Open relationships and LAT relationships
I am currently in a LAT (living alone/apart together) relationship, and I often get the question: “Is a LAT relationship the same as an ‘open relationship’ ?” No, they are not. An “open relationship” is a non-monogamous relationship, it usually consists of a “primary couple” who share sexual intimacy with partners outside the relationship. In my LAT relationship, we are a fully monogamous and committed couple who have chosen to live in different homes.
Situations where I could see an open relationship
Having been in a few relationships by now, I could see where this would fit in…
A “whatever” relationship
Unfortunately, it happens oh-so many times. A relationship starts off with a bang! A jolt of inspiration! Fireworks left and right, you blink…and you suddenly find yourself in a shallow but tolerable, insipid but edible, cold but not yet frozen relationship that just hangs there…and hangs there…it gives nothing, but it also asks nothing… I could see customers for an “open relationship” under those circumstances.
A loveless relationship
Just off the top of your head right now, how many relationships do you know of that have continued long after the love was gone? Surely you can come up with a dozen examples after a minute or two. Sometimes the inertia of a relationship is enough to carry it through the years. Each is busy with their own career, projects, interests, etc. Often one develops a different personality, one that is not as compatible as the one that initiated the relationship. Love dilutes into affection, affection into friendly cohabitants. You stay together but you are not together. These would be conditions where I could also see an open relationship being discussed.
Elevated thinkers and Emotional acrobats
To this segment of the population, “emotional exploration” is their calling. Not prone to jealousy, envy, or insecurities of any kind, these stoic storm troopers will venture into the sharing of themselves and their partners for the purpose of knowledge, discovering new emotions, and establishing new borders. I must say though, this is the group where I have seen it gone wrong most often. I can see mind over matter, but mind over heart is not the same thing…in the long term, my money is on heart.
I tried an open relationship (once)
I tried it once. It lasted approximately 48 hours. I was 19, my boyfriend proposed it to me, and I said “yes”. I didn’t say yes because I wanted to, I did because I didn’t want to look weak. That same night we both went our separate ways, I went out with my girlfriends, and he with his friends. It was such a horrible night, I was sick to my stomach. I actually didn’t realize the domino effect of saying yes to something like an open relationship….and especially when you didn’t want one in the first place! So now we’re both going out, and since this whole thing was about not looking weak, I felt this enormous pressure to somehow find a guy that night!!….is this making any sense!?
One thing is to “organically” meet someone, and then, you have what I was doing…let’s just leave it at non-organic… As I was being obnoxiously obvious desperately seeking attention a parallel version of me was looking at myself and barfing in shame. I was so disgusted with myself…how easily I went from being in a good place, to become the person I always hated seeing in a bar… So when finally Felipe popped up, I stared at him…(for an unusually long time)… Felipe was trying to figure out if that meant that he should make a move. What I was actually doing was trying to tattoo the image of that night somewhere inside a dark and obscure flab of my brain. I then said, “Felipe, I would like you to meet my friend Jessica.” I pointed to the girl next to me, got up, and went home.
Would I consider an open relationship now?
I know this was in college. I know you are supposed to do stupid things in college. And I did. But what you are not supposed to do in college, is to hurt yourself. This was not fun, wild, or enlightening. It felt like the lowest version of myself, I felt like a liar, and backstabber. It had nothing to do with my boyfriend, it had to do with a promise I had made to myself….that I didn’t know I had….until I broke it. And that was to never lie when it comes to matters of the heart. What I should have said to my boyfriend back then was, “One of two things will happen now. One, you are going to spend the rest of your existence convincing me that your open relationship comment was a joke. Two, you don’t do that, and we are done right this instant.” I didn’t have a lot of things I considered sacred at the time, but this was the one. I hated myself for blemishing this.
As college romances go, this one didn’t go any different and we broke up the following semester.
Even though it would be years before I would meet someone with whom I could find true love with, I knew what I wanted and who I wanted to be with that person when I met him. What a relationship is, will be different for everyone, but for me, it will always be the most important thing in my life. I wouldn’t have a relationship if it wouldn’t be the most important thing in my life, because for me, a relationship is my life. I am not looking for a “more or less” partner, a “good enough” partner, I am looking for a soul mate, one to become one with.
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