My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship for 8 years. We have recently opened to polyamory (I was the one who initiated this) and I’m in a new but stable relationship with a close friend and he has a newer relationship with a girl he really likes. Everything goes okay, except his partner often cancels dates. I try to schedule my dates around him, and he seems sad if I stay at my partners house while he’s home alone. The other night, he went to a strip club and spent a lot of money (though he admitted it was a poor decision) because he was feeling upset. What can I do to help him healthily cope?
You cannot control your boyfriend’s choices! If he is not coping in a healthy way, that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or that it’s your job to make sure he doesn’t act on his feelings in an irresponsible way.
You’re already doing what you can by planning your dates when he has other plans, and if those plans get canceled, there’s nothing you can or must do. If you give him the heads up when you’ll be out of the apartment so he can prepare other distractions, you’ve done your part.
You can point him to resources on healthy polyamory, you can offer to help him set up online dating profiles, you can encourage and support him in other hobbies and friendships, but you cannot manage his feelings or make his choices for him. Ask him what he wants from you to help him, but don’t agree to anything unfair or unreasonable. (Often people think that if a partner expresses a need or a desire or a strong feeling, they’re obligated to do whatever the partner asks - but that’s not true. It should be a dialogue, not a list of demands.)
Make sure your finances are safe from his impulsive, emotion-driven choices, and if he’s running down funds that your shared household needs, talk to him about what limits you can set to protect yourself.