Now keep in mind, had this statement come from your average 22 year-old horn dog who is literally sniffing his way from treat to treat, with the same savagery as blood-hound, I would have considered the source and simply disregarded the statement as I do most of the gibberish that is expelled from the lips of average men. But this man (my cousin) is different. This man is not your ordinary 22 year-old. He’s well read, he’s articulate and more often than not, he will have something extremely insightful to say. So when he speaks, usually I listen.
But this declaration, this relationship blasphemy was apparently the secret to his happiness. The rule was, that neither he or his girlfriend prevent each other from “entertaining” or “dating” people of the opposite sex. All they have to do, is tell one another what’s going on. They have agreed not to have sex with anyone else, but it’s not about sex. The trick is they don’t limit themselves. They don’t put a box around what they have or formulate it into some equation that if altered, results in a break up.
Out of curiosity, I asked, “So which one of you has already violated this agreement?” He replied, “Neither of us have. And the funny thing is, I don’t even want to! I know what kind of situation I have and it makes me not want to date anyone else.”
And then it hit me. My cousin who will remain nameless, just might be on to something. I asked myself why I’ve sabotaged my own relationships in the past and the honest answer is because I always felt confined. I felt like my relationships were advancing to a place where my boyfriend had both hands wrapped around my neck, slowly applying pressure until I felt like my head was going to explode. It’s not that I ever really wanted to cheat on old boyfriends, but I just always end up feeling so confined and unable to breathe. This idea of an “open-relationship” seems as though it would give you all of the bonuses of a “real” relationship, without the gun to your head. It seems smart, if everyone plays by the rules. According to my cousin, being in an open-relationship just makes him want to be with his girlfriend even more. Could it really be that simple?
I doubt it, and here’s why. Ideally yes, in a perfect world, you could be in a relationship with someone and date other people and everyone would be blissfully happy. But that’s not how the world works folks. Being in a committed relationship is about choosing to be with one person. If you’re not ready to make that choice, then you’re not ready to be in a relationship. What my poor insightful and oh so brilliant cousin has yet to learn is that when you’re truly “in love” with someone, there is no one else. You don’t want to be with anyone else because you’re consumed with thoughts and feelings for the one you are “in love” with. And when you love someone, you don’t want to see them with someone else. You don’t want them “entertaining” someone or leaving even a crumb of chance that they may meet and fall in love with someone else.
My guess is my little cousin has yet to truly fall “in love” and have his heart stolen in that way. My guess is he really, really likes this girl, but isn’t completely sold on her…if he was, he wouldn’t need that room for entertainment. Or maybe an open-relationship is the way to go. Maybe the freedom of open relationship is just the breathing room that every couple needs. Maybe I’m just the one who doesn’t get it.