Yesterday I was in the middle of eating my scrambled eggs when he said
'I met a girl online last night. We chatted for around 40 minutes. She has great contacts, I'm thinking she might be interested in your book.'
'Ooh goody.' Then I clicked. 'Are you interested in sleeping with her?'
My boyfriend looked momentarily shocked. And then we laughed. I said
'You don't need to worry, we're not monogamous!'
Curiosity killed the cat. And most people don't dare ask (I guess they're cat lovers). Those who do say
'What does it mean, an open relationship?'
I don't speak for anyone else. But for me, a open relationship is the freedom to choose. My boyfriend chooses to be with me and to have children with me and (not entirely coincidentally!) I do with him. It is an active choice. For when he chooses, he can also be with others (as can I).
Given that we have children and that we love them - and each other - our choice is to preserve our family unit for the moment in a configuration that resembles a traditional one... plus some extras. All our decision making stems from this. But since unlike the majority, neither of us are subject to jealousy, that means we can still have 'intimate' relationships elsewhere and this doesn't affect our stability as a couple even if someday it might affect the dynamic.
'Do you just turn a blind eye then?'
Absolutely not. In fact it's the opposite. I want to know. And more than that, I want to get to know them.
'I know we're not monogamous.' he said ' It just sounded like a movie. "Are you sleeping with her!" But yes. Am thinking about it. We connected.'
'Wow.' I said smiling. 'That's pretty rare. Where does she live?'
'London. I might meet her next time I'm over.'
'Ah.' I said. 'Is it the business trip fling? Or something more?'
'No idea darling. We'll have to meet in person first.'
'Do you always keep it outside the house then?'
To be honest. It would be more practical, less scary. Nevertheless, despite the fear, my preference would be for future partners to become integrated as far as they wished into our life and vice versa. That means inviting them to our life, and to our house. It's about more life, more love and more growth. And yes, when the occasion arises they are absolutely welcome to stay over. Often the breakfast conversation is one of the most interesting (and sometimes weird) parts.
And that's the thing.
When can I ping her? I said.
'Not right now. I've told her all about you. And I said I would never dream of going behind your back. But if you don't come from our sort of relationship place, then she'll need time to come around to how it works, before you launch on her with 'Hey I hear you're hooking up with my boyfriend.'
'I'd be more subtle than that! But yes, I know you're right. I would love to chat with her though. Tell her what a great guy you are!'
'What..even if I don't form a relationship with her?'
'Maybe not. But how many times do you see someone before you decide it's a relationship?'
What if you just meet someone when you're out? When do you tell the other person?
Normally the next time we see each other. Which is pretty soon since we live in the same house. But no I don't demand that he call me in the middle of the night to tell me that there's someone he might kiss. We trust each other. It probably wouldn't become in any way serious without some equally serious discussion by all involved. Because it's not only about the time that it may take away from our relationship and our children, it's also the potential backlash we may receive from other people and the rebalancing that must occur to accomodate a new partner.
Well, there's something else. She's still married...separated...but married. And I know that goes against what we talked about before.
I sucked my breath in. It had been my idea that married people were off the cards. I, who risked society's ridicule anyway, never wanted to challenge it even further.
'Okay' I said, 'Do you know for certain that she's separated?'
'I can't know really can I? I can only know what she told me and she had no need to say that. She could have just said she was single.'
'I suppose. There were three reasons though. One that the other person shouldn't be cheating because it's against our values by association, two that we shouldn't be part of an event that caused someone else pain and three not encouraging society to condemn us even more.
We can't judge someone for wanting intimacy whilst still married. Look where we came from.
You're right. But be careful. What if she's on the rebound?.
He laughed. 'Hang on a minute. I haven't even met her yet. You're going a little fast'
Can you envisage ever being monogamous?
For sure. Our relationship is open...but this means the freedom to choose. I can choose monogamy. But to be honest, I think the choice of monogamy would be only a temporary one. But it tends to be in a state of monogamy more often than not, since the stars need to align to find an opportunity. People do tend to think our relationship status means a free for all which is really odd for me. I remember one friend telling me when I was due to visit them 'My boyfriend thinks you're just going to jump into bed with us'.
'Yeah, but still.' I said. 'How exciting. I can't even remember the last time you hooked up with someone. When was it...almost a year ago?'
'I think so. Maybe a little less.'
'Ha. Let's go to bed.' I said.
'You're forgetting something!' He said.' Isn't it time to take our daughter to school?'
'Yeah yeah...am kidding. But date night soon?'
'I love you.' I said.
'I love you. We are so lucky to have each other.'
'I think so too.'
First published on Multiple Match.com