My husband mentioned polyamory, and I thought we were in the early stages of considering and discussing it. Suddenly he's sleeping with someone, and she wants to be my friend.

My husband recently approached me about him being poly and that he wanted to be in a poly relationship woman, we'll call Safrow. I told him I needed time to think about it as this wasn't our agreement when we got married. I since found out that he's already had sex with Safrow. I was really hurt and I had a conversation with my husband. Now Safrow sent me a friend request on facebook. What do I do? Do I accept her request? Am I right to want space for my husband and me?

Your husband is cheating on you, period. Just mentioning polyamory to your partner is not a magical invocation that means you’re suddenly polyamorous! You did the right thing by asking for time to think about it, because you’re right, it would be a significant change to the terms of the relationship that you initially agreed to.

If my partner said “hey, I want to move to Hawaii,” and I said “I’m not totally against that, but I’d need to really think about my career options out there, and whether I’m ready to leave my social support system out here - let’s keep talking and thinking about this,” and the next thing he did was terminate our lease and start renting a place in Hawaii, I’d be justifiably pissed. That’s not how these conversations work!

This isn’t really about the friend request from her; it’s not about her behavior at all. It’s about your husband’s behavior. Yes, it is perfectly okay for you to want more space for you and your husband to make this decision as a team, to think through the feelings and fears and desires at work here. If she knows that you’re in this position, her friend request is a major boundary violation - but it’s far more likely that your husband has misrepresented things to her and she thinks you’re going to be cool metamour friends; and in another context, FB friendship would be a great low-key way for you two to start connecting.

But that’s not the situation you’re in. You need to talk to your husband and say that you’re not interested in connecting with her right now - because you aren’t yet on board or invested in this polyamory thing. And, frankly, his cheating in the name of polyamory and trying to rush you into this is going to make that far more difficult and less likely. Let him know that you need him to take a huge step back from this and re-connect with you to talk about what he wants and what you want, what each other’s dealbreakers are, and whether this is something you want to try together. If he can’t do that, or if he continues to be selfish and pushy and willfully misunderstand you, this isn’t a healthy relationship - monogamous or polyamorous.

Ending a long-term relationship, even if you know it's the right call, is really hard. How do you do it?

A lot of the advice on your blog for dealing with unhealthy or just 'stuck' relationships is a breakup, because of incompatibility. But it's so hard to break up with someone you've been in a long term relationship with, regardless of the situation. What can you do to make that easier?

I totally get you, letter writer. Ending a long term relationship is super difficult, and often the massive amounts of “relationship inertia” keep people from making the right call. Here are some tips I’ve found over years of dating & advice-giving:

Have grace for the past. A lot of people feel like ending a long-term relationship would mean “wasting” or “throwing away” all the years they spent with that person. Or, it feels like admitting that you made a years-long mistake. People are very susceptible to the sunk cost fallacy and feel like they would be betraying their past self by “giving up” on a relationship that they were previously invested in. But that’s the wrong way to think about it, and it needs a re-framing.

The reason you got together, and the happy times you spent together, are not negated or erased by a breakup needing to happen. Past-you made the right call based on the information that past-you had. It was a good relationship then; but things have changed and it’s no longer a good relationship now. Act based on the present, knowing that it can’t change or damage the past. Try to let go of feelings of shame or regret - those are paralyzing, and right now you need action.

Diamonds vs. hot coals. Imagine you’re standing in front of a table, and you’re holding a hot coal. It’s burning your hand, and you should probably let go of it. But there’s nothing on the table to replace it with. If you drop the coal, you’ll be left with nothing to hold. You’re afraid - the certainty of having something, even if it’s painful, seems better than having nothing. What if the table stays empty forever? Will you regret dropping the coal? Probably not - it’s hurting you. Having nothing is actually better than having something painful! Our culture likes to tell us that an empty hand is the worst possible thing, and that unless there’s a brilliant diamond on the table, you should cling to the hot coal.

Don’t stand there and sear your fingers off while waiting for a diamond. I know that the certainty of “at least I have a relationship, even if it’s not perfect” can feel better and more security of not having any relationship - but that’s another fallacy, called loss aversion, and it’s keeping you stuck. It’s not “have something vs have nothing,” it’s “keep getting burned vs start healing.” (And when a diamond does come along, you want to be free to grab it - not treating it as an escape or an alternative, or then dropping it too because your hand is still too burned up.)

60/40 is good enough. Often, people think that a relationship has to be 100% bad before they’re justified in leaving. I’ve seen lots of people - myself included - sabotage relationships, purposefully cultivate toxicity, or spin warped narratives about ‘abuse’ so that things are black and white enough to justify leaving. Your partner doesn’t need to be an irredeemable villain; you don’t need to wait until they do something that would horrify an imaginary audience into supporting you. There is no Breakup Judge to whom you need to present your case before you can leave.

If you’re not happy, that’s enough. If it’s 60/40 bad/good, or even 51/49, you can leave. There can be just one reason that ends an otherwise lovely relationship. Don’t talk yourself down because they’re “a good person” or you “care about each other” - if you want to go, go. It can be bittersweet or confusing; don’t get stuck thinking that all breakups have to be the result of unforgivable sins, or require one person to be a victim and the other to be a brute.

Ask for help. It seems silly, but a huge reason that people stay in long-term relationships is because there’s a lot of logistical nonsense that feels overwhelming and not worth it to deal with. If you live together, sometimes just the stress of moving and having to break a lease and figure out who has to buy a new sofa can be enough of a consideration to keep someone stuck. In this situation, it’s okay to be lazy, needy, or take shortcuts. If it’s remotely financially feasible, hire movers - even if that feels like a huge splurge or isn’t something you’d otherwise do. Ask your support network for help. If there are big, painful things to do - calling the landlord, going to IKEA, finding a new place to live - have someone do it with you, or even for you. Hire a lawyer or an accountant to deal with lease or financial stuff. See a therapist, even if just temporarily. Deputize a friend to let everyone know that you and your long-term partner have broken up so you don’t have to field the same reaction over and over. Whatever it is that you’re dreading, see if you can use some money or social support to make it a bit easier.

Take a longer-term view of “painful=bad.” This is going to be a bit counter-intuitive, since you asked how to make it easier, and part of the answer is stop trying to make it easier. The breakup is going to suck. A lot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the right call. We evolved from much smaller, simpler creatures that usually could trust that if something felt bad, it was dangerous. Touch a hot fire, yank paw back. Eat rotten tasting berry, spit it out. But that immediate “pain=danger” impulse in our brains doesn’t always serve us. Sometimes, you gotta grit your teeth, put your head down, and get through a shitty situation so you can come out the other side.

It’s like living indefinitely with some kind of health issue, or having a one-time surgery to deal with it. Yes, the surgery and recovery will be painful and scary and difficult; probably, in the short-term, much worse than the day to day background pain of the health issue. But once it’s over, it’s over. Things will get worse before they get better, but you gotta focus on the “better” part. Don’t avoid a temporary increase in unpleasantness if it means an overall better situation once you get through it. It’s gonna suck. Let it suck. Do what you can to take care of yourself, just like you would after a rough surgery, and look ahead to a better future.

My partner previously said he would never want to try polyamory - then he got drunk and said something different

Need some advice. My partner recently told me that he was open to polyamory after a long time of telling me that he's strictly monogamous and extremely jealous. It's a complete one-eighty from everything he has told me in the past. He told me this while we were out drinking as well. We talked about it the morning after and agreed that we should wait a few years to solidify our relationship first and then revisit the topic. Him saying this out of the blue is weird. Do you have any advice to give?

Is your partner in the habit of saying “out of the blue” things when he is drinking? If this is part of a pattern that feels confusing or manipulative, you need to take a huge step back and let him know that you’re not okay addressing big new topics while you’re both drunk, and perhaps consider the role that alcohol plays in your relationship and in his ability to be emotionally vulnerable and present.

Do these conversations with him feel emotionally safe, both when he is drunk and when sober? Is it more of an exercise in imagination and curiosity, or is there an edge to these conversations? What is at risk, from your perspective? How have his “extreme jealousy” and “strict monogamy” been visible to you? Is there anything you’re worried about? Do you trust him to own his emotions and behaviors in this space? If he’s not willing to talk about this with such specifics; or if he sends up red flags during these conversations or elsewhere in your relationship; or if you have serious concerns about his alcohol use, his communication skills, or his jealousy - think hard about whether this is a healthy relationship to stay in.

But if this is just a one-time thing, it’s possible that he’s wanted to bring it up, and needed the “liquid courage” to be able to say something. It’s promising that you two were able to talk it out after sobering up the next morning. Sometimes, we use externalized ‘excuses’ to make it easier to broach difficult topics, and that’s not inherently bad. This does, however, call for a lot more discussion, primarily without alcohol involved.

You can ask him why he’s bringing this up now. Has he been thinking on it, doing self-work, and had a change of heart? Or has he slowly been realizing that he’s capable of having feelings for another person without that threatening his commitment to you? If there’s something specific that has changed for him - something he read, or saw, or felt, or experienced - it’s worth talking about!

What does he mean by “solidifying” the relationship? Don’t just assume that being together for a few more years will make you both more secure in the relationship. Make sure you’re very clear about what a “solid” relationship looks and feels like, to both of you. Is he expecting you to do something to “prove” your loyalty? Are you expecting that his jealousy naturally dissipates over time? Don’t leave things unsaid - words like “solidify” are actually really vague, and need definition.

And where are you on the polyamory question? Is this something you’d be just as happy letting lie, or were you hoping he might come around to considering polyamory? How did it come up originally? I’d suggest that you two consume some media about polyamory and about healthy relationship communication in general, not with a goal in mind or a problem to solve, just as two interested people having something to discuss and share their feelings about. No one has anything to prove or argue; just read something together and talk about what surprised you, what you agreed or disagreed with, and what was interesting. If you two do this over a glass or two of wine, there’s nothing wrong with that! Just be aware and intentional about using alcohol as a tool to loosen up and connect, not a crutch or a numbing agent.

I have a QPP, and since he got into a sexual-romantic partnership, he's had less time & attention for me

i’ve had a queer-platonic partner (both of us are polyam) and recently he got an actual romantic partner. i am happy for both of them, and find it really cute whenever he talks about them, but i also feel really bad because we don’t talk as much, if at all, now that he got a proper partner. i’m not entirely sure if i’m taking our relationship differently to how he is, and i’m scared to tell him that i feel kinda left out because i feel like i’m being over dramatic about the whole situation.

Look closely at the language you use - you say you’re his “queer-platonic partner,” but then you refer to this new person as his “proper partner.” Do you see your partnership as less than equal to a sexual-romantic partnership? Do you think that he does? In what ways is it different - besides the absence of sexual intimacy, is there a difference in commitment, how much of your lives you share, etc.? Could you articulate what you want from this partnership, and what queer-platonic partner means to you?

This is something you ought to talk with him about. You’re not being “over dramatic” by having feelings. It’s okay to feel confused and disappointed when you realize that you weren’t necessarily on the same page with someone who you thought you were. Let him know that when you two became QPPs, you had a certain set of expectations about what that meant, and you felt that it meant your partnership was different from, but not lesser-than, another kind of partnership. Ask him if he feels the same way, and do some work to find out where you two might have slipped into assumptions or otherwise aren’t aligned. Anytime someone refers to themselves as your partner, they have a responsibility to have these kinds of conversations with you, even if they’re uncomfortable or difficult!

If he waves you off, tries to play down your partnership, denies your experiences, or accuses you of being “over dramatic,” then you need to cut this guy off from your emotional and social intimacy; he’s not acting as your partner and shouldn’t be treated as such. But if he really is invested in this qpp, if he really meant it when he committed to you, he’ll be open to talking about it and hearing how you feel. He might be caught in the throes of NRE, but there are things he can do to help you feel less left out and ensure that your place in his life continues to be honored the way it should be.

Updated FAQ page!

I’ve gotten some feedback that my FAQ page is kind of overwhelming, so I updated it with sections that should make it easier to navigate. I also had some FAQ pages floating around that weren’t actually linked there, so they’ve been added. Check it out!

I’d also like to go back and update or expand on some of the existing FAQ pages, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, if there’s something you think should be covered in the FAQ or a specific FAQ page you’d like to see expanded, please let me know in the comments at the main site!

<3

Zinnia

some quick FAQ-able questions

I'm a bisexual woman who's interested in dating other bisexual couples but like idk where to find bi polyam couples tho

Check my FAQ page here!

Hey, so I was wondering if you could help me out with something? So for context: I have a lot of characters that a lot of times have things that I don't have, and I try my hardest to do my research and make sure that I get it right. (Now for the hard part.) So I have a character that's polyamorous, but here's the catch, I'm monogamous. I want to make sure that I portray polyamory properly. So I wanted to know if you had any advice you could give me? I don't know much, so anything will help.

I answer this, with a bunch of links, here!

I want to know if polyamory is really possible? I've just broke up from a triad and I guess my heart still feels burdened.

Yes, it is. Breakups suck, so give yourself time to grieve and heal, but don’t write off polyamory because of one negative experience.


I have been traveling with both of my partners, but one of my partners wants a trip "just us" - and I can't afford tons of travel

I absolutely love to travel, and so do both of my partners. We recently have tried two trips with the three of us together, which have gone really well, but one of my two partners says he would rather travel just the two of us. Each of us likes taking one trip a year, and one is all I can afford, so I can't go with each of them separately. So I'm left kind of torn.

This is a tricky situation! Kudos to your partner for speaking up clearly and honestly about his preferences, though, instead of doing something like sulking through the trip, trying to manipulate you into traveling without the other partner, or otherwise being less than healthy and helpful about this. And kudos to you for being someone who cultivates a safe relationship where he can communicate uncomfortable feelings without it turning into a fight. Great job, both of you!

It sounds like y’all have already taken two trips with the three of you, so that’s a lot of travel under everyone’s belt to be able to say that you’ve done it, and to know what works. There are going to be some compromises here, and it’s up to you three to figure out what is going to work. You could alternate yearly trips with each partner, and then on each partner’s “year off” from you, they can go with a friend, another partner, or solo. You could also switch to a three-year rotation, where you do pair, pair, then the three of you.

Or, you can try and get creative with your finances and your definition of ‘travel.’ Admittedly, there’s no replacement for a major trip to a new country or a special destination - but there’s a lot that you can replicate with less time and money invested. The fun of travel is getting away from daily life together, and having new experiences together - and you can do that more than once a year for sure! Taking shorter, more local trips is also awesome. If you don’t already, check out some of the online options for snagging cheap flights or hotels during the off-season (I’m a huge homebody, so I’m not well versed in these, but I know someone who recently went to Italy for less than $300 because he has a system for tracking cheap flights - hopefully some commenters or some online sleuthing can help you out.)

Talk to both of your partners about figuring this out going forward. It’s probably not possible for everyone to get everything they want, and it’s important to make space for some disappointment, but focus on what will work and where everyone overlaps.

I've been asking my partner to go dancing with me for a while; now he's going with his other partner

Note from Zinnia: I apologize for missing posts the last few days; I got very sick and was sick for longer than my queue was full.

Hi, my fiancé and I are polyamorous. One of his partners suggested they go salsa dancing on their date and he agreed. I have been suggesting the same thing once in a while for a year and feel hurt that he said no to me, but not to her. He says that he misunderstood what kind of dancing I wanted to do and that he does all sorts of other stuff with me. He says that her actionable plan made it easier to accept than my general proposal. Is this justified? What do I do?

That certainly sounds frustrating! I think your question, though, of “is this justified” is perhaps not the right way to frame the situation. It’s not a question of who’s “right” or whether your feelings are “justified,” is a question of where to go from here?

Both of you have really understandable positions here. It’s incredibly annoying that your fiancé was willing to do something with his partner that you’ve been asking him to do for a while! But, he did a very good job explaining to you what the difference was - it sounds like she said “I know you’re free on Friday night, so I found a salsa dancing class nearby on that night, let’s go,” which was easier for him to sign onto than someone saying “hey, let’s go dancing together sometime.” It’s also possible that he is feeling some NRE with her, which makes it easier for his mind to jump into new experiences that might otherwise sound like too much energy or too new.

Hopefully understanding where he is coming from can help you feel a bit less hurt, since it wasn’t a malicious attempt to hurt you, or a conscious decision to make his other partner happy at your expense. But an explanation is not an excuse. He has to carry his share of the situation: the fact that he relies on his female partners to do all the legwork of offering an “actionable plan” is not cool, and is something you can ask him to work on. Since he recognizes that as a weakness of his in relationships, and he now has the knowledge that this has caused you pain, he should be willing to address that!

And now that you know this about him, you can meet him halfway - if there’s something you really want to do together, you may need to be more assertive about making concrete plans. Then, after you two have a good time together, you can point out the work you did to make the plans (syncing schedules, looking up local events, figuring out transportation and parking, identifying what to bring or wear, etc.) and ask him to start learning and using those skills as well. You can remind him that even thought your relationship is long-term and committed, it still needs to be tended, and not taken for granted - and he needs to do his part to keep things exciting and romantic.

I started dating a new partner, and am worried about how our future together will work with their other partner

Im in a poly relationship, dating two people, Venus and Neptune. I don’t know if I will keep dating Neptune for other reasons, but we’ve dated for years and we live together right now. On the other hand, Venus is the ideal partner in every way, we’re way more in love than what people usually are and we've dated since November. Venus is also dating and living with her other partner Saturn. The dilemma is that me and Venus want to live together, but Saturn doesn’t wanna live with other other people than Venus. I’d never give up on Venus. What do?

Okay, there are three issues here, from what I can see…I’ll try and break them down.

One: You need to work on your problems with Neptune before you start spinning yourself out on other stuff. It is pretty common to start feeling like you’re having issues with a long-term partner when you start seeing someone new. This is a common, though not inevitable, part of NRE (new relationship energy). You have only been seeing Venus for four months, and you don’t live with them, so remember that things with Venus are shiny and new, and you don’t always see them in their daily routine, which is when people can be at their most dull, so be very careful about “grass is always greener” thinking. (Relevant post.) Or, things could just be at their natural end with Neptune - but you need to address those sooner than later, and keep them from getting tangled up in whatever new thing is happening with Venus. I strongly recommend reading this post where I talk about this pattern.

Two: I got this letter in February, which means you’ve only been with Venus for four months. You’re already saying things like “we’re way more in love than what people usually are” and that you’d “never give up on” them because they’re “ideal in every way.” Be very, very careful with this kind of thinking. Four months in, it’s still a heady fling, and early-stage infatuation often disguises itself as deep love. Nobody is “ideal in every way;” everyone has flaws, and blindness to them is dangerous. And you have no idea how “in love” people “usually are,” because you can’t read other people’s minds. That kind of claim can often signal that there’s some distorted thinking going on. You’re also dealing with an existing long-term relationship that may be fizzling out, which can make it very easy for your brain to fill in “what might be” and idealize a new person. Slow down, be honest with yourself, and don’t take everything your feelings tell you at face value.

Three: Your actual question seems to be about the fact that you want to live with Venus, but Venus also has a nesting partner situation that isn’t very flexible. I’d caution you to let go of that worry for now; four months in to a relationship is way too early to be worried about living situation or even thinking about moving in together. But the good news is that if this turns out to be an issue later on, polyamory allows for different configurations of “making a life together” depending on the unique relationships and people involved. I actually don’t live with any of my partners, but two of them live very very close to me, so they’re over more often than not, and we have a very comfortable routine around sleepovers, groceries and meals, and even things like helping out with chores! In the meantime, have Venus over at your place or hang out at theirs. Do things like run errands and cook together, and find ways of experiencing domestic togetherness without jumping to worries about long-term living situations.

I'm a bisexual, polyamorous woman, and if I had a dollar for every unicorn hunter bothering me, I could buy a real unicorn

I worry about being seen as a 'unicorn'. I'm a bisexual woman who currently has 1 male partner and I am seeking dates and possible relationships with other women. I have in my dating profiles that I am polyam, bi and partnered but I get a lot from couples who want me to be their unicorn, or from experimenting women who have 'permission' from their boyfriends. I am interested in dating women, not primarily in flings. How do I best get this across?

Ah, the eternal struggle. No one has yet found a complete solution that makes them invisible to unicorn hunters; if anyone out there has ideas, please send them my way. Just like straight women looking for boyfriends are going to end up being pestered by fuckboys who want sum fuk, it’s one of those Unsolvable Problems Of Human Existence, like the common cold or how avocados are never ripe when you need them to be.

But there are things you can do to reduce the prevalence of this annoyance in your life! You say that your dating profile specifies that you’re polyam and bi, which is like unicorn hunter bait. Please feel free to be as obnoxiously clear as possible in your profile. You can say something like “I AM NOT A UNICORN! Couples looking for a threesome or a “third,” or women with a primary relationship who are looking to “experiment,” I AM NOT YOUR GAL! I am not looking for a fling - I am a polyamorous, bisexual woman seeking other wlw. I am interested in dating and potential partnerships, not experiments or flings. Thanks!”

Sure, there are some cool wlw you might turn off with this message, but I’d wager that the risk of a few false negatives outweighs the annoyance of all the false positives you’re getting. And when someone who doesn’t meet your criteria does ignore your profile and messages you, feel free to link https://www.unicorns-r-us.com/ then block and move on.

And consider hanging out in spaces where polyam wlw are also hanging out, like polyamorous meetups and things like that. Try to find some social circles where people who are more knowledgable about what it actually means to be polyamorous are moving, and put it out there in your social networks that you’re interested in this!

My partner violated clear terms of our relationship, and I'm devastated

My long distance partner has recently started seeing a girl. He knows because of my past I like to meet people before my partners sleep with them. They could do everything else except sex till I met her next week. He slept with her any way after double checking he couldn't. I'm so hurt I can't stop crying, he came to my city to try and fix things but I'm so scared I can't trust him again. I'm not stopping him seeing her but I don't know how to ever forgive his betrayal. I hate him and myself.

It sounds like this relationship is over. You say you’re so hurt you can’t stop crying, that you’re scared you can’t trust him again, that you don’t know how to forgive his betrayal, and that you hate him and yourself. A person or a relationship who makes you feel like that is not worth sticking around for.

You had very clear terms for your relationship, and he violated them. That’s cheating. Most people consider that a death sentence for a relationship. It sounds like something has been irreparably broken, and the healthiest response on your part is to act on that information and get out.

My fiance told me she was polyamorous, then got a new partner, in less than a week - and I'm struggling with this

My fiance came out to me as poly four days ago, and told me she had asked someone to be her girlfriend. They already have plans of flying out to visit each other in April. I'm really struggling to come to terms with this, she is the only person I have ever been with, for a total of eight years now (with a two year separation which I know now was because she was having poly feelings and didn't want to hurt me). I am scared and so anxious, this is my future wife and this is all moving so fast.

You are right that your fiance is moving way too fast with this. Shifting a relationship from monogamous to polyamorous takes a lot longer than four days and one conversation. When someone tells their partner that they want to open the relationship, that should be an “I’m consulting you” conversation, not an “I’m informing you” conversation. Your partner doesn’t need your permission to be polyamorous, but when it comes to changing the fundamental terms of the relationship, that does require your input.

You have every right to ask your partner to slow things down. And honestly, if I was monogamous and my partner just flat-out told me they were going to date someone else and then went ahead and did it within less than a week, I would consider that cheating. You don’t have to be in a relationship on terms that are not healthy or fulfilling for you. I would put the brakes on this engagement and figure out whether this is a relationship that makes sense for both of you to stay in long term.

My partner cheated on me, then told me it was okay because we're poly now, and decided that I'm involved in the new relationship

I somehow got involved in a polyamorous relationship and don't know how. I told them I didn't want it but now they say we're all in a relationship. I don't want to hurt my partner by telling him he can't be with her. I was comfortable with swinging, him and I together. They ended up crossing a line and cheating on me by having sex together and not telling me for months (then justifying it because "we're all dating each other"). I feel scummy but found out by snooping through my partner's phone. I'm trying to forgive but I can't trust them and they keep crossing lines. I don't know what to do.

You did not “get involved in a polyamorous relationship,” you got cheated on. Full stop.

Imagine if you got home one day and your partner had packed up all your stuff and said “we’re moving, you live in Italy now!”

Imagine if your coworker moved all your stuff to the front desk and told you “you’re the receptionist now!”

Imagine if your neighbor stole all your stuff and helpfully informed you “you’re a minimalist now!”

Imagine if your sibling threw out all your food because “you’re a vegan now!”

Imagine if your friend brought over some rando you’d never met and said “meet Ferman, he is your boyfriend now!”

Those situations above are absurd. Someone cannot just decide you into a situation you didn’t consent to. Your partner is cheating on you, gaslighting you, and being completely manipulative. Just because they have some weird justifications doesn’t mean you need to accept that. Stop “trying to forgive” and leave this relationship immediately! You are not being treated acceptably, your partner is not respecting your personal agency, and this relationship has been irreparably violated. I am so sorry.

My ex rebounded with a polyamorous couple, now she wants to be polyamorous with me and them

My ex gf (20yo) rebounded with a pregnant poly couple (late 30s). She first said it was casual, but after I showed back up they're telling her they're committed and in love, after just 2 months. They'd pursued her for at least a year, and moved in when we split, and she said she went to them for comfort. She'd never expressed interest in that lifestyle before. She says she still loves me and wants to see all three of us, but I am not ready for that. Is this normal poly behavior, or her confusion in an emotional time?

I’m of the opinion that in 99% of cases, if someone is an ex, they’re an ex for a reason, and it’s generally unwise to ignore that reason and get back together. It doesn’t really matter why she’s doing any of this, because you don’t need to be part of it. I’m not psychic; I can’t tell you whether she’s confused and moving too fast, or whether she does know her true feelings and has fallen quickly and unexpectedly in love. That’s her business, and time will tell whether this is the beginning of a deep love or an intense fling born of need and turmoil. But either way, it’s not a situation you want to be part of. She’s your ex, and you’re ‘not ready’ for the new relationship she’s proposing - so don’t get re-involved. Wish her well, be gracious, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that there’s some way of looking at this where she’s totally correct and this would be happy, healthy, and fulfilling for you. She can be confident in her choices without that having any implications for what’s best for you.


I have two partners - one has met my family, but the other one has not, and we're getting to the point in our relationship where I want that to happen

I am a 30 year old male in a relationship with two wonderful male partners. I have been with Saturn for 3 years and we live together. I have been with Jupiter for just over a year. Jupiter and Saturn value the respective relationships and have a friendly rapport with one another. Jupiter lives about a 4 hour drive away so we only see each other once or twice per month. He has met my Mother but not the rest of my family (which is big and tight knit). I have met his family several times and will be his date at his step brothers wedding later this year. I would like Jupiter to meet the rest of my family but I know they will find it difficult to understand (or even accept) despite having been supportive when I came out as gay in my teens and embracing Saturn and previous boyfriends. My own brother is getting married next year and I am pretty sure I won't be able to bring them both along. I know it would mean a lot for Jupiter to meet my family but I don't know how best to approach this. If you have any experience with this kind of situation I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, advice or reflections. 

I would strongly recommend separating this from your brother’s wedding situation. Weddings tend to make people into the worst, pettiest, least patient versions of themselves, so they make very poor platforms for engaging with anything else that’s emotionally important. I often hear from non-monogamous people who are hurt that they can’t bring all their partners to a wedding, because it feels like someone is making a demand that they choose which one is the “real” or “most important” relationship. But wedding invites are not a referendum on your relationships; they are usually based on how many people the couple can afford to host and feed. So, leave the wedding out of it for the sake of drama minimization.

It’s very understandable that you want Jupiter to meet your family - he’s an important part of your life! But you should be realistic and safe about how to do things. If your family is going to be hateful and cruel, it’s not fair to bring him around. I’d recommend that you talk with your mom, since she’s already met him. Let her know that you’ve always really appreciated how supportive and loving your family has been, and how they’ve embraced and included Saturn. And that you now hope they can do the same for Jupiter. Ask her whether she thinks that would be possible, and if so, how to talk with them about it. Be prepared to answer some questions, knowing that - unfair as it is - you’ll also be facing some extra grossness because you’re all men, and people often tether their “acceptance” of gay relationships to the fact that they’re just as “committed” (read: monogamous) as “respectable” straight relationships.

And talk to Jupiter about this too! See what he’s worried about and hopeful for. Let him know that you just aren’t willing to fight the wedding invite battle, but would love to talk about planning a summer vacation visit with your family or spending the holidays together. Find out how he feels about meeting your family, coming out as polyamorous to them, and navigating some of the discomfort that you expect to come up. And check in with Saturn, as well; if he has a positive relationship with your family that he really values, he’ll be a helpful and important part of this conversation too. And remember that some people are just going to be judgmental or mean, and sometimes the best thing to do is just shrug, thank them blandly for their feedback, and go back to playing foosball with your cousins. Best of luck!

I'm in a polyamorous relationship where I get less sexual attention than I'd prefer. Is it wrong to pursue that elsewhere?

I'm a cis-man in a long term committed polycule with a man and a woman (10+ years). I don't know enough about the lifestyle to explain what we are but predominately he and I are a couple, and he and she are a couple. He has never really identified as bisexual but essentially identifies as demisexual just with me. He has admitted in the past that he is less sexually attracted to me and it definitely shows. Emotionally I am very happy with our family (we all live together with 2 kids) but sexually I need more. I've recently asked to open the relationship which he is fine with, but is it bad to just want an outside relationship predominately for sexual gratification? I require emotional connection to be intimate with anyone, but I'm not looking for a long term relationship I don't think. Am I wrong for wanting or looking for this?

You are vastly overthinking this, my friend! Your partner is okay with it, and it’s something you want - you should pursue it. Our culture has a lot of weird moralizing baggage around seeking “sexual gratification,” but there’s nothing wrong with pursuing that kind of fun, pleasurable experience. Your partner has another person he has sex with; if it’s possible for him to have sex outside his relationship with you in a healthy and consensual way, it’s clearly possible for you. You would not be hurting anyone. Go for it!

Be careful about setting arbitrary or prescriptive limits on whether you plan for it to be an emotionally committed or long term relationship. Often, those are promises we can’t keep, whether we make them to ourselves or our other partners. Be up front with the people you meet that you’re primarily looking for an emotional and sexual connection that can stay ‘casual’ indefinitely. And make sure you check in with your partner and metamour about what measures everyone needs to take to stay safe, since you’ve been a closed triad and now will be exposing everyone to a new set of sexual health risks.

I also want to say something about the line in your letter that you’re not familiar enough with “the lifestyle” to give a specific term to what you’re doing. Friend, you’ve been living together as a happy, functional family for ten years, and you’re raising kids together! You’re a subject matter expert! This is one reason that I really don’t like the tendency in the polyam crowd to want to come up with a specific term for every little thing - it implies that there’s some sort of esoteric knowledge that makes your polyamory more “real.” This isn’t black magic, and it’s not a secret club. You are living “the lifestyle” more fully and successfully than many, many people! You did a great job explaining and defining what you three are, and do, and have. There’s nothing missing from your language or expression!

My partner wants to be nonmonogamous and has cheated on me twice. I don't want to be nonmonogamous or to be cheated on.

My partner and I have been dating 7 months, and they've been honest with me from the start. A few months in the kissed another person and told me, we started the discussion about [polyamorous] relationships. I personally feel very monogamous and that I couldn't be in a open relationship, a few months later they cheated on me with them again but went further, but still let me know. We want to stay together but I don't know how to come to a compromise with them that would make us both feel fulfilled.

You’ve only been with this person seven months. They’ve already cheated on you twice. And you already, seven months in, don’t see a way for the relationship to be mutually fulfilling. It’s time to cut your losses. I think people forget that the reason we date at first is to figure out whether someone is compatible with us in other areas of our life. You have learned a lot about whether this person is someone who can be in a healthy, fulfilling relationship with you. Now you need to act on that information.

The fact that they were honest with you about their cheating seems to be a tactic to make you think that you are obligated to accept it as “just something to work out,” which you are not. If your partner consistently violates the terms of your relationship, that is not okay. Even if they’ve said “hey, can we change the terms of our relationship?” in the past - if you said no, and they stayed in the relationship under monogamous terms, then they didn’t have a free pass to do something just because they said they wanted to. Just “starting the discussion” is not enough. There are some things that “compromise” and “discussion” can’t fix. You deserve to be with someone who respects your boundaries and wants the same things as you do from the relationship.

My boyfriends' and my ex wants to get back with us, behind her new partner's back

My boyfriend of 4 years and myself (F) tried poly with a girlfriend for a few months. She later found a man she decided to be monogamous with, but I recently found out she still wants to be part of our relationship but not telling her fiance. I don’t know what to do, because to me that's cheating and dishonest and it makes me uncomfortable, and she didn’t let us know about the engagement until after we slept together several times. My boyfriend says it's her prerogative but idk.

It’s not that this is cheating and dishonest “to you,” it’s cheating and dishonest period. This is not an “agree to disagree” situation! Since she is an independent agent of her own humanity, it is indeed her prerogative whether she wants to cheat on her fiance, but it’s your prerogative whether you want to be part of that! If a situation feels unethical and makes you uncomfortable, do not participate. It was a violation that she had sex with you under conditions (her presumed monogamy) that she knew you would not consent under. She is not treating you with respect. Do not be involved with this person.

Someone I have feelings for is seeing someone else, and I'm having feelings about it that really suck

This isn't technically a polyam question, but I'm struggling a lot with jealousy and I don't know how to deal with it. I asked a friend on a date a while ago (the answer was no but she was v kind about it and we're still great friends) She's now dating another guy and I'm feeling a lot of negative feelings about it. I want her to be happy, but I feel like I want a lot more attention than I did previously, specifically because she gives him a lot. How do I support her and cope with my feelings?

I strongly recommend that you check out resources on the DBT skill called “Opposite Action.” Essentially, the philosophy behind Opposite Action is: when you have a strong negative emotion, often that comes with an urge or a desire to act a certain way. A good way of managing that negative emotion is to identify how that emotion makes you want to act, then do the exact opposite thing.

So when you find yourself wanting to seek more attention from this friend, use Opposite Action to do something else. Reach out to a different friend, or spend time in a solitary hobby. If you want to scroll through her Instagram photos, put the phone down and go for a walk or make something to eat. If you want to say something biting about her new partner, take a deep breath and change the subject or say something positive about him. It’s not trying to ignore the feeling, it’s channeling that feeling’s energy into a more positive choice. You can’t control how you feel, but you can control how you act.

This may also mean taking some space from her and her new partner. I know that you want to “support her,” but a new relationship isn’t necessarily a situation where she needs you to be super present. Don’t ghost her, and don’t end the friendship because of her new relationship, but be intentional about how you seek out her attention. If you’re with a group of people, sit near and talk to other people. Turn down invites to hang with just the two of them. You may have to actively fight urges to do otherwise - again, use Opposite Action. These feelings will fade, and you’ll be very proud of yourself for not acting on them.

My metamours don't like me, and it's starting to cause drama

I am in a polyamorous relationship with 3 other women dating the same man. Back in early January, I severely messed up, and my boyfriend and I had several fights following my mistake. Now, however, we've finally gotten back to a good place and things are going well again. Unfortunately, now two of his girls are constantly telling him how I shouldn't still be around. He's recently told me how sick he is of such comments and jealousy. We all have profiles on a kink-related site, and I just got a notification saying the girl in her early 20s accepted my friend request. I click on her profile and find the following in her about me:  "I am the PRETTIEST of his girls. No girl that he ever has will be as pretty as me." I chose to leave it alone and let him address it. My question to you is how should I proceed going forward? I'm not a shy or timid woman, but I also know when to avoid further drama.

I would discuss this with your partner, on several levels. First, you don’t say how you “severely messed up,” but I think it matters whether your '“mess-up” actually impacted his other partners. If he was hurt and miserable to the point of causing problems in his other relationships, or if they were exposed to an STI, or if there was drama that affected their professional or social lives, they have a bit more standing to be annoyed. However, they should be handling that between them and your partner, not pressuring him to leave you.

There is, in general, way too much triangulation going on here. I have a personal policy that I don’t give my partners advice about other partners - I can listen to them, and say things like “yep that sounds frustrating,” but I don’t share my perspective or give suggestions. It’s just too sticky of a situation. Everyone here needs to handle their business with the person they have business with. If Imgi has an issue with your behavior towards her, she should take it up with you. If she has an issue with Bertro’s behavior as a result of his relationship with you, she should take it up with Bertro, not try to take it up with you using Bertrand as a proxy. And there’s no reason for Bertro to come back to you with the stuff Imgi is saying to him. (And perhaps none of y’all should be friends on this website.)

But he does bring this back to you - he told you he is sick of those comments and jealousy. Which is uncalled for on several levels. If I were you, I’d tell him something like “it really hurts and bothers me when you tell me that your other partners are saying negative things about me. Could you please not repeat that stuff back to me? I can tell it’s bothering you, but I’m not the right sounding board for this. You can ask them to quit, or you can choose not to be with people who will put down your other partners, but you can’t just reflect that back to me.”

Then there’s the issue of this thing on her profile, which is not nice. However, it could be more of a fantasy thing; some people are turned on by hierarchical and even competitive dynamics where kink meets non-monogamy. But that should be consensual among everyone who’s playing harem together, and if someone’s not part of that consensual dynamic, it should not be their business. It’s possible that she wrote that to reflect something literal and real in her true life relationships, but given that it was written on a kink site, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt that she’s reflecting her kinky self, some kind of bratty, “I’m-the-prettiest” type character that fits her role in kink, rather than who she is and how she practices non-monogamy.

If you are secure in your relationship with Berto, and you can brush this off as someone acting immature, I would leave it be. I think you did the right thing. The bigger issue is that there is this cloud of jealousy and pressure around your relationship. If his other partners really think this relationship is bad for him, and for the other people he’s dating, you may need to do more work to address that and repair some of what was damaged in their eyes, not just make things right between you and Berto. If you get tired of dating someone whose other partners are behaving like this, and if it doesn’t get better after you address it and you ask Berto to address, it, you need to consider whether you want to continue dating someone whose dating circle impacts you in this way.

That said, you don’t need to drop it if you don’t want to, or if it keeps happening, or if it continues to bother you. You can say to Bertro “hey, I saw this on Imgi’s profile, and it bothered me. Is this something she says and believes, or is this part of her kinky persona on this website? Do you think she wanted me to see this, or did she not realize how it might come off to your other partners?” If you feel comfortable talking directly to her, it might also be worth doing that. “I saw that you accepted my friend request, so you knew I could see your profile - can we talk about this line here?”

Ultimately, going forward, I think it’s best to try and ignore attempts to bait you, but don’t ignore bad behavior that’s impacting you and your relationships. You have a right to ask your partner to try and put a stop to this. You have a right to try and address things with your metamours. You have a right to leave this situation if it is just too much drama, or if the earth has been too salted by your past behaviors. And you have a right to hide, unfollow, or ignore your metamours on social media if they are being annoying.