Alternative Relationships 101

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Open relationships: one guy comes to terms with what the world thinks of his lifestyle.

But despite all the rules, the fact of the matter is that neither Carrie nor I have been doing a very good job at keeping anything discreet lately. We've been groping each other in restaurants in the middle of the day, for instance. Once, we brought along a promiscuous female friend to this very bar, and after a few rounds, the three of us took turns eagerly licking each other's faces and lips. And yes, I understand that drunken displays of sexual affection don't always turn heads in the bars of larger cities. But they most certainly do in ours. And unfortunately for all of us, Carrie's boyfriend has recently been getting reports about our public behavior from his friend and co-workers, and he is not happy. "Yo!" His friends have been saying. "Who's that dude I keep seeing all over town wit' yo girl? They was all over each other, cuz! Right in the middle of the bar!"

And that, right there, is the reason alternative relationships can so often be so difficult to maintain. It's the same reason gay men and women sometimes stay in the closet their entire lives: Other people don't understand. Or maybe other people don't approve, or maybe other people feel torn up inside when they see someone who has come to terms with their own uniqueness, especially if that uniqueness isn't necessarily pretty.

I'm well aware that humans are curious and knowledge-seeking by nature. It's understandable for almost anyone to become curious after learning of a couple who are non-monogamous. But as citizens of an educated society and a well developed culture, we also know damn well that those intimate details are none of our business. We know that prying is a decision only a child would make—or an adult with the mind of a child. Unfortunately, America seems to be increasingly proficient in producing just that sort of adult.

And what of those people who tattled on Carrie? Those supposed friends who in one fell swoop managed not only to humiliate her boyfriend, but also to stifle the healthy relationship that Carrie and I were trying our best to explore? Did they decide to snitch because they were truly looking out for the welfare of Carrie's boyfriend? Or were they maybe envious—maybe even a little furious—to have seen an attractive woman so freely flaunting her sexuality without any apology or any excuse?

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that there were details about our arrangement that none of them knew. For one thing, Carrie's boyfriend was well aware of my presence in her life. After all, I spent the night at his house at least once or twice a week. During the first few months of our courtship, he mentioned that Carrie often seemed happier after spending the day with me. He joked that I was something of an antidote to the depression she'd been suffering from for years. And because he truly loved and cared for her, and was interested in protecting something other than his own ego, he actually encouraged us to continue spending time together. What do you figure those so-called friends would think if they knew any of that?

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