Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the month “June, 2015”

Goodbye China; Good Morning Vietnam

Ben and I are now in Vietnam, visiting Eve. Yesterday, he and I flew out of Zhengzhou. Unfortunately, our departure was somewhat unpleasant. Ben and I have been teaching at a university and were provided with an apartment just after we arrived. Yesterday, the apartment was checked to make sure everything that was given to us was still there. The woman who checked our apartment was supposed to arrive at 10:30am. She had also booked us a taxi to the airport for 11am. However, she didn’t arrive at the apartment until just before 11 and discovered that one of the items (a sheet) we were given was missing. Now, it is quite difficult to lose a sheet. We wouldn’t have taken it out of the apartment, so it couldn’t have disappeared. Regardless, we had to pay the equivalent of about $12 to replace it; not a big deal at least, but everything was so rushed. Thankfully, the traffic on the way to the airport wasn’t too bad and we went there with a very good friend, which was nice.

Ben and I flew through Guangzhou to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Our baggage was sent through to Saigon, but one piece didn’t arrive there. We had to spend a lot of time describing the luggage and filling out a form. Right before I wrote this post, the luggage did arrive, so we’re happy about that. Ben and I are also quite happy to be out of China. As soon as we left Zhengzhou, I could sense a change in Ben; he was suddenly much happier than when we were in Zhengzhou. I am very generous when I say that Zhengzhou is not the nicest place. At times, our relationship was strained just because we weren’t living in the place we’d like to. Ben and I are a bit sad to be leaving China though because it was the first place we really had a home together. After we return to Canada, it is quite likely that we’ll be living in different places. That being said, we’re still committed to each other. Recently, Ben’s mom has been helping us make arrangements for our wedding next year and we’re getting excited about that.

Here in Saigon, Ben, Eve, and I are all staying in a hotel together. I feel a bit sad because Ben gets to meet some of Eve’s family and I can’t attend. Poly isn’t really known in Vietnam and Eve’s family would not approve if they met me. I am happy that Ben gets to meet Eve’s family and that they get to have quality time together. At this point, the future of Ben and Eve’s relationship is so unknown; the time they get to spend together could be limited. Just over the last day, things have been good between the 3 of us and I anticipate that will continue. In a few days, we 3 are travelling to an island off the southwest coast of Vietnam. We shall all see what this vacation brings.

If you have any relationship questions, please email me at Cheers!


This week I’m going to write generally about etiquette – this relates to all types of relationships, and mainly to the beginning of a relationship. Not too long after arriving here in Zhengzhou I met a Chinese guy who I’ll call Ian. He is apparently fond of foreign girls. I only saw him a couple of times during the first semester and then again not too long after this second semester started. On that particular night, I was at a gay club and Ian was there as well. We danced together and he was very flirtatious. I also learned through a co-worker that he had had feelings for me for quite awhile; I, on the other hand, had never been attracted to him in the slightest. I wanted to clear the air because I did feel that I had been a bit flirtatious with him and I didn’t want to lead him on. I phoned Ian the day after I saw him and explained the relationship between Ben and I and I told him that, despite my availability, I wasn’t interested in him. I did however want to be friends with him. We had dinner not too long after that and it was pleasant enough. However, the next time I saw him, I suspected that his feelings had not gone away, after he gave me a necklace, kissed me on the cheek, and insisted that I do the same. He explained after that he thought it was normal to kiss on the cheek in the West. I told him it depends on where you come from. I happen to have Quebecois parents and I kiss them on the cheek, but in my hometown of Toronto, that’s not very common. I reminded him again that I wasn’t interested in him and I thought he understood.

Not too long after that, we hung out again and that was fine. However, afterward, I received a text from him, basically propositioning me. He told me I had to experience a Chinese guy at least once and that we would have an amazing night together. I told him I had experienced Chinese guys before in Toronto and they were great, so I had no need to experience another. I told him yet again I wasn’t interested. I also told him that if he continued acting like this toward Western girls, they would blow him off. Finally, I said that I didn’t want to hang out with him again as a friend if he continued making me feel uncomfortable. He didn’t seem to understand, so I ended up deleting him from my contacts on WeChat. He realized I had done that and tried adding me again. I told him to take a hint and blocked him.

I do regret that that all happened, but I hope Ian learned a valuable lesson. Some people think that if you keep pursuing someone, they will eventually change their mind and date you. I myself am generally not like that. If I like someone, I usually realize it fairly quickly and I will pursue them; I don’t need to be pursued. Unfortunately, we have all been taught that men are the pursuers and women are the ones to be chased. There is nothing wrong with women asking men out. I think that many men are tired of being the pursuers and don’t mind being pursued. Dating would be much more equitable if there was equal opportunity for asking people out.

Thanks as always for reading. Next week will be my last post from here in the Middle Kingdom! Ben and I depart from here on June 20th. We will be in Vietnam until the 29th, at which time we fly back to Toronto. If you have a relationship query, email me at

Heavy Baggage

No matter who you are and no matter what kind of relationship you have, we all have baggage. For those of us who are experienced in relationships, we may even have more baggage. This became a subject of discussion last night for Ben and I. Many years ago, he was in an abusive relationship. I had been aware of this, but I hadn’t been aware that Ben used his anger to get out of it. In some ways, that anger is still kicking around and every once in awhile, I see it surface. He also learned this reaction from a family member of his, who was in an abusive relationship, didn’t fight back, and then committed suicide. Thus, Ben feels that anger can be a good thing because it can prevent awful things from happening. However, in the current situation, Ben and I do not have an abusive relationship. We trust and respect each other and we have each other’s best interests in mind. That being said, I found myself reminding Ben last night that I am not his ex; I think Ben was happy to be reminded that he can let go of some of his fears from the past and I was happy that I could help him realize that. I also told him that he is not my ex. Now, I was not in an abusive relationship, but I felt that I could not fully be myself within it. I think that many people are intimidated by me and perhaps unfortunately, my ex felt that way, but could not express it. What he did end up doing was inhibiting my expression. When I say this, I am not even referring to my later desire to be poly. During the relationship, there were many things I could never say or things I should never do or even things I shouldn’t have worn because that would have upset my ex.

Sometimes, I feel that being with Ben is almost like getting a second chance at love. That can include the fact that both he and I have to fight against what we have learned in the past. I have been conditioned not to fully express myself; Ben has sometimes been conditioned to overreact. These 2 things put together can be a lethal combination. In relationships, we have to learn how to treat the people we’re with. Of course, we learn things from the past that can help us, but everyone is different. Being with Ben has taught me that I can be in a relationship where I have input into how the relationship works. As a bonus, I’m also free to pursue others I may want to be with. Yes, Ben and I have our problems, but on the whole, there’s no one else at the moment I’d rather marry.

It’s hard to believe, but Ben and I are coming to the end of our time in Asia. We depart Zhengzhou on June 20th for Vietnam. We are going to visit Eve there and then head back to Canada on June 29th. This year out of Canada has been both fast and slow. Parts of it seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace and others seem to whizz by. I still remember the first day we arrived in Zhengzhou, at 5am. Despite our challenges here in central China, Ben and I feel very lucky that we got to live together and teach at the university level. Unfortunately, when we return to Canada, we may not live together for awhile. I’ll be taking classes in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, to prepare for a PhD in gender studies or social work. Ben will most likely be on Vancouver Island, hopefully with an interesting geological job. We are very sad that we won’t be living together, but we feel that the relationship will still remain strong.

Thanks for reading. If you have any relationship questions, email me at

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