An open relationship is a type of relationship when both partners mutually agree to a non-monogamous lifestyle. It means that if you're in an open relationship, you and your partner are free to have sexual or romantic relations with others. A few years ago, I would have never imagined myself to be in that place. The idea itself seemed like something I could never be comfortable with. But being the daredevil that I am, I wanted to experience it and then make a judgement. So, I did. And soon, all I did was ask myself - how did I end up in such a mess?
This doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Evidently, there are a lot of couples who have been able to successfully maintain an open relationship and I respect their choices. And now, I know how it feels. Being in an open relationship is like having both comfort and excitement in equal measures - only tenfolds. Having the freedom to see other people excited me, especially when I could return to the comfort of my long-term partner’s arms whenever I wanted. I felt euphoric for a while. But honestly, this relationship is not for the faint-hearted! I learned this the hard way after six months of being in an open relationship with my partner.
Long story short, my partner and I dealt with several issues after dating for a year and soon, weren’t even sure if we wanted to be in a relationship anymore. But we did love each other madly and couldn’t imagine living without each other. So, on a whim, we decided to give an open relationship a shot, but of course, it came with its own challenges that led to us ending it. Here are some of the things that happened during those six months.
He and I were not the kind to interfere in each other’s business. We both had busy lives. So, we liked to give each other space. On most days, we’d start with a ‘good morning’ text and then end up speaking in the evening. But a few days into our open relationship, I started wondering what he was doing - all the freakin’ time. Initially, he would reply within seconds, but later, he started taking hours to reply to a single text. I always found him online on Whatsapp or Facebook and it irritated me to the core. Who was he texting in office? Were her texts more interesting than mine? Was he flirting with her already? When he would stay out for hours, I kept my eyes on his social media profiles constantly. Where was he? Did he find someone new already? Was he taking her out on dates? Was he at her place? Were they making out? Ugh!
When you and your partner break up, it does hurt for a while (okay fine, longer), but at least you know that you need to eventually move on. But when you see your partner looking sexy as ever and stepping out for a date with someone else, your heart doesn’t break - it shatters into a million pieces. And it hurt me, even more, when he told me all about it later. I still remember the sparkle in his eyes and the way he smiled while talking about her. I was happy for him, of course. But I admit - I never imagined him to be THIS happy. Although he still spent most of his time with me, I was still jealous of all the attention he gave her, how he spoke to her, how he looked at her and how his face brightened as soon as his phone beeped with a notification from her. I don’t know how many nights I cried myself to sleep just thinking about that smile.
Unfortunately, I sucked at acting. In the past, if I was ever upset with someone/something, my facial expressions, body language, tone - everything was likely to change. But here I was, constantly adamant on not letting him have the slightest idea that I was sad. I pretended to be incredibly happy for him and eager to know all the latest updates on his romantic life. And this guy, who knew me pretty damn well, remained blissfully unaware for the longest time. He would occasionally ask me “if it was okay with me” or “if I was fine” and all I could say in return was, “If it wasn’t okay with me, why would I have agreed to it, silly?” If only he could sense what I really meant.
I still can’t believe that I entered into this non-monogamous relationship thinking that it would ‘solve’ all our issues. Three to four months down the line, I realised that we didn’t actually HAVE any major issues. We were two different individuals with two different mindsets and we just had to make peace with it. Yes, I was stressed on many occasions but the stress of seeing him with other girls was worse. Being in an open relationship didn’t solve any of our problems. In fact, it only increased them.
The worst part about it is that once you’re in, you’re in. No matter how much you try to push it away, it can never be undone. So, when the realisation of your partner having sex with someone else - not once but several times - hits you, be prepared to have that image glued to your mind forever. It’s a line that can never be uncrossed.
In the beginning, it felt nice to get other guys’ attention. I liked the way they flirted with me and put sufficient efforts in getting to know me better. I felt ‘wanted’ and ‘desired’. But this didn’t last very long. When I tried being intimate with someone I wasn’t in love with, I couldn’t imagine how it would make my partner feel. Although I knew he was doing the same, I just couldn’t stop feeling guilty. The night that I finally pushed all these feelings aside and decided to have sex with a guy I had only met a week ago, I came back home and cried for hours and hated myself for days.
It’s not like we weren’t together. He still felt attracted to me and told me that he loved me. But I couldn’t trust him anymore. My gut told me that he was lying! And worse, I felt that it was MY fault for not being good enough for him. Five months into this open relationship and I found my self-esteem draining. I stopped taking care of myself and became pessimistic. I thought of all the possible ways I wished I had put more effort into our relationship. I wished I was less angry with him. I wished I never fought with him. I wished I was prettier, smarter or more fun than the girls he dated. I had never been this insecure in my entire life and knew it was beginning to take a toll on me.
By the end of six months, I reached my saturation point and gave up. I knew I couldn’t let it affect me anymore. I finally told him how I felt about it and broke up with him. I know I suffered a lot, but I did end up learning a lot more about myself and my ex. It’s obvious that an open relationship wasn’t something I could ever be comfortable with. But surprisingly, he could! He seemed 10 times happier in the last six months than he’d been in one year of our relationship. I also realised that he wasn’t ready to be in a committed relationship for now. So, I let him go and THAT, my friend, compensated for all the wrong decisions I took in the last six months.
Today, being in a relationship with someone who loves me and sees a future with me (and only me) makes me realise how much I learnt from that experience. For the first time ever, I’m glad I did it! But just because an open relationship didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. There’s never a right or wrong relationship. You just need to find the one that feels right to you!
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