AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Poly in the Media

Since I started down this poly path, I find that watching TV and movies just isn’t the same any more. Over the weekend I wasn’t feeling well and I spent much of Saturday watching Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve been watching the series from the beginning and I’m now on season 3. It’s a show about surgeons and it looks at both their work in the hospital and their love lives. The main character, Meredith Grey, is an intern whose mother is quite famous in the world of surgery. The day before Meredith starts her job at the hospital, she meets someone at the bar across from the hospital and they have sex. The next day at the hospital, they meet again. It turns out that the man, Derek Shepherd, is a surgeon and she will be studying under him. Meredith does not know that Derek is estranged from his wife until the second season. Later on in the second season, Meredith gets a dog and has to take it to the vet Finn, who then asks her out. By this point, Derek’s wife Addison has returned and they try to work things out, but they decide to split. Derek and Finn tell Meredith that she has to decide between the two. In the following episode, Meredith dreams of having a threesome with both of them. If only that were actually an option… Derek and Finn even get along well! Any poly person could see, this would be a wonderful scenario for Meredith.

I also recently watched the movie Before Midnight. This is the final film in the series with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. The first film, Before Sunrise, takes place in Vienna. Julie Delpy, a Parisian named Celine, and Ethan Hawke, an American named Jesse, meet on a train from Budapest. Jesse is getting off in Vienna to catch his flight back to the US. Celine is on her way back to Paris from visiting her grandmother. Jesse and Celine start talking and Jesse convinces her to get off the train and spend the day and night with him in Vienna. It is clear that they are falling in love and they plan to meet 6 months later on the train platform. However, they don’t meet again until 10 years later in Paris. This is the subject of the second film, Before Sunset. Jesse is now married with a son and has released a book about the night in Vienna with Celine, who is still living in Paris and has a partner who’s away quite often. They talk about the last 10 years and that familiar passion comes back. Both of them are unhappy. Jesse is in a sexless marriage, though he loves his son. At the end of the film, Celine takes Jesse to her apartment and plays a song for him about their night in Vienna. The film ends with Celine telling Jesse he’ll miss his plane… In the last film, they are together and have twin girls. The relationship between Jesse, his ex-wife, and Celine is very trying. Celine is offered a prestigious position in Paris and Jesse is a successful writer but he wants to be in Chicago with his son. He does not tell Celine to refuse the job offer, but it’s quite clear he wants to move. The magic and the spark from their relationship in the first two films is gone. The sex is stale. How could the problems be solved? Perhaps new sexual experiences and relationships would help Jesse and Celine… Many people tell me I advocate polyamory for everyone, but this is certainly not the case. The emotional maturity and the desire for growth must be there.    

Weathering Endings

I had a very interesting day last week. I bumped into a friend of mine in the afternoon and told her, while laughing, I had already given my phone number to 2 people that day. She commented that people are so much more open in the summer. However, it’s not unusual for me to flirt and ask people out. I wish that more women felt free to do the same thing; men don’t always have to be the pursuers… I do agree with her that summer is an interesting time. People feel free from obligations and perhaps want a summer fling. I was in a bit of a strange mood that day because I realized it was exactly 2 years before that I was up all night in Istanbul with the person who started me on this poly journey. I felt like I needed to make the day last week just as memorable. I was also in a really good mood because I had had a first date the day before that went really well. In the middle of the infamous day, that person texted me to ask how I was and that felt great. That person has never been poly before and I asked him if he was comfortable with it. He said yes. He also said that he wanted to hear more information rather than less and I took that as a great sign. However, the next day, my partner and I had a party that I invited him to and as the party was ending, the new date asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. In my head, I thought, oh no. He told me he doesn’t think he could do poly because of the jealousy. I was very disappointed because we got along very well and we have similar interests. We ended the walk at my partner’s house. I guess this is one of the benefits of polyamory. Even if you break up with someone, you have other people to fall back on. I had also been dating someone from OkCupid and decided to end it with him. I feel foolish sometimes for starting so many things and then ending them but my partner said to me, at least you’re brave enough to start them! I guess I’m still figuring out exactly what I want… One benefit and downside of polyamory is that the possibilities seem endless. The only limit we have is time. I enjoy the fact that I can pursue people freely but I feel like I have to be careful about who I get involved with. I feel like I’ve grown quite picky and perhaps rightfully so. However, relationships will never be perfect. Now I’m continuing the search for a primary partner…

Travelling and Relationships

Travelling is something I’m quite fond of. I’ve lived in England, Japan and briefly in Germany. While living in those places, I visited many more. I like immersing myself in a new place and figuring out how it works. I love travelling alone and with others. When you travel as part of a couple, it can be both fun and problematic. If you travel with someone for an extended period, there’s a chance of getting sick of each other or fighting; on the other hand, it’s really nice to share experiences together. I recently started going out with someone on OkCupid and it’s been going well. He had last week off of work and I only work part time so we decided to go to Niagara on the Lake and see a play at the Shaw Festival. Funnily enough, we saw a play called Enchanted April, which is about 4 English women who rent a castle in northern Italy together; there were many travel themes. 2 of the English women were married and decided they wanted a break from their husbands. I sympathize with that feeling; until last year, I was with someone for 8.5 years. I spent the summer of 2011 in Germany doing fieldwork for my Master’s and I really enjoyed the break from my ex-boyfriend. I also spent the month of May last year in Europe again, which gave me a chance to reflect on our relationship. It helped me come to the conclusion that we weren’t right for each other. One thing I love about travelling is that different places give you a chance to be in a different head space. I find that I think differently in a new place and of course, there are lots of new experiences to be had. It was while travelling to Istanbul in 2011 that I met the person who really helped me become poly, for example. 

 After we saw Enchanted April, we were talking about marriage, which we both have mixed feelings about. Perhaps I’m a bit old fashioned but part of me thinks I could be with 1 or more people for the rest of my life. I like the ebbs and flows of relationships and I like living with people I love. When we left Niagara on the Lake the next day, I told him I was grateful we were able to go on a trip without killing each other. In fact, we got along quite well. We’re both feeling very comfortable with each other. Some people might think we’re crazy for travelling after having gone out for 2 weeks but we both enjoyed it. My only regret is that every time I return from travelling, I feel a bit blue that the vacation wasn’t longer.

If you have any questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  All questions are anonymous. 

Poly(un)saturated?

There are times in the poly world when one can feel overwhelmed. To be technical about it, a person can feel polysaturated and there is the state of poly saturation. You may feel like you have too many partners, not enough time for yourself, and not enough time to spend with friends and family. For myself, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I’m going to do for the rest of my life and that takes up a lot of brain space. I’m very seriously contemplating a return to school to do a Master’s in Social Work. As you can tell from this column, I love relationships and relationship dynamics. I like helping people in improving their relationships. Some people joke with me that I’ll tell all of my clients to go poly but I truly think that poly is not for everyone. Anyway, last week, I was feeling poly saturated. I started dating someone from OkCupid and that’s been going very well. We’ve seen each other several times over the last 10 days. He also met one of my partners and they got along well. I had had a less serious partner and I decided to end that because I really don’t know if I can handle 3 relationships. Many people comment on my seeming ease with poly and it does feel natural to me but it still has been less than a year. I wonder how much change in relationships I can really handle and if I can have less serious relationships. I tend to get close to people fairly quickly and I think poly facilitates that because we tend to discuss the harder subjects more easily. I am not a big fan of small talk so I usually ask people difficult questions early on. One issue in poly is that the lines between friendship and romantic relationships can be blurred very easily. This is both wonderful and frustrating. I personally like having friends who I don’t have sex with. However, there are times when it’s nice to have a friend with benefits.

In other news, I marched in the Pride parade on Sunday with a polyamory group. Many people in the crowd seemed to recognize the idea and cheered for us. One of my earliest posts on this blog was about “coming out.” Some people have commented that being poly now is like being gay in the 1970s or 1980s; there has been some popularization of polyamory but many people don’t know what it means and if you say you’re poly, people assume you’re talking about polygamy. I personally don’t want to diminish the struggle gay people went through 40 or 50 years ago and even today, there are still difficulties. At any rate, we have much to be proud of.

Being Truly Open?

Question: One thing that sets apart monogamous relationships from nonmonogamous is that there’s a potential for sharing secondhand knowledge about partners (e.g. if you’re dating a couple and the wife says something about the husband and meanwhile your girlfriend knows something the husband’s said about the wife and so on…). I’ve been finding this a little tricky to deal with. Obviously complete openness among all parties is the ideal. But especially in dealing with a previously existing couple who have their own established dynamic, history, parameters, etc (which one doesn’t want to accidentally disturb), it can be hard to know what to do with a piece of information about person A that one actually got from person B. Thoughts?

Answer: This is indeed a tricky situation that many poly people go through. It can be complicated whether it’s positive or negative information that perhaps you did not want to hear. I understand not wanting to change the dynamic between the pre-exisiting couple. What I would do is, if you receive such information in the future from partner A, ask partner A if partner B knows about it. If not, ask A if you could discuss it with B or perhaps ask A if they would like to talk to B about what was just said if you feel awkward discussing it with B. I’m a big proponent of having nearly everything, especially more important things, out in the open, unless there are circumstances which would make the sharing of the information undesirable. Of course, you have to use your judgment to determine if the information should be known to everyone. I think that in many cases, more information is better than less.

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