In my relationship of 4 years me and my girlfriend started to notice a decline in interest in our relationship. Even though we love each other a lot something was wrong. As a man I, of course, thought it was my job to fix this problem and I tried everything: romantic dinners, self help books, buying lingerie and hitting the gym. I tried listening to her but failed. I failed because I did not hear what she said and needed. She needed a sense of freedom, not lingerie.
She needed to know that we are not intertwined but separate. She needed to feel her own person. I know this because she told it to me, repeatedly. It is this separation, this freedom that created anger in me. It made me feel like she wanted everything but me. I thought that if I would “grant” her this freedom, I would lose her. I also felt that what she wanted was not “normal”. At least not according to our society. So I fought back for a long time hoping that this new need of hers would go away. However, it did not. It made her cry, it made her sad. Very sad. I acted like I understood and said things like “we have tried everything, why does it not change?”. But we did not try everything. We did not what she suggested: an open relationship.
It took two years and finally, as a last resort, I gave in because I love my girlfriend a lot and would do anything to save our relationship. I swear that from the second I said: “okay let’s try it!”, everything changed. To my surprise I relaxed and a sense of true freedom was born. No longer was our relationship about the needs of the other or my own needs but instead it was about love. Real love. Real freedom. The freedom to think what I naturally think. The freedom to experience life through my own rules and not the rules of others. of course the same applied to her.
Before this change, my love was partly a selfish act, it was about co-dependence.
In this state I would “need” her. Without her, I thought, I would not function properly. This gave me a fake sense of safety or acknowledgement but she was not free to do what she wanted because I had expectations and rules.
Real love for my girlfriend, I learned quickly, is not owning her in any remark. Love became an act of the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. A state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. This has to be absolute otherwise it is not freedom. Not mentally, financially or physically.
Our new found open relationship became a reflection of our love.