Saturday, 19 January 2013

Understanding Sex and Emotions in Relationships (Part Two)

In the first part of this blog post I talked about the three kinds of love I most easily recognize in my relationship history: Philia, a loving friendship; Eros, a passionate love; Agape, Companionate Love. Even here, however, it isn’t that simple because a relationship may include two of these with or without sex. To explain myself a little clearer what follows is a result of my self-reflection, particularly for the benefit of understanding my polyamorous feelings. 

Of course, all but a few of these are “in hindsight” and as such, they are clouded by events long-since past and all manner of other fuzzy influences on the mind! 

Another thing, it is worth noting that of the following relationships, not all of them would still interest me, especially the first two… 

  • Casual sex - one night stands
  • Friends With Benefits - ongoing physically sexually intimate relationships with people I care about and want to spend time with because I like them as people but not with a strong emotional connection
  • Philia With Benefits - friends I have physical relationships with and whom I love as friends but not necessarily as a partner (“to date”). In my experience this is extraordinarily hard for people to understand. I wonder if I would be able to do this again, it is hard to explain to someone the differences between loves and when sex is added into the mix things get messy irrespective of whether or not I have been honest about my love for the person. The person I shared my virginity with was a friend like this. We dated for two years, I broke his heart.
  • Philia Without Benefits - friends I love deeply but do not want to “date” or have sex with. This is a truly astounding sort of friendship, and in my personal history very rare. I can probably name only five like this. Friends whom I truly love but have never shared any physical connection. This is perhaps because when I meet a person I always consider them sexually before anything else, almost subconsciously. I have since I was a teenager. In a future blog I will try to explain it.
  • Eros Without Benefits – people with whom I have wanted to be physically intimate and “date,” yet for some reason it could not or did not happen.
  • Eros With Benefits - To be honest, with me this is the kind of relationship that tends to be governed by New Relationship Energy and never lasts more than three months. It is something I learnt to control a long time ago and now I no longer suffer this kind of situation. They are enormous fun but also emotionally draining and an easy way to get yourself into difficult situations. Alas, I find this the easiest sort of love and relationship to come by.
  • Eros and Philia With Benefits – Other than my husband, the two longest relationships I have had have had this, although with one of them the Eros fizzled out quite quickly. The other lasted almost the entire five years of our relationship (the second longest, other than with my husband). When the Eros left it didn’t take long for us to break up. We have been close friends ever since – for almost fifteen years now! So close in fact that the penultimate sort of loving relationship I will describe I share with him.
  • Agape and Philia Without Benefits - I've had this twice. One I just mentioned and one with a man I deeply adore but with whom I can never have a relationship in the traditional sense, much to both of our sorrow (he is a married vicar…).
  • Agape and Philia With Benefits – I have this with my husband Nic. I have only ever had it with him. Magically, in the last few months Eros has been developing between us. Something I find truly exceptional after ten years together (we met almost eleven years ago to the day). I hope in the coming months I will be able to add “Agape and Philia and Eros With Benefits.” Either way, Agape is the hardest of loves to find and it is a special thing to share it with my husband. I am extraordinarily lucky.
So, this has been long-winded and I doubt anybody made it this far (gold star if you did!). But, it has been a useful exercise and that is what self-reflection is for. Before I go, I want to say:
  • Just because I do not have Philia for a person, does not mean that I am not friends with a person.
  • Just because I do not have Eros for a person, does not mean that I do not want to fuck them.
  • Just because I do not have Agape for a person, does not mean that I do not enjoy hanging out watching DVDs with them.
Love and friendship and sex is a many wondrous and complicated thing!

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