AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the tag “NRE”

The Best Kept Secret of Polyamory

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about, what I think, is the best kept secret of polyamory. Say you’ve been with someone for awhile and things have become monotonous in the relationship. This is inevitable, after the NRE (new relationship energy) fades away. It’s been said that NRE, the feelings that come when you’re excited about someone at the beginning of a relationship, can last for, at most, a few years. If you’ve been in a 10 year marriage, for the sake of argument, you may well decide to open up the relationship because you want the relationship to feel fresher or more interesting. Well, here’s the secret: Yes, you may be excited about dating and/or having sex with new people, but that doesn’t change the fact that your existing relationship still may feel monotonous. It doesn’t change the fact that you still may have problems in the relationship that need sorting out. Every relationship requires a certain amount of work to be put in and that will not change either. Also, I think one of the biggest issues with polyamory for people in very long term relationships is that you can be prone to seeking out too much variety. You may be with someone for a period and decide that you are bored, once the NRE wears off. Even if you have a great second relationship, you may end it so that you can continue to have variety.  I think this is fine with mutual consent, but there may not be mutual consent when one party ends the relationship for no reason. Here’s the truth: In the end, NRE, that amazing feeling, does go away. We are hopefully left with a feeling of stability, something to last us much longer than NRE ever would. As proud polyamorists, we need to take care of the people we love.

I have been feeling lately like things are starting to be a bit monotonous with Ben and we haven’t even been together for a year and a half. The truth is, the longer we’ve been together, the more attracted I am to him, but that doesn’t mean that the sex doesn’t become monotonous. We talked about that on Monday and agreed we need to spice things up a bit. Ben wants things to be more spontaneous, but the circumstances that would allow for that don’t really exist here in China. Our apartment isn’t really the greatest because it’s completely open concept, so it’s difficult to surprise each other. There is always the roof of a building or at a friend’s house, but those all seem a bit risky. Thus, despite the fact that Ben and I are both now involved with other people, we still need to work on our relationship to make sure it keeps strengthening. We have occasional challenges on that front, but on the whole, we are committed to each other and we want to make sure that our relationship lasts the ages. I dream of having a 50th wedding anniversary because I think longevity is one of the biggest challenges in a relationship, but I think it can be done.

If you have any relationship questions, send me an email at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thank you as always for reading!

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Passion vs Dedication

First off, I just want to say happy holidays to my readers. I hope you’re enjoying this season of socializing and overeating. I’ve just returned from London, Ontario. As a Jewish person, I have a weird relationship with Christmas, but overall, I enjoy it. I was invited for Christmas dinner with my new partner’s family- I met his mother, his mother’s boyfriend, the boyfriend’s son, the mother’s sister, and aunt. I was a little bit nervous beforehand, but it all went very well. We ended up having Christmas dinner on Boxing Day and the food was delicious. On Christmas Day, I met my partner’s mother and I liked her almost instantly. She’s very laidback and she clearly cares a lot about her son. She and her boyfriend apparently looked me up on facebook before we met and this was somewhat nerve wracking, mainly because I link my blog to facebook when I update it. My new partner practiced polyamory with the woman he was in the longest relationship with, so his mother is familiar with the concept and she didn’t seem too bothered by the fact that I write about it and of course, practice it. At Christmas dinner, I didn’t talk about it and I think that was for the best. 

The reason why I call this post passion vs dedication is twofold. A certain dating website that’s very popular with the poly community asks its members what is more important in a relationship, passion or dedication. Of course, this is a gross simplification on the part of the site; you can’t reduce a relationship to these 2 variables. I did however answer, dedication, because over the long term, passion can fade. You might remember what a relationship was like when it began and how strong the spark was, but if you want the relationship to go the distance, I think dedicating yourself to that relationship and to your partner(s) is the most important thing, especially through the bad times.

For me, the passion that comes at the beginning of a relationship can be overwhelming and I’m feeling that right now. I gave my new partner a book as a Christmas gift and I also included a card with a poem I had written for him. The card almost brought him to tears. I’m not used to seeing such sensitivity in a man; It’s both refreshing and terrifying. On the upside, my new partner and I clearly have very strong feelings for each other. We see eye to eye on so many things. Overall I’m enjoying the NRE, but I’m also looking forward to that part calming down. I want us to see each other for who we truly are and relish in the things we have in common. It’s hard not to judge someone when you start a relationship with them. I feel like I’m still in that mode of figuring out who my new partner is and seeing if we can fit. I recognize that I can overanalyze these things, especially as someone who writes about relationships. I need to just enjoy myself….  

 

You Only Need to Change Your Life

The above line (mostly) comes from a song by Sarah Slean, one of my favourite artists. I think it’s very true in the context of relationships. I met someone new a few weeks ago at a birthday party (https://askmiriamquestions.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/here-i-am-stuck-in-the-middle-with-you/) and he’s spent a couple of nights at my place. We’re both quite happy to share a bed with someone and we’re really enjoying each other’s company, in all aspects. We are exchanging stories about our lives, talking about past relationships, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of non-monogamy. I like to think of a relationship as a kind of story. Each person involved puts in their 2 cents and you start constructing a narrative you’ll tell people later. As someone who does a lot of writing, words and stories are important to me. It is partly self-interest, but I also think of relationships as having their own mass and weight. It’s like a creature of Frankenstein you can modify at any time.

This week, the new person and I woke up and discussed how relationships, even short ones, can really change your life and yourself. They can make you more aware of certain things about yourself; they can show you things you like and dislike; they can make you consider things you might never have thought about otherwise. This latter point is very much ringing true for me right now. I really like this new person. He wants kids and to live in the countryside and I’m pretty sure I don’t want either, but there’s a small part of me that would reconsider my thoughts on the subject. Of course, we don’t know each other very well and I have a tendency to get ahead of myself, but I like embracing possibility. Plus, I’m feeling the NRE, new relationship energy. Everything is new and shiny and exciting. Nothing has gone wrong yet and we feel like it never will. Enjoy the moment…

Do you have any questions? Send an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca. As always, all questions are anonymous. As mentioned in my last post, I’m happy to come to your house or place or work, bring healthy and delicious food and talk to you about your problems. Send me an email for details.

More than 1

Many people say that polyamory is difficult because 1 relationship is enough work. I’ve been thinking a lot about this word, relationship. How do we relate to one another? I like thinking about relationships as social experiments. You put 2 or more people together and see if they get along. We all come with different experiences, other relationships, baggage, emotions, favourite things, etc and we try to see if we can fit all of those things in with another person, or other people. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. Then there’s that all important element known as chemistry. Some people have it and some people don’t. Not to mention, there are different types of chemistry. There’s sexual chemistry and there’s more platonic chemistry. I remember meeting my ex-partner for the first time. We sat down at the table to eat lunch together and I felt an instant connection. I realize that this is extremely rare even though I get along well with most people. 

So, once we find that relationship, how do we make it work? Over time, we reveal ourselves to the other person or people. We tell stories, we share likes and dislikes, and we see how the other person reacts. At the beginning of the relationship, we mostly react positively and we don’t really see the other person’s foibles. This is partly a consequence of NRE, new relationship energy. Over time, we may see those foibles as bad things. It’s a question of what we’re willing to accept. I have a new partner and we spent a good portion of yesterday together. I told him that I love this part of the relationship because everything seems awesome. We haven’t yet seen anything we don’t really like or can’t put up with. Plus, it’s different when you’re not living with that person. Regardless, I look forward to spending more time with my new partner and finding out even more about him. 

Something else I’ve been thinking about recently is whether we always feel the need in poly to have more than 1 relationship at a time. I’ve been involved with someone since January. Our relationship has gone in waves. At the beginning, it was very casual. After I got back from my trip in March, it started becoming more serious. We found out more about each other and got closer. This week we discussed just being friends. We knew at some point this would probably happen. I feel a bit strange only having 1 romantic relationship right now, great though it is. When I first got involved with the person in January, I was involved in another serious relationship. There was a part of me that wanted or thought I should have another relationship. The 2 of them were very complementary and I really liked that. I’m happy that we will still remain in each other’s lives because we support each other a lot. He has been there for me through a lot of difficult things and I have for him as well. We have quite a bit in common so I know that we will continue to see and talk to each other but I appreciate that we have used each other as a safety net and that’s not necessarily fair. New beginnings…

Insecure Affections

Question: I am spending this afternoon and evening with a new partner who has potential for becoming the 3rd primary partner in my intentional open polyfi family. 

For the first 3 years of my relationship with my 2nd primary partner I dealt with huge jealousy issues with her. I studied up on how to best support her through her jealousy issues and it paid off though it was a long hard road to go down.

I am very affectionate and like giving and receiving a lot of affection. Over the last week my 2nd partner has focused a whole lot of insecure affection. A lot of kissing, holding, hugging and stuff I usually enjoy but I am finding I don’t enjoy this at all. In fact it creeps me out, especially the clingy stuff.

 I want to help and support her in getting through this time as best I can. Should I just suck it up and say nothing? 

When I am in NRE, which I am, I find I am more passionate and affectionate with my 2nd partner than normal because I am able to have this new partner in my life. When my 2nd partner gets like this though I find it pushes me away, takes away my passion for her, and makes me not want to even be with her. I usually find that I also want more time for sex with her when I am in NRE and she likes that but then with her being like this I don’t want to have sex with her.

My 2nd partner is monogamous. I tell her poly is about more love, fun, care, and sex for all involved; not less. It should be that way but when she is like this, it is not.

 

Answer: There are 2 things going on here. First of all, your 2nd partner is monogamous, so she is depending on you for support and affection. You mention that you’ve dealt with jealousy issues in the past with her, so this is not surprising. It is possible that she’s more affectionate because she sees that you’re very happy but I’m guessing it’s more the jealousy issue. It sounds like you would like to initiate the showing of affection, so just tell her that- I’m sure she’ll be understanding. Second of all, the NRE – it sounds like your 2nd partner doesn’t really understand how that process works. Maybe you can explain to her how you felt when you first met her. That will make her feel appreciated and it’ll help her understand what you are experiencing right now. However, if these jealousy issues continue to come up, I might reconsider the relationship. Some poly people say that they could date a monogamous person, but it is not always the best idea. 

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