Sunday, 14 October 2012
I mean heck- it is even an option on the coveted Facebook relationship status the last time I checked! But have you ever seen anyone use it? I have seen it only once and it was a married couple that I knew in a situation where the husband got a job in a different state and moved away for an extended period of time while the wife stayed home with the kids. So they went "open." I was in an honest to goodness open relationship once, but it was long enough ago that Facebook was not around so we didn't have to try to figure out what to call it.
In my open relationship, it was not about a lack of commitment at all. In fact, knowing that I was the emotional apple of my partner's eye made me comfortable with being in an open relationship. I did not feel threatened when he saw other women (primary one happened to be a very good friend of mine) and it seemed to help keep things exciting as time went on.
I think he was very pleased with my lack of insecurity, not that I didn't care, it's just that even if he spent time with someone else, at the end of the day, I knew he'd be coming back for me. We had a fairly short relationship, about a summer long, and I ended up leaving him for reasons that had nothing to do with our open status. He was pretty broken up about it because he claimed to be in love with me, but in the end separating was for the best. No hard feelings.
Skip to some time in the future- I meet another charming fellow in my hometown while I am there on Christmas break. We have a couple romantic weeks together and when the time came for me to pack up and head back to university, we decide that we wanted to be together as a couple.
On my way out of town, I tried to give him a talk similar to the one I had once before: "It's okay if you want to see other people in the meantime, we are trying to do this long distance and I don't mind if you want to have some fun as long as you are safe and happy to spend time with me whenever I come back to visit." In this case I thought that I was doing the coolest thing that any girlfriend could do by proposing an open relationship, but he strongly objected.
"Why would I be with you if I wanted to get with other women? If I wanted to get with other women still, I wouldn't want to be with you!" He claimed. It made sense and I didn't mind. I was not looking to get involved with anyone simultaneously, so at that we made ourselves exclusive. Having gone either way before, I didn't have any hurt feelings or anything, and his viewpoint began to change my mind too.
Why be in a relationship with someone at all if you aren't interested in being with them and only them? Since then I feel like I have somewhat changed my mind about the way to do relationships and I haven't been in an open relationship since nor have I had anyone I dated propose that idea to me.
However, my mind has changed further yet. I have realized that the line shouldn't be abruptly drawn between open vs exclusive relationships- it is really just about both partners being on the same page. In the distant future should I decide that I want to enter a relationship but keep it open and my partner is looking for the same thing, then that sounds like a match made in heaven.
Same thing for an exclusive relationship; I only want to be in an exclusive relationship if my partner wants to be in an exclusive relationship with me. It is hardly about the titles at all, just making sure you are with someone who is looking for the same thing as you are. Obviously there is a lot of gray area between dating and relationships, boyfriend/girlfriend, seeing other people casually and whatever else, so I have learned through experience that no matter what you're looking for, it's best that both people are seeking the same thing.
It's not that any of the above are bad or the wrong choice, but trouble tends to happen when two people aren't looking for the same thing and still try to force it to work. Been there done that.
I have been very happily seeing a guy for several months now and we still haven't felt the need to sit down and have a State of the Union Address (as we jokingly call it) or go to a lot of trouble to mark territory. Through spending a lot of time with him and learning about one another, it was glaringly obvious that we were looking for the same thing and it has been smooth sailing the entire time.
I don't know if it has more to do with maturity or just dumb luck of finding someone that actually understands me and vice versa, but whatever the reason, I have been quite happy and I know it has a lot to do with us starting out on the same page.
So, have you ever taken part in an open relationship? Have you ever been stuck in a certain type of relationship wishing that things could run a little differently? Do you have a definite restriction on the types of relationships you seek out or does it depend on timing and/or the person you're after?
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