Being ok with falling the f*ck apart.
"We need to look into this thing” he said, looking up from his ipad as we lay in bed.
Did I hear right?
As English was his first language, I was curious how he could mispronounce such a common word which was actually at the root of our very relationship.
He quickly explained he was referring to a concept made popular by author, podcaster and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage which refers to being “mostly monogamous” but with very occasional and consciously-lead "deviations".
My jaw dropped as I began to realize this was about to become my first encounter with the concept of open relationships.
I suppose after having been an openly gay man for almost 17 years, this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.
Yet, my reaction was surprisingly strong.
I wouldn’t have it.
In fact, despite the fact this form of open relationship is probably the most mild of all… I FLIPPED OUT.
I don’t remember exactly what was said but I do remember my arms flailing in the air in some kind of choreography of upper-body ninja movements and lots of no, no, no,no... NO emerging from my throat.
Whilst the relationship broke up only a few months later, this moment actually triggered of a life-changing realisation which emerged months afterwards, whilst meditating at Uxmal, one of the sacred temple sites of the Yucatán in Mexico.
Whilst I had been claiming that my advocacy for monogamy was based on a yearning for deep connection and physical security from potential infections, I realised that was actually complete bullshit. There was something else.
I was jealous. Very jealous.
So jealous in fact that the very idea of my partner being aroused by someone else threatened my sense of self so strongly that it made my knees collapse, my stomach turn, and made me yearn to lock myself into a padded cell whilst blaring Rihanna’s “Only girl in the world” on loop on the sonos.
Over almost two decades as a gay man, I had known many people who had been in open relationships and to be completely honest, I judged them.
I found solace in considering them greedy, perverted, and unable to resolve deeply rooted intimacy issues they probably preferred to ignore.
Mainly, I judged them as being unable to truly love.
Looking bad on my past relationships, I can now see there have been a series of strong sensorial reactions related to jealousy which should have led me to the conclusion that I would benefit from looking into all this a bit further.
When it all came crashing down at the site of Uxmal, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
It was no surprise it had happened this way considering that our Maya ancestors had spent thousands of years flocking to sites like these looking for wisdom and clarity on their path in order to access higher wisdom for a better life.
I began to realize that behind this issue lurked a deeply-rooted lack of self-worth which resulted in me looking for a partner who would only have eyes for me and no one else, providing me the validation I thought I needed to “heal” the wounds of years and years of rejection.
I realized in that moment that whether or not I truly wanted monogamy was not the real issue.
It was clear that I definitely didn’t want it as a mask, or as an escape/numbing mechanism.
One of the fundamental principles of my work is to look at our day-to-day triggers us as windows into the underworld of our unresolved shadow.
A space that if we dive in and shine the light of awareness and consciousness, we can release what is still lurking and step into an expanded, evolved and joyful version of ourselves.
So I began to explore open relationships more closely, reading books like the cult classic “The ethical slut” and conversing with my polyamorous friends at the radical faeries about their experiences. I realized that I did so, not necessarily because I wanted one myself, but rather because exploring this theme felt like a fantastic and necessary journey towards of unlearning jealousy, facing my darkest demons and learning to be ok with falling the fuck apart.