Is it normal for me to be dating two people who aren't dating each other?

Is it a "normal poly thing" for me as a female to have a gf and a bf but the two of them don't have a relationship? What are some tips to making this work and comfortable for everyone?

Yes, that is called “V-shaped” polyamory and is one of the more common polyamorous arrangements. It’s actually pretty rare for there to be three or more people where all parties are dating. Even though media depictions, news stories, fanfiction, etc. tend to focus on triads or polycules where everyone is in a relationship with everyone, that’s not as common.

Tips for making it work are going to be the same as in all other healthy polyamorous relationships. Open, honest communication. Everyone taking responsibility for identifying and articulating their own needs and feelings. Since this is a very common polyamorous relationship configuration, most of the advice you’ll find in my FAQ resources will be helpful.

Also, the idea of a “normal poly thing” is useless. Even if you three were the only people in the world doing this, that wouldn’t really matter. And plenty of things that are “normal” or common in polyamorous relationships are not healthy and happy. Normalcy is not a measure of anything meaningful. You don’t need to find out if something is “normal” before trying it out. If it’s healthy and happy for you, it’s fine.

Your girlfriend and boyfriend are what’s called “metamours,” linked not by their own relationship but because they’re dating the same person. It’s wise not to complain to one of your partners about the other one, or involve them in relationship issues. If you want to introduce them, keep things low-key and low-pressure. Let their relationship be what it’s going to be, don’t try to push for more intimacy than is naturally present. I wrote about introducing metamours to each other here.

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.

How do I support my friend who just came out to me as polyamorous?

Hi! My friend has just told me that she is poly and I was wondering if you had any advice on how to support her? Ive told her I love her and support her 100%, but I was wondering if there is more I can do to help her (she's just realised it) thank you ❤

Best thing you can do is to ask her! Sometimes, people worry that when they come out, they’ll be treated differently, and often even attempts to be supportive can feel like “different treatment” - like suddenly buying someone a bunch of pride flag stuff and sending them links to articles about LGBTQ stories, which could make them fear that you see them differently and only through this new lens. But for other people, that would feel really affirming, and they’d really appreciate a friend making an effort to bring it up, learn about it, and actively support it!

You can also educate yourself about polyamory so she doesn’t have to do 101-level education for you (answering the same questions over and over gets old). That might also equip you to head off some of questions or ignorance from other people in your social circle, but of course, make sure she’s OK with this. Again, some people would love it if the education groundwork was done by someone else; other people would be really disturbed that someone else was discussing their identity and answering questions on their behalf.

Never out someone without their permission - ask her how she wants you to discuss this with people who ask, and honor any of her concerns about how this might impact her family or professional community.

Be open and curious, listen to her, talk things through with her, be a good sounding board - but hold your own boundaries and don’t feel like you need to let every conversation center around her new identity work, or that you need to have all the answers for her. Sometimes, new realizations like this can be pretty all-consuming, so be patient if she wants to talk about it often, but be aware of your own needs and head off frustration or resentment before it boils over.

Just keep being a good friend - a good listener, an honest communicator, a collaborator in fun, and you’ll be fine!

How do I deal with liking someone, but knowing a relationship is impossible because of when we met?

Dealing with impractical relationships: I love this guy who broke things off with me because it just wasn't practical. He's a father and hasn't even started his divorce yet. I'm having trouble accepting that even if there's chemistry and I'm sure he wants to also be with me - it's just impossible to have a relationship. I want to ask him how he feels, but I don't think that he'll give me an honest answer. How in the world do I move on?

A tough thing about the world is that sometimes, things don’t work out for annoying reasons. It’s always been a dream of mine to get a pet rodent as a baby and hand raise it, rather than getting a skittish adult from a pet store. But when my friend’s hamster had surprise babies that needed homes, I couldn’t take one in for health reasons. If the hamster had given birth six months earlier or a year later, I might have gotten my fuzz buddy, but the world doesn’t work on my timelines. When I was living in Ireland, I was offered an amazing job working at a theatre company in Dublin - but I was still a student and it would have been logistically impossible to rearrange my life, postpone my graduation, get a work visa, etc. I knew the offer would not be around a year later when I graduated, and it sucked.

So it’s not just relationships where this happens. We’ve all missed out on the gorgeous apartment because our roommate’s lease is a month out, made a great new friend who was moving to a new city a few weeks later, or been unable to control the family planning of hamsters. And we’ve all survived - there are other apartments, new friends, local hamster breeders. And those all do work out. It’s tempting to assume that the thing we missed out on was Perfect, while the thing we ended up with is imperfect. But that’s because it’s easy to idealize the thing we don’t have. That apartment may have had a crappy dishwasher; that job may have had an obnoxious coworker; the future hamster will be just as cuddly. But as long as it stays the Might Have Been, we don’t know any of that. We compare our imperfect present to our Idealized Missed-Out-On.

I think we have done ourselves a huge disservice with all our cultural talk of “soulmates” and “one true love” - and polyam people are not immune. We assume that having chemistry with someone means we must be with them, that we are missing out on something necessary to our happiness, that somehow the universe must bend to the will of our romantic-sexual desires, or something has gone terribly wrong. But, the reality is, sometimes things don’t work out. If we can move on from apartments or jobs or potential pets, we can move on from might-have-beens in relationships too. It’s frustrating and disappointing when we want something but we can’t get it, and it’s okay to be upset, but try not to give it such an outsized significance. You’ll meet someone who’s better situated to be with you, and it’ll work out, I promise.

Some FAQ-answerable questions

Hello! I just need help finding the tag for where it explains what poly is. I know a little bit like enough to explain it but I’d like to have a link to go into more detail for those who want/need it. Please and thank you! (also I’m really sorry you have a lot of tags I can’t find the one I need in particular)

I use tags more for SEO and tumblr promotion and less for content finding. You’d be better served checking my FAQ page about general polyamory resources. You can also google “what is polyamory?” and find lots of resources that will meet your needs!

Sorry to bother you, but I sent an ask to your website nearly a month ago about being a polyam teen and it hasn’t been answered. Is this because you have a long queue or did you just not get my question?

Here’s my FAQ page about that.

I might be poly. I find myself reading and seeking out more poly fics than mono ones? how do i know if i'm, poly? What does being poly mean?

Here’s my FAQ page about this!


My partner and I are long distance, and we both live with other partners - how do we make visits work?

I entered my first poly relationship a while ago. I already had a partner who’s living with me in my apartment, and then I got a gf recently. My gf already has a partner living with her too and also we live 4-5 hours of journey by train away from each other. Neither of us has more than one bedroom. It is very hard to meet up but were dying to meet again. Unless one of our partner leave town, which is rare, were in a tough spot. Have you been in a similar situation or know anyone who has? What do?

Boy have I! It’s frustrating and can take some creativity, but it can be done. When I’ve been in a similar situation, my partners and I have gotten really into those websites that let you get hotel rooms cheap as last-minute bookings, or booking AirBnBs in off-season areas. There are plenty of apps and websites that let you find overnight cuddle-up spots without breaking the bank! If you’re outdoorsy, camping and cabin-camping can be a great option to spend a night together as well.

Getting a bit more creative: if you’re at all into things like sex parties or BDSM dungeons, then finding one in a city near you can be a good way to find space for that kind of time together. If you have the funds, places like spas or hot springs are lovely ways to get some private space together (there’s a spot near me that rents private hot tub and sauna rooms by the hour and is well patronized by people in your situation). And see if either of you have any friends who are willing to let us crash in guest bedrooms, or want you to house-sit while they’re gone for a weekend.

It may also be possible for your partner, or her partner, to give y’all the apartment for an evening. Do they have a friend or a partner they could crash with? Could you and your partner send them and a friend or partner to a spa, or hotel, or concert, or nice dinner, while you two hang out in the apartment? Some people feel really icky about being “kicked out” or “sexiled” from their own home, but when it’s framed as a flexible, creative way for everyone to have a good time, I’ve seen it work well!

It takes some extra planning and sometimes some extra cash, but it can be done! Best of luck!

What do polyamorous people find attractive?

What do poly people find attractive? I ask because I regularly get asked out by people who tell me that they are polyamorous. I am curious why so many poly people approach me.

For the most part, polyam people find the same things attractive as mono people. We like people who are interesting, charming, and genuine - and it helps to be good looking. So, congrats on being generally attractive! In specific, polyam people are going to be more likely to be drawn to someone who is a clear communicator, demonstrates healthy self-knowledge, and is skilled at drawing appropriate boundaries.

It’s also much more likely for you to encounter polyam people who want to date you if you run in circles where a lot of us tend to hang out and seek new partners. Any other type of “alternative lifestyle,” from the Pagan/Wiccan community to the kink/BDSM crowd, is going to attract a larger than average slice of polyam folk. We’re also more out and open in big coastal cities or liberal arts colleges, so if you live in one of those, you’re more likely to be approached by polyamorous people.

Honestly, unless you’re accidentally wearing polyam pride colors/symbols, or wandering into polyam meetups, it’s probably just that you’re a generally attractive person who happens to regularly encounter polyam people! If this bothers you, you could try putting it out there in your extended social circles that you’re happily mono and don’t want to be approached for polyam dating, and keep some rehearsed lines in your back pocket: “Sorry, but I don’t date polyamorously - so it won’t work out.” “

I'm in a polyamorous relationship, crushing on someone else, and feeling lots of guilt and confusion

I (M-18) have two bi-monogamous (F-18) partners and wish to add a third (F-18) who is a straight-monogamist. She (F3), is aware of what poly is and knows that I am poly but not that I have romantic feeling for her. No, I'm not just getting more and more partners to boast and use them as trophies but still do have a want for her. For 2 different reasons, I am feeling guilty about it and have resorted to comedy in order to partially cope. The first is simply that I am relatively new to polyamory and up until recently wasn't aware it was possible. The second is an irrational fear that either I am physically stronger or am more experienced with relationships or both that if I make some grand mistake and end up in court that there will no possible way to defend myself due to a couple of other factors. Due to this guilt, I have come to grinding halt and am completely unsure of how to continue. Being new to poly, neither of my partners know what to do. Side note that I should make is that out of the 4 of us only the last girl (F3) does not depression and or anxiety.

If she is monogamous, then I’m not sure how it would work for you to date her while you’re dating two other women. It’s possible to have a crush on someone and not date or pursue them, and it sounds like that’s your situation. You can “have a want” for someone and not “get” them. That’s part of being a person and interacting with other people, who all have their own agency and desires. If it’s causing you pain to be around this person who you “want” but can’t “have,” it’s okay to take a step back from that friendship and spend less time around her.

There is nothing “to do” about this, really - wanting to date someone is not something that absolutely must be acted on and this is not a problem that demands a solution. Sometimes we like people who don’t want to date us, or can’t date us, or are otherwise incompatible! Liking them does not make us bad people and we should not feel bad about it. Try to let that go. Continue cultivating the two relationships you are in, and don’t let this unrequited crush convince you that you are somehow stuck.

This “guilt” that comes from a fear that you will “make a grand mistake” is a serious problem and you need to with with a professional on this. If you genuinely fear that you are a risk for assaulting women who you’re “physically stronger” than, you should stop being around women immediately and start working with a therapist who specializes in helping men with this kind of warped view of women, sex, and power; or with managing impulses; or with healing trauma, or whatever is leading you to worry that this is a behavior you’re going to engage in. If this is more of an intrusive thought based on anxiety, then you need to work with a therapist who specializes in that kind of problem. I know that a lot of men are worried about being falsely accused and “ending up in court,” but know that false accusations are incredibly rare, and the best way to not get accused of assault is to not assault someone.

As far as just feeling “guilt” around being polyamorous in general, the best way to manage that is to learn more about polyamory and develop your own polyamorous identity and philosophy. Instead of “using humor to cope,” don’t joke away or dismiss your feelings. Own them. Acknowledge them. Don’t exaggerate for effect, don’t downplay them, don’t deflect or distract. Be honest about what you’re feeling and give yourself and your partners the change to think about address what’s going on. I’d suggest that the three of you read some blogs or books about polyamory together and discuss them! Be open with each other, talk about your fears, your desires, your best and worse case scenarios.

And since all three of you are dealing with diagnosed mental illnesses, you all need to be working with therapeutic professionals to manage them. A diagnosis isn’t permission to go “well things are just going to be harder and more complicated because there’s this Other Thing in the room.” It’s a tool you’re supposed to use to find ways to feel better. Learning you have strep throat is just the first step in a process toward finding the right treatments to feel better; it’s not the end of the line and a sentence to spend the rest of your life going “welp I have an infection in my throat so certain things are more painful for me.” Mental illness diagnoses are the same way! See my Mental Health Resources page.

I had a bad experience with polyamory, and am not sure if I want to try it again

My ex girlfriend was poly but didn’t communicate to me about her other partners and saw my discomfort and continued anyways. She would purposefully do this to hurt me and broke my heart. It really hurt me and I am scared to date anyone else who is poly. What should I do? I don’t want to be rude to poly people but I feel like my ex girlfriend kind of ruined the idea of me dating someone who identifies as poly. Can I get some advice please?

It’s totally okay for you to decide that, because you got burned by past experiences, you just don’t feel like dating polyamorously is right for you right now. You are not being “rude” to polyamorous people by not wanting to date us! You tried it, it didn’t work out for you, and you can act on the information you gathered. You are not obligated to be open to doing something that feels scary or just isn’t something you want to do! I give you full permission to not want another polyamorous relationship - there are plenty of monogamous people out there and you might be happier with one of them.

It’s also okay if you think you’d like to try polyamorous dating again, but with someone who isn’t going to be hurtful and bad at it. (Lots of people have horrible monogamous partners and are willing to date monogamously again with someone who’s better at it! You can decide that you don’t want your ex to have the “power” to “ruin” an entire area of relational experience for you.) Be gentle with yourself and start small! Hang out with polyamorous people without dating them, and just get a sense for what a healthy polyamorous relationship looks like. Read about healthy, functional polyamory, and think about what your “best case scenario” might look like. Be honest with potential partners about your ‘once bitten, twice shy’ situation and ask them to go slow and be gentle.

You don’t have to rush into being ready for another polyamorous relationship, or even another relationship period! Give yourself time to heal from that very painful relationship. Consider being open to a monogamous or polyamorous relationship, go at your own pace, relax, and let the right person come into your life. Keep trying things and be honest with yourself about what does and doesn’t work for you. If you’re struggling with a lot of difficult feelings after how your ex hurt you, talk to a therapist to get your feet back under you. Best of luck!

My partner sometimes dates much younger people, and I'm not sure how I feel about that

My partner and I generally tend to be attracted to the same types of people, but sometimes when I find out how young someone is I'll start to feel nervous about my partner continuing to spend time with them. I know he doesn't have any sort of predatory or otherwise ill intentions, but we are almost 25, and I'm worried that someone else might get the wrong idea about seeing us hanging around an 18/19 year old who's still in high school. Is this a valid concern, or am I over thinking it?

It is a valid concern. I am of the belief that partners should generally be at “relatable” stages of life. If someone is in high school and living with their parents, and someone else has their own place and a full-time job, there is a power difference and a life experience gap that can very easily become problematic. The younger person may become dependent on the older partner for certain freedoms or may rely on the older partner to define what is normal in relationships. That’s dangerous. And one wonders what the partners talk about or do together when they have such different daily lives and priorities.

There are always going to be exceptions, and I’m sure I’ll hear about plenty of them after publishing this. There is nothing necessarily predatory about a 19 year old in their last few months of high school, with a job and a lot of independence, dating a 24 year old who just left college and is in a similar stage of early adulthood. Since the dating pool for polyamorous people can be smaller than average, it’s common to expand your ‘accepted’ age ranges a bit beyond what your average monogamous person might. But there is no “list of acceptable reasons for people with this kind of age gap to date,” and if it’s making you feel concerned, you should listen to your gut.

In general, if you’re not a high schooler, you should not be dating someone in high school. I share your concerns and agree that you and your partner should be seeking out people whose lives are more aligned with yours in terms of priorities, independence, and daily experience.

My partner has never dated a woman, or dated polyamorously, before - and she says stuff that makes me feel ashamed

I’m (F) in a polyamorous relationship with my husband and recently started dating a girl. She has never dated a woman before let alone one with a husband and she is very obviously struggling with this. Her friends aren’t supportive, she generally thinks all the wrong things about polyamory and what that means for her and I’m struggling to not feel shameful from her comments and feelings about it. She hasn’t broken it off with me but the shame is building inside me and I don’t know what to do!

Generally, if someone is in a relationship with someone who is acting and speaking in a way that makes them feel shame, my advice is to leave the relationship. It’s not your responsibility to try and educate someone out of ignorance if that ignorance is causing you personal pain.

That said, just because it isn’t your responsibility doesn’t mean you can’t decide to do it, if it sounds like something you’re willing to take on. Be open and clear with her: “Bethilda, when you say things like ‘you’ll never truly be all mine,’ it implies that you’re thinking of relationships in a possessive model, and that bothers me. I worry you feel like Dirkfell ‘owns’ me and you’re trying to ‘have’ some of me by taking me away from him. That’s a common way to think about relationships, but it’s now how I see myself and my relationships, and it’s not the best framing for what you and I, or Dirkfell and I, have together."

Then, follow it up by suggesting a re-framing. Don’t argue with how she feels, just explain your perspective and how that might help with some of the assumptions that are leading her to say and think those things. Try not to sound accusatory - “you’re wrong and you shouldn’t say these things because they make me feel bad” - frame it like you’re on her side and want to help her understand things in a clearer way, which could alleviate some of her confusion or fears. Consider pointing her to some resources - don’t just overwhelm her with links, send her one blog post that you think helps, or buy her one copy of a book and offer to read and discuss it with her.

Ultimately, though, being someone’s first same-sex partner, and/or someone’s first polyamorous partner, can be emotionally exhausting, as you help them untangle a lot of internalized shame, fear, confusion, and misunderstandings. Give yourself space, surround yourself with positivity, and be willing to set boundaries: “I know your friends are saying hurtful things to you, but it’s also painful for me when you repeat that judgmental stuff about our relationship back to me. I’m happy to answer your questions and support you, but I can’t just listen to you vent about someone else’s bigotry, because being exposed to bigotry sucks.”

some FAQ-answerable questions

I would really like to learn more about polyamory, do you have any go to resources for me?

Yes.

How will I know if I'm poly if I've never been in a polyam relationship? How will I know if that will ultimately make me happy, to have multiple partners, or if I can be happy being mono?

You can’t tell the future. All you can be self-aware, introspective, informed, and willing to act on the best information you have at the time. More here.

can you just dm me?

No.

Hello I sent an ask in a month ago and I haven’t seen you answer the question on here, of course I understand that you probably don’t/maybe cannot answer every single question you get. Is there any topic of question that you don’t answer or cannot give advice on?

Here are the reasons a question may go unanswered.

sorry if this is a topic that comes up often but i have been recently questioning if i am poly or not and i dont really know alot about it but from the research ive done it seems kind of interesting and it seems like something i would want to try. do you have any tips or helpful resources

Yes.

We have been in an open relationship since we got together but now want to add another woman. We’re not sure how to go about this really, not that we’re really “hunting” as far as just talking about it at this point. It’s been an on and off topic for us for over a year and we are ready to commit to it. Any advice on how newbies should begin their search?

Here ya go!

My partner's metamour broke a boundary our poly network has, and now we've been exposed to an STI

One of my metamours broke a huge boundary in his relationship to my partner. In addition, he potentially exposed our entire poly circle to HSV. Both my metamour and the person who was HSV positive knew about this boundary but claim "we just weren't thinking/too in the moment." My partner forgave him, but I'm still really angry. One of my other partners talked to him and he lied about it. I don't know how to talk to my partner about it. He’s being tested soon and so am I. What do I do???

It’s up to you to decide what are dealbreakers and what are not dealbreakers, but things to be taken very seriously.

It’s perfectly okay to say that, as part of the terms of your relationships, you only have sex with people who use condoms for all penetrative sex, or you only have sex with people who get STI testing every 3 months and require that of their partners, or whatever specific rules and terms you have. If someone violates those terms, it is within your rights to end or change the terms of the relationship.

It feels stickier since the problem behavior came from a partner of your partner, and not your partner - you can’t exactly “break up” with a metamour the way you an break up with a partner. But you can re-frame your boundary as I don’t have sex with anyone who has sex with anyone else who doesn’t follow these boundaries. This could mean leaving your partner if they’re willing to allow other people to violate those boundaries; or putting a hold on sex with your partner even if you don’t end the relationship. This is not a threat or ultimatum - “leave them or I’ll leave you” - it’s just you holding your own boundaries.

If it’s not a dealbreaker, but instead it’s “something serious and worth addressing but not a relationship-ender,” you need to talk with your partner about how this made you feel, what you need going forward, and what your partner considers to be their boundaries and dealbreakers. Mistakes and accidents do happen, and polyamorous dating does come with some level of risk. But you’re not required to just sweep this under the rug and move on - there is some space between “drop the issue” and “end the relationship,” where you can work out a plan and clarify your boundaries.

Best of luck with your upcoming test; scares like this are incredibly stressful, but it’s good that the parties involved owned up to it and were honest enough with you and your partner so that you can get tested. That, at least, is a good sign.

My partner wants to get back with her ex, which I believe puts her at risk of getting hurt

One of my girlfriend's exes popped back up in her life and wants to date her. Exclusively. If that's what she wants I'd never stop her, but he's an addict that rides the sobriety line constantly. This factor has hurt her in the past and I don't want her to go through that pain again. Should I tell her I don't feel comfortable with her dating him because of his past? Or am I being controlling?

If he wants to date her “exclusively,” then she’d have to leave you for him, in which case, none of this would be your circus nor your monkeys. Of course you would “never stop her,” because it is impossible to stop someone from dating someone else, and it’s inappropriate to try.

It is not controlling to give advice, to remind her that he has hurt her in the past, and to encourage her to really think through what she wants and what choices are most likely to get here there. You can tell her that because you care about her, you’d recommend against this; that if you were her, you wouldn’t do it, etc. But people are going to make the decisions that they are going to make, and it’s ultimately not within your control, no matter how right, or persuasive, you are.

If I’ve misread your use of the term “exclusively” and the situation you’re being pitched is one in which she dates both of you, it’s within your rights to say “I’m not comfortable dating someone who is dating this guy,” in which case it would be on you to leave the relationship. You’re not threatening to leave her if she dates him, you’re not forcing her to choose - you’re making the best choice for you based on the situation you find yourself in.

I want to date someone else. My boyfriend seems okay with it, but won't say much.

Me and my boyfriend have been together for about 6 years, we've talked about having another person in our relationship (always with a she pronoun). Today I brought up a guy that wanted to take me on a date, and asked him if he was okay with it, all I got was a "well if you want to". I do want to see this new guy but don't want to upset my partner either. What do you think I should do?

It sounds like it’s just you who would be dating this new guy. That means that the third person is not “in your relationship.” There is a new relationship that would form. This is generally called V-shaped or “Vee” polyamory. It’s important to have the right language for what you’re feeling and doing, because that can help you frame it in an accurate way, approach it without assumptions or misunderstandings, and point you to helpful resources.

Polyamory requires open and honest communication. “Well, if you want to” does not qualify. You need to talk to your boyfriend about his best-case and worst-case scenario, as well as yours. What do you want out of this? How do you feel? How does he feel? What might change between you two? What are dealbreakers for each of you? What questions do both of you have?

If he’s not willing or able to have this kind of conversation, then he’s probably not someone able to be in a healthy polyamorous or open relationship.


Some short, FAQ-answerable questions

my significant other recently came out as Poly to me. I understand them but while looking up what it means to be poly I found the term Polygamy I was wondering what it means because all the dictionary and google searches for its meaning say pretty much the same thing that its a marriage between more than two people. While searching I found the term Polygamist and I was wondering are Polygamy and polygamist the same thing? I don't want to offend them and you’re good at explaining stuff like this.

Polyamory and polygamy are not the same thing. Polyamory is a way of being in relationships that prioritizes consent, intentionality, and communication. Polygamy is the institution of plural marriage, typically associated with oppressive cults. You can read more about that here. The term you should be searching and reading about is “polyamory” - that should lead you into corners of the internet where you won’t be getting confused. Start with the resources here.

How can I find people who would actually like to be in a poly relationship?

Check my FAQ page on this here!

Hi! I was wondering if we could talk pm!

I’m sorry, but no. You can read about my policy here.

I've sent in several questions over the past year and not seen them answered. Is this a case of Tumblr eating them, or are you just really busy? How long is your queue? I love what you do and don't mean to complain. I'm just wondering.

I answer this here!

I think I might be poly but I'm not sure. As of right now I am happy in a mono relationship, but I do not think I would be opposed to being in a poly relationship. I have had crushes on more then one person at a time and even have one now while in a mono relationship I am happy in. What is your take on this, and do you have any advice on how I could figure this out?

Here’s my FAQ page on this!

My boyfriend follows sexy instagram models, and I don't like it

My bf (22 m) & I (20 f) have been together for 8 months and we love each other, but he used follow sexy girls on ig private & public pages... I confronted him, and I told him it makes me uncomfortable! I ask him why he does it and he never says the answer only that he stopped following. He did this 3 times until I told him that I wanted space. We talked and we still together but my trust for him is not the same. Did I overreact?

There's a lot going on here. Your question is "did I overreact," and I'd say that's a tricky question to answer on a lot of levels.

Did you overreact to him following sexy girls on instagram? From my perspective, sort of. It's not like he's doing anything besides looking at them. Just about everyone likes looking at sexy people, and that doesn't usually threaten their current relationships. Unless he's comparing them to you, pressuring you to lose weight and contour your butt or whatever sexy instagram ladies are doing these days, it's not super impactful to you.

That said, that's my perspective. You said that it makes you uncomfortable, and you have the right to feel your feelings. You could try to rationalize yourself out of that discomfort, but you're not obligated to, and you might not be able to. You did the right thing by letting your boyfriend know it made you uncomfortable, and clearly outlining what you wanted him to do.

It sounds like he wasn't willing to do what you asked - which is his right! - but he did the wrong thing by promising to stop, then not stopping. If he isn't willing to stop, he should say "I hear that it makes you uncomfortable, but it's not something I'm willing to quit, so we need to talk about whether that's a dealbreaker for this relationship and move forward based on what we figure out."

Instead, it sounds like he kept following them, but told you he didn't. That's dishonesty, and it's going to feel like a betrayal even if it's about a behavior that, itself, isn't super consequential. I don't think it's "overreacting" to be upset when your partner conceals something from you.

But you've chosen to stay with someone who you know is willing to continue doing something you've asked him not to, and is going to lie about it. You say your trust in him is not the same - why are you still dating him? You don't deserve to be dating someone you can't trust; that's a painful place to be in and not a compromise you have to make. 

Ask yourself: 
1.) Am I willing to stay in a relationship with someone who follows sexy instagram models? If not, leave the relationship. If yes, then you need to figure out what your next steps will be to manage these feelings, and address the discomfort. You have to take active steps; don't just passively keep doing something that makes you uncomfortable.

2.) Am I willing to stay in a relationship with someone who lied to me? If not, leave the relationship. If yes, then you need to figure out how to start repairing that trust. Again, you need to actively commit to this choice, not just passively stay in a relationship with this background radiation.

There's also the issue of you wanting him to tell you "why" he follows them, and him being unable to. Maybe he can't articulate why ("I like looking at pretty ladies" might just be the whole story), or maybe he doesn't feel like talking to you about it would be emotionally safe. Think about how you come to the conversation and what you two can do to make it easier and safer to be honest with each other.

I've looked into polyamory, and I really don't think it's for me

i’ve been talking to a guy who is poly and it’s new to me i’ve done research about healthy poly relationships but i still feel like i would never be satisfied in that sort of arrangement. i know a lot of it stems from my own insecurities, jealousy, and traumas, but even past all of that i don’t think i could be happy knowing my partner has other relationships just as intimate as ours. i want to feel special to him like he’s special to me. am i ignorant for wanting to be monogamous?

Nope, you are not ignorant! If sounds like you've done your research and concluded that non-monogamy just would not be healthy for you. That's totally okay! It's important to know yourself, your needs, your limits, your boundaries, your desires - and then to act on that information! That’s actually the opposite of ignorance.

Not every relationship style suits every person. As long as you recognize that this is just how you are, and not how everyone is - that your perception of non-monogamy making things feel less "special" is just how you feel, and not a fact of the universe - you're fine. Don't let anyone make you feel pressured, ignorant, or less-than because of how you prefer to date.

Be honest with the guy you've been talking to, maybe take distance from that new friendship if you need to, and keep looking for someone who shares your monogamous preferences!

One of my metamours treats me, and our mutual partner, terribly

my partner and i are both poly, in non-hierarchal relationships (i have one other partner they have two, and even though we’re not primaries, we’re the more serious relationship) but i Hate one of their parters. he treats me really poorly when we’re all together and i don’t like how he treats them either, but i don’t know how to bring it up without upsetting them cause even though they’re aware of how poorly he treats them and me, they feel like it’s worth it to stay with him and idk what to do.

You can't control your partner's choices or thoughts - but you can control your own behavior. If someone treats you poorly, you can choose not to be around them. Tell your partner "I don't appreciate how Klavfin treats me and makes me feel, so I'm not going to be around him anymore." That's not you setting an ultimatum, or making a demand. You're not saying "stop seeing Klavfin," or "never invite Klavfin to a hangout" - you're just stating what boundaries you're going to hold. 

Your partner might feel frustrated by this, since it's difficult to accommodate around partners who don't like each other, but that's their response to choose. You're giving them information: that you don't want to be around this person. They can respond to that information however they choose.

People may accuse you of "starting drama," but that's not your problem. You get to decide how you want to be treated and who you want to spend time around. If that means you decline an invitation to a dinner, or make yourself scarce when he's around, that's fine! Don't try to get people to pick sides, or start a whisper campaign to oust this guy from your poly network - those usually backfire.

It's frustrating and painful to see your partner stay with someone who, from your perspective, is an ass. And there's a time and place to point out specific behaviors you have an issue with, and remind your partner that they don't deserve to be treated that way. But beyond that, remember that your partner is going to make their own choices, and all you can do is make the best calls for yourself.

My daughter is in a polyamorous relationship, and I'm being a huge jerk about it

Please help - I don't know who to ask! My daughter (27) just told me she's seeing a married man (the same age), and he's "poly", and she's met his wife, who knows all about it and is okay with it! Clearly this man doesn't respect either of them, and I'm upset that she's settling for being someone's bit on the side - I want her to be someone's special person, their everything. I'm so ashamed of her and embarrassed that she thinks this is okay. I don't understand where I've gone so wrong in parenting her, that she's ended up with no moral compass and not understanding the meaning of marriage. But I love her and don't want to lose contact with her.

I've got no-one to talk to - I don't know anyone who lives like this, and I'm worried my friends would judge me and think I've failed as a mother. Obviously we'll never be able to invite this man to family events, and I hate having to lie to my parents, friends etc. I've looked online, but parents in my position just get shouted down, by people who say 'if your kid's happy, what's the problem?', and accuse them of being terrible people for not understanding this "lifestyle". But you look nice so I'm hoping you can give me some advice without just shouting at me!

I'm baffled as to how you think I'll be able to be "nice" and not "just shout" at you when you speak to me like this. You are being rude, judgmental, and cruel. You use very strong language - that you've "gone wrong" in parenting her, that you're "so ashamed of her," that she has "no moral compass." Do you understand that the person you're saying this to is polyamorous? Do you not care how you sound?

If anyone's parents should be ashamed and embarrassed about their child's upbringing and moral compass, it's yours. How do you think it's okay to say such nasty, hurtful things to someone - to me? To come tell me that my life is shameful, immoral, and a failure - and then ask me to do you a favor and to be nice to you? You went into other polyamorous communities and said this stuff, and you're surprised that people reacted negatively!? If you don't want to be shouted at, don't antagonize people.

It's amazing to me that you think this is about what is "moral" or "okay" when you're the one in this situation violating basic human decency. No one is shouting at you for simply being uncomfortable or confused. What we're responding to is you coming into our spaces and communities just to be hateful. Learn how to say "that's different" or "I don't understand" without saying "that's bad, wrong, shameful, and I shouldn't be expected to respond in any way besides vitriolic judgment."

Your daughter is not hurting anyone. She is in a healthy, happy, consensual relationship. You should be honored that she trusted you enough to share this part of her life with you. Instead, you are punishing her honesty and pretty much guaranteeing that your relationship with your daughter will become strained. If your daughter wrote to me and described this situation, I would advise her to take a huge step back from her relationship with you until you can be less hurtful.

You can disagree with something without being so extreme as to say that it's immoral and shameful. It doesn't sound like you've put any effort into trying to expand your understanding of love and marriage, you're just horrified that your daughter doesn't share yours. I have no idea what kind of "advice" you want from me, since the advice I'd give you - take a deep breath, realize she's not hurting anyone, try to understand - you've flat-out said you consider "shouting" and will refuse to consider.

What do you want from me? A pat on the back for being so "morally upstanding" that you're going to reject your daughter for simply doing something you wouldn't do yourself? Do you want me to tell you it's okay to be hateful and nasty to your daughter and the people she loves? Do you want me to grovel and plead and try to convince you that polyamorous people are not actually immoral subhumans, and do rhetorical acrobatics to prove to you that we're okay? I don't engage in arguments about my own humanity. And you shouldn't demand them.

You need to think long and hard about whether you feel so strongly about this that you're willing to torch your relationship with your daughter to the ground. Because you're the one doing the torching - she hasn't done anything to you, except invite you to understand and share her life. You can choose to respond with judgment, hate, hurt, selfishness, and ignorance. That's your choice. And the consequences of your choice are on you, not her.

If you're willing to try and see things from her perspective, check out the resources on my FAQ page and read about the reality of polyamory (and how it differs from your warped conception of what it means). It's okay to have questions, to admit that this is new for you, difficult to understand, etc. But dial it back on the hate - or be prepared for the people you're being hateful to to reject you and everything you're saying. (What else would you expect us to do?)