AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the tag “feelings”

The Freedom to Feel

Before getting to the heart of this blog, I want to say one thing. On this blog, I will be writing about Ben and Eve as well as my own feelings about them. I want to acknowledge the privilege I feel to write about a relationship that I’m not completely involved in. Of course, Ben is my fiance and Eve and I are friends, but they are the ones who are romantically involved here. On this blog, I mainly want to write about my own relationships as well as give advice and in this situation, it’s a bit different. I will do my best to represent the situation as accurately as I can.

Last night, Ben, Eve, and I had a call that ended up lasting for 1.5 hours. I continue to be in Taiwan and they are in Vietnam. We talked about many different things including the strong possibility that Eve will visit us in China within 2 months. I think all of us are looking forward to the visit, but we also feel nervous about it. Ben and I have a relationship and Eve and Ben are developing their relationship, but the dynamics between 3 are hard to predict. One of my concerns is that I will feel left out in my own house. Groups of 3 have often made me anxious because one person can often feel left out and I don’t want that person to be me. In Zhengzhou, our city in China, there aren’t many places for us to go and just hang out with other people. We are generally at the university teaching and doing other things, eating out in our neighbourhood, or at home. If I want to give Ben and Eve some alone time, that may be difficult to do. That being said, Eve will probably come for 5 days, which isn’t an inordinate length of time and I do think we’ll all get along. Eve said she’s happy to have me as a friend. She has already opened up to me a lot, which has really impressed me; it shows me that she speaks our language. She’s unsure of her feelings toward women at this point and I would never push anything with her, but if it were to develop, I don’t think either of us would be opposed to that.

This situation is new for all of us involved. After talking to the 2 of them last night, I think I was feeling some jealousy and envy as I watched them cuddle on the hotel bed. This situation is even more foreign to Eve who hasn’t been in that many relationships, let alone a non-monogamous relationship. Since Ben and I got together, neither one of us has had an additional serious relationship, so this is new for him too, though he acknowledged to me this morning that he has the easiest time emotionally in all of this; after all, he has 2 women who feel strongly about him. Ben and I also said this morning that we don’t want their relationship to impact ours. We would like to acknowledge that both relationships are unique and that we can all contribute to their success.

Feelings can run high in this sort of situation and as I said to Ben, there are many forces at play here that we are all unaware of. In many societies and depending on the family, we often do not talk about how we feel. I was raised by social workers and was often asked how I felt about things, so I’m an exception and I do feel lucky for that. I think that all 3 of us are fairly emotionally aware, but we all have baggage that affects how we feel at present. If one goal of polyamory is open communication, we can acknowledge how our past impacts our feelings right now. With our emotions invested in multiple people and depending on how much we choose to disclose, we may tell our partner(s) how we feel about other partners or express how metamours make us feel. I think that the expression of all these emotions makes us healthier people and better partners.

Thank you as always for reading! Ask me a relationship question anytime at miriam@askmiriam.ca I will be back in China on Monday and look forward to seeing Ben for the first time since January 20…

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Being There

Ben and I had a unique experience, especially within Vietnam, this week. On Monday, Ben had a date with someone just outside Hanoi that went very well. I have to admit that I was a bit jealous about it, but I was very happy for him. The woman is Vietnamese and I was scared that perhaps Ben would want to stay in Vietnam to continue seeing her, but he did assure me that was not the case; she was also interested in living in another country. 2 days after their date, we both went to see her. I was very curious to meet this woman because she seemed very genuine and she clearly really liked Ben; she had been sending him lots of text messages that indicated her feelings. Unfortunately, our meeting didn’t go very well. Ben had spoken repeatedly about me and about how our relationship works, but she didn’t seem to understand it. She was warm toward me and she brought her very cute daughter along, but the meeting felt very awkward. I don’t think she knew what to make of Ben and I and she didn’t feel comfortable being affectionate toward Ben while we were all together.

What sealed the deal for Ben was the fact that she assumed we would pay for everything. After the 3 of us went to karaoke, I asked her if she could help pay for it, since we all sang and had snacks there. That’s when she told us she didn’t have her wallet – we weren’t sure if she was forgetful or if that was purposeful. The price of the karaoke wasn’t that cheap, especially by Vietnamese standards, and given that we had all sung, I felt it was fair to share the cost. After we left, she told us that she needed to take a taxi back to her motorbike and she needed us to pay for that taxi. We felt very taken advantage of and decided we wouldn’t see her again. She did apologize for asking for the money to get back to her motorbike and explained that in Vietnam, men pay for everything. I asked her if that is also the case when women see their male friends and she said yes. Several hours after the date was over, she sent several messages to Ben saying that he had invited her to karaoke, therefore he should pay. Karaoke had merely been a suggestion on our part, not a given. She also assumed that we were earning lots of money and since she wasn’t earning much, we had the duty to pay. Ben told her we’ve been volunteering in Vietnam and that we didn’t have the means to pay for her all the time.

Ben was fairly upset after all of this because he initially really liked the woman. This leads me to discussing one of the benefits of polyamory : After a disappointment, you often have another partner or partners to help you get over it. I pride myself on being there for my partners and I was happy to console Ben. I also know that if I went through something similar, he would be there for me. When I started becoming poly, this is something I had never considered and I think it’s a definite benefit. Although there is potential for more breakups when you have multiple relationships, there is also potential for more comfort.

Thank you as always for reading. Ben and I are about to enter China – we’ll see what the opportunities are like there for polyamory… If you have any questions about any relationship, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

AskMiriam About Sex

Question: Do you need to have feelings for someone before you have sex with them?

Answer: Sex is a funny thing in our society and just in general. People have many different reasons for doing it. There have been times when I have had sex just because I was very horny. I will admit that there have been times where I didn’t really care who I had sex with and consequently, I didn’t have to have feelings for them. However, I don’t feel like that now. When Ben and I have sex, it means something to me. It’s very pleasurable but it also expresses how close we are. He and I live in different places, so there are times when we both want to have sex, but we can’t do it with each other. Polyamory allows us to have sex with others and it will always be different from how he and I have sex. I appreciate variety in my life, so I enjoy it, but sometimes I miss having sex with him when I’m having sex with someone else. For example, I was at a sex club recently and I had sex with another guy. After he and I finished up, he left. I pretty much always want to cuddle after sex and Ben always gives that to me. That guy did not cuddle with me and I felt a little lonely afterward. I happened to be at the club with a friend of mine and she and I cuddled, which was very nice. 

With regard to sex, everyone is different and that’s what makes sex great. You, dear reader, may find that you can have sex with someone without having feelings for them. You may also find that you really like someone and you want to have sex with them. I try to have sex with people who I feel are good. Even if we only have sex once, I want both of us to have a good time and to care about each other, at least for that hour or however long we are together. That can usually be accomplished by asking the other person what they like and I always ask for someone’s STI status. It’s important to know who are getting into bed with. And finally, dear reader, you will find that there are times when both you and the person you are with are horny and you may both not have feelings for each other – that is okay. Sex is a need for most people and when you can be upfront and honest about it, you will be better… off.

Those Tricky Tricky Feelings…

I was told recently that I’m a person who doesn’t go slowly. I think this is one of my best and worst qualities. When I like someone, they know it. It also means that I often develop feelings more quickly for someone than they do for me. This isn’t inherently wrong, but I get tired of the balance being tilted in the other person’s favour. I also have fewer boundaries than most people and I’m not scared of getting hurt. This can be both great and scary, especially in the context of polyamory. When I like someone and I’m in a good mood, I flirt with more people and I have the desire to start more relationships. I can also recognize it in myself that when I’ve met this new person and I like them, I start seeing their flaws pretty quickly. This is great in that I can judge if I want to be with that person, with all of their good qualities and annoyances. However, I also tend to ignore the things about them that annoy me and continue seeing them, perhaps in spite of my best judgment. That being said, those are not things that would prevent me from dating them. I realize I’m using the word ‘annoying’ a lot in this post, but I do think it’s appropriate. I don’t like to classify things as bad; they just are.

I recently met someone who I’m pretty excited about. We have a lot in common, I think, though I’ve only seen him a few times. There are certain things about him that are both great and annoying. Of course, he and I are still getting to know each other. He’s also new to this city and he seems to make friends and meet people easily. I was invited out last week to meet some of his friends, which I very much appreciated. We all got along pretty well. I think it speaks greatly of a person when they already want you to meet their friends, given that that was the 3rd time I had actually seen him. It’s always exciting to meet someone new that I like. We’ll see where it goes…

Wise Words: Tip of the Week

I’m going to try and give 1 tip every week from now on about dating and relationships. I’ve made a repeated observation recently that I’d like to share with you, dear readers. It seems obvious, but I think it merits saying. If you’ve gone out on a date with someone or several dates and you’re not 100% sure how they feel, that’s a bad sign. I remember my very first date with my partner. It was one of the best first dates I ever had. 10 minutes after the date ended, he texted me and said, wow that was amazing. I texted back and said, agreed! I’ve met a few people recently and they said, oh I’m not sure how things are going, we’ve had a few dates, but I don’t know how they feel about me. If you find yourself saying that, either end the relationship or ask them how they feel about you. It’ll clear things up very quickly.

Thoughtful, Ruminative and Picky

I title this post thoughtful, ruminative and picky because that was a quote I heard at the Philadelphia conference about poly people and I find it’s quite relevant. I’ve been on the trip now for 2.5 weeks. As I write this, I’m sitting in a cafe in Castro, San Francisco’s gaybourhood. I started the trip in Washington DC. I hung out with my cousins who live in the area and saw a few things including the Hirschhorn Modern Art Museum and the Library of Congress. After DC, I went to Philadelphia for the PolyLiving conference, which was organized by the group Loving More. I was a bit disappointed by the content of the conference – much of the information we learned seemed fairly obvious, even for me as a newbie to poly. There were some really interesting people at the conference, including Michael and Kamala Devi from the show Polyamory: Married and Dating. For those not familiar with the show, it was a reality show that followed 2 groups – one triad and one quad. Michael and Kamala Devi formed one couple of the quad. I was really excited to meet them and I didn’t anticipate that Michael was much more good looking in person than on the show. I sat at one talk that he was at and we kept making eye contact. My partner and I talked to them when the talk was over and I asked them if anyone had propositioned them and apparently, no one had. My partner and I had made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant with others from our Toronto poly group and we invited Michael and Kamala Devi as well as their lovers Keli and James to come with us. They happily said yes. The restaurant was excellent. We had 7 courses for $25 each, not too shabby. We also had a belly dancer. Afterward, we went back to the hotel that the conference was at. We checked out a party in one of the rooms but the atmosphere was a bit off so we went back to the room of Eric, another Canadian at the conference. Kamala Devi actually had a fantasy of seeing Michael penetrate someone and that person happened to be me. I also wanted to see my partner go down on someone and Keli happily volunteered. Overall, a good time was had by all. That was Saturday night. My partner and the rest of the Toronto group left on Sunday morning/afternoon and I stayed on in Philadelphia. I even had more sex with someone else I met at the conference. I was quite proud of myself because when he climaxed, he looked like he nearly passed out. It’s always nice to see how I can affect people… On Monday afternoon, I got on the train that would take me down to Berkeley, California through Pittsburgh, Chicago, Denver and Sacramento. I stopped in Pittsburgh for 4 hours and ate at a noodle restaurant and ended up having a drink with the guy working at the counter. I explained to him about poly and the group I’m in and he found it quite interesting. We hung out until my train came and then I headed off to Chicago. I had 6 hours in Chicago so I walked around a bit, had lunch and got back to the station for the train that would take me all the way to Sacramento through Denver. I would have updated this blog around that time but I had no idea that that train doesn’t have wifi. I hope Amtrak is working on that… When I arrived in Denver, I had 1 hour to stretch my legs and I went out in search of coffee. I got a phone call from my partner during that time and I partly blame him for what would happen: I missed my train. The area around Denver Union Station was an absolute mess as well and I didn’t make it on the train. However, it actually turned out for the best – I ended up having a threesome! When I got back to the station, I went online to find an emergency couchsurfing host (check out the website couchsurfing.org – it’s awesome!). Little did I know that the people I would stay with were poly. All I garnered from their profile was that they loved food and that’s always nice. I spoke to the woman and she directed me to have brunch at a place called City Oh City, which I highly recommend if you find yourself in Denver. When I walked in the door, I started talking to a woman who was also alone and she asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her – I said yes. She was lesbian and told me that she was head over heels in love with a married woman who has never been with women. They’ve known each other for 1.5 years and have flirted quite a bit. I told the woman that it’s time to make a move- she’s waited long enough… I gave her my email and I sincerely hope she emails me to say what happens, as I’m very curious. Anyway, she gave me a lift to my host’s place. My hosts are married and have separate bedrooms and the woman told me about their poly relationships. The husband has lots of sex toys and I casually asked him if he wanted to use them on me and he said yes. It happened that that night, they had a poly friend over and he and I got along quite well. I asked the husband if he wanted to have a threesome with the friend and I and he said, yes just ask him if he’s ok with it. He was as well. We had an awesome night. I never use sex toys, so to have that experience was great. I had actually been looking forward to spending that night sleeping in a proper bed but anyway, threesomes are always nice. It’s a good thing because I wasn’t able to have sex in Berkeley during the academic poly conference. I know what you’re thinking- no sex during a poly conference?! I met a couple there who I was interested in, but the woman was on her period:( I also met a trans woman who was interested in me but I was exhausted and not interested enough in her to pursue anything. She did interview me for her radio show and that was fun. The academic conference was really interesting. We talked a lot about jealousy and that was extremely useful. I’m going through a bit of jealousy right now because my partner recently started going out with someone new. I’m of course very happy for him because he’s an amazing person and he deserves all the happiness in the world, but it’s difficult being far away and missing him so much. I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how much I miss him because it shows me how amazing our relationship is. I’m walking around San Francisco, for god’s sake, and all I can think of is him. I feel very lucky because I have a great support network and it’s only expanding on this trip, as I keep meeting other poly people, but this is all still new for me. He sent me a very very sweet email the other day reaffirming how awesome our relationship is and that was much appreciated. Giving thanks is very important when you’re poly and I’ve come to realize that. In Philadelphia, Michael said to my partner, thank you for sharing your lover with me. I was a bit put off by that at first but I realize that it’s good to acknowledge our partners’ partners for allowing us to spend time with them. Anyway, I’m now in San Francisco and I’m staying with 2 friends of mine who are a couple. They introduced me to a friend of theirs and he and I have hit it off. I’m also realizing on this trip that there are many people who want to be with me and it’s amazing that I have the freedom to be with them, but it’s a question of who I want to spend my time with. Sometimes I wish I could be with everyone because I do think that everyone has something to offer. The man I’ve met here has offered to move to Toronto to be my love slave and I’m taken aback that I have this kind of power over people. I spoke to a friend of mine in Toronto and he said that I am effectively a man with a vagina. People are drawn to me and I need to decide who I really want to be with. This is a good reminder as I think about going back to Toronto and finding another partner…

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