Open hearts

Whenever I tell a woman I’m in an open relationship they often ask “Does your partner know this?”

It’s a weird assumption as it was my partner who initially changed our Facebook relationship status to read ‘Open’.

I remember feeling uneasy when it first happened. After she went away one weekend and I found the computer was still logged in to her account, I changed our relationship to ‘Engaged’ and was entertained by the mixture of congratulations and disbelief. She was very annoyed when she came home and changed the relationship status back to ‘Open’. It was, at the time, a minor disagreement but one completely in harmony with our relationship, which often doesn’t conform to expectations.

A bit over a decade ago, when she fell pregnant with our first child, I proposed to her and was surprised that it took a few days to get an answer. She explained that marriage would undermine her feminist principles. As a feminist myself I respected her decision and came to love her more for it, as I appreciate her perspective can be challenging at times. In fact, when we first met her views scared me. I’d never met anyone as far to the left on the political spectrum as her, despite going to a metropolitan university during the ‘90s.

During our courtship she pursued me for months and I still remember, after I was finally conquered, the electricity of brushing her smooth soft skin and knowing she was ‘the one’.

The idea there might be more than one is a reasonably popular one, judging by the number of people who have affairs. I mean, in previous relationships I’ve strayed. At one point I was juggling a few relationships, which was exciting but time-consuming and inevitably led to conflict and heartbreak.

I’m fortunate enough to be found attractive by a few people and, in part, it’s the idea that temptation can be enhanced by sneaking around that underscores her logic to make it an option to see other people.

Another attraction for her is resisting the social expectation of monogamy and it’s this non-conformity that makes my partner all the more attractive to me. She’s an original thinker and one who continues to inspire me.

Couples often quote Kahlil Gibran in their commitment vows, such as “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”.

It is clear to me now that our relationship takes a very liberal interpretation of his subsequent lines: “Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.”

I think our love transcends the constraints expected of relationships and, in many ways, it exemplifies our belief in valuing ethics over morals.