AskMiriam

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Archive for the tag “Japan”

A Woman’s Right to Choose

This week, I want to talk about a subject that’s very dear to my heart: a woman’s right to choose whether she wants children or not. Last week, I had a bit of a scare because I should have been on my period and I wasn’t. Now, this sort of thing is not without precedent: I spent 4 years in England and Japan from 2006-2010 and during that time, I missed a number of periods. In England, I went to the doctor to inform them of that fact and the female doctor told me not to worry; it’s typical when you’re adjusting to a new environment. In Japan, I didn’t have periods for the first 6 months of my time there. Yes, I was adjusting to a new environment and I was also eating a lot of soy, which apparently delays the menstrual cycle. I thought about those times last week, but I also thought to myself, I’ve already adjusted to China, for the most part; why is it that I would miss a period now and not in the beginning of our stay here? Alex very kindly went with me to get a pregnancy test at a local drugstore. We returned to my apartment to find Ben here (I was expecting him to be out), and it was really nice to have both guys here while I did the test. Thankfully, it returned negative and we all celebrated with chocolate, hugs, and kisses.

The day after, I went downtown to visit Mily, which was very pleasant. She made a delicious egg cheese vegetable casserole and we had good conversations. At one point, I did make her cry though, as she talked about her past relationships and I told her that I think she’s scared to get hurt again. At that point, we were sitting outside, me eating ice cream and her drinking coffee. I told her that I’m still attracted to her and she playfully said, why don’t you move closer? She kissed me on the cheek and I returned the favour. I felt a bit self-conscious, but there was a part of me that wanted to kiss her on the lips again. After that, I got on the bus to go back home and there happened to be a family from Ecuador there. One of them actually asked me if I was pregnant and offered me her seat, saying I looked so tired. I said, well, that’s a funny story… Unfortunately, that night I dreamed that I needed an abortion and I was still in China. One doctor, who was white, accompanied me to a drugstore and showed me various implements I could use to perform the abortion myself. I panicked and asked him if he could help me; he said yes. Obviously, my mind is telling me I don’t want an abortion in China.

Nearly 3 years has passed since I myself had an abortion. At that time, I was with my ex-boyfriend and we were about to break up. I had debated for a long time whether I wanted children or not and I came to the conclusion that I didn’t, for various reasons. As an environmentalist, I think there are too many people in the world and we should be reducing the population, not increasing it. People tell me that my kids will be smart and environmentalists too, but there’s no guarantee of that. Plus, if we live in the first world, our environmental impact will necessarily be much higher. Secondly, as many of you know, I like travelling and I really enjoy my freedom. I don’t want the responsibility of caring for someone if I truly want to get up and go somewhere, especially for an extended period. Finally, I don’t really want to change my body. For the brief period I knew I was pregnant, I felt horrible. I know that the second trimester gets easier, but I don’t even want to wait the 3 months for that to happen.

At that time, I was very impressed with my ex because he did want kids and he encouraged me to get the abortion. Everyone supported me, though my mother apologized and said, I’m happy that you’re pregnant. She and my father did accompany me to the hospital and I was rid of the fetus. People ask me if it was a difficult decision; in fact, it was one of the easiest I have ever made. I had gone to the doctor several weeks before for another reason and I told them how I felt (reduced appetite and exhaustion). They told me to get a pregnancy test, which I did in the lab in that building. The next day, they told me I was indeed pregnant so I felt vindicated that something was indeed wrong. I was about to go to Europe for 1 month and I told them I needed to get an abortion quickly, which did happen. Just after I returned, my ex and I broke up, so I’m even more glad that I made that particular decision because the child would not have been well cared for. I am happy now that my ex is about to marry someone who does want children. In the future, Ben may have children with someone and my hope is that we would all live together and raise the children. I’m happy to be a part time mother because I think the relationship between parent and child is incredibly special; I still depend on my mother to this day and I’m very grateful to her. Finally, I’m glad that I had the right to choose not to have that child. Every woman should have the same right, whether they want children or not. We are continually fighting for women to have the same rights and opportunities as men and our right to choose what to do with our bodies is inherently part of that.

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

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Swinger Culture

I’m now in Tokyo, having just arrived last night from Kobe. While in Kobe, I met someone off of OkCupid who I will call Steve. He’s American and lives in Osaka, which is quite close to Kobe. Steve had been in non-monogamous relationships before and wanted to, as he said, pick my brain about polyamory, which I was happy for. We had dinner together and talked about issues with non-monogamy. He also kept boasting about his oral sex skills. I had been up front with him about not being attracted, but I felt horny and he was keen to go down on me, so I agreed. We went to a love hotel and I have to say, he did have very good skills. He also told me about a swinger’s club in Osaka and I was curious, so we agreed to go the next day.

The club looks like most swingers clubs I have been to, just smaller. When you enter, there’s a small bar area. First we deposited our things in a locker and had a shower. Then we went to the bar and had some drinks. The bartender, as you may imagine, is pretty friendly. There was a TV with some music videos playing, so it’s a pleasant place to hang out. Of course, there is an area where you can have sex. There are some private booths, a couple with computers – not surprising, as this is the land of technology. Then there is a free space with 3 couches where you can do whatever you like. Single men aren’t allowed back there. If there is a single woman who’s interested in a single man, she needs to vouch for him and then they can go into the back.

Steve and I went into the free space and there were 2 other couples there. One couple looked very awkward, almost as if they didn’t want to be there. The woman looked pretty amused in her nurse’s outfit (you can either wear a robe or a costume- I chose to wear a robe) and the man just sat there with his arm around her. The other couple looked quite keen just to have sex with each other. I was interested in the woman, but the man didn’t seem like he wanted to share. Steve commented that some people might come to a swinger’s club because it’s cheaper than a love hotel or just because they wanted to be watched.

Much like other swinger’s clubs, the couples I saw there and the single guys that wandered in were a bit older. I’m glad to see that they are trying to spice up their relationship rather than cheat on each other, as cheating is rampant in Japan. According to Pamela Druckerman, the author of Lust in Translation (a very interesting book I read awhile ago), “Hints of Japan’s infidelity levels come only from the enormous size of the country’s paid-sex industry, which is famously frequented by married businessmen. A legal loophole permits a man and a woman to strike a private agreement for sex. Understandably, the state would rather not be confronted with the details (http://www.alternet.org/story/81022/lust_in_translation%3A_which_country_has_the_highest_rates_of_infidelity).”

It’s very easy in Japan for a husband to tell his wife that he’s working late when he’s actually having an affair. The wife generally won’t ask questions and she may even have an affair of her own. According to Japantoday.com, nearly 15% of housewives have also had an affair (http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/14-8-of-japanese-housewives-claim-to-have-committed-adultery). A lot of couples would rather stay in an unhappy marriage than have to endure divorce, for various reasons. I think that one of the biggest issues in Japan is the unwillingness to talk about sex. If there was more communication on that subject, many problems could be solved and perhaps, alternative relationship styles would be more acceptable. Until then, I think adultery here will continue.

I will be in Tokyo until next Thursday and before then, I’ll be meeting at least 2 poly people here, which I’m very much looking forward to. Then I head to Taiwan! If you have any relationship questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca. Thank you as always for reading!

A Streetcar Named Desire

I’m in Japan now and I’ve been staying this week in a city called Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku. I lived in Japan from 2008-2010 and never got the chance to travel to Shikoku, so I decided to come now. I also came here because I wanted to meet a certain woman. I had been in contact with her for awhile and she looked really cute and interesting. I will call her Ellen. Ellen and I met on Tuesday for lunch and ended up wandering around a park called Ritsurin. I found out from her that Ritsurin is rated as one of the top 5 gardens in Japan. It is quite beautiful and we had a nice time wandering around it. Ellen is a very relaxed person and is also from Canada. She was in a poly relationship for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. On Tuesday, I didn’t find myself that attracted to Ellen, which disappointed me. It often happens to me that I’m in contact with someone for awhile online and then when we meet in person, I’m not that interested in them. However, that would change on Wednesday when we went to a hot spring together and I got to see Ellen’s body. We continued to have good conversation and I was thinking that I at least wanted to cuddle with her.

We left the hot spring and came back into the centre of Takamatsu. Ellen told me that she knew about some second hand stores, which is really the only kind of shopping I like, so we wanted to go to them. Unfortunately, we found that they were closed. We got a little snack and then tried to decide what to do. I told Ellen she could come with me back to my hotel room and she declined. I had thought that she probably wasn’t that interested in me and I guess her feelings didn’t change when she saw me naked. I haven’t been in the greatest mood this week and of course, this didn’t help. I feel like I shouldn’t complain because I’m getting a free hotel room courtesy of a couchsurfer here whose family owns a hotel, but mainly, I do couchsurfing so I can meet people, not so I can stay in a hotel. The only contact I’ve had with the hosts is in the evening when I go to their home for dinner, eat with them, and then wash and dry dishes in silence in the presence of the woman. I was invited on Monday to have lunch with the man and he didn’t talk to me at the restaurant; there was a TV to our left and he wouldn’t stop watching it. Thankfully, on Wednesday evening, 2 more couchsurfers from Switzerland arrived and I got to hang out with them yesterday. We had a really good time on the island of Naoshima, where there is a lot of interesting art.

One of the reasons why I called this post, A Streetcar Named Desire, is because I told Ben on Wednesday that I haven’t felt desired by a person other than him for quite awhile. It’s nice that in China, we can spend time with Amy and have threesomes, but I don’t feel that she really desires me, nor I her. I have often felt that there are so few women I’m very attracted to and I wish there were more. It’s also difficult when I see Ben being so successful with women and I feel envious. It’s so easy to get a guy; as the old saying goes, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I just wish that I could find a woman who desired me and who I desire. On this trip, I really wanted to make an effort to meet more women. 2 years ago, I took trains across the US for a month and didn’t have many experiences with women. This time, I wanted that to be different. I will be meeting more – we’ll see how it all goes…

Thank you as always for reading! Next week I go to Kobe and Tokyo and I hope for some sexy adventures there. I will update when something happens. If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

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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