love isn’t always consensual but it can be ethical

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She didn’t agree to me falling in love with him, with HER love. She owns him like she owns her ring, and she sees no need to share on anyone else’s terms.  She allows him to sleep with other women, if she approves of them. In her mind, this is good enough.

One time, she tells me to get in the car with her. I don’t really want to, but I believe I have to respect her wishes. In the car,- her car- she asks me if I want her “blessing.” I don’t answer.  Truthfully, I don’t want it.  I don’t want her permission, I don’t want her fucking blessing. I have no idea what she is going on about.  I’m only twenty-five, and, to me, if you are open, you are open.  You don’t get to mail order your partner’s other partners.  I just want her to let me know what’s going on, so I know if I can be a part of it. But she won’t tell me that straight out.

It’s two years after our talk in the car.

She’s left him like a discarded couch in the alleyway, emotionally separated, if not yet physically (that will happen shortly, within a year, but for now, they merely share separate bedrooms, which they have since shortly after I met them. To this day, that is a red flag for me). For some reason, she still resents that I never asked her approval. I don’t understand her, but I know her feelings are real.

I feel a twinge of guilt that I can’t do what will make her happy. But I am not sure anything I do will make her happy, not even abandoning my current life. At least, this way, one of is happy.

It’s three years after we’ve talked.

I tell him that I love him, for the very first time, not knowing how he’ll respond. I just want him to know. It’s not a ploy to get him to call me his girlfriend. I am patient-ish.

One day, he doesn’t respond to my, “I love you,” with a cool, but gracious, “Thank you.”  Instead, he tells me, all on his own, a dark whisper that floats by me as he holds me at night, “I love you.”

I am so glad I found it. Love is a mysterious, magical, wonderful, and very ordinary thing.  

I am sure she would not approve.

It’s almost ten years later.

I’m sorry for how it all worked out. I didn’t want it to be like that. Today, I wish I could go back to her and say, I don’t believe anyone consented to your boyfriend.  He’s oily, he can’t talk about anything but cars and ice cream, you insist that your kids call family and love, like family.  Forcing them to hug him, because that’s what you expect. So, no, I don’t see why I should think you have any say over whether I am with him. The ex you threw away.

It would be nice if every mix of romantic relationships between an interrelated group of people worked harmoniously. Like that Internet famous divorced couple where the four parents are best friends and hang out with their kid all the time. But it doesn’t always turn out that way. Sometimes you have to accept that your person now loves someone you will never like. Sometimes, if it gets bad enough, you may have to question your decision to stay with your partner, rather than accept their decision to date, say, a racist homophobe. …but you can’t choose the person for them. They choose their own loves.

I chose my own love, too.

My love for him, back then, wasn’t consensual in any shape or form, though today, we’ve both consented to our mutual love. He didn’t want it at first, not because he didn’t want it, but because he felt he didn’t deserve it, didn’t believe it was real- still, all I could do was not force it on him. I loved him, regardless of whether he wanted it or not. But it was his right to accept my acting on it. I gently deferred to that, of course, as that was the right thing to do.

I say this now, about my love for her used to be love.

  1. She didn’t consent to it.  In fact, she hates that it exists.
  2. He didn’t consent to it.  He didn’t ask me to love him, or want it, and he wasn’t shy about the fact.
  3. I didn’t consent to it.  I didn’t want to fall in love, I chose someone with whom I believed love would be impossible.  Stupid, young me.  I thought that was how it worked.

I’m grateful for everything.

Over the years, we, he and I, grew to not only accept but desire that love for each other. It’s a beautiful thing to find and embrace love. She never could accept that, though, that he loved, loves, me. That it doesn’t mean he didn’t love her. Hell, he probably still would if she didn’t turn toxic towards him as a result of jealousy of our love.

After almost a decade, I think maybe it doesn’t matter, anymore.  That she’s got her life, and we’ve got ours.  That sometimes it’s messy, and that’s okay.  I no longer resent her asking me to get her blessing.  I just don’t care.

…to this day, she still refuses to consent to our love and she still hates it.

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