AskMiriam

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Archive for the tag “non verbal learning disability”

The Scariness of Multiple Choice or Tools of the Polymath

Over the weekend, I took a class that should help me for the GRE, the American Graduate Record Exam. I’d like to do my PhD in the US, so I’ll need to take that exam in the next few months. The GRE has 2 verbal sections and 2 quantitative reasoning, i.e. math, sections. Now, dear readers, math has sometimes been the bane of my existence. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability, which among other things, affects visual-spatial reasoning. For something like geometry, my brain can’t cope. I get frustrated and I can end up crying. I was thinking about whether this might have any parallels with non-monogamy. During the class, I remembered that I can understand math sometimes when I see it in front of me, but I feel like I don’t have the tools to do it myself. In terms of relationships, we don’t always learn how to conduct them. The tools are available to us, but we may not know how to use them. For example, communication. Most people aren’t necessarily taught how to communicate well. Women are often socialized to be passive/aggressive and men might be socialized to be overly assertive. I think that communication should be a collaborative exercise where parties work together to achieve their goals, instead of people jostling for power. One thing we often face with communication is the fact that what people say is often more of a reflection on them than the people they’re talking to; we may end up taking some things personally when we really don’t need to.

In addition to communication, we aren’t really taught how to have sex. In normal society, sex isn’t really discussed. Teens don’t really want to get any sort of sex advice from their parents and sex education is often lacking. Once we have sex for the first time, we don’t really know what we’re doing. What would society look like if everyone learned important tools for having sex when they were younger? Instead, we now face ridicule for things like updating the sex ed curriculum in my home province of Ontario. Women are slut shamed. Men get to have sex with as many people as they like with very little reprimand. Few young people realize that they have options such as poly, though I think that’s changing with things like the Internet and other forms of media.

If we embark upon polyamory, we might have lots of choices. We can be with more than 1 person and we may decide we want to be with 1 person for every day of the week. The options can be dizzying and perhaps even frightening. As someone wise once told me, the more relationships you have, the more can end. I’d rather start things that have the potential to last for awhile and if we stretch ourselves too thin, our partners may feel unappreciated and we might be exhausted. The process of getting to know someone can be awesome, but also time consuming and once a relationship is established, it’s good to have the tools to make sure it has potential.

Thank you for reading! I’m happy to report I have a second date tomorrow with someone from OkCupid. We’ll see how that goes. Feel free to email with any relationship queries. My email address is miriam@askmiriam.ca

Express Yourself

When you’re in a relationship, I think that self-expression is very important. A few nights ago, Ben and I got into a big conversation about various things, including the subject of femininity and masculinity, which I talked about in the last blog. Ben has had struggles over the years with what it means to be masculine. He had a complicated relationship with his father, about whom he felt admiration and resentment. Of course, our fathers always shape what it means to be a man. I grew up with my mother and sister. I did see my dad every other weekend, but I was mainly surrounded by women. On the other hand, my friends have usually been male. With Ben, I feel that my feminine side gets expressed more often than my masculine side. I do feel that I can be myself with him, but the self I happen to be at the moment is fairly feminine. I admire the assertiveness men have and I think I am assertive most of the time, but I aspire to be even more so.

Perhaps we need to ask, what does it mean to be masculine or feminine? In our society, despite the advance of feminism, women are still expected to act a certain way. We’re expected to be more timid and not to ask for what we want. Normally, I am neither one of those things. I’ve asked out most of the people I’ve dated. I have no trouble showing people my crazy side. Are these normally masculine traits or is this just me being me? I also happen to have a non-verbal learning disability, which among other things, affects my ability to read social cues. Sometimes I have no idea if I make people feel uncomfortable and sometimes, well, I don’t really care.

I think that in some monogamous relationships, people have trouble expressing themselves. When you are limited to being with one person, you may feel that you can’t fully be yourself because you have to be preserve the relationship above all else. In poly, different selves can be expressed with different people. I think fewer of us feel the need to act differently from who we are – we know that we need to be ourselves with everyone we are with. They are with us for a reason, after all. For everyone I’m with, I strive to be myself and I ask for what I want. I have thought recently about how I would act if I was with Ben as well as a woman. I don’t have a lot of experience with women, so when I am with a woman, I often let her take the lead. However, I want to change this. That’s the thing about poly – we get to learn about other people, and maybe even more about ourselves.

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