Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the tag “long distance relationships”

Innocent Bystander

Personally, I think that one of the biggest difficulties in poly is the fact that our partners have relationships that are sometimes completely separate from our own relationship. Take for example, Ben and Eve. I’m not romantically involved with Eve. That doesn’t mean that we’re not close, because we are, but it can mean sometimes that I have little control over what happens between the 2 of them. Eve will feel that way about Ben and I as well. Sometimes, meddling in a relationship can cause problems. Last week, Eve sent me a message and told me that she really missed Ben. Normally, Ben and I host a radio show every Thursday, but it’s been cancelled for about the last month due to various problems at the station. I told Eve that the 3 of us or the 2 of them could talk in the evening. However, after getting home, Ben was working on editing a journal article I’m writing about my Master’s research. Eve and I did have a nice talk, but I almost wish I hadn’t organized anything. I also felt kind of selfish that Ben was working on something for me when he could have been talking to Eve.  These are all complicated issues with no right or wrong answer. However, I did tell Eve that I wouldn’t organize a call involving her and Ben. After all, it is their relationship.

Another difficulty with being the third party is that sometimes we are asked for our advice on a difficult issue. Both Ben and Eve have asked me if I think the relationship should continue after Ben and I return to Canada. This is an extremely difficult question to answer. As I have talked about before, maintaining a long distance relationship is a lot of work. Maintaining that relationship was hard enough for Ben and I when we lived within driving distance of each other; Ben and Eve will be on different continents, several time zones apart. They would have to communicate regularly, which could be difficult with that time difference. Eve may feel left out because Ben and I are sharing a life together and she can’t be a part of that. In groups of 3, someone can inevitably feel left out and it’s a terrible feeling. I really wouldn’t want Eve to feel that way. Finally, because Eve doesn’t identify as poly, she would most likely not take on another romantic relationship and she might not have as much support as she likes. Even if Ben and Eve were in a monogamous relationship, they would still be apart and it would be difficult.

In a month from tomorrow, Ben and I leave China. We are both excited to leave this crazy country. We will visit Eve for 9 days in Vietnam and then return to Canada. Honestly, when I left Canada, I almost wanted to leave poly behind. Poly has brought me some chaos and I wanted to have a more stable life. That being said, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to be with more than 1 person. Ben and I have really built our relationship by coming over here and now I really want to share more love with others. I look foward to whatever comes into my life…

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Relationship Logistics

I am now back in Zhengzhou with Ben and we are very glad to be together after such a long absence. We realized that we could have planned our trips better and perhaps could have had more time together, but we were happy that we got to be independent for those 6 weeks. On the tail end of my trip, I got to spend 1 day in Hong Kong and had some delicious dim sum. I have had dim sum many a time in Toronto, my hometown, and really wanted to try it in its native place – it was indeed delicious. I also got to spend a bit of time with a charming French man who was travelling around the world and we had a few meals together and watched the Imitation Game, which I highly recommend. Now, Ben and I are adjusting to being back in this city that we don’t really like, but happy to be living together again.

The other night, Ben, Eve, and I all had an online call together. We talked about many things, including all of our futures. Eve is planning to visit us here in China, most likely next month. We are all excited about it, but also nervous because it is difficult to know where the relationship might go at this point. Eve is applying to do her Master’s in Austria while Ben and I are planning to live on the west coast of North America. We are returning to Canada in July and will be in BC for about 1 year, after which I may go to Seattle, Ann Arbor, or southern California for a PhD. Ben is not sure exactly what his future holds – when we return, he is planning to search for gold in BC and may or may not be successful. Thus, we may all end up being in different places.

One of the biggest challenges of polyamory is logistics. Whether you are living in the same place or having long distance relationships, everyone only has so much time to spend together. Money can also be an issue if you have to travel far distances to see different people. When Ben and I were living apart, we missed each other horribly. We were, thankfully, able to come to Asia and be together. Despite the challenges of being in this part of the world, we relish the time we spend together. Depending on Eve’s acceptance into the program in Austria and what sort of funding she’ll receive, she may go there or stay in Vietnam. Either way, all of us want to see what it’s like to be together.

One last thing I want to mention: while Eve, Ben and I were talking, Eve asked us what our definition of a relationship is. Despite writing about relationships, this is something I hardly ever think about. With regard to a romantic relationship, it can include so many different things: spending time together, sharing secrets and intimacy, sex or at times no sex, communication, and as Ben pointed out, some sort of commitment. I think most people enter into a relationship thinking that it could last forever. It’s easy to say that from the outset, but one has to put in the work to make sure it lasts. Dear readers, how do you define a relationship? Write to me at

In a Poly State of Mind

I have 2 main things on my mind this week I want to share. First off, poly is as much a state of mind as something people do. When I left my monogamous relationship last year, I resolved not to hide anything anymore. It was very very difficult for me not to discuss feelings I had for other people when I was with him and it made the feelings that much stronger. So, I became poly and I spoke my mind more often, but not all the time, as many people think I do. There are still things I’m afraid to say because I don’t want to hurt people- in a way, that becomes harder when you’re dating more than 1 person. When I was growing up, I lived with a very stubborn mother and an equally stubborn sister. I necessarily became the more flexible one. As the years went by and I lived in 3 countries, I became even more flexible because living abroad often demands that. I find it funny when people call me intense because I don’t think of myself that way. I like making people happy so I will often do what people expect of me. Over time, I have realized this is not sustainable at all, especially when you have romantic entaglements with multiple people. As I have grown older, I have learned how to ask for what I want. I do find that most of the people I’ve been involved with since becoming poly are much more attentive to my needs. Poly also makes it necessary to be open. Perhaps what you will say will hurt others, but it’s important to make sure that your own needs are being met. 

Another reason why I chose the title I did for this week is to discuss long distance relationships. I’m not in a New York state of mind, but in a London, Ontario and a Texas state of mind. I recently started seeing someone who lives in London. As my friends know, I tend to collect people with a certain name and he happens to have it. He has now visited me 3 times and I feel very lucky he is able to do so. I’m going to London next week and I will meet his family. We will also get to spend several days together, which is longer than we have up until now. I’m really excited and nervous about it. It’s always interesting to see how people live in their home environment. It can spoil some of the mystery, but it can allow for people to become closer more quickly. I’m also in touch with someone who lives in Texas. He has mentioned me on his blog (, which I find funny because no one ever writes about me. He has told me that he’s going to visit me for his birthday. Again, I’m both excited and nervous, since we have never met. We shall see how all of this turns out…

Going the Distance

Last week was another exciting week in the land of the poly princess, as a friend of mine calls me. Well, both exciting and frustrating. I decided to end the romantic relationship with the lover in New York City. Long distance relationships (LDRs) can be difficult. Both parties need to invest a lot of time in order to make it work. For us, we just don’t have the time. His primary currently lives in Washington DC and he has many lovers in New York. I’ve been quite busy with partners here and I think things will get busier as I try to find a primary. I know several people who have LDRs and the successful ones require a lot of effort. I am saddened by the loss of this relationship. It has evolved very interestingly. I first met him in 2011 at a conference in Istanbul. I spent that summer in Germany doing fieldwork for my Master’s, as I studied the German anti-nuclear movement. That summer was quite pivotal for me. I visited Frankfurt to do interviews and I stayed with someone who told me that he and his girlfriend talked about opening up their relationship. A month later, I went to Istanbul for a conference and met the person from New York City who would become my lover. He and I had a crazy night of bar hopping and we also met the next day after staying up until 6am. He told me about his open relationship and he said to me later how jealous I looked. At that time, I was still with my ex-boyfriend and we had nearly broken up 3 weeks before I left for Germany. We decided to try and work things out. I explained to my ex-boyfriend that I liked this person and that I wanted to try having an open relationship but my ex was not keen. I met the person from New York City in July 2011 and we didn’t meet again until June 2012. For that entire year, I wrote my thesis and thought a lot about him. We kept in touch, though we did have a 3 month period of not talking because my ex was really hurt. My ex and I tried to work things out but we couldn’t. Just before we broke up, I ended up going back to Europe and I saw the person from New York City again in Berlin. We had 2 great days together. We didn’t see each other again until September when I visited him in New York. Because of the gaps in time, we could never really form a tight bond. I often felt that the relationship was unequal because I was always very very interested in him and I never felt that his interest in me was at a similar level. He felt like a very mythical person to me. The danger in that is that you can project almost anything you want onto the person and pretend that they’re perfect. When we spent time together in New York and later when he visited me in Toronto, we had a good time but the closeness was never that great. Of course, we also discovered each other’s flaws and I think we were both turned off by them. I think that if we had more time to invest in the relationship, it would have improved but it was not to be. I’m extremely thankful that we met because I might never have been poly otherwise. I told him that I’d like to see him again as friends. The moral of this story is, you really need to have time and energy to invest in LDRs. In my poly web, one person has a partner in Minnesota and they talk every day and see each other as often as they can. Over time, they have formed a very close relationship. The partner from Minnesota visited here in January and I could see how strong their relationship is. I very much admire that. Soon I will be returning to Denver to see the person I met there. I wonder what sort of relationship we will have. We’ve had some contact since he visited here at the beginning of this month. He and I have a good time together but I’m not sure if we can sustain anything. In any case, I look forward to the trip… The trick with LDRs, as with any relationship, is to align expectations. If one person expects a certain amount of contact and the other wants less or more, it can be tricky. The good and bad thing about polyamory and LDRs is that you don’t need to rely on the partner who’s far away. You may discover that relationships in your own city are enough to keep you satisfied and you may not end up having a lot of contact with the person far away. On the other hand, if you agree that you will meet a certain number of times a year and not have contact the rest of the time, for example, the relationship can still develop. Especially, if you meet the person and are very present with them for the time you can be together. Has anyone out there who’s poly had a successful or unsuccessful LDR they’d like to share? Send me an email at  Everything I post wil be confidential. Of course, all questions are welcome.

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