Since practicing relationship anarchy, I've been working on extending mindfulness to the varied relationships I have with others.
Part of this mindfulness is tuning in with how I feel around the people I fill my life with, and realizing the abundant forms of love there are.
Right now, I live alone, am not in a sexual relationship with anyone, and (arguably) not in any romantic ones either. However, the kinds of platonic relationships I have and the joy I get from them has so far been surpassing any kind of relationship I've had previously.
I don't know if this is because I've decided that I don't want to commit to anyone singularly for the rest of my life - since I neither see this as healthy nor as something that would make me happy - or because I've been maturing in a way where I realize my friends are more dear to me than I've allowed myself to feel.
I read this interesting article that nicely summarized the kinds of emotions I was beginning to notice - and how my friends have become an important and indispensible, intimate network in my life.
It came as a surprise to me that this kind of intimate friendship - platonic or otherwise - was common in earlier time periods. However, what doesn't come as a surprise was how the cultural acceptance of it ended:
Cis-het-men in western civilizations, threatened by the idea their wives no longer needed their marriage to get by financially and could thus choose who they wanted to live with and love, cracked down on these kinds of intimate friendships.
Patriarchy always ruining the day.
Reading stuff like this only further reinforces why practicing any form of polyamory (from a monogamish bond to relationship anarchy) is considered a feminist movement.
The tight regulation around relationship hierarchy is so convoluted and fraught with exceptions - namely for the cis-het-men - that it becomes laughable to imagine it as socially acceptable when looked at under a microscope.
Then again, societal appropriateness also falls prey to hypocrisy when analyzed.
I think about the fluttering excitement I get in my chest when I see my friends - the desire to give them all of my attention, to care for them, even to give them a hug. It fills me with a great desire to seize the day. To be alive.
However, I also think about how this can be construed as grounds for jealousy and for being considered "inappropriate" - the kinds of feelings I have should not be for platonic bonds, but reserved for my monogamous partner. The older I get, the more I take issue with this. Not just because of how jealousy is viewed by our society and how that itself is unhealthy, but I think it's more unhealthy to bottle up those strong (and rather positive!) emotions.
The bond I have with them may be platonic, but it is still that: a bond. To call someone "just a friend" - or to "friendzone" them - is to demote this meaningful connection to another human. This human is choosing to spend what precious few hours they have in their day-to-day life, and the mere hours we have per lifetime, with you.
That's big. I feel honored whenever I think about that.
So yeah. I tell my friends I love them. I don't reserve that word only for the people I sleep with.
It's also pretty cool that, in embracing this love, I'm giving a big ol' "fuck you" to the men who worried about losing their wives to Boston Marriages.
Who knew that Boston had such a phenomenon named after it? Way to go, New England.