#RelationshipGoals: Should A Relationship Ever Be Open?
Open relationships may not be the most common practice between two people in love, but they happen. And the debate always stands with this one–should you open up your relationship to other people or is that just a mess waiting to happen?
I opened a long-term relationship I was in once and I learned a lot about myself throughout that time. I wrote a story about it. Want to hear it? Here it go!
I met Jackson online, during a time when Myspace was social media and our main means of communicating with people we’d never met face to face. We were both in college, planning on moving to New York City to pursue our proverbial dreams. His dream was to work in music public relations and of course, I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw.
Jackson and I talked every single day, all day, but it was always friendly. I liked what we shared because it was no pressure and always consistent. A year of our connection passed by and we both graduated. Jackson headed to New York City right on schedule to work as an intern with a big record label. His dreams seemed to be on a fast track and I was still back home in North Carolina, not only dying to move to NYC, but also dying to finally meet Jackson.
I lived vicariously through him. This was before Snapchat, so Jackson would send me snapshots of himself eating a hotdog from a street vendor, or on the subway platform, headed to his shared studio space in the Bronx or at Radio City Music Hall.
“It’s incredible,” Jackson said in one of his daily emails to me. “You’re going to love it! When are you getting here?”
I’d officially moved out of my college apartment, but I wasn’t quite financially ready for my big NYC move, so I was couch-surfing with my friends so I wouldn’t have to pay rent and I could save more money. Jackson left in May as soon as we both graduated and he thought I’d be right behind him. But May turned to August and August went into September. I didn’t want to spend another day stalling, so I made my move in September.
“I can’t wait to see you and share this city with you!” Jackson text me the night before I left.
“I can’t believe I’m moving there and that I’ll be with you in person!” I text back to him.
“We can finally be an official us LOL!” Jackson wrote back. That message sat on my heart. Jackson and I always flirted around the idea of being together, but we kept friendship as our priority. I sent an LOL back and readied myself for my big road trip.
The next day, not only did Jackson welcome me to the city of our dreams with open arms, but he came all the way to Jersey City where I’d found an apartment I could barely afford and helped me move in. When we first saw each other face to face, it was strange because we’d only had a relationship over the phone and through the Internet.
Jackson looked like every photo and video he ever sent me through the last five years and instantly, I wondered if he felt the same way about me. When I stepped out of the U-haul, Jackson wrapped his arms around me faster than I could even say his name. And as if he was reading my mind, Jackson said, “You’re even more beautiful than I imagined!”
I nervously giggled. Jackson and I moved all of my things into the apartment and he slept over that night. At first, we laid there completely innocent and chatting how we normally would. “It’s cool to be able to do this in person,” Jackson grabbed my pinky finger. I felt flush. Jackson dropped my finger.
A moment passed and then he said, “Dani, did you feel that?”
“OMG, I thought I was tripping!” It was so crazy that I felt the heat between us when Jackson did something as simple as touch my pinky. It was even crazier that he felt it too. “What was th…”
Before I could finish my question, Jackson laid a kiss on me that was the perfect mix of intense and soft. I melted beneath the weight of his lips. When we finally pulled apart, he said, “I just needed to know that you felt it too.”
“I feel it,” I said with my eyes closed, still on high.
Jackson kissed me again. “Danielle, I love you.” This wasn’t the first time Jackson said that to me. As close friends, we told each other those three little words often, but this was the first time those words carried weight.
I felt light-headed, “I love you Jackson,” I breathed back at him.
That night was one of the most beautiful nights of confirmation and consummation that I’d ever had. Jackson and I made it official and every moment was better than the last, always. Before we knew it, it had been three years and Jackson and I were an old married couple–we moved in together, we were having Sunday night dinners parties with our friends and we even talked about getting a dog.
But somewhere down the line of those years and those commitments, Jackson and I lost the spark that made our love so special. Our relationship became monotonous and predictable. Both of us were ready for a shake up. And because of the bond we shared, we talked about our relationship and the shift in the energy of it.
“I know I don’t want to break up,” Jackson said.
I honestly thought it was the only option we had to preserve our friendship. But Jackson had something else in mind.
“Well, what are we going to do?” I asked Jackson during our millionth heart to heart.
We’d gone on trips, visited sex museums and even braved a BDSM event. We realized sex wasn’t the issue. Maybe our relationship had just run its course? We’d been burning so hot and so passionately for over 8 years as friends and then lovers.
“Let’s try an open relationship.” Jackson said in response to me asking what we’re supposed to do.
My face wrinkled up. “That just seems like a silly step before a breakup. It’s like we’re welcoming other people into our problems and then making them a part of it. And we live together babe. How is that going to work?” I was considering it, but honestly it felt like it would just end up being more trouble than it would be worth.
“It will work if we want it to work. Most open relationships bring couples closer together,” Jackson said.
“And where did you get that information? Cosmo? I don’t know Jackson. It just seems like a free pass to cheat on me and just come back to me.”
“There doesn’t have to be sex baby. We can keep it innocent,” Jackson said.
“Innocent? You know you can get emotionally connected to these open women too, right?” I rolled my eyes at Jackson. “I’ve always thought that open relationships were just a way to cheat without the guilt.”
“I think we need to challenge the boundaries of our relationship and f*ck what society says,” Jackson paused. “I mean, it hurts that we’re going through this. And call me selfish, but I still want you. I just want…”
Jackson hesitated realizing that whatever he said would sound insensitive and set me off.
“Something else?” I said finishing his sentence.
I didn’t make a decision on Jackson’s request that night and I told him we’d pick up the conversation again when I was ready. The idea of opening the relationship up scared me, but it was also something I’d never tried before, so how could I actually say it wouldn’t work? If there was any boyfriend to try this with, it was definitely Jackson.
A couple of days later, Jackson and I chatted over dinner and I said, “Ok, I’m in. Let’s open this thing up and see what happens.”
“Wait,” Jackson said, shocked that I agreed. “You serious?”
“Yup, now what?” I asked.