Candice from Washington State University
Coming from personal experience, open relationships are messy. Fucking messy. Anyone who is entertaining the idea for a new or current-long-standing relationship should think long and hard about the type of person they are and how they handle difficult situations. Open relationships are tricky because everything about it states that you are in a significant relationship with someone else. You develop feelings for this person (if they weren’t already there) because it is exactly like being exclusive, except you get to fuck other people. So if your partner wants to try an open relationship, tell them flat out how you feel. Make a pro and con list and share them with each other. If this relationship has had problems before, then in my opinion, you should run. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Now. Chances are, they want out but don’t want to hurt your feelings or damage the relationship if they find out that they actually are more in love with you than they originally thought. And that is the type of indecisive thinking that is only going to give your more pain than it is worth.
What makes me so pessimistic on relationships and cheating is that after 3 years of being in a committed exclusive relationship, my partner tells me that they want to try an open relationship. I however, did not. I knew what I wanted. I wanted my partner, I didn’t need to go out and explore my other options. That was it for me. I knew there was no one else. But, I let the open relationship happen. We set rules. We would have open communication lines, we would be able to stop the open relationship at any time if we began to be uncomfortable with it. We had rules about the type of sexual involvement that one could have with another person. Most of them were his rules that he was adamant about sticking to. The most important rule was that we remained sober during all encounters and that if either of us broke any of the rules it was over. We would be over. Three good years would be gone. Just like that.
I thought for sure it would be me who broke the rules. I thought the only way I could handle the open relationship would be to be drunk and sloppy and beat my partner to the punch. I was not going to let him be the only one who got action during the new state of our relationship. However, it wasn’t me. Sparing you the boring detail of events: My partner decided to break every single rule we had. He was drunk, they showered together and he didn’t communicate with me (before or after the fact). I found out that he fucked some chick from a friend of mine. The most comical part of it all, was that the chick my partner fucked told a guy from back home about it. This guy happened to be friends with my friend, and it all snowballed from there.
My partner had the gall to tell me the night that he fucked someone that he loved me. And we talked about his night, and the world cup all the while he had broken the rules of our relationship, effectively cheating on me. I felt so stupid. Can someone even cheat on you in an open relationship? That’s when it got messy. What is cheating and not cheating at that point. Once permission is given to engage in sexual acts with someone outside of the two of you, can you even call it cheating?
It has been five months since that night and I still can’t process what happened. I cannot get a handle on the situation. I know that it is time to move on, but since I never broke up with my partner it is hard to move on, and I do not know if I will ever be okay with what happened during the open relationship. I wanted to get even with my partner and try to hurt him as much as he hurt me (smart move right?) and by doing so I dragged a nice guy into the fucked up situation, people were hurt who didn’t deserve it, and there are things that my partner and I cannot take back. I know that I brushed over the details, but it is not just my story and it isn’t right for me to speak for the others.
So if I can part any wisdom on to you, it is this: Don’t fuck with a good thing. Cheating is cheating. When there are rules for a relationship and they are broken, then it is cheating. Don’t let the title of an open relationship fool you. It isn’t armor that you can wear to protect your and your partner from cheating and heartbreak. It can be catalyst for the pain if you let it.