AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Double Date

Last Wednesday, Ben and I moved from the city of Hai Phong, where we were staying, to Hanoi. We were excited to come here to have a more fulfilling social life and already, things are improving in that department. Ben had a date on Thursday evening, though the woman hadn’t fully read Ben’s profile which indicated he was polyamorous, so the woman was very surprised when he mentioned me. They still had a good time, but one would hope that in the future, people would read profiles more carefully.

Yesterday Ben and I met a few people, who we had had interactions with online. First we met a married couple who are interested in soft swinging, meaning they want to start off by having sex in the same room as another couple having sex. They have never done anything with other people before so they were understandably nervous and unfortunately, the conversation felt very stilted. When we found out the man was a doctor, we started talking about medical system issues in several countries and that aided things, but Ben and I are unsure if they’re interested in us, though they did indicate they might want to meet next weekend. We have never done anything this formal before – in Toronto, due to having a sex club in my neighbourhood, it was easy for us to wander down the street and meet people to have sex with; in Vietnam, more effort must be put in. However, it’s difficult to know what the exact etiquette is. The couple expressed that they don’t like pushy people so obviously we don’t want to be pushy.

In the evening, we met a woman, who I will call Huong. Ben found her profile and when I looked at it, I could see exactly why he messaged her. She looked very contrary to most of the women we had met here and even contrary to most women we’ve met in many places. Like me, Huong’s very straightforward and enjoys talking openly about love, sex, and relationships. We were also impressed that she quoted Nietzsche in the first paragraph of her profile. Upon meeting her, we thought she was attractive. She then mentioned about how she and her boyfriend allow each other to do things outside the relationship, but they don’t talk about it. Also, Huong told us that the man expects her to change once they settle down, though she doesn’t want to settle down with him. This is occasionally a difficult situation for Ben and I because we tell each other everything and we like it when we meet people who tell their partner everything as well. It’s also hard for us to see relationships where one partner is expecting the other to change. That being said, we had excellent conversation with Huong and all of us expressed interest in meeting again. Ben and I know it will be difficult to meet someone like her again, so despite not being fans of her relationship with the guy, we still want to see her. Anyway, it was a good weekend and we look forward to more social interactions soon.

If you have any questions about any sort of relationship, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thank you as always for reading!

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Absence Makes the Heart Grow

As many of you know, Ben and I are currently in Vietnam. For the past 2 weekends, we have opted to take separate vacations. Some people express surprise that we do this and some tell us that we have a healthier approach to our relationship than others do. Since we have left for Asia, we haven’t had much in the way of alone time. Especially here in Vietnam, we are together nearly all the time. We live in the same room and we even teach together. This causes a certain amount of friction at times, both in a good way and in a bad way. We are both independent people and have different interests, so separate vacations make sense. On the 6th, I went to an island called Cat Ba because I wanted to relax on the beach. I also met some people and flirted; that felt good. Of course, I happened to flirt with a French guy who was in a monogamous relationship, but hey, you never know until you try. In much of Asia, I think poly is a non-starter – flirting with expats and tourists seems like the way to go. Even if it doesn’t result in anything, I still enjoy it. Ben also got to flirt in a very small town that he accidentally found himself in. He was meaning to go to a town with a gem market to find a stone for my engagement ring and ended up in a town with a very similar name. At the very least, it makes for an interesting story. This weekend, I went to a beautiful area called Ninh Binh with lots of limestone cliffs and temples and Ben did make it to the gem market.

Until we left for Asia, Ben and I had a long distance relationship. The times that we were together felt special and were concentrated with good discussion and plenty of sex. We’ve come to a point now where things have become more domestic and dare I say, a bit boring. Because it’s been so hot, it’s hard to go out all the time and we find ourselves getting into arguments because we’re in each other’s faces constantly. Though we are fairly similar people, we have gotten into discussions about our differences and that can be hard.

At this point, time apart actually feels precious. We get the chance to miss each other. We come back home and can tell each other stories about the weekend or we can phone each other when we’re away and say, here’s a cool thing I did. When you’re in a serious relationship, I think it’s important to maintain your identity as a separate person. Some amount of interdependence is good, but if you’re with each other all the time, things can get difficult and you won’t realize how good you have it. Thankfully, after Ben and I had an argument about our different approaches to our lack of alone time, we taught our students about love. Our students shared stories about people they had been involved with, which were so nice to hear. I also got to hear Ben talk about why he wants to be with me for the rest of our lives. I have to say, I feel like a very lucky woman.

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

Express Yourself

When you’re in a relationship, I think that self-expression is very important. A few nights ago, Ben and I got into a big conversation about various things, including the subject of femininity and masculinity, which I talked about in the last blog. Ben has had struggles over the years with what it means to be masculine. He had a complicated relationship with his father, about whom he felt admiration and resentment. Of course, our fathers always shape what it means to be a man. I grew up with my mother and sister. I did see my dad every other weekend, but I was mainly surrounded by women. On the other hand, my friends have usually been male. With Ben, I feel that my feminine side gets expressed more often than my masculine side. I do feel that I can be myself with him, but the self I happen to be at the moment is fairly feminine. I admire the assertiveness men have and I think I am assertive most of the time, but I aspire to be even more so.

Perhaps we need to ask, what does it mean to be masculine or feminine? In our society, despite the advance of feminism, women are still expected to act a certain way. We’re expected to be more timid and not to ask for what we want. Normally, I am neither one of those things. I’ve asked out most of the people I’ve dated. I have no trouble showing people my crazy side. Are these normally masculine traits or is this just me being me? I also happen to have a non-verbal learning disability, which among other things, affects my ability to read social cues. Sometimes I have no idea if I make people feel uncomfortable and sometimes, well, I don’t really care.

I think that in some monogamous relationships, people have trouble expressing themselves. When you are limited to being with one person, you may feel that you can’t fully be yourself because you have to be preserve the relationship above all else. In poly, different selves can be expressed with different people. I think fewer of us feel the need to act differently from who we are – we know that we need to be ourselves with everyone we are with. They are with us for a reason, after all. For everyone I’m with, I strive to be myself and I ask for what I want. I have thought recently about how I would act if I was with Ben as well as a woman. I don’t have a lot of experience with women, so when I am with a woman, I often let her take the lead. However, I want to change this. That’s the thing about poly – we get to learn about other people, and maybe even more about ourselves.

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