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Please stop breaking up with my girlfriend

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

I was the one who wanted an open relationship. So why was I so upset when she and my roommate became involved?

Salon

by NICK ROWAN BASSMAN

Looking up from my drink and across the room, I watched my girlfriend and my roommate kiss for the first time.

 

It was her 21st birthday, five days into the spring of our junior year. Heads swiveled toward Elizabeth and Jamie as their kiss deepened. Quiet rippled out through the din of the party. In the background, Beyoncé continued to serenade us with “Drunk in Love.”

 

 

 

Jealousy welled up in me: I was the one who wanted an open relationship, not Elizabeth.

 

Crushes have always sprouted in me, independent of my will, like I live in an endless springtime. One blossoms for someone who feels right in my arms at a blues dance, another bursts for a classmate who writes achingly beautiful poetry — all the time, people pop up and make me dizzy.

 

But every time a crush budded, I felt like I’d betrayed Elizabeth. When I snipped it before it could fully bloom, I felt like I’d betrayed myself. I didn’t want to leave her, but I craved freedom to explore.

 

Several months before, I’d confessed this desire to her. “I want to give that to you,” she whispered — but the idea made her seethe with anxiety. Our time together was already a constant negotiation. She had to micromanage her schedule to balance a Mathematics major with ADHD, while my distaste for clocks and Google Calendar verged on phobia. We lived in glimpses and embraces between class; love slipped into the little spaces we had left over. She feared we’d have no time left at all if we were entangled with other people.

 

So as her mouth moved against Jamie’s in one of the loveliest kisses I’d ever seen, I felt a lot of things. Jealousy, yes, at the bitter irony that she had what I wanted. Confusion: Had she changed her mind, or was this just a drunken birthday kiss? Happiness, too — what some polyamorous people call “compersion” — that two people I loved were sharing this intimacy. And also a little private hope: that Elizabeth would understand me better now. Under my breath, I whispered, “Finally.”

 

As the night progressed, time warped around Jamie and Elizabeth’s kiss. It never stopped. I got drunker than I’d ever been. For the first time, I spent my night retching into a toilet. Elizabeth, after holding my hair, spent her first night in Jamie’s bed.

 

There was no privacy in our room; closeness was the way of our student-housing cooperative. The stairwells resounded with mandolin music. The walls of the gender-neutral shower room were sheened with orange grime. Nobody locked their doors, ever.

 

The third time I walked in on Jamie and Elizabeth kissing, we decided it was time to talk about it.

 

 

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We spoke for hours. Softly, carefully. Elizabeth held my gaze. Jamie averted it. “We need each other,” Elizabeth confessed.

 

“Okay,” I said.

 

They glanced at each other. “Okay? Really?”

 

“I never want to keep you from what you need,” I said. “Need is sacred.”

 

“Thank you,” Jamie told me, over and over. And, “I don’t deserve this.”

 

Maybe they didn’t. Jamie hadn’t yet told Sophie, their long-distance high school sweetheart and maybe-someday-fiancée, about kissing Elizabeth. “She’ll definitely be okay with it,” Jamie assured us.

 

I had my doubts that Sophie — who rarely used gender-neutral pronouns for Jamie and wanted them to be her husband, not her androgynous partner — would be a fan of polyamory.

 

But Elizabeth was beaming at me, moon-eyed. “I feel a hundred times lighter right now,” she said, “than I can remember having felt in I-don’t-know-how-many-months.”

 

We weren’t sure how we’d make it work, but we knew we’d figure it out. We had to. At dusk we walked to a campus café through swirling snow, arm-in-arm and arm-in-arm, giddy with laughter, embarking on this strange journey together.

 

The walk sticks out in my memory, because I think it was the last time all three of us were happy at once.

 

Later that night, Jamie called Sophie. Sure enough, they returned to the room and murmured, almost inaudibly, “This can’t happen anymore.”

 

But it kept happening.

 

Maybe I should’ve told Jamie and Elizabeth to stop. But watching them fall in love felt like falling in love myself. I liked when Jamie, half-asleep, would murmur, “I’m crazy about her,” and I would reply, “Right?!” I liked how Elizabeth told me little secrets and snippets of dialogue — and I liked the mystery of what she’d keep to herself. I liked waking up curled against her some mornings, and on others watching her stretch from Jamie’s bed, and waving to her.

 

But I hated how, wracked with guilt after Skyping with Sophie, Jamie would wrench themself away from Elizabeth.

 

It was a vicious cycle. Jamie couldn’t kiss Elizabeth without confessing the infidelity to Sophie, who insisted that this couldn’t continue. Jamie couldn’t help but agree and tell Elizabeth they had to break it off. Which left me stroking Elizabeth’s hair through the night as she wept and pined for all of the things they couldn’t do. Next week, they would find themselves alone together, and the cycle would begin again. ...

Comments (1)

  • Domina Elle

    09 August 2017 at 21:51 |
    When I was 16 years old I had a boyfriend. He was my first 'real' boyfriend. I was experiencing many things for the first time. Including jealousy and insecurity. I love and desire fiercely, so when I imagined him breaking up with me or being interested in another girl I felt so intensely fearful. I analyzed my feelings very closely and realized I didn't want feelings of fear of being hurt, fear of losing him, possessiveness, insecurity etc to run away with me- I was concerned these emotions would dominate me. I was concerned I would be hurt. So what do I do? I decided I wanted to face my fears head on. I decided I wanted to watch him with another girl. So I asked him and our mutual friend a girl- if they'd have a threesome. They agreed. Since we were so inexperienced and young when we met at his house to 'do it' we didn't know what to do. So I told them (yes much like the Dominatrix I am today) that they should fuck each other while I watched. They agreed. They fucked and I fell asleep listening to them having sex right next to me. The next day I thought- what's the big deal? Of course I think it worked out as well as it did because these two people were good people. Under different circumstances with different people of different energy and character it could've been very different I'm sure. This emotional experiment opened up a whole new world to me. As I developed and grew older I began to crave watching my partner with other people. I realized I really enjoyed it. I have always brought women home to have sex with my partner. I encourage my partner to explore and experiment. My terms: consent, SAFETY and total raw HONESTY. I don't get upset if my partner wants to have sex with others. But oh my would I be upset if I were lied to because there's just no reason I can think of for them to lie. Would I care if he or she has sex with someone without talking to me first? No. In fact I would be pleased to hear it happened (a few photos would be fun LOL) but hide and lie? That could upset me. I know I can experience and love different human beings. I know I'm wired the way I'm wired. I believe it is reasonable to want to experience different people. It's not for everyone, people are wired differently. I believe fear, jealousy and insecurity gets in the way of some amazingly beautiful and sexy experiences which could be evolutionary for people otherwise. Honesty is a huge piece.

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