Remember that old Simon and Garfunkel song? I am a rock, I am an island. That song reminds us that humans are not islands. We depend on other people for many things like social interaction, companionship, etc. Unfortunately, when you’re in a couple, people treat you as if you’re an island. I often feel that Ben and I are not included in certain activities because we are a couple and people feel they should not disturb us. As if we need our alone time, all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with Ben, but we need friends just as much as the next person. Ben and I have remarked that if we had come to Asia as single people, we probably would have met more people by now and would have made friends more easily.
I think this can become a problem in any relationship, whether polyamorous, monogamous, or any other type. It can be very easy to depend on your partner(s) and everything else seems secondary. Over the course of my life, I have been as guilty of this as any other person. When I was in my second last year of high school, I started dating my first serious boyfriend. I had dated a bit before him, but it felt like my first real relationship. Suddenly, everything else seemed less important and I wanted to spend nearly all of my free time with him. Through high school, I had a best friend and I only realized later that I was excluding her from my life. As I have gotten older, I have tried my best not to do things like this. It’s important to me to have friends and I continue to strive for deeper friendships. Not to mention, I need time to do things for myself such as exercise, write, cook, etc.
One of the benefits of polyamory is that we can have more people in our life. We can have friends who we may occasionally have sex with. We may have a romantic partner who we don’t have sex with. We might have long distance partners who we trade emails with. All of these people enrich our lives in some way and there is no reason to exclude any of them. In some monogamous relationships, partners are not permitted to see certain people because it might cause jealousy, so dependence on each other may grow in an unhealthy way. Before I left Canada, I saw my ex of 8.5 years a few times, and his partner did not like that. I really wanted to be friends with my ex; we did share most of our 20s together and we were fortunate enough to live abroad. Just before I left, my ex’s partner was starting to accept the fact that we were friends and I was happy about that.
For the moment, I feel lucky to be in China with Ben. However, I find that I want more social contact and it can be difficult to do that in a country where you can’t speak the language very well. I am very much an extrovert and it’s nice to have friends you can count on. After all, we are not islands in the stream… Thank you as always for reading and if you have a relationship question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org