AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Question: Future Considerations

I bumped into an acquaintance last night and he asked me the following question: Where do I see my relationships in 15 years?

Answer: As the old cliche goes, it’s very difficult to predict the future. Sometimes I have an intuition that something will happen in the not too distant future, but I think it’s even harder to know what my life will be like in 15 years. I will be nearly 46. Here’s what I would like to have at that time: I hope and think I will still be with Ben. With regards to career, I would like by then to have a private practice where I help people with their relationships and for people new to polyamory, I want to help smooth that transition. I would like to have a female partner and assuming everyone gets along, I would like to be living with her and Ben; perhaps she is also with Ben, though we both want different things from other partners, so I don’t think that will happen.

As many of you know from previous posts (see Once More… With Feeling), I don’t really want children and Ben does. I think I would like to be an aunt and help raise the child or children; that definitely appeals to me. Of course, we have to figure out where the children would live and who Ben would be having those children with, but these don’t seem like far off possibilities. I have expressed recently that I would like to live in another country again (I’ve lived in England, Japan, and briefly in Germany) and that appeals to Ben; perhaps we’ll be living elsewhere, or in Canada. We would like to have 2 places in Canada, one in the city (most likely Toronto) and one in the country.

Last year, I went through a period where I had 3 partners and for me, that was too much. In the future, I think I would have even less time, so 2 partners makes sense to me. I have found that it’s very difficult for me to have casual relationships because I develop feelings for people pretty quickly. As we get older, our priorities change; maybe I will have casual relationships, but I don’t see it happening. I know that I will always feel a need to have adventures, whatever those may look like. I hope I will still feel that way at 46.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thanks as always for reading!

Work It Out

I apologize for no blog last week, but part of the reason for that is: I have started a new job, hence the title of this blog. Thankfully, I only work 3 days a week, which definitely allows time for multiple relationships. One of the issues that arises with work is, how out do you want to be? One of my co-workers wanted to add me on facebook. As many of you know, when I update this blog, I update facebook. For that reason, I told my co-worker that I couldn’t add her. However, I would like to be her friend and there is a possibility she is leaving the company soon. If she was no longer working for the company, I would hang out with her and tell her more about my life. For the moment though, I am keeping my mouth shut, which is very uncharacteristic of me, I know, but I feel it’s necessary right now. My boss seems to like me and it’s a small company; I’m sure word would get around. I wrote on a previous blog (The Courage to be Ourselves) that I was denied a job because of being polyamorous. I don’t want to be fired from one because of that. I really applaud people who can be out at work and I hope that becomes more normalized as time goes on. 

Another reason I titled this post Work It Out is that I wanted to write about conflict. For most of my life, I have avoided conflict. In serious relationships, that has meant I usually did what the other person wanted because I didn’t want to fight about it. Part of the reason why I did that is because I saw my parents fight and I hated it. As I grew up, my dad sometimes got angry at me. Unfortunately, that has influenced my relationships with men and Ben is very much aware of that. Believe it or not, Ben and I have had some fights. Nothing horribly serious, but still somewhat upsetting. What I have learned from these fights is that I can actually deal with conflict in a constructive way. Ben and I are able to express how we are feeling, talk about it in a mature way, and resolve it. I’ve had discussions about conflict and people say that if you can find a resolution or compromise, you can learn from it and it makes the relationship stronger; I couldn’t agree more. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I come to the end of my 30th year, it’s that I can defend my opinions. I thank Ben for allowing me to have this growth.

If you have any questions, be they about monogamy, polyamory, or any sort of relationship, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca. Thanks as always for reading and asking!

Back to Basics

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the following 4 things: communication, time management, jealousy, and appreciation. In my mind, these are the 4 things you need to grasp as someone who’s in poly relationships. I will describe those 4 things below.

First, communication. Of course, you need communication in every type of relationship, be it with friends, in monogamy, or in polyamory. Some argue, especially in polyamory. I have written before that polyamory is more than anything a communication style. We have to be open about what and who we want, what kind of sex we want, etc. We also need to master, what I call, the art of the heads up. Say for example, you’re at a party with a partner. If you anticipate flirting with other people, let your partner know. You can let them know either before or during. If you get separated from each other and you flirt with someone else, you can let them know afterward. In polyamory, we often talk about “processing.” After something significant happens, we talk about it with our partner(s). So, you can see that communication is so important. For myself, I am a very verbal person. I like it when people tell me things and I like telling people things. Some of my friends know that it can be hard for me to keep my mouth shut. That’s one of the reasons why poly works for me. If I meet someone I like, I will tell my partner(s) and probably my friends as well.

Next, time management. If you have more than 1 relationship, scheduling can be an issue. For someone like me, it is especially a challenge because I like having hobbies; I play ultimate frisbee, I dance, and I write poetry. Plus, most of us need to work. There are only so many hours in a day! Last year, I saw a talk by Tristan Taormino, author of one of the poly bibles Opening Up. She said that a poly person must have invented Google calendar- it has lots of colours and different means of scheduling things. I have been in relationships with people who use it and I have to say, it’s so gratifying when you see their calendar and your name is on it. I try to schedule my time as fairly as I can. It can be difficult when people want to see me and I have to say no. Also, the amount of time you spend with people is often indicative of how important they are to you. Be sure to sit down with your partner(s) and see what they feel is fair.

Thirdly, jealousy. I have had both positive and negative experiences with it. By positive, I mean that it can show you how much you care about the person. However, if it takes over your life, it will feel very negative at times. In my experience, communication defeats jealousy. The more you talk about things, the better you will feel. A friend of mine said that defeating jealousy requires good communication and a healthy sense of self. If you can realize how important you are to your partner, jealousy should not be an issue. Your partner(s) should also be reminding you how important you are to them. We also have to realize how much love there is to go around. After all, one of the reasons we became poly was because we wanted to love, or at least have the opportunity to love, more than 1 person. Our culture sometimes reminds us that things are scarce, but love isn’t one of those things.

Finally, appreciation. Awhile back, I was with 2 people who complemented each other almost perfectly. I felt very fulfilled and as a bonus, the 2 of them got along very well. I reminded them as often as I could what I appreciated about them. In poly, everyone brings something to the table. I really wish we didn’t feel the need for hierarchy though this seems to naturally happen. Ideally, everyone should be recognized as bringing something unique into our lives. Secondaries should not be made to feel secondary. They ought to be recognized for who they are.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca  As always, thanks for reading! Please write in 🙂

Good Grief

I write this post from Montreal, where my grandparents live. I had to come here unexpectedly on Tuesday because my stepgrandfather passed away. He had been married to my paternal grandmother for 19 years. We had the funeral yesterday and there were beautiful eulogies from my stepgrandfather’s granddaughter and son. Under the circumstances, it is very nice to see my extended family. So, what does this have to do with relationships and polyamory? When a relationship ends, we mourn it. We remember the good times and bad. We show appreciation to our partner(s) by saying nice things.

One thing I don’t like about death is that people might show the appreciation that they didn’t show while the person was alive or in their life. In the context of poly, showing appreciation is very important. Everyone brings something  unique to the table and that is worth celebrating. Also, when a relationship ends or transforms into something different, I think it’s very important to let the person know what they meant to you. I have been thinking a lot about that since on this trip. As I mentioned in the previous blog, I went to Denver for the Poly Living conference put on by the group Loving More where I facilitated a discussion on how people meet. I was fairly happy with how my talk went and the rest of the conference was interesting. I met some cool people, including one who lives in New York who I may see again.

I also got to see the people from the Denver 3some, which happened in February last year (see the post called Thoughtful, Ruminative, and Picky). I  visited them in May last year, during which time a partner in Toronto ended a relationship with me, which was very difficult to deal with. On this trip, I was thinking a lot about the person I was at that time since a lot has happened in the last 11 months. I mourn the person I was and I also celebrate the person I am; much more self-assured, stable, and with different expectations of what relationships mean to me. I love the act of remembering. Nostalgia will forever be one of my middle names…

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