Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Friends, Lovers, Strange Tables, and Poly Beginnings

I had a visit last week from my New York City lover. I have never been in this position before: I was sitting having a drink with my partner in Toronto and my lover from New York. It feels pretty amazing, I must say. We were sitting in a bar and one of them sat next to me and one sat across from me and I was holding hands with both of them. It’s definitely a wow moment, thinking, I am very well cared for. We started discussing how tables need to be configured to allow for this sort of thing. Perhaps there needs to be some kind of poly restaurant with tables that can be moved around and triangularly shaped. I introduced my New York lover to many people here in Toronto and he very much enjoyed himself. I have to give him much credit for the life I have now. We met in July 2011 at a conference in Istanbul. I spent that summer in Germany doing my fieldwork for my Master of Environmental Studies. My supervisor there was in psychology and I became friends with his team of researchers. One of them casually mentioned to me that they were going to a political psychology conference in Istanbul and I asked if I could come along. Boy am I glad I did. I met the man who would become my lover there and we ended up bar hopping all night on a Monday night in Istanbul. He explained his open relationship situation and I was quite intrigued. I was pretty familiar with the concepts, as I read Dan Savage regularly, but it was nice to meet someone who was actually practicing it. We kept in touch but we didn’t end up seeing each other until 11 months later in Berlin. One of the great things about having an international lover is the ability to meet up in exciting locales. I spent 1 month in Europe in 2012 and it happened that both of us were in Germany at the same time so we met there. You can imagine how surreal that was. We had a great time and shortly afterward, I broke up with my boyfriend, who I had been in a monogamous relationship with for 8.5 years. My life has definitely changed a lot since then and I have no regrets entering the poly lifestyle. I have always been a big flirt and to be encouraged to do so is amazing. I’m looking forward to more adventures in the future… On February 4, I will embark on a trip across the US – I’ll be attending 2 poly conferences, one in Philadelphia from Feb 8-10 and then the academic poly conference in Berkeley from Feb 15-17. I very much care about the environment, so I have decided to do this trip entirely by bus and train. I’m going to be on the train from Philadelphia to Berkeley for about 3.5 days. I’m hoping to interview people on the train about their opinions on poly and I’d like to write an article about the whole experience. After Berkeley, I’m travelling to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle and I will hopefully stay with poly folks during that time. Stay tuned for all the fun! If anyone happens to know a place that would want to publish an article like that, please let me know.

Swinger’s Clubs and Sex Screams

Last night I had my first experience at M4, a swinger’s club in Toronto. It’s very nondescript from the outside, for obvious reasons, and once you enter, it looks like a normal club. There’s a dance floor, a bar, and a lounge area. Last night was quite busy as M4 hosted a meet and greet for a group called Naked World. M4 might look normal, but once midnight hits, the back opens. Everyone gets a locker, disrobes, and walks around either in towels or naked. There are beds, couches, floor space and by a certain point, there are tons of people having sex. Mostly 2somes, but some 3somes and 4somes as well. It almost feels like a very sexy laboratory under a pressure cooker with everyone moaning and yelling. It made me think about that concept of the usefulness of screaming during sex – some of you who read this blog might be familiar with the book Sex at Dawn. One controversial theory in that book is that women scream during sex to draw the attention of other males. Whether that theory is true or not, hearing people’s screams, not to mention actually watching people have sex, is quite a turn on. My opinion is that it makes people think, I need to make my mate scream as well so I can show off my skills. Either way, I think screaming is a good sign that the woman is having a good time. At one point, there were several couples around my partner and I that were pretty silent and I kept thinking, are they having a good time? Are their partners doing things that they would like done? Personally, I can understand the impulse to be quiet during sex. Plenty of people spend their days interacting with a wide variety of people and when they get into the bedroom, or the swinger’s club as the case may be, they just want to get on with the act of sex. However, I also think it’s important that our partners know what we like. The only criticism I have of M4 is that many of the couples there seemed content to be by themselves and not approach people they might want to play with. I understand that some people don’t want to be perceived as creepy, but if this is a place to play in, people should feel comfortable approaching others and getting accepted or rejected, as the case may be. As long as the approach is done in a respectful way, everyone wins. Happy playing! 

Thanks to everyone who has written in with questions! I’m really enjoying answering. My email is  Keep sending in the questions…

New Discoveries

Question: I am a male in a relationship with a woman for 10 years now.  Our sex life has started to stagnate a little and I am finding my fantasies have been going to being with a male as well as my girlfriend.  I have had increasing bisexual thoughts in regards to oral and anal with a male.  My girlfriend currently is not interested in anal or any type of swinging and is quite content with our current sex life.  She is my best friend and everything else is great but I have these urges that I feel I need to explore.  I have some toys that I use when she is not around that I find quite fun.  I never realized how much excitement wearing a butt plug all day at the office can bring you.  I go home sexually charged, but mainly I am left to my own devices. 

Help me



Answer: Hi there- thanks for writing in. I think there comes a time in every relationship where the excitment starts to dwindle. Some people call it the 7 year itch, but I think it can happen at any point. I think many of us have been in a situation where our relationships become almost too comfortable and we yearn for more experimentation. In my opinion, life is too short not to try new things. It sounds like your relationship with your girlfriend is pretty solid, so I think you have several options. You could talk to her about the possibility of you exploring things with men and it wouldn’t have to involve her if she’s not comfortable with swinging. There’s always a chance that your girlfriend has had thoughts of being with other people and it’s good to get that out in the open. Even if she says she’s happy with your sex life, she may want to experiment as well. Of course, I do not advocate for polyamory in every situation, but it does help bring excitement back into a relationship if the relationship is solid and there is a lot of trust and understanding. If your girlfriend is not open to any of these situations, it’s important you ask yourself how happy you are and whether you think it’s worth it to end the relationship. You do not want to be in a position where your partner is holding you back from pursuing your desires because that could lead to resentment and difficulty in other parts of the relationship that remain good. In either case, communication is important, so talk to her about how you feel. Happy searching!

Threesome Etiquette

Dear Ask Miriam,

My partner and I are attracted to threesomes with other women. We are a het couple who like to play with women, but there is a delicate issue I was wondering how to negotiate. In threesome etiquette, what is the rule of thumb for partners receiving a man’s cum? Should I reserve my semen only for my partner, or could I sometimes ask during prior negotiations to give it to our guest? I’m generally referring to swallowing or on the chest.
Best Wishes,
Dear Confused,
Thanks for writing in. It’s great to hear that you and your partner are open to these new experiences. Threesomes can be tricky – I would recommend you have a conversation with potential threesome guests and see how they feel about your cum. I would generally advise that your partner be the one to swallow your cum. If you’re talking about cum on someone’s chest, your guest could be the one to receive that- talk to your partner first and make sure she’s comfortable with that. You can also talk to your partner about what they would like to do with the guest. It’s important that you’re on the same page. Sometimes these things happen organically and there isn’t really time to negotiate who will do what and that can be great as well if everyone is open to just about anything happening, but you should make sure everyone is comfortable.

Insecure Affections

Question: I am spending this afternoon and evening with a new partner who has potential for becoming the 3rd primary partner in my intentional open polyfi family. 

For the first 3 years of my relationship with my 2nd primary partner I dealt with huge jealousy issues with her. I studied up on how to best support her through her jealousy issues and it paid off though it was a long hard road to go down.

I am very affectionate and like giving and receiving a lot of affection. Over the last week my 2nd partner has focused a whole lot of insecure affection. A lot of kissing, holding, hugging and stuff I usually enjoy but I am finding I don’t enjoy this at all. In fact it creeps me out, especially the clingy stuff.

 I want to help and support her in getting through this time as best I can. Should I just suck it up and say nothing? 

When I am in NRE, which I am, I find I am more passionate and affectionate with my 2nd partner than normal because I am able to have this new partner in my life. When my 2nd partner gets like this though I find it pushes me away, takes away my passion for her, and makes me not want to even be with her. I usually find that I also want more time for sex with her when I am in NRE and she likes that but then with her being like this I don’t want to have sex with her.

My 2nd partner is monogamous. I tell her poly is about more love, fun, care, and sex for all involved; not less. It should be that way but when she is like this, it is not.


Answer: There are 2 things going on here. First of all, your 2nd partner is monogamous, so she is depending on you for support and affection. You mention that you’ve dealt with jealousy issues in the past with her, so this is not surprising. It is possible that she’s more affectionate because she sees that you’re very happy but I’m guessing it’s more the jealousy issue. It sounds like you would like to initiate the showing of affection, so just tell her that- I’m sure she’ll be understanding. Second of all, the NRE – it sounds like your 2nd partner doesn’t really understand how that process works. Maybe you can explain to her how you felt when you first met her. That will make her feel appreciated and it’ll help her understand what you are experiencing right now. However, if these jealousy issues continue to come up, I might reconsider the relationship. Some poly people say that they could date a monogamous person, but it is not always the best idea. 

Is Polyamory the new Homosexuality?

There has been much discussion lately related to Dan Savage’s column about polyamory and whether or not it is a sexual orientation. Many people wrote into Dan Savage and said, I have been polyamorous (or poly for short) my whole life. It’s interesting that something that’s supposed to come natural to humans has to be viewed this way. In the poly world, we sometimes talk of the need to “come out” to friends, family or co-workers. It can be a very difficult process since monogamy is the assumed norm. On the reality show, Polyamory: Married and Dating, the participants talked to their families about what they were doing and the families were generally supportive. Thus, even if families don’t really understand how it all works, they can still be accepting. I’ve had similar experiences with my parents and I feel lucky that I can talk to them about it. Being poly is definitely an adjustment but I do believe that our capacity for love is much greater than we recognize. Many people are afraid of getting hurt when they fall in love, which is why they don’t make themselves vulnerable. There are also different kinds of love and we experience many of them everyday, whether romantic, familial, platonic or otherwise. Polyamory is not for everyone, to be certain. However, it is something that needs to be better understood and I hope that more attention will be paid to it. Many poly people I talk to say that we’re in the 70s or 80s compared to homosexuality. We still have a long way to go and there are many avenues through which to publicize this even further, whether it’s in the media or just by talking to friends. I will do my part in this column by writing about different issues associated with polyamory.  Please do write in and ask me anything about poly. If you’re in the Toronto area, which I am, there are lots of resources- has a group called Polyamory Toronto, for example. There’s another website called  Take advantage of everything our great city has. You never know what you might learn…


Question: I have been involved with my girlfriend for 10 years now and we used to have a great sex life, but it seems we are not as interested in trying new things as we have in the past.  We tend to only have sex in the bedroom and we are not as adventurous as we used to be.  I have tried to see if anal sex would help and she was interested but is concerned it may hurt or cause damage.  We have also thought of swinging as we are both bi-curious but have never acted on our fantasies.  I think I am more willing to act out mine than she is. Is there a way to get her more interested in trying new things again?

Answer: With regard to the first part of your question about anal sex, it is really important to go very slowly at the beginning. First, talk to her about it and see if she’s still interested. Consent is vital. If she still wants to do it, use a lot of lube and just start with fingers. It’ll take time before she’s comfortable with an entire finger and then move slowly into using more. Once she’s ready, use a condom, again with lots of lube. It does take getting used to, but with time and patience, both of you will enjoy it. In terms of trying new things- in the polyamory world, we have a term called NRE, which stands for new relationship energy. In the beginning of a relationship, there’s a lot of excitement and people are more open to trying new things. This phase lasts anywhere from 6 months after the start of the relationship to a year or even longer, depending on the relationship of course. It sounds like both of you would like to try swinging, so I would suggest talking to her more about it and see how she feels about it now. Depending on where you are, you can visit a swinger’s club – in Toronto, there are clubs like M4, Wicked, and there’s also Oasis, which isn’t a swinger’s club by nature but swinging can happen there. There’s also the website Cafe Desire where you can arrange to meet people. If you go to a club, there’s no pressure to do anything. You can watch if you choose and if you feel the desire, you can join in. Some couples also do things like have sex in the same room as another couple and there’s no pressure to do other things. The most important thing in your case is communication. Your girlfriend and you should be on the same page when it comes to this stuff so that both of you will enjoy it.

Staying Over

Question: If your boyfriend is staying over at your parents’ place for a couple of days, how do you actually manage and when to have sex with him  if the parents in question are conservative?
Answer: This is a very common issue. Many conservative parents would insist that the couple stay in separate bedrooms if they are not married. If this is the case or if you are sleeping in the same bed, I would advise discretion. If you are sleeping in separate beds, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex in one of the beds and then go to sleep separately. One thing you can do is put down a towel while you’re having sex and wash it immediately afterward if there’s lots of fluid resulting from sex. If there’s little fluid, you can probably just throw it in the wash for later. Needless to say, if you are having sex, keep the noise down. Some people find that stifling noises resulting from orgasms is sexy, so this would be a good time to try that out. I do answer this question not knowing how conservative the parents are, so if all of this seems out of the question, it might be best to wait to have sex.

First Question!

Question : Do you recommend different lubes for different jobs? or does one size fit all?

Answer: I would generally recommend a water based lube for all jobs. It’s a lot healthier for the environment and for our bodies. I would also suggest talking to your partner(s) and asking them what they use and what they prefer. I recommend checking out Good for Her and Come As You Are for great organic water based lubes.

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