I'm friends with a polyam couple who won't stop pursuing me, even though I don't want to date them

My friends are poly and want me involved. They weren't poly when I met them, it was a complete 180 flip of opinion overnight. Now they're obsessed with finding a unicorn. First, they wanted to date me, but when I hesitated, for multiple reasons, but the biggest, I don't want to lose my friends and I myself am not poly. When I said no to dating, 180 flip, now it's all about sex. They hint at it so much, it's uncomfortable being with them, my friends feel like a creep who can't take a hint. Help

You say these people are your friends, but you describe them as making you uncomfortable, being creepy, and acting obsessive. They are not your friends! You don’t have to tolerate this kind of predatory behavior. This isn’t really about polyamory - no one, of any gender or sexual identity or relational orientation, likes to be around someone who can’t take no for an answer and keeps pushing for more intimacy than the other person is comfortable with.

I do want to make sure, though, that you’ve given them a firm, clear, “no.” You say that you “hesitated” and that they “can’t take a hint.” If I were to give them a huge benefit of the doubt, it’s possible that they don’t know you feel creeped out and consider the matter closed. Some people think that a “push-pull, cat-and-mouse, you-must-seduce-me” type dynamic is flirty, and they could be (willfully or otherwise) misunderstanding your attitude about this. If you want to give them one last chance, you could say something incredibly direct: “I don’t want to have a romantic or sexual relationship with either of you, ever, period. I’d like to stay friends, but if you two can’t drop this pursuit immediately, I won’t be able to. Please don’t bring this up again - it’s making me very uncomfortable.”

But if you’ve a.) already done that, and they’ve ignored you or b.) you don’t want to, then your best bet is to just walk away. You don’t need to stay friends with people who are acting like self-caricatures of the obnoxious polyam couple chasing their third like wolves stalking prey. Those folk give polyamory a bad name, they’re completely unpleasant, and they’re as bad as the “nice guy” who hovers around women, whines about the “friendzone,” and pursues unrequited interests in deeply inappropriate ways. Adding the label “polyam” to it doesn’t make it any less out of line, gross, or uncalled for.

I have Dependent Personality Disorder, which makes new crushes really difficult

I'm not sure how to navigate being polyam with dependent personality disorder- I’m clingy and I get depressed when my crush flirts with others even though they're also poly. It isn't a problem with my current partner because we live together and I know they love me regardless of potential partners. It’s a me problem that I shouldn't reflect on my crush. Its just...complicated and I'm not quite sure how to subside these depressed and clingy feelings when they don't message back or flirt.

Personality disorders are tricky beasts, and if you have one, you should absolutely be working with a therapist to manage your symptoms and work towards an awesome quality of life for yourself. You deserve it! If you’re currently working with a therapist, please talk to them about this; if you’re not, please reach out for professional help. You can see my resources here.

Second, remember that when you have a mental illness, it can be easy to ‘pathologize’ everything, even when it’s part of the normal spectrum of human experience. On the one hand, I never want to downplay someone’s suffering - if someone has serious anxiety, it’s horrible to say “everyone gets worried sometimes!” But it’s important to note that nearly everyone I know experiences some stress, infatuation, excessive thoughts, sadness, clinginess, and all that fun cocktail of feelings when they are in the throes of a new crush. Butterflies when they text you; despair when they don’t; unnecessary time spent scrolling their Instagram; fussing and analyzing - some of this is just part of having a crush. Let go of the expectation for yourself that you can, or that you must, fully eliminate all these feelings if you are ever going to manage your dependent personality disorder.

The key issue is to make sure that these emotions aren’t damaging to your well being or your ability to live a full life. If they feel debilitating, if they’re distracting from joyful experiences in your life, if you find yourself obsessively checking your phone every thirty seconds or unable to enjoy the rest of the day after a text gone unanswered, that’s a problem. But there are some strategies to help manage them! NOTE: I am not a mental health professional or an expert in personality disorders, so these suggestions are not meant to be a treatment plan, just some brainstorming to hopefully help you springboard your own strategies.

  • Come up with some “distractions” - caring for a pet, making something artsy, watching a favorite YouTube channels, etc. - that you can use to get out of a painful thought-loop

  • Write down a list of how your current relationship makes you feel, and all the tools and strategies you used to get there. Honor the work you’ve already done to be well!

  • Find some self-help workbooks on DPD and work on one when you’re feeling stuck in those feelings

  • Read stories about other people’s experiences with NRE, crushes, and similar experiences

  • Develop a self-soothing mantra like “My relationships are secure” or “I will be okay without their attention” and meditate on it, bead it on a bracelet, paint it on a stone, etc.

  • Think through the worst thing that could happen if you don’t get that person’s attention, and whether you can survive that. Remember previous times when someone didn’t reciprocate your flirting or return your texts, and know that you managed then!

  • Channel some of this energy into your current relationship - plan a nice date with your partner, make something nice for them, do a household chore they dislike, etc.

I'm dating someone who's polyamorous, and not really sure how things work with his existing relationship

I’m seeing this guy, we’ll call him Ace. He is living with someone, we’ll call them Queen. I am new to polyamory but I respect his partner and their relationship, though I think she’s his primary (idk though). She doesn’t want roommates, plus they read each other’s texts. Idk how to ask Ace the “rules” of their poly relationship or what to call ours. I have fallen deeply for him, but I’m lonely because he’s always busy & with her. But we are very passionate and I think he likes me. What do I do?

The good news is that the answer to this question is very simple. The bad news is that it’s very simple. You say you “don’t know how you ask,” but that’s exactly what you need to do. All your problems stem from not having clear, open conversations with Ace about how he manages his polyamory and his relationship with Queen, and how that impacts you. The next time you two are together, or over text if that’s easier for you, you’ll just need to bring up the subject.

You can say something like “So, we’ve been seeing each other for a bit now, and I’m realizing that I still don’t fully understand the terms of what we’re doing here. I’d feel a lot more secure, and I think I’d be able to respect and navigate your boundaries better, if we could talk it out. Can you tell me how you and Queen understand your polyamory? Is she your primary, and if so, what does that mean to you? How do you see our relationship, and how does it relate to what you and Queen have?”

If this guy is healthy and skilled in polyamory, he’ll be thrilled to have an opportunity to explain and discuss this! Don’t ever feel like you should just accept ambiguity - always speak up and ask for clarification. If he says something that you want to follow up on, keep asking questions! If he tries to shut down the conversation, gets defensive, or insists on hand-waving vagueness, he’s probably not good to be dating.

And once you get more information, you’ll be able to determine whether this is a relationship you want to stay in long-term. If he tells you that the way things are with him and Queen means that you’ll never get the commitment or attention you want, then that’s good information for you to act on. But the conversation should definitely include you explaining how you feel and what you’d like to be getting from the relationship, so he can be honest about whether he can provide that.

I've fallen into a polyamorous arrangement with two people, and it feels like this should be weird, but it's not!

Hi, I'm a 24 y/o lesbian who has over the past few months kind of accidentally gotten very close to a married woman (37) but the way we met was very specific (sex work, I'm a masseuse who does hand jobs, no delicate way to put that) and though they hadn't really done anything like that before (swinging/visiting massage parlors) her husband (43) is totally aware of the fact that we've grown pretty close, and after a threesome date where I told him I wasn't trying to steal her (and later had an actual threesome, though he and I didn't actually have sex, he's very attentive of my boundaries which I find very endearing) he seems ok with the fact that I’m pretty visibly falling for his wife and vice versa. I'm not jealous of him, and he seems to not be jealous of me, and spending time with both of them just feels so comfortable. Is this a viable way for a poly relationship to develop or am I crazy for thinking that might be a possibility? Is it weird that this isn’t weird?

Oh letter writer, stop looking for trouble where it isn’t! You know the answer to your question: is this a viable way for a polyamorous relationship to develop? Yes, obviously. You’re living the empirical proof! Are you crazy for thinking this might be possible? No, of course not - you’re witnessing it be possible. All you have to do is look at the information the universe is giving you, and draw the most reasonable conclusions!

Our society, and the media we use to frame and understand romance and love and sex, haven’t given you a lot of tools to understand this. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, impossible, or doomed. You have no reason based on evidence or observation to believe that this is weird, or impossible, or non-viable - those feelings are coming from anxiety and confusion because you live in a world that tells you relationships like this are “weird.” But you yourself said it’s not weird - so there’s your answer! If it’s comfortable, if it’s working, if it feels good, then let it be.

I’m not suggesting that you slap on some rose-colored glasses and assume everything will be fine. If there is a genuine concern, if something does start to feel weird, definitely talk it out. Feelings are worth investigating and understanding. Sometimes the conclusion is “this is just a confused feeling, not based on reality, and I can gently put it to rest without acting on it” and sometimes the conclusion is “this feeling is pointing me toward a potential problem, unmet need, or question that needs answering.” Continue to have open, honest conversations with both people, and yourself, and let this grow in the direction that’s best for everyone. And tr to relax and enjoy the ride!

Both of my partners are ace, and I've really been missing physical/sexual touch.

Hullo there. Im in a polycule with two ace boys who generally do not like or require touching. Recently I have been a, how do you say, touch starved maniac. I don’t want to ask them to touch me or show me affection because I know that they both need space and no touching. But I’m big craving affection. I’m also the only one who isn’t ace and sometimes it makes me feel like a shithead to want so much that they can't give me. Any advice?

We in the polyamorous community are very fond of saying that polyamory will not solve relationship problems and is not a cure-all for unmet needs. I do think, however, that in your unique case, it’s a pretty good solution. You say you’re in a polycule, which would imply that the relationship is polyamorous. You’re right that it’s not super nice to demand something of someone when they’ve made it clear that they can’t or don’t want to provide that. And it sounds like you’re doing a great job honoring your partners’ boundaries. But it’s also not nice to yourself to demand that you ignore or repress your own desires, or feel shame for having them!

Talk to your two partners about these desires, and your intention to start pursuing physical and sexual affection elsewhere. Hopefully they’re chill and supportive, and you three can discuss the terms of your polycule such that everyone gets what they want and no one feels judged or repressed for their specific set of preferences and needs. If they want to keep things as a closed polycule and insist that you simply stop bringing up, or stop feeling, these desires for physical touch, then this probably isn’t the right relationship for you!

It is okay, and not acephobic, to decide that you need or want new terms for this relationship. You are not pressuring them or shaming them for who they are, but you also shouldn’t pressure or shame yourself. I am not saying that all ace people should be okay with their partners seeking sexual attention elsewhere in a polyamorous arrangement, or that no relationship with different levels of sexual interest can work. But for you specifically, letter-writer, it sounds like this is a situation where this conversation is warranted, and some next steps are called for (whether it means opening the relationship, or leaving it.) Being sexually incompatible is a real and common reason for relationships to end or change terms - it’s not a referendum on whose sexuality or preferences are “valid” or worthy of respect.

My husband and I opened our relationship, but then I found out he's been secretly recording me with my other partner

Last June my husband and I opened up our marriage when I realized that I had very strong feelings for my best friend, another man. My husband is straight, and is not involved in my other relationship. Today we discovered that my husband has been recording us during our alone time since mid-February. He claims that he hasn't watched any of the footage. My husband and I have been together for over a decade, and have two children. I'm very confused and don't know what to do or how to feel.

I don’t usually do this, but I moved this letter up in my queue so that it would post the day after I received it. Because this is an emergency. Letter writer, I am so sorry this is happening to you. Secretly recording someone during intimate, private moments in what is supposed to be your safest place is such a horrible violation, and you have every right to feel angry, unsafe, violated, confused, betrayed - anything you feel is normal and okay.

What your husband has done is also very likely illegal, depending on where you live. If I were you, I’d consult with a lawyer immediately. Check this list or this list for one near you, and if there isn’t one near you, consider calling one of them anyway to see if you can get a phone consultation or a referral to one more local. You could also try reaching out to Ben Schencker, who does speaking and advocacy about polyamory issues in law. Even though this isn’t specifically about kink, Kink Aware Professionals would also be a good directory to find a lawyer.

I don’t think a relationship after this is salvageable, so your goal now is to find a good lawyer who understands your unique situation, and follow their advice. Everything from establishing a custody plan with the kids to protecting your privacy with those tapes now in your husband’s possession is on the line, and you need professional help.

If you can, stop being in any of the rooms where your husband has been hiding cameras. If that means sleeping elsewhere, please do that. Keep all records of what is happening - back up texts and emails, and keep notes and documentation of what has happened. Take photos of the devices if it is possible to safely do so. Communicate with your husband via text or email as much as possible. Do not discuss this with anyone else, and don’t make any rash decisions or escalate the situation. Be as ‘normal’ around the kids as possible. All of this will serve you well if things go south legally.

It is okay to lean on your boyfriend in this situation. Both of you have been betrayed and violated by someone you trusted and loved, and both of you are going to be absolutely reeling. Make space for whatever rage or pain needs to be felt. Be prepared for your husband to want to explain or talk things out; but don’t get twisted up by his excuses or anything else. He may be apologetic, he may want a second chance, he may have a complicated explanation for why this was actually an okay thing to do, he may have very strong feelings he ascribes this choice to - but none of that changes what he did, which was fundamentally not okay and a total violation. Your job now is to get out of this unsafe situation in the safest, healthiest way possible, for yourself and for your children. I am so, so sorry.

My boyfriend is planning to start dating again, and I'm worried that NRE will negatively impact our relationship

Hi! My bf and I are poly and lately he’s been talking about looking for a new partner. This makes me feel nervous as his mental health means he can be distant at the best of times. I was wondering when a partner starts a new relationship, if it’s common for the existing partner to be neglected? Or is it more common for the NRE to flow into the existing relationship too? Just wondering if you have advice for someone nervous?

They say that “statistics mean nothing to the individual,” and I think that applies here. Even if I told you that NRE-related neglect of existing relationships was very common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your boyfriend is for sure going to do that. And if I told you that it’s not common, that doesn’t mean you’re home free and definitely not going to face that problem. I can’t predict your boyfriend’s future behavior or NRE risk profile.

But since this is a thing that can be named, it can be discussed! Talk with your boyfriend about his new period of partner-seeking and mention your concerns. Say something like “I’m excited for you to start dating and looking for a new partner, but I worry that based on past patterns in our relationship, NRE might be kind of a problem. Let’s put some plans in place to get out ahead of that!”

Those plans should be actionable but flexible ways for you two to manage this. One thing I’d definitely suggest is establishing with your boyfriend that it’s a low-key, non-threatening, very-permissible thing for you to bring up. Just a “hey, you’ve been focusing a lot on Gracielle this week; can we set aside Friday for just-us time?” and his expected response is “sure!” or “Friday I have plans with friends, can we do Saturday instead?” and not “Are you jealous? Stop accusing me of neglecting you. Don’t try and control my time!” etc.

Another thing that should help is just bringing it up in general. Maybe you two can read some pieces about NRE together and talk about what NRE feels to each of you, and what you enjoy about it, and what you two can do to cultivate compersion. Would you like it if he told you about his dates? Asked you for help picking outfits? Often, dating a new person pushes us to find cool new places to go and things to do in your area; he can totally direct that knowledge and energy to taking you to places he finds with his new partner, or that his new partner introduces him to. Let him know what you enjoy and what you don’t; you don’t want him to make the mistake of assuming it would be “awkward” to let that NRE flow into the existing relationship if that’s something you’d actually like!

My husband started a new relationship, which is fine with me, but his NRE behavior is making me feel neglected

My husband recently started a long distance relationship, his first poly one in our marriage. This is their first relationship ever and identify as nonbinary. They've never met in person. I'm trying to be supportive but he is putting so much effort into this new relationship and hardly any into our marriage, that I'm starting to get a little jealous. I like his new partner and we get along okay so far. I want to be taken care of too. What can I do to not resent them for how my husband is acting?

You do a lot to answer your own question just in the wording - you don’t want to resent them for what your husband is doing. That makes total sense, because your husband’s behavior is his responsibility, not his partner’s. If you’re frustrated with how your husband is behaving, don’t blame someone else - he’s in charge of him, just like you’re in charge of you, and your metamour is in charge of themself. Focus on his behavior, rather than assuming that someone else is pulling the emotional strings.

It sounds like your husband is deep in the throes of New Relationship Energy, or NRE. It’s incredibly common for people to neglect existing, long-term relationships when they start a new one. There are a few reasons for this: the existing relationship is more situated and doesn’t feel like it needs constant tending, and the new relationship can be more emotionally exciting. And, since this relationship is long distance and since the person he’s dating is new to relationships, this is likely to be even more powerful and challenging.

Now, this is an explanation, it is not an excuse. You and your husband can use the framework of NRE to understand his behavior so that it can be addressed and managed. I’m not saying that you should brush off or get over it just because there’s a term for it, or because it’s a common phenomenon! Sometimes, NRE takes us over, and we need to consciously manage it. There’s nothing bad or malicious about getting caught up in NRE, as long as you take accountability and work to address it after your partner points it out.

Talk to your husband about what’s going on. Let him know that you’re happy that he’s enjoying his new relationship, but that you need him to be self-aware and intentional about how he spends his time and attention. Ask for some concrete things, like scheduling quality time together when he’s not also chatting with his new partner (better yet, put all devices away!). Remind him that you also want to be cherished and attended to. Give some examples of things you’d like from him. Share some things with him about NRE to read and discuss together.

I feel like I should also say that you should be willing to do some work to meet him halfway - as we polyamorists like to say, love is infinite, but time is not - but with the caveat that I think you’re already doing most of that work; I’m just cognizant that I have a wider audience than you. There will be times when he’s not able to fully attend to you, and it sounds like you’ve already done a lot of work to be okay with that, and that jealousy isn’t a huge factor here. You’re doing a great job being aware of your feelings (wanting to feel more taken care of, a budding resentment) and you’re aware that you don’t want to act on those feelings in ways that would be unhealthy. You’re doing great! But remember that it’s not just about tamping down or ignoring emotions like resentment; it’s okay to ask your husband to make some adjustments to help you feel more comfortable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated FAQ page!

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

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



some quick FAQ-able questions

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

Check my FAQ page here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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