AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

AskMiriam About Bisexuality

Question: Do you feel like there is an inherent bias in the poly community against bisexual men? I don’t identify as bi, though I’m aware how fluid everything is and I am occasionally curious. I just feel like there is a very small bi male population, at least that is visible. The ratio of bi females to straight females is nearly the reverse of the ratio for males. Why? Is this indicative of something or just a reflection of our culture at large?

Answer: This issue comes up again and again. With regards to the poly women I have met, most of them tend to identify somewhere on the queer spectrum, which includes bi. I myself identify as someone who’s attracted to the person, not the gender (Check out this book for that sort of label: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674032262). I don’t think we need to restrict ourselves when it comes to who we get involved with and I like having the freedom to be with men, women, and anyone else on the gender spectrum. The poly men I have met tend to be straight. I do believe that part of this is social conditioning; it’s completely acceptable for women to be sexual together, but for men, it’s much more complicated. It’s only been fairly recent that homosexuality of any sort has become socially acceptable. Unfortunately, I think that women are often sexual together because it’s a fantasy of a man they’re with, however there are many of us out there who genuinely want to be with more than one gender. It could also be the fact that women tend to be more attractive in general, so perhaps there’s more reason for a woman to be attracted to women than for a man to be attracted to men.

There’s also something else going on here: Many of us poly women like questioning the status quo; we do it everyday if we are poly. If we question traditional relationship structures, why not question our sexuality? Of course, poly men also question the status quo, but men have much more at stake in the traditional societal structure than women. It is to their disadvantage to question their sexuality because that means questioning a society that has traditionally supported them. Back in the 1950s, Kinsey posited that sexual orientation was on a spectrum and I think human sexuality is much more fluid than most people think; we are sexual beings after all.  I sometimes get into arguments with Ben about this issue because he very much identifies as straight. Of course I trust him, but I wonder what would happen if men were more encouraged to question their sexuality.

As I have written before, I have a unique perspective on all of this because of my gay father. Sometimes I wonder the extent to which he had feelings for my mother before they split up. My mother had no idea he was gay, so I suppose he put on quite the act, but I wonder if any of it is genuine. He also said to me recently, sometimes I think it would be easier just to be with a woman. When he was young, it was very difficult to be gay and I think he felt like he had to hide who he was. I do feel thankful that I was born, but I wish things had been easier for him.

If you have any questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca. Eve is currently visiting Ben and I and once she leaves, I will write about the visit.

Advertisements

AskMiriam about Gender Differences in Morning Sex

Question: Something came up the past few days and it has me thinking. I’ve always been a huge fan of morning sex; it leaves me feeling like I’ve gotten in my gym visit and my meditation. My energy levels are up all day. Some of my partners have complained of basically the opposite, they’re exhausted and sluggish if we have morning sex. Am I unique in this or is it a gender thing?

Answer: I think this question calls for feedback from many people of all genders, not just me, but I’ll give it a try. I will say for myself that I very much enjoy morning sex. I used to have a partner who would often visit me in the morning because we both had flexible work schedules. I felt pretty energetic for the rest of the day after that, but it was also exceptionally good sex. I also had a fairly physical life at the time that kept me energetic; I rode my bicycle everywhere, exercised, and I had some physical work. I am also a morning person, so I enjoy doing things in the morning and I do my most productive work in the morning normally.

I will say that I have had times where sex leaves me sluggish afterward. It’s possible that your female partners experience the same thing. I often feel something resembling a high right after sex and an hour or so later, I feel down. I’ve heard that potassium can help that, which I’ve been meaning to try.  Sex is always an individual thing and it’s possible that your partners are night owls and feel more energetic at night. I will also say that I am less likely to feel down after sex if I have an orgasm at the very end. I would talk to your partners about what makes them more energetic after sex. If they feel that there’s something that could be done to that end, they would be more likely to have morning sex.

Thanks for the question! As always, you can email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca if you have relationship or sex questions.

Responsibility and Envy

This week, I want to write about 2 things, which are more related than one might expect. First off, responsibility. What I mean in this case is responsibility for one’s own emotions and for the emotions of others. I recently read this article: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/polypeople.shtml. It makes the very good point that there are some poly people who act as if they have no responsibility for how they make others feel. We can make partners and metamours jealous, for example. Jealousy isn’t a completely bad thing, but if we can change our actions to make others feel better, why not do that? We cannot completely abdicate responsibility for how we affect others if only because our happiness can depend on making others happy. I definitely think that we should treat others the way we want to be treated as well. Often, Ben, Eve, and I all talk on skype together. I am conscious of the fact that Eve sometimes feels jealous when she sees Ben and I being affectionate. She wondered how she would feel when she comes to visit us if she sees us kissing, cuddling, or perhaps having sex. We decided to do an experiment; Ben and I kissed while Eve watched. Afterward, she said she didn’t feel uncomfortable, so we were all happy about that.

Her visit is now 1 week away and we are all anxious. I told her that I felt that this visit hinges less on how she and Ben feel about each other and more about how she and I feel about each other. She needs to be able to deal with the fact that Ben is with both of us and that won’t change. I think it is in all of our interest that she is made to feel comfortable and secure with Ben. I know that I may feel jealous while she is around because Ben will be giving someone else lots of attention, but in the grand scheme of things, I want Ben to be happy and I know that that includes having Eve in his life. Likewise, Ben wants to see me happy with someone else, though I don’t expect that to happen until we return to Canada at the end of June.

This past week, Ben and I celebrated 1 year of being engaged. Generally, we spend Monday evenings doing things together as a couple and I decided to do something romantic for that anniversary. I bought candles, a flower, and sweets. I spread the flower petals over a sheet on top of a blanket on the floor, lit the candles, and put the sweets on plates. Ben was very happily surprised, which pleased me. Unfortunately, some of the candle wax got on the blanket, which is what we sleep under, but we had a nice time. That evening, Eve wanted to talk to someone and Ben was occupied. She has also been in contact with someone else and he was also occupied. At that time, Eve felt a whole set of emotions about Ben and I celebrating our anniversary, including envy. When it comes to poly, everyone talks about jealousy, but few people speak of envy. It is under the jealousy umbrella in the broader sense, but it can simply be defined as wanting what someone else has. I sometimes feel envious about what Ben and Eve have. Of course, I’m happy that Ben found someone else that he connects with so strongly, but I also want the same thing for myself. I don’t expect to find that until at least moving to Vancouver in mid-July. I am partly a competitive person by nature and I often feel that I should be achieving more than those around me, so perhaps the envy plays into that. For the moment, we have to see if the relationship will continue between Ben and Eve.

As always, I appreciate your reading. If you have any sort of relationship question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

A Woman’s Right to Choose

This week, I want to talk about a subject that’s very dear to my heart: a woman’s right to choose whether she wants children or not. Last week, I had a bit of a scare because I should have been on my period and I wasn’t. Now, this sort of thing is not without precedent: I spent 4 years in England and Japan from 2006-2010 and during that time, I missed a number of periods. In England, I went to the doctor to inform them of that fact and the female doctor told me not to worry; it’s typical when you’re adjusting to a new environment. In Japan, I didn’t have periods for the first 6 months of my time there. Yes, I was adjusting to a new environment and I was also eating a lot of soy, which apparently delays the menstrual cycle. I thought about those times last week, but I also thought to myself, I’ve already adjusted to China, for the most part; why is it that I would miss a period now and not in the beginning of our stay here? Alex very kindly went with me to get a pregnancy test at a local drugstore. We returned to my apartment to find Ben here (I was expecting him to be out), and it was really nice to have both guys here while I did the test. Thankfully, it returned negative and we all celebrated with chocolate, hugs, and kisses.

The day after, I went downtown to visit Mily, which was very pleasant. She made a delicious egg cheese vegetable casserole and we had good conversations. At one point, I did make her cry though, as she talked about her past relationships and I told her that I think she’s scared to get hurt again. At that point, we were sitting outside, me eating ice cream and her drinking coffee. I told her that I’m still attracted to her and she playfully said, why don’t you move closer? She kissed me on the cheek and I returned the favour. I felt a bit self-conscious, but there was a part of me that wanted to kiss her on the lips again. After that, I got on the bus to go back home and there happened to be a family from Ecuador there. One of them actually asked me if I was pregnant and offered me her seat, saying I looked so tired. I said, well, that’s a funny story… Unfortunately, that night I dreamed that I needed an abortion and I was still in China. One doctor, who was white, accompanied me to a drugstore and showed me various implements I could use to perform the abortion myself. I panicked and asked him if he could help me; he said yes. Obviously, my mind is telling me I don’t want an abortion in China.

Nearly 3 years has passed since I myself had an abortion. At that time, I was with my ex-boyfriend and we were about to break up. I had debated for a long time whether I wanted children or not and I came to the conclusion that I didn’t, for various reasons. As an environmentalist, I think there are too many people in the world and we should be reducing the population, not increasing it. People tell me that my kids will be smart and environmentalists too, but there’s no guarantee of that. Plus, if we live in the first world, our environmental impact will necessarily be much higher. Secondly, as many of you know, I like travelling and I really enjoy my freedom. I don’t want the responsibility of caring for someone if I truly want to get up and go somewhere, especially for an extended period. Finally, I don’t really want to change my body. For the brief period I knew I was pregnant, I felt horrible. I know that the second trimester gets easier, but I don’t even want to wait the 3 months for that to happen.

At that time, I was very impressed with my ex because he did want kids and he encouraged me to get the abortion. Everyone supported me, though my mother apologized and said, I’m happy that you’re pregnant. She and my father did accompany me to the hospital and I was rid of the fetus. People ask me if it was a difficult decision; in fact, it was one of the easiest I have ever made. I had gone to the doctor several weeks before for another reason and I told them how I felt (reduced appetite and exhaustion). They told me to get a pregnancy test, which I did in the lab in that building. The next day, they told me I was indeed pregnant so I felt vindicated that something was indeed wrong. I was about to go to Europe for 1 month and I told them I needed to get an abortion quickly, which did happen. Just after I returned, my ex and I broke up, so I’m even more glad that I made that particular decision because the child would not have been well cared for. I am happy now that my ex is about to marry someone who does want children. In the future, Ben may have children with someone and my hope is that we would all live together and raise the children. I’m happy to be a part time mother because I think the relationship between parent and child is incredibly special; I still depend on my mother to this day and I’m very grateful to her. Finally, I’m glad that I had the right to choose not to have that child. Every woman should have the same right, whether they want children or not. We are continually fighting for women to have the same rights and opportunities as men and our right to choose what to do with our bodies is inherently part of that.

Thank you as always for reading. If you have any sort of relationship question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

The Best Kept Secret of Polyamory

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about, what I think, is the best kept secret of polyamory. Say you’ve been with someone for awhile and things have become monotonous in the relationship. This is inevitable, after the NRE (new relationship energy) fades away. It’s been said that NRE, the feelings that come when you’re excited about someone at the beginning of a relationship, can last for, at most, a few years. If you’ve been in a 10 year marriage, for the sake of argument, you may well decide to open up the relationship because you want the relationship to feel fresher or more interesting. Well, here’s the secret: Yes, you may be excited about dating and/or having sex with new people, but that doesn’t change the fact that your existing relationship still may feel monotonous. It doesn’t change the fact that you still may have problems in the relationship that need sorting out. Every relationship requires a certain amount of work to be put in and that will not change either. Also, I think one of the biggest issues with polyamory for people in very long term relationships is that you can be prone to seeking out too much variety. You may be with someone for a period and decide that you are bored, once the NRE wears off. Even if you have a great second relationship, you may end it so that you can continue to have variety.  I think this is fine with mutual consent, but there may not be mutual consent when one party ends the relationship for no reason. Here’s the truth: In the end, NRE, that amazing feeling, does go away. We are hopefully left with a feeling of stability, something to last us much longer than NRE ever would. As proud polyamorists, we need to take care of the people we love.

I have been feeling lately like things are starting to be a bit monotonous with Ben and we haven’t even been together for a year and a half. The truth is, the longer we’ve been together, the more attracted I am to him, but that doesn’t mean that the sex doesn’t become monotonous. We talked about that on Monday and agreed we need to spice things up a bit. Ben wants things to be more spontaneous, but the circumstances that would allow for that don’t really exist here in China. Our apartment isn’t really the greatest because it’s completely open concept, so it’s difficult to surprise each other. There is always the roof of a building or at a friend’s house, but those all seem a bit risky. Thus, despite the fact that Ben and I are both now involved with other people, we still need to work on our relationship to make sure it keeps strengthening. We have occasional challenges on that front, but on the whole, we are committed to each other and we want to make sure that our relationship lasts the ages. I dream of having a 50th wedding anniversary because I think longevity is one of the biggest challenges in a relationship, but I think it can be done.

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

Post Navigation