Love & Romance

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Polyamorous

Polyamorous

Living and Loving More
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It wasn’t a wedding. It was welding.
For years, I thought I was too commitment-phobic to walk down an aisle without running the other way. Maybe I watched that Julia Roberts movie, Runaway Bride, too many times. But on that June morning, as several friends helped carry layers of scalloped printed newspaper that comprised my gown — stories my partner Adam and I had worked on together over the years at the newspaper as reporter and photographer — I took confident strides toward my unorthodox future.
Several feet away, I could see Adam, beaming, a silver-haired fox. He stood six-foot-plus in his newspaper vest collaged with photos, including one of Iggy Pop from the New York Times Sunday styles section. Charlie sat in the front row, where his encouraging smile caught my eye, and I knew I was making the right choice to unabashedly love two men.

***

Our story began as a love triangle and eventually became a committed V.
In 2015, even though all three of us would have categorized ourselves as monogamous, Charlie and Adam and I started exploring the possibility of polyamory.
I discovered the two loves of my life — Charlie and Adam — a few weeks apart in the summer of 2013 when I felt that spark and connection with both, in diff erent ways. But because we thought monogamy was our only choice, there was a lot of heartbreak for all three of us, with me caught in the middle.
From the get-go, I was always honest with both men — how I cared about and was attracted to both of them and valued each of them in my life. Looking back now, I think that laid the foundation for open communication, and the respect and trust needed in any relationship, but especially poly relationships. Otherwise, things fall apart pretty quickly.
I struggled at the time with what life was supposed to look like: One partner. Monogamy. I was often told “You can’t have it all,” but living an ordinary life just wasn’t me.
Around that time, I discovered Design for Living, a 1933 black-and-white pre–Hays Code film by director Ernst Lubitsch. Th e fi lm focuses on Gilda, a petite, quirky blonde played by Miriam Hopkins, who ends up in a polyamorous relationship (or as close as you could get to one in those days) after a chance encounter with two men, George and Th omas (Fredric March and Gary Cooper), on a train to Paris.
Th ey both fall hard for her, and she for them, but she cannot decide between the two. So instead, she ends up marrying Max, a stout, rigid, and commanding husband who is very much about “keeping up with the Joneses.”
What changes toward the end of the story (spoiler alert), after Gilda realizes “the normal life” isn’t for her, is that her two loves come and rescue her from her unhappy marriage.
By that point, both men realize they need her and all three realize that each of them brings something diff erent to the relationship. Th e result is balance. Th e takeaway is that this love — although unconventional — is possible, but it can’t come from a place of starvation or fear. And the two men can still remain friends, even though they had been fi ghting for the attention of the same woman.
While I don’t agree that Gilda required “rescuing,” her succumbing to a monogamous marriage — even though in her heart she knew George and Th omas were the right people for her — resonated with me as a cautionary tale.
As the fi lm winds to a close, the starlet is in the back of a cab sandwiched between her two loves and they drive off to Paris to live together, not knowing whether it will work or fail. She kisses one and then leans over and kisses the other, and the screen fades to black.
Although my relationships with both Adam and Charlie began a week apart that summer, a number of confl icting factors contributed to my uncertainty about the future: Th e nearly thirty-year age gap between me and Adam. My desire to sooner-rather-than-later become a mom with Charlie. A long-distance relationship. And, of course, being in love with two people at the same time.

***

Charlie and I met on July 24, 2013, in one of those “meant to be” Hollywood-type stories, as our paths crossing was really quite against the odds. I had recently split from my ex after my very messy aff air and decided to take a solo road trip to Montreal to check out the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.
I drove seven hours to Quebec, making stops along the way. I was to be in La Belle Province for trois jours. On the second day, I had some time to kill, so I strolled down boulevard St. Laurent. After falling into a smoked-meat coma at Schwartz’s, I noticed all those obnoxious pictures I took of my food had drained my battery and I wandered into the nearest caf. to fi nd an outlet. It had a pi (3.14) symbol on the front and an advertisement for chess and London fog lattes in the window. Foreshadowing!
My high school French was rusty and embarrassing. Th e Asian girl with ombre-tipped hair behind the counter asked me if I was “attempting” to order a drink. “Yeah, I guess I am,” I responded in English. She began making random comments about the process of doing ombre highlights at home or in a salon, so I quickly ordered a cold drink and made my escape. Walking back toward the front of the caf., I scanned for available wall outlets. They were all occupied. Except one.
Th ere was a guy sitting at the table, but the plug was free.
Parlez-vous Anglais?” I asked.
“Yes.”
Relief washed over me. I asked if I could sit down and plug in my dying phone.
“No problem,” he said.
He had his headphones on and seemed to be daydreaming. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I also felt awkward just sitting there at the small, intimate round table for two, not saying anything.
So, being the curious reporter, I asked him about his life. He was in Montreal with his sister and brother-in-law. They were all from London, England, and had travelled to Toronto for their father’s remarriage to a Canadian woman. Th e road trip to Quebec was a good excuse to get some poutine with squeaky cheese.
For the next forty minutes, Charlie and I got lost in each other. We talked about our families, our lives in two diff erent cities, places we’d travelled to and places we’d still like to see, and how annoyed we were that our friends were getting married, having kids, and buying houses together. Ironically, some of those things are now what we want as a married couple — the American/ Canadian/British/Millennial dream.
Th at’s what connected us — talking about these subjects with such confi dence and ease. Years later, we still joke about the weirdo behind the café counter.
I had to leave to meet a friend, so we exchanged information. A friend request popped up on my Facebook the following day. I didn’t really think anything of it.
Two nights later, with us both back in Toronto, I off ered to take Charlie on the “Scott Pilgrimage,” my own constructed tour of locations around the city that are featured in the namesake movie and graphic novel series.
I wasn’t even sure it was a “date,” per se. I messaged my friend and joked I would text her a safe word to let her know I wasn’t murdered. “Foliage,” I said.
“Michael Scott’s safe word?”
“Damn straight.”
Charlie met me at work and I drove him back to my place, where we walked my dog, Wampa, before going for dinner at Korean Village. I was startled and fl attered when he sat beside me instead of across from me in the booth.
Later, I showed him the Metro, the last operating porn theatre in Ontario. He pulled me close to him as a picture of Ron Jeremy refl ected at us from the marquee. Th e loud hum of a street sweeper was nearing. He grabbed my hand. And didn’t let go.
After spending the night together, we went our separate ways. He sent me a text saying he just realized he was heading home to London that day. I off ered to meet him at the airport to see him off.
We both agreed that we didn’t see this as a booty call, but having just split from my ex, I wanted to take it slow and see where things went. I didn’t want to fall back into my serial monogamist patterns.
Fast-forward a few weeks.
I was covering a Scarborough by-election with Adam, who was my photographer that night. After Mitzie Hunter was declared the winner, we decided to catch up over a beer (for him) and a soft drink (for me — Asian fl ush barrier). I told him about Charlie, showed him photos, and shared stories about our escapades that night.
Up until that point, Adam and I were, as he calls it, “gal pals” — work confi dantes who were comfortable friends. But there was a moment — which, in hindsight, I admittedly felt as well — where we had that “click.” I approached him one day in the newsroom several weeks after the by-election. Adam describes it like that scene in Wayne’s World, where Cassandra is onstage playing heavy metal, but Wayne Campbell can only see her through a misty kaleidoscope with “Dream Weaver” playing.
I emailed Adam one night after that moment, on a long weekend, to tell him I was going to London.
“Without me?” he said.
“I’ll bring you back a chicken pot pie.”
He realized then I was going to see “the other guy.”
And then, for whatever reason, call it my exhibitionist nature, I ended up sending him some sexts. Th at’s the night when we went from gal pals of seven years to something more. Something we couldn’t have ever imagined.
Adam’s been there for me when I’ve needed him most and vice versa. He’s my rock. We’re old souls and he’d always be my fi rst pick when I needed help with a lede. One symbol of our synchronicity throughout the relationship has been the numbers 11:11. We’d randomly check our phones, see it was 11:11 a.m. or p.m., and send screenshots to each other.
I found myself falling fast. But I was also into Charlie, and I wanted to see where that would go.
Th e month after I met Charlie, he invited me on a “second date” in London. I hadn’t been in years and was always up for an adventure, and so I fl ew over and spent seventy-two hours with him. It was a risky amount of time to spend together, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. He showed me the Natural History Museum, his childhood school, all his favourite haunts. Holding hands, we walked around Regent Street and Clapham. Th ere was something good there, I knew it.
And so, our love triangle formed.

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Daring to Love

Daring to Love

Move Beyond Fear of Intimacy, Embrace Vulnerability, and Create Lasting Connection
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Single Girl Problems

Single Girl Problems

Why Being Single Isn't a Problem to Be Solved
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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There is no right or wrong way to be single. There’s also no guarantee that you will meet the love of your life by age 27, date for two years, then get engaged and be married by 30. What will most likely happen is you’ll have a few crushes — in my case a lot of crushes. Some will like you back while others won’t even know you’re alive. Eventually you’ll fall in love, which will feel so good I won’t even bother trying to describe it to you. Some of your relationships will just fizzle, and some will break your heart into so many pieces that putting it back together will seem impossible.

At times you might be embarrassed to admit that you’re still single because deep down you thought you would be married by now. Stop trying to explain to people why you’re not. You don’t owe them any answers. Conversely, never look at being single as a failure. Your life isn’t about relationships but rather all the moments in between. Don’t be afraid of your own company because no one can love you as much as you should love yourself. Loving yourself and learning to be self-sufficient are badges of honour — not only do they set the standard for how you want to be treated, but I believe these abilities give you the tools to be a better human being. Get to know who you are instead of waiting for some magical person to walk into your life and make you more adventurous, richer, nicer, smarter, sexier, or more relaxed in your own skin. That’s too big a job for anyone to take on anyway. At the end of the day, all anyone wants to be is loved and appreciated, not burdened with your unresolved issues.

Being dumped is not the end of the world; instead, be thankful for the experience because you’ll grow more from those uncomfortable moments than from any of the “nice” relationships. One of the most important gifts you’ll receive as you get older is learning to listen and trust your inner voice — it’s always right. If you’re in tune with your gut and if you listen to your inner voice, you’ll be able to tell when a relationship isn’t working or know if the person you’re dating is lying or cheating. And never let your desire to be in a relationship supersede your need to be happy.

Here’s another very valuable piece of advice: no matter how cute that guy is, don’t ever let him mistreat you or make you feel inferior. When you die no one will write the number of likes your Instagram photos got on your tombstone, so refrain from posting provocative pictures to get men to poke and double-tap. That attention is superficial. You are more than just your outward appearance; what’s on the inside counts just as much — if not more. Lastly, if you ever get approached by a married man, pivot and run in the opposite direction.

These are all of the things I wish someone had told me before I started dating. Instead I had to learn these lessons through trial and error. I read a million self-help books and articles, watched every Oprah episode about relationships, studied and talked about relationships on television for over three years, and, most importantly, went to therapy before I put it all together.

A lot of this book is based on my experiences as a heterosexual woman trying to navigate the dating world in the twenty-first century, but my hope is that this book will empower, educate, and entertain gay, straight, trans, and bisexual people. That being said, I also know that I can’t be everything to everyone.

Dating in the twenty-first century is nothing like it was 50 or so years ago. Back then things were simpler: people in their early 20s dated with the intention of getting married. It was the only way a girl could survive if she didn’t want to live with her parents forever. A woman’s virtue was more important than her getting a diploma. Today the dating process is way more complex, and so are we. Women around the world in countries like Australia, Japan, Canada, India, and the United States are making major strides in the workforce, steadily climbing the corporate ladder, and breaking glass ceilings. The number of women in the highest paid jobs at the top 100 largest companies has doubled in the last 10 years, and attitudes toward women in leadership roles has changed for the better. At the same time, courtship has changed a lot as well. People are waiting longer to tie the knot, and technology has changed the playing field. Now there’s online dating, texting instead of phone calls, dick pics, apps that help you break up with a person, and sliding into DMs. Even the dating language has changed. These seismic shifts in the twenty-first century have led many successful single women to ask, Is it possible to have it all? Are men intimidated by my achievements? Is it my destiny to spend the rest of my life alone?

Needless to say, this new dating era isn’t for the weak. I liken it to riding an emotional roller coaster wearing a blindfold. One minute you’re having the time of your life, and the next minute you don’t know what the hell is going on and all you want to do is get off.

And I don’t know if you’ve realized this yet, but everyone has baggage. Everyone! Anyone who tells you they don’t have baggage is either a child or a damn liar. Between the crap our parents passed on to us and the double scoop of crap our exes put us through, it’s a miracle some of us even leave the house. When it comes to dating, most of us feel about it the way my mother feels about technology — anxious, frustrated, and filled with hatred.

I remember my high school health class with Miss Good, who, God bless her heart, seemed just as anxious and inexperienced about sex as the awkward bunch of grade 9 students she was teaching. I always found it interesting how much importance was put on sex education, but nothing was ever said about dating and love. Now, I’m not dismissing the importance of sex education, but let’s be real — it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to put tab A into slot B. My grandmother never had a class about her vulva, and she had 12 children. Homegirl figured it out! Relationships are way more complex, but for some reason our parents, friends, and society have always just assumed you’ll pick the right person, settle down, get married, and push out a couple of kids. Easy, right? Grandma did that without any instructions. So when it doesn’t happen the same way for you, those same people will chastise and blame you for not following the status quo. Why do people feel so comfortable attacking single people? I’ll explore that question later on.

Single Girl Problems is a book that looks to change the narrative about what it means to be a single woman in the twenty-first century. We are driving the real estate market, running Fortune 500 companies, and having premarital sex. According to New York Magazine, single women are the most potent political force and are transforming American politics, so why are we still being treated like “spinsters” of the 1950s?

Getting married is still seen as a woman’s biggest accomplishment — second only to becoming a mother. Single Girl Problems will help you see single life as an important journey to figure out who you are and what you want. If I achieve nothing else, I hope this book will reveal a more accurate picture of what it means to be single, help break down what’s going on, and hopefully take a bit of the edge off. It’s time to turn the page on the single woman’s storyline.

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Body Music

Body Music

by Julie Maroh
translated by David Homel
edition:Paperback
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