We’ve been together for 5 years and recently got engaged. We love each other, we plan a future together and at the same time we are “free”. He's not mine, and I'm not his. We accompany each other, we choose each other, and the key: we want to see each other happy, not "our own".
At the age of 19, after ending yet another relationship in which I had been unfaithful, I met a new world. A couple invited me to meet them, both of them. Honestly, for someone like me, who had always had a hard time with monogamy, it was a before and after meeting them. They were free. They desired each other, they trusted each other, they had fun and loved each other madly. It showed.
When I got back home, I was fascinated, delighted with the freedom that filled that home. They had shown me something I didn't even know existed: loving without possessing. I told some friends, amazed, about the good time that had happened, how they had taken care of me and, at the same time, that I had seen in their eyes the complicity, the love, that there wasn’t a trace of doubt between the two of them.
It made sense to me. As I said before, something about monogamy wasn’t working for me. I could be very much in love, but that did not stop me from wanting to try something else. Glancing across the room, making jokes, creating tension, meeting, seducing, I always found it very exciting. As I also found beautiful to build trust, commitment, and make long term plans with someone.
Through this experience, the question that had always haunted me: “why does it have to be one thing or the other? suddenly got answered: it doesn’t have to.
A couple months later, I met my fiancé. On the first night we met we touched on the subject of open relationships. Coincidentally, he had been raising the same questions, although for different reasons. Chatting we reached the same conclusion: it is pointless to be with someone who is with me because of a social construct, and not because they freely choose me.
After five years together, we got engaged with this idea in mind. As a project, as something that we both wanted to experience. In the first six months we were not with anyone else, we were in that first stage in which many of us do not have eyes for others and also, there was no pressure. But we continued talking about the subject so that when we decided to take the step, we could avoid as much as possible any misunderstandings.
Finally, the day came. We agreed, we reviewed the "rules", and we opened the relationship ...
To no one's surprise, misunderstandings happened all the same.
How difficult it is to break with the structures of what we were taught we should like or be like. But nothing major happened, we kept on adjusting things, setting new rules, and changing others, until it worked for the both of us. At some point, we both saw that the other could come and go, and when they came back everything was just fine.
The day came when we stopped caring about our friends telling us that it should bother us, or about our parents thinking we were weird, and the thought of the other one not truly loving us faded. After all, has monogamy served everyone throughout history? Don't we all have enough of our own and other people's stories of people who suffered in monogamous relationships? Who ever said that this is the way that works for all of us?
Now, when things started to flow, the best came. How beautiful, how wonderful it is to be with someone when there is no feeling of obligation. When everything is pure choice. I am here because I want to and not because I have to. That's how I lived it, at least. How incredible it is how one stops looking for things outside of the couple when the secret, the hidden, is over, and you turn it into complicity, into passion, in a more sincere relationship.
However, I don't want it to sound like it's all peachy because it just isn't. It is still a relationship, with two people, at least in my case, trying to make their worlds fit together, with all the normal friction it that can generate. A lot of communication and a lot of mutual trust are necessary to get through these first stages.
In the same way, I consider it worth noting that, from my experience, it is a more internal work with oneself than with the other. The other has to generate confidence in us, yes, but one has to have it in oneself as well. And from there comes the most frequent question on the subject: what about jealousy? They became completely secondary, a little bit of pepper to enhance the flavor. A pinch of adrenaline so as not to forget passion, but nothing more than that.
How do you allow them to go with someone else and do certain things? What if the third in question is prettier, more fun, or more interesting? There's the key the question. No one tolerates anything, because it doesn't bother us, because we don't compete. In my case, if the woman he's with is better at something, I'm probably better at something else, because we are two different people, and neither is perfect. And if those virtues that she has make him happier than mine, I wish them the best. I want him happy, not with me. If he's happy with me, all the better! And if he is happy with someone else it is not the end of the world, it means that there is someone else more compatible with me somewhere and it is a matter of looking for him.
One of the most beautiful teachings I got on this path was: love is not limited, it multiplies. Something seemingly so natural for certain relationship types can be, for some people, almost impossible to conceive for others. If a mother can love all her children, in different ways, being closer to one than to another, in the same way as with friends, whom some you meet often with, others not so much, some you share almost everything with and others only specific things, but they are all friends, why can't we feel the same way regarding our partners?
It is a path of self-discovery, of breaking with many things, and it is a long road. One constantly learns, constantly modifies, and transforms the relationship. For example, today, nothing remains of our first rules and conditions. We are our priority, with the love and mutual care that this implies, and on those bases we both grow into what we want to be, within our individual freedom.
As for the third parties that may be involved, I can tell you that once we free ourselves from the pressures of meeting certain standards, of competing and comparing ourselves with the person next to us, and from all those things that we tell ourselves that fill us with insecurity, it is only then when these experiences can be lived from a place of true enjoyment. Because you are there to have a good time, otherwise, you are not here at all.
Finally, it seems very important to emphasize that this is not better, and not for everyone. It is just different. I’m only telling my story and how this works for me, not trying to sell anyone on it but raising open relationships as a possibility for those who never considered them and could not find balance or fullness in their relationships. Also, so that those who don’t share the same views on this kind of relationships, respect them as a valid and worthy alternative some of us chose for our lives.