My boyfriend and I have been together for approximately three years. Since we started sleeping with one another, a large part of our fantasy life has included the idea of sleeping with other people, infidelity, swinging, and dissolving the rules of monogamy. A few weeks ago, we began toying with the idea of opening up our relationship more seriously, beginning with me asking him to sleep with someone else while he was on a business trip.
I’d never done anything like this before, and I don’t think it would’ve been possible without the absolute gut-level assurance that my boyfriend loves me more than I ever dreamed possible. Having that trust between us, I felt free enough to be excited by the idea of him sleeping with someone else, not just emotionally, but sexually. I was excited to stir up some feelings of jealousy, to make our relationship dangerous again, and to feel like we were both experiencing something new.
Being that we were both brand new to the idea of opening up our relationship, we sort of went into the whole thing holding hands. He chose someone on Tinder and sent me screenshots of her profile for approval. I made sure to set some very clearly defined sexual boundaries, most importantly that our “third party candidate” knew about me and the agreement that my boyfriend and I had. The night of, he texted me before he left to meet her, when he arrived at the destination, and when the deed was done.
I was asleep when the whole thing went down, but the next day I awoke more excited to talk to him than I had been in months. I obviously knew how unconventional this sort of thing was and I was thrilled with how freaky I felt. From the moment I brought up the idea, the chemistry between us had intensified and the morning after the whole event felt as though it was reaching boiling point. The text messages we were sending read like the sexually charged texts we’d sent in the beginning of our relationship: “I’m laying in bed and I can’t stop thinking about you,” etc.
This may seem antithetical to what we’ve been taught to feel about relationships, but I found myself capable of deriving real joy and an even greater amount of sexual pleasure from my boyfriends’ experience with the third party. I’ve since read that this feeling is called “compersion.” Compersion is defined by the Urban Dictionary as the “feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.” It’s not a new concept, but interestingly enough, neither the regular dictionary nor spellcheck recognizes it as a word.
I experienced this feeling of compersion at its height when my boyfriend came home from his trip a day later. I felt like I was looking at someone I’d never slept with before. Our sex life since then has been unstoppable. Girlfriends have asked me, “Don’t you feel jealous?” and the answer is yes, but I’m not afraid to feel jealousy, and the enthusiasm I have for what he experienced is somewhat of an antidote to it. I feel everything and when I speak up about what I’m feeling those less-pleasant feelings have sparked a conversation that has deepened our connection, which improves our sex life, which improves our communication, and so it goes. It’s a fantastic cycle.
I can’t say that I’ve officially entered into an open relationship or that I am willing to commit myself to a polyamorous lifestyle, but I can’t say that I’m completely closed off to the idea either. I’m not interested in restricting my relationship by labeling it, but if I was forced to do so, I would call what my boyfriend and I have “Open Monogamy,” meaning that every day we wake up and choose one another, and if either of us feel like choosing something or someone else, we open ourselves up to the possibility. It becomes part of the dynamic and evolving conversation that is our relationship.
I’m not interested in getting into a debate about whether or not monogamy is right or wrong, natural or unnatural. What works for one couple may not work for another. However, I think that our understanding of right and wrong is rapidly becoming less dualistic as a society and it’s important to ask questions about the expectations we place on ourselves in the context of relationships and/or marriage.
For instance: Why do we enter relationships with built-in restrictions, i.e., “I will only sleep with you even if I someday don’t want that?” Why do we allow these restrictions to be set up for us by a society so slow to catch up to the members of its populace? What room does this arrangement leave for us to grow as individuals? Finally, if the purpose of a relationship is to be a catalyst for personal growth wouldn’t it make sense that couples remain flexible about what works for them? I think so.
Much like the relationship we have with ourselves, I believe that the relationship we have with our significant others can be an every day exploration into what will bring us the greatest joy. If we learn to openly communicate our desires, our relationships can begin to feel less like arrangements we have made, and more like true connections.
Original by Rosebud Baker