What It's Really Like To Be In An Open, Long-Distance Relationship

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Several years ago, I was in a relationship that helped me grow and change so much as a person. Until then, I didn't realize the possibilities that the world held.

My mate's name was Alfred and he was a beautiful and incredible man. Things were almost perfect between us and for a long time I was happy.

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The only problem our relationship held was the distance. He lived in Hawaii. I hung my hat in Tennessee. We both had our own lives where we resided. He was in college and working toward a degree. I had ailing family members that prevented me from moving. The timing was wrong and we couldn't break the ties that bound us.

Still, we loved each other deeply. We connected and we were convinced that love would find a way.

We constantly talked on the phone, we shared private Internet chats, and we exchanged emails often. Each conversation brought us closer even though we were in a long-distance relationship and were physically far away from each other. We were more than a couple; we were best friends.

After a year and a half of being faithful to each other, we came to see that words weren't always enough. We needed more. There was a physical aspect that we didn't just want‚ we needed it, but were unable to provide it to each other. The long-distance relationship prevented us from fulfilling the sexual desires all humans have.

Because we were so open with each other, it wasn't hard to discuss our yearnings, and decided that being in an open relationship was our best option.

We soon found out that we were both feeling the same way, yet we just couldn't let go of each other. We decided that we would stay together but venture out into the open: we would see other people and explore options but we were still a couple.

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At first, things were awkward, different, and seemed somehow wrong, but, amazingly enough, we were both able to accept it for what it was: a temporary fix. We were free to live out our fantasies together but separately.

We didn't have to worry about rejection in the dating world because we weren't looking for the emotional aspect. Jealousy was never an issue. It was only physical contact. We had love and intimacy with each other.

As the days went by, being open only brought us closer and made our relationship hotter. We discussed details about outside partners and sexual situations and we imagined each other's faces as we talked. It was actually very intriguing and arousing; I doubt I have ever seen an adult film or read a novel that was a bigger turn-on than this was.

We would even offer each other suggestions and try new things then report back about how it went. We maintained control and intimacy in our own little way. I had never felt so desirable and accepted in my whole life.

A year into the open relationship (two and a half years after we started dating), a very unforeseen complication came along. I found out I was pregnant... and it wasn't his. I liked the thought of having a baby but I took it harder than he did. He accepted the situation and when my child was born, he would love it like it was his own.

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After this, I knew he was the perfect man for me. He accepted any and everything that came his way. He would stay with me no matter what. Still, we weren't willing or able to leave each other. Five years later I got pregnant again, and things slowly began to change.

It occurred to us that we should explore options without a long-distance connection. We stopped communicating as often and we began to unfurl. We didn't officially break up but but we both knew it had happened.

He wasn't an easy man to get over. (I doubt I ever will completely get over it.) Nowadays, we are both in different relationships and our feelings have faded but we remain in contact as friends.

I learned so much from him. I feel more confident about who I am and my sexuality. I did something that seemed forbidden but that felt right for me. I felt and did a lot more in those five years than many couples who have been together for fifty years.

Being in an open relationship was an experience I will never forget because it made me more complete.

Open long-distance relationships aren't for everyone, but I think all couples in this situation should explore their options. You might stay together, you might break up, but either way, life will go on and you will have learned a lot along the way.

After my relationship, I look at things in a different light and I am grateful for what happened.

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Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango, but is choosing to remain anonymous.