AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

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AskMiriam about Mediteranean Men

Question: My boyfriend and I are interested in trying poly style relationship but not at home just yet…We are exploring our curiosity, so we recently discussed perhaps planning a summer trip to Europe and try different cultures. I love the Mediterranean, and I would love to meet a Greek guy on one of those beautiful islands. Greek men appear very masculine and I really like that. According to studies and research they are the highest ranked country in terms of love, sex, companionship.

I’d love to travel to the Mediterranean, (perhaps not France,) and meet some masculine men. Do you have any thoughts, suggestions? Where can I look? Have you yourself had any encounters with Greek men?

Answer: I have had the fortune in my life to live in England and I got to spend 3 months in Germany doing research for my Master’s. In terms of the Mediterranean, I have visited Italy, and that’s about it. I haven’t had the fortune to meet a lot of Greek men, so I can’t  answer that part of your question. European countries widely vary in terms of how love, sex, and companionship are constructed and experienced by individual people. Even within countries, just as within Canada, there is variation. I’m sure there are many Greek men who enjoy having sex, and many who don’t. If you visit the Mediterranean, you may find that other men catch your fancy as well!

Your idea of going on holiday and seeing what a non-monogamous or poly relationship might look like is a valid one. There are many couples out there who would prefer to just dip their toes in the water and then have the privilege of going home. What I would recommend is having a discussion with your boyfriend before you go on vacation. You could discuss, for example, whether you want to play together or separately; some couples prefer playing together and some would rather not see their partner being passionate with someone else. Also, you asked where you can look – some countries have places like swinger’s clubs where you can meet other couples who want to play. Greece seems to have a few: http://www.swingersclublist.com/greece-swingers.html  You may also want to try some online dating sites such as OkCupid, which has attracted many non-monogamous people, and see if you can find other likeminded people. Finally, there’s always just meeting people in person. If you decide to, for example, stay at a resort, you’ll meet other tourists who may want similar experiences to the ones you’re seeking. If you go to a beach that locals frequent, you may meet your dream Greek man. However, you may find that if you mention having a boyfriend, they become hesitant. There are plenty of people out there who either have not heard of non-monogamy or do not wish to engage in it at all.

I have found for myself that while abroad, I may feel differently about certain things. I may feel freer, or not; I may feel nervous because I don’t know the culture very well, so I’m not sure how to act. If you find yourself feeling very free, that’s great, but do proceed with caution. It can be easy to get caught up in the romance while forgetting how you are actually feeling. Within polyamory and non-monogamy, communication is one of the most important things, so make sure that the lines of communication are open with your boyfriend. If either of you becomes jealous, talk about it. If you’re having tons of fun, talk about that too! It’s all part of the journey.

Thank you so much for writing in! If you have any relationship questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  I hope you are all having a great start to 2017.

The Power of Confession

In my last post, I mentioned about someone I rode the bus with, after the poly gathering. He will be known as Nicholas and we’ve now seen each other a few times. This is his first poly relationship and I think he’s handling it pretty well; he’s expressed a desire to get to know Ben and he treats me well. On Saturday morning, I went with him to an event promoting an organization he belongs to. I know several people who have gone through their program and it seems to remake people’s lives. At the event, I talked to a woman who is going through their program and she asked me what I thought. I told her what struck me the most was the show of emotion when people talked about their lives and how they’ve changed as a result of the program; this got me thinking about the power of confession.

In our culture, we often speak about ‘coming out,’ especially when you live a life that goes against the norm. We construct a need for gay, poly, and other non-normative people to come out and confess their secrets. One consequence of this is that people who lead seemingly ‘normal’ lives don’t necessarily get that opportunity. In normal conversations, people don’t often confess an aspect of their life that the other person wouldn’t know, unless they asked specifically. This can occur in every type of relationship, including intimate ones. Why is it that non-normative folks need to come out when so-called ‘normal’ people don’t have that chance?

Ben and I often have conversations about labels, which I think feeds the need to come out. For me personally, I don’t like labelling my sexual orientation. Part of it is that I don’t like the word ‘bisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ just sounds odd to me. I don’t like calling myself ‘queer’ because I’m already weird. I also protest the fact that we have a need to label the person standing in front of us. Ben argues that labels should be descriptive, not prescriptive. What I feel is that labels in fact *are* prescriptive. We assume that gay people are a certain way, that poly people are a certain way. We also still assume that women love shopping and that men love sports when different people enjoy different pastimes.

For us polyamorous folks, I think many of us want to confess to our friends, family, and co-workers that we have more than one romantic relationship, but we fear the consequences. Some of my family members feel uncomfortable because of how public I am about my relationships and sexuality. Currently, I’m in Victoria, BC, where my grandmother, aunt, and uncle live. I went for a walk yesterday with my aunt and she told me that my uncle doesn’t think that his niece should be so public about her sex life. On the other hand, many people have commended me for my courage. For myself, I want people to know that there are poly people out there and that they have a choice when it comes to relationships. I don’t think poly is for everyone, but I think that if people want this life, they can have it. We just need to have a space in our society for people to confess if they wish to, and not be judged for it.

If you have a relationship query, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca To those of you who celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas! I hope my readers and their loved ones enjoy this holiday season. Ben and I are going to Washington state on Thursday and we greatly look forward to it.

AskMiriam about Jealousy

Questions: How do you deal with the jealousy problem? If, for example, Amy had more interest in Ben and she wants to monopolize Ben’s time, how would you deal that?

Answer: Periodically, I get asked about jealousy and I don’t think it’s a topic I could write too much about. This particular question, however, involves 3 people: myself, Ben, and Amy, so it’s a bit more specialized. I am of the opinion that every relationship is unique. Amy cannot replace what Ben and I have and I cannot replace what Amy and Ben have. If Amy wanted to spend more time with Ben, I hope that she would tell me that. At the very least, Ben would tell me and we would talk about it. The same thing might happen if I met someone new and wanted to spend more time with them; I would tell Ben about it. Now, scheduling isn’t very romantic, but I think it’s nice when people decide in advance that they’ll spend certain nights together. Of course those nights could change, but perhaps they won’t. Most people require consistency in their lives and I often feel that I do as well, even though I also enjoy adventures.

This question also deals with the issue of insecurity. If Ben were to spend more time with Amy, would I feel insecure about myself or the relationship? The answer for me is, not really. I do consider myself lucky because I was raised with a healthy sense of self. A lot of women are taught to feel bad about themselves and have low self esteem as a result. No matter the gender, some people would also think they are being replaced by the new person. I think communication goes a long way toward remedying this. If we remind our partners how much they mean to us, that certainly helps. If we do something like have sex soon after our partner comes back from seeing their partner, that can sometimes help too. We can also develop feelings of compersion, meaning we are happy when our partner is with someone else. I personally still want to develop that more… These issues aren’t always easy and depending on our own personal situation, they can feel better or worse. It’s important to be kind to yourself and tell your partner what your needs are in this situation. As always, communicate, communicate, communicate. The person with the new partner should also be sensitive toward their existing partner(s)’ feelings.

As a note, I’m currently on holiday. Tomorrow I’m off to Japan and in mid February, I head to Taiwan. I hope to have some adventures while on the road. Stay tuned! If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca Thank you as always for reading!

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