AskMiriam

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Archive for the tag “relationships”

AskMiriam about Poly and Young Children

Question: Hello Miriam, I was wondering about my children. Myself and my boyfriend recently have taken on a girlfriend, so we have formed a triad. My question is how do I explain to my young children that this is not a normal lifestyle choice and that it is not expected out of them when they grow older? My mother has expressed concern to me about this because she thinks that me having not only a boyfriend or a girlfriend but having both could be damaging to my children’s mental health. I do not desire to harm my children in any way so I am asking for advice on this subject.

Answer: I asked Elisabeth Sheff, the author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, to weigh in on this because I’m less familiar with issues regarding children. She responded with the following:

The short answer is: Yes, polyamorous families can be healthy. Just like other families, the way having poly parents affects children depends in large part on how the adults conduct themselves in their relationships. There is nothing inherently pathological about polyamorous families, and they are not destined to damage the children who grow up in them. Polyamorous families can create healthy, stable, loving environments for children when the adults provide that kind of environment. Poly families are not perfect, and their kids experience some of the same problems common in other blended families. For those poly folks who can find the right balance in their relationships, however, multiple-adult families can be extremely advantageous for children and adults.

The medium answer includes: Multiple adults provide lots of attention, greater life experience, copious support, and abundant role models for children. Pooling their resources also allows adults to have more personal time, work more flexible hours, and get more sleep because there are multiple people around to take care of the children. Poly parents said that they felt more patient and had more energy for their children when they were well rested and had sufficient income – all of which benefitted their children.

The long answer is also that: It depends a lot on how the adults talk to the kids and how old the kids are. How poly parents talk to their kids about it makes a big difference to how the kids will think or feel about the parents’ poly relationships. For kids of all ages, the best strategy seems to be an age-appropriate and honest response to kids’ questions. Divorce is so common today that almost all children know peers with multiple parents already – dad and his new wife, mom and her new girlfriend – so the presence of additional adults is not nearly as socially outlandish as it would have been 50 years ago. It also makes it very easy for kids from poly families to blend in with kids from divorced families, so the poly family kids hardly ever have to explain their families to teachers, coaches, or casual acquaintances.

How old the children are also makes a big difference in what they think of the adults in their environments. Small kids eight or under generally do not have a sophisticated understanding of adult romantic relationships, and so might not need an explanation at all. Little kids take their family form for granted because it is all they know, and until they learn that other peoples’ families are different they will not think that their family is unusual. Parents’ partners are likely to blend in with all of the other caring adults in kids’ lives, and there is no need for parents to make a big deal out of what happens after the kids are in bed.

Tweens from nine to 12 have a more sophisticated understanding of adults’ relationships and might notice looks or touches between adults the way their younger siblings do not. When kids notice something happening and appear uncomfortable about it, they might be concerned that the parents are cheating and the kid knows a terrible secret that will hurt the other parent. In those cases, it is important for parents to let kids know that the parents are being honest with each other, it is not a secret from the other parent, and the kids can ask whatever questions they have. Kids in these settings often do not want detailed explanation of the romantic side, and using phrases like “hanging out” or “spending special time together” can be honest answers appropriate to smaller children.

As kids grow up, their understandings of adult interactions become more sophisticated and they have more points of reference to compare their families to their peers’ families. Generally they will become aware that their family is unconventional by the time they are late in elementary school, at which point they might begin wondering more about the adults in their lives. Creating a family atmosphere where children feel confident their questions will be met with thoughtful, honest answers allows kids to take the lead and ask questions not only about their family dynamics, but everything else too. Poly parents report that free ability to think and talk helps the children trust them and creates emotional intimacy for the whole family.

Finally, just because you are polyamorous does not mean your children will be polyamorous when they grow up. Kids in my study had a range of attitudes towards polyamory: some would under no circumstances consider doing it themselves, and others could see no other way to live a free and authentic life. Most of them, however, were not sure, and were still trying to figure out how to kiss or who they liked. They were going to leave any decision about polyamory to the future when they were older and it was more germane to their lives. Not one single child in my study said that they would be polyamorous because their parents were, and instead all of them thought about their own boundaries and considered their options.

I want to say thank you to Elisabeth for such a thoughtful answer and I will provide my own 2 cents. As each generation passes, many people are becoming more and more progressive. I think that people around my age and younger either accept polyamory or don’t really care how people choose to conduct their relationships. The person who wrote in said that their mother thought poly would harm the mental health of the children; that could very well be a generational belief. I always thought that my parents would understand poly more because of the free love ethos of the late 60s and early 70s. On the contrary, that ethos often got a bad name and polyamory is much different. I would advise the person who wrote in to say to their kids, depending on their ages, in simple language that the all of the adults care for each other and that they will always be there for the kids. I think that’s mainly what the kids want to know. I myself have been involved with people who had children. In one case, I was introduced as a friend. I didn’t mind that too much because the kids were so young and as Elisabeth said, they probably wouldn’t have understood. This situation is different because the adults are living in a triad. Personally, I think that no matter how old the kids are, they will know at least a bit about what’s going on, but they may not understand it. I think it’s better to explain things to the kids sooner rather than later.

On a personal note, many of my readers know that my dad is gay. He came out when I was 6. I’m pretty sure I told some people at school about it and I was made fun of. There may be some concern in this case about telling kids at school that their parents have an unusual relationship. I would have an honest discussion with the children and see if they are concerned about this issue. There may be a local PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter that could help, if you are seeking it, as they may be able to provide some support. As Elisabeth said, many children have parents who are divorced and they may live in blended families; knowing that a classmate has 3 parents isn’t really a stretch. I would also agree that polyamory is not harmful to children’s mental health. Imagine living in a house where at least 1 parent is always available and everyone is committed to each other – that sounds pretty ideal to me.

For more of Elisabeth Sheff’s writings, check out http://elisabethsheff.com/

Sweet Surrender

I had an interesting Saturday night last weekend followed by a very interesting day on Wednesday. Last weekend, I went with some colleagues to a gay bar here in Zhengzhou. My colleague’s friend put on a party there. The music was very good and the atmosphere was also great – people weren’t crazily drunk and there wasn’t a lot of smoking. A few hours into the night, I met a woman who I will call Mily. She looked very excitable and had, what I would describe, a nice light in her face. We danced fairly close together and she told me that I’m the first woman she’s ever been attracted to. I told her that I found her attractive as well. She ended up kissing me on the cheek and I kissed hers. I didn’t want to push anything with her, but I did want to kiss her on the lips. I leaned into do that and she shied away. She left for a bit, but then we continued dancing. I was very surprised when she kissed me on the lips! It was a very pleasant kiss. She gave me her number and said, keep in touch. I called her the following day and we arranged to meet on Wednesday. We had coffee at a very nice cafe and had good conversation. I was nervous about telling her about Ben, but then I found out that she has a unique insight into poly. She told me that she was previously married and her husband also happened to be with another woman in Thailand. She considered sending angry messages to that woman, but in the end, they actually became friends. Mily said to me, they are soulmates; I was pretty impressed with that. I told her about Ben and my past and she was very positive about it all. Unfortunately, Mily may not stay in Zhengzhou past May, but I’m sure we’ll at least have a friendship; I also want to move cautiously since Mily has never been with a woman before. She has invited me over to her house next week for lunch and she is keen to meet Ben, which I think are very good signs.

On Wednesday, before I had coffee with Mily, I had lunch with a friend and met a friend of hers, who’s interested in being poly. I think there is some mutual interest and he lives nearby, which is always a bonus. That evening, I talked to Ben about one reason why I like being with guys. I’m a pretty focused and driven person; when I put my mind to something, I can usually achieve it. When I’m with a guy, I feel all of that melt away. As per the title of this post, I can surrender myself to someone else. Of course, this isn’t always a good thing and it’s a very traditional way of looking at relationships. I think it can be traced back to my relationship with my father when I was younger. He was a pretty angry person back then and I never wanted to upset him, so I usually went along with what he wanted. I also lived with a stubborn sister and sometimes stubborn mother, so I’m used to being the one who’s more flexible and does what others want. Now, I often feel like I need to change my relationships with men, and perhaps with women as well. I’ve often been the one who takes initiative in a relationship and I want the people I’m with to take initiative as well. I also feel like I need to be more collaborative – if I have an idea, I want to discuss it more with the other person or people before doing something about it.  I’d also like to have a partner who comes up with the ideas and I can figure out the details, as I’m very detail oriented. I think there’ll be more of that once Ben and I return to Canada, when we’re on more equal footing, and I look forward to it.

Thank you as always for reading! If you have a relationship query, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

 

Learning Compersion

This post will be about 2 things: learning and compersion. Ben commented to me the other day that once you learn about poly, it’s difficult to go back to monogamy. You cannot unlearn the fact that you are aware that polyamory and non-monogamy exist. You might try it out and find out it’s not for you, but if you get into it and like it, I think it’s quite difficult to go back. I’m always reminded of someone I interviewed for a little research project who said to me, I feel like I passed a signpost that said, you will be poly from here on out. For myself, I feel the same way. There are many different ways to be poly and those may change, but for those of us who like all genders, we will always have the desire to be with more than one gender. For people who are straight and poly, the desire to have different relationships will be there as well. As many of my readers know, I got into poly because of a certain American person. Once I met him and I was aware that I could have feelings for more than 1 person, there was no turning back.

Ben, Eve, and I continue to have regular contact. She will definitely be coming here at the end of April. As Eve and I get to know each other better, we like each other more and more. She even said that she would be friends with me with or without Ben and I feel the same way. We think very similarly and our interests are also similar. Both of us have had few meaningful relationships in the past with women because we are very different from most women, so it’s always nice to meet a woman who is like us. Eve has never been attracted to a woman before and of course, it’s hard to know at this point if we’ll be attracted to each other because we haven’t met yet. I also don’t want to get my hopes up because Eve might end up living very far away from us. She’s applying to do her Master’s in Europe and we’ll be on the west coast of North America. There is a chance that she could do her Master’s in Canada, but the particular program she wants to apply to is in Guelph, which isn’t all that close to where we’ll be. I’m planning to apply for my PhD in Washington, Michigan, and California and that would start next year.

By getting to know Eve better, I find that compersion is so much easier. I’m happy for Eve and Ben because I want them both to be happy. As a reminder, compersion is often described as the opposite of jealousy; when you are happy for your partner to be involved, in whatever way, with others. I don’t think that experiencing compersion is necessarily a requirement of poly, but I think it definitely helps get over whatever jealousy existed. I think it also helps us let go of the possessive side of love. Don’t get me wrong – there are times where I want Ben all to myself. For the time that we’ve been involved, we haven’t really had other serious relationships, so this does take some getting used to. In the end though, Ben and I want to create a team of love. This could mean several of us living together and supporting each other in whatever ways are needed. It’s not for everyone, but I think that having that kind of bond would be amazing. A true poly family.

Thank you as always for reading! If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

 

The Freedom to Feel

Before getting to the heart of this blog, I want to say one thing. On this blog, I will be writing about Ben and Eve as well as my own feelings about them. I want to acknowledge the privilege I feel to write about a relationship that I’m not completely involved in. Of course, Ben is my fiance and Eve and I are friends, but they are the ones who are romantically involved here. On this blog, I mainly want to write about my own relationships as well as give advice and in this situation, it’s a bit different. I will do my best to represent the situation as accurately as I can.

Last night, Ben, Eve, and I had a call that ended up lasting for 1.5 hours. I continue to be in Taiwan and they are in Vietnam. We talked about many different things including the strong possibility that Eve will visit us in China within 2 months. I think all of us are looking forward to the visit, but we also feel nervous about it. Ben and I have a relationship and Eve and Ben are developing their relationship, but the dynamics between 3 are hard to predict. One of my concerns is that I will feel left out in my own house. Groups of 3 have often made me anxious because one person can often feel left out and I don’t want that person to be me. In Zhengzhou, our city in China, there aren’t many places for us to go and just hang out with other people. We are generally at the university teaching and doing other things, eating out in our neighbourhood, or at home. If I want to give Ben and Eve some alone time, that may be difficult to do. That being said, Eve will probably come for 5 days, which isn’t an inordinate length of time and I do think we’ll all get along. Eve said she’s happy to have me as a friend. She has already opened up to me a lot, which has really impressed me; it shows me that she speaks our language. She’s unsure of her feelings toward women at this point and I would never push anything with her, but if it were to develop, I don’t think either of us would be opposed to that.

This situation is new for all of us involved. After talking to the 2 of them last night, I think I was feeling some jealousy and envy as I watched them cuddle on the hotel bed. This situation is even more foreign to Eve who hasn’t been in that many relationships, let alone a non-monogamous relationship. Since Ben and I got together, neither one of us has had an additional serious relationship, so this is new for him too, though he acknowledged to me this morning that he has the easiest time emotionally in all of this; after all, he has 2 women who feel strongly about him. Ben and I also said this morning that we don’t want their relationship to impact ours. We would like to acknowledge that both relationships are unique and that we can all contribute to their success.

Feelings can run high in this sort of situation and as I said to Ben, there are many forces at play here that we are all unaware of. In many societies and depending on the family, we often do not talk about how we feel. I was raised by social workers and was often asked how I felt about things, so I’m an exception and I do feel lucky for that. I think that all 3 of us are fairly emotionally aware, but we all have baggage that affects how we feel at present. If one goal of polyamory is open communication, we can acknowledge how our past impacts our feelings right now. With our emotions invested in multiple people and depending on how much we choose to disclose, we may tell our partner(s) how we feel about other partners or express how metamours make us feel. I think that the expression of all these emotions makes us healthier people and better partners.

Thank you as always for reading! Ask me a relationship question anytime at miriam@askmiriam.ca I will be back in China on Monday and look forward to seeing Ben for the first time since January 20…

Reaching Out and Tuning Out

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m currently in Taiwan and Ben is in Vietnam. Recently, he met someone I will call Eve and they’ve hit it off. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got a message from her on OkCupid and when she added me as a friend on Facebook. When my partner(s) get involved with others, I like to build relationships with them. It’s very rare that others have reached out to me first, so you can imagine this was a bit of shock, especially because Eve has never been involved in a polyamorous relationship before. I think she really understands how it works, though. We’ve started exchanging pleasant messages and I’ve even been informed by Ben that she writes poetry and is interested in exploring an attraction to women. It’s also very rare that I meet a fellow poet, so for me, this is all great. She and Ben are going on a little trip this weekend and will see how things develop. If things go well, she’s interested in visiting us in China, depending on whether she can get a visa or not. Diplomatic relations between Vietnam and China have not been the best recently, so it could be difficult for her. Now, this isn’t to say my feelings about Eve have been entirely positive. Ben told me he hasn’t been attracted to someone as strongly as he is to Eve since he met me, which could be constructed as a threat to our relationship.

One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is how women are programmed to act in relationships. We are often taught to find a man (forget what your sexual orientation may be…) and hold on to him as tightly as possible. We should be jealous and protective when another woman comes along because she might steal him away from us. If we have children with said man, we have to depend on him and keep him from being attracted to other women. Of course, these are all outdated ideas, but they are still present in our society today. I don’t think Eve would steal Ben away from me for a few reasons: Ben and I are as committed to each other as anyone can be. I don’t think Ben would allow someone to steal him away from me. It would also be against Eve’s interest to do so if she wants to build at least a friendship with me. It does seem like she’s coming into polyamory in the spirit of friendship, so I have no doubt she would betray me in some way. There is also the question of whether she would live close to us. She is interested in doing a Master’s and that could be in Canada, so we shall see where this all goes. In the meantime, I’m putting myself into a mindframe of tuning out from the normal programming I mentioned above. As the old saying goes, if you love someone, set them free. I sometimes have the feeling that Ben and I only met recently and that our relationship is still fragile. I remind myself how much can happen in a little over a year…

Thanks as always for reading! I await your relationship questions, which are always posted anonymously. My email address is miriam@askmiriam.ca

The 100th Blog and Our Need for Commemoration

This is now the 100th blog for AskMiriam, which made me think about our need to commemorate important events. I am one of the biggest culprits in that regard. My mother teases me about celebrating “monthaversaries.” If I have been with someone for 5 months, for example, I’ll insist we cook a nice dinner or do something fun. Thankfully, Ben indulges me in this regard. Last Sunday, when we had been together for 11 months, we had a nice lunch out.

Why do humans have a need, especially in the context of relationships, to commemorate how long we’ve been together or the first time we’ve kissed? Personally, I think that commemorating things is important. We want to remember when something special happened. In some cases, we have a duty to remember something horrible such as a war. Perhaps our brains can make more sense of something when we feel the need to remember it again and again. Many of my readers know that a certain person from New York City helped me become poly. A few years ago, he and I were in Istanbul and stayed up all night on July 11. Every year since then, I often want to stay up all night on July 11; there is obviously a connection. 2 years after he and I met, I did stay up quite late after I had gone to a concert. I didn’t want to go to sleep afterward and ended up cycling around. There was a pop up clothing store open late and I talked to some people. One woman told me I have a good listening face, meaning I always look like I’m listening; that’s always nice to hear. I also talked to her brother who had an interest in the idea of friends with benefits. He came back to my place and we fooled around a bit, though he got upset when I didn’t want to have sex. I tried explaining that that was a compliment to him because it meant I wanted to see him again, but I never did see him again. Regardless, this shows how my need to commemorate a certain evening 2 years before led me to an interesting evening…

Of course, our need to remember also makes us think about the future. We can ask: where have we come from and where are we going? I cannot predict the future, so I cannot tell you, dear reader, what I might write about next week or next month. I hope to write about what it’s like to date in China when you have a pre-existing relationship. I hope to write about a fun threesome I had. I also hope to get more of your questions on relatonships (write to miriam@askmiriam.ca). At the moment, I am finding it hard to meet people here in Zhengzhou. I can easily meet students at the university I teach at and I can talk to other teachers, but our locale is isolated from the rest of the city. The fact that I only know a few things in Mandarin also presents a challenge. I am quite happy with my teaching and Ben and I are enjoying each other’s company. Let’s see how the other things go…

Finding Community

I’ve thinking a lot lately about how to create community. This is a conflict I often face as a poly person and as someone who wants to travel. Ben and I are now in Zhengzhou, China. We are quite happily working as English teachers at a university. We have a contract until June 30 of next year and we don’t think we’ll stay longer than that. We do like our jobs here, but the city is quite polluted and we’re living in the boonies. When I did my Master’s, I attended York University in Toronto, which is in the suburbs – I would compare our university to that. Over the weekend, I took public transit from downtown to where we’re living and it took nearly 2 hours. You, dear reader, can imagine that this isn’t exactly the spot we want to live in. However, what would happen if we formed relationships with people here? Those might be friendships as well as romantic relationships. Would we be more inclined to stay if we connected strongly with people here? That hasn’t happened so far and it can take a long time, but I do hope we form strong relationships here.

I have another friend who likes to travel and he has lovers in different places. There are many di1fferent types of polyamory such as ‘solopoly’ and I gave him the title of ‘travelpoly.’ Many of us have a strong urge to explore the world, especially being the open minded poly people we are. On the other hand, if we want to form multiple romantic relationships, it would do us well to settle down every once in a while, though not in the traditional sense of course. Ben and I were talking the other night about what we want our future lives to look like. We both want to live in a place where we can be part of the community; we may want to do something like grow fruits and vegetables. It can be very difficult to do both of those things in an urban area. In some cities, you can grow your own food, depending on how much space you have. However, the city  is almost always an anonymous place where you can get lost in the crowds. In that regard, it’s easier to be polyamorous and it’s easier to find likeminded people in the city because there is more of a selection. In certain countries, which are mainly in the West, being polyamorous is becoming more and more acceptable. Here in Asia, meeting such people is quite difficult. Given all these things, where can we find a community? You can also create your own community with all of the partners, friends, and family you have, but first you need to meet them. Living situations can be tailored to meet the needs of different groups of people. However, could this type of community exist anywhere in the world? Polyamorous people are still in the minority in every country. Our practices may not be acceptable to those living around us, but we don’t want to live in isolation. All of these issues are worth considering.

On a personal note, travelling has been a very important part of my life. When I was a teenager, I wanted to live in Europe. I’ve been very fortunate to live in England, Japan, and briefly in Germany. As a Master’s student, I studied the German anti-nuclear movement and specifically, why people protest. I got to travel around Germany in 2011 and interview Greenpeace volunteers. That was 1 year before I became poly. While in Germany, I got the chance to go to a conference in Istanbul and I met someone who was in an open relationship; I developed feelings for him. Thus, if I had never travelled, I wouldn’t have had the exposure to different relationship arrangements. I feel like travelling is a way to pay homage to the life I have now. I also find that staying in one place makes me feel stagnant; I always have the urge to explore. On the other hand, I still want to find community.

If you have any questions about relationships, please email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thank you as always for reading, from wherever you happen to be!

 

 

Gender and Communication

I had an interesting exchange yesterday on my way to work that helped inspire me to write this post. I’m an avid cyclist and someone else was cycling behind me. He passed me and then we came to a red light. He turned around and said, maybe I shouldn’t have passed you, now we’re at this red light. I said to him, yeah and you don’t get to look at my ass. He said, I appreciate your refreshing candour. We ended up having a very pleasant conversation and exchanged emails. 

In our society, there are lots of double standards when it comes to gender and I think communication is one of them. This is definitely something that can affect relationships of all kinds. Women can get away with saying many things that men can’t. If a man hits on a woman in a crass way, women tend not to respond. On the other hand, if women hit on men in a crass way, many men would respond. When it comes to non-monogamy, I can do something like propose a threesome to 2 guys and they will usually say yes. If a man went up to 2 women and asked if they wanted to have a threesome, the answer would usually be no. Women are not expected to be so open and direct; it’s one of the reasons why I like being that way. I encourage women to be open about how they feel. I would encourage men to do the same because men are often taught to hide how they feel, perhaps even more so than women. However, there are many men who don’t know how to express their affection for someone in a nice way. A male friend recently told me that he asked people for their permission to flirt with them- I really like that approach.  

If you are a man who likes women, remember that women get hit on all the time. Using a bit of delicacy is called for. We don’t just want to be told we are good looking. Personally, I think you can start by saying ‘hi’ and getting to know the person- those are both very attractive and will win lots of points. Once you get into a relationship, you will know better how your partner likes to communicate and how best to communicate to them. I do think that openness is very important- whether it’s good or bad, your partner wants to know how you feel, so just tell them. 

Work It Out

I apologize for no blog last week, but part of the reason for that is: I have started a new job, hence the title of this blog. Thankfully, I only work 3 days a week, which definitely allows time for multiple relationships. One of the issues that arises with work is, how out do you want to be? One of my co-workers wanted to add me on facebook. As many of you know, when I update this blog, I update facebook. For that reason, I told my co-worker that I couldn’t add her. However, I would like to be her friend and there is a possibility she is leaving the company soon. If she was no longer working for the company, I would hang out with her and tell her more about my life. For the moment though, I am keeping my mouth shut, which is very uncharacteristic of me, I know, but I feel it’s necessary right now. My boss seems to like me and it’s a small company; I’m sure word would get around. I wrote on a previous blog (The Courage to be Ourselves) that I was denied a job because of being polyamorous. I don’t want to be fired from one because of that. I really applaud people who can be out at work and I hope that becomes more normalized as time goes on. 

Another reason I titled this post Work It Out is that I wanted to write about conflict. For most of my life, I have avoided conflict. In serious relationships, that has meant I usually did what the other person wanted because I didn’t want to fight about it. Part of the reason why I did that is because I saw my parents fight and I hated it. As I grew up, my dad sometimes got angry at me. Unfortunately, that has influenced my relationships with men and Ben is very much aware of that. Believe it or not, Ben and I have had some fights. Nothing horribly serious, but still somewhat upsetting. What I have learned from these fights is that I can actually deal with conflict in a constructive way. Ben and I are able to express how we are feeling, talk about it in a mature way, and resolve it. I’ve had discussions about conflict and people say that if you can find a resolution or compromise, you can learn from it and it makes the relationship stronger; I couldn’t agree more. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I come to the end of my 30th year, it’s that I can defend my opinions. I thank Ben for allowing me to have this growth.

If you have any questions, be they about monogamy, polyamory, or any sort of relationship, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca. Thanks as always for reading and asking!

Back to Basics

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the following 4 things: communication, time management, jealousy, and appreciation. In my mind, these are the 4 things you need to grasp as someone who’s in poly relationships. I will describe those 4 things below.

First, communication. Of course, you need communication in every type of relationship, be it with friends, in monogamy, or in polyamory. Some argue, especially in polyamory. I have written before that polyamory is more than anything a communication style. We have to be open about what and who we want, what kind of sex we want, etc. We also need to master, what I call, the art of the heads up. Say for example, you’re at a party with a partner. If you anticipate flirting with other people, let your partner know. You can let them know either before or during. If you get separated from each other and you flirt with someone else, you can let them know afterward. In polyamory, we often talk about “processing.” After something significant happens, we talk about it with our partner(s). So, you can see that communication is so important. For myself, I am a very verbal person. I like it when people tell me things and I like telling people things. Some of my friends know that it can be hard for me to keep my mouth shut. That’s one of the reasons why poly works for me. If I meet someone I like, I will tell my partner(s) and probably my friends as well.

Next, time management. If you have more than 1 relationship, scheduling can be an issue. For someone like me, it is especially a challenge because I like having hobbies; I play ultimate frisbee, I dance, and I write poetry. Plus, most of us need to work. There are only so many hours in a day! Last year, I saw a talk by Tristan Taormino, author of one of the poly bibles Opening Up. She said that a poly person must have invented Google calendar- it has lots of colours and different means of scheduling things. I have been in relationships with people who use it and I have to say, it’s so gratifying when you see their calendar and your name is on it. I try to schedule my time as fairly as I can. It can be difficult when people want to see me and I have to say no. Also, the amount of time you spend with people is often indicative of how important they are to you. Be sure to sit down with your partner(s) and see what they feel is fair.

Thirdly, jealousy. I have had both positive and negative experiences with it. By positive, I mean that it can show you how much you care about the person. However, if it takes over your life, it will feel very negative at times. In my experience, communication defeats jealousy. The more you talk about things, the better you will feel. A friend of mine said that defeating jealousy requires good communication and a healthy sense of self. If you can realize how important you are to your partner, jealousy should not be an issue. Your partner(s) should also be reminding you how important you are to them. We also have to realize how much love there is to go around. After all, one of the reasons we became poly was because we wanted to love, or at least have the opportunity to love, more than 1 person. Our culture sometimes reminds us that things are scarce, but love isn’t one of those things.

Finally, appreciation. Awhile back, I was with 2 people who complemented each other almost perfectly. I felt very fulfilled and as a bonus, the 2 of them got along very well. I reminded them as often as I could what I appreciated about them. In poly, everyone brings something to the table. I really wish we didn’t feel the need for hierarchy though this seems to naturally happen. Ideally, everyone should be recognized as bringing something unique into our lives. Secondaries should not be made to feel secondary. They ought to be recognized for who they are.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca  As always, thanks for reading! Please write in 🙂

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