My girlfriend set me free to see other women—on one condition.
In October of 2014, I ended a relationship I should not have started to begin with. She was a good woman but I had just left a company I co-founded and a city and community I loved, and my heart needed some time to heal. The day after, I walked down to Venice Beach and sat in the sand. I said to myself, with the Pacific Ocean as my witness, “For one year, I will commit to not making any commitments.”
I spent the next four months diving deep into therapy, writing, spending time alone and having the adventures I had always desired. Many of these included women I had always wanted to be with. While fun, none of them touched my heart and some left me feeling more empty afterwards.
I spent Valentine’s Day 2015 alone. It was a Saturday and around 3pm, I reached out to my number one crush and asked if she was free. Her rejection text back was terse. I felt lonely. Regardless, a nerve had been struck. While I wasn’t ready yet, I had to admit that I wanted a girlfriend.
“WHAT? A GIRLFRIEND? THAT’S A COMMITMENT!” my inner cop bellowed. The only commitment I was allowed to have for another eight months was NOT to have any commitments. I will follow through. I will keep to my integrity. I will not falter!
Three weeks later, I had my first date with her. She was beautiful, sexy, smart and nice. I had never really dated a woman who was nice to the core of her foundation. I liked her. I wanted her to know the truth. I told her in no uncertain terms, “Listen. I want this to be clear. I am not going to be monogamous. Not until next October. If you want a monogamous guy, I suggest you look elsewhere.”
She smiled a thin smile and didn’t say anything.
About four weeks into dating, my friend wisely said, “Rob, she’s your girlfriend. You treat her like one, she acts like one, admit it” “Okay, okay,” I replied back. “She’s my almost-girlfriend.” I didn’t tell her this. I kept the title to myself.
Four weeks after that, with the aid of a little cannabis oil, we’re negotiating our relationship, communicating silently. She smiles, I nod, she turns her head slightly, I show my teeth. It’s a dance and I’m loving it. Later, I overtly ask her to be my girlfriend. She says, “Rob, you’re sleeping around with many women. What does ‘being your girlfriend’ mean?”
“Well,” I say, “You’ll be the most important woman I’m sleeping with. You’ll get special privileges. You’ll get a say.”
That thin smile returns. She’s not convinced, but she agrees to be my girlfriend.
Four weeks pass and we’re going in deeper with each other. I have a trip planned to New York City for business, but also to have some sexual experiences with other women. There’s no hiding of this from her. I can sense she doesn’t like it. I say, “What do you want?” before I go. The silent smile returns. She says that she wants me to have what I want.
I say I want her. No reply. She may not want me based on this relationship structure. I don’t have an answer. I’m not ready to give up my freedom. I leave for the airport.
When I get back, there is no hot reunion. In fact, it takes a little bit longer to get back into her good graces. She lets me in but I can see there is a cost. I’m realizing my experiences in New York were not worth the distance.
Another month passes and I head to San Francisco to see my family. I have a date on Sunday night with a long-standing crush of six years whom I’ll call Amanda. I tell her about it. There are no secrets. She gets distant, the most distant I’ve ever felt and I can’t reach her. I turn on the pressure for her to let me in, but it doesn’t work.
The night before I leave, I say, “Okay, okay, do you want me to be monogamous? I hate when you’re distant. I’ll do anything!”
She doesn’t give me a solid answer. She fears that if I agree to monogamy, (a) I will resent her, and (b) it may not be what she wants. She’s indecisive except to ask for no communication while I’m gone. I’m sense I’m losing her, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to step or how to relate. I feel miserable.
I’m not monogamous by nature; my desire for many flavors is deep-seated. She knows this. However, I know that she is different from the women I’ve known in the past. I’ve never felt this kind of love before. Losing her is a mistake I know I’ll regret for many years to come.
While I’m up in San Francisco, she texts to say we can talk on Saturday night. She has figured out what she wants. I say yes, excited to reconnect with her. She tells me simply, “If you have an experience with another woman, I want to be there. I want to experience this life with you.”
To be clear, she is saying that if I sleep with another woman, she wants to be there, participating.
I feel a burst of energy throughout my body. My face cracks into a smile. It feels right. I feel no loss, just an amazing gain.
“I can do that,” I reply with enthusiasm. “I love you”.
She says, “Now go off on your date tomorrow and then come home to me. I want you to have all the experiences you want. I love you, too.” An offer of one last chance to have sex with someone else without her, before we start our new adventure.
I pause a beat, weighing the options, feeling my desire. “No. I want to start this now. I want to come home to you.”
She tries to convince me to keep my date. She’s afraid that I’ll resent her. I assure her that coming home to her is what I truly want. I break my date. Amanda understands and sweetly releases me. I speed down Highway 5 back to Venice.
It’s been almost a year since we made this agreement. While the quantity of sexual adventures with other women has decreased, the quality of intimacy with my girlfriend has skyrocketed. I have never felt this much love for a woman before. And the sex, mixed with this deep intimacy, is beyond my expectations. I didn’t know it was possible.
The man I was in October 2014 never would have said yes to this agreement. He wasn’t ready for it. The man I am now feels blessed and abundant with a partner and a love that is unexpected and growing each day. It was me who changed my firm declaration of no-commitments. I changed my tune. We all have the power to do it. Everyday, we get to choose.
Robert Kandell is a business consultant, teacher, coach, and lecturer. Visit www.TuffLove.live to hear his weekly podcast on how to expand your business, personal, spiritual, or sex life.