Sometimes open relationships aren’t easy, but you know what? Having any long term relationship isn’t easy.
“I am just desperate for your attention, and I don’t want you to give your time to anyone else. I don’t want you to work or have any friends or any hobbies or speak to anyone else. I just want you to pamper me and love me and give me all your attention, and I know it’s insanely irrational, but I can’t stop.”
“…You are literally shopping right now for a date with another guy tonight. You are a crazy person.”
One of my biggest pet peeves is when my partner and I encounter a hurdle or have a problem, and even my good friends will say some stupid shit like, “Well, you signed up for this.” I don’t say that to you when you have a problem with your husband, bitch. I don’t look at you and say, “Don’t talk to me about your problems in your marriage. You signed up for this monogamy.” Problems resulting from monogamous relationships are just considered status quo. It’s the socially accepted norm, and everyone is expected to endure it and figure it out. Even in an age of rampant divorce, sticking with it and figuring out a way to make it work no matter what is considered the noble thing to do. Yet, when my partner and I want to stick with our open relationship and figure out a way to make it work no matter what, we are considered headstrong and stupid. We are told it can never work and that we are foolish for trying. That’s kind of hilarious when well over 50% of marriages end in divorce and nearly every person I know has been cheated on at one point in their adult lives.
Now, to be clear, I am not in an open relationship because I think guys (or girls) can’t be faithful. I am not a fatalist polygamist. I don’t think open relationships are the necessity of the future because people just need to accept that individuals need more than one sexual partner. I actually don’t believe that at all. I truly believe that a monogamous relationship can be a beautiful thing, and I even believe there can be inherent value in saving yourself for one person and conquering the struggle of refusing all others. I think that a monogamous couple can experience a special kind of physical intimacy, and most importantly, I believe that monogamous couples can be truly happy and fulfilled. I don’t know any who are, but I’m just saying – it’s possible.
One of the repercussions of my partner’s and my open relationship is that, despite having been together for over 2 years, his family doesn’t know about us. Whenever he goes back to his home state to hang out with friends and family, I am not invited, nor am I really included in that part of his life in any way. It gets tough sometimes and hurts my feelings because, contrary to popular belief, I am not just an unfeeling man-eater.
When he’s home and getting dinner with his two best guy friends and both of their girlfriends, yeah, I feel pretty ostracized from his life. When I call him and he declines my calls because he’s with his parents, yeah, it hurts my feelers a little bit. It won’t be this way forever, though. Because I was coming out of a four-and-a-half-year marriage and my partner and I both knew we wanted an open relationship, we didn’t broadcast to everyone that we were seeing each other. We’ve kept it relatively under wraps except for our good friends. So someday, maybe someday soon, his family probably will know that we are romantically involved in some capacity, although I’m not sure how much we’ll tell them.
In the meantime, however, I am pretty much zero part of that part of his life. So, when he goes home for a while, especially when we are already long distance and I’m in New York hooking up with other people, the distance between us can grow. I shouldn’t even say it like that. The distance between us can grow in my mind, which sometimes leaves me feeling desperate for attention in a completely irrational way. Even if I know hands down that he cares deeply for me, and even if we’ve spent an hour on the phone just the day before, and even if he tells me he loves me all the time, and yes, even if I have a date with another guy that night, I can start to feel irrationally anxious and become an emotional train wreck.
“Well, that’s what you get for being in an open relationship – his family’s not going to know about you and this is what happens” people will say. Do you have any idea how many MORE problems entered my life due to my ex’s parents knowing about my and my ex’s relationship? Goodness gracious. I’d take this any day. That’s the thing: we choose our battles. We all make decisions about our own relationships. We choose which friends know what we truly fight about, we choose how much we share with our families on our child rearing philosophy, and we all lie about where we spent the weekend or how often we go to church. Everyone hides certain things from their families, and very few people tell the truth to anyone about the nitty gritty of their romantic relationship.
My partner and I have chosen this battle. It is not easy every day, but neither is any relationship. But do you know what? It’s perfect for us, and we’ve decided to make it work no matter what.