What are Zinnia's hobbies?

As a reminder, I’m celebrating 1,000 posts by taking a break from polyamory related questions and taking questions about literally anything else. Submit your non-polyam questions here! You can blacklist the tag “1kcelebration” if you don’t want non-polyamory-related posts on your dash.

What are some hobbies you have? If you have a job, what’s your job?

I write professionally - but not really the fun kind of writing; I write how-to guides and documentation for a tech company. I also work part time at my church, and I am a therapeutic foster parent, which is both “not a job” and totally a job, in the sense that it takes way more than 40 hours a week and uses all my professional and organizational skills. (Foster parents do receive money, but it is not a “salary” for the work that we do, it is intended to cover the costs of meeting the child’s needs.)

As for hobbies, I’ve already talked about playing Pokemon Go and enjoying forum roleplaying and tabletop gaming. In that vein, I also like board games, and I’m huge into Keyforge lately. I also like “solo roleplaying” which is just a silly way of saying “fiction writing” - the writing I do for fun lately is mostly high-fantasy adventures with worlds and characters I’ve created. And I’m just a big internet nerd, so I spend a lot of time goofing around with my friends on tumblr, discord, slack, and other forums I’m part of.

I like crafting, and the main things I do are beadwork and resin pouring. I started learning resin pouring to make Keyforge pieces but also make jewelry. I do alcohol ink techniques as well as “inclusions” - like glitter, stones, dried flowers, etc. It’s an interesting hobby because there’s lots of trial and error and you have to wait 24 hours to see how something came out, so it’s been a serious learning curve for me and it’s made me much less of an anxious perfectionist, which is nice.

I spend at least 3 hours a day driving because being a foster parent means lots of shuttling to and from appointments and other things, so I’m a huge podcast aficionado. Some of my favorites are Reply All, The Nod, Dear Prudence (and other advice podcasts, for “industry research”), RedHanded, Lovett Or Leave It, and Pod Save America.

I also read a lot, though I don’t have much time to read “fun” fiction lately and mostly read books that inform my work at my church or as a foster parent, so books about trauma, community building, youth work, parenting, etc. The last fiction book I read was Where The Crawdads Sing which was amazing and I can’t recommend it enough.

I love to cook and once a week I host a bunch of my friends for dinner. Coming up with weekly variations on large-scale meals, meeting everyone’s dietary needs, and keeping it under my budget is a challenge, but one I really enjoy! I also have 2 pet lizards, and taking care of them is a hobby, I suppose. I like to create healthy, varied meals for them, and to set up their “enrichment tub” with things to explore, climb on, and find to eat.

Perhaps the most “unusual” hobby I have is American Girl Doll collecting and restoring! I loved American Girl as a kid, and realized as an adult I could finally indulge in that! AG dolls are very expensive brand-new, though, so I usually buy damaged ones for a much lower price, and learned how to fix up their limbs, hair, eyes, and vinyl skin. While I grew up with the AG books and love the characters, I always make my dolls into custom OCs (original characters) and write bios and stories for them. Then I take photos of them in various outfits and poses. Because my daily life involves addressing a lot of trauma and challenges, it’s nice to have an escape that’s pure innocence and fun.

Technically, writing this blog is also a hobby! I would love to be able to make it a source of income, and I do have a patreon, but for now it’s just a hobby.

Is it okay that people often de-prioritize non sexual or romantic relationships in favor of sexual or romantic ones?

As a reminder, I’m celebrating 1,000 posts by taking a break from polyamory related questions and taking questions about literally anything else. Submit your non-polyam questions here! You can blacklist the tag “1kcelebration” if you don’t want non-polyamory-related posts on your dash.

I'm curious about your opinion on people putting less effort into their friendships when they are in a relationship than they do when they aren't in one. Do you feel like it's just a thing that people do that we should accept or do you think we should be maintaining effort in our friendships no matter our relationship status? Are there circumstances where it seems ok to you and other circumstances where it doesn't?

(This was sent as a “question not about polyamory,” but it touches on a major cornerstone of my relationship anarchist philosophy, so it ended up being partly on-topic, which makes it off-topic for this week. Oh well!)

I do not think this is appropriate under any circumstances! This is why I’m a strong believer in relationship anarchy. Our culture has a lot of arbitrary and prescribed ‘boxes’ for relationships, which make no sense and are not healthy for people. I believe we would live much healthier lives if we lived in communities where all roles and all relationships are honored and recognized.

It is so odd to me that we are expected to think that “wanting to live with someone,” “wanting to be sexually intimate with someone,” “wanting to share large-scale life projects like making a home and raising children with someone,” and “feeling emotionally connected and intimate with someone” and “sharing hobbies and fun interests with someone” are all supposed to collapse into the same feeling, which we’re only supposed to have for one person! And that we’re supposed to prioritize this magical, all-encompassing relationship over all other ones! Our society is set up to privilege and prioritize romantic relationships - everything from adoption and child custody to health insurance to renting and buying property.

It’s nonsense. And it’s dangerous - the “nuclear family” model keeps people isolated, puts vulnerable people at a higher risk for abuse, and it isn’t how humans evolved to live. Conflating sexual interest with romantic interest with lifelong commitment creates patterns of misplaced loyalty, where people will protect a sexual-romantic relationship at all costs, even their own happiness, safety, or other relationships. It also does a disservice to deeply intimate relationships that are not sexual or romantic in nature. Making large scale life changes or commitments for a romantic partner? Totally normal. Doing the same for a close friend or sibling? Very confusing to people.

It also makes it harder for people to be healthy and intentional and self-aware about friendships. What if one is abusive? We don’t have language or support resources for abuse that isn’t in the context of a sexual-romantic relationship. What about when one ends or needs to end? We have language around “breakups,” but we don’t have healthy tools for talking about or grieving the loss of a different type of relationship.

Imagine a world where we were free to let relationships be what they want and need to be, without forcing them into unnecessary patterns. What if the person we like to have sex with isn’t the best person for us to raise kids with, so we co-parent with someone else? What if we feel a strong sense of commitment and love for someone, but don’t want a romantic relationship with them - but we can honor and recognize our deep love regardless? How wonderful would that be!

Does Zinnia play D&D?

As a reminder, I’m celebrating 1,000 posts by taking a break from polyamory related questions and taking questions about literally anything else. Submit your non-polyam questions here! You can blacklist the tag “1kcelebration” if you don’t want non-polyamory-related posts on your dash.

Have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons? What's your opinion of the game and subculture surrounding it? If you could be any fantasy character, what race and/or class would you choose?

Ooh, I have such Feelings about D&D. Starting around age nine, I got really into online forum roleplaying, which was a lot like D&D minus any of the stats, numbers, etc. I was huge into this hobby and by the time I was in middle school I would spend hours and hours on the family computer writing these elaborate characters and stories.

My parents hated this, and were always on me to “get out of the house” and “make friends,” two things I found quite difficult to do. There was, however, a board game and tabletop roleplaying store within walking distance of my house, and I very much wanted to be allowed to go hang out there and play Dungeons & Dragons. I was also a huge fan of the comic Something*Positive, which includes a lot of D&D stuff. Unfortunately for both me and my parents, my mom believed in the absurd urban legend that D&D made kids kill themselves. (Hilariously, this bizarre fear mongering stemmed from Evangelical Christianity, a community and an ideology my mom hated with a passion - but she somehow caught wind of their nonsense, stripped of the context that would have led her to reject it, and she fully believed that letting me play D&D would have been dangerous.)

I still have some resentment about this, because kid-me would have absolutely loved D&D, and would have been amazing at it. I have a knack for character improv and worldbuilding, and I would have likely “found my community.” I was a sad and lonely kid, and it would have been amazing for me. I also would have gotten into it when my brain was more malleable and I was better able to internalize the complicated structure and rules of the game. I’d be absolutely kick-ass at it as an adult now that the milieu is very pro-D&D. But, alas, I was dealt different cards.

As an adult, I decided to finally get into it. I’ve played Pathfinder, D&D, and VTM systems. I love the narrative and character and worldbuilding parts, but I still can’t get a good grip on all the fiddly bits. I frequently end up with complete ‘weenie’ characters because I don’t care enough to actually make use of the skills and powers I could have. I find combat in D&D excruciatingly boring and I’m not interested in maximizing my ability to do anything combat related. I like the idea of magic but playing a spellcasting character overwhelms me with all the crap to keep track of. I spend far more time writing out an elaborate backstory and personality for my character than fussing about the character sheet. This is probably because of the forum roleplaying I cut my teeth on, and because I don’t have years of practice or a nostalgic connection to the actual D&D system. Playing with hardcore or experienced D&D players is usually frustrating for me and for them.

But I still love everything else - the maps, the characters, the dice, the mini figurines, the art. I actually like DMing more than being a PC, because I get to make up towns and shops and stories and NPCs, and I can decline to fuss about things I don’t find interesting. I’ve been slowly working on my own tabletop RP system with its own world, its own character creation and its own magic system. The goals are to be narrative-driven, heavy on character and light on combat, and to give the players incentive to explore the world and flexibility to be creative with their magic. I’m lucky enough to have a partner who’s also interested in game design, so it’s been a fun project to do with him.

I do have to state for the record that I still love and adore forum RPing, though the community/culture of the hobby has gone through some changes in the last few years that are leaving me feeling a bit Eternal-September-ed. I also strongly recommend simpler, “one-page” style RPGs like Lasers and Feelings and related ‘hacks’ thereof. These sorts of games have a much lower barrier to entry and can be amazing for people who might otherwise feel overwhelmed or left out by more complex systems (like the youth I work with!) I have written some pre-made ‘modules’ and ‘kits’ for L&F and really love running games with it. Tabletop roleplaying can be amazingly powerful as a therapeutic tool. It’s being used to help young people develop confidence and social skills, it’s popular in prisons, it’s just awesome.

As for the “subculture surrounding” the game, I feel kind of the same way a lot of us ‘older nerds’ feel seeing this renaissance. It’s awesome seeing this cool, fun thing get more respect and recognition, but it’s also bittersweet to see something that had always been for “outsiders” suddenly be taken up by people who have never been on the outside. I got bullied mercilessly for loving high fantasy books and movies by the same types of people who go nuts for Game of Thrones these days, and this feels a bit similar. There’s an “in crowd” for D&D now, with the famous podcasters and all that, and while I don’t begrudge anyone their entertainment or success, it feels complicated for me personally, especially since part of me feels robbed of an early “in.” But, it does mean lots of Etsy sellers and other folks making super cool custom dice, minifigs, and other cool stuff, so that’s neat. In all, I’d say that although I might have some complicated personal feelings about D&D and its culture, in general, it’s pretty great.

If I could be any fantasy character, I would be a Halfling Druid. Even before I got into D&D, I was a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and I’ve always known I was meant to be a Hobbit. I’m a homebody who loves cozy spaces, good food, running around barefoot, and chillin with my friends near a creek, maybe hitting that pipeweed. I love animals and nature and it would be awesome to have an animal companion, be able to communicate with them, or shift into an animal shape that would let me scamper, swim, or fly. I can’t imagine a more perfect life for me.

Does Zinnia like Pokèmon?

As a reminder, I’m celebrating 1,000 posts by taking a break from polyamory related questions and taking questions about literally anything else. Submit your non-polyam questions here! You can blacklist the tag “1kcelebration” if you don’t want non-polyamory-related posts on your dash.

Do you like Pokémon? Do you have a favorite Pokémon?

I do like Pokemon! I was in elementary school when it got big, and a kid in my class gave me a Diglett card. I started collecting the cards and had a huge collection, all in a binder with the sleeve holders and everything. It might still be somewhere at my parents’ house. I never played the card game - I didn’t have anyone to play it with - and I never played any of the video games, either, because I didn’t have a Gameboy or anything. But I watched the anime and loved the characters. We also had the Pokemon board game, which I remember being super fun - it had all these little disks for the different Pokemon that set into the board.

My brother liked Pokemon too, and it was something we really bonded over. I had a poster in my room with the original 150 Pokemon, and my brother and I had them completely memorized - name, number, and evolutions. It drove my mom nuts that we were “using space in our brains” that could have memorized the states and capitals, or something. I remember my dad taking us to see the Pokemon Movie when it came out in theatres, and getting the holographic Mew card, and just how big of a deal it all was.

My favorite Pokemon was always Squirtle, because he is just so super cute. I sometimes get called “fake” or “basic” because my favorite is a starter, but I never knew he was a starter; my only exposure to Pokemon was the cards and the tv show. I just love his perfect little face. I had a toy vinyl Squirtle that was so devastatingly cute, and my brother and I frequently fought over it. I don’t know where that went, but I have a bunch of cute Squirtle stuff today. Squirtle is still my favorite even though there are a zillion more Pokemon. I also liked Ponyta/Rapidash, Vuplix/Ninetales, and Dratini/Dragonair. I also had a pet hamster named Zapdos. Of the newer expansions, I like Pichu, Slakoth, Sentret/Furret, all the babies, Swinub, Buizel, Shellos, and Turtwig. So, basically, the cute ones.

These days I am super into Pokemon Go (level 39 and counting, Pokedex at 438). I still have never played any of the other games or the card game.

We want to open our relationship, but one partner is worried about his dating prospects

Note: To celebrate hitting 1,000 posts about polyamory, I’m taking a break next week and answering any and all questions on other topics. You can submit your non-polyam-related questions (advice and otherwise) all this week!

Any advice for a couple exploring a re-open relationship, but the male party doesn't know how to find any femme/female partners and doesn't believe it's possible?

It’s entirely possible, otherwise there wouldn’t be any “male parties” in polyamorous relationships with “femme/female partners,” and there certainly are such people out there in the world, existing and dating each other and proving their own possibility. Read around about other people’s polyamorous success stories - the “happy” tag on the r/polyamory subreddit is a good start.

If he’s worried about his own personal prospects, he can also rest assured that many male parties worry about their chances with women, and such anxieties are not often accurate. The best way to assuage those fears is to just get out there in some polyam-friendly dating pools and be his best, most genuine self. The same advice applies to him as to every person trying to date: be a safe, healthy, and fun person.

The thing is, though, that it is never guaranteed that entering the dating pool instantly means someone falling, literally or figuratively, into your lap. He needs to be patient and accept that delays or setbacks are not referendums on his overall desirability - it can take months or longer for even the most awesome people to find compatible partners. If these type of thoughts - feeling convinced that he is undesirable or that his desires will never be possible - are part of a larger pattern or are coming from a place of serious insecurity or negative self-esteem, I strongly recommend some therapy focused on that.

His anxieties should not be a barrier to “the couple” exploring an open relationship - the other “party” should not be held back until their partner is completely assured that he will definitely find someone to date immediately upon seeking one, because those anxieties are not rational, nor are they his partner’s fault or responsibility. The best way to prove these concerns wrong is to get out there and try, and start realizing that this “it’s not possible” mindset is rigid and false, and that the reality is more complex and flexible. He may find that there are polyamorous women interested in him. He may find that his partner finds someone before he does, or that he takes some time and effort to find a partner, and that these circumstances are entirely survivable.

My life is chaotic and uncertain - should I end my LDR?

Note: To celebrate hitting 1,000 posts about polyamory, I’m taking a break next week and answering any and all questions on other topics. You can submit your non-polyam-related questions (advice and otherwise) all this week!

Should someone be in a relationship if they are young and still in a transitional point in their life? I am 20 years old and unfortunately, with work and school- I feel like my life is a little too busy to continue my LDR but I am too scared of breaking things off with this person. Fear mostly manifesting out of hurting them.

I think it’s terribly paternalistic to end things with someone who wants to continue dating you “for their sake.” If your partner is okay with the level of attention and affection you’re currently giving them, then take them at their word that the relationship is working. Trust them enough to speak up if they are being hurt, and don’t take away something they want to keep because you think it might not be good for them later on.

But if you want to end the relationship for your own reasons - if you feel frustrated or drained or spread-thin by being in an LDR right now, if you aren’t getting what you want out of the relationship, if it’s a source of anxiety or feels like another chore on a long list of obligations - then that’s a perfectly fine reason to end a relationship. If you want to break things off, definitely do that. But if things are going pretty well but you just have a sense that you ought to consider yourself a “person too busy” to be in a relationship, you can let go of that.

It’s nearly impossible to say that there are broad circumstances under which “someone” should or should not be in a relationship. For some people, a young and transitional life is just not a healthy foundation for a romantic relationship; for others, it’s just fine. You don’t need a general pronouncement on what hypothetical people in your situation should do, you just need to figure out what’s best for you as an individual.

Talk to your partner! Ask them if they feel frustrated or let down by the circumstances of the relationship. Be honest about the fact that you can’t offer any more right now, and you want to make sure they’re okay with that. And be honest with yourself about where this fear is coming from and where your desire of ending things is coming from.

I'm dating polyamorously for the first time, and it doesn't feel good

I am new to this. I am seeing a few different people who are also have multiple love interests. However my problem comes when I know that one of them is flirting with someone besides me, sharing a sexy photo or a flirty conversation, it makes me feel a pain like loss in my heart, an empty gaping hole that hurts when they do that. What can I do to get over that? I really want to be ok with others finding love with someone besides me, but right now it’s hard.

Usually, if a person is in a relationship (or any other type of situation) that makes them feel “pain like loss” and “an empty gaping hole that hurts,” my advice is to stop being in that situation as soon as you can. Polyamory isn’t for everyone, and you are not obligated to force yourself into arrangements that cause you pain. When it comes to relationships, if it doesn’t feel good, if it’s not fun, don’t do it.

If you truly believe that these feelings are “internalized monogamy culture” and that you both can and should root them out, start by reading some resources on my FAQ page and learning about how polyamorous people conceptualize things like love and jealousy. And talk to your partners about it, with an eye toward brainstorming ways they can make things easier on you, like not flirting or sexting around you, sending you their favorite resources on polyamory, and talking through their philosophy of how they practice ethical non-monogamy.

But there is no “polyamorous conversion therapy,” nor should there be, and if you would be happier and more fulfilled in a monogamous relationship, please seek that instead!

I want to date my boyfriend's friend, but he doesn't want me to

Note: To celebrate hitting 1,000 posts about polyamory, I’m taking a break next week and answering any and all questions on other topics. You can submit your non-polyam-related questions (advice and otherwise) all this week!

I have been with my partner for about four months and me and a friend of his are completely infatuated with each other. My partner doesn't want me to have anything other than platonic relationships with his friends but I have no problem if he wanted to date mine. How do I navigate this? He feels completely inferior to this friend and is very insecure about it. But there is a lot of sexual tension between me and his friend because we both want more but we can't do anything about it.

Your partner has been very clear about his preferences: that he does not want you to date his friends. It does not sound like you’ll be able to convince him out of this position, and I don’t recommend that you try. You know the terms of your relationship, which is not to date his friends. Your choice is whether to stay in a relationship on those terms.

You need to decide whether pursuing something with this friend of his is worth blowing up what you have with your current boyfriend. Everything else is a red herring - it doesn’t matter whether you’d be okay with him dating your friends, and it doesn’t really matter why he has this boundary. You can’t change his perspective, you can only decide how to act on the information that you have, which is that you have feelings for someone but pursuing those feelings would be incompatible with the terms of your current relationship.

Are my extra precautions around pregnancy and STIs reasonable?

I’m pregnant and one of my partners is looking for new connections. I am absolutely terrified of contracting herpes during pregnancy as an initial infection can cross the placenta and cause stillbirth. Would it be unfair for me to tell my partner that I will not be physically intimate with him during my pregnancy if he chooses to be intimate with a partner who is HSV positive? I know that herpes is common and a lot of the stigma is unnecessary, but I’m not willing to risk my baby’s safety.

No, that sounds entirely reasonable. Everyone gets to decide what their own risk tolerance is. Pregnancy is a specific health concern that requires extra precautions. You are not being unfair or stigmatizing, and if your partner insinuates that you are, or tries to argue you out of this perfectly understandable boundary, they’re the one with the problem.

I can express my feelings one-on-one, but not when multiple partners are with me

Usually I'm really good at communicating my needs to my boyfriend, but whenever we have another partner over its really difficult for me to talk about any discomfort I'm feeling or even any emotions at all. I struggle to talk to either of them about how we're all feeling unless it's one on one, and I'm scared it seems like I'm hiding something when I just want to talk to one of them. How do I develop the confidence to communicate with both partners at once?

Without knowing more details, I’m going to have to give a few different answers.

It’s totally okay if you prefer to express your feelings one on one, and you let your partners know that. “It’s not that I’m trying to hide things from Fountayne, and rest assured I’m going to tell him the same things when we talk - but I struggle to have larger conversations.” It’s okay to know your personal communication style and take care of your own needs in that way.

I think that the polyamorous community places so much emphasis on “communication” and “honesty” that we forget to note that it’s not necessary to voice every feeling or every instance of discomfort immediately to everyone in the vicinity. Not everything needs to be brought up when you have other partners over! You can wait until later and say “it really bothered me when you snapped at me like that.” But some things are important to speak up about in the moment, so things don’t go downhill towards festerville - “I really don’t want to play board games, and I thought the plan for tonight was to watch a movie and cuddle together. Can we stick to the original plan?”

So it has a lot to do with the feelings and discomfort that you’re struggling to express. Ask yourself whether it needs to be voiced right then, or whether you can safely indulge your own desire to wait until there are fewer people around. Is there something you need changed or done right away, or is it just that you feel some vague pressure to speak up? I think it’s less about forcing yourself to always voice your feelings regardless of who’s around, but learning to identify what kinds of discomfort ought to be shared immediately, with everyone, and which ones can wait for a one-on-one moment.

Think about why you struggle with this. Do you worry that your partners will “gang up” on you? Do you feel that it’s “unfair” or “inappropriate” to “ruin” other people’s hangout time with your feelings? Are there patterns from your past that might be informing this? Is there something you can ask your partners for help with? Let them know that talking to them together feels vulnerable for you, and see if they can help assuage that anxiety. Consider having tough conversations by email rather than sitting and facing each other, which can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Can polyamorous people get married?

Would there be any way for a poly group to get married with one another?

Legally, no, there is no way for more than 2 people to be legally married in America. There is, however, nothing preventing you from having a big ceremonial party, referring to each other as your spouses, or living together.

Some polyamorous families have formed LLCs or used other creative workarounds to handle issues around finances, property ownership, health insurance, child custody, etc. Check the resources here and here, and consult with a poly-friendly lawyer in your area.

I'm attracted to my metamour - now what?

My wife and I have been married for almost nine years. She has always been sexually attracted to women as well. She has been in a relationship with another woman for almost a year. I am sexually attracted to her girlfriend but their relationship has been separate from our own. My wife sleeps with me and sleeps with her but we have never slept with each other. Should I talk about having a more open relationship with my wife and her girlfriend or should I keep my feelings to myself? Anyone have any advice?

It couldn’t hurt! Often, people end up clicking really well with their metamours, for obvious reasons. Clearly, you two have a lot in common. My recommendation would be to mention it to your wife, casually and playfully: “I’ve started to think Megianta is really cute too - think that could ever work?”

She’ll hopefully give you a lot of information. “Oh, nah, she only likes women" or “I don’t know, that might feel weird to me” or “Really? Tell me more!” or “That’s so funny, she’s into you, too - wanna talk about how that would work?” Open up the conversation and see where things go from there.

My long distance partner and I had a conflict, and now he won't answer or read my messages

I’m a married cis woman who is exploring poly relationships. My primary partner is amazing and loving and we have a fantastic relationship. About eight months ago, I started a long distance relationship with a guy. We talk online, have some phone sex and meet up when we can. We have a sexual relationship of course but it’s also emotional. Enter the issue: he has a roommate who from the beginning wanted to be my good friend. I’m not usually comfortable with this but I let my guard down. She knows our situation and I’ve known him as long as she has. Recently she admitted she had feelings for him and made it seem like I was the only person who knew. In the meantime, she was telling me that he really cared for me so much and wish he could be with me. I told him that she had a little crush on him and he closed up completely. I felt badly for telling him and blamed myself for being a bad poly practitioner. About a week later, she blurts out that they have been having sex for weeks. I had no idea! He had never shown any kind of interest in her at all. I was incredibly angry because I had always been very honest about my intentions, and I felt like I had been gaslighted, made to feel guilty when they both clearly already knew what was going on. I left him a message and told him that I never expected monogamy from him clearly but that I expected honesty. What were they going to do when I visit again?! I haven’t spoken to either of them for almost a month but I’ve tried to get in touch with him because I feel like he owes me closure, an explanation, an apology, just something and he hasn’t even read my messages. He’s a tough personality, someone who closes himself off a lot and I knew that getting into this with him but I can’t move on.

You need to try and let this go. You may want “closure, an explanation, an apology” - but he clearly isn’t able or willing to give that to you. I know you feel like he owes it to you, but you can’t make your healing contingent on someone else’s choices. He has made it very clear that he is not going to re-engage with you, his lack of response is a response.

There is a lot of denial in your letter. You speak in the present tense, saying that you “talk online” and “have a sexual relationship,” etc. You do not. You used to talk online. You had a sexual relationship. When you haven’t spoken for a month, and he refuses to answer any of your attempts to reach out, that’s a breakup. You two are no longer together. This relationship is over. None of the story you told as “the issue” is the actual problem - the problem is not his roommate, or his dishonesty, or anything like that - the problem that you were dating a guy who cut you off after a conflict and is no longer speaking to you.

You say that you “can’t move on,” but you need to figure out how to move on without him giving you “closure.” Ask yourself, what would it take for you to move forward from this and accept that this relationship is fully over? Therapy, journaling, time, self-care, time with friends, whatever it takes. Treat this like a breakup and start grieving the end of the relationship. Moving on gets easier with time, so let yourself start that clock NOW instead of wasting time trying to change his behavior or denying the reality of the breakup.

I think I might be polyamorous, but am worried about being a unicorn hunter

I think I'm polyamorous? I'm just so confused. About a year ago, I had two crushes on these two guys. I jokingly was like "ha what if I dated both" and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I would dream about being in a triad with them, and the thought made me really happy. I also did the same when I got a crush on these two girls. And I did research, and now I'm even more confused bc unicorn hunters are a thing and now I'm scared that I am one??? What the heck??

Let me assure you that “unicorn hunting” is a behavior, not something someone just is, inherently, against their will. If you’re not in a couple pursuing a single bi woman to serve your sexual interests without considering much about hers, you’re not a unicorn hunter. Simply wanting to be in a polyamorous triad is not immoral or unethical in any way. Desire is not inherently predatory. It’s okay. You’re okay.

There are lots of people out there who are polyamorous and interested in triad-style dating! As long as you’re not trampling boundaries or making unreasonable demands in an attempt to date them, you’re all good. Keep reading about polyamory - you can start with my FAQ - and be gentle with yourself.

My partners let everyone think it's just them in a monogamous couple, and it bothers me

I’m in a serious relationship with two people ( I should say all three of us are dating each other). They were dating for a few years before, and I’ve been dating them for a few years now. Any time they come out as having a partner, they always come out as dating each other and it’s never me. I understand if they don’t want to come out as poly/having two partners, but it sucks that I’m always the one that has to be the secret partner, the one who has to keep to themselves in public. We’ll be out together and they can act like a couple in front of coworkers and family while I’m like a third wheel. It makes me feel so bad about myself, like I’m not equal in the relationship or feeling more like a side piece. I know if I said anything they’d probably just tell me “that’s just how it has to be.” Am I silly for feeling bad about this? Or is this unhealthy? I don’t want to break up because I love them but I’m tired of being the dirty secret. This is my first poly relationship so I’m not sure if this is normal, but I know it doesn’t feel good.

Your critical error here is assuming that they’d say “that’s just how it has to be” before you even try bringing it up with them. You’re not psychic - you can’t read their minds or see the future. Talk about this! Mention that you feel bad having to keep your place in the relationship so secret, and see if they have any thoughts, feelings, or ideas that you didn’t expect. It’s possible that they never really thought about it, or assumed you were okay with it, or even that you prefer things this way.

If they do say that this is how things have to be, and aren’t willing to talk about whether, where, and when it would be safe to come out as polyamorous and ask their friends, family, or coworkers to accept you as their coequal partner, you have to decide whether staying in an arrangement that “doesn’t feel good” and makes you feel like a “dirty secret” is worth it to you. But that is a bridge you definitely don’t need to cross until you know it exists!

Is it okay to feel differently about all my partners?

I'm in a 4 way relationship (two straight relationships that became one). I have a relationship with all 3 other people, but I feel like I have more feelings for my 'original' boyfriend. Is that right? Should my feelings for everyone be equal? Is it okay for me to work on certain relationships more than others? Sorry if this seems obvious or something, this is one of my first poly relationships.

It is very normal to feel differently about different people! Let each relationship be what it wants to be, and remember that you probably felt less strongly about your boyfriend when you had recently gotten together. Don’t try and “force it” or make your feelings be “equal,” that never works.

Be aware of ways that you might be being unfair to your other partners, though. Don’t flake on plans you make because you’d rather be with someone else, be careful of “taking sides” and other areas where you might be disregarding or ignoring someone else’s feelings. Don’t offer or promise more than you’re able and willing to give, and let things be what they are.

My partner is the one with the problem, but isn't the one asking for advice

I'm in a V with a man and his wife, and while my metamour (the wife) has gotten through many of her issues surrounding abandonment and jealousy and really welcomed me into their relationship, my partner has started feeling jealous about her seeing another man. He wants logically for them to be together and explore their feelings like he and I have, but he's struggling with feeling jealous when he sees them together. Do you have any advice for him on how to manage that?

It doesn’t matter what advice I’d have for him, because he’s not asking me for advice. You can’t manage his feelings for him, and you can’t seek advice for him. I don’t give unsolicited advice, and I don’t advise you to try and act as a go-between to try and give it to him.

It’s not a healthy relationship dynamic that you are doing this work on his behalf. Please do some thinking about the expectations in your relationship and reconsider how much you are doing to manage and mitigate his feelings. If you’ve taken it upon yourself without signals from him that he wants you to, then drop it. If he’s asked you, implicitly or explicitly, to do this work, start refusing.

My long distance boyfriend's wife won't let us meet in person, and I'm unhappy in this arrangement

I love my boyfriend to the ends of the earth and the idea of breaking up absolutely shatters my heart, but I genuinely don't know how long I can keep this up. My boyfriend, Harbell, lives 2000 miles away with his wife, Bonavra. Her boyfriend also lives out of state. Me and Harbell have been together over a year and never met in person because Bonavra isn't comfortable with it. We both knew we were poly when we got together so it wasn't a big deal when I started looking for physical affection with a closer partner. I realized very quickly that Harbell took care of my emotional needs completely in a way that made me feel like I didn't need/want another partner and stopped pursuing them. Now with no physical affection I'm getting very impatient with Bonavra, and it makes me feel bad because I do want to respect her boundaries but this is starting to feel more draining than freeing. I really really do not want to end things with Harbell.

You say that you do not want to end things with Harbell, but then explain that the relationship feels “more draining than freeing” and that you “don’t know how long [you] can keep this up.” That doesn’t sound like a relationship worth holding onto. It isn’t making you happy. What you don’t want to lose is something you don’t actually have - a healthy, happy, fulfilling relationship with Harbell. You don’t want to lose the possibility of it, but it’s not smart to stay in a bad situation out of hope that it might get better someday.

You’ve never met him in person. You don’t like the terms of the relationship. He isn’t willing to take risks or do work in his marriage to move toward the possibility of seeing you in person. I think you ought to cut your losses and start pursuing relationships with people who can actually be present for you in all the ways you want them to be. Your heart will not, in fact, be shattered if you end things with Harbell. You will feel hurt and upset, but your heart will continue to pump blood and you will live. I know you really don’t want to end things, but sometimes, we have to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes, things are hard and unfair and miserable. You can’t just refuse to endure unhappiness. That’s not an option.

You are already in an unhappy situation - the difference is that this one is just going to be unpleasant indefinitely. If you break up, things will hurt, but you’ll start the clock on the healing process. You’ll be giving yourself a head start on feeling better. If you stay in this relationship, you’ll just keep feeling like this until you eventually have to end things, and then you’ll have to make it through the sadness of a breakup anyway, but also after the sadness of an unfulfilling relationship. But if you’re really not ready to end things, consider moving at least some of your eggs into a different basket. Start seeing other people and really see for yourself whether anyone else is capable of being fun and affectionate and present in a way that makes you happy. Take Harbell off that pedestal and open yourself up to letting someone else be there for you emotionally as well as physically.

Let Harbell know that you’re feeling this way and ask if he’s able or willing to stand up to his wife and prioritize your relationship a bit more. Someone laying down a “boundary” does not automatically obligate everyone else to completely obey. This may be worth risking an uncomfortable conversation or a difficult argument or a point of contention between Harbell and Bonavra. But ultimately, if this is just how things are going to be indefinitely, I don’t think this is a relationship worth staying in much longer.

My partner and I want to have a threesome, and I'm both super excited and super nervous about the idea

So I am in a very loving and honest relationship with my amazing partner. Before we were together he joked about wanting to see me with be with another woman. At first in the start I was EXTREMELY insecure and the idea of it - never. Also trust issues due to shit past. But recently say last 3 months I’ve been thinking about inviting another woman to the bedroom - which I feel maybe at first I’ll be jealous due to my past but I’ll eventually end up loving it. He’s stated clearly it’s more for me - seeing my enjoyment and watching me devour someone else and get a little kinky…fair enough.

But I’m saying all that before either of us have even had a threesome. I’m now thinking about how much I’d love to have a girlfriend because I only see my partner on weekends due to him working away. The idea of a girlfriend is just more and more in my head. What should I do? How should I go about things disregarding my past because I really 99% reckon when push comes to shove I’ll be fine just the idea may freak me out. Also, thinking of a girlfriend more and more…is this normal? I don’t have ANYONE to ask. I’ve searched the net for something like this. Please help...

I think the first step is that both of you need to be a lot more honest with yourselves and each other. Your partner wants to have a threesome, and he wants the sexual enjoyment of seeing you with another woman. He needs to take ownership of the fact that this request is coming from him, not insist that it’s “more for you,” since you clearly aren’t totally comfortable with the idea.

You also need to disambiguate between having a threesome and having a girlfriend. Is this more of a sexual desire that you and your partner are exploring together? That has nothing to do with the fact that your partner isn’t around much and so you’d like to perhaps have a more available partner. What, specifically, are you wanting right now? Be clear with yourself. What is exciting? What is scary?

It is pretty understandable that you’d be thinking about this a lot, now that it’s come up. You’re working out whether you’d enjoy dating or having sex with a woman, and that’s naturally going to lead to daydreaming about the best case scenario, and thinking about your own hopes and desires. And it’s a good sign that the more you think about it, the more it feels like something you’d want.

But you need to remember that any woman you’d date or have sex with is a complete person, with thoughts and feelings and needs and desires. It is not fair to someone to force yourself to have sex with someone if you’re not comfortable with it, just expecting that you’ll get over it once things happen. Would you want to have sex with someone who felt that way about you? It’s also not fair to someone to date them just because your current partner isn’t around enough. What would you want out of the relationship besides “attention when my boyfriend isn’t around”? What do you have to offer her as a girlfriend?

My recommendation is to keep sitting with these thoughts and desires and don’t take any concrete steps toward a threesome just yet. With your partner, talk more about this - what you’d want, what you wouldn’t want, what your desires are, what your concerns are. Incorporate this fantasy into your current sex life, and consider reading erotica or watching porn together to talk about what you do and don’t enjoy.

Do self-work around your difficult past, and don’t just let it dictate your current reality. Jealousy and insecurity and fears shouldn’t be ignored or repressed, but they also don’t need to be acted on. Think about what you can do to prevent this from being a self-fulfilling prophecy and how you can manage those feelings with other strategies besides “force myself into a situation that doesn’t feel good but which I hope will feel good once I get started.”

Keep reading and learning about polyamory - you can start with my FAQ page for couples who want to “invite another woman to the bedroom,” as you put it. If you’re having trouble finding people to talk to about this, check the “Forums & Communities” section of my FAQ page here.

My boyfriend does some things that make me uncomfortable, like dating much younger women and doing drugs with them

I'm a 21yo girl and I started dating a 27yo guy a few months ago. At first he seemed a little weirded out by our age gap, but we had so much in common and meshed so well that we decided it didn't matter. Fast forward two or three months, and he's dating an 18yo girl! What? I'm weirded out by it. I'm still unsure if polyamory is right for me. I like being in an open relationship, but I think I want a primary partner and the freedom to have hook ups & casual flings as opposed to multiple serious relationships. So that's definitely a part of it.
Is it any of my business who he's dating? I'm curious about polyamory (like maybe I'll meet another guy I want to date and decide I do want to have multiple relationships after all). But ugh every time I think about him with such a young girl I feel uncomfortable. He's also big into party drugs and it makes me uncomfortable thinking about a 27yo giving an 18yo drugs. But at the same time, I don't know the girl and maybe I'm judging him too much. I just don't know how to navigate this.

It is entirely reasonable to be uncomfortable about the fact that a 27 year old man is in a sexual-romantic relationship with an 18 year old woman who he is doing drugs with. Saying that he’s “weirded out” by the age gap but then deciding it doesn’t matter is a very common tactic that older people use to get a younger person’s guard down, so don’t give him too much credit for that.

If you’re already unsure about whether the relationship is right for you, and you’re uncomfortable with your partner’s behavior, and you’ve only been together a handful of months, it’s probably best to gracefully move on from the relationship.