When there aren’t any models for how you want to move through the world, it’s harder to move through the world. There’s no one right way to do ethical non-monogamy, just as there’s no one right way to do ethical monogamy, and no way is better or worse than any other, just better or worse for those involved. Poly Pocket looks at all the ways queer people do polyamory: what it looks like, how we think about it, how it functions (or doesn’t), how it feels, because when you don’t have models you have to create your own.
Eva is a 28-year-old Chicana pansexual cis woman living in the Midwest. She is in a long term queer platonic relationship and works in the sex industry and as a research assistant. “Eva” is her work name.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Carolyn: How did you start to explore polyamory?
Eva: I had read about it and thought it was an interesting idea but kind of just put the book down after that for a few years. It wasn’t until I started working as an escort that I thought about it seriously. At the time, I was in a monogamous relationship with my girlfriend and we wanted to talk about what my job meant for our relationship. We had to be very honest in what our expectations were. For most of that relationship, I would have sex with men for money, that’s it, and she remained monogamous. Later we started opening our relationship so that we could have sex with other people (non-job related).
After my ex and I broke up, I was single for a long time. My best friend and I had started getting closer and at this point we have a very strong intimacy and connection that we both describe as being in love. But we are not interested in each other sexually. Recently, I came across the term “queer platonic” and it describes us perfectly. We are planning on getting engaged soon and want to buy a house together and foster children together one day. We take vacations together and make important decisions together. We basically function as a couple, just without the sex. We see other people for that purpose.
We’re planning our lives together but we casually date others. We have talked about what it would look like if either one of us wanted a more serious partner and for us that would look like adding someone to our existing relationship.
Carolyn: What about that is a struggle for you? What about it is most exciting?
Eva: The main struggle is explaining it to our families and some of our friends. For some reason, it’s hard to explain that “in love” doesn’t have to have a sexual component to it.
The most exciting thing is not feeling pressure to act a certain way or be afraid to talk about things that I feel can be more difficult in a traditional relationship. I’m essentially marrying my best friend. We can talk about our attraction to others and it doesn’t have an effect on our relationship because our relationship is based on friendship and not romance (although there is some romance involved).
Carolyn: That sounds so lovely?
Eva: Haha, yes it is! And that works out well because I date a lot and also still work as an escort. She is also dating someone else.
“We made an agreement early on to not hold back on how we feel and have successfully kept to it.”
Carolyn: How do you discuss change or conflict? (You mentioned above talking about what it would look like if either of you had another partner – how do conversations like that come about, and how do they go, and what do you do to make them work?)
Eva: Since we started as best friends, we still carry that “talk about anything” attitude. We made an agreement early on to not hold back on how we feel and have successfully kept to it. If I am unsure about something then I say it and we usually are able to calmly talk through it. Sometimes we bicker, haha. But we have the same basic idea of what we want for the future. As soon as I change my mind I tell her and same with her. A lot of this communication is easy for us due in large part due to our friendship. I’m not sure it would be so easy in a sexual relationship. Just a feeling, I’m not sure.
Carolyn: You mentioned you date a lot and she’s dating someone else. How much do you share between partners? Do you have a relationship with your metamours?
Eva: We don’t share partners, although I’m not opposed to it. She is more into sexual monogamy. I’m the opposite. I don’t really form close bonds with the people I have sex with. I don’t really equate sex with emotional connection. So for me, variety is a lot of fun. I think because we are so different in that aspect, there isn’t overlap.
And we talk about our sexual or emotional connections with others together all the time; comes with best friend territory! But also, we like to talk about how we can maintain our outside relationship(s) once we are married and living together, etc.
Carolyn: What strategies have you come up with?
Eva: We both want to be very honest with whoever we are dating — so, making sure everyone has an understanding that just because we don’t have sex, that doesn’t mean our relationship isn’t primary. It is very important to both of us that that is understood and respected. Second, we both want plenty of space away from each other for our sexual lives. We thought about having individual rooms (in addition to a room that we share, since we do sleep in the same bed often) and making sure to give each other space.
“I don’t think I could ever go back to being monogamous. I feel a sense of freedom in being able to fuck who I want to fuck (consensually of course), whether it be for lust or for money.”
Carolyn: Where does poly intersect with other elements of your identity? How does it function within your understanding of yourself?
Eva: I think I saw it as a necessity at first. It was just purely functional because I had to work and I didn’t want to lie to my partner about my work. And now because my primary relationship is not at all sexual, I almost don’t feel like I am consciously polyam, just that it happens to work out that way. It is, however, a very critical part of my understanding of myself. I don’t think I could ever go back to being monogamous. I feel a sense of freedom in being able to fuck who I want to fuck (consensually of course), whether it be for lust or for money. Perhaps that is hedonistic of me, but it is a part of who I am.
Carolyn: What do you want your future to look like? What vision are you working towards or hoping for?
Eva: I really can’t see myself anywhere but building a life with my partner/best friend. I would really like that. I would also like to continue dating around and having as much fun as possible meeting new people and having great sex. I would like to see her also happily dating who she wants and having great sex too! When she’s happy, I’m happy.