(Note: This is the second installment in my non-monogamy series. Read the first.)
I came home with a stupid smile on my face, a bag of groceries hanging from one shoulder. Jonathan greeted me with beaming eyes.
“Well?” he said in anticipation.
“I did it!” I exclaimed. “I asked her out!”
He gave me a high five, then a strong, congratulatory hug.
“I’m so proud of you, honey,” he said lovingly into my hair. “So what happens next?”
“I guess we’re going out on a date. . .”
To speak this truth aloud conjured up a bit of queasiness again. I started to become doubtful.
But he calmed me down & told me everything was going to be alright. Then, he gave me dating advice.
Yes, my husband was giving me, his wife, advice for the date I was having with another woman the next day.
I remember sitting amazed as I listened to his words of encouragement, his unconditional love filling our living room. It was in this moment that I realized the utter depths of his faith in our relationship. That he could stand so strongly in the reality of what was taking place — that his wife was about to romantically pursue someone else — was incredible. I practically stood in awe of it.
I began to relax.
And then I got a text message. It was from her.
“What does is say?” he asked eagerly.
I handed him my phone & he read the message carefully, thoughtfully.
“Tell her that you can’t wait to get to know her better,” he said calmly, handing me my phone. “And tell her that you’ve wanting to ask her out for a while. Flirt with her.”
I did — well, I tried, at least — & as I did my heart swelled to about ten times its size with heartfelt gratitude for his support.
This entire endeavor rested on the shoulders of my partner. Yes, it was my desire to actualize my curiosities, but without his full & sincere blessing, none of this would’ve been possible. How could it? We would have been unevenly yoked.
When the day of the date finally arrived, he was as nonchalant as he was reassuring. He didn’t make a big deal about my going out, nor did he falter on giving me the encouragement I needed. It was the perfect balance of support & ease.
He picked out the scent I dabbed lightly behind my ears. He helped me choose an outfit to wear; something comfortable but not too loose-fitting. He told me I looked nice with a twinkle in his eye that I hadn’t seen since we first started dating.
Before I left, he gave me a long, passionate kiss & sent me on my way. I was surprisingly calm & centered. I owed that to him.
We met at a coffeeshop. I arrived twenty minutes early, enough time to grab a bagel & a cup of tea (chamomile to calm my nerves). I picked a table outside in front of the coffeeshop where I could see her walk up. It was a gorgeous day.
Mission #2: Go on a date with someone.
When she arrived & got settled, I was faced with a quandary I didn’t anticipate: incompatibility. And not just within small things like music tastes & height differences — though both were factors — but in the complexity of the situation. Namely, my being married.
It seems that not very many people (let alone gorgeous 20-somethings) want to partake in a romantic relationship with someone who’s married. They’re wary, cautious, waiting for you to drop this bomb that you’re unhappily married & your bastard of a husband has no idea you’re out of the house, let alone on a date.
Needless to say, I had a lot of convincing to do. I had to tell my entire story (with a forward from my partner), & in the process I had to make sure that certain things within that story were underlined & italicized, so as to paint the perfect picture of myself & my intentions.
I wasn’t prepared for that.
I realized that what I had perceived as obvious — my status being Married, But Available — was a bit more complicated. To her, it was this:
She is in a committed relationship where vows were exchanged & fidelity is in order. . . all except in the realm of the most complicated — & most apt to destroying a relationship — which is sex & monogamy. That just so happens to be A-OK to be tampered with, as agreed upon by both parties.
And really, that’s all there was. There were no underlying meanings or fine print or hidden costs. It was really as simple & uncomplicated as that.
But to her I’m sure it all seemed so unnatural. And cynical, with an element of cataclysmic doom.
And perhaps she thought, Why would any couple decide to do this? One of them has to be mad or disillusioned or phlegmatic.
No matter how charming my smile or how convincing my story, she likely thought this.
It seems almost ridiculous for one to become emotionally involved with someone who has her emotions involved in someone else, & promises to simultaneously manage both people — The Love of Her Life & The Love of the Moment — fairly, attentively, without prejudice.
But there will always be a bit of prejudice so long as I’m married.
When people go in search of romantic relationships — & not the ones which last for only 24 hours after being fueled by booze, hormones, & ulterior motives — they want one that will last, one that will encompass all of their emotions (& the emotions of their lover).
With me, it wasn’t guaranteed. In fairness, it’s never guaranteed in any relationship, monogamous or not. But this was different.
I realized all of that as I walked with this stranger around the city. I realized that she might want something less complicated; that there was a good chance that she wanted that, & that that was okay because if I were in her shoes, I would want the same thing.
I’m telling myself that this is the reason why it didn’t work out between she & I. That, & a few other things.
My head was spinning as I drove home from the date. And when I crept closer to my cozy little dwelling place, the emotions began to percolate.
“Well?” Jonathan asked as I walked in the door.
“It went. . . fine, I guess.” I smiled wanly.
“Well, how was it?!” He was on pins & needles.
I burst into tears.