Well first, we met.
We became friends after a job together March 8th, 2011 modeling for Vman, April 1st we first kissed.
Which happened after I saw these photos:
As I write this blog post, seeing these images together reminds me of a high fashion femme American Psycho. I guess that is because they seem erratic. However, Jana and I are anything but that.
Jana had just left a four-year relationship. I had had five, year or more longterm relationships. I had recently become single, and was a serial monogamist trying to live up to the ideal of my parents (who have been happily together for over 30 years).
We started dating, and things moved quickly. A couple of weeks later, we lived together– next door to my parents.
I heard some jokes at NYU that Jana and I looked like the same person. My father concurred and said we looked like a frightening android couple from Blade Runner. Sometimes when we walked into a room together, he would jump as if startled.
After Jana and I had been together for a year, I couldn't find any problems with her or the relationship. I couldn't figure out why the idea of spending the rest of my life with her terrified me. Wasn't this what I was supposed to want? I thought I was supposed to find the ideal partner, marry and lock-up, and then I'd be all set.
My eyes wandered, and my mind started to invent problems; for a moment I tried to convince myself Jana moved too slowly– but quickly recognized that wasn't actually a problem– and that the problem was with me. I started asking myself: am I a bad person? Am I fucked up? Is there something wrong with me? Then I realized– there is nothing wrong with me, there is something wrong with the cultural storyline I've been fed.
Then I started paying attention to more information I had previously encountered.
A couple of friends of mine, referencing The Moral Animal, told me they didn't believe in monogamy. This was something I had heard times before, but previously ignored. An ex-gf of mine, someone I dated for a year, told me at the end of our relationship that she didn't believe in monogamy anymore (at the time, this really upset me). A couple of weeks later, her parents (married around 20 years) announced they were getting divorced. I also remember reading in a high school text book that monogamy was a cultural construct (stemming from religious tradition) to be endured for child rearing and to safeguard against jealousy.
This was the limit of what I roughly knew before I started seriously reading about the brain, human nature, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, and society.
This was a touchy subject, and I was unsure how to voice myself. I started talking with Jana about my friends who didn't believe in monogamy. Her reaction was negative and jokingly told me to stop hanging out with them, but I defended my friends without agreeing with them. I told her quite honestly, I didn't know what I thought. I told her they recommended me a book called The Moral Animal and that I might read it.
Keep in mind, Jana and I were already avid readers. We both read the following titles before ever reading The Moral Animal:
These books provide credible information, focusing on skepticism as a mental safeguard to erroneous patternicity ("the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise").
Equally equipped with common books about how to sift through information, we weighed and considered the questions at hand. We could speak in sync together about hard topics without speaking past each other, anchored with common language helpful for communication.
When Jana first saw The Moral Animal in the house, she looked at the book as if it were a criminal intruder trying to take her boyfriend away. She eyed me like a hawk as I read it. The moment I put it down, she picked it up, needing to know what was just put into my head.
After she read it, she said thoughtfully: "You know, this book raises some very good points."
That was still just the beginning. We had started a dialogue about monogamy and non-monogamy and possible options. We didn't rush into anything, because we didn't want to negatively disrupt our emotional bond. When we opened the relationship, we eased into things and never stopped communicating.
It was difficult at first, because we were slowly becoming used to emotional stressors that we had never encountered. Many things are hard at first, but become very rewarding and much easier as time passes with practice.
I remember giving Jana a lot of extra attention when I saw someone else for the first time. Of course, she needed to know I was emotionally available for her– and I wanted her to feel safe and loved. At first, I wanted our open relationship to have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but Jana disagreed and wanted the ability to receive and share all details. So we agreed to that.
I remember the first time Jana told me she had slept with someone else. It was with someone she had known for a while, and seemed to really like. She was a little graphically specific (I think to test me). I felt a wave of adrenaline and endorphins surge through my entire body. The only comparable time I felt such a rush was right before I jumped out of a plane for the first time. I interpreted it as my body saying "Danger! You are about to jump out of a plane!" or "Danger! You might lose your girl!" I realized my reaction would determine our ability to continue, but it wasn't hard to control myself. In actuality, I didn't feel betrayed. She hadn't done anything wrong– and I was just able to examine the emotion I was experiencing and immediately self-reflect what it was telling me to do. Which was to hold on to her! So that's what I moved to do as I embraced her.
In truth, opening our relationship has made us both very happy and eager to continue. We are not each other's property, and genuinely want each other to be happy. We believe in nurturing the opposite of jealousy ("compersion," happiness for someone else's happiness).
We also read Sex at Dawn, The Ethical Slut, and Opening Up for our relationship development. Of course we continue to communicate.
If you love someone set them free, and if they love you they will come back to you.