I am having an interesting time figuring out words for a thing. The thing in question is not, in itself, complicated, but labels and categories are. The thing I am trying to define is a relationship with a woman I will call Tinkerbell. Trouble is, even using the word relationship is a problem because it leads to incorrect assumptions.
It isn't a romantic relationship. It is really best defined as friends with benefits. That might even lead to incorrect assumptions too, because that typically means friends with the possibility to hook up here and there, more friends than sex, but this is more like a 50/50 proposition.
Which has lead to me thinking a lot about what exactly is going on inside my head. Some people just use friends with benefits to avoid calling something a relationship but that isn't the case here. I actually have an entirely different way of viewing this thing that has some big differences from the way I view romantic relationships. There is fondness, sure, and shared values, and comfort in coexistence. Also lots of lust. But that isn't enough to make it a romantic relationship. There is another thing that isn't there, which isn't to say that it is lacking, just that it is not the same.
There is some kind of magical difference that I struggle to articulate. In some ways it is certainly less urgent - if the sex ended I don't think it would change other things, but in romantic relationships if the sex ends it definitely makes everything else change, for me at least. That need for lust and sex to exist to cement the romantic bond isn't there. Somehow the sex lacks some element of necessity.
As to whether necessity is a good or bad thing... well, I think necessity is an issue far more than a benefit. Knowing that your partner requires sex to maintain a romantic bond puts pressure on that can be a struggle to cope with.
So how this shakes out is friendship with lust. But not desperate lust, not lust as part of a romantic connection. Just straight up plain old lust.
Which seems simple enough, now that I put it that way. But no matter how simple the phrasing this is a really different sort of place for me to be in. While I have had sex with people where the emotional romantic attachment was new or incomplete it was always there, always building. At the very least it was a thing I was leaning towards.
Most of the time when I hear FWB situations described they end up with one person falling in love and that being a huge turning point. Usually it leads to a breakup, sometimes to a relationship, but it rarely is a stable thing. That isn't a unique state of course, since first dates could be easily described in the same terms. It is just that my mind generally frames FWB arrangements instinctively as temporary, subject to change on short notice.
But that needn't be the case. When I step back from my learned reactions and think properly about it I know plenty of people who have things that would be described as FWB that have lasted a great deal of time. Usually they are much less intense and consistent than what Tinkerbell and I have going on, but I know it can be a thing. Not that long term is particularly my concern right now, as I am quite confident that the best way to enjoy a connection to a person is to think about the now and not worry about the far future. You never really know what it will be like anyway, and the things you worry about rarely end up being the actual issues. Things are far better when you just accept that the now works and go with that.
It is kind of funny because in some ways this was exactly what I set out looking for when Wendy and I first decided to be poly. I didn't know what I wanted for sure, but it seemed like finding a married woman who I got along with who also had a similarly oversized sex drive like I do would be the ideal. At the time I was sure I wanted to find sexy times, and wanted the option to fall in love should that happen.
I probably shouldn't bother thinking about this so much. After all, it works for me, and is relatively effortless, so why worry? I can't help but think about how to talk about it though. If I described my physical actions people would say "Okay, so you are dating Tinkerbell, sure" and I would say "But no! I mean, it sure looks like that, but in our heads it is a different thing!" This is one of the challenges of living a lifestyle that is different from the norm - the words we use and the attached assumptions are rooted in a viewpoint that doesn't include my life and it makes descriptions complicated.
Spending lots of time overthinking questions of sex for entertainment and curiosity. That's me all right.