Sophie, 35, felt shackled, mentally and physically, in the monogamous relationships she had earlier in life. In Laurent, she found a partner who was willing to break out of the traditional vision of a relationship. But their path to a loving balance was not without detours…
My first real relationship lasted two years. I was in high school then and soon felt suffocated by this relationship. I thought my body no longer belonged to me – that I was no longer free. It weighed on me a lot. But I told myself it was because I was not really in love.
When I met Laurent at 18, I immediately knew it was love with a capital ‘L’, that it would count more than all the others. But after the first six months of my honeymoon, I felt the same sensation: suffocating, being hampered physically and mentally, and being a prisoner in a cage I had chosen.
I had anxieties. I did not blossom no matter how well the relationship was going, and this time, I was really in love. I was like, you signed up for this. The only solution is to break up.
All this led to my great need for autonomy and freedom, and I decided to go abroad for a year on Erasmus. My spouse did not necessarily understand, but he respected my choice. Once there, I realized that I could not remain faithful: I went out all the time, I met lots of people, and if I was not taking full advantage of it, I might as well have stopped.
So I left Laurent for the first time. I told him the long-distance relationship was too complicated and that I couldn’t love him from there or be there while loving her.
But we never broke our bond. We were still in love and saw each other intimately when I returned to France. So when I got back, we got back together. We were fine. But my questions persisted: I told myself that he was the man of my life, but I did not want to close the door to any new encounter.
An unbearable sexual monogamy
Then we went to South America, together this time. This is where it got challenging not to be sexually free. Especially since I was beginning to blossom as a woman, feel better about myself, and want to meet and discover.
And Laurent was very jealous. I also lived in a very festive environment where everyone was single. Once, I went on vacation by myself and had an affair with a man. Laurent found out and took it very badly. But he never left me.
That’s when it hit me: I didn’t want to live like that anymore, giving up my physical autonomy.
Choosing between our relationship and me
I didn’t want to break up, but if I had to choose between our relationship and me, I would choose me. Either we stopped there, or we became an open couple.
And he accepted. Although not much concrete happened, I felt much better. I read extensively about polyamory and non-exclusivity and went through a deconstruction phase.
I accepted the fact that sexual monogamy wasn’t for me. In fact, I came out as non-exclusive. Laurent has also changed; he has become much less jealous. Like he realized he couldn’t control his wife’s body.
However, six months later, I decided to return to France. I needed a total change of life and to be alone to fully experience this new freedom that I had granted myself. We didn’t separate; we decided to see where it would take us.
More sexually fulfilled than ever
I lived as a single woman while having a romantic relationship on the back burner with my companion since I still loved him. I took advantage of it. This was definitely when I felt the most sexually fulfilled, without any pressure.
I had several adventures, more or less long. Which obviously sometimes were tough on me, but I was in line with my principles. I told men: “I am free with my body, and I will never again conform to exclusivity and sexual monogamy.” It actually scared some people off! But I didn’t give in. The time has passed.
When he returned to France, we decided to live together and even have a baby.
I gradually reconnected with Laurent, and when he returned to France, we decided to live together and even have a baby. To be a “normal” couple.
But obviously, my desire for polyamory very quickly resumed. I found it quite violent to tell myself that I was using my body with him to make a child and that I couldn’t use it elsewhere as I wanted, for my own pleasure. Laurent expected it, and he took it rather well.
Stay free, at least theoretically
I wanted to take things seriously this time, and we saw a couples therapist. Little by little, we shared our visions. We opened up. It wasn’t easy, but it worked. Concretely, we told ourselves that if something happened with another person, we would say nothing to each other.
Today, I am mentally clear with the idea of non-exclusivity, and I remain open to the possibility of meeting someone. In reality, nobody pleases me. But just knowing that I’m theoretically free – that I don’t belong to him – frees me.
At some point, I needed to share this whole train of thought. So I created an Instagram account, which Laurent actually follows. From a political and feminist angle, I try to demonstrate that limiting oneself to exclusivity is renouncing a part of oneself and is inconsistent with the current idea of reclaiming one’s body. I see this account as a tool for reflection and sharing my journey.
My main question is the following: should we continue to impose a sometimes forced fidelity on ourselves? Isn’t all this linked to a Disney-formatted vision of couples and relationships? Aren’t there other possibilities of “making a couple”?
It’s him that I chose, in complete freedom
Recently, I proposed to my partner. And he accepted. This may sound paradoxical. But it is because I am aware of my non-exclusive concept of a relationship that I can commit myself totally.
It is also a culmination for me since, after this journey, I now know we can be together while being ourselves. I also like the idea of formalizing our team, united against all odds. I think this commitment will help me be even more emancipated.
I wanted to tell him: “It is you that I have chosen. In complete freedom.”
Article published in the magazine Marie CLaire 846
This article was originally published on Marie Claire France