Love, Mindfulness and Zen in an Open Relationship

My new boyfriend wants a family. Never say never, but it probably won't be with me. Because you see, I already have a beautiful family with my [equally beautiful] core partner of 6 years.

My new boyfriend wants a family. Never say never, but it probably won't be with me. Because you see, I already have a beautiful family with my [equally beautiful] core partner of 6 years.

My new boyfriend and I knew this when we started dating 4 months ago. But life is designed to be lived and despite our unmatched priorities, we agreed to live in the now. However long 'now' lasts; even if it's only the lifespan of a caterpillar.

'I'm going out on a date tomorrow.' Said my new boyfriend.

'Cool, good luck.' I said. We were making BLT sandwiches in the kitchen. 'Maybe she's the future mother of your children.'

'It feels weird to be with you and at the same time doing everything I can, not to be with you.' He said smearing chutney on the bread.

I flipped the bacon. It seemed as normal as the sandwiches we were making to be discussing his love life with him. Open relationships lead to previously inconceivable conversations, but in time you get used to their rather appealing madness. What was horribly abnormal though, was to think that in two days, our love affair might be over. In fact I preferred not to think about it.

It's difficult enough to find someone with whom you want to have children who is monogamous, let alone that this someone might accept the honest existence of a current girlfriend. The dating pool in open and ethical non-monogamy relationship territory is pretty small. But my version of polyamory includes an acknowledgement that personal growth and individual needs are paramount; it's the people inside the relationship who are important, more than the relationship itself. And since I would never stand in his way to achieve his heart's desire, I have become - for want of a better expression - the in-between girlfriend.

Love in the Present

This would be okay if it were a casual, easy thing.... but I think I'm in love with him. And no matter how much my brain reasons with me, I have heard my womb cry with deep longing to create a baby with him. I won't though; because life would be very complicated with a new baby and a new father. And the logistics would be horrendously difficult (two sets of current in-laws are you kidding me?). But it means that every step we take together in this relationship, so poignant and so transient, is both amazing and - potentially - heartbreaking.

When we are together, we live for all that it's worth. I absorb every moment in his company and I look in his eyes engraving the curves and points of his face into my mind in case it is the last time we see each other, at least as lovers.

It's possible of course, that we might continue as friends. That our relationship might transform into butterfly status. But over there in monogamy land, I remember that even this is a difficult proposition, even if I don't remember why.

Appreciation of the Now

Loving in the now, gives a wholly different appreciation to the nature of love and life. There can be no expectations and no commitment to the long term. And so this relationship is teaching me something wonderful. It's teaching me that life is about what is going on now. It's about being in the present. It's teaching me mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an awakening to current experience. It's about celebrating the present moment and allowing it to unfold without judgement. I'd heard about it from various sources, meditation, Buddhism and popular psychology. But never that it might come to me as a lesson of love. And yet it's a lesson which isn't easy to share with my predominantly monogamous friends.

Commonly their advice is to protect myself and him from heartache by breaking it off sooner rather than later. They are concerned that it will all end in tears. They worry about what will be. And whilst they may be right, I don't quite see it that way. Because what we have is one of the greatest gifts.

...the Now - that intensely alive state that is free of time, free of problems, free of thinking, free of burden of the personality.

The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor's edge of Now - to be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence can survive in you.

The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

So that night I waited for news and wished for his happiness. And the next day he pinged me.

'I have good news and bad news.' he said.

'Shoot' I said, as a lump formed in my throat.

'The bad news is that it's not the future mother of my children.'

'What's the good news?'

'The good news is that it's not the future mother of my children.'

I hurt a little for him, because I knew how he felt. Half sorry, half relieved, that we have bought ourselves a few more days, a few more chances to live in the now, before we have to say goodbye.

Before You Go