AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the tag “relationship”

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 miriam@askmiriam.ca

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On the Rarity of Connection

I write this blog post from Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. I just arrived here 2 days ago and I’ll be travelling around Taiwan for 2.5 weeks. Ben and I are continuing to travel separately; he’ll depart for Vietnam from the Phillipines later today. We continue to miss each other a lot, but are happy for this chance to travel independently.

One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is how rare it is to have a connection with someone. Over the years, I’ve often felt more strongly about people than they have about me and people are often aware of this because I’m very bad at hiding my feelings. I’ve also had the experience of being on the receiving end of strong feelings when I don’t feel very strongly about the other person. I feel lucky right now because Ben and I both feel very strongly about being together for the rest of our lives. However, it’s difficult to find other people, especially when travelling, who I feel so close to. Travelling makes me realize how finite everything is. This both excites and depresses me because I know that whoever I meet, I probably will never see them again. It makes me realize how precious and temporary everything is.

As polyamorous people, we seek out connections. We want to meet others, develop some sort of relationship, and grow from it. What do we do when we realize that connection is so rare? I used to feel like I could get along with almost anybody, but I realize that isn’t always possible. I may rub some people the wrong way and some people rub me the wrong way. There are times when I just want to meet someone and see where the relationship goes. There are also times when I want to be more specific about what I want. I think we can strike a balance between those 2 because I often just want to have company, especially when travelling alone. Over the long term, however, being more specific about what I want is more important.

Happy Commercial Love Day everyone! I’m not always the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, but as someone who loves love, I feel the need to mention it. If you have any questions about relationships, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca I hope everyone can find meaningful connections, wherever they may be.

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!

AskMiriam about Breaking the Ice

Question: If I am seeing someone, and I want to break the ice so to speak, or to tell her I really don’t mind if she sees other people. When is it too soon to tell her I am OK with it? If I meet someone that can’t understand, should I move on? Or try to convince them?

Answer: First, thank you for your question! This is always a delicate topic. For those of us who want to date more than one person, when is a good time to let that be known to a potential partner? And how soon do we want to know if they are okay with that and if they would do the same? (There are mono/poly relationships that work, where one partner sees more than one person and another remains monogamous – some work and some don’t, like most relationships in general).

Personally, I tend to err on the side of disclosing earlier. Here’s an example: last year, I met someone who I was really excited about. He had never been poly before. I met him at a party that I went to with someone I was involved with at the time, so when we met, he knew what my situation was. The new person and I had our first date several days later and it went really well. We had a lot in common and we got along well. He seemed to be fine with poly. The next day, I was over the moon and when I’m happy, I get flirty. I gave my number to 3 people. In the evening, I picked someone up and took them back to my place. The next day, I was helping throw a party for poly people and I invited the new person. Toward the end of the party, he told me he wanted to go for walk after the party was over; I could sense that things were about to end between us. Indeed, we went on the walk and he told me he didn’t think he could handle poly. I was really disappointed, but I will say that I’m very glad I found that out early on. If I had met him in a situation where he didn’t know about my relationship status and I wouldn’t have told him until, say, the 4th date, my hopes would have been even higher and I would have been even more disappointed.

In terms of people who can’t understand, you can try to explain it to them but be careful – there are times when poly is misunderstood and of course, everyone has a different understanding of what polyamory means to them. If you feel that they would be a good partner, come at it from an angle of dialogue. For example, you could ask them what they want in a relationship and if they describe some things that you are not into, you can tell them that they would be welcome to find it elsewhere if they choose. I think polyamory should be about freedom of choice – there are times in your life where you will only be involved with one person and if you enjoy that, great.  If you are doing something like online dating, many poly people let it be known on their profile that they are dating more than one person or that they would like to be dating more than one person. Some people are nervous to do that in case someone they know finds out. Being the open person I am, my online profiles show my relationship status. If people want to contact me, great. If not, I know that there are many people out there who would be keen to date me. Good luck out there in the dating universe, dear reader!

If you have a question, please email at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Later this week, I will be talking about some exciting stuff that is currently going on in my life. Stay tuned…

What Makes a Relationship Work?

Lately, Ben and I have gotten on each other’s nerves. Many of you know that this trip to Korea has been a bit hellish and it seems like things have finally come to a head. Over the weekend, Ben and I were walking around Seoul and he felt the need to take out some of his aggression on a flight of stairs by stomping very hard down them. This caught me off guard and I asked him what was wrong. He said, “you know how you’ve been remarking that I’ve handled everything here very well? In fact, it has taken a toll on me.” I wasn’t sure what to say, but I felt upset. I want to know everything Ben is feeling and he hadn’t been telling me everything. Of course, that’s partly because he wasn’t fully aware of it himself. We all know the common saying, ignorance is bliss. However, in the context of a relationship, this isn’t really true, especially for a person like me. I want to be in the know and as my mother says, one of my best qualities is the fact that I can’t ignore things.

All of this led to Ben and I having a conversation about our relationship given everything that’s happened. We feel better that things have calmed down slightly and Ben apologized for taking some of his aggression out on me. We also talked a bit about what makes a relationship work and I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject here. First, there is attraction. We meet someone and we think, I want to be with this person. For myself, I need to be with someone who’s smart. We need to be able to have stimulating conversation otherwise I won’t be interested at all. I’m usually not so concerned about what they look like because I’m attracted to different body types; they just need to have good character and a good heart. I will say I have a penchant for taller people with glasses and blue/green eyes, but I have dated others that look different from that. Second, communication. We need to keep each other in the loop about what we’re feeling and what we’re doing. This is especially important in the context of polyamory because we may have other partners and I like knowing what’s going on with the other relationships. Ben and I are both pretty direct communicators, so that part of our relationship works quite well. We usually say what we mean and mean what we say.

Third, I think sex helps make a relationship work. I like to have sex fairly frequently and it should be fun for both people. Ben and I have had some problems in that department lately because we haven’t had our own space. We’ve been staying in hostels and with others and some people have had objections to us having sex, even when we were very surreptitious about it. One girl at the hostel we were staying at heard us having sex and cried for hours. She never approached us to voice her concerns, so we’re not really sure why she was crying. Of course, we are in a pretty conservative country and I realize people here aren’t used to hearing people have sex, but I don’t want to change my practices, even in these surroundings.

Fourth, alone time is very important. I love being with Ben, but this trip has been slightly suffocating because we are together almost all the time. Over the past little while, we have made efforts to have some alone time. I visited one of the baths in Seoul and had several hours to myself. I actually missed Ben during those hours, so that’s a good sign. We all know the old cliche, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think that is often true when we love someone.

Fifth, dependability. We need our partners to be there for us. I have definitely felt that way here in Korea with Ben. Even when we’re dealing with immigration, a lack of alone time, and the fact that it’s very hard to meet people here, we can be there for each other. We can laugh and cry at all of the crap that’s happened to us. Through a lot of my poly life, I have been a secondary partner. There are plenty of benefits to being a secondary partner, but I have often wanted someone to be there for me and someone who I can be there for. With Ben, I always get that.

Those are just some of my thoughts on what make a relationship work. There are plenty of other things and it can depend on the nature of your relationship. If you have more thoughts, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca I always look forward to your questions!

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…

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