Maintaining ‘Friends Only’ within the Poly Community

Mar 29 '2019, 5:40 PM | By Chris

Healthy friendships are an important part of a happy life. Friends give us an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, and provide some of the most exciting times we’ll ever have. Polyamorous people are often drawn to each other because they share similar lifestyles. Sometimes we want relationships that includes sex, sometimes not. Everyone needs friends without the complications sex can introduce. Feelings of comradery can evolve into sexual attraction even if that’s the last thing you’d want with a close friend. Facing these feelings and sorting out the direction you wish to go with a friend is terribly stressful and the strain on yourself, and your romantic partners, can cause long lasting harm. How do two polyamorous people maintain a non-sexual relationship when unwanted sexual attraction becomes part of the equation? 

Romantic feelings among sister wives in the polygamist community are sometimes not allowed to be explored, but, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. When a polygamist man finds a sister wife to grow the family he’s often finding women that have a few things in common. Traits he finds attractive. These similarities lead to close friendships among sister wives and those friendships can lead to more intimate feelings. If those feelings are unwanted, or not allowed, the two wives will have to discuss ways to set them aside. Avoidance is not really an option in a polygamist family so it will come down to self control. Avoid opportunities for intimacy, get some space when you can, and don’t be afraid to talk about your love for each other along with the importance of boundaries. Sexual feelings that have not been acted on can safely be kept between those involved. Learn to love each other the ways you can and never be ashamed. 

Polyamorous people outside of the polygamist world will run into many people throughout life that are potential romantic partners. Not every polyamorous person you meet, however, will have a mutual attraction. Often the only desire from one side or the other is to simply be friends. Before considering how to be ‘just friends’ with someone in your life when sexual attraction develops you have consider the facts. What motivates you to maintain the friendship? Is the feeling mutual? Will sex be too risky with this friend? If unwanted, or unwise, sexual attraction is involved you’ll have to sort it out. Here are a few things to ponder. 

First, is sexual attraction creeping in from one or both sides of the friendship? 

If you have one-sided romantic feelings toward a friend you can’t ignore the situation in hopes they will slowly fade away. The feelings will soften over time but you have to prepare yourself to handle it until then. Unrequited love can be dangerous. Consider the possibility your friend may also have feelings for you and you’re responding to a mutual attraction. If that is not the case you have to get yourself under control. It’s often best to keep such feelings to yourself and learn to embrace your friendship for what it is. Let go of the things you cannot control. You may need a little less time together until the friendship feels more natural again, but that’s better than losing everything because you can’t have exactly what you want from someone. 

If a friend has romantic feelings towards you, and you’re aware of it, you need to be as supportive as possible. Consider it a compliment and show them you value their friendship. If you can help them move past the feelings you stand to keep a friendship that’s based on some pretty deep roots. As experienced in most intimate relationships, romantic feelings soften over time. Sex takes a back seat eventually in most relationships and friendship becomes the main drive. This same process should occur with friends that never act on their sexual attraction to each other.  

If the attraction is mutual you really have a hurdle to climb. Maybe you’re both polyamorous but already involved in closed groups. Maybe you aren’t out as bisexual yet and can’t spring that on your current partners. Whatever the reason, if you’re both sexually attracted but committed to maintaining a ‘friends only’ situation, it will take effort and great self control. It’s probably best not to be alone in a private room together and you might only hang out together among other friends until your attraction eases up. The desires will lessen over time. It would be healthier to go ahead and come out as bi, or discuss your feelings with your lovers, but things can be more complicated than that. Some people can be true friends with benefits and your romantic partners won’t mind. If that’s you, consider yourself lucky! Most of us have to be careful about intertwining sex in our relationships too easily. 

As the saying goes, “With great joy comes great sorrow.” A Sister Wife honoring her family by setting aside unwanted sexual desires is not easy, but the light her family brings to her heart will make it worthwhile. Two friends parting ways because they’re aware their relationship will only lead to trouble is horrible, but the lovers they spare from pain are worth it. Finding a new sister wife or a new polyamorous lover is exciting. The commitments made in the process are important. We can try to avoid much ‘sorrow’ by leaving relationships very open, but boundaries cannot be avoided. All hope is not lost. There are plenty of ways to love someone on a deep level without getting sex or intimacy involved. Find an alternative to sex that can strengthen your bond in other ways. Be mindful, be respectful, and don’t give up too easily on good friends.   

Published By: Christopher Alesich

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