The thing with boyfriend is, I really do understand why he wants an open relationship. During our first year apart, I asked him for one. My eye wasn't really set on anyone in particular at the time; I just thought it made sense. We're only twenty, and back when I requested the change, we were only eighteen. It's a pretty young age to be committed. It's an age at which it almost doesn't make sense to be committed.
A couple years ago, my mom and I were out at breakfast and she was talking to me about my brother. Mom was upset that he was going to the same college as his girlfriend because she was afraid they might end up together, and she wasn't in support of that. Why not? I asked her. She explained it in an analogy.
"Say you've only eaten cherry pie. You love cherry pie. You decide you only want to have cherry pie, for the rest of your life. But how do you know that you don't want to try the other kinds of pie? How do you know that you won't like apple or peach better?"
Thank you, Mom. I swallowed her bias with some skepticism. Because, what if you stop eating cherry pie to try out apple or peach, but you realize that you liked cherry best? Unlike with actual pies, in the dating universe you can't usually just order up Mark again. "I tried out Scott and David, but I like you best." Furthermore, when do you decide to stop trying pies? You will never run out of different types of pie, so the curiosity about all those pies won't fade simply because you tried them all - you have to pick a "favorite" at some point. And if you love cherry pie and you're completely happy with it, why forfeit it for pies that won't necessarily be better?
Furthermore, my mother is a woman who, well... let's just say she's tried out many pies. And she's been divorced twice, including to my father. So how much can I really trust her wisdom?
But I suppose her speech had gotten to a part of me, because when I asked for an open relationship during my freshman year at college, I was hoping to try out some peach and apple pies - if only to make sure that I really wanted to spend more time with cherry. Before you commit to someone, you have to make an educated guess that they will make you happy for a long, long time. And it's hard to make that guess when you're not a seasoned pie-taster... er, man-dater.
When I broke up with boyfriend right before our sophomore year, I was kind of excited. All my friends, all my favorite television shows and movies romanticized single life. There was something exciting about meeting men at bars - or just anywhere. Something exciting about being available. But after a while, I realized that a lot of the excitement was coming from peoples' desire to find someone to take them away from being single. A lot of people who are single are just trying to find someone. When I realized this, I didn't even taste the pie that was offered to me. I just realized that pie-tasting wasn't what I wanted, and I got back together with boyfriend.
Now he's asking for the same thing, and I have to decide what to do. Because I really do love him, and a part of me wants to do things that will make him more likely to change his mind: continue talking to him, tell him how upset I am, etc. But a larger part of me wants him to get what he wants. Because if he wants to date other people and I somehow stop him, he will be unhappy. I want him to want to be in a relationship with me because he's sure he wants it; not because he's afraid of the alternative.
So when he told me on Thursday night (only a week after asking for the open relationship) that he thinks he changed his mind and wants to be with me, I was surprisingly troubled.