When over brunch of bacon and eggs and lots and lots of coffee, the guy I’m seeing suggested we had an “open relationship.” I stopped shoveling yolk-soaked toast into my mouth and paused. “I didn’t think… we had an open relationship?” I said slowly. I cautiously reached for my coffee, maintaining eye contact. To me the open relationship label went to slutty, new-age-y college kids who couldn’t make up their minds (which I fit the bill for like, two years ago) and middle-aged married couples who just wanted to screw other people.
Even though we didn’t really talk about it, he and I were both aware that, until recently, we had been going out with other people who we may or may not have been hooking up with. Again, we didn’t divulge these details.
But, um, that’s not an open relationship. That’s DATING.
The few times we talked about it—and you must trust, we’ve had many-a-convo about threesomes, monogamy, and marriage, so we do go there—I was surprised what Brunch Man told me about the other women he’d been out with. “After two dates, they expect me to be their boyfriend,” he says. “And I feel like I’m being interviewed about my career ambitions and how many children I want.” He, apparently, did not dig this.
These conversations made me feel more confident. Not so much about us, but more so about my ability to not lose my shit and practically scream, “WILL YOU BE MY HUSBAND?!” while I’m out with a sexy man I jive with. Of course slight stings of jealousy washed over me when he’d drop names like Kate or Katie or others way too similar to mine. But, eh, I was sure these women weren’t as funny as me. Or had as great of hair. And Brunch Man is hot and rad and writes, surfs, and bikes, and if I were another women with some other variation of my name I would so want to hit that, too.
Plus, I had my own thing going on. As I went on more dates with dudes who showed up drunk (awesome), didn’t know what a colander was (that’s weird, right?), or asked for blowjobs via text message (no-no!), me and Brunch Man got more comfortable with each other and shared more killer experiences. Eventually other people just… faded out of the picture.
The whole “open relationship” thing came up only after I told him how a few nights before I went to one of those after-after-after parties New York is known for and spent the night there. “Listen, I know we have an open relationship,” he said. “But I don’t want to hear about that kind of stuff.” I didn’t think anything of it when I first told him about my insane night/morning—I hadn’t hooked up with anyone. After he said that, though, I knew that might be something a boyfriend might care about (ah!).
He’s described the evolution of our relationship as “natural,” which is another one of those words I’d reserve for entities other than us (this time, it goes to trees and marijuana). I think it’s just been awesome because we never put the pressure of defining what we were. And it worked out fine for us. Since that brunch, we’ve both told each other, “It’s only you,” said those other three words while slightly intoxicated, and watched True Romance and had taco night together. So really, I think we’re just fine.