A Rose By Any Other Name

I don’t fit into a box very well.

I know, I know, big surprise there.

I’ve given up on trying to use language to define who or what I am, either to myself, or to other people. I am simply Me. I take up a Me-shaped space, have my experiences, live my life, love my loves.

Oh, if I am pressed, I can rattle off a list of labels. I’m a mom – but if you call me a soccer mom, I will bitch you out for it. Even if I drive an SUV, even if my kids play soccer. Ahem. Anyhow… I’m a wife, and a friend, and a girlfriend, and a daughter. I’m poly. I’m queer, and currently I’m a little bit butch. I’m an artist. I’m a blogger. I’m a writer.

Wash was saying last night that he thinks what he and I have doesn’t really fit poly well. To me, it fits the definition of poly perfectly… people with multiple loves with everyone being open and honest with everyone else involved. But then, according to Mr Awesome, we don’t fit traditional poly very well, simply by the length of our relationships… his tend to last two or so years, our marriage has lasted  more than 16 years, and my other relationships tend to be more long-term, also.

But we still define ourselves as poly.

And I think Wash is trying to figure out where he fits in the community, all of this still being very new to him and to his girlfriend.

He and I spent a lot of time cuddled up last night. He needed some emotional support, and, to be honest, so did I. There’s been a lot going on recently, and it was nice to be able to air it out.

And he asked that awful question, the one that I dread…. The question that tries to label a relationship. As if a label validates it…

“What are we, exactly, to one another?”

I don’t love boyfriend-girlfriend, and to him, those labels don’t fit. He’s never been married, he’s always been a boyfriend or a fiancée, so he sees it differently than a married poly person might. He threw out that I’m his mistress, but I countered with the argument that that doesn’t fit as he isn’t married. It’s more like he’s my mistress, except he very emphatically is not female. I know some in the community call their other loves “sweeties” but I’ve never liked that, it sounds too cutesy. Friends with benefits might have fit, earlier on, but we have grown too close for that now. So we settled on lovers, and I like the sound of that. It fits as well as anything else, I guess.

That being said, I don’t tend to label my relationships any more than I tend to label myself. I’ve hurt people, before, when they have pushed me for a label and they got an answer that was true in that moment but not precisely true always. And I felt bad, but didn’t know what to do to fix it, because once those words are out in the open, you can’t un-say them. And I’ve never gone for hierarchal polyamory, where partners as assigned rank based on their position in one’s life… Except for one case. Mr Awesome is, unequivocally, my primary partner. He is my husband, and the other half of my being, and my world kind of doesn’t turn without him in it.

But, I do recognize that these labels are important to other people. It helps them find their sense of self, to figure out where they fit in this complex community as well as the world at large. And with that in mind, I’m happy to play along the best I can. Ultimately, if it’s important to the people I love, than it is important to me, too.

Read more on my thoughts about labels:
Labels
Effing Hippie
Ooh Shiny

And always, feel free to leave comments below… I love to hear people’s thoughts about what I have to say.

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4 responses to “A Rose By Any Other Name

  • hannahsmith1217

    I also have an issue with labels… I feel that as soon as someone puts a label on something – its limiting, and then everyone has a different perspective on what that label means… I’ve heard this sort of conversation too frequently, “Oh – you’re XYZ, that means you must do this, and be that, and dislike the other.” My man and I have a dozen or so names for each other. Boyfriend doesn’t always work, sometime he’s my man, sometimes he’s my lover – he likes to refer to me as his partner in crime. 🙂 Labels Schmabels….

  • Beth

    I struggle with labels like this too. I usually resort to the clinical-sounding “partner,” but it’s probably not ideal.

    • lyttlebyrd

      I agree on partner… I like it, it’s a useful term that usually fits well. But it sounds kind of impersonal. I am finding I like “lover” as there is an illicit feeling to it that thrills me somehow.

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