AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

I can’t stress communication enough apparently

The other day, I had quite possibly one of the most boring dates I have ever had. I had looked forward to it, but once on it, I felt like we had nothing in common. He mainly seemed to talk about work and he also shared with me that he’s a pretty secretive and protective person. Once he said that, I knew there was no future because secretive people don’t really get along with my personality.

Regardless, he did make me think about something. He asked me why I became poly. One of the reasons I cited was that I enjoy open communication. He didn’t seem convinced that that would be grounds to become poly. I tend to disagree; many monogamous couples don’t really enjoy the type of open communication that poly people do, partly because we have to. When you are involved with many people, it’s nice to keep everyone abreast of what’s going on. Also, it’s very nice to have the freedom to tell your partner, I think that person’s cute and I might want to date them. In a monogamous relationship, that may be grounds for ending the relationship. However, in a poly context, being able to share that information may have the opposite effect: it can make relationships stronger.

In any relationship, communication is so important. Unfortunately, we are often not taught how to do so effectively. For those of us who like communicating directly, we are often penalized for doing so in our culture. I always admire the Germans who always speak so directly. They may offend people, but they are at least being honest. When Ben and I were in China, Ben was told directly, you are holding your chopsticks wrong. The comment wasn’t welcome of course, but I admire the fact that people can speak directly in, what they feel, is an attempt to be helpful. When communicating to a partner, it’s very useful to use I statements. For example: “I feel like ______ when you do ______.” It’s amazing to be in relationship where speaking about how one feels is welcome rather than punished. It’s true that monogamous relationships have the potential for open communication, but often, there are too many assumptions that make the parties feel that they don’t need to communicate worthwhile things. Some people may want to tell their partner that they’re attracted to someone else, but they assume that their partner will feel badly as a result and will end the relationship. It’s quite natural to feel attracted to other people and I think people in monogamous relationships can at least ask their partner, how would you feel if I told you I was attracted to someone else? Then a conversation can begin.

If you have any relationship questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  I may have some more dates soon. Hopefully, I’ll have some successful ones to write about!

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