AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Going the Distance

Last week was another exciting week in the land of the poly princess, as a friend of mine calls me. Well, both exciting and frustrating. I decided to end the romantic relationship with the lover in New York City. Long distance relationships (LDRs) can be difficult. Both parties need to invest a lot of time in order to make it work. For us, we just don’t have the time. His primary currently lives in Washington DC and he has many lovers in New York. I’ve been quite busy with partners here and I think things will get busier as I try to find a primary. I know several people who have LDRs and the successful ones require a lot of effort. I am saddened by the loss of this relationship. It has evolved very interestingly. I first met him in 2011 at a conference in Istanbul. I spent that summer in Germany doing fieldwork for my Master’s, as I studied the German anti-nuclear movement. That summer was quite pivotal for me. I visited Frankfurt to do interviews and I stayed with someone who told me that he and his girlfriend talked about opening up their relationship. A month later, I went to Istanbul for a conference and met the person from New York City who would become my lover. He and I had a crazy night of bar hopping and we also met the next day after staying up until 6am. He told me about his open relationship and he said to me later how jealous I looked. At that time, I was still with my ex-boyfriend and we had nearly broken up 3 weeks before I left for Germany. We decided to try and work things out. I explained to my ex-boyfriend that I liked this person and that I wanted to try having an open relationship but my ex was not keen. I met the person from New York City in July 2011 and we didn’t meet again until June 2012. For that entire year, I wrote my thesis and thought a lot about him. We kept in touch, though we did have a 3 month period of not talking because my ex was really hurt. My ex and I tried to work things out but we couldn’t. Just before we broke up, I ended up going back to Europe and I saw the person from New York City again in Berlin. We had 2 great days together. We didn’t see each other again until September when I visited him in New York. Because of the gaps in time, we could never really form a tight bond. I often felt that the relationship was unequal because I was always very very interested in him and I never felt that his interest in me was at a similar level. He felt like a very mythical person to me. The danger in that is that you can project almost anything you want onto the person and pretend that they’re perfect. When we spent time together in New York and later when he visited me in Toronto, we had a good time but the closeness was never that great. Of course, we also discovered each other’s flaws and I think we were both turned off by them. I think that if we had more time to invest in the relationship, it would have improved but it was not to be. I’m extremely thankful that we met because I might never have been poly otherwise. I told him that I’d like to see him again as friends. The moral of this story is, you really need to have time and energy to invest in LDRs. In my poly web, one person has a partner in Minnesota and they talk every day and see each other as often as they can. Over time, they have formed a very close relationship. The partner from Minnesota visited here in January and I could see how strong their relationship is. I very much admire that. Soon I will be returning to Denver to see the person I met there. I wonder what sort of relationship we will have. We’ve had some contact since he visited here at the beginning of this month. He and I have a good time together but I’m not sure if we can sustain anything. In any case, I look forward to the trip… The trick with LDRs, as with any relationship, is to align expectations. If one person expects a certain amount of contact and the other wants less or more, it can be tricky. The good and bad thing about polyamory and LDRs is that you don’t need to rely on the partner who’s far away. You may discover that relationships in your own city are enough to keep you satisfied and you may not end up having a lot of contact with the person far away. On the other hand, if you agree that you will meet a certain number of times a year and not have contact the rest of the time, for example, the relationship can still develop. Especially, if you meet the person and are very present with them for the time you can be together. Has anyone out there who’s poly had a successful or unsuccessful LDR they’d like to share? Send me an email at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Everything I post wil be confidential. Of course, all questions are welcome.

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Numbers and Genders

Is poly just a numbers game? Sometimes it can seem like it. I hear some complaints from straight poly men that there aren’t as many women who are poly and the ones who are, the vast majority of which it seems are bisexual, already have male partners, and want to find a female partner. Poly women have no trouble getting dates, especially with websites like okCupid where men are pursuing women like there is no tomorrow. Men, on the other hand, can look for quite a long time and have trouble finding partners. I also hear that many poly guys are introverted. They very much encourage their female partners to go out on dates and have fun, but for whatever reason, they aren’t as motivated to do so. For myself, I have only opened my okCupid profile to women. I have no trouble pursuing women because I am often the pursuer in general. I have sent messages to many women but I have only had 1 first date since I got on there. I’m contemplating opening up my profile to men, but I’m afraid of the deluge of messages. On the opposite side of the spectrum is my most recent partner, who’s worried that he won’t find a primary in the poly world. I, and most of the people we know, are convinced that he is very naturally poly. We are hoping that he will find someone poly who has no problem with the relationship he and I have. He and I recently met a woman who we are both interested in. She and I have been out a few times and it’s been fun. The 3 of us also went out on a date and that’s something new for all of us. The dynamics are quite interesting but I think overall, it’s easier when you’re out as a twosome or foursome. It’s been quite awhile since I had several dates in a row with a woman. I had a girlfriend last summer and since then, I have very much wanted to find a female partner but it hasn’t happened. There are certain aspects of women that I very much enjoy. We are often socialized to be communicators and to be much more in touch with our emotions. We value relationships- that isn’t to say that men don’t, but I think we often place more importance on them. On the other hand, women are often encouraged to be insecure in themselves, although I do find that poly women are pretty secure. Sometimes we can be difficult to read and we change our minds easily. Of course, I’m generalizing a bit here and there are many women who are different from the norm. For myself, I’m not sure if I would want a woman as a primary partner, but I think it really depends on the person. I am very open to meeting a woman who will sweep me off my feet. The woman my partner and I met recently is great, but for the moment, we’re going to be friends. I think we are going to spend time together fairly regularly- we are both artists in some capacity. She paints and I write poetry and I’m also working on a 1 woman show. Both of us need some encouragement to work on our art, so I think we’re going to work together. 

In other news, I recently spoke with my lover in New York City, who I hadn’t had a proper conversation with since the end of January when he visited Toronto. He has had a very rough period as his dad passed away recently. His mom died last year so he no longer has parents. One thing that is great and frustrating about poly is the ability to define relationships and say, we want to spend this much time together, we’ll do this together, etc. I find that frustrating because if the relationship changes, you need to have a sometimes difficult conversation about what you mean to each other. I very much value the relationship with the lover, but when you don’t have much contact with someone, you begin to wonder how they are feeling about the relationship. I didn’t want to broach that subject when we spoke since he’s gone through a bad patch, but it will be a conversation we need to have soon. Who knows where it will take us… We also got caught up on our recent trips and he’s very impressed with all the adventures I’ve had. He takes some credit for my crazy poly life… 

I thought I would include, for fun, a poem I wrote recently that’s partly about poly. It has yet to have a title:

It’s all in a love’s work

The good

The bad 

The exciting frustration

I am walloped by love’s power like a tsunami

Baby there ain’t no time for TV

This is poly

Don’t sit on the couch

Let yourself be pulled by love’s riptide and emerge stronger

I break convention just by being alive

I breathe and breach taboos

Hold me close to you

I want to rebel inside your arms

I want us to hold the world captive with our love

Setting out into the sunrise with nothing but our nakedness

Throw the sheets off and uncover the world’s lies

Underneath is our honesty

Teach me

Show me your capability

Let love build strength inside and out of us

Watch conventions crumble

Can We Just Let It Be?

We are taught in the monogamous world that romantic relationships should, or at least can, lead to marriage and children. So what do you do when you’re with someone who already has those things? I myself can be a very impatient person and I find that poly is really challenging me to think long term. It also challenges me to think about what my future might look like and what people I want in it. One of my partners is married and has young children and there are many things I’d like to do with him such as go on a trip for an extended period and that will not be possible for several years at least. I find it funny that I now know more married people than I did before and this makes me think more about whether I’d like to get married. When I was younger, I really wanted to get married and have a house and children. All of those things are less important to me now. I recognize that the security that comes along with marriage can be an illusion, especially as the child of divorced parents. However, there’s still a part of me that’d like more security in my life. Until June last year, I lived with my ex for about 6 years and there is a certain niceness that comes along with domesticity. If you have a problem, you have someone to come home to and talk to about it. I enjoy the fact that my partners and I have fun together but having someone to come home to is also lovely. This brings up the question- do we all have some kind of innate need for a primary partner? I really dislike the word primary because it suggests that the other relationships are less important, but it is indeed quite nice to have someone committed to you.

I had a visitor last weekend from Denver, who I met while I was on my trip. We had a great time together. For those of you who don’t know, I had an accidental 24 hours in Denver when I was on the train from Philadelphia to Berkeley. I ended up meeting some poly people and having a threesome. One of the guys from the threesome happened to be in Seattle when I went to Portland and we met up again there and in Seattle as well. We talked awhile ago and he has lots of airline points so he decided to come here. We very much enjoyed seeing each other again and I’ll be going back to Denver at the end of May before I go to Vancouver for the polyamory conference there. I’ll be presenting again in Vancouver, so please come on out!

Partners and Parents

The past week has been very interesting for 2 reasons. Firstly, someone who was a ‘friends with benefits’ and then a ‘lover’ became a ‘partner.’ I’m not one for labels but he and I discussed the nature of our relationship and decided that ‘partner’ was a more accurate term. The interesting thing we both agreed on is that we love each other but we’re not in love. We are choosing to distinguish between romantic love and a more platonic love. He is a great and unique person and it’s almost as if we have too much in common for the relationship to work romantically. We both agreed that in the monogamous world, this would not work. Polyamory makes a lot of things possible and I’m grateful. He and I met on the day of New Year’s Eve and our relationship has developed since then. We both speak German and have gotten together to practice German every week. He also happens to be a great kisser and we enjoy sharing a bed together- what more could I ask for? He happens to complement my other partner very well and they get along. I feel very very lucky. But, one needs to ask, what exactly does the term partner mean? I’m a big fan of part of the definition from urbandictionary.com- ‘Partners’ generally subsist on ‘ethical’ or sustainable diets of Organic vegetables, Free-range meat and fair-trade coffee. Of course, that could be expanded to include vegetarians. Dictionary.com says a partner is a spouse or someone you live with in a common law relationship. I’m generally a fan of the term because it denotes equality. Partners are generally equal and they share responsibilities. It also means being there for each other when we need it. Do we need another word to describe this relationship? Does anyone else have an experience like this they’d like to share? If anyone has thoughts, send me an email at miriam@askmiriam.ca or you can post a comment here.  

The other interesting thing that happened is my first partner met my parents. This can be nerve wracking and even more so in the poly world where parents won’t necessarily understand the arrangement. I was pleasantly surprised that my parents were upbeat about poly and were not judgmental at all. They thought my partner was nice and we had a good dinner. All is well…

 

If you have any relationship questions, especially regarding polyamory, send me an email at miriam@askmiriam.ca  All questions will be published anonymously.

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