One of the very first times I got up enough nerve to talk about my open relationship with a stranger, I was in Turkey, of all places, on a business trip.
I was doing research for a travel guide in the relatively modern town of Antalya, and I'd met a very kind local couple who had asked me out to dinner. They were both my age: late twenties, early thirties. The guy—I don't remember his name, so let's call him Nazim—was Turkish. But his wife was an American from Los Angeles. She had creamy brown skin and dark hair, so the locals, she told me, always assumed she was Turkish. Someone on the street would ask her a question, for instance, but their words were indecipherable. She could only smile awkwardly, and shrug her shoulders. She had lived in Antalya for a year or two, but wasn't the least bit embarrassed about the fact that she couldn't even string together a sentence in the local language. She had an incredibly attractive sense of innocence about her, especially for an expat who was making her home in such an obscure and unknown corner of the Muslim world.
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During dinner, our conversation naturally turned to sex. Which was perfectly fine with me: Just a few months earlier, I'd begun dating a girl who was involved in an open relationship. And so by default, I suppose, our relationship became open as well. This was still very much a novelty to me, and I had lately been catching myself inventing excuses in order to brag about it.
But here, in Turkey, it was different. Nazim, after all, was Muslim—not exactly a group known for its liberal sexual beliefs. In fact, I can still remember what I was thinking in the moments before I blurted out that my new girlfriend was perfectly content in the knowledge that on occasion, I slept with other women. I was thinking: "This is not a good idea. Do not do this."
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