about my girlfriend

 

Finnish Art Museum in Helsinki with Anna

 

This isn't a guide or anything, just some background information about my personal life. Feel free to skip if this is not your cup of tea. 

The short version of how we met: 

I met Anna in probably the most unusual way. I was on a family holiday through Europe when I ran into this red-headed Finnish girl. She was on an interrail with her friends, travelling through Europe. I was in Rome, July 2015, during one of the worst heatwaves, and with temperatures reaching 35ºC+ everybody was keeping indoors as much as possible. After wandering the streets of Rome for about an hour I decided to take a pit-stop in crowded cafe and that's where I saw her for the first time. No love at first sight, or slow motion zoom in on her face when I saw her. I just thought she was cute and looked very cheerful and friendly but more importantly she had a free seat opposite her and I was sweaty as fuck with achy legs. She was spun in her chair facing the counter just waiting for her order so I just sat opposite her. As usual with strangers we passed a few small talk remarks but for some reason we just kept talking. I only had two days in Rome so I thought the odds of making anything happen would be slim but she was interesting so I asked her if she wanted to grab dinner tomorrow or the day after and thankfully she agreed.

We exchanged numbers, however I had no sim card or data, so we decided to use Whatsapp instead as I had WiFi at the hotel I was staying at. We messaged a bit and agreed to meet at 8.00pm at Trastevere. Just to note, I had a total of 20 euros with me, no phone reception and I spoke not a single word of Italian. Inevitably I got lost and after about 2 hours I decided to call it quits. The only problem was that I didn't know the way home either. After wandering lost, quite scared and tired, asking any passing people for help, I eventually managed to find the right bus which took me back to my hotel. Yeah fuck, that was sketchy. Luckily for me when I got back to WiFi I received a message from Anna saying she had also got lost and didn't make it there either. We agreed to make it up to each other by buying one another lunch the next day. I wrote a 27 page rundown about the actual date so to save time I'll just summarise everything with timestamps.

1.00pm: We meet at Piazza del Popolo. I am surprisingly more nervous than I usually am on first dates. Maybe it's because I'm in a foreign country, maybe it's because I'm intrigued by this girl.

1.30pm: After some talk we agree the only sensible thing to eat when in Italy was pizza so we stop at the first pizzeria we cross and sit down for lunch. It's another 35 degree plus day so any where you could sit down in an air-conditioned space was a relief. We stick to pretty standard small talk for now. I find out she speaks 4 languages. That's 3 more than I know.

2.30pm: We head to a park to sit down and notice a fountain with people sitting around the edge. We take our shoes off and sit with our feet in the icy cool fountain water and just talk.

4.00pm: Down the Spanish Steps we go and we enter an ice cream shop. I find out here I've been saying "thank you" in Spanish not Italian this whole trip. No wonder people have been giving me weird looks. 

4.45pm: We wander the streets, look at shops, watch street performers and check out random famous things you just stumble across in Rome. This goes on for a few hours. We aren't really doing much but just spending time together. It's nice and the time just seemed to fly by.

6.30pm: We walk past a posh hotel, you know the ones with the fancy ass people standing out the front, and those large gold wheelie things to carry bags, and Anna just decides to drag me through the door and tries to pretend that she is a daughter of a guest staying at the hotel, with the purpose of trying to get a free room. She seems kind of spontaneous and exciting.

7.30pm: Still being hot, we decide to go back to the fountain we started at and put our feet in the water. I decide to make a move here and go for the kiss but catch her off-guard and awkwardly kiss her on the cheek instead. Luckily she thinks it's funny and we're making out shortly after. 

8.30pm: Probably getting more frisky than is socially acceptable behind a hedge in the park, we proceed to get to know each other. In different ways. 

9.15pm: As usual I have the greatest idea of all time, which is to go skinny dipping in a fountain if we can find one large enough. After a short walk in the park we find a large one and in we go! It's pretty dark now, with the street lights throughout the park turning on. It's refreshing getting nice and cold after a whole afternoon hot and sweaty. Soon after a very strange thing happens as a mother and her child, accompanied by what looked like a crazy aunt, strip down to nothing but their bikini bottoms and jump in too. How did I go from being in Australia, to being naked in a fountain in Rome, at sunset, with a random Finnish girl on my lap, and a naked Italian family splashing about?

10.15pm: We dry off and leave the fountain. Soon after we stumble across an open cinema playing Iron Man. We sit and watch for the remainder of the showing. Did I mention that I was supposed to meet my family about 2 hours ago at the metro as I had no money or phone and had no way of getting back to the hotel? I'm starting to get slightly concerned, but I don't want this to end here. 

10.30pm: We attempt to find the bus depot so we can both get back to our hotels but we are definitely lost. It's dark, neither of us have internet, all we have is a tourist map of Rome to navigate. We stop every couple of minutes to make out. I have no plan of how it's going to work as I'm staying in a small hotel with 4 other family members, but I invite her back anyways. I'm not really thinking clearly at this point. 

11.30pm: I remember that the bus number I need to take is 280, and somehow we end up finding a 281 bus. So without checking or knowing if it's going in the right direction we hop on and hope for the best. 

12.30pm: After about an hour on the bus we pass a sign that says "Rome 50km" pointing in the opposite direction. This is when we both start to get worried. Two 18 year olds, with barely any money and no reception, lost in a foreign country where we don't know the language. We're both starting to freak out. It gets so bad that we even contemplate sleeping under a bush until the morning when we can take the earliest bus back to Rome. 

1.00pm: We walk for a bit, heading off the highway where we hopped off the bus, and head towards some noise we can hear in the distance which sounds like a party of sorts. We arrive at a bar. There are a few kind of sketchy looking guys standing out the front smoking, with beers in their hands. Being tired, scared and desperate we ask them for help. They talk amongst themselves in Italian for a short while and then one of the guys makes a phone call, and discusses something in Italian for a few minutes. I have seen Taken with Liam Neeson before and I have this terrible feeling that we are about to become sex slaves, and frankly I am not ready yet for that part of my life. They tell us they can drive us to a nearby hotel where we can crash for the night. We very stupidly get in the car and off we go. The whole drive we have our seat belts off and our hands on the door handles ready to jump out if anything happens. Thankfully they are genuinely nice guys and did drive us to a hotel, but fuck me it was scary. Being driven by two sketchy drunk Italians, somewhere 50km out of Rome, is not a fun experience. 

1.30pm: The drunk guys, who we now know are friendly, bang on the closed door of the hotel and shortly after a tired looking hotel concierge opens the door. The guys explain our situation to the concierge and after a few minutes of Italian dialogue, the concierge ushers us in. He tells us we can crash on the sofa in the lobby until the morning. He offers us food and water, and even gives us the WiFi password of the hotel. We thank him and the drunk guys dearly, they really saved our asses. 

6.00am: The hotel manager probably saw us kissing or spooning on the sofa, so being the legend that he was, he wakes us up at 6am and explains that some guests have checked out early and that we could 'sleep' in the room for an hour before it was routinely cleaned at 7am. Needless to say what actually happened in that room.

7.00am: We leave the room and notice a quite angry looking woman standing next to the concierge. She looks like his manager or something, and she does not look like she approves of him letting us stay or giving us a room. We hurry out and thank the concierge as much as was socially acceptable before crossing the street to the bus stop. I have saved the map on my phone thanks to the hotel WiFi so getting back isn't too much of a problem. 

8.05am: We hop off the bus. I have about a 30min walk home, with the train station Anna needed to get to on being in the other direction. We both realise that this is probably the last 20 minutes we will ever spend together which is a bittersweet realisation. We make the most of it, but shortly we're at the train station and are saying our goodbyes. It is a pretty painful goodbye, knowing that soon we'll be 15,000km apart. 

8.30am: I arrive back at the hotel, with my parents not giving two shits that I was gone the whole night. They are just glad I made it back in time to catch my flight back to Australia which is in less than 3 hours. Thankfully I make the flight with adequate time, but not before I have a very long phone call with a very tired Conor (because of timezone differences) retelling the entire night from start to finish. It was just the craziest night, with so many unlikely things happening. Something I'll never forget regardless what happens between Anna and I. 

Long story short (not really lol), we kept in touch and decided that it was such a crazy night, and that we got on too well for us to not give it at least a chance for something more. She ended up coming to stay with me in Australia for two months over that Christmas and during that time we made it official with one proviso: I wasn't being monogamous. We openly talked about it and I explained everything. She agreed it was a good idea, with neither of us being jealous types, and with the addition of being apart for a fair chunk of the year.

About our open relationship:

Open relationships are great, in my opinion anyways. The idea of an open relationship with most people induces a lot of jealousy. "I could never have my guy/girl sleep with another person!" The thing about jealousy is that it's in directly inverse correlation with how comfortable and secure you are as a person. Anna and I tell each other everything, and the only times I have found myself jealous was when I myself, was feeling more insecure than usual. Jealousy isn't about them, it's about you. And personally I'd much rather have the freedom and growth of an open relationship at the cost of some jealousy, than the restriction of monogamy without much jealousy. But that's just me, Conor is in a monogamous relationship and is quite content and happy so of course they can work too.

Anna and I don't have the most usual relationship. It's long-distance and open, and in addition Anna is incredibly cool with everything. She doesn't mind the girls I sleep with and she has even met most of them, including Claire the Frenchie with whom she's actually become good friends with. Which makes for a pretty nice time, as we can just hang out as 3, go to dinner and then you know, go back home and play scrabble together.

My point is that I don't think being open takes away anything from the relationship at all. In fact, I think the exact opposite. Provided you both act like adults, talk everything through and address any problems that come up, whether be the occasional jealousy (of course we get jealous too, but it's not a big deal and is very manageable) or my loud snoring, open relationships can be amazing as fuck. I've had so many cool experiences which wouldn't have been possible had I not been in an open relationship.

- Dan

TL:DR: I went on a crazy first date with my now GF. Open relationships are great (for some people).