I've never understood open relationships.
The way I see it, if you really love someone, you should be willing to commit all of yourself to them and expect them to commit all of themselves to you.
Despite my inability to comprehend polyamory, I have a long-running thing for emotionally unavailable men — which is why what happened to me in a loud, dark bar one autumn weekend didn't really surprise me.
One night, my friends and I decided to go to a new drinking spot. There, my girl friend introduced me to her friend, a 20-something guy with a great smile. He told me he was married over vodka sodas and expensive cigarettes.
"But why aren't you wearing a wedding ring?" I asked him, glancing at his ring finger.
He shrugged. "We're just not traditional in that way."
He was handsome in an old-fashioned kind of way, with light eyes and light hair to match. He was built like a football player, and he had the mind of a creative.
In an isolated corner of the bar, he explained to me the conditions of his atypical marriage. He was allowed to sleep with other women. His wife was bisexual, but she was only allowed to sleep with other women, not men. They both weren't allowed to sleep with the same person more than once — a measure they took to ensure the relationships outside the marriage stayed purely sexual.
They'd also been going to couples therapy, where they ignored their therapist when she told them more than once to stop seeing other people.
As he spoke, I could feel my eyes growing wider and wider with fascination. I knew arrangements like this existed, but I'd never been up close and personal with a guy who was actually in one.
I don't know if it was my fascination, our mutual attraction or one too many vodka sodas, (I'm betting on all three). But I told him "yes" when he asked to see my rooftop.
The next thing I knew, we were sitting in the back of a taxi. At that point, I didn't know exactly what was going to happen with him. I also couldn't tell what he'd decided about me. One thing was definitely clear, though. We very much enjoyed each other's company.
My rooftop is grungy but inviting, with an impressive view of some of Manhattan's wealthiest homes. We admired them from afar, as we killed a six-pack of cheap beer.
Somewhere in the middle of a conversation about his stepdad, I noticed just how lustfully he was looking at me.
"You have... that look in your eye," I said.
"I know," he replied. And then, he kissed me. I kissed him back, and minutes later, we were in my bed.
"This feels wrong," I said, mounting him.
"Why?" he asked, with a genuine look in his eyes.
"I don't know," I said.
But I did know. I could hear my inner voices trying to rise up out of me. You're the other woman. He'll eventually have to leave. You're starting to catch feelings. Please be careful.
I didn't want to kill the mood, though. And I wanted him so, so badly. So I went for it.
The next morning, we went to brunch. As we sat there, shooting the shit over eggs hollandaise, as if we were just two people on any old Tinder date, I repeatedly had to snap back to reality and remind myself this whole thing was just an illusion.
It had no room to grow. It would be no more than one day of fun that'd make for a compelling story.
Still, we spent the day together. After brunch, we went to the park and then explored aimlessly. We carelessly locked lips all around the city, with strangers as our audience. When the sun went down, we ate Chinese food and cuddled in my bedroom.
"I'm gonna miss you," he said in bed, holding my head in his hands.
I was going to miss him, too. And I knew that once he left, I was going to toss and turn over him, romanticize every single moment of our time spent together and resist the urge to check my email every day to see if he finally decided to check in on me.
"You know what?" he continued. "Maybe I should call the airline to see how much a flight would cost if I left tomorrow instead."
I smiled, but then, I couldn't help but frown. I couldn't tell if he was kidding or being serious. But did it matter? His staying would only mean more emotional investment on my part.
So I told him he couldn't stay. Pushing him out the door, I figured, was the only way to semi-protect myself.
I pulled him out of bed and watched him pack his things. Then, as I walked him down the stairs of my five-floor walk-up, I realized I was in way over my head.
I hailed him a cab, and then, I went in for one more kiss.
"Don't forget about me, OK?" I said, pinching his cheeks.
"This was the best day I've ever had in New York," he said, with a boyish grin spreading on his face.
And with that, he hopped into the cab and disappeared into the distance.
Was it wrong, what I did? Who knows. Something about it just feels off.
Maybe it's because it had to end, just as I started to sink my teeth into it. Maybe it's that I know, from the way he looked at me, he wasn't completely happy with his wife.
Or maybe it's that he's gone home to her, but I'm still single in New York, thinking about what could have been, while something deep down tells me he isn't thinking about me at all. It's as if our 24-hour whirlwind tryst was just a dream.
Or perhaps what feels off about it is it made me realize, in one of the most profound ways I've ever realized, that no, I'm not a home wrecker. But I'm still a girl who doesn't know how to stop wanting what she can't have.
Just as I'd expected, I've had some sleepless nights since then. But there's something else happening that I didn't expect: I feel guilty.
It's not that I'm plagued with guilt. Rather, the guilt feels more like a stinging that comes and goes. It's like, who am I to have encroached on their marriage, regardless of the rules?
But the guilt runs both ways.
See, not long ago, I swore to myself I wouldn't sleep with someone who wasn't willing to promise me a lifetime of happiness. And then, the universe dropped this guy into my life. He was everything I ever wanted -- smart, charming, kind and handsome, with a dash of tortured.
So not only do I feel like a traitor to the sanctity of marriage, but I feel like a traitor to myself.
Who am I to have put myself in a situation I knew would haunt me well after it was over?