At five in the morning, I woke up, picked up my clothes off the ground and snuck out to drive home without waking last night’s “encounter.” Making it back to my apartment, I hopped in bed and snuggled up to my boyfriend. He asked if I had a good night, I told him yes, squeezed him tight, and said I love you.
After being together for five years, my boyfriend and I decided to be in an open relationship. When others find out, I receive either one of two reactions: a surprised “Whaaaat?” or an uncomfortable “I could never do it,” with a fake, “but good for you.”
I met my boyfriend when I was 14 and he was 16. There was a connection between the two of us that was electric, and it wasn’t even until he went off to college two years later that we had a sliver of doubt in our relationship.
As we have matured, we realize there is no one else we would rather spend the rest of our lives with, but there were times when we wished we had met later on in life. Both being in college and watching friends go out on drunken make-out escapades and random hookups, there was this thought, “Am I missing out? Am I not living up my 20s?”
It’s not just about sex, though. Ask anyone that knows us and they will tell you my boyfriend and I are “people persons.” We love to be with people, learn about them, learn from them and have close connections.
Meeting so young, we were basically each other’s first real relationship, and it was frightening to think we got it right on the first try. We never had the chance to experience other people or learn from mistakes. The last thing we wanted was to be 40 years old with a family and thinking, “what if?” But why break up something that wasn’t bad?
While the two of us had fought before, there was nothing that came close to last November. We weren’t in good places mentally to take care of ourselves, let alone each other; we were falling out of love. What once was a relationship of best friends in love turned into two roommates who lived under the same roof. On Thanksgiving Day, we broke up. It was the hardest decision I ever made.
It was weird being single again and feeling attention from others, and at first it was nice. Having people check me out and flirt gave me a much needed self-confidence boost at the time, but it didn’t last.
I knew I had to have him back when I started looking for things in others that I couldn’t find in anyone else but him: his chicken pox scar above his eyebrow, his left ear piercing he thought was cool in elementary school, his high-pitched laugh when something particularly tickled him. The list goes on.
When I tried to get back with him, he didn’t want to jump in immediately. He knew I had my fun flirting with other people and he wanted his chance—which I thought was totally fair—but the first girl he began hanging out with completely enraged me and I could now imagine how he must have felt.
I have never been the crazy type. I was always the laid-back, not jealous girlfriend, but I have never had such violent thoughts about a person until I peeked through my window watching this girl sit in “my seat” of his car. I was exceptionally crazy.
On and off in the past we had discussed open relationships, but never took the conversation seriously. It wasn’t until he began looking for my little quirks in her. That’s when we brought up the idea seriously.
It was a struggle, at first, to let go of jealousy for both of us, but now being past that point, I have never felt more content with where we are in life. We meet other people and love to learn about them. We flirt with others and get a confidence boost knowing we aren’t the only ones that find each other attractive. We get to hit up someone for company when the other is out of town or just not "feelin’ it.”
People talk and I know it but, honestly, we are happy and that is all that matters to me. While this arrangement isn’t for everyone, I would recommend it to a couple. It may seem impossible, (and it’s definitely had its rough moments for us), but if there are two things I am positive anyone can take away from this experience, it is learning to trust and love your partner unconditionally.
I am positive that one day I will marry this boy and live a long happy life with him, but right now all we want is to learn about ourselves and each other. To me, there is something so special about knowing that no matter how many amazing people we come across, at the end of the day, there is one main person we want to share our happiest moments and our lowest moments with, and that’s each other. That will never change.
In "Outside the Sheets", columnist Spencer Graye Genrich delivers commentary on college life, the psyche and interpersonal relationships. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.