I love this guy, but we're not compatible as partners. Should we date anyway?

I'm in love with someone, however he's polyamorous and I'm very monogamous. To the point where it would hurt knowing he's dating anyone other than me - not only because of how I am but because someone I dated before cheated on me many times because I'm asexual. My brother keeps telling me I can't force myself to date him because it'll hurt me, but we're both unhappy now anyways so... Should I just suck it up and date him so we're both at least mostly happy?

No, you should not start a relationship that requires you to “suck it up.” You already know that dating someone polyamorous would “hurt.” Your brother is right. I know it sucks to not be able to date someone that you really want to date, but sometimes just being “in love” isn’t enough to make a relationship healthy and sustainable.

Take some space from this person, and start actively seeking out relationships that are going to meet your needs better. Spend time online and in-person in spaces that are tailored to asexual, monogamous people. Set up a dating profile that specifically mentions what you are and are not looking for. You’ll find someone who makes you happy to be with, not just unhappy to not be with, and who doesn’t require relationship terms that will cause you pain.

So, I’m aromantic and poly but I don’t know if I can be poly if I can’t be attracted to anyone romantically, does that still make me poly if I like them platonically?

If identifying as polyamorous helps you build happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships, great! If not, don’t worry about it! I have an FAQ page about this here.

Be open and clear with people about what you can and can’t offer and what you are and are not looking for. Identifying openly as polyamorous may lead people to believe that you could be interested in a romantic relationship - so just practice openness and honesty and remember that assumptions cause a lot of pain and risk on both sides.

You may have a hard time explaining your identity to people who don’t understand how “person with multiple platonic relationships” differs from most other people they know. It’s often nice to have a quick, practiced explanation of what you’re all about and what certain terms and practices mean to you. It is also okay not to share certain aspects of your identity with people you don’t trust to understand or respond in a positive way, or just if you’re not in the mood for that kind of conversation.

So I’m a sex repulsed ace and a grey aro, and part of my aro side is that I don’t have the emotional energy to date more than one person. But I wouldn’t mind if my partner dated more than one person. So, if a poly relationship involving me would be one way (as in, only my partner dates more than one person but I don’t), am I poly or mono who is okay with a poly partner?

Which label works best for you, helps you understand and communicate your identity, feels right to you, and gives you the tools to build healthy and fulfilling relationships? That one. 

You can read more on my FAQ page about this issue!

Hi! I am a 16 year old girl ace/bi and discovered a few months ago I’m polyamorous. While I have not dated anyone still I think it would be nice to go out with two people. However,I felt a little insecure because in this society an asexual is rare and more if it is a polyamorous asexual, so when I imagine a future with two beautiful people the thought that no one could accept me for being asexual and polyamorous invades me, could you give me some words of encouragement and advice?

When you’re 16, you’re mostly surrounded by other teenagers. Teenagers are not a demographic famous for their sensitivity to the differences of others, or for making each other feel accepted. Don’t base your assumptions about how society works on what you see in your peers!

There are as many ways to express and experience sexuality and relationships as there are people. You have grown up in a world saturated by stories of straight, sexually-inclined romances - but that’s the media’s problem, not yours. Again, don’t base your assumptions about “society” based on what you’ve seen so far. As you get older, you’ll find that the real world includes all sorts of people looking for all sorts of partners, and you can find a place to be accepted and understood no matter what.

Here are some resources about polyamory and asexuality:

In the long run, you are going to be okay. You are going to find your people, people who love and accept you, and you are going to grow and live and love in all the ways that are right for you. Many people at 16 worry about finding love and acceptance, and that’s a normal fear especially for a young person discovering their sexuality. Remember that there are plenty of people out there like you, building communities and relationships, and you can always find them online if they are not available to you in real life yet. Good luck!

If I’m ace and sex repulsed and would never have sex with my romantic partner, am I obligated to let them date and/or sleep with other people?

You’re never obligated to do anything for a partner…but then, no one is obligated to do anything for you.

If your terms are “dating me means being monogamous, which also means no sex ever,” there are lots of people who would not be okay with those terms. So don’t date those people!

If anyone makes you feel obligated to do something in a relationship that you’re not comfortable with, that’s not a healthy relationship. But the flip side is true too: if you feel that your partner is obligated to forgo sex entirely to date you, and your partner is not comfortable with that, it’s not going to work out.

It seems your best bet is to find another person who is OK with a monogamous romantic relationship that doesn’t involve sex. Or, you could try doing the self-work necessary to “let” your partner see other people without it feeling like an “obligation,” but again, doing that self-work isn’t an obligation either. 

Hello, I’m an asexual and I thought I was aro too but recently Ive felt like I wanted to date a couple, it’s the first time I want to date anyone. Sure I found the girl cute before but I didn’t want to date her. I feel like Iike I want to be part of their relationship. I asked the question to an ace advice blog I follow and they thought I was experimenting romantic attraction, maybe only to couples. Does it sound like polyamory?

I held onto this ask for a while because I was trying to come up with a way to express my thoughts on it without hurting or delegitimizing people’s identities. Here goes:

I think that it’s wonderful that we now have lots of different ways to think about sex, gender, attraction, self-experience, and relationships. I love that people who don’t fit the binaries of male/female, gay/straight, etc. can find their identities and communities more easily today than ever before.

But I think that in some areas, tumblr being one of them, the discourse around identity sometimes laps itself and becomes the same confusing, destructive, what-box-can-you-check kind of thinking that led people to question binaries in the first place.

I get so many asks from people wanting to know if their experience “counts” as polyamory. People want to know if you can be asexual and polyamorous, or whether demisexuality means they can’t be polyamorous. People wonder whether what they’re doing with someone counts as polyamory, or queer-platonic partnership, or what.

The point of naming and claiming our identity is to help us know ourselves and each other better. It’s so we can identify our needs, learn how to be our healthiest selves, and find people who respect us. If a label isn’t working for you, if it’s giving you confusion and questions rather than answers and security, it’s not serving its purpose.

You are you. You are feeling attraction to this couple. That’s your lived reality, and it’s totally valid. You don’t need anyone else to validate it, or explain whether it counts under certain identity terms. You IDed before as asexual and aromantic. That was your truth then. Your truth now can be different - it doesn’t mean you were wrong, or that your identity is invalid.

People grow, we change, we learn about ourselves and each other. It’s less important that you have the right list of words for exactly why and how you date, and more important that you feel good about it and develop happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships in the ways that work for you and your partners. Let yourself be you in this now, in this moment, and then if a way to describe your being arises for you, use that word. It doesn’t matter what other people say.

Don’t forget Poly Advice now has a Patreon! If you liked this post & want to see more, consider becoming a backer!

I’m asexual. My boyfriend isn’t, and was active in the past. He doesn’t want to force me, so he is thinking of getting involved with other people cuz of this and several other reasons. However I’m not comfortable with this idea. Am I being selfish?

It’s not for me to say whether you’re being selfish or not, but I do question the sexual logic of this relationship. For many people, being able to express themselves sexually is a key part of living a full life, and it sounds like your boyfriend is one of those people. You have the right to ask him to simply give up a part of himself entirely, but he has the right to refuse.

It appears that your relationship has hit an impasse. Your boyfriend needs a sexual outlet, and you can’t provide that - so the options are for you two to split and find romantic partners that match your sexual needs; or for him to get his sexual needs met elsewhere and remain romantically involved with you. I don’t think the third option, where he stays with you and stays celibate for your comfort, is sustainable. 

I’m in the gray area of the aro/ace spectrum and I don’t think I could uphold a normative romantic relationship. I wouldn’t want to have sex with anyone I’m in a primary partnership with either, even though I feel sexual desire and have a libido - so what I’d want is an open QP relationship in which I’d have nonromantic sex and sensual intimacy with friends who aren’t my primary. Am I polyamorous?

That sounds like a very specific situation you have there - but it’s your call, and your call only, as to whether to identify as polyamorous. Labels are useful in as much as they help you find like-minded people, and help you find the tools to be healthy and honest in your relationships. So find the ones that work best for you, not the ones other people approve of. Good luck!

Is it okay to identify as polyamorous even if I’m arospec-ace, have gf and a qpp? I kinda feel like I don’t quite ‘qualify’ if that makes sense.

I’m not the identity police! I don’t bestow or rescind anyone’s rights to idenfity a certain way. And here’s the secret: nobody else is, either.

As long as you’re not hurting other people or making a community look bad - like abusing someone and calling it kink, or cheating on someone and calling it polyamory - what you decide you are is nobody else’s business. The last thing an already marginalized community needs is fracturing and infighting.

Be careful of people who make you feel like you have to “qualify” for an identity. Be wary of those who police the boundaries of communities by shaming others and narrowing definitions to fit their needs. There’s a lot of that on tumblr, and plenty of it in the LGBTQIA+ community, so please look out for your own sense of self and seek out communities that build up relationships rather than critiquing and categorizing them.

Remember that hearing someone else say something, no matter how loudly or strongly or absolutely, doesn’t mean you need to absorb it into your worldview. You are who you are, and you don’t need my or anyone else’s permission to be that.