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Inspired by a recent article on CNN about open relationships, Matador editor Christine Garvin reflects on an open relationship where she fell in love with a married man.

I’ve dated my boss and my professor, and fallen in love with a much older, Sensitive New Age Guy. But I’ve always stayed clear of married men, or any man already involved in a committed relationship.

I was scared shitless. What were we going to do when we got tired of having sex?

The idea of getting involved in any kind of open relationship made my eyes roll. Polyamory? Feh. My sistas are my comrades, and I’ve never been down with the man-stealing profession.

And yet – you guessed it! – I did fall in love with a married man in an open relationship.

A Typical Situation in These Typical Times

Jason and I had worked together for three years in California, and I’d known him and his wife since 2003. There had never been any eye-gazing across the printer, accidental touches when he handed me a file, or post happy hour shenanigans. I thought him to be a sweet and gentle guy – definitely attractive, but very married.

Thanks to the magic of office gossip, I even knew Jason and his wife had an open marriage. But I’d met his son when he was only a month old, for chrissakes! Open marriage or not, no thank you.

Then he moved from California. Beyond a Facebook friend request, and a wall post here and there, we lost touch.

Then last September I went back east for an old friend’s wedding and I ran into Jason and his son on the street. They were lingering in front of a kids’ museum while his son finished a chocolate chip cookie.

He told me later he was “never in town” on the weekends, since he lived with his family a little way out of town.

I too wasn’t supposed to be on that street on that day at that time, but a lost parking stub had sent me back to the restaurant where I’d just eaten lunch with my friends.

It seemed like a real coincidence we met like that: had I left the restaurant when intended, I would have missed them; had they not stopped for a chocolate chip cookie after the museum, they would have missed me.

A few hours later, I got a Facebook message from him. We decided to meet after the wedding for a chance to catch up. Three hours after that, I started to realize what was about to happen.

A Sense of Safety

What was it about that point in my life that allowed my outlook on dating a married man to change? There were many factors. I was fed up with my inability to be open with men. I was done with averting my gaze when a guy looked at me. I was over not having had sex in a long, long time.

With him, it felt safe – as safe as having a one night stand with a married man could be. I knew him to be a good person. We enjoyed each other’s company and conversation. Finally, and probably most importantly, his wife had encouraged him to contact me after he told her about seeing me that day.

Afterward, as the week progressed, we emailed back and forth about our night together and learned it had been a positive one for both of us.

But that’s what it was – a night. I left for the West Coast the morning after, and didn’t know where I was going to land next. The Southeast was far, far away.

Until, of course, I found myself moving back to my home state. I didn’t tell him. It felt too weird, but of course he figured it out thanks to Facebook. Soon after, we decided to meet again.

Leaving aside the ups and downs of the ensuing months, this past January we found ourselves alone in my apartment with three days to ourselves. No work. No common acquaintances. No five-year-old son to distract us.

It was one of those weekends where you’re surprised to find you don’t want to leave the other person’s side, where going to the grocery store together is an adventure, where sipping red wine together at a Spanish restaurant makes you feel sexy, alive, and really, really grateful.

I was scared shitless. What were we going to do when we got tired of having sex?

Fall in love, apparently.

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About The Author

Christine Garvin

Christine Garvin is a certified Nutrition Educator and holds a MA in Holistic Health Education. She is the founder/editor of Living Holistically...with a sense of humor and co-founder of Confronting Love. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga, and performing hip-hop and bhangra. She also likes to pretend living in her hippie town of Fairfax, CA is like being on vacation.

  • Hal Amen

    I’ve been so impressed with the level of honesty in this series. Thanks for sharing your story, Christine.

  • Kate

    Damn, Christine! Tell it. I hope you find what you are looking for in another person. It’s hard to believe that you wouldn’t. I really enjoy the truths that you have written here.

  • Candice

    Agreed with the others, absolutely love your honesty, thanks so much for opening up.

  • Kelsey

    I’m really glad to see someone else here writing about open relationships! My article, When The Boyfriend Stays Home is another article in this series which touches on open relationships. I am really happy to see alternate, but healthy, relationship structures getting more press!

  • Anne

    This is great.

  • ayngelina

    Wow, so honest on a really tough topic. Hope it works out for you.

  • Jared Krauss

    It’s been a while since I have commented on anything, but I wanted to say that this article was one of the most honest and open articles I have read in a long time.

    Amazingly well done Christine.

    Jared Krauss

  • Nick Rowlands

    Great piece, Christine. The last line killed me a little. Echoing everyone else, I really admire your honesty, and hope you find the right man for you some day. I am sure you will.

  • Christine Garvin

    Thanks, Nick. Actually the last line is meant to show part of what I gained from this relationship – figuring out what I want, and also what I’m capable of. I actually wasn’t sure I was “relationship material” previous to this relationship, and “Jason” taught me I was, along with being a man who actually had even more than I thought I wanted. Funny that probably the most beautiful and functional relationship I’ve had was one with someone committed to another! But that’s where the healing came in.

    And I have no doubt I will find him, also, especially since I’m super clear on what I’m looking for.

  • Christine Garvin

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I definitely feel more free and open to talk about it now as compared to when I was in it. It really was an amazing learning experience, and as he and I work on our friendship, I continue to learn more and more about myself, him, and the power of unconventional love.

  • Nico

    I guess the most important in life to to discover the different perspectives of humans.
    Whether you are up for open relationships or any so called ” society excepted ” or non excepted situation. Society does effect us already to much to rely on that.
    I do believe ones life can be enlightened by any emotion or act as well in positive as in negative way.
    I do pray for all it could be ass positive as this story for everybody so the world could be a better place for al.
    Great job Christine
    I already love you even before I know you :-)
    Have a great journey in this life

  • Genevieve

    Wondrous raw stuff, Thank you Dear Woman, I value courage and depth so immensely, and hearing it “seeing It ” in other wise women, speaking the heart and truth of it..leading the way thrills me.

    What a brave and intention lead journey you shared, I’m intrigued myself with these healthy perspectives and clearly I believe it is possible if you trust and know yourself well and the one you are creating your agreement~ marriage with well, the ability to lay the foundation for love and expansion is immense.

    I feel something like this might be the way I would choose to go next in relationship when I am ready, which I am not now. For once I am enjoying not having a projected goal, fantasy or dream, of love, or HIM, though I caught myself creating a saucy crush on the rebound and consciously choose instead not to project my dreams on some unsuspecting acquaintance for the sake of filling the void. This chapter I’m experiencing is deep and raw and within my skin, energy and knowledge and not lonely, with even my heart, not rebounding to create the Golden love on the Horizon, allows my attention to my shadow work,soul nurturing, and juicy flow, and it’s all so fun and important.

    To feel and resonate in movement in my body, awareness, to see, feel and respond to others energy and trust without attachment, or cerebral knowledge, there IS the fun for me, and more than enough for now,

    Where it starts for me, is being honest and clear with what we are trying to create with someone, with what “attention” energy or relationship we are open to.

    Again knowing yourself, the ol’ setting intentions, being honest with yourself, and following through by attracting others that can mirror that and meet you in a high dynamic place, Kudos to you, for creating a Great experience. I feel in this possibility, even more from reading your story, the reality of that deep sweet intimate bond that may stand the test of time and attraction and even love with others. I fall in-love often in ways with energy and hearts, how wonderful to let it flow. Thanks for sharing yours

    • Christine Garvin

      Thanks for your beautiful words, Genevieve. It sounds like you are in a good juicy place, and are open to what shall arise.

  • yogesh

    Hi Christine,
    Bumped into this article…and admired your honesty…Well wishes

  • Philippe

    I really liked the article, thank you. :)

  • Marisacherried

    i thought this was a beautiful story. broaching the subject of an open relationship to my boyfriend in the morning. wish me luck

  • Maya

    Inspiring and familiar, your story especially got me at the end.  ”It’s hard to define what is truly “right” or “wrong” in life, and what has come to strengthen, heal, or break us wide open.” It’s true…there is a world of difference between what is right or wrong in society and theoretically, but when it becomes personal, all the lines disappear. Things just are. You change, you break, you grow, you learn. Thank you for sharing this. 

  • Jill

    Wow. Such an honest and open piece. This has certainly inspired me to explore a little further the different types of romantic relationships I’ve had this year, all of them VERY unconventional, pushing the boundaries of what’s normal and possible, what’s acceptable vs. what’s not and what I’m ashamed to admit vs. what facts I’m FORCED to reckon with.

    I’ve had open relationships this entire year and have found that it works with my lifestyle now, but eventually I would want someone all to myself. Because right now I’m not in the position to be available to someone for a full-time relationship, it just so happens that everyone I’ve met and become romantically involved with were/are in the same boat. Two married men and a traveling hippie boy, all unique and special in their own ways, all emotionally or physically unavailable full-time made their way into my life. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”

    I always grew up being taught that a romantic relationship is to be a traditional, conventional one: An everyday companionship and commitment with no outside factors affecting that. But then I realized how unrealistic that is for me now. Suddenly an open relationship seemed not only plausible, but desirable. I would still have the freedom to come and go as I pleased, and when it was time, my lover would manifest. That’s still the boat I’m in.

    It’s stretched me thin in some regards but has more often than not been an eye-opening and progressive experience. Instead of trying to actively “control” the circumstances of a relationship, I trust that whatever is supposed to happen will. I “go with the flow” and have learned to try to be more lax about my romantic life. I’ve accepted that I will love and those I need and want to see again, I will. 

    Thank you for this. 

  • Anonymous

    Hi! I don’t think here it’s about society;s acceptance. So “we must have open relationships” exactly because the society cannot tells us what to feel….here is more about deep love. I know that our senses can be easily awaken and especially if the situations is more complicated, it excites us more. What you had seems to be an intense and short attraction, but not love. What Jason and his wife had was and still is complesence relationship, not love.If somebody of those three of you had loved, none of you would sleep with other!

    And it’s not about possessiveness, too! And it’s not about the intelligence, about understanding yourself better! “And I want to make my own decisions about how I experience them in my life. Having an open relationship is just one way that we experience our convictions that we are each truly our own person”.
    IT’S ALL about sex! The way you experience sex! I am sure you had smth to leran, but it’s the right lesson?

    Actually you said everything through YOUR LAST SENTENCE: “Most of all, it made me realize I want to have what we had with someone I can call my own. ” Why do you think it was so great? Because you have always known it will not last! Such exciting situations you may often find in life, but don’t you think the real provocation of life is to deepen your relation with your partner in a “close” relationship? If you love each other, you should feel provoked to have your relationship at its most!

    I mean everybody has something shining in him and everybody could seem so interesting in a certain point in life, but what does it mean? Let’s have sex with all because we enlarge our horizons and it’s demonstrating we are more intelligence! And I am not a virgin Mary when I say that!

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