How do I support my friend who just came out to me as polyamorous?

Hi! My friend has just told me that she is poly and I was wondering if you had any advice on how to support her? Ive told her I love her and support her 100%, but I was wondering if there is more I can do to help her (she's just realised it) thank you ❤

Best thing you can do is to ask her! Sometimes, people worry that when they come out, they’ll be treated differently, and often even attempts to be supportive can feel like “different treatment” - like suddenly buying someone a bunch of pride flag stuff and sending them links to articles about LGBTQ stories, which could make them fear that you see them differently and only through this new lens. But for other people, that would feel really affirming, and they’d really appreciate a friend making an effort to bring it up, learn about it, and actively support it!

You can also educate yourself about polyamory so she doesn’t have to do 101-level education for you (answering the same questions over and over gets old). That might also equip you to head off some of questions or ignorance from other people in your social circle, but of course, make sure she’s OK with this. Again, some people would love it if the education groundwork was done by someone else; other people would be really disturbed that someone else was discussing their identity and answering questions on their behalf.

Never out someone without their permission - ask her how she wants you to discuss this with people who ask, and honor any of her concerns about how this might impact her family or professional community.

Be open and curious, listen to her, talk things through with her, be a good sounding board - but hold your own boundaries and don’t feel like you need to let every conversation center around her new identity work, or that you need to have all the answers for her. Sometimes, new realizations like this can be pretty all-consuming, so be patient if she wants to talk about it often, but be aware of your own needs and head off frustration or resentment before it boils over.

Just keep being a good friend - a good listener, an honest communicator, a collaborator in fun, and you’ll be fine!

How do I deal with liking someone, but knowing a relationship is impossible because of when we met?

Dealing with impractical relationships: I love this guy who broke things off with me because it just wasn't practical. He's a father and hasn't even started his divorce yet. I'm having trouble accepting that even if there's chemistry and I'm sure he wants to also be with me - it's just impossible to have a relationship. I want to ask him how he feels, but I don't think that he'll give me an honest answer. How in the world do I move on?

A tough thing about the world is that sometimes, things don’t work out for annoying reasons. It’s always been a dream of mine to get a pet rodent as a baby and hand raise it, rather than getting a skittish adult from a pet store. But when my friend’s hamster had surprise babies that needed homes, I couldn’t take one in for health reasons. If the hamster had given birth six months earlier or a year later, I might have gotten my fuzz buddy, but the world doesn’t work on my timelines. When I was living in Ireland, I was offered an amazing job working at a theatre company in Dublin - but I was still a student and it would have been logistically impossible to rearrange my life, postpone my graduation, get a work visa, etc. I knew the offer would not be around a year later when I graduated, and it sucked.

So it’s not just relationships where this happens. We’ve all missed out on the gorgeous apartment because our roommate’s lease is a month out, made a great new friend who was moving to a new city a few weeks later, or been unable to control the family planning of hamsters. And we’ve all survived - there are other apartments, new friends, local hamster breeders. And those all do work out. It’s tempting to assume that the thing we missed out on was Perfect, while the thing we ended up with is imperfect. But that’s because it’s easy to idealize the thing we don’t have. That apartment may have had a crappy dishwasher; that job may have had an obnoxious coworker; the future hamster will be just as cuddly. But as long as it stays the Might Have Been, we don’t know any of that. We compare our imperfect present to our Idealized Missed-Out-On.

I think we have done ourselves a huge disservice with all our cultural talk of “soulmates” and “one true love” - and polyam people are not immune. We assume that having chemistry with someone means we must be with them, that we are missing out on something necessary to our happiness, that somehow the universe must bend to the will of our romantic-sexual desires, or something has gone terribly wrong. But, the reality is, sometimes things don’t work out. If we can move on from apartments or jobs or potential pets, we can move on from might-have-beens in relationships too. It’s frustrating and disappointing when we want something but we can’t get it, and it’s okay to be upset, but try not to give it such an outsized significance. You’ll meet someone who’s better situated to be with you, and it’ll work out, I promise.

My partner doesn't want to use the word "boyfriend" - what's the deal?

How important are labels in a poly relationship? For example my partner and I do traditional relationship things together. But when I casually referred to him as my boyfriend he said he didn’t want any labels.

That question is impossible to answer; there’s no “Polyamory Prescriptions of Importance” that tell you how important various things are to every polyamorous person. If they’re important to the people in the relationship, then they’re important. If not, then they’re not.

You need to talk to your partner about this and figure out what he thinks “boyfriend” means vs. what you think it means. If, to you, “boyfriend” means “someone who sleeps over, texts me in the morning, and comes with me to work events,” and he does those things but won’t call himself your boyfriend, that is obviously going to feel confusing and oddly arbitrary to you. But if your partner thinks “boyfriend” means “someone who is committed to a long-term relationship and hopes to move toward higher levels of life entwinement like cohabitation,” he might be balking at that term.

Ask him: why don’t you want labels? What does “boyfriend” mean to you that “partner” doesn’t? Is it really just about the word, or is there a different concern? And think about what “boyfriend” means to you, so you can better communicate that to him. How important is it to you that your partner is willing to use that word? Why? It’s highly unlikely that this is really about what collection of syllables you two use to refer to each other - it’s what that word signifies to both of you that needs to be brought from the realm of implication and assumption into clarity and communication.

If I'm capable of being in polyamorous relationships but don't want to, am I polyam?

Is it possible to stop being polyamorous? I haven't had good luck with dating other women, I'm married and the past 2 gf's I've had turned out to get feelings for my husband and basically toss me aside. There was also cheating, lies, and I honestly don't want to go through that again. I still feel capable of loving another person but if I never date another and stay mono to my husband am I still poly? I'm just confused and not sure if I ever want to risk getting hurt again.

If you don’t want to date other people right now, or ever, that’s totally fine. If you feel that means you’re no longer polyamorous, that’s fine. If you feel that you’re still polyamorous but choosing not to practice polyamory or don’t feel like acting on those feelings, that’s fine!

If a straight woman has a series of bad experiences dating men and decides to take an indefinite break from romantic relationships and be happily single, she can still identify as straight - she’s just choosing not to date men. She doesn’t have to, though - she could conclude that, although she’s capable of sexual-romantic attraction to men, her lack of desire for such a relationship makes that identification no longer useful or applicable or relevant.

You should do what’s best for you. You can be a polyamorous person in a monogamous relationship. You can be someone capable of loving multiple people who does not indulge, act on, or pay much attention to that capacity. You can be a person who had active polyamorous desires and no longer does, for whatever reason.

Or, you can be a person who doesn’t identify as polyamorous or monogamous - you’re married, your relationship with your husband is what it is and it’s working, and so it’s not super necessary or useful to come down on a relationship orientation. Identity labels are there to serve us, not the other way around - if you’ve already found what works and you know what you want and how to get it, then labels are entirely secondary.

My friend knows I have a crush on her, and jokes about dating me, and I'm not sure how serious she is

My friend knows I and other mutual friends have a crush on her. She says she’s polyamorous and makes jokes about having some us as partners. I know she’s only joking and I don’t have anything against her but when she jokes about it, I feel like there’s some desire but I ultimately believe she’s only joking. How should I go about handling this? It’s so confusing, you know?

In my opinion, you know someone has a crush on you and you tease them about it by joking as if you want to date them, but you don’t mean it, that’s very rude and borderline cruel. But it’s possible there’s something else going on. You say you “know” and “ultimately believe” she’s only joking, but then that there might be “some desire” behind her jokes.

Often, people use jokes to test the waters or explore something you’re not ready to fully jump into yet. It sounds like she might actually be interested in dating you, but isn’t sure how to have that conversation or manage those feelings, so she resorts to this kind of push-pull of saying something she isn’t sure whether she really means and hiding it behind layers of irony and humor. That’s pretty common, and it’s understandable, but it can also be really hurtful!

If I were you, I’d bring it up with her, not as an accusation or a confrontation, but as a real, honest, vulnerable conversation where you’re removing the pretense of all the goofing around. “Hey, Antrabella, you often say that you’re polyamorous and talk about dating me or Constancio. I know you act like it’s just jokes, but I do actually like you, and would be interested in trying something out! If there’s feeling behind those jokes, can we talk about what that might mean and look like? And if you really don’t mean it, could you please stop joking about it, because it makes me feel uncomfortable, since I don’t know whether to take you seriously?”

If she responds by acting defensive, insisting that you should “take a joke” and that her behavior is totally fine, or if she denies making that kind of joke, then I think you should take some distance from this friendship. But if she responds by either saying “actually, yeah, I think there is something there, let’s talk about it” or “omg, sorry, I didn’t realize how confusing I was being - I don’t actually feel that way and I’ll stop teasing like I do,” then there’s your answer!

Is it possible, or common for straight women to be in V-shaped arrangements with multiple straight men? (

So it seems really uncommon to have a polyamorous relationship with two or more males with one woman. Am I just looking in the wrong places (just in terms of seeing how others handle this dynamic, not looking as in seeking). I am not really interested in other women. But i feel like it’s not realistic to want a relationship with two straight men who would want to both be with me, more than sexually. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Up until very recently, that was exactly the situation I was in - I identified as a straight woman and dated mostly straight men. For most of my dating life I have been in “V-shaped” relationships that looked like: me, a straight woman, dating Scorpio, a straight man, and Leo, a straight man, and maybe also Orion, a straight man. (Sometimes the men I dated were not straight; I don’t want to erase anyone’s identities, but mostly, they have been.) Often the men I dated got along well, but they were not romantically or sexually involved with each other. And typically they were dating other women as well.

This is, in my experience, actually a very common polyamorous configuration! Straight men are socialized in such a way that they are a population very well represented in polyam circles. If what you’re hoping for is a triad, where both straight men are involved romantically or sexually with each other, well, that’s not usually how straight men work - but it sounds like you’re looking for the opportunity to have multiple straight male partners who are okay with you having other male partners. That is very, very possible!

Try checking out my page on finding polyamorous people to date - be clear about what you’re looking for, set up a dating profile with that goal, get out there and meet some polyam dudes, and you’ll find your V! And to answer your first question, yes, it’s pretty common, and you may just be looking in the wrong places. Keep poking around Tumblr, YouTube, and the rest of the internet and you’ll find plenty of stuff being written by, and about, people in that exact situation!

I just got engaged to two partners, who are also lifelong best friends, and we have lots of questions

I have been dear friends and cohabitants with two ladies for a few years now. We are all straight. They have been BFFs since childhood are are basically inseparable. I love them both dearly, and we are of an age where we want to have families soon. After some discussions, I recently formally proposed to both, and they accepted. We now have questions about the best way forward. 1) How public should we be? 2) Should I legally marry one? 3) We WANT to share one big bed, will it get awkward? 4) Both want to have children and would love to share the experience should both try at the same time? 5) Should we remove love making to separate bedroom? 6) We have discussed not doing so, and making love all 3 together, I am worried I won't be up to the task. We want it to be pure and beautiful not some playboy fantasy Good or Bad idea? 7) Should both or neither take my surname? 8) Should all children take a family name?

Most of the answers to these questions are going to be intensely personal, and not something that an internet writer who doesn’t know you three can prescribe for you. I strongly recommend that you three talk deeply and honestly about these questions. For some people, talking in person is a lot harder, so sending emails back and forth to go through these questions might be a great strategy. All I can do is answer your questions with more questions, things I encourage you to consider, and jumping off points for more conversation.

1.) How public should we be? That is going to depend on your lives and the risks involved. Do you live in a conservative area? Do any of you have professional lives that might be threatened by being public with this? Do any of you anticipate conflict with your families, and how will you navigate and support each other through that? What do you mean by ‘public’ - coming out to friends and family, or giving interviews to local news? If you decide to stay “private,” how will you negotiate that? What kind of ‘cover stories’ are you comfortable with? Who is, and isn’t, safe to tell? How will you manage it if some of you want to be more “out” and some of you want to stay more “private?”

2) Should I legally marry one? What does legal marriage mean to you? Are there financial, legal, insurance, citizenship, or other considerations? Does one of you need health insurance or other protections? Do you live in a state where marrying one person and “living as if married” with another puts you at risk of running afoul of bigamy laws? How would you make the choice about who to legally marry? How would you demonstrate commitment to the other person? Do you want to have a wedding ceremony? How will that interact with the legal marriage? Consider talking to a family law attorney about some of these questions as well.

3) We WANT to share one big bed, will it get awkward? I have literally no idea whether a hypothetical situation between three people I’ve never met will get awkward. You three should talk it out. Who sleeps hot, who sleeps cold? Do any of you have sleep issues? Light sleeper, heavy sleeper? If one person feels like masturbating, how do y’all feel about that in a shared bed? Use of phones in bed? Lights or music in the bedroom? Sleep schedules? Restless sleeper? If you decided not to share a big bed, what would the alternatives be? What are your realistic financial abilities to get a living space and bed that accommodates your needs? Consider some trial nights in hotels with king-sized beds.

4) Both want to have children and would love to share the experience should both try at the same time? Pregnancy is a very fickle thing, and if both women are trying at the same time, one may conceive and the other may not, or one may miscarry and the other may not. Would that cause resentment or conflict? Putting pressure on yourself to conceive at the same time as your best friend and metamour can make things a lot more complicated. But, being pregnant at the same time sounds pretty awesome! Consider whether you think it would be easier to raise two kids of roughly the same age - on the one hand, you can ‘get it all over with at once’ in terms of baby stuff; on the other hand, babies are hard! If they conceive 6 months apart, you could have a newborn and a teether at the same time, which sounds really challenging even with three parents. Think carefully about this, talk to friends of yours who have had babies, or a therapist who specializes in conception and family planning (Planned Parenthood may have some resources for you).

5) Should we remove love making to separate bedroom? Do you think that would help things be more healthy and fulfilling, or does it just feel like something you should do? What associations do you have with “the love making bedroom”? What needs would this meet? Do you have the financial resources to get a place with a bedroom that’s just for sex? Would the people who just had sex in there sleep in that bedroom? What would the other person do? How would all of you feel about that? Do you three have certain sexual preferences or interests that would make a separate room especially useful?

6) We have discussed not doing so, and making love all 3 together, I am worried I won't be up to the task. We want it to be pure and beautiful not some playboy fantasy Good or Bad idea? One of the worst things you can do for your sex life is to come to it with some preconceived prescription about what it should look like. I don’t know what, to you three, “pure and beautiful” sex looks like. But that sounds like an idealized fantasy and it’s too vague to give you any guidance. You should define that for yourselves - what does “pure and beautiful” really mean? What kinds of feelings do you want to have? What kinds of language and sex acts do you prefer? Do you want to avoid? What is it about the “playboy fantasy” that you are worried about?

7) Should both or neither take my surname? Do they want to? Do you want that? What would that symbolize to the three of you? How would the three of you feel about developing a new surname together? How would that interact with your desires to stay private or go public? Do any of you have personal or professional situations that would make a name change an especially good or bad idea?

8) Should all children take a family name? That’s something to consider a bit later, once pregnancies are happening. Some people think it’s important for all kids in a family to have the same name; other people don’t. You should talk to a family lawyer about custody and guardianship with three parents; having a shared name might help with logistical things and demonstrate that you are all one family with equal parenthood. You should also consider talking to a family therapist who specializes in blended or unique families about how to cultivate a strong sense of identity and security for the children.

I'm crushing on a couple and I don't know if it's wise to tell them

so i’m kind of in love with my two friends who have been dating each other for over a year. i have basically no emotional intelligence bc of mental stuff so i have almost no way to know how they feel about me, and i can’t really talk to or ask my other friends about it. i don’t know what to do about this and my feelings aren’t subsiding with time; i kind of want to tell them, but there’s a significant chance that it won’t go well and it’ll be weird, especially since i live with one of them

The good thing about knowing this about yourself - that you struggle with EI because of “mental stuff” - is that you can do something about it! Especially since you can’t talk to your friends about this, you should really find a therapist you can work on this with. There are also DIY resources out there - search for “emotional intelligence workbook” or “emotional intelligence DBT.” If you have a diagnostic term for the “mental stuff” you’re dealing with, you can also search for workbooks or other self-help resources with that term.

In general, my advice is usually to tell people how you feel, and let the chips fall where they may. There’s always a chance that things don’t go well and “be weird,” but if you don’t say anything, there’s a 100% certainty that things won’t go the way you want. However, every situation is different. Since you live with one of them, and living-space stress is one of the worst types of stress, you may want to be a bit more cautious. I don’t know what makes you say that there is a “significant change” that it won’t go well - is this couple explicitly monogamous? Have they expressed discomfort with that type of advance?

Only you have the full context to decide whether the risk is worth it. It might be worth it to find a polyamory-friendly therapist to talk things over with, or do some “pros and cons” journaling, or chat with a polyamory-support forum or chatroom, to try and work through all of the details. Best of luck!


Some FAQ-answerable questions

Hello! I just need help finding the tag for where it explains what poly is. I know a little bit like enough to explain it but I’d like to have a link to go into more detail for those who want/need it. Please and thank you! (also I’m really sorry you have a lot of tags I can’t find the one I need in particular)

I use tags more for SEO and tumblr promotion and less for content finding. You’d be better served checking my FAQ page about general polyamory resources. You can also google “what is polyamory?” and find lots of resources that will meet your needs!

Sorry to bother you, but I sent an ask to your website nearly a month ago about being a polyam teen and it hasn’t been answered. Is this because you have a long queue or did you just not get my question?

Here’s my FAQ page about that.

I might be poly. I find myself reading and seeking out more poly fics than mono ones? how do i know if i'm, poly? What does being poly mean?

Here’s my FAQ page about this!


My partner and I are long distance, and we both live with other partners - how do we make visits work?

I entered my first poly relationship a while ago. I already had a partner who’s living with me in my apartment, and then I got a gf recently. My gf already has a partner living with her too and also we live 4-5 hours of journey by train away from each other. Neither of us has more than one bedroom. It is very hard to meet up but were dying to meet again. Unless one of our partner leave town, which is rare, were in a tough spot. Have you been in a similar situation or know anyone who has? What do?

Boy have I! It’s frustrating and can take some creativity, but it can be done. When I’ve been in a similar situation, my partners and I have gotten really into those websites that let you get hotel rooms cheap as last-minute bookings, or booking AirBnBs in off-season areas. There are plenty of apps and websites that let you find overnight cuddle-up spots without breaking the bank! If you’re outdoorsy, camping and cabin-camping can be a great option to spend a night together as well.

Getting a bit more creative: if you’re at all into things like sex parties or BDSM dungeons, then finding one in a city near you can be a good way to find space for that kind of time together. If you have the funds, places like spas or hot springs are lovely ways to get some private space together (there’s a spot near me that rents private hot tub and sauna rooms by the hour and is well patronized by people in your situation). And see if either of you have any friends who are willing to let us crash in guest bedrooms, or want you to house-sit while they’re gone for a weekend.

It may also be possible for your partner, or her partner, to give y’all the apartment for an evening. Do they have a friend or a partner they could crash with? Could you and your partner send them and a friend or partner to a spa, or hotel, or concert, or nice dinner, while you two hang out in the apartment? Some people feel really icky about being “kicked out” or “sexiled” from their own home, but when it’s framed as a flexible, creative way for everyone to have a good time, I’ve seen it work well!

It takes some extra planning and sometimes some extra cash, but it can be done! Best of luck!

Polyamory Advice is going on a brief hiatus

Hi friends,

Some big, fast-moving changes are happening with my family, and I need to take a week or two off from the blog. Apologies for the lapse!

<3

Zinnia

Help, your FAQ doesn't work on mobile!

I'm sorry if my ask went against your rules, I'm on mobile and cant see your faq

Hi, I'm on mobile so I can't see your FAQ... I still have a question though..

Can I have link to FAQ? I'm on mobile

Friends, I hear often that people on mobile can’t see the FAQ, but that’s not true. My “ask” button on mobile lists the FAQ url, which works in a mobile browser. It won’t work in the tumblr mobile app, but it will work in a mobile browser. Please stop telling me this - all you need to do is open your mobile browser and go to www.polyadvice.tumblr.com/faq per the ask page’s instructions.

You could also search my blog for “faq” and find plenty of links to it there. You can also find all my blog’s content on askpolyamory.com, including the FAQ and a question submission form, which is entirely mobile-friendly. (I pay out of pocket for that!)

I understand that it takes one extra step, but I spend hours per week on this entirely free blog; y’all can do .5% of the work for me. Sending me an extra message telling me that you “can’t” follow the question submission instructions when it is absolutely possible is getting old. I don’t know of any mobile devices that run the tumblr app and don’t run a mobile browser.

I'm dating two guys, and want to make it serious with both of them, but am not sure how to have that conversation

I've been - openly, but they don't know each other - seeing two different guys, for about the same amount of time but not really seriously on either side. I want them to hopefully turn into actual relationships I'm just not sure how to bring about the conversation of "I want to be serious with you, but also him at the same time" and am scared that will send them both running. Any advice?

The great thing, and the terrifying thing, about relationships is that there is no set of magic words you can say to ensure someone else responds well. You should definitely have that conversation, and then if one or both guys goes running, well, that’s just what happened. You can’t prevent or control that. Hiding your feelings/desires from a partner for fear of scaring them off is miserable, and not something I ever recommend.

You’ve got to just come out and say “hey, we’ve been seeing each other for a while now, and I really like you! I’m interested in talking about how we see this relationship moving forward, how committed we feel, and what we both want! And that should include the fact that I’m also having the same feelings about, and conversations with, Orzaggo.” And then you two can talk about how he feels about non-monogamy, and about dating you, and about feelings, and all those super sticky but worthwhile conversational topics!

And if he runs, well, that’s information you have - that he isn’t someone who wants to date you as all of who you are, which is someone capable and desirous of dating multiple people. You would have found that out eventually; delaying this risky conversation doesn’t reduce the risk, it actually just raises the stakes. Best of luck!

My boyfriend is interested in a friend of his, and wants to try polyamory, but to me it all seems like cheating

My bf and one of his close friends have developed feels for each other. The friend is poly and knows that my bf and I identify as mono but flirted with him anyway. One night while they hung out and drank, they had a close call where they almost kissed. They now both realize that a sexual connection/tension has developed between them. My bf recently brought up trying poly, but I can't help but feel like he's using it as a fail safe and to not be accountable for cheating if it happens. Any advice?

The thing about polyamory is that it is not a “fail safe to not be accountable for cheating” - it’s a different way to think about relationships, feelings, and sex. If you two were polyamorous, and he kissed or had sex with this friend, it would not be cheating. He would still be accountable for his choices and their consequences, but “cheating” would not be the issue. Yes, it sounds like his newfound interest in polyamory is a desire to be with this other person without losing you - but you get to decide whether you are okay with that. Your boyfriend is essentially trying to keep things above board - letting you know that he wants to pursue a relationship with this person, but that he wants to do it with your knowledge and consent.

It sounds like you consider yourself monogamous and are not interested in dating someone who is romantically or sexually involved with someone else, and that you would consider it cheating regardless. In that case, you should not be polyamorous with this person (or anyone else). He can ask, and you can say no. He can then respond to that with his own choices. Polyamory is not a secret loophole where he can trick you into being okay with cheating; it’s a relationship framework that you can choose not to be part of.

If it’s important to your boyfriend to try polyamory, or to try a relationship with this person, he may choose to leave the relationship. You’ll give him information - that you only want a monogamous relationship - and he’ll have to act on that information. And he’ll give you information - that he wants to be in a relationship that allows him to be with other people - and you’ll have to act on that information.

What do polyamorous people find attractive?

What do poly people find attractive? I ask because I regularly get asked out by people who tell me that they are polyamorous. I am curious why so many poly people approach me.

For the most part, polyam people find the same things attractive as mono people. We like people who are interesting, charming, and genuine - and it helps to be good looking. So, congrats on being generally attractive! In specific, polyam people are going to be more likely to be drawn to someone who is a clear communicator, demonstrates healthy self-knowledge, and is skilled at drawing appropriate boundaries.

It’s also much more likely for you to encounter polyam people who want to date you if you run in circles where a lot of us tend to hang out and seek new partners. Any other type of “alternative lifestyle,” from the Pagan/Wiccan community to the kink/BDSM crowd, is going to attract a larger than average slice of polyam folk. We’re also more out and open in big coastal cities or liberal arts colleges, so if you live in one of those, you’re more likely to be approached by polyamorous people.

Honestly, unless you’re accidentally wearing polyam pride colors/symbols, or wandering into polyam meetups, it’s probably just that you’re a generally attractive person who happens to regularly encounter polyam people! If this bothers you, you could try putting it out there in your extended social circles that you’re happily mono and don’t want to be approached for polyam dating, and keep some rehearsed lines in your back pocket: “Sorry, but I don’t date polyamorously - so it won’t work out.” “

I want to date a friend of mine who is polyam, but am afraid of bringing it up with her

I am very close friends with a poly triad and I want to pursue one of them (though I would happily be with all of them). Is it better to check in with her other partners who I also love and want to make sure they would be comfortable with me pursuing her before I talk to her about it? Or should I talk to her first, or just talk to them as a group? My main fear is ruining our friendship or making them feel weird. The power dynamic scares me b/c their friendship is really important to me.

You should always talk directly to the person who you’re having feelings about, whether it’s attraction, conflict, confusion, boundary issues, whatever. Asking other people sends the message that you think she needs their ‘permission,’ which isn’t a healthy framing of any relationship, and it risks causing extra drama because of all the cross-communication and triangulation. Talk to her! She has the best perspective on what she wants, how her current relationships are framed, etc.

Only you can decide whether it’s worth bringing it up. A lot of people think that expressing romantic feelings might “ruin a friendship,” but if she’s mature and a good friend, she’ll be able to say “thanks for having the courage to bring that up, but I don’t want to be anything more than friends,” and you two can move on as friends. I think the fear of “friendship ruining” by expressing feelings is generally overblown, and a friendship that would be “ruined” by that is probably not on solid ground to begin with. The fact is that you do want something to change about your relationship with her, and the only way to have any chance at getting what you want is to try.

You have just as much agency and control in this situation as she does. You can choose when, how, and whether to express yourself. And you can choose how to respond to whatever she says. I know that this friendship is important to you, but framing it as “she has all the power to give, or withhold, what I want” is dangerous and inaccurate. You two are friends - she cares for you, she sees you as an equal - so trust her, and trust yourself, to be able to talk through this without fearing that she will attempt to manipulate you based on how much you value her friendship. If you think this fear is founded; if she has a history of holding her friendship over people’s heads to control them, then this isn’t a healthy friendship in the first place.

What are some of Zinnia's opinions?

Hello! I see tons of asks about advise and now I'm actually wondering what are some of your opinions about the whole community? I'd like to know more about the lovely creator of this amazing blog❤️ :)

This reads to me like “please, sir, could I have some discourse?” but I, like most humans, adore being asked for my opinion, especially if it comes with some flattery, so here ya go, some Zinnia Opinions, RIP my inbox:

I think more, if not all, of us should be in therapy! I think working on our own issues and patterns is critical for healthy relationships, whether you’re polyamorous or monogamous. I think we as a culture should be fighting for more accessible mental healthcare, and one of the best things we can do for our people is help them find therapy that is helpful and affordable for them.

I miss the word '‘poly.” I fully understand why we are making a shift to polyam, and I would never put my linguistic comfort over someone else’s very real cultural hurts and needs, but I find “polyam” clunky and it makes me sad that we are facing this namespace collision right now.

I think “ground rules” and “boundaries” are incredibly misunderstood and mis-used in polyamory. I’ve almost never seen “ground rules” work out well - they’re often arbitrary, lead to unnecessary ‘betrayals,’ and let people hide behind them to avoid actually interrogating their true feelings and needs. And people need to realize that “setting a boundary” does not obligate everyone to do what you say or else they’re toxic abusers.

I think we need to do a better job with our language. I’ve written about this before, and I stand by it. I especially think we need to be very careful about words like “abuse” and “trauma,” because they really do mean things beyond ‘made me feel bad.’ I strongly recommend Sarah Schulman’s book Conflict is not Abuse as an in-depth discussion of this and think it belongs on any standard polyam reading list.

I don’t think polyamory is a better, more enlightened or truer way to be in relationship. I disagree with Dan Savage and the Sex At Dawn crowd that all humans are ‘naturally’ non-monogamous and therefore polyamory or monogamy are just personal choices anyone can make freely. Some people are better served by monogamous relationships, and polyam people need to stop evangelizing polyamory as a one-size-fits-all solution to existing problems.

That said, I think monogamy culture is pretty destructive. When practiced with intentionality and as meets the needs of the individuals in the relationship, monogamy can be plenty healthy! But I have seen so much abuse in the name of monogamy, of possessiveness, of jealousy; damage done out of fear of cheating; repression and rejection and violence - we need to better understand and interrogate the social, political, economic, religious, and sexual power structures that drive our assumptions around monogamy.

I wish we had better pride colors and/or full ownership of the infinity heart. I love symbols! I would love to be able to wear my polyam pride on my sleeve, but tons of mono people use the infinity heart to just mean “endless love,” which makes it a pretty diluted symbol, and the pride colors are not great.

I think more polyam families should become foster parents. I think more people should, honestly; but being polyam gives you an advantage in that you have more adults to help out, and most of us have already done a lot of self-work around healthy emotional management and communication styles, which is critical for foster parents. It’s not always easy to get certified as an “unconventional” family, but it is doable, and we should be doing it!

My polyamory is queer. Not all polyamory is queer, but I truly believe that polyamory can be queer, when it is a ‘queering’ of the dominant monogamous culture, a re-understanding of relationships, an individual reclamation and rejection of culturally imposed assumptions, and love as “praxis” that challenges economic, political, and sexual systems of dominance.

Polyam people need to make a lot more space for relationship anarchy in the conversation. Related to my opinion that not all polyamory is queer, but polyamory can be a queering of relationships. It’s sad to me that so many people think polyamory is only about sexual-romantic relationships, and often looks in practice a lot like monogamy culture just with more people, where the sexual-romantic relationships are prioritized in terms of values, commitment, finances, etc. Polyamory can be an invitation to re-understand relationships in a whole new way. Who say that the people we have great sex with have to be the people we live with have to be the people we co-parent with? Let’s make our own way, friends.

I think “best case scenario” daydreaming is an under-utilized tool in polyamorous relationships. Thinking through what you really want, having words for the feelings you want to have, understanding what you want your day to day life to look like - this is so helpful! We should all have a clear picture of where we’re headed, what our goals are, and what our deal-makers and deal-breakers are. I don’t know why so few people are able to really articulate what they want out of their relationships - grab a journal, or a questionnaire, or a boring work meeting, and dig in!

I think people should make my life easier when writing in to this blog. People should check my FAQ, not send me thousand-word letters that don’t include a clear question, and not do these other things. I also think it would be super swell if people contributed to my Patreon!

There we go; some of my most strongly held opinions about polyamory. I have many other opinions, like:

  • People should stop assigning moral value to food and eating habits and drop the food-negative fear-of-calories nonsense; diet culture is absolute bullshit, and the concern-trolling about fat bodies is cruel, disingenuous, and needs to die.

  • Caffeine is an addictive drug and we are way too relaxed about young children becoming dependent on it to the detriment of their sleep health.

  • Being critical or ironic about something does not make you smarter, more mature, or better than someone who earnestly enjoys it.

  • Genetic connections do not a ‘family’ make, and no one is obligated to stay connected to someone who isn’t healthy for them just because they are ‘related.' And if you are deeply connected to someone whose connection to you isn’t recognized by monogamy-culture - like a kid who isn’t genetically related, or a life partner you aren’t romantic-sexual with, that’s great! Ignore the haters.

  • Movie theatre popcorn is always better than anything you can make at home, and is always worth the $7 it costs at the theatre. Drinks and candy, you should smuggle in.

  • If someone isn’t drinking, people should leave that alone and not harass, pester, or tease them about it.

  • Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” music video is not cultural appropriation, because she brings in people who are skilled in those dances to perform them well, and the point of the video is that she can’t do what they do and is just being herself alongside performers she is sharing her stage with. Cultural appropriate is a real issue in pop music (and everywhere else) but I think that video is absolutely not an example of it and don’t understand why it’s constantly used as one.

  • Alcohol is a lot more dangerous and addictive than marijuana and the reasons it’s legal and socially acceptable are racist and classist and are not based in reality.

  • Tumblr and Instagram should do more (that is, literally anything) to fight pro-eating-disorder content on their platforms.

  • No one should feed me food with tomatoes in it, ever, ever, ever! (And I don’t want to hear about how I haven’t had a “real, good” tomato - those ones taste worse because they taste more like tomatoes!)

I'm married, and was dating someone else - I ended things with him, but now I'm pregnant with his baby

My husband & I have been together for 7 years & last year I let him know that I was interested in trying out polyamory. I started a long distance relationship with another man who was also poly & checked in with my husband before any new decisions were made. Over months my partner decided he wanted to try committing to just me & broke up with his primary. He couldn't commit fully though, there were lies & cheating so I ended it. Then found out I am pregnant with his baby. Any advice?

Everything gets much more high-stakes when there is a pregnancy involved. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to do about the pregnancy. I recommend visiting with your doctor or heading to a Planned Parenthood to talk about your options, what you need to do to take care of your health, etc.

You also need to talk to your husband about what he wants to do. Some people, like me, are strongly of the belief that genetics do not a family make, so it could be that he is excited and wants to raise the child - or he could feel more ambivalent. It is unfair to bring a child into a situation where one of the people responsible for co-parenting is struggling with the facts of the child’s existence, so this is critical to work out if you plan to have and parent the baby. You should also talk to the father of the baby, even though you two are no longer together - there are various ways this co-parenting relationship could go, and you need to figure out what’s best for everyone involved. Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in co-parenting and “unconventionall” families.

I have no idea what your values and preferences are around pregnancy and abortion, but know that you do have options, and that they are your choices. There are two other people involved who are likely going to have strong feelings about the pregnancy, and they are entitled to those strong feelings, and it is healthy for you to consider and discuss them - but, ultimately, it’s your pregnancy. If someone wants you to abort, and you don’t want to, they cannot force you, and you should take distance from anyone pressuring you. If someone wants you to keep the baby, and you want to abort, that is your call.

There are a lot of ways this could shake out; here are just a handful that could happen:

  • Your husband could decide he isn’t up to this, but you want to raise the baby, so you become a single mom

  • Your husband could decide he does want to raise the baby, and you two become parents, with minimal involvement from biological father

  • The biological father could decide he wants to be involved, so you work out a multi-parent arrangement that doesn’t require you to be in a romantic relationship

  • You could decide you don’t want to raise the baby but the biological father does, so he takes full custody after the birth

  • You could decide to place the baby for adoption

  • You could choose to terminate the pregnancy

Ultimately, only you can work out what’s going to be best for you, your relationships, and the child. There are professionals who can help you think through those options, so again I strongly recommend visiting a Planned Parenthood, talking to your doctor, or seeing a therapist who specializes in this type of issue. Best of luck!

I'm married and polyam, but everyone I try to date gets too "weirded out"

I’m poly and have been for the past 3 years. My husband and I got married before I knew that’s what I wanted but no matter what I do, people I date keep dumping me because they say they’re too weirded out by it and the fact that I’m married is too much. I know there’s nothing I can do to change anyone’s mindsets or views on monogamy/non monogamy but what can I do to protect myself from taking this all to heart? I’m tired of getting dumped and hearing “you’re amazing but this is too weird.”

My two pieces of advice for you are: One, think about whether there’s a way you’re acting or talking that is setting off alarm bells for other people. Do you prioritize your marriage over everything? Stick to rigid “ground rules” that limit how you can connect with other people? Talk about your husband constantly? You may be able to mitigate some of the feeling of “weirdness” by making some adjustments in those areas.

Two, start actively seeking out people who are polyamorous and already understand non monogamy. You’re going to run into a lot of confusion and stigma if you are trying to meet people in the majority-monogamous parts of the population. Check out online dating, local polyam meetups, and my FAQ page on finding polyamorous people to date.