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.

I'm dating someone who has another partner, but she wants to date a third person - will that change things?

I’m involved with a married woman who also wants freedom to date other men. Her spouse already approves of me, but what am I risking here? I've been her other partner for 7 years. Are there conditions that we also must have?

To answer your questions, you are not “risking” anything, and there are no “conditions” that you “must have.” This woman is clearly very capable of maintaining happy, healthy, non-monogamous relationships - she’s been in one with you for seven years! Whatever arrangement exists between you, her, and her husband is clearly working. You don’t need to set new conditions arbitrarily, because they aren’t really needed.

It sounds like you’re worried this will fundamentally change your place in her life, but I’d encourage you to think about why that is. You may feel like each “established” male partner needs to approve of the next new guy - her husband let her date you, now you get to set the terms for her dating someone else. That’s not how it works! She is dating non-monogamously, and that includes you, but as an independent, individual person, her dating life is centered on her, not on you.

Think about what has made things work so well with you, her, and her husband; and how you two can maintain those relationship practices as she dates other people. Think about whether you pose a “risk” to her husband. Hint: you don’t, and you have seven years of evidence to back that up! Relax, let go of zero-sum or possessive-type relationship framings, and support her!

My partner did some things that hurt me - is my hurt reasonable, or just a knee-jerk monogamy-culture-fueled reaction?

I have been dating a woman who is polyamorous for almost a year. She has another partner - a guy she has been with for 10 years. For the first 6 months of our relationship, she kept me a secret from him. I knew about him and I thought that he knew about me and was fine with everything, she never told me I was a secret from him. He lives far so I never saw him really or interacted with him. She only sees this guy once a month if that, whereas we live together. So I assumed they were pretty casual- she never really talked to me about this guy, she kept that side of her life very private, I just knew he existed. 

One day someone told the guy about her relationship with me and there was a lot of turmoil with her and him, she never shared much about it with me though. I felt like a secret, and I felt pretty played. Eventually they made up. I was hurt from being kept a secret, but tried to move past it as best I could. I always asked for communication on her part, and that’s largely why it hurt so much. Recently, I saw her writing about one day aspiring to live with her other partner, she never shared this thought with me, and didn’t intend for me to see this, I came upon it accidentally - but seeing it hurt a lot because for the first time I saw that this relationship meant a lot more to her than I had thought. I feel hurt because of the lack of communication and am wondering if this is rooted in my monogamous conditioning or if it makes sense, even in a polyamorous context for me to be hurt by all of this.

YES, my friend, this falls under the category of “inherently problematic and hurtful things that both a polyamorous person and a monogamous person would be reasonably hurt by.” This person lied to you about things being above-board with her other partner, and she lied to her other partner about whether she was with you. That alone would be a strong signal to reconsider the foundations of this relationship and whether she is a trustworthy person. Now, you find out that she has not been honest with you about her feelings and plans for the future, which do affect you.

You have a right to be angry, and hurt. That’s not just “monogamous conditioning,” that’s a reasonable response to your partner doing something that isn’t okay. And if she tries to twist it to make your feelings unreasonable or unworthy of being addressed because somehow doing polyamory correctly means being ok with this, she is gaslighting you and using “polyamory” as a manipulation tactic. There are times where it’s appropriate to say “okay, these feelings are coming from internalized biases and assumptions, and while I can’t turn them off, I don’t necessarily need to assuage them, act on them, or demand changes in response to them.” Trust me when I say this is not one of those times.

I'm dating two people; one person thinks everything is above board, but the other person doesn't know

I’m a poly female. I messed up. I’ve been dating a wonderful guy for a year and 4 months and have been dating another guy for 2. Guy 1 knows about Guy 2 and thinks Guy 2 knows about him. Guy 2 doesn’t know I’m poly and frankly I’m terrified about what will happen if either finds out about the situation. I love them both.

You are cheating on Guy 2. This has nothing to do with being polyamorous, and please don’t tie up your mistake with polyamory, because that hurts a lot of innocent people.

You’re terrified about what will happen, because you know that it’ll be bad. (Now, if you’re genuinely afraid for your safety and fear either man will react violently or threaten your property, job, finances, digital security, etc. you should take steps to protect yourself. But if it’s just the dread of a painful relationship meltdown, that’s different.) Guy 1 will likely feel hurt, confused about your ability to misrepresent your relationships, and doubtful about your trustworthiness. His respect is important to you, and you don’t want him to know that you have done this. And Guy 2 will also feel betrayed and angry. But the longer you hide it, the worse it’ll get. You say you love these people, but love does not mislead, lie, and betray trust.

You need to come clean immediately. You need to tell both Guys what’s been going on. Some mistakes can’t be undone, they can just be faced. There is no way out of this that lets you off the hook for that really hard conversation. Explain what happened, take responsibility for your choices. You can let them know that you regret it and felt powerless once things got out of hand, but they are not obligated to see things from your perspective. You can let them know that you care deeply about both of them and would love to stay in a relationship and try to make it work, but again, they don’t have to accept.

It’s possible that you can salvage one or both of the relationships, with a lot of humility and listening, but it’s not something you’re entitled to and honestly not something I’d count on or even set as a goal to push toward. Your goal right now is to not further hurt the people you’ve already hurt, start being your best self, and treat everyone involved with the respect they deserve. And please, again, leave polyamory out of it. This is not the time to try and educate Guy 2 about the joys of non-monogamy or to explain to Guy 1 how your self-represented polyamorous identity has something to do with this.

A guy I like is polyamorous, but I don't know what that really means to him and his girlfriend

I have some questions because I’m interested in a guy who is in a polyamorous relationship . I am is monogamous but would be okay with being with him while he was still in his current relationship. Is it usual that a polyamorous couple would let someone in who is only interested in one of them? Or is it then called an open relationship? I don’t want to approach them if it’s offensive in any way to his girlfriend.

It is very common for people in a polyamorous relationship to date other people without their existing partners being involved in that dating relationship. This is called V or “Vee” polyamory. The distinction between “polyamory” and “open relationship” is fuzzy and differs between people and is therefore not super useful here; you’re talking here about “triad” vs. “V” polyamory.

However, just because it’s super common doesn’t mean that it’s the specific type of polyamory this man practices. Your best bet is to ask him: “Hey, I’m interested in you, and I know you and your partner identify as polyamorous - what does that mean for you? What would that mean for people you date? What are your terms and expectations for new partners?” You can ask this with a sort of general-case curiosity that gives you plausible deniability, but it will be easy for this conversation to shift into you expressing a more personal interest if it goes well.

The thing about polyamory is that it requires lots of communication. There’s no way I can tell you how this particular couple understands their polyamory; you’ll just have to take that leap and ask him! If he tells you that yes, his relationship allows for him to date people without them also being involved with his partner, great! Don’t think about it as him and his girlfriend “letting you in” - if you dated this man, you would not be a newcomer or guest in an already established relationship, you’d be forming a new relationship between you and him. If he tells you that actually, he and his girlfriend only date as a couple, you’ll have your answer, and you can respond with gracious disappointment. That wouldn’t be “offensive,” and if she takes issue with you for asking a clarifying question about his polyamory, that’s her problem - you would not be doing anything wrong in this situation.

I want more one-on-one time with my partner, but don't know how to ask

My bf and I have been together for a lil over 3 months and have had 2 like personal, alone, datelike times. He has been with another partner for a few years which makes me feel like I don't have a right to ask for more time. I am close friends with my meta and enjoy our time together but I'm needing more time with my bf for just us. We barely talk during the week and see each other on weekends. I don't know how to talk about needing more.

You have a right to ask for more time; he may not feel that you have a right to his time, but you always have the right to ask. There’s a huge difference between opening a conversation and making a demand.

You say you don’t know how to talk about needing more, but there’s no magical solution - you just gotta take a deep breath and have the conversation. Explain to him that you’d like more one-on-one time with him. Be proactive and constructive about this and make some concrete requests: would he be able to sleep over at your place this weekend? Could he meet you for a dinner date this week?

Try not to be accusatory or speak for him - “you prioritize your other partner over me” or “you never make time for me.” He may be very busy with work; he may not have realized you want more of his attention; he may be prioritizing his other partner in a way he hasn’t articulated to you; he may just be kind of oblivious and not a planner. Just be clear that you’d like to try and schedule some more time for just the two of you.

Of course he doesn’t have to agree to everything you ask and he just might not be as available as you want him to, but this is a space for gentle compromise. If he flat out refuses or argues or dismisses you, it’s probably not smart to stay in this relationship. Or, if it becomes a pattern where you don’t get that kind of time with him unless you plan it yourself, every time, consider whether that’s a relationship dynamic you’re okay with. But give him a chance to have the conversation and make some changes before you jump to those issues.

I don't want to be in a dating relationship with my long distance partner anymore

I'm in a long-distance polyamorous relationship and I just want to be friends with them again... I don't know how to do this.

Either in an email or over phone/skype, depending on how you two best communicate, you just gotta tell them. Explain what you liked about the friendship you two had before changing the relationship into a sexual-romantic one. Explain what’s not working about the current relationship terms. Ask if you two can dial back the sexual-romantic aspects while maintaining the other emotional and social connections. They may or may not be willing/able to do that, and this might require a temporary or indefinite break from any kind of connection, and that’s their right. But you just have to tell them how you’re feeling and what you want.

A friend of mine is judgmental about my three parent household

I have a friend that chose to be a single mother but judges me for choosing to have children with three parents. "I would do that if children weren't involved" is how she puts it.

People sure are out there, thinking things, some of which are wrong. Often they say things we wish they wouldn’t. Sometimes they even do things that are unwise! It can be maddening when someone else’s perspective seems illogical or hypocritical. But it’s not within our power to change, usually.

If this friend is being judgmental of you, you don’t have to be her friend anymore. Or you can say “you’ve made your thoughts on my family clear; I’m not interested in changing to accommodate you, so let’s agree to disagree and drop this subject permanently.” If she can’t handle that boundary, well, you have a lot of information about what kind of friend she is. It hurts when people close to us are judgmental, and I don’t mean to dismiss that pain - but the only thing you can control is how much exposure to her judgment you allow for yourself.

If she is threatening your family - saying she’ll call CPS, or make a report to the kids’ school, or something - speak with a family law attorney and take the steps you need to protect your family. Otherwise, it’s best to leave her to live her life, as ignorantly or judgmentally as she wants.

My long distance partner is visiting soon, and I want to plan a sort of "triad proposal"

I am married & have a long distance partner. In April they are coming to visit & i am planning this big romantic gesture of writing them love letters & making us all matching necklaces & asking them to come together so we can be one big happy family, I want them to be friends & be my men & have both their babies & but I am also giving them the opportunity to decline by having them meet me (us) somewhere for dinner. If they don't show up I'll know they aren't choosing this for themselves. I'm wondering if it seems passive aggressive to do it this way? I just don't want them to think so & I also don't want them to be put on the spot in public and answer in a way they don't mean to.

Oh my goodness, do not do this! This is not the kind of decision that should be made based on one grand gesture. You are asking something pretty big, and it is going to take multiple, ongoing, serious, honest conversations.

When you say you want them to “come together” and be “one big happy family,” what do you really mean? You can’t just decide two people into a relationship. What do you mean by “come together” and by “one family”? Remember that words like “family” and even “happy” mean different things to different people. You three will all really need to be on the same page.

If your long distance partner chooses to move out to where you live, what does that commitment entail? Are you and your husband 100% gung-ho on giving up your “couples privilege” and no longer centering that relationship? No one should move across a long distance and uproot their life without assurance that they are not on insecure ground. You may think of them as romantic and emotional equals, but does your husband feel like your marriage takes precedence?

More practically, where would he live? Is it smarter for him to get a single place near you two, and see what that’s like, before committing to moving in? Is that financially feasible? If he wants to move in, how is that would to work? Where will everyone sleep? You are already talking about co-parenting, but you need to know a lot about people before you raise kids together. Going from long-distance to living near each other is a big change, let alone living together.

You cannot leave any of this to the unspoken assumptions like “if they don’t show up, I’ll know.” That is not how life works, not how people works, not how relationships work. This isn’t a binary yes/no question. This needs to be talked out, not left up to a movie-ending style dinner proposal. You need to be super clear about what you want and figure out if that aligns with what they want. This is not a one-time question, or even a single conversation. It’s an ongoing process of reframing your relationship, giving language to feelings and desires and concerns, and taking in information as you go.

There is a time and a place for grand gestures! Once this all gets worked out, whatever you three decide, you can definitely commemorate that shift in the relationship(s) with special gifts or doing something special together. Writing letters to express how you feel is a good idea! But using them to ask this kind of question is never wise. You need to give them space to ask you questions, to get things clarified, to share their feelings and concerns, and to try things out or go slowly - and none of that can be done with this kind of plan.

I'm dating someone who has other relationships, and it really upsets me

I met this amazing guy who just seems so perfect, I've never met anyone like him before. He has intimate and sexual relationships with other women and it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. I've told him this and he says that I am special to him but he’s not going to stop the other relationships with other people. I really don't know what to do, I like him so much but every time I know he’s with another girl I get very upset and jealous. I hate that this is a problem but I don't know how to go about solving it without losing him. All my friends think Im crazy even considering him if it hurts me this much but I really don’t want to lose what we have. Please advise me on what I should do!

You say this guy “seems so perfect,” but he’s not perfect for you. A major part of his relationship terms make you “extremely uncomfortable.” You say you don’t want to “lose what we have,” but what you have is a relationship that makes you feel “upset and jealous.” You should not date this person, because it sounds like he’s polyamorous and you aren’t compatible with a polyamorous person. It is not a “loss,” it is you realizing that this arrangement is not working for you. He might be a great guy, but he’s not someone it’s healthy for you to date.

People joke about me "collecting" partners, and I worry that this reflects a real problem

Sometimes people joke about me "collecting partners like Pokemon," and even though I laugh and joke along with them, sometimes I worry that this habit might become a problem. How many people is too many to date? Am I neglecting my other partners every time I form a new relationship? Do I really have enough time and energy to spend with everyone? Am I in denial? At the present, I have 3 boyfriends and am trying to woo someone I met recently.

I can’t answer those questions, because I don’t know you or your relationships. But they sound like questions worth investigating, for sure!

If the people making those jokes are close friends or partners, check in with them and ask whether there’s a legitimate concern or serious observation behind the humor. Stuff like that can sometimes mask something bigger, but just as often it can be a meaningless in-joke and playful teasing. And if it’s starting to bother you, you can ask that they stop saying that.

There is no hard and fast rule about “how many people is too many to date.” I must admit, your letter is a bit funny for me to try and answer, because I too have 3 boyfriends and just started a new relationship. For me, it doesn’t feel like too much, because all my partners get along, most of us have very similar lifestyles and schedules, and we have open lines of communication so that if someone feels neglected or left out, they can bring it up and get it resolved without extraneous conflict.

Think about how NRE makes you feel and act, and whether that’s something you feel good about. Take a look at your schedule and identify whether you feel like your time is well balanced. And ask your partners how they feel! Mention that people have made this comment, and ask if they feel objectified, collected, or neglected. Do they mind the new-relationship ebbs and flows in your attention? Some people like partners who are largely independent and prefer quality over quantity; some people prefer relationships to have a lot of time spent talking and hanging out. Your partners are all individual people with their own preferences, so if they have no complaints and everything seems to be working well, let go of this worry. If certain concerns or needs do come up in these conversations, start addressing them.

My wife and I were married and polyamorous for ten years - then she left me to be monogamous, broke up with him, asked me back, but wants to be mono with me

My wife and I have been practising poly for almost a decade. Then something changed - about 18 months ago, she started dating a guy who wasn't poly, but said he had no issues with it, he was just going to be monogamous with my wife. I wasn't seeing anyone else at the time, but about six months later I met a poly girl who wanted a Daddy. I enjoy fetish Daddy scenes, and this meant I had someone to see while my wife was with Mr. Monogamous, so all seemed well. Then my wife asked me to move out, and said it was over. It was sudden, and I was sad, and didn't understand exactly what was going on, but didn't particularly want to fight for something where I was unwanted. I got my own place, and got on with my life.

Then Mr. Monogamous dumped my wife and she asked me back. Then she asked me to dump my Baby Girl, which I didn't think was entirely fair, but I really wanted to be with my wife, whom I love, and it was once wonderful - before Mr. Monogamous. Now she's claiming she's triggered every time a DD/lg situation comes up, even in conversation, and she wants me to close off that part of me. She's having genuine panic attacks, but I don't understand why.

I'm starting to feel like I'm being played, and now I'm anxious all the time, too, and can't seem to work out what's going on. I'm not sure why I'm always the one to move, to change, to sacrifice and I'm just thinking...when does this go back to normal? My wife must be suffering from her breakup. Could I be a rebound? Can someone become un-poly? Could my wife have caught monogamy from being with a monogamous guy? He slut shamed her for being poly during the breakup.

You have a lot of questions here, and I think the one person best able to answer those questions would be your wife. It sounds like she’s been through a lot of emotional turmoil and confusion, and you’re right that something really has changed with her. But I can’t explain what happened, how, or why. It’s possible that Mr. Monogamous was manipulative or even abusive in a way that has affected her self-image or sense of security in relationships. She may have felt a certain joy in their monogamous relationship, short-lived as it was, that she is trying to re-create. It is possible that Mr. Monogamous encouraged her to develop a warped narrative about you and your relationships with other women that she is now seeing things through.

And, of course, I only have your side of the story. It’s possible that she was hurt by how willingly you left, and Mr. Monogamous framed things for her in such a way that you didn’t care enough to fight for her, that you were relieved to be freed up for Baby Girl. Perhaps he had nothing to do with it and she subconsciously wanted to see how hard you would fight for her. Perhaps she blames your relationship with Baby Girl for the initial breakup, and worries it will happen again if you stay with her. I have no idea where her strong feelings and new requests are coming from! But she probably has a better idea. Your best bet is to talk openly with her. Consider, if possible, seeing and kink and/or poly-informed therapist together. Especially if she’s now having panic attacks, she should be seeing someone about that regardless, that’s a serious issue.

I’d also recommend that you do more to stand up for yourself. Someone kicks you out of your marriage and your house, then wants you to bounce back once they’re done with their foray into monogamy, then starts making serious demands about changing the terms of your relationship. You don’t need to just accept all these changes and go with the flow. It’s okay to say no, that you won’t end things with your Baby Girl, and you and your wife need to figure out another way to handle this new phase of your relationship. You can also decide that you no longer want to be with someone who treats you like this, and find a way to graciously end this marriage.

I'm bisexual and polyamorous, but in a relationship with someone who is monogamous

I am a poly bisexual male. I was single when I met my wife. I swore off dating other women, but nothing has been said about men. I recently reconnected with one of my ex lovers (m) and I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t talk about it with my wife. Please help.

There is nothing healthy about loopholes or technicalities in relationships. If you “swore off dating other women,” it’s very likely your wife figured you meant that you won’t date other people. Even if she knows you’re bisexual (it’s not clear from your letter whether or not she does), we live in a hetero-centric culture and you and I both know that was her entirely understandable assumption, and it was implicit in your promise not to date other women.

I’m also not sure what you mean by “reconnected” with an ex lover. Does that just mean you two are talking again, and you’re thinking you might like to get back together? Or does it mean you connected sexually/romantically? If that’s the case, you’re cheating on your wife and you should definitely not do that.

You say you “can’t” talk about it with your wife, but honestly, that’s your only option. If you’re married to someone, you really ought to be able to talk about this kind of thing with her. It takes courage and humility and risk, but you gotta do it, friend. You have to let her know that you are bi, that you still have feelings for other men, and that you’d like to be able to pursue those.

She may respond with confusion, or anger, or betrayal. She may even want to leave the relationship immediately. You can’t control her response. But hopefully you two can talk this out in a healthier way. She may say that she’s absolutely not okay with that and only wants to be with someone entirely monogamous. In that case, you’ll need to decide whether you want to stay in a relationship on those terms, or whether you’ll need to leave.

If you decide not to talk to her, which I don’t recommend, you’re essentially choosing to just accept those terms indefinitely. If you’re so convinced she’ll react badly that you want to keep your bisexual, polyamorous desires secret, that will be a painful secret to keep, but you could do it. But that means you will need to manage your own impulses around this ex and any other people you’re attracted to - you absolutely can’t just go out and cheat on your wife. Either commit to the discipline and sacrifice of monogamy, or commit to the discipline and sacrifice of having tough conversations. That’s right - both options take discipline and sacrifice! Choosing to be undisciplined and selfish instead is not okay.