I have a friend who stays with me from time to time. We're not lovers, but he once told me that we might as well be. There's fondness, we share secrets and fears and joys. We cook breakfast for each other. He offers me gardening advice and I offer a sanctuary, somewhere safe to stay. We take boat rides together, or hang out at the markets.
I have other close friends too. Some live in Sydney, and we grab dinner or lunch together. Others are from out of town and come to stay from time to time. Some share a passion for justice, others for folk music, and others for camping. Some are good listeners, and others provide fashion advice, or serve amazing Chai. Each person or group strengthens different aspects of who I am, challenges and supports me in different ways.
I have been thinking about what it means to have a number of special people in my life. And I've also been thinking about how there seem to be a lot of people in the circles where I move who describe themselves as polyamorous. For them, intimate relationships are not exclusive. They say that they don't like to make demands of their main partner, or that they enjoy being intimate with lots of different people.
I don't know whether I could ever feel comfortable in a polyamorous relationship. But then I wonder whether my situation is really much different. Perhaps I am "poly-amicable" - somebody with multiple close friendships. Or maybe I'm just the recipient of abundant love. Either way, I'm grateful for all these friendships and couldn't imagine one person who would ever replace all of them.
And I don't think I'm alone in this perspective. Marriage counsellors have warned people in couples about the risks of expecting their partner to fulfil or be involved in every aspect of their life. It's healthy, I think, to maintain friendships outside of a main relationship. I remember the Kahlil Gibran poem which advises new couples to "let there be spaces in your togetherness".
So, this year I will continue to foster the dear friendships in my life, to accept the gift that each person's friendship offers and not to expect any one of them to be everything to me. If I am ever in a committed relationship again, I hope that there is space in that togetherness for all the other beautiful people in my life. If that makes me polyamorous, then, fine, I own it with pride!