Open Relationships – Part 1
Katoomba, New South Wales
Leah could not believe her ears. They were out celebrating their first wedding anniversary when Rudy dropped it on her.
‘I want an open relationship … I reckon it’ll help us understand what’s going on with us.’
Leah took a deep breath and swallowed hard. The stylish restaurant where they were having their celebratory dinner was not the best place for her to make a scene. Not that she would do that either. She gaped at Rudy in silence while he ate his marinated New Zealand scampi.
‘Excuse me, honey, but what’s going on with us?’ asked Leah, her heart pounding, after she regained some of her composure.
‘Do you want me to spell it all out? You don’t turn me on at all. I would’ve thought that by now it would be pretty obvious …’ started Rudy.
‘Pretty obvious? So you splurge on a super dooper dinner just to discuss the weather, the property market and to let me know that I don’t turn you on … God, I would’ve never imagined you’d want to squander a few hundred dollars that way. We should’ve stayed at home …’ said Leah, sighing.
‘I’ve been trying to tell you for days on end. Actually, you didn’t notice how I’ve been leading your hand in the sack lately? You have no idea what to do, really. How many men did you sleep with before you married me?’ His level of bluntness knew no bounds.
‘Is that what it’s all about? Each man’s different, you know. It’s probably the same thing with women …’ she said.
‘Oh, sure, but I do satisfy you, don’t I?’ asked Rudy, with a certainty that bordered on arrogance.
‘How can you be so sure?’ asked Leah, astonished at his abruptness.
‘I just know, honey. No need to make a fuss about that.’ Leah stopped eating her tea-smoked quail breast and closed her eyes. Somehow, she flicked a switch in her mind and found herself in an extremely detached headspace. Keeping her eyes steady and without blinking, she spoke, measuring each and every word.
‘Do I get some time to think about it?’
‘Of course. I just wanted to bring up the idea sooner rather than later. In the meantime, let’s enjoy this meal, shall we? After all, isn’t very often that we can afford to eat here …’
After two weeks in which Leah could not bring herself to touch Rudy at all, he approached her with a rather imperious tone of voice. His self-possession had come unstuck, and he demanded an immediate answer.
‘Okay, let’s do it,’ said Leah flatly. ‘What’s your idea? Since our wedding anniversary, we haven’t been exactly having fun. But let’s agree on something: this is your idea. I’m too down-in-the-dumps to take it up with anybody else. I’m doing it for our relationship’s sake.’
They both decided to set up their profiles on a budding website that targeted non-sexually exclusive relationships: swingers, multi-partner, hybrid and polyamorous couples. Rudy had high-voltage sexual fantasies as he surfed pages and pages of search results featuring photographs and videos of alluring women. They looked trim, taut and terrific, whereas Leah had always been somewhat chubby and more than happy to eat a large dinner, rather than consider him the enticing ‘dessert’ he thought he was. It had not always been that way, though. They had started their relationship in the height of passion some three years before. But something was lost along the way, and from Rudy’s point of view, it was his sexual freedom. He could not fancy himself as fully monogamous.
When Leah and Rudy discussed their open relationship rules, Rudy’s practicality prevailed: they would use protection with all their sex interests on the side, and would keep their open relationship agreement to themselves. Friends and friends of friends were off-limits, and so were work colleagues. Their extramarital romps would only involve people they met online. Leah acquiesced, for fear that she would lose him. Rudy was in awe that she did not need any extra persuasion, and could hardly wait to go out on his first hot date.
Two weeks after they joined the open relationship site, Rudy scored a date with Brenda, a tall and slender thirty something with whom he had chatted online. She had been married to a forty-year-old solicitor for nearly ten years, and they had agreed to start seeing other people the year before. To Rudy’s delight, she accepted his invitation to go out for drinks on a Friday evening.
The night before, while Leah and Rudy were having dinner, he broke the news. Leah shrugged her shoulders and went on eating in silence. She had grown up in a household where the rules were hard and fast, and she was used to keeping her thoughts and opinions to herself.
What’s the point of opening my mouth? He’s dead set on going ahead with this open relationship business, she thought.
The following evening, a spruced-up Rudy emerged from their bedroom, wearing his best designer shirt.
‘Don’t wait for me if you feel like going to bed. I may be back pretty late,’ said Rudy, eager to go.
‘Okay … Good luck,’ was Leah’s reply.
He strode out of the house, leaving his wife watching a DVD. He could not believe his luck, but there was a nagging voice at the back of his mind that would not let go.
Leah’s taking the whole thing too philosophically … better that way, anyway … he thought.
When he arrived at a busy pub in Coogee Beach, his eyes scanned the place. Brenda was not there yet. Summoning all his poise, he walked to the bar and bought himself a beer. He noticed that there were gaggles of young girls who were probably not a day over twenty-five, both inside the pub and in the beer garden. For a split second, he thought he had landed there on an all girls’ night, but there were several mixed groups and his favourite footy team was celebrating a victory that no pundit would have ever predicted.
After waiting in the pub for half an hour, Rudy grew restless and wondered if Brenda had misunderstood his directions. He checked his smartphone to see if she had sent him a text message.
Maybe she’s the type that enjoys making a man wait for her, he thought. Oh well, that’s the dating game for some …
Back home, Leah switched off the DVD player and gazed at her laptop screen. Inspecting the Internet browser windows, she discovered that she had received a personal message from one of the men on the site, a ruggedly handsome redhead that called himself AJ. In a daring move completely unlike herself, she invited him to chat.
AJ: Hi lovely, thanx 4 inviting me to chat.
Leah: My pleasure.
She stared at the screen in shock, unsure about what to say next. But she need not have worried: AJ turned out to be quite chatty.
AJ: I’ve always looked at your photo. Love girls like u, who aren’t rail thin. My girlfriend starves herself. She may have an eating disorder. Don’t know.
Leah: How long have u been together?
AJ: It seems like bloody forever. 10 years!
Leah: That’s heaps longer than my marriage.
Leah: We just celebrated our first anniversary.
AJ: And u r on this website? WTF?
Leah: My husband wanted an open relationship.
AJ: And u couldn’t refuse.
Leah: If I had, he’d have strayed 4 sure.
AJ: U seem 2 be an intelligent girl.
Leah: Why are u in an open relationship?
AJ: My gf likes other ladies. It’s got its advantages. Sometimes she invites one of her girlfriends & I score twice. Besides, it’s a helluva turn-on 2 watch them do a 69.
Leah felt fascinated and repelled at the same time, but her curiosity got the better of her.
Leah: If that’s what u like …
AJ: You don’t do it with women …
Leah: No. But there’s no accounting for tastes, is there?
Leah: What are u up 2 tonight?
AJ: Nothing, wanna catch up?
She could not believe her own brazenness. AJ’s photos showed a fit and muscular man in his late twenties. ‘Why not?’ she said to herself.
To be continued tomorrow …
Bio: A Bedroom short story for discerning adults.
FF Jensen is an Argentinian-born Australian writer. From a very early age, she developed a keen interest in creative writing, both in English and Spanish. She is the proud mum of an adult daughter, and lives with her partner and three gorgeous black cats.
She has a degree in ESL/English Studies, and is also a NAATI-certified English-Spanish translator (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd, Australia). She also completed a Diploma in Web Development at TAFE NSW (Technical and Further Education New South Wales) in Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, Australia
Her work experience is diverse: she taught ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELE (Espanol Como Lengua Extranjera: Spanish as a Second Language). She has extensive experience as an English/Spanish translator, a graphic and web designer, and as an IT trainer and technical writer.
She has also been an Aikido student and became an Aikido first dan with the American Aikido Federation. She is a keen pursuer of fitness-related activities, and believes in mindfulness and meditation as a tool for self-development.
FF Jensen is the author of Bittersweet Symphony, a novel on fictional Sydney psychologist Lena Foch, her lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder and the stressful circumstances that she faces during a life changing year.