Open relationships, LDRs, secret affairs: Love stories that are not your usual

Amanda T. Lago
Open relationships, LDRs, secret affairs: Love stories that are not your usual
What makes a relationship real?

MANILA, Philippines – The textbook romance is pretty simple: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, they go through challenges, but eventually get over them and live happily ever after.

But this isn’t the only way love stories unfold – other stories fall on the fringes of the typical – but that doesn’t mean they’re any less real. We gathered stories from people in relationships that can be described as “it’s complicated,” and we found that like typical relationships, these ones are filled with conversations, connections, emotional support, and sex – the same things that make up a “normal” romance. 

Read their stories:

Tried an open relationship

Samantha met Matt on a blind date, and the two of them liked each other instantly – sparks were flying all over the place. But as a busy career woman, Samantha wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend, just a “down time person” – someone to spend time with in the rare moments that she has free time. She told him about this from the beginning, and he was okay with it.

They continued to spend time together, which was easy because they were neighbors. In many ways, their relationship was like a typical one – she introduced him to her closest friends, they would sleep over often, give each other emotional support.

“I’m an insomniac but when I sleep beside him, I can sleep for 9 hours!” she said.

But unlike a typical romance, they would talk about other people they liked, or wanted to sleep with. Samantha would even give him tips.

“Since the day we met, it was really sweet. Basically, [we could] go out with anyone but at the end of the day, we are home,” Samantha shared. Beyond just being friends with benefits, Samantha said it was really love.

The open relationship eventually ended because Samantha wanted to make their relationship exclusive, at the same time Matt opened up to her about wanting to be exclusive with someone else.

“The thing with me and him kasi super honest namin sa isa’t isa. As in no filter. About everything in life…[the breakup] wasn’t hard naman and I think kasi I know we won’t disappear from each other’s lives. It’s just that I want an exclusive, monogamous relationship na. And I know na he’s starting to like someone more,” she said.

At any rate, their relationship may have ended, but their connection remains.

“I will always have an open line for him, definitely. But I want him to know what he wants on his own. I really feel like I kind of imposed the open dating thing… Like, okay, this is the only way we can do this if you want me. And in the end it’s the one that made me ‘lose’ him,” she shared.

For Samantha, being in an open relationship made her grow, helped her learn about what she likes and doesn’t like in relationships, and helped her realize that after 4 years of just wanting something casual, she is now ready to love again.

Together for 5 years, just not physically

Olivia signed up for a dating site not even because she was curious or looking to date someone, but simply because she wanted to support the site itself, after its founder voiced support for the LGBT community. Little did Olivia know that her perfunctory choice would actually lead her to finding love.

One day, a man started messaging her – and because she was new to the site, and not jaded yet, she replied. They then kept chatting, got to know each other more, and two months later, they decided to turn their conversations into a relationship.

Five years later, Olivia and her boyfriend Miles are in an exclusive and committed relationship.

Perhaps the most difficult part? They haven’t yet met physically. Olivia shared that the frustration gets to her and she just cries sometimes, but that she trusts her boyfriend.

“Trust for the first few months was easy since we were just trying the relationship out, but as we became more serious, we would have talks about it,” she said.

And while people might say that there relationship has yet to be fully realized because they haven’t met in person yet, to Olivia, the effort she and Miles put in to staying together makes their relationship very real.

“The thing that makes this relationship real is that we don’t put each other on a pedestal. We don’t romanticize how being far apart makes our hearts grow fonder or some shit like that. When we fight, it’s hard especially because I am super bad at communication. The distance sucks. We’re not always happy or cheery,” she said.

“The pain we have to go through to keep the relationship makes this real. If we wanted an easy relationship we wouldn’t have started this in the first place.”

On again, off again, but can’t seem to quit each other

To Anthony, Archer was simply his ex-boyfriend’s younger neighbor – until they met years later. Archer, more grown up at the time, began texting Philip everyday.

They eventually started seeing each other often, and they grew closer. After a while, the two were engaged in what Anthony describes as a “fling” – which involved couple-y things, such as texting each other, eating out together, going on movie dates, and having sex.

But it wasn’t all happy – they would break up, and then get back together – until finally, Archer told Anthony he had to break up with him because he already had a girlfriend.

Even as they tried to end their affair, Archer kept texting and reaching out to Anthony, and they started their “fling” again. Archer’s girlfriend eventually found out, ended things with Archer. The two continued their relationship. Two years later, and they’re still at it.

“We’ve broken up so many times, some [break ups] were really short, like a few hours and some took a month. When are we supposed to say, this is it, that we’re breaking up for real? So our unusual realtionship continues,” Anthony shared.

“I dont know where is this supposed to lead us. But he is there and I’m still here.”

Long distance na, open relationship pa

When Stacy and John first met, they liked each other instantly, and it didn’t take long for him to sweep her off her feet – which is just as well, because he flew back home to Europe a month after they met.

Even after he returned home, they maintained their relationship, talking online everyday. But almost a year into their long distance affair, the two started cheating on each other with other people – something they quickly confessed to each other as soon as it happened.

Not wanting to let go of each other, they decided to open their relationship, and both of them are now allowed to sleep with other people, but continue to get the same emotional support, friendship, and mental connection that bonded them from the start.

“You don’t get a connection like that everyday. Our relationship has evolved to fit our lives and our needs. As long as we’re satisfied, it works,” Stacy said. She also said that she knows, the moment they get a chance to see each other again and be together physically, she’s ready to go all in and commit fully.

“At that point our relationship will evolve again. It’s just going to take some time.” –

Editor’s note: We changed the names of our interviewees to protect their privacy

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.