If you’re a bit of a commitment-phobe or don’t want to settle down yet, an open relationship can seem like the perfect solution. It did for me. I met a nice guy who I wanted to see more of but he traveled a lot and we both wanted to keep dating other people. We agreed to an open relationship with a couple of ground rules. It was so easy, and yet I still end up cheating on him.
I actively sought out other people to sleep with. When we agreed to an open relationship, the expectation was that we might both meet other people during our daily lives who we wanted to sleep with. The openness gave us both permission to do that without feeling guilty. However, I went beyond that and started looking for guys online to meet solely for sex. In some way, the open relationship had given me permission to be more promiscuous than I’d ever been before.
I didn’t really think about him when I wasn’t with him. When you’re dating someone, especially if you don’t see them very often, you find yourself daydreaming about them or just wondering what they’re up to. This didn’t happen to me. I would go hours or even whole days and without thinking about him unless he texted or called me.
I didn’t take his feelings into account. Imagine how you would feel hearing that your boyfriend or girlfriend had slept with two or three people last week. Even in an open relationship, that has to be tough to hear. I didn’t think about how the constant updates on my antics would affect him and he didn’t tell me, so I carried on and hardly thought about him at all.
I broke one of our rules more than once. I slept with someone and didn’t tell him on multiple occasions. I would lie to myself and say it was so that he didn’t feel bad, but really it was because I didn’t want to. I wanted those experiences to be private and just for me and telling him took that away. This should have been a red light that the relationship wasn’t working but I didn’t notice.
I expected him to forgive me. When I eventually told him that I had kept some of my activities from him, I expected him to forgive me instantly. Although I knew that I was breaking one of our rules, I didn’t see that I was breaking his trust and didn’t understand that doing so was significant.
I didn’t feel like he was being truthful with me. As far as I know, he only slept with two other people during a period of time in which I managed to sleep with a lot more. I didn’t believe him and it wasn’t just about sex. I constantly had the feeling that he was keeping something from me. He’d be away for weeks at a time with very little explanation and not talk about what he did while he was gone. At first, I didn’t mind or notice but it eventually began to worry me.
I actively started dating someone else. I met a guy and we went on a date. We had sex. So far, so normal. Then we went on another date. And another. Soon we were meeting each other’s friends, calling each other after work, and seeing each other all the time. Dating. I was in an open relationship but I wasn’t allowed to have another boyfriend. Also, they didn’t know about each other.
I should have ended the relationship before I did. I should have ended the relationship with my boyfriend as soon as I knew things were getting serious with the other guy but I didn’t. I wasn’t seeing him very often at all, maybe once a month, and I didn’t see the point. I guess even though for me there was no point, he would have appreciated knowing that my heart was somewhere else.
I underestimated the importance of honesty. Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. It adds closeness, common experiences, and ultimately trust. All relationships, whether open or more traditional, are based on trust. By breaking one of our two rules, I put my boyfriend in a position where he could no longer trust me.
Ultimately, I didn’t want to be in any kind of relationship with him. In hindsight, it seems too obvious. The reason I wasn’t able to stick to our rules was that I didn’t really want to be with him at all. I let the exciting nature of an open relationship cover up the fact that our relationship, the part of it that was just me and him, wasn’t working and never would. The most important thing is to be honest, especially with yourself. Just because someone is offering something new or fun or cool doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you. It took me a long time to realize that.
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