After going through a rough break-up, I found myself intrigued by the concept of healthy flirting. I was meeting a lot of guys in college and talking to them without committing myself to anybody; it was refreshing and helped take my mind off the break-up.
That’s when I met Kunal, who was a year junior to me. We met during our annual college fest and instantly hit it off. He was a lively and carefree person, and I knew the moment I saw him that I liked him.
We often used to meet up in college during the break or would bunk a few classes to hang out. Since we both used the metro to commute, we’d share a ride till the station whenever we could. Though most of the times we hung out with our friends, we would manage to find some alone time. So, it wasn’t long before we started texting and flirting, and soon enough, expressed our feelings for each other. Things were going fast and we were both loving it!
One day, Kunal asked me about my views on open relationships. I was a bit surprised about what he asked; very recently, I had found out that other boys in the college were interested in me. And to be honest, the thought of open relationships had crossed my mind. We both agreed on the fact that relationships are overrated and attachment of any kind just leads to pain. So, he suggested and I agreed that we would give having an open relationship a shot.
For the initial few months, everything was great. We hardly had time for anyone else in between classes and meeting each other, until one day, I saw him talking to another girl in college. It wasn’t a big deal, I knew she was his classmate, but something about seeing him with her made me uncomfortable.
I had agreed to an open relationship, but now it suddenly seemed like a bad idea to me. I realized that I was still in a vulnerable space. The reality of the fact that I had given him the permission to be with other girls hit me like a bolt. True, he had done the same, but ever since I had started talking to him I had stopped flirting with anyone else. Even the thought sounded taxing to me.
So what now? I couldn’t be angry with him, and the fear of being clingy made me keep my mouth shut. However, now every time I saw him with someone, I couldn’t help but over-think and it started affecting my behaviour towards him. Finally, one day he asked me why I hadn’t been talking properly. All I needed was for him to ask and I blurted out everything. He listened, he really did, and once I was done, he said, “I haven’t been with anyone else since I met you. The girls you see me with are my friends and I really like you… but I know I don’t want to be in a relationship right now. I can’t commit to a relationship right now and that’s why I can’t ask you to be committed to me.” His words stung me like a bee but I knew he was telling the truth and I couldn’t change his mind.
We parted ways, but it was not easy getting over him, especially when I saw him every day in college. We had almost the same circle of friends and even if we didn’t want to, we’d end up meeting somewhere or the other. Sometimes, I wondered if I should just go back to being in an open relationship and be with him. I thought that maybe someday he’d finally want to be in a committed relationship with me if I stayed close enough. And so in weaker moments I’d find myself talking to him again, convincing him that it was worth a shot to be together, but he never changed his mind.
I came to realize how wrong I was to believe that I’d be okay with an open relationship. I thought it was better to be with someone without any strings attached, until I realized what I would be giving up - the security of someone loving you. Here I was constantly worrying about when he might find someone better than me.
It took me one full year to finally accept the fact that we wanted different things and no matter how much I tried, I would never be okay with an open relationship. The most important lesson I learnt through all this is that it is okay to not be okay. I was so lost in the trends of this world that I forgot to consider whether I was actually cut out for those trends. Fortunately for me, now I know better.