So about six months I ended the nearly four year relationship rollercoaster I boarded when I was 17. This women was my first everything, first girlfriend, first love, my high school sweetheart. When we parted ways to begin university we twisted and turned each other and our relationship into something menacing. We were long distance & attempted to deal with other people while maintaining a presence in each other’s lives. This only managed to pull other people in our web without ever actually being presence in either situation. Unable to see just how malleable “first’s” are we had simply pulled ourselves too far and wrung ourselves dry. After several months of healing and crying and all that other shit that comes up with the finality of an ending, the prospect of being completely unattached became extremely exciting. For once, I could be interested and deal with people without feeling guilty, as if I were not being loyal to my kinda sorta girlfriend (that’s what we were most of the time, at least in my mind, which obviously wasn’t very healthy). That’s not to say during this time I didn’t have important or meaningful relationships with other people, but often they were shrouded in this guilt that always sat with me long after, like the particles of food that float to the bottom of used frying grease.
I began my sex positive journey. I’ve always been sex positive (the ability to have healthy sex shame & guilt free sex with whoever you want as long as it’s consensual, honest and hopefully safe) in theory, but not really in practice because I was dealing with these food particles in my spirit. After our end, I shook that off and moved into another phase. A sex positive phase, at least I thought. But what does this really mean? Sex positive? I’ve bounced back and forth between positive and not so positive emotions. For me, sharing a connection with someone without the guilt sent me off into this world of freedom I’ve never felt before. Now the question is how to negotiate this new freedom? What does it mean to be intimate with someone who is not your partner?
Outside of a sexual relationship, how intimate is too intimate? This is presuming, as in my case, that you do care about the well being of the other person. How do you care for your well being and their’s?
If this person is a friend do you carry this relationship into the public sphere at all? What happens if you do? If you don’t? This is especially important in the queer community and especially, especially, true in any queer community of color since often it’s very small and you see the same faces.
I’ve been on both sides. I’ve wanted to keep a relationship moderately private, the “no cuffing in the club” syndrome, more so telling the other person than having an open conversation about it. When on the other side, however, I didn’t feel so great. Too simply pretend that we didn’t share a connection didn’t feel good. What happens when we are in the same space and someone is hitting on them? On you? Obviously, you’re not together, but this can still become uncomfortable.
I never heard about this part when discussing sex positivity. I heard about the importance of not slut shaming, consensual, and safe sex. I often heard about toe curling, healthy and happy sex. I took note of the guilt free aspect of it all, which is especially empowering for women. These are all very important topics in the world sex positivity. What I didn’t hear much about, though, was the emotional yard work that comes along with it. For some, I’m sure that this isn’t a problem. Some people can have sex and that be it. They remain unattached and it works. For many, however, that’s not the reality. These lines shift and blur, but it seems that some boundaries are important, so that everyone involved has some idea of what is going on.
Stumbling through it. Keep you posted when I figure some shit out.