A harsh one because I have no idea how to win at closed relationships, or open relationships.
Or any kind of relationship for that matter.
My relationship with my mother(mother to her unwanted) is non-existent and my relationship with my child is unconventional. My longest relationship has lasted a little over two years. My shortest one three months, maybe less.
Yes, I met and fell in love with and out of love with someone over the span of less than three months.
I am no expert on relationships. But maybe that’s a good reason why we should have this conversation. I feel like this is that one topic where there are no experts.
Relationships, like parenthood, might be the last absolute amateurship.
There are people who say they know better-but we know better than to believe them completely. I’m yet to read a self-help book about relationships that worked for me. But then again maybe it’s me. If there’s a place where curveballs always have a home-it likely to be when people get together to be couples (or more).
Despite my track record, I don’t think I suck at them.
There are people that have been happily miserable for decades in relationships.
I don’t think loving someone for longer makes you a better lover, or better at commitment. This isn’t maths.
You don’t get better at relationships the longer you are in them.
But you do learn certain things.
At the end of a ten year relationship stint you will know for sure what you do not want in a lover or a partner. That is a given. It’s the same as living longer in a country as far from your culture as possible. You don’t necessarily stop sticking out, you just get better at being acceptably different.
Same as relationships-the longer we are in them, the better we know how to navigate choppy waters, but also how to calm coming storms.
Some of us are great at this.
We can do this for years, decades even. A lifetime perhaps. Some of us just plain suck at surviving the other lover in a relationship and how we change around each other. And guess what-that too is okay.
If we all stayed successfully in our [monogamous] relationships, chances are we might run out of single, or rather accessible people to date and perv over.
Break-ups are okay.
Because I know enough to know that I know nothing, I’m trying new things. I find myself in an open relationship, which five years ago would be the same as saying I find myself with a penis between my legs.
Before anyone wakes up with a dick attached to them, there must have been processes. Things like that don’t just happen. But, somehow, five years later, I find myself in an open relationship, and okay with it.
Like, really okay with it.
And not in a defeatist sense, where I just have to be OK with it, but genuinely OK.
You can’t survive an open relationship if you end up in one as a last ditch resort at trying to be in a relationship. It’s such an unlikely choice for me-and here is why.
One reason is that I’m only 31.
It is not like I have lived and lived and now I have decided to try new things and new ways of experiencing love and life and the world.
Maybe, but I have led such a sheltered life, shrouded in such naïveté that truth is I’m only maybe 25 as far as sexual growth and exploration goes.
My parents have been married for 35 years. Quite unhappily but consistently so, not unlike many other married African women and men over 60 years old. Quite conventional.
My parents were not free loving hippies that thought ‘vagina’ is a fun word for their four year old to shout out at the mall.
I have always been in monogamous relationships. And not politely monogamous-hectically monogamous.
When I dated someone it was just them for the duration of the relationship. I’d fuck only them, and kiss only them. I’d never let flirting with other people get to the other side where a glass of wine in my room at a conference sounded like a good idea.
I often and consistently fled from any temptation that I thought would make me ‘cheat’. I put cheat in brackets because I have dated people who thought shaking hands with any person that was not them was cheating.
And I dated these people. So cheating is really relative you see.
I digress, but my point is this, I have been in numerous monogamous committed relationships and therefore monogamy is all I know. It’s also all I have had modelled for me in the relationships that I saw around. I remember once, while in a monogamous relationship I wondered how people would survive an open relationship. I could not see how at the time, because it was something that I didn’t need.
But now, at 31, older, rounder and wiser, I’m sure that I want one.
And this is a full disclosure type open relationship. I have met many dykes, who are not in open relationships, but throw the word out like a safety net to make the guilt of cheating sting less. You know who you are. Then there are those that just love to tout their polyamory, like a new shiny toy they can’t wait to play with. Truth is that you have a girlfriend back in Nairobi that doesn’t know why you’re between my legs and why I’m sending you those steamy shower selfies.
This isn’t that.
We tell each other, in a negotiated way, who we are fucking when we are not fucking each other. We both know what is going on-but we negotiate what kind of detail we want to share.
We all have different capacities for what triggers our jealousy and what we can handle.
Now you know the context next post hits you with how to handle all this! How to absolutely and completely #win at open relationships Pt II: Getting it right (enough) and Pt III is after.
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