photos: Eylül Aslan.
The dating scene in Berlin is shaped by three important factors. First of all, mainly thanks to its naughty parties, Berlin is a city generally characterized by a spirit of sexual liberation. Second, while this is a popular choice for international expats, some see it as an ultimate destination and others as a temporary stopover. And finally, the notion of “being” in Berlin is also often used as a synonym for deep soul-searching and as an excuse for unstable behavior.
These factors tend to complicate the romantic activities of modern Berliners. And I’m not just talking about the old-fashioned search for “the one”. Finding a friend with benefits may seem like an easy solution to a typical Berliner’s day-to-day difficulties, but for many, it just isn’t.
The theoretically straightforward concept of “friends with benefits” can become murky in Berlin, a place where some are too preoccupied with defining themselves to take the time to define their relationships. What could follow is a mess of euphemisms that will leave a more sensitive Berliner about to cry on the U-Bahn.
I let myself be this Berliner too often. I’m not proud of it, but it taught me that even the most laid back scenario of friends with benefits won’t work without mutual trust and honest communication. Eventually I found someone who understands this. They are awesome. We share a certain degree of emotional connection. The benefits in question are incredible. They don’t look at me for weeks to suddenly inquire about a booty call. In many ways, it is this non-toxic alliance that I have been waiting for.
One thing I didn’t expect was that they would be in an open relationship. And while I initially had a bit of trepidation about it, now I think their open relationship might be precisely what makes our arrangement work. The clear communication inherent in their open relationship puts me at ease – I know there is no cheating or lying. They don’t lie to me either. And it turns out I’d rather not be invited to a party than be left out for reading. I also surprisingly agree that our relationship has an expiration date. What is wrong?
Of course, this experience doesn’t necessarily bring me that much closer to understanding the dynamics within an open relationship. I imagine each couple makes their own rules anyway. Maybe my assumptions about such arrangements have become more enlightened, but I wouldn’t be rushing to give up monogamy just yet.
Of course, it might be good not to have your flirtation constrained by the limits of jealousy. To keep things exciting with a constant influx of new experiences. To see your dinner plans turn into a slumber party. But what if I’m not there: Should I get some noise canceling headphones that would spare me the details of my partner’s intense dirty conversation with a stranger? Or worse yet, what if they blocked the bathroom and I really had to pee?
Whether or not my lifestyle can accept polygamy is really not the point here. What I have tried to say is that, as I continue to date in Berlin, I am happy that I have finally developed a plan for a romantic relationship in which my lover (even part-time) is ready. to listen to me.
Because I am still one of the most sensitive Berliners. There was that nighttime U-Bahn ride that saw me sob. But I felt better the next day when I got to explain what was hurting me – and learned that the tears you can talk about aren’t so bitter.
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