dating ATW #4: non-monogamy
When I started using Tinder Plus back in January, I inadvertently avoided dating American guys. Once I left the U.S., I didn't expect or really want to meet any American guys. But who do I end up meeting my second week? An American guy from NYC (eye-roll.)
This guy started talking to me in my hostel, asking me about what the free breakfast was like as I sat eating an unexciting bowl of muesli. We started talking about New York specific things - the different neighborhoods, people, and places we've been to, how long we were traveling, etc.
It was the first full day in Galway for both of us, so we decided to walk around the city and explore a bit. It kind of felt like a weird version of Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset where we just wandered and talked about deep and shallow things. I asked him about his dating experiences in New York and interestingly enough, he told me he also opts for open relationships (just like my friend in Dublin). When I asked if he was polyamorous, he claimed that "it means different things to different people," and wouldn't label himself as such. To me, it seemed to be a cop-out. But, hey!
Friends and Lovers
"Do you like more than one friend at once?" he asked. I told him, yeah, of course. He asked why that was any different than having feelings for more than one person at the same time, to which I said, having feelings for a friend versus someone you're sleeping with is entirely different - you don't feel romantic love for more than one friend, but maybe you could?
Since this is now the second person I've talked to on my trip about non-monogamy/open relationships/polyamory, I can't help but wonder if this is the way relationships of the future will be. I am unsure of how to feel about the idea of open relationships and having multiple partners simultaneously. I think it's an interesting concept and in some ways makes sense, but it's pretty foreign to me in terms of the monogamous relationships I've been exposed to.
My parents, for example, are still married and making it work. All I've known firsthand is the success of their relationship. Sure, it isn't perfect - no relationship (romantic or otherwise) can be. It makes me wonder if those in non-monogamous relationships are constantly searching for something that doesn't exist.
The NYC guy argued that marriage is a made up institution, a social construct, something we learn about under a veil of Disney romances starting from a young age. "It sets unrealistic expectations of what relationships are," he said, and I agreed with that.
If you think about it, no one person can be everything to you. Not even your best friend or your parents. That's why we surround ourselves with different people. But even when those relationships aren't perfect by any means, you work through the issues. Relationships of all kinds are challenging. But if you aren't willing to work at a relationship and together with a person, then are you just running away from dealing with core issues?
Perhaps it depends on the person. If I compare these two guys - my friend in Dublin and the NYC guy - I would say their mindsets are very different in terms of this type of relationship. My Dublin friend, like I said, has been in an open relationship set up for a few years now, and seems to be deeply committed to his girlfriend, even though they still see other people. From what I perceived, hooking up with others is an option that both of them are comfortable with.
In contrast with the NYC guy, that setup seemed to be the beginning of the end of one of his most meaningful relationships he's had so far. It seemed that his ex couldn't seem to get over that open setup, and he constantly felt like he had to reassure her that she was the one he liked the most. I felt in a way that he blamed her and said her jealousy of other women was just a testament of her insecurity. Maybe she felt disrespected or not good enough. Maybe there were other problems that I didn't know of. I can only go by what I was told.
A few days after NYC guy left Galway, he sent me this article from the New York Times. It's an interesting read about open marriages and relationships. Thoughts?