AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Twas Christmas Day… and I got tested for STIs

Of all the possible days, yes, I got tested for STIs in Zhengzhou on Christmas Day. Being a Jewish person, Christmas has never mattered that much to me. I have definitely enjoyed sharing with significant others and their families, but growing up, it was never important. This being China, Christmas isn’t a holiday where people don’t work. I teach one class on Thursday morning, so I did that as normal and then hopped on a bus to the central hospital of Zhengzhou University. Amy, who I’ve previously written about, took Ben there to get tested several weeks ago. At that time, she forgot to bring her ID card, so she couldn’t get tested. Thus, she came with me.

As a Canadian, the Chinese healthcare system seems strange to me. When you enter the hospital, you have to get a health card and immediately put money on it. Ok, in many countries, you do have to pay, but in China, the thing that gets me is the lack of privacy. I was actually able to use Ben’s health card, which would never be allowed in many places. I didn’t have a health card and forgot to bring my passport, so they told me that using Ben’s card would be fine. First, we put a bit of money on the cards so we’d be able to talk to a doctor. Amy and I went up to see the female doctor and she confirmed that she could test us for everything we wanted. Again, this is a major lack of privacy. The doctor had no idea what sort of relationship Amy and I have; perhaps I was her foreign friend, perhaps I was a complete stranger. Regardless, we both had our vaginas swabbed, similar to the procedure when I get a pap smear, so not real pain to speak of. Afterward, we were given 2 tubes and 2 swabs that had what the doctor had swabbed. We had to bring that to a special window where they test for the STIs. I think it would be much better if those were transported for us. What if Amy and I had mixed up whose was whose? What if someone had something and the other didn’t? I feel that this whole procedure can lead to a lot of mishaps.

Next, we had our blood taken to test for the rest of the STIs, which went fine. One thing I find odd is that after your blood is taken, they give you a Q-Tip which you have to hold yourself until blood stops appearing. In Canada, a cotton ball is taped to our arm to do that job, which I feel is much better. As I write this, the day after getting tested, I have a bit of a scar where the blood was drawn, probably because I kept taking the Q-Tip off to check if the blood had stopped. Thankfully, we didn’t have to transport our blood ourselves to be tested – that was done for us.

Finally, Amy and I went downstairs to pay. It all ended up costing 253 RMB, which for reference, is about $50; not bad. Ben and I had told Amy awhile ago that in Toronto and in Tokyo, where I used to live, you can get tested for STIs for free and anonymously. She asked us, why do they do that? Ben and I told her that there is a public health interest in making sure that everyone is healthy, even with regard to sexual health. In China, it is normal to test for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and syphillis, but not the most common STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Ben and I were tested for the former diseases when we first arrived to make sure we wouldn’t infect the population with any of those horrible things. Thus, it’s not really about health and more about keeping out foreign influence. In the future, I sincerely hope that STI testing will be both more widespread around the country, more comprehensive in terms of what they test for, and less of a hassle.

Two final notes as an aside: Amy and I had lunch after we got tested. She told me that her son now knows that she’s getting divorced, which Ben and I think is great news. She also said that her Beijing beau is coming here next week and they’ll decide what sort of relationship they’re going to have. I don’t think Amy is aware of the fact that Ben and I wouldn’t have sex with her if she’s involved with someone else, as Amy told us that the beau wouldn’t want to share and we don’t want to be her secret. We do wish her the best and think this is the best bet for her.

For the second final note, I’d like to give a special shout-out to all those poly people at this time of the year. For those of you who are celebrating with your family and can’t bring additional significant others with you or can’t talk about who you are, I want to tell you that things will get better over time. As polyamory is discussed more and more widely in this society, I hope it gets accepted by more and more people and that more poly people come out. The older generations may not understand it, but in time, I think most people will come to understand that we can’t control who we love and how many we love.
Happy Holidays to everyone and all of their loves! If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

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How Not to Say Goodbye

This blog has a double meaning. First I will talk about a bad way to say goodbye. I found out last week that the American and I will not be meeting when he comes to China, as he told me he would prefer to travel alone. I believe this is his way of saying goodbye to me. I pointed him to the last blog and I’m hoping he read it. If he did and then said no to seeing me, I’m guessing that he was only looking for sex and nothing more. As I wrote on the last blog, I was really not looking to have sex with him. I felt that seeing him would give me some sort of closure. Given his reaction, I think this is all the closure I need. I can confidently say now that I have no desire to see him again or to write to him again. I am comfortable with the fact that, even though he was a jerk, he helped lead me into the life I have now. I remember talking to him last year not long after my 1 month train trip across the US and having had various adventures. He said to me, I’ve created a monster! He did help create the person that I am now, but I have made my own choices and I feel grateful that I can now choose consciously who I have relationships with. He may have ignited the flame, but I have tended to the fire.

The second part of this post is about not saying goodbye to the person you’re with. Ben and I got into some arguments last week. One of those happened right before we went on the radio to host our weekly show at the university. By the time we arrived at the studio, we were still upset at each other. The week before, we had celebrated our anniversary and I told Ben that I had written him a song for the occasion. I would have sang it during that radio show, but the opportunity did not arise and my throat wasn’t at its best. Last week, I thought to sing the song when we began the radio show to make Ben feel better. I introduced the song to the listeners and he was shaking his head. I really didn’t know what else to do and to be honest, there was a part of me that almost wanted to make him more upset, so I sang it. When I started, he stormed out of the studio. We had a student hosting the show with us and she kept listening and told me afterward that it moved her. Awhile after, Ben returned to the studio and later that night, he said that he thought our relationship was over because he had done that. I assured him that I wouldn’t end our relationship because of that. We talked more that night and sorted things out. In the morning however, we argued again and then had to get on the bus to go out of town, as Ben had planned a hot spring getaway as a 1 year anniversary gift. On the bus to the bus station, we barely talked to each other. Once we were at the bus station, we did smooth things over.

Part of the reason why we fought is because we are uncertain of the future, especially Ben. He wants to try starting his own mine in Canada, but he doesn’t know how that will go and he has student debt to contend with. In addition, we have to deal with the fact that we may want to live in different places; I’m more of a city person and he isn’t. We also feel sometimes that we inhabit different worlds. Our bond is very deep, but our interests don’t often intersect. Ben feels that he can’t talk to me about certain nerdy things and I can’t share my artistic interests with him. One danger of poly is that we may share those things with other partners and maybe live with those other partners, thus growing distant from each other. However, by the time the weekend was over, we resolved that we want to be together no matter what. Ben told me that his heart would grow cold without me and I said that I feel the same way. We want to share daily pleasures with each other and laugh at, for example, frustrating things that happen in China. When we went away, we stayed at a hotel attached to a hot spring. One would think that our shower would have hot water, but we had no such luck. A few other guests also laughed at how Ben uses chopsticks. Ah, China…

The Week that Was: A Mega Diary

This blog will cover the period from November 21-28, during which time many things happened. It all started with, of course, a threesome sleepover. The previous weekend, Ben and I met a woman who will be known as Amy. Ben had had contact with her online and after he and I returned from a trip, she invited us over to her place. Hers is a slightly complicated situation because she has a son and she and her husband are in the process of divorcing. However, her son doesn’t know that. With that in mind, imagine Ben and I walking into the apartment she shares with her son and her inviting us into her bedroom. She told me that she has never done anything with a woman, but she was definitely making eyes at me. I also thought she was attractive and Ben was attracted to her as well. She kissed both of us and also watched us make out on her second bed. She didn’t want to do anything further because she was on her period and her son was around.

Fast forward to November 21st when she came over to our place. She had told Ben in advance that she wanted to sleep over and we were all fine with that. She’s a pretty small woman and she fit fine in the bed with us. I was very happy that she was affectionate with both of us and very inclusive of me, despite being more attracted to Ben. She is definitely a very sexual woman and enjoyed riding both Ben and I. At one point very early on the 22nd, she told me that she wanted me to teach her how to please me. She fingered me and it felt good. I went down on her and she really liked that; she comes very easily. Of course, I have mixed feelings about being someone’s teacher. I would rather find a woman who already knows her way around another woman. And speaking of that, on the day that Amy left our place, I went to a lesbian bar with an American woman I met from OkCupid who has become a friend. It was interesting to see a lesbian bar in China. Unfortunately, my Mandarin isn’t great at the moment, so I couldn’t talk to anyone. The woman I was with has been in China for about 2 years and could translate a bit. She told the others that I was bi and I was happy to know that they didn’t think I was some type of fence sitter. She also told a couple about my polyamory and one said she thought that was cool.

The day after that, a Sunday, I ended up having quite the email exchange with a certain influential person in my life who lives in New York City. For those of you who don’t know, he basically led me into poly. I had emailed him a few days before and mentioned that I’m now teaching at a university in China. He then said that he’s coming to China during his winter break. I asked him if he’d want to see me and he said he did, but his preference was for us to meet as more than friends, which surprised me because I ended the romantic part of our relationship last year. The truth is, we have never been less than friends, but I have no desire to have sex with him. When I visited him in New York 2 years ago, I actually told him that I was less than impressed with his sexual skills, which upset him. He then visited me in January last year in Toronto and we had a fairly good time, but then contact dropped off, which upset me. Last April, I told him online I didn’t want to have a romantic relationship with him anymore and he took that harshly. Mainly, I want to see him now because I feel like I need to make amends for doing that; I certainly don’t believe in ending a relationship via chat, especially with a person who has been so important to me. He said recently that he didn’t think I was into being with him, though I confessed to him 2.5 years ago that I had been obsessed with him and that I wanted him to be present when I had the abortion. After I graduated from my Master’s, I looked for jobs all over the world, including in New York so I could be near him. I’ve written poem after poem about him.  Now, I want to tell him that when we saw each other in New York and Toronto, it didn’t really feel real; it’s as if I had dreamt it. I also felt that he didn’t want me to get close to him. Last winter, many important things happened that he never told me about. I also never got a chance to meet his primary partner despite going to the city she lives in and requesting her contact information from him. Truthfully, I have always admired him. His intellectual, artistic prowess, and his worldliness was what attracted me initially and that still holds true today.

Finally, Ben and I had a lot of discussion about our future last week. He received an email from a friend who found gold on Vancouver Island and told Ben that they should explore further, perhaps open a mine. Ben had talked about doing something like that once we returned to Canada, so this is very timely. However, we hadn’t envisioned going back next year and these plans might change that. I personally don’t feel ready to return home – I still want to see more of the world and experience that with Ben. However, I would be open to living in Vancouver and seeing what it’s like to live on the west coast of Canada. It all really comes down to finding a job. Our jobs right now are pretty good, but we’d like to live in a different place and most likely outside of China. We’ll see what happens…

If you have any questions about any sort of relationship, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thanks as always for reading!

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