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.
this is the best!!
this one really gets me.
I’m crying buckets right now because I’m deeply moved by the possibility of prioritizing non-sexual romantic love, and I’ve never seen that modeled before.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for showing me that there are so many ways to live a life in love.
If you’re interested in learning more about queerplatonic relationships (which are non-sexual non-romantic, but are meaningful enough that they often seem romantic-ish), you can google “queerplatonic” and/or “amatanormativity” and/or check out some of the links below, which are a few of my favorite pieces about queerplatonic identities & relationships. I’m not an expert by any means but when I learned about people who prioritized non-sexual, non-romantic love a few years ago it deeply moved me.
Thank you so very, very much for talking about queerplatonic relationships/partners. That word/concept has meant so much to me over the last few years, and I love seeing models of queerplatonic relationships, as well as deep, meaningful, important platonic love. Thank you!!
This is gorgeous, platonic love is truly radical in the best sense.
this is the greatest, I have been waiting for more stuff about queer platonic relationships for so long, thank you so much for talking about this! Those kinds of relationships are the most important in my life (at the moment and probably always) and also some of the strangest to navigate and talk about, so this was a really great read. It’s so nice to see that represented and modeled somewhere so I can be like “oh good this actually really exists, I can do this”
This series is so important. I learn something new from every single post. Imagine what the world could be like if we let love be exactly whatever it is for any given set of people instead of forcing it into rigid categories?
This is gorgeous, and I love it.
This series is a million times yes.
I’ve got a few very close intimate friendships that may as well be queerplatonic in a very similar fashion to this (*stares at a chunk of the Safety Team*). Most of the people I’m thinking about live far far away from me though, so major life planning becomes difficult – but if they’re considering it and want me to be a part of it (living together, building a home, hell even co-parenting or some kind of marriage) I’m more than willing to give it a shot. No need for sex if neither of us are interested, that probably gets in the way anyhow.
This kind of thing is actually the main reason I’m drawn to non-monogamy/relationship anarchy: I’ve seen too many times that the sort of intimate friendships I cultivate with these people are seen as “weird” by the mainstream – linked to ideas of “emotional cheating” or “that’s a thing you only do with your spouse” or “why would you build a life around your friend, that makes no sense”. There doesn’t seem to be enough space or energy used to show relationships like these – ones full of passion and love and affection and intimacy and commitment even if sex isn’t in the picture. You can’t really get a partner visa for queerplatonic relationships or romantic friendships (well, I guess you could TRY, but the process is so invasive and normative that success is kinda low).
Yet these are the relationships I most adore, the ones I’m most drawn to, and the ones I want to create with as many people as seems right – not in the sense of “gotta catch them all” but more like not having to worry about a limit or quota. If we’ve built a bond like this, one that kinda blurs the line between friendship and romance, one that transcends ideas of what a relationship is, I want to honour and cherish it – no matter how many others I’ve had these kinds of bonds with too. And if any potential romantic or sexual partner, or anyone else really, does not understand how important these people are to me…well too bad for them really.
Thank you for publishing this, I’ve been yearning for more stories like these so if you have any more please do share!
This column is a goddamn dream come true.
Moar 4eva plz.
I am really grateful to hear your words and perspectives on platonic love. I am having these conversations about how to love without specific norms/perimeters on how the relationship feels and is in reality- i appreciate hearing from other people. Latinx queer here, just navigating healing and loving. Thanks again!