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.

I’m poly and gray asexual, but I’m in a monogamous relationship. The only person I can see myself having sex with is my boyfriend. Anyone else I don’t want that. If we agreed to bring someone in, could it only be for romantic purposes and not sexual?

You’re asking the wrong person here - I can’t be the one who gives the go-ahead for the relationship arrangement you want. That’s up to your boyfriend and anyone else you date.

Think through, really clearly, what you want and what you mean by “bring someone in” and “only for romantic purposes.” First off, be careful with language that accidentally frames things in a possessive or objectifying way - people are not toys you “bring in” to your relationship; you have a relationship with people, it’s two-sided and dynamic. And people are not “for…purposes” - polyamory is not permission to see or treat other people like need-meeting machines.

My advice for you is to sit down and really, clearly, honestly, clarify what you want.

Does that mean you want to date other people, but not have sex with them? That seems entirely possible, especially if you find another ace or gray-ace person.

Does that mean you want to add a third to your relationship and date someone as a couple? In that case, would this person have the option of sex with your boyfriend? Would you expect it to be a closed relationship between the two of you, or would you be okay with this third person having other romantic and/or sexual partners?

Keep in mind that the proposition “I want you to date me and my boyfriend, but not have sex with either of us, even though we’re having sex with each other” is a hard sell, and if you add, “and also, we don’t want you to date or have sex with anyone else,” it’s even worse. You may need to decide what you’re willing to compromise or sacrifice to get most of what you want, if all of what you want means making setting unreasonable terms.

You also need to work out a definition of what a “romantic” relationship means to you, as distinguished from a sexual one. How much physical affection does that include? How does it differ from a close friendship? What kind of commitment does it include? What labels would you prefer to use for each other?

We live in a vast world, one where just about anything is possible, and people have all sorts of different needs and desires when it comes to sex, romance, monogamy, and relationships. It’s entirely possible that you can find what you’re looking for. You just need to know what it is that you’re looking for, and have a relational arrangement that is healthy for everyone, including this hypothetical third person.

How can I figure out if I’m poly? I’ve been confused about this for a while now. Also, if I am poly does that mean that I’m not “actually asexual”

Here’s my FAQ page about this! Don’t worry too much about “figuring it out” - there’s no test or scan that can go “beep boop, polyamory nodule located, you are polyamorous.” Spend some time daydreaming about best and worst case scenarios, think about what draws you to relationships in media, read about polyamory, and in the meantime, live your best life.

You can be asexual and polyamorous; polyamory is the ability to have multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships. You can be interested in a dating or romantic relationship, but not a sexual one. 

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!

I have a boyfriend and am not in any way aromantic, but I have these feelings for another person that are very qpp-ish. is it right to use that term if im not aro?

I’m not the language police; it’s not up to me (or any one person) to say who does and doesn’t get to use a term. I’m also not aromantic or asexual, so I wouldn’t even be part of the community that may have claim to that term. If you know any ace or aro people, you could ask them how they feel!

If you’re uncomfortable with the term qpp, or worry that others might be uncomfortable with you using it, it’s totally okay to find another way to express how you feel about this person. I personally wish that we as a culture could open up the concept of friendship to allow for the kind of intimacy and commitment we typically think is reserved for sexual-romantic partnerships. (Because of this, I have my own feelings about the term qpp, but that’s not what you asked about).

Ultimately, it’s not about what collection of syllables you use, but whether you are able to frame, understand, and engage in the relationship with depth and authenticity, in whatever way is healthy and fulfilling for you and this person. 

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!

can I still be poly if I want to have a couple of intimate (kissing etc but no sex because I’m asexual) friend-/relationships without them being a real relationship with commitment and stuff?

Sure, you can still identify as poly. You’re the final arbiter of your own identity. 

It’s important to remember that identity terminology isn’t a secret password into some exclusive club, nor is it some black-or-white deterministic label. 

It’s more important that you have healthy, fulfilling relationships than that you find all the right collections of syllables to describe how you prefer to have relationships. The point of identity terms is to help you better communicate to yourself and your partners how to cultivate healthy, fulfilling relationships. So words are only “accurate” inasmuch as they are useful to you when building a healthy, meaningful life and community. 

Go forth and identify!

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’ve always loved my close friends deeply, but rarely desire sex. I know there are polyamorous asexuals, but could I call myself “polyromantic” and still have myself be understood, if that’s the term I prefer to use?

You can identify in whatever way makes the most sense to you! When it comes to making sure other people understand, there’s no linguistic silver bullet - you may need to explain and clarify what you mean, and people may still have misconceptions or questions. That’s part of the territory sometimes. Once you’ve had the conversation a few times, you get pretty good at anticipating questions, explaining things in broad strokes, and knowing when to avoid the topic if you don’t have the energy to give someone an education. 

Remember that in the online world of tumblr and forums and sexuality blogs, there are hundreds of little distinctions drawn between the many identifiers people have developed - you’ll find people identifying as “gray asexual,” “aromantic,” “polyromantic,” “polyamorous asexual,” etc. and you’ll find other people arguing over what those words really mean, and who gets to use them, and drawing even finer distinctions. But offline, the vast majority of the population hasn’t been exposed to this discourse, so it’s less a matter of finding the exact right vocabulary to describe yourself, and more about learning who you are, living into your true self, and knowing your boundaries when it comes to having the “coming out” conversation with various people.