I’m a young lesbian woman and I’ve started seeing a woman who is in a longterm 7 relationship with her boyfriend. They live together and opened up their relationship a few years ago when she realized she’s bisexual. They have a lot of problems in their relationship, which she has told me about from the beginning. She has said that I am fulfilling a lot of the epic fulfillment holes that she has with him. I’m concerned about starting something with someone who has a lot of problems in their relationship. I feel like she is looking towards polyamory as a solution to the problems in her relationship. I feel like this could be something significant with her, but am not sure if I should head into this. She also has really limited time, much more so than me, because of life and this other relationship. Only a few hours a week doesn’t feel enough to continue the intimacy we’ve been experiencing, much less deepen it. Just looking for some honest advice on things I should be thinking about and the things she and I should maybe be talking about.

If I were you, I would be thinking about:

-How entangled you want to get with a relationship that you know already has a lot of problems. It’s fine if you see yourself as relatively drama-proof and able to keep someone in your orbit without getting dragged into their drama. But if you’re nervous about how her issues with her boyfriend will affect you, think clearly about what your dealbreakers are and how you’ll communicate your limits to her. 

-How disappointed you’ll be if things don’t become “significant” with her. It sounds like she doesn’t have the kind of time you want a partner to invest, and it sounds like she may have some drama and existing issues holding her back from a deep connection with you. Would you be okay with seeing her as a low-key fling, or would you feel resentful and let down if you don’t get everything you want in a relationship from her? If you know that you would be unhappy dating her on less significant terms, you need to let her know up front and be prepared to walk away if she can’t give you want you need.

-How okay you are with being used to “fill epic fulfillment holes” in her relationship. What if her boyfriend wants her to stop seeing other people so they can re-try monogamy? What if she treats you more like a way to get her needs met and less like an equal partner? It is totally okay to get into an arrangement like that if you go in clear-eyed and realistically honest with yourself about what your expectations are, and if you trust future-you enough to walk out of a bad situation if you encounter a dealbreaker.

Basically: trust future-you to look after you, and commit to present-you to be firm and responsible. Know going forward what you will and won’t tolerate, and commit to leaving if you are faced with one. Know what you hope to get out of this relationship, and if you don’t get it, leave. As soon as things stop working for you, leave. Don’t let affection, great sex, drama, or anything else keep you stuck in a situation you are done being in. Be as clear with her about what your expectations and dealbreakers are, and give her space to be honest with you about hers as well.