AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

Life and Love Lessons Learned

I have a particular fondness for looking back, especially when it comes to the various poly experiences I’ve had. The other day, I put on a dress that I wore on a particularly important night. Less than 2 months after I ended the 8.5 year relationship back in 2012, I had a very good threesome with a couple I met through Craigslist. I had recently bought that dress and wondered if it was too dressy to wear to meet that couple for drinks. One of my roommates at the time told me it was fine, so I wore that and met the couple. We had a really good time together and 2 days later, I went to their home and had the threesome. They taught me a lot about inclusiveness. I felt that during the threesome, everyone was involved at some point or another and it felt great. I think that was a great way to begin my non-monogamous life.

Unfortunately, I never saw that couple again, but they definitely taught me a lesson. Poly is really about inclusivity. Sometimes Ben and I get comments that we look so cute together that people just want to leave us alone. At the end of last week, we attended a competition for some of our students. Until 2 weeks ago, we had taught a speaking class to graduate students and for their final project, they had to put on a play. One of our co-teachers thought that we should have a competition for the best groups, so Ben and I chose the best groups from our classes. Ben’s group ended up winning first place and mine won third, so we were very proud. We asked the students if they wanted to have dinner with us after the competition and they told us that they wanted to leave us alone because we looked so sweet. Unknowingly I said to them, we like being with other people. We did go out to dinner and had a great time and I’m certain they didn’t understand the full meaning of what I said.

I think that poly can teach us a lot about life in general. We should never exclude people just because they aren’t our partner. Every person plays an important role in our lives and I think poly celebrates that. It can also teach us what we want and don’t want out of relationships. When a person has more than 1 relationship, I think it’s important to think about what we expect. We have to articulate our needs in a clear way to our partner(s). Poly has also really helped me to say no. I was never good at that before I became poly; I always wanted to please people and sometimes I didn’t really know what I wanted. There are times when I’m comfortable saying yes to the unknown. I like testing my limits and as Eve likes to say, I like new experiences. However, in situations where I don’t feel comfortable, I feel much better now saying no. That being said, there are times when we have to say yes to things we don’t always like. Sometimes Ben has stayed up late talking to Eve and I sacrifice some sleep. Sometimes, Eve is upset that Ben and I are doing something that she can’t be involved in. Relationships always involve these sorts of things. In poly, we need to look out for each other and sometimes that can mean that our needs don’t come first. In an optimal situation, people have other partners and friends that can help them out when something is really important.

People have asked me if I would ever go back to being monogamous. The answer is always a big no. Why would I give up having lots of romantic love in my life, even when it can be complicated? Yes, bad things can happen because of poly, but bad things happen in any sort of relationship. Poly can be an emotional challenge, but it can also help us grow. It has also helped me question and challenge society in the best way possible: with lots of love.

Thanks for reading. My email address is miriam@askmiriam.ca if you have any relationship queries.

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Innocent Bystander

Personally, I think that one of the biggest difficulties in poly is the fact that our partners have relationships that are sometimes completely separate from our own relationship. Take for example, Ben and Eve. I’m not romantically involved with Eve. That doesn’t mean that we’re not close, because we are, but it can mean sometimes that I have little control over what happens between the 2 of them. Eve will feel that way about Ben and I as well. Sometimes, meddling in a relationship can cause problems. Last week, Eve sent me a message and told me that she really missed Ben. Normally, Ben and I host a radio show every Thursday, but it’s been cancelled for about the last month due to various problems at the station. I told Eve that the 3 of us or the 2 of them could talk in the evening. However, after getting home, Ben was working on editing a journal article I’m writing about my Master’s research. Eve and I did have a nice talk, but I almost wish I hadn’t organized anything. I also felt kind of selfish that Ben was working on something for me when he could have been talking to Eve.  These are all complicated issues with no right or wrong answer. However, I did tell Eve that I wouldn’t organize a call involving her and Ben. After all, it is their relationship.

Another difficulty with being the third party is that sometimes we are asked for our advice on a difficult issue. Both Ben and Eve have asked me if I think the relationship should continue after Ben and I return to Canada. This is an extremely difficult question to answer. As I have talked about before, maintaining a long distance relationship is a lot of work. Maintaining that relationship was hard enough for Ben and I when we lived within driving distance of each other; Ben and Eve will be on different continents, several time zones apart. They would have to communicate regularly, which could be difficult with that time difference. Eve may feel left out because Ben and I are sharing a life together and she can’t be a part of that. In groups of 3, someone can inevitably feel left out and it’s a terrible feeling. I really wouldn’t want Eve to feel that way. Finally, because Eve doesn’t identify as poly, she would most likely not take on another romantic relationship and she might not have as much support as she likes. Even if Ben and Eve were in a monogamous relationship, they would still be apart and it would be difficult.

In a month from tomorrow, Ben and I leave China. We are both excited to leave this crazy country. We will visit Eve for 9 days in Vietnam and then return to Canada. Honestly, when I left Canada, I almost wanted to leave poly behind. Poly has brought me some chaos and I wanted to have a more stable life. That being said, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to be with more than 1 person. Ben and I have really built our relationship by coming over here and now I really want to share more love with others. I look foward to whatever comes into my life…

If you have a relationship question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

 

‘We’ Are Incommunicado

This post will mainly be about Ben and Eve, so again, I wish to say how privileged I feel to write about 2 important people in my life. Last week was a bit difficult for both of them. Eve is currently working crazy hours in a different city and has been very isolated. Until yesterday, the place she’s been living in has had no wifi and she is not allowed to use the computers at work for personal use, even if she uses them outside of her working hours. The only way we’ve all been able to communicate is through a program on our phones. This has put a strain on the relationship, as you dear readers might imagine. It has been difficult for Ben because he would very much like to be in regular contact with Eve and he has missed her a lot since she left. This has also been difficult for me because Ben hasn’t been as attentive at home, so I feel like I need to pick up the slack.

As I have discussed many times, communication is so important in a relationship and it can sometimes be even more important in a long distance relationship (LDR). I have had many experiences where I have wanted to maintain an LDR and the other party has not because they didn’t have time for communication. It might be true that we are all busy, but we can place priority on relationships. One of the reasons why polyamory exists is because of the Internet. Many people learn about poly on the Internet, join discussion groups, and receive emails about poly events. In the current age, we also have so many different ways of communicating. We can send emails, facebook messages, okcupid messages. We have skype, Viber, and phone cards. Even in poor countries, people have cellphones. We can even still send old fashioned snail mail. In order to keep in touch with the ones we love, we have to put in the work. It might not be easy, but it’s very worthwhile.

There was another subject I wanted to mention. Eve commented to me that I often refer to Ben and I as ‘we.’ This has made her feel excluded, and understandably so. Eve has become a big part of our lives. We talk about her a lot when she’s not around. She and I communicate regularly, sometimes even more regularly than her and Ben. There are times when it is appropriate for either Ben or I to use ‘we.’ However, this can also take away from who we are as individuals. When we live with someone we love, they become an integral part of our lives; Ben is exactly that to me. That being said, I want to strive for including Eve in our lives.

Thank you as always for reading. My email address is miriam@askmiriam.ca if you have any relationship queries.

Into Trouple

The word ‘Trouple’ was coined by Eve when she was here last week and I really like it, so I’ve decided to name this post Into Trouple. As many of you know, Eve visited Ben and I last week. Last weekend, I went to Beijing and by the time I arrived home on Sunday evening, Eve was there. It’s a bit odd walking into your apartment when your fiance’s girlfriend is there, but anyway, Eve and I had a nice hug and we all had dinner together. The first night was slightly awkward given that Eve and I were meeting for the first time. I was in a horny mood that night since I had been away for several days, so Ben and I asked Eve if she would be okay with seeing us have sex and she said yes. She said that it only made her feel a bit uncomfortable, so we felt thankful for that. I did feel a bit attracted to Eve that first night, but I didn’t want to do anything that would make her feel uncomfortable, so we all went to sleep.

First I will talk about the positive and surprising things that happened and then, the negative things. On Monday, Ben and I went to teach and Eve observed Ben’s classes. Later on, the 3 of us and some other friends, including Alex, went to the Chinese equivalent of karaoke, KTV. We all had a pretty good time, though Eve felt a bit left out. Afterward, we had dinner with Alex and then went home. Awhile ago, Ben and I bought an ebike and the 3 of us attempted to ride home on that, which was successful, but not something we would do again. After getting home, the 3 of us were cuddling. Eve told me how much she liked cuddling and I told her the same. I was very surprised when she started putting her hands under my clothes. What surprised me even more was how turned on I felt. She asked me if I wanted her to kiss me and I said yes. I’m always impressed at how forthright she is and I was even more impressed by her kissing skills. As the week progressed, we would wake up every morning and usually what happened was that Ben would go to the bathroom or get a drink of water and Eve and I started cuddling and kissing. Ben would return to the bed and we would have a threesome; Ben would go down on me and Eve would kiss me and suck on my breasts. Then the 2 of them would have sex. I told Eve that of all the women I’ve been with sexually, she turns me on the most. On the night before Eve left, she and Ben gave me the most intense orgasm of my life and I told both of them that. Eve and I also had a good time together when we were not being sexual. The 2 of us had 2 meals together and had good conversations. There were a couple of moments during the visit where I could tell we were thinking similar things at the same time. Overall, we got along very well, as I had expected. I was most nervous for her in this new situation, but I think she dealt with everything well. She mentioned that she does not consider herself a possessive person, so this scenario is fine for her. Finally, she and Ben said I love you to each other, which made all of us happy. Many people would ask me, doesn’t that make you jealous. At this point in my poly life, I have loved 2 people at the same time and it’s an incredible feeling. It makes you appreciate the people for who they are. It also brings a certain stability to the relationship, which makes things more regular for me. If Ben was just to have casual sex, for example, I wouldn’t be able to predict when that might happen, so a regular relationship is nice.

For the negative things: There were times last week when I did feel left out. It can be difficult when your partner has a new relationship and you feel like you are the one looking in. This situation is new for all of us; Ben hasn’t had a serious relationship since he and I got together, so I haven’t really had to share him that much. The new relationship energy can be daunting because it can make one feel insecure and wonder whether you give your partner enough. That being said, both Ben and Eve were concerned about me feeling left out and I think they did their best to include me; the threesomes certainly didn’t hurt. I also wanted to give them alone time, since they don’t get to see each other very much and I live with Ben all the time. Eve also said to me at one point, don’t fall in love with me, it would be too complicated. This is after we had been physical a couple of times. I told her that I will normally develop feelings for people if I’m physical with them enough times. She said that she enjoyed kissing and cuddling with me, but she still identifies as straight. I fully respect that and I don’t want to cause her any discomfort because she’s an important person in my life, but I was a bit taken aback when she said that. Anyway, if I was going to have a female partner, she would be different from Eve. Ben and Eve are both very similar to each other, as they both identify as INTJ on the Myers Briggs scale (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging). Ben and I think in some similar ways and Eve and Ben think similarly in other ways. I would want to be with someone who’s a bit more similar to me – extroverted and artistic. I have often been the artistic person who spends time with science geeks and it would be nice to find someone who’s more similar to me in those ways.

On Saturday in the early hours, Ben and Eve went to the airport. They had to leave our apartment just after 5am because Eve’s flight left at 8. I left with them to make sure they were able to catch a taxi. They did make it to the airport and as I expected, I had trouble getting back to sleep. My mind conjured up many different things, including a general feeling of insecurity. I know that Ben would never leave me and I know that Eve cares about me, but the irrational part of me was saying, Eve is better for Ben; they will stay together and Ben and I won’t. Eve excites Ben and I don’t, so why should I bother. Of course, I know now that I was being irrational. Ben came home and reassured me that he’s not going anywhere. We are both committed to each other for life. The more pertinent question in fact is what will happen with Ben and Eve. We will see her in Vietnam at the end of June before we go back to Canada, but so much after that is unknown. Once Ben and I return to Canada, money will probably be an issue and we may not be able to come back to Vietnam in the near future. Eve will apply to school in North America, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll get accepted and she’ll need a scholarship to attend. Even until the end of June, we may not be able to talk to Eve much because she’s working in another city and will be living with her co-workers. Many of them know about her foreign boyfriend, but not about the polyamory. There are many unknowns at the moment, so we’ll see where it all goes. As Ben said, there is no question of ‘if’ they will be together; the question is ‘how.’

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

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