In this personal experience blog, David gives his account of an open relationship – from painful jealousy to powerful honesty
I love the idea of an open relationship: two people in love, but still getting sex elsewhere too? What’s not to like?
I was in a long-distance relationship with Joe. He was young and attractive, and had not been in a relationship before, but hook-ups were normal for him.
We were long-distance, and Joe had never been monogamous before anyway, so it made sense for us to see other people.
After all, I was a cool guy, right? I wasn’t old-fashioned and square?
Back in London, an old hook-up messaged me. I thought about it, and then decided to meet up. We had sex. It was great.
Joe never asked me about it, and I never told him.
But I started to ask Joe about who else he was seeing. I wanted to know. This was the first indicator that something wasn’t right.
Joe told me about a guy he met at a club and went back to his hotel room.
I pressed for more information.
Joe and this guy had made out, they’d got naked, it was more foreplay than sex. They met up twice.
Joe also was hooking up with some other guy from his little black book, just for sex.
He didn’t have to tell me about this. He told me, calmly and clearly, because I asked. Because this is what we’d already agreed.
At first, I reacted well. “Oh, nice,” I said. “That’s cool.”
But as the weeks went on, and I began to ask more and more about it, it became clear that I didn’t think it was nice or cool.
I was really upset. I felt sad, I felt jealous, I felt wounded.
“You just need to sleep with someone else,” my friend Sam advised. “Then you’re both doing the same thing.”
Sam was straight, in a long distance relationship with a woman who was bisexual. She wanted to be with other women, and so did Sam. An open relationship worked for them.
But I had already slept with other people, and as the weeks went on I realised I didn’t want to. I wanted Joe.
I decided to speak to Joe. I didn’t tell him how to act, I just told him how I was feeling.
“I want you to sleep with whoever you want,” I explained, truthfully. “But I didn’t realise before, it really hurts me. I’m scared. I’m scared I’m going to lose you.”
Before Joe, I had been in a six-year relationship with Kaseem, which was technically open. He was bisexual and I thought it would make sense. But neither of us ever slept with anyone else.
Not until things got bad at the end, and it was clear he didn’t love me any more. I started sleeping around, a month or two before we broke up for good. I never told Kaseem.
In other words, when the relationship actually became “open”, it was because I was closing it.
At first, as it took Joe time to understand that when he slept around, I felt hurt. For him, being monogamous wasn’t something he’d not really thought about before.
Months went on, and one night we revealed that we both loved each other. He said it first.
Slowly, over the months, something had shifted. I had been honest and vulnerable with him; I had been prepared to lose him, to lose everything.
Joe had thought long and hard, and realised that he didn’t need to sleep with other guys, not right now.
Joe and I are still long distance, and we are still technically open.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it pays to be honest with the people you care about.
And don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If, deep down, you want a monogamous relationship and nothing else, your partner deserves to know.
We all deserve honesty, we all deserve love. So go looking for it in the right places.