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what does marriage mean?

Last Saturday, I attended my friend’s wedding.

I’m friends with her new husband. I like him, too. She looked beautiful, of course. Brides always do. I thought, would I like to be that beauty, some day?

She told me that she wanted a big, elaborate wedding because she didn’t get it for herself the first time. She wanted something different, which made sense. I asked her if she thought it would be different, after. She just shrugged. It doesn’t really change anything, she said.

She looked beautiful the day of– surrounded by family and friends from around the world. A magician created a literal magic that infused the celebrations. We celebrated till near sunrise; flitting from bar to bar; dancing our little hearts out’ and, finally eating tacos at a place that also happened to be a famous strip club, because, why not?

I am supposed to want marriage.

As a woman, and almost more so as a queer woman. (“What do I want? What everyone wants. To get married.”— Jenny’s Wedding) But I don’t.

I loved the wedding. The camaraderie among so many friends I knew and got to know. The music, the flair. I knew my friend loved it, too, though she didn’t get married purely for the wedding. But perhaps she did it for no reason but to bring friends and family together?

My other good friend, incidentally, served as maid of honor. She is unmarried. Like my partner and I, she and her partner have kids (who adore me! and I cherish that innocent love). Like me, they aren’t her biological children, but they are her family. Unlike me, she is their only mother. “Why do I need marriage,” she queries. “My commitment to my partner is no less.”

Besides, people already call my partner my “husband.”

It doesn’t help that we’ve been together forever and he’s my only primary relationship. I’ve had him called my husband, my fiancé, more times than I care to recall. Sometimes it feels nice, I’ll admit. Other times, I’m annoyed at the assumption that we need to be married to be important to each other.

Might I in the future? I don’t know. My own married friends tell me it’s not important. They don’t crave marriage for themselves– it’s not a consuming passion, but a “nice to have.” They don’t care what I do. They won’t treat me or my relationships any differently.

My munchkins already tell me I’m family. Any of them would be happy for me, whatever I chose, but they are all perfectly happy with me as it stands.

I imagine getting married to M, or to a future love.

He’d show up to my wedding and all three of us would celebrate, intimately, later that evening. I’d have the dress, the hor’devours– but most importantly, I’d have the love of two of the most amazing people.

I’ll have that love with or without the flowy, white dress, champagne toast, vows– and legal piece of paper.

Or maybe I’ll just do it all- the flowing dress, champagne, and cake– sans the piece of paper.

….could I just have the wedding and not the marriage?

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the existential threat of a kinky, flirty, polyamorous mastermind unicorn

I’d been flirting, on and off, with this friend, who advertised themselves as a dominant.

Mostly off by this point in time, due to a lack of consistent communication. Supposed to hang out for drinks, but excuses kept turning up.

Until they messaged me for the final time, it turned out. The message contained quite a lengthy explanation. Long enough I had to scroll to read the entire thing. They had acquired a monogamous partner. Out of respect for their love for the person (that supposedly they had met less than a month ago), they could no longer communicate with me in any way. I felt a bit taken aback, but, I’m not great with being friends with folk in mono relationships. I started to compose a reply back—

— and blocked? Seriously?

I didn’t realize my powers had grown to the point where I could disrupt a happily monogamous relationship purely virtually.

I wanted to be indignant over it, or at the very least perturbed. Except I told my partner about the whole incident and he started laughing so hard, his eyes teared up. So I started giggling at the absurdity of the situation, too.

It isn’t like this was the first time this had happened.

I’m clearly a devastating model type with high cheekbones, shimmering hair, and legs to die for. With a wake of crushed souls trailing me. Or so you might think.

A friend’s husband messaged me on LinkedIn. He said we should connect and he wanted to steal me away to Paris. The land of love. City of love. Whatever. I had met him precisely once. I should have dropped him immediately, but I thought he was kidding. I mean, who messages junk like that and means it? I ignored it. Sent him a message later on a different subject. I never heard from him until he finally said his wife had seen the message and “forbade” him to ever speak to me. I guess that makes sense. I’m quite tempting to the unsuspecting vanilla person wandering across my path. I might have accepted his LinkedIn request.

A seemingly confident wife asked for an open marriage. I felt safe. Six months later, she promptly proceeded to accuse her hubby of starting a decade-long affair with me and conspiring to move me across the world to ruin their marriage. I did the mental math; that would have made me 14 at the start of our “affair.” Some of us killer unicorns start young.

Most of the time it was something small.

I didn’t think much of it.  Friends got married, then, like clockwork, I was cut out of their life. I can’t be sure whether these were kills or just unrelated incidents – friendships end all the time.

Still, this kept happening to me to the point where I decided to maybe not invest too much in friends I suspected might be the marrying kind. Other friends would politely maneuver their significant others away from me, avoiding a more deadly outcome.

Ah, the troubles of a unicorn in a modern world!  I haven’t yet pinpointed exactly what they think the threat is…but in the meantime, you just gotta laugh.

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value of friendship, the

“She’s just a friend.”

I don’t love this phrase.  I’m supposed to attach some sacred value to a person with the title, “girlfriend,” or “boyfriend,” “fiancé” (with one “e”) or “fiancée” (with two “e”s) or “spouse.”  Since time began, I imagine men and women whispered this to each other, “Don’t worry about Sarah, she’s just a friend.  She’s no threat to you.”

What is just about a friend?

Except I’ve always craved friendship.  I’ve never thought a friend should be less than a romantic partner, nor did I ever see sex as some sacred limitation from those I deemed “less worthy.”  Sex was never something one earned from me, rather a gift we exchanged to each other.

My best friend in college to them must be less than my boyfriend– even though I kept up the friendship for nearly a decade after graduation and lost touch with said boyfriend a half a blink after breaking up (which sort of inevitably happened after we both graduated and realized that sharing nearby dorm rooms was the only thing keeping us together).

Today, it is my friends that I miss more than my “relationships,” and though I miss someone with whom I share a romantic label, it is the friendship between us that I miss, rather than the physical intimacy.  I rarely think of the play partners in my life, but my friends I miss daily.

Friendship is fleeting.  Friendship is, somehow, more shallow than romance. 

“I’m single, I just have friends,” makes you look sad and pathetic.  “Oh, don’t worry, I have my husband,” is somehow more than enough.  Except we’re also supposed to be married to our best friends to be super romantic?  So what gives?

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I do get that some people use the word “friend” to mean more like “acquaintance,” rather than a deeply involved emotional connection.  My one friend calls her good friends “sister,” rather than friend.  To clarify the difference.  

But let’s not pretend that is what the rest of the world means by the phrase.  No, what they mean is that a relationship lacking in “commitment” must be lesser.  “Commitment” is something that can only exist in relationships that, by “default,” involve sex.  Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?  Are you going to tell me that nobody ever questions if asexual folk can have romantic relationships, because, well, none of their relationships involve sex?

Imagine  if the phrase were, “She’s just my wife”?

I don’t think people would like that very much.  They’d think you were dismissing their marriage.  Why should we allow people to be so disrespectful of others’ friendships?

I am not naïve. I realize that physical intimacy is tied to emotional intimacy.  I, like many, more strongly desire physical intimacy from those to whom I am emotionally connected.  I, like many, desire a partner by my side—and I’d be foolish to think romantic entanglement would not be a part of that.  I want love; I want romance; I want intimacy.  I want it most from those with whom I am closest.   I grasp all of that, without undue struggles.

But I wish that we could see friends as valuable.  I wish we did not put up walls with our friends, because we know that they will never be that involved or important in our lives– and there is nothing wrong with spending more time and effort on certain people in your life.  But does that mean the relationship needs to be shallow?

I place the word “friend” with care and consideration.

I call someone my friend, first, before I trust them in my bed, romantically.  Because the emotional connection I share with you, the bonds of friendship, mean more to me than the sexy times and romantic gestures.  Because I am not “friendzoning” you, because if you cannot be my friend, why on earth would I want you as my partner?

By the way, I find it ridiculous this concept of a “friendzone.”  I am not putting you on the side, I am giving you the chance to actually be something at all.  And I would be hurt, should I find out that by being your friend, I have lost attraction in your eyes.  That once you got to know me, somehow I’m not worth dating.  We have this idea that friendship ruins dating.  But why should it?

Sometimes, it is true, a friend is someone that one sees less often.

Maybe I only see you a few times a year.  Maybe we aren’t that committed in our friendship and we don’t talk nearly as much as we do with our respective romantic partners.  But when we do talk, I want it to mean something; I want to talk about the universe and strange philosophies.  I do not want to talk “fluff” simply because we are “friends.”

You are my friend, and that word means that our time together is equally important to me, as my time with my partners with more legitimate titles.  I call you my friend, and I call my partner my friend.  My partner– with whom I’ve shared the last decade.  My partner– whose family is mine, as my family is theirs.  My partner– who I am rarely apart from for more than a couple of days.  Whereas I only see you three or four times a year.   But you are both my friends.  And that means something, to me anyway.

I see our relationship, whether it be a friendship or a romance, like a wonderful recipe.

Perhaps a cake.  Do you like cake?  Each cake is composed of several ingredients. Each “ingredient” of the cake composes the relationship as a whole.  Those “ingredients” might be business partner, life partner, confidante, partner-in-crime, or volleyball team member.  The more complex the cake, the more complex and meaningful the relationship.

“Friend” means that you are a multiple ingredient cake, at least more than three ingredients.

And perhaps one day you might be “more” than a friend.

But I do not mean becoming my lover, nor even sharing my bed.  No, I mean much, much more than that.

I mean that you’ve risen in my life, as I’ve risen in yours, for this change must be mutual.  And you are no longer “only” a friend, but a partner.  It is true that I have very few partners in my life.

Should we share a life together, build a life together, dedicate ourselves in a way that elevates our connection beyond the single role of friend.   Should we reach that pinnacle between ourselves, then, yes, I would be honored to call you my life partner, my significant other, my love.

…but I would still call you my friend, because to me, that is a precious title.