Only love

Please note: While my books were translated by professionals, this blog post got a little help from AI, meaning it may not be a perfect translation.

I was always a little afraid in my current relationship. Not afraid of Riemer, no, certainly not. More afraid of losing him. And not because I thought he would cheat or anything, but because I was afraid that I would cheat. That I would fall in love with someone else. Something like that.

When I met Riemer, I was in a state of disarray. I was not at all ready for a new relationship; I still had to process the previous one. I didn’t really feel in love, nor did I allow myself to feel that way. Still, I knew that I liked being with Riemer and wanted to keep him around.

But would that mean that I could never feel madly in love again? That wonderful feeling when you just met someone, the feeling that I skipped in this relationship, so to speak? It scared me. What if I met someone with whom I could feel that again? What would I do then? The idea haunted me more and more, and every time I met someone new I thought, I hope he/she is not too nice.

And then suddenly there was someone around me who turned all of my standards upside down. This person (I am keeping it deliberately vague for privacy reasons) has two relationships. No, this person is not cheating, this is a situation that came about by mutual agreement. Although initially I was quite judgmental, after some self-reflection it turned out that this was mainly the result of a kind of jealousy: “You can do this? I want this too!”

Of course, I’m not completely foreign to this. People who know me well know of a period when I had a thing with an individual who was in an open relationship. (Sorry for the vagueness again.) Although the ending hurt me, the situation in itself was very pleasant. I still look back on it with a good feeling, and sometimes I just miss it.

What followed was a time of many conversations. With the people mentioned above, with Riemer, with very nice people who would suddenly say something about “kissing your ex” as if it were about a cup of coffee. I watched TV shows, read articles… And more and more the realization grew in me: Relationships are not so black and white.

Yet most people do think this way. As soon as a celebrity mentions having an open relationship, the tabloid press turns it into: “‘Husband of X is allowed to fuck others!” As if that’s what it’s all about. When we dropped the term “open relationship” during our contraceptive talk at the doctor’s office, a slightly shocked doc started talking about safe sex as if we could be found at the glory holes of a swingers’ club every week. To each their own, of course, but no, that’s not what we do.

In fact, we are doing absolutely nothing (yet) with our open relationship. “Is it even an open relationship then?”, you ask. Yes, I would say, because it feels different.

Whereas before I was afraid to meet new people, because oh-oh, they could be cute, now I’m a lot less afraid. If I meet someone who seems interesting to me, I can just talk about it at home. It’s also striking that that interest, that sparkle, usually quickly fades away. I always thought that that wasn’t possible, that people who fell in love with someone else in their relationship always had to fight that. But maybe it’s easier if it’s allowed.

Everyone thinks it’s normal to have three best friends, but God forbid you kiss someone. As if somewhere at some arbitrary place a high fence with barbed wire has been erected, with a sign saying: “You’re now entering the Relationship Zone!” I see love (because that’s what it’s ultimately about, no matter how much everyone always wants to talk about sex) as something broader. I love all my friends, but with some people I would also like to snuggle. With another I might want to kiss. With yet another I have deep conversations until 5:00 in the morning.

Anything is possible, as long as you talk to each other about it. So I did, with Riemer, hours and hours. I recently read a very pessimistic article about “friends with benefits,” and why that usually doesn’t work. It’s because they DON’T talk to each other, because everything has to stay “fun”. But talking is key, because I don’t want to hurt anyone.

Since talking to Riemer, I feel a lot happier. I feel like a true hippie, with a heart overflowing with love. Like Oprah Winfrey handing out presents: “And yóu get some love, and you, and you…!” No fear. Only love.