Modern relationships are…weird. Where there was a very normal way of “doing” relationships before (at least there was such a perception), now it seems that people are far more open about unconventional types of relationships.
There was a guy at my hostel in San Francisco who had a boyfriend back home but wanted to make out with guys at the club because “that’s not cheating, it’s just a kiss”, and a Korean guy who wants to meet girls in the US but won’t tell his girlfriend back home that he’s doing that.
But by far what has become apparent to me is the prevalence of open relationships – and not just in gay couples either. Yes I saw a lot of people, (particularly in Seattle) who had on their online profiles that they were in open relationships, but I also met a few people who ended up telling me why they’re in or considering open relationships.
I met someone in The Netherlands who had been in a few year relationship in the past, but was sort of discovering that he’s okay being in an open relationship with the current girl he’s seeing. It’s not just that he’s having sex with other girls and not telling her – they’re clear to each other that this is happening.
“It’s not serious yet. We enjoy spending time together but neither of us want to be in a committed relationship right now,” he said.
Another guy in Germany explained his situation with his girlfriend. They don’t live in the same city and are sometimes apart from each other for months.
“She has needs,” he told me, “and we talked about it and it’s okay with me…sexual fidelity has never been something I value.”
Which makes me think – why is sexual fidelity something we should value? But I guess this comes down to what you think sex is and the importance you place on it. If it is just physical to you, then there should be no reason to keep the relationship closed. But if it does mean something more, then yes I can see why you wouldn’t want an open relationship.
“But I’m not sure she would be okay with it if I were to do the same,” my friend in Germany tells me. “I mean, if I feel the need I’m going to do it to and I will tell her, but I think she might just stop talking to me.”
This is where the fine line is. Jealousy can creep in even if we think we’re okay with it.
Does this mean all of my future relationships must be open? Absolutely not. But does this mean I’m willing to have the discussion? Definitely.
Cover image provided by Ivan used under creative commons license