As many of you who read this blog know, I consider myself to be solo-poly. I practice polyamory in a way that does not entangle my life with the life of a romantic partner. I currently prefer to live alone, I don’t share my money, and I highly value my autonomy. I travel and do my thing without asking for permission or having discussions about those things with my partners.
This does not mean, however, that I don’t have a life partner. Because I do. I talk to this person about the really big things, like how I should manage and afford to have my knees totally replaced while living abroad and when to manage that process so it most benefits me as well as our future activities. They’re awesome, amazing, and the most precious relationship to me. When my marriage came crashing down around me, they were the person I called, asking, “Can I come home?’
My person, my life partner, the person who transcends all other people and situations is my best friend. I always write about her as my BFF. (Someday she needs to pick her book name, so I have something better to call her than that!) We met when we were in our early 20’s. That means we’ve been together longer than we were old when we met- 26 years now. I had just finished college and she was in her last year. We were both working full-time at the JC Penny department store in the mall. Funny, I believe people find each other if they are supposed to be together. We didn’t even work in the same department. We met when I was returning clothing to her department. Something clicked. A smile, a laugh, a crazy busy line at the cash desk and helping each other out.
You cannot be with someone for 26 years and not have arguments or disagreements, but we have done really well over the years. I can only remember one time when things were really tenuous between us. I was dating a man she did not like, not even a little bit, so she started to avoid spending time or talking with me because he was all I could talk about. He didn’t last long, but she’s still here.
The same can be said for both of our marriages. She got married about 2 years before me and was divorced almost exactly a year before I was. We married the same narcissistic alcoholic men. How the hell did THAT happen? We are both strong, hard-headed, opinionated, self-confident women, yet, when push came to shove we saddled ourselves with almost the same burden. Weird.
Actually, it’s kind of funny, because all along, our romantic partners have always been kind of a “side” thing to our relationship. I never got close to any of her former partners, nor her current one. She never really had any kind of connection with my partners either. It has always been me and her. Except for her daughter and our families, our focus has always been on each other. I am not sure how to explain it, except we’ve always known that WE will always outlast THEM.
We’ve been together so long now that we’ve been described as a “self-contained unit.” And if I’m being perfectly honest, spending time with us when we’re together probably isn’t that much fun for other people. Especially now that I’ve moved out of the country and we’re lucky if we see each other more than once a year. Our annual holiday together is the only time we spend concentrated, totally together, time, and we do it in a fierce very connected greedy and selfish way. I want all of her attention and she wants all of mine.
My flatmate really struggled with feeling left out the whole month BFF was here. A few years ago she invited one of her friends on holiday with us, and that poor gal often felt like she was excluded from our conversations and ideas. Truthfully, they were excluded. We have a way of just “knowing” what the other is thinking, wants, or plans to do, so we instinctively act on that knowledge and anyone who might be in our wake could get left behind.
Even though I no longer live in the US all my legal information is at her house. I have a room there. It is always available to me, no matter what. It’s a great comfort to know I can always go home. The house is big. It’s not “growing old” friendly. There are too many steep stairs for old people to live in. The plan is for her to sell the house eventually and for us to buy something together. It’ll probably be a two-family (we still do appreciate our own space) so there is an income option until I am 100% sure I’m ready to live back in the US.
GROWING OLD TOGETHER
Most of us reading this blog live in western cultures that value romantic relationships far above friendships. There is both social and legal couple privilege that permeates our societies. We assume a life partner is a “romantic couple” relationship. So what about us? The other thing that is not “growing old” friendly, is a life partner who is “just” a friend.
If you are married (or most states now recognize legal domestic partnerships) it’s easy to grow old together. Our social and legal infrastructure is set up for that. Your spouse is automatically the person who can answer medical questions. They inherit your money. They pull the plug (or not.) They can sign paperwork with/for you. You can easily buy a house and/or car together. Your spouse (or domestic partner) is assumed to be the one with the answers, legally.
We don’t live together, so we would never be able to claim legal domestic partnership. I live abroad and plan to for the foreseeable future. So how do we grow old together, as “just” friends, together apart? We want to be able to manage each other’s money someday if the other is not able to. When one of us dies, the other has the funeral arrangements to make and implement. If one of us is unable to take care of herself, we want the other to be able to make legal decisions. I don’t have children. She has an amazing daughter who calls me her second mom. But we don’t want her daughter to have the burden of making decisions we have mostly already made. And I don’t have anyone else to do it for me.
As we get older, we’ll continue to sort out these things. Already, she has power of attorney to manage any of financial issue that might surface when I’m out of the country. We are both limited beneficiaries on each other’s insurance plans so we have enough money to bury the other without additional financial strain. We’ve also talked about sharing a checking account in case of emergency, right now our accounts are connected for transfers, etc. Slowly but surely we are finding ways to manage this life partnership for the very long term.
This past month while we were together we decided, “This is bullshit!” We totally fell into the old cliche, if we haven’t found the next love of our lives by 70 we will get married! Heck, we might anyway, never marrying the romantic lover, and saving that legal bond for each other. Because at the end of the day, there is always the two of us.
Everyone in our circles would understand. Everyone knows we’re already connected for life. They call us each auntie, daughter, sister, cousin. When my family says hello to me, they send greetings to her and vice versa. We don’t have to SAY that we’re life partners for most people who know us to inherently understand that this is how this works and nothing and no one is going to change that.
I have never included her in my diagrams of my polycule because she is not a romantic partner, but she is the most significant relationship in my life. Maybe I will start showing her as a permanent fixture on the chart. It might help people, like our husbands (who never understood our bond and were often jealous of our friendship) understand what they are getting into when they become involved in a relationship with me!
If you want to learn more about my polycule, check out this post.
Check out the other stories that are part of Masturbation Monday this week!! Always a sexy read!
The theme for Wicked Wednesday this week is Friends. I think this fits the theme too well not to add this post to the meme! Check out other people’s takes on Friendship here!
Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash
32 Replies to “I have a Life Partner and it’s NOT Who You Think”
Wow, what an interesting story, thankyou so much for sharing! I’ll never cease to be amazed and awed at how people are able to make their different relationship paradigms work. Humans are fascinating creatures!!
Thanks! I am glad you enjoyed it. It is a very precious and beautiful relationship.
Like all the best writing it makes you see things in your own life in a different light. My wife is also my best friend and has been for about 50 years during which we weren’t always together sexually – and now the sex seems less important than the friendship – Oh hell – I think you’ve inspired me to do some serious thinking! Thanks
OOH I am glad you got something to think about here. Friendships/relationship certainly do grow and change over time, don’t they?!
This was SO sweet and oh so true!!
My best friend and I are like this. She revealed recently that her sister thought we were dating and she just wasn’t telling anyone. I told her we’d have to do something similar in the future if neither of us ended up getting married. She’s my longest relationship at this point, why not consider it? I tell her everything why not make sure she could help if something happened to me? Makes sense.
I thought of you a few times when I was writing this. I do think when we have these amazing relationships in our lives, It’s an honor to do what we can to support each other and figure out how to do that long term.
I love this post. I don’t have this in my life, but the two best and most wonderful friends I’ve ever had have been my ex-husband and now Bakji, both of whom I can’t imagine not being friends with either of them, even if can imagine the relationship no longer being sexual or romantic. So I understand some of your thoughts but from a different angle, I suppose. I wish the permenance of a friendship like you describe had more understanding and acceptance from soceity, instead of romantic and sexual relationships always taking centre stage. Fabulous post and thank you for sharing x
I am so glad you have found the deep friendships within your romantic ones- I think that’s so great too! I agree that friendships should be allowed to have more “privilege” than they do in our societies. One of the reasons I love polyamory for me is that it allows me to focus on my female friendships in a very specific and purposeful way. In Berlin, I saw my 3-4 closest girlfriends at least once a week, regardless of the number of romantic partners I had.
I can just feel your love for her in your words, and think it’s so important to have that one person in your life that you trust with absolutely everything. Beautiful post!
Thanks! I do kind of dig her. <3 She's a keeper!!
Awww, there’s so many different people can connect. It’s amazing 🙂
I am learning more and more the ways we can design our own relationships. It’s pretty great, right?
Beautiful! How blessed you are to have this friendship. It’s testament to a lot of work and a lot of caring.
Thanks! It really is special. <3
I loved this so much! Friends and relationships come in so many different shapes and sizes. I have been with people that are not romantic but so connected that they are in penetrable. I have always admired it and your writing is clear that your connection with her is strong.
I love your polycule too!!
Thanks… I can’t imagine doing life without her, even though we live in totally different countries! Yeah my polycule is pretty great too!
If I didn’t have JB and my BFF didn’t have her husband, I can imagine us being very similar to this. Our personalities clicked in much the same way, and we have our own way of communicating that very few will ever understand. This post reminds me that I’ve known her for nearly 20 years. I’ll have to send her a text about that, lol. We rarely get to see each other anymore, but we know who we are to one another, and ultimately that’s all that matters.
Also, I love the idea of a BFF as a life partner. I think it makes total sense.
Oh, I love that you have a BFF like this too! And 20 years is no small amount of time!! You’re right, even if you don’t see each other if you know you’re connected… that’s the key!
I love it. I can relate to my lover and my best friend being different people, how I enjoy the time around my friend in a way that I can’t with lovers, and vice versa.
As always, thank you so much for your writing, I don’t think you ever publish something I don’t enjoy / grow from.
Aw wow, thanks… That’s a huge compliment. I have decided I no longer subscribe to the idea that your lover has to be your best friend and vice versa. There’s too much love to go around to make it all be one person!
Thank you so much for this post! Human connections can be so many different things, and this post shows just that. My bff unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago, but we were a lot like you and yours. The love I had and have for her, is so very different from the love I have had for my romantic partners. Not better, or worse, just different.
I am sorry your BFF passed. I cannot even imagine how that would feel. So many loves go out to you. I agree… it’s not better or worse- just different!
I love your relationship!! How wonderful! <3
THANKS! It’s lovely!
I loved this post. You and I have had a couple of chats about relationships and this is the icing on the cake. I love that it is now possible for you to get married and therefore create the legal security for you both going into older age, Brilliant idea!
Thanks, Indie. I know you make me think about the growing older process and how that looks different every couple of years. I love the ability to define my relationships rather than letting other people (society) do it for me! (But you knew that!) I am posting about that again in a totally different way tonight!
I had these sorts of friendships when I was younger, but I’m such an introvert, my psche can only handle giving so much energy to so many people. My husband is my best friend, and I have a son, plus a handful of very dear friends in town. I can totally see “marrying” one of them in old age for logistical purposes, though, because you are so right, our society and culture are not set up to recognize friendship as a life partnership.
I think it’s good that you already know yourself so well that you know what works for you and have surrounded yourself by people who are important. That’s what matters. I know a lot of people, but only a small circle of people know me well. I am o with that. It works for me!!