Introducing: Ask Mimi Anything


June 25th, 2023

Our new advice column features Mimi Zhu answering all your burning questions regarding affairs of the heart. In this first instalment, Mimi considers impact and impermanence.

Welcome to Ask Mimi Anything, a space where I answer questions anonymously sent to me. This is the first installment of many, in which I tend to affairs of the heart. I am grateful for your vulnerability and your openness. The questions I have chosen to answer today explore themes of impact and impermanence; of what it means to have old relationships or new ideas impact you profoundly, and how that informs the ever changing nature of the impermanence of our lives. 

If you have questions of your own and would like to be considered for next month’s column, click here. Everything will be completely anonymous. 

Q: Dear Mimi, 

Gemini season has been rough on me. I’ve been seeing everything in binary, as though life is only available in one of two options, and it’s making me feel alternately cold or despondent. I made some big changes in the last few years that in many ways I think were good ones, but in other ways have sent me adrift…I ended a few real love affairs, started a few others, but now I feel like I spend most of my time reminiscing of what's behind me rather than planning for the future. Then when I see some of those former lovers making choices that seem more in line with traditional futures, like getting married or having children, I find myself distraught at not being chosen, even though I know I’m the one who chose not to be with them. What is this doubling that happens when presented with someone else’s certainty of choice? How can I be less obsessed with these nostalgic memories or over-idealized futures and be present enough to pay attention to what I really want? 

MIMI: Hi friend,

I applaud you for your self awareness, even as you waver in between the murky depths of past and future. I see how sometimes they tend to gel together, and how foggy it makes the present moment. You already know to be present, which can feel like an absurdly difficult task, and the question lies in the how. We are not taught how, and we are in fact always taught to work for and yearn for futures that seem far away. You are moving through that programming, the urgency of wanting the traditional futures, and there is validity in that. Listening to that is a form of being present.

I commend you for ending those relationships, knowing they were not right. You were paying attention to your desires, needs, and intuition. These relationships impacted you. They transformed you and changed you from the inside out. Each relationship teaches us all so immensely about closeness, and in many ways brings us closer to ourselves. That is why sometimes they can feel unbearable, because they present to us these reflections that we may not be ready to face. 

But you are facing yourself right now, and it must feel like growing pains. Perhaps you are still in periods of grief, mourning these relationships that have altered you in these ways. We can miss people and also know that we were incompatible, people can profoundly impact us and those relationships can often be impermanent; make space for those truths to co-exist. Be present with that mourning, and also bask in the ways you are forever changed by love. Real love.

We are told to not be present with the uncomfortable, but I think in many ways you are. You asking this question is a form of being present. You listening to your discomfort, your jealousy, your unknowing is all being present, and I think being present is really a form of loving yourself as you are in the moment. Hold yourself as you feel these things; the grief, the yearning, the want. Hold yourself as you feel yourself widen, listen to music that makes you cry, look out the window and notice the leaves and vines you have never seen before. 

I am a firm believer that each relationship brings us closer to the love our spirits call for. Perhaps your ex-partners came closer to that, and while I understand feelings of jealousy, bitterness, and comparison are very natural, see how your relationship with them brought them closer to their love too. Your impact in their lives is felt, and the work you must do is to focus on the impact that you can make in your own. Study your needs, feel deeply your desires. You are ready for deep closeness and commitment, and I assure you that you are closer to it than ever before. 

Q: Dear Mimi, 

I'm over 40 and exploring non-monogamy for the first time. How do I explain this new outlook to the people that are currently in my life, and how should I properly express what's new to me to people I'm meeting and dating who might be more experienced than I am? 

MIMI: Hi friend,

I’m so excited for you.

Perhaps you already know this, but I advise you not to internalize any shame nor other yourself as you go on this explorative journey. 

I have found that transparency can go a long way, and for intimacy to exist and blossom between you and somebody old or new, I would tell them exactly what you have told me. This is new for you, and you require support and understanding. It is okay to not know everything; I assure you nobody does. 

I hope you are met with excitement! I hope your friends embrace you, smile, ask questions, think it’s spicy and fun and also check in about the hard work that ethical nonmonogamy requires. If they suck their teeth in judgemental disapproval, then new wisdom has arisen. As you are changing, your friendships experience change too, and those who love you will embrace that.

You will probably find that the non-monogamous people you date or approach have been where you are. Some of them might still be there, figuring it out. That is the beauty of exploring new terrains together, the boundaries and the rules are for you to figure out together. It can feel like constant rebirth and it is a union in unlearning that requires trust. Non-monogamy looks different to people, and you are experimenting to see what it looks like to you. 

Be clear and transparent, tell the people you have trusted for a long time or are beginning to trust that this is all new to you. Express your nervousness, your excitement, your hesitations, your joy. Let them know that you do not require them to have the answers for you; what you require is just support and nonjudgement as you figure it out. 

All this time while communicating and finding the words to say to other people, do not neglect yourself. While you search for the ways to phrase your sentiments, do not sacrifice truth. Remember to speak gently with yourself first. You are loved abundantly as you are changing.

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