have you ever seen Miri’s deconstruction of jealousy? She disentangles multiple distinct kinds of jealousy, and I have it saved for reference now in case I ever feel like I need to talk to my partner about jealousy in the future.

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