One of the (many) reasons I’ve chosen open relationships as my path right now is that I believe it’s a fast track to self-discovery. I think the lessons I’ve learned in the past 2 years of being in an open relationship could have been learned in other ways but not as profoundly or as efficiently. This may not be everyone’s idea of a good time but I’m a sucker for profundity so it works for me.
Recently, I fell “in love” with another person in addition to my partner. This was the first time that this happened and it was really interesting. I’m grateful that I’ve done a lot of work on observing my reactions and my urges otherwise I might have done something stupid like a lot of people do when they’re in the throes of NRE (New Relationship Energy).
At first, I knew it was lust or limerence -“an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated” so I knew I couldn’t trust my emotions as objective truth. I knew it was a natural stage of getting to know someone whom I’m sexual with but also greatly respect and admire. But then it grew into something bigger and even became unpleasant. It was when I started to compare him to my primary partner and fantasize of leaving my partner and being monogamous with this new person that I knew I needed to do a lot more introspection.
So true to my form, I made a list of all the qualities I loved about him as well as the “red flags”. I did the same for my partner. I meticulously compared the two options and the pros and cons of each decision. I put my partner through a series of tests, some of which were rigged for failure. I got advice from friends. I got space from my “object of limerence” and I watched what insights came up.
Then it hit me, I didn’t even really know him. How could I have possibly seen past the glaring fantasy of him enough to know his essence? I just wanted to own him. I wanted to take him off the market because he’s such a great catch. I wanted him to want me to validate that I’m lovable and a worthy person. I wanted him to drop his dreams and ambitions and take the risk of “loving” me because then maybe I’d feel I’m someone worth fighting for. I wanted him to suffer and prove himself to me.
Fortunately, hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I can clearly see how that was NOT love. At least not the kind of love I know I’m capable of and want in my life. Once I called it for what it was (possessive love) I could just notice it and set the intention to let it transform into true or unconditional love. I challenged myself to learn how to do this because I know it’s who I want to be. It’s good for ME to learn to do this and notice when I’m not doing it. Not to be the perfect partner or to make the conditions so good that he’ll fall in love with me.
The results of this intention and conscious attempt to love this particular person unconditionally are yet to be seen. I can say that it’s changed how I love my primary partner in the meantime. And it feels better inside of myself too. It feels good to truly want the other person to be happy without attachment to how that affects me or what that looks like. It feels like a relief to just meet another person where they are at without grasping at the untouchable aspect of them for my own selfish reasons.
It feels good not to be attached to an outcome.
I feel so free and open and loving.
I can’t wait until I can love myself this way too.