Blog, Kink, Non-Monogamy

On FetLife (Public) Relationships

So, a particular relationship in my life has been shifting, and recently, we decided to change our FetLife relationship to more accurately reflect where we are- from something nebulously platonic to something nebulously not-so-platonic.

(Turns out I’ve developed a taste for the nebulous.)

But it’s got me thinking about public FL relationships, and the concepts around publicly acknowledging the people in my life. Because it feels sort of silly, like I’m back in high school and talking about “going steady.” It shouldn’t be the kind of thing where how much you care for someone is measured by whether you have a public relationship on FL.

And yet, when this person asked if we could shift our relationship to “lovers,” I felt a flush of joy. And I realized that this is the first person, aside from my partner, who has ever had some sort of sexual relationship with me that was interested in stating that publicly. And while it shouldn’t matter, and it shouldn’t be important, it actually kind of means something to me.

I don’t think that relationships that are publicly listed are more legitimate, more important, or more valid than those that are not. I think different people add relationships for different reasons, and everyone has their own method to the madness, so to speak.

My relationships are a way of saying, “I stand with this person.” It doesn’t mean that, if they do something busted, I won’t call that out. But it means that, “Hey. This person holds a place in my life, and they are important to me in some capacity.”

So many of my relationships are nebulous and ill-defined. And I like that, sort of (although I recently mentioned to my partner that I wanted to do a better job of defining things in my life, then promptly turned around and did exactly the opposite. I’m a work in progress?)

Realistically, though, I’m bad at identifying what I want from people. Or rather, I’m bad at stating what I want from people- especially when it comes to relationships. I like being as low-maintenance as I can be, and minimizing things like pressure and expectations. Besides, claiming some kind of relationship with me is like the online equivalent of holding my hand while walking down the street. To me, that’s something someone else should choose to do because, let’s face it, holding my hand in public opens someone else up to face the same harassments I face. So maybe someone should decide for themselves whether they are up for that.

Or maybe that’s a cop-out, and I just don’t like instigating things. I think both are probably true. It’s hard to be both low-pressure and also ask people to have a Serious Conversation about what we want from one another and, by the way, can we make it FetLife official?

The whole thing is kinda silly. There is the part of me that wants to write the whole relationships thing off because part of me believes it shouldn’t matter. And it doesn’t, in one regard. Not having a relationship listed doesn’t mean it’s not important or valuable- that might not be something that person values, or there might not have a good option to describe the relationship, or it might just be too new to be well-defined.

But there is a balance. I want to be with people who are willing to claim me- not “claim” in a D/s sense, but claim as in “be willing to acknowledge that I am someone they care about.” That I am not a between-the-sheets secret. Hold my hand- literally and/or figuratively.

So I suppose this is another one of those lessons along the lines of, “Dear Malachi, your existence is not inconvenient and also people like you and want to stand beside you in authentic ways.”

I’m learning. Slowly. Figuring out my own self-worth and allowing myself to be important to people is new territory. And if things are important to me to have language and definition around, I need to work on instigating that- whether or not it ever becomes a FL relationship.

In short: sometimes, I wanna hold your hand.

(Addendum and clarifications posted here)

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