My partner doesn't want to use the word "boyfriend" - what's the deal?

How important are labels in a poly relationship? For example my partner and I do traditional relationship things together. But when I casually referred to him as my boyfriend he said he didn’t want any labels.

That question is impossible to answer; there’s no “Polyamory Prescriptions of Importance” that tell you how important various things are to every polyamorous person. If they’re important to the people in the relationship, then they’re important. If not, then they’re not.

You need to talk to your partner about this and figure out what he thinks “boyfriend” means vs. what you think it means. If, to you, “boyfriend” means “someone who sleeps over, texts me in the morning, and comes with me to work events,” and he does those things but won’t call himself your boyfriend, that is obviously going to feel confusing and oddly arbitrary to you. But if your partner thinks “boyfriend” means “someone who is committed to a long-term relationship and hopes to move toward higher levels of life entwinement like cohabitation,” he might be balking at that term.

Ask him: why don’t you want labels? What does “boyfriend” mean to you that “partner” doesn’t? Is it really just about the word, or is there a different concern? And think about what “boyfriend” means to you, so you can better communicate that to him. How important is it to you that your partner is willing to use that word? Why? It’s highly unlikely that this is really about what collection of syllables you two use to refer to each other - it’s what that word signifies to both of you that needs to be brought from the realm of implication and assumption into clarity and communication.

I'm crushing on a couple and I don't know if it's wise to tell them

so i’m kind of in love with my two friends who have been dating each other for over a year. i have basically no emotional intelligence bc of mental stuff so i have almost no way to know how they feel about me, and i can’t really talk to or ask my other friends about it. i don’t know what to do about this and my feelings aren’t subsiding with time; i kind of want to tell them, but there’s a significant chance that it won’t go well and it’ll be weird, especially since i live with one of them

The good thing about knowing this about yourself - that you struggle with EI because of “mental stuff” - is that you can do something about it! Especially since you can’t talk to your friends about this, you should really find a therapist you can work on this with. There are also DIY resources out there - search for “emotional intelligence workbook” or “emotional intelligence DBT.” If you have a diagnostic term for the “mental stuff” you’re dealing with, you can also search for workbooks or other self-help resources with that term.

In general, my advice is usually to tell people how you feel, and let the chips fall where they may. There’s always a chance that things don’t go well and “be weird,” but if you don’t say anything, there’s a 100% certainty that things won’t go the way you want. However, every situation is different. Since you live with one of them, and living-space stress is one of the worst types of stress, you may want to be a bit more cautious. I don’t know what makes you say that there is a “significant change” that it won’t go well - is this couple explicitly monogamous? Have they expressed discomfort with that type of advance?

Only you have the full context to decide whether the risk is worth it. It might be worth it to find a polyamory-friendly therapist to talk things over with, or do some “pros and cons” journaling, or chat with a polyamory-support forum or chatroom, to try and work through all of the details. Best of luck!

I'm dating two guys, and want to make it serious with both of them, but am not sure how to have that conversation

I've been - openly, but they don't know each other - seeing two different guys, for about the same amount of time but not really seriously on either side. I want them to hopefully turn into actual relationships I'm just not sure how to bring about the conversation of "I want to be serious with you, but also him at the same time" and am scared that will send them both running. Any advice?

The great thing, and the terrifying thing, about relationships is that there is no set of magic words you can say to ensure someone else responds well. You should definitely have that conversation, and then if one or both guys goes running, well, that’s just what happened. You can’t prevent or control that. Hiding your feelings/desires from a partner for fear of scaring them off is miserable, and not something I ever recommend.

You’ve got to just come out and say “hey, we’ve been seeing each other for a while now, and I really like you! I’m interested in talking about how we see this relationship moving forward, how committed we feel, and what we both want! And that should include the fact that I’m also having the same feelings about, and conversations with, Orzaggo.” And then you two can talk about how he feels about non-monogamy, and about dating you, and about feelings, and all those super sticky but worthwhile conversational topics!

And if he runs, well, that’s information you have - that he isn’t someone who wants to date you as all of who you are, which is someone capable and desirous of dating multiple people. You would have found that out eventually; delaying this risky conversation doesn’t reduce the risk, it actually just raises the stakes. Best of luck!

One of my triad partners is keeping her feelings from our third partner - and we're all planning to move in together

I’m in a closed MFF triad. My partners raise 2 children together; I have none. Together we have been looking into getting our own place currently we stay with family. Our partner decided well realized she doesn’t want to be in a closed triad, feels trapped and wants to be able to date other men which we both know our boyfriend wouldn’t support. She’s suggested it and he’s turned it down. She’s also decided she doesn’t want to tell him until after we move. He knows none of it she told her best friend and I. Not sure what to do? I don’t want to betray her by telling him but can’t make her. So I have no clue what to do being “in the middle.”

You’re not “in the middle,” because this is immediately affecting you and whether you will have a stable living situation in the future. Moving is incredibly stressful, and having to end leases, find roommates, split belongings, etc. is messy and difficult. You have a right to act to protect yourself from future problems with your housing.

You can let her know that you think this needs to be discussed before the move, for the sake of everyone involved. Tell her that you’re worried about what will happen if this comes up after everyone moves in together and you don’t feel okay making that move knowing that this shoe is set to drop. You can let her know that you’ll need to tell your partner why you’re backing out of the move until this is resolved, and she can choose whether to tell him first herself, or let the chips fall where they may.

This is not about you betraying her; this is about you protecting your future self from horrible housing drama, which is, in my opinion, one of the worst kinds of drama. If this wasn’t directly affecting you, my advice would be different; but since she plans to keep this to herself until after everyone moves in together, you are well within your rights to put the brakes on that move until this gets worked out.

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'm okay with my partner seeing other people, but he's secretive about it, which makes me feel like he's cheating

Do you consider it cheating when your partner hides the fact they have other partners? My partner is poly but he often hides when he's started a new relationship or he hides how serious the relationships are and this has really damaged my trust in him. I'm not sure if it can be considered cheating since he is in fact poly but I don't think it's okay for him to hide these other partners? What is your opinion?

There is no standard "cheating" that you can measure various behaviors against. For some people, this wouldn't feel like cheating - but it feels that way to you, and it's not a dynamic you want in your relationship. That's what matters.

Talk to your partner about this issue. Tell him that he does not need to hide his relationships, and that when he does, it feels sketchy and cheat-y. Let him know that you're okay with things as long as they're out in the open.

Ask him if there's anything you've done or said that makes him feel like he should be doing this. Figure out why he seems to be more comfortable hiding and downplaying his other relationships. Work out a way that's safe and comfortable for both of you to be open and honest.

If he's not willing to do this - if he denies that he's been hiding things from you, or says that's just how he wants to do things, or insists you're overreacting or have no right to be annoyed when you find out he's been lying by omission (or straight up lying) - end the relationship, because he's not someone you can be in a healthy polyamorous relationship with. 

I don't know how to tell my ex that I don't want to get back together

My ex recently got back in touch with me and wants to start over. I still kind of have feelings for this person, but I can't see us being happy together because they're monogamous and I'm polyamorous, and they aren't open to the idea of being in an open relationship. I've tried to be mono for them before and while they were happy, it made me miserable, and I don't want to go through that again. I don't know how to tell my ex it won't work between us. What should I do?

"No" is a complete sentence. Consensus is not required here. You don't need to get them to agree, or see things your way. You don't need to convince your ex that getting back together is a bad idea. You can just decline to get back together. You know that dating them made you miserable, and you don't want to do it again. Some lines you can use:

  • "I don't want to get back together with you."
  • "The reason we broke up still exists for me, and I haven't changed my mind."
  • "I know that you want to try dating again, but I don't feel that way."
  • "I'm not going to try and argue or get you to see things my way - you just need to know that my answer is no." 
  • "Please don't ask me again. If you keep trying to push for another relationship with me, I'll have to take a step back from even a friendship."

If they won't take no for an answer, do what you need to maintain your boundaries. Block them through whatever channel they used to get back in touch. Take emotional and physical distance. You have no obligation to "tell them" in exactly the right way. You don't need their permission to not date them. Stop worrying about how to tell them - just tell them, and then walk away.

Someone used language to describe my polyamorous relationship that I find dehumanizing

My boyfriend is new to polyamory and was explaining things to his sister and she asked if he and my girlfriend were "sharing me." That feel like really gross and dehumanizing phrasing to me; am I overreacting by being unhappy with that phrasing?

It's okay to have feelings about things; and the way other people describe you is something that most people have strong feelings about! You can be unhappy with whatever you want - the word is overreaction, not overfeeling, for a reason. It would be an overreaction if you forbade your boyfriend from ever speaking to his sister again or ordering 100 t-shirts that say NEVER USE THESE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY RELATIONSHIP, PLEASE and only wearing those.

In this case, it's a third party to your relationship - your boyfriend's sister - who used a phrasing you find icky, in a conversation with someone else. Probably best to leave that alone for now - if someone else uses that language when asking you about your relationship, it's totally fine to say "actually, we don't like to describe it like that," and then give your explanation of what polyamory is and is not, for you.

It's totally okay to bring up with your boyfriend that you don't like language that frames you as an object or possession to be shared - not as a thing you're angry about or an issue you have with his sister, just as a heads-up that you're not comfortable with it. Just like I might say "hey, thanks for going grocery shopping, but in the future, I like creamy peanut butter, not chunky."

I found out my partner has a "thing" with a former lover of his, and I'm not sure it's a healthy situation

I'm in a poly relationship with a guy, we talked about his other partners. Fast forward to months later and I'm talking to him about a former lover, encouraging him to talk to her despite my terror/insecurity of his feelings for her. But he's comfortable with his heartache about her. She's married to a monogamous man and happy. I asked questions about them and their history. During this he casually said they occasionally have a Thing via the internet. I wasn't happy about it but didn't berate him, only stated clearly that he should have told me that when we discussed metamours. But I'm bothered. I'm wondering now why he didn't tell me then. Her husband is why they broke up after trying poly. But now I'm wondering if he knows about them having their occasional Thing at all. If not, I'm not okay with that. But I don't know what to do. I'm still not sure what I want to do. If they're cheating I can't condone it. I don't want to leave him. I'm just feeling lost and heartaching.

The main issue here is that your partner is doing something that seems sketchy or not entirely above board here, because A.) he didn’t disclose to you the whole story about this former lover when you first talked about her, and B.) you’re not sure whether this is an open and consensual polyamorous arrangement for all parties involved.

This is something to bring up with your partner: “In order for me to feel like my polyamorous relationships are safe and healthy, it’s important for me to that the extended network that I’m involved in has a shared commitment to openness. This “thing” that you have with your former lover - can we talk about the terms of that? Does her husband know? It also bothers me that I didn’t get the whole story the first time we talked about her. Can we revisit our expectations and commitments around honesty and openness?”

It’s up to you how you react to his response. If he insists on continuing to have a relationship that you don’t want to be party to, even as a metamour, then you have to decide whether that’s a dealbreaker for you.

I think my lover is sleeping with other people and not telling me

I am a 27yo poly woman with both a boyfriend and a BDSM lover. I think my BDSM lover is hooking up with men on the DL and don’t know what to do. We were hanging out and I saw an email over his shoulder that was a response to an MFM craigslist ad and he quickly closed out his email when he noticed I saw it. I do not care if he is hooking up with other men ( I am bisexual myself) but I don’t want to confront him about this and have him blow up in my face. How do I talk to him about this so that I 1.Feel safe in our relationship and 2.Trust in him that he is being open and honest with me as we agreed at the start of our relationship?

You say, clearly and openly, something like:

“Hey, I need to check in with you about something that’s been bothering me. I didn’t mean to snoop, but a few days ago I noticed you replying to an MFM ad and then you seemed to get nervous and hide it from me. Here’s the thing - I don’t care if you’re seeing other people or seeing men or anything like that. But I do care about secrecy. In order to feel safe in this relationship, things need to be out in the open. Partly that’s about trust, and partly that’s about health, safety, and informed consent.

I’m sorry if I did or said anything in the past that made you feel like you had to hide part of your sex life or your relationships from me. I just want to put it all out there that, as far as I’m concerned, openness is a non-negotiable part of this relationship - and I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear before. Can we talk about what else you’ve been up to, and come up with a way to keep it from being a secret or something that’s hidden?”

If he gets defensive or accusatory; if he refuses to talk about this; if he won’t agree to a relationship with the terms of openness and honesty, then end the relationship - it’s not what you need, and his insistence on secrets like that is a dealbreaker.

I'm sort-of dating a couple and don't know where I stand

I recently became friends with benefits to a friend who has an ace partner that rarely experiences/wants that. Both of them agreed to it, but the ace partner has been more into that sort of thing lately and I’m no longer sure whether I fit in the dynamic. Recently I’ve now kissed both of them, and the ace one has made some comments about threesomes I’m unsure if are serious. As the third party I’m not sure if I should press a discussion about the dynamic shifts?

Yes, you as a third person absolutely have the right to “press a discussion.” 

Hey, quick aside to everyone but the letter-writer: We all, collectively, as a polyamorous community, need to do a much better job to squash this weird cultural notion that’s out there about “thirds” having less agency, less security, and less of a right to assert their needs. Let’s just end that. Okay? 

Back to you, letter-writer: of course you can bring this up. They already kissed you. You have every right to talk about that. To know where you stand. To get some clarity on the shifting-but-unspoken terms of the relationship. 

Say something like “Hey, can we talk about something? We’ve kissed a few times, and I just want to know where we stand on that and how you’re feeling about things.” or “Can I ask you about something? You’ve made some comments about threesomes, but I’m not sure if you’re serious. Here’s how I’d feel about a threesome - what page are you on?”

If they act like you are somehow out of line asking for clarity on this, to know what you can expect and what is expected of you - then they’re not healthy to be in this arrangement with. But give them the chance, first, to have this discussion in an open and intentional way!

Now again to everyone, though I’m mostly speaking to my past self here: if you feel, in a relationship situation, like you have to just sort of go along with your partner; if you feel like something fragile will get unbalanced if you set any boundary, ask for something, make the unspoken spoken - that’s such an insecure place to be, and it’s awful, and don’t let yourself linger there. There’s a big difference between someone who is mature and independent and someone who just never ever causes a fuss. Be more willing ask for things! Any relationship that’s threatened by you articulating your needs and asking for clarity from them is not worth preserving with all the emotional labor you’re doing on their behalf.

Also,never ever keep someone in this emotional zone. Especially couples who date thirds, and men who date women, but also, everyone: take heed.  

I’m in an open relationship and I have two partners- my boyfriend also has a girlfriend as well as me, and while I’m okay with his girlfriend I just don’t particularly like her. Like as a person. I can stand being around her for small amounts of time, but I don’t think I could ever consider her a friend. I worry that, if my boyfriend ever asked for me to hang out with her, that when I say no he’ll get upset. I just want him to understand that, and I don’t want to offend him.

A healthy relationship includes the freedom to be honest, even about unpleasant or inconvenient truths. Both of my partners have friends that I don’t particularly like, and we make it work. The conversation usually goes like this:

“I don’t really like your friend Blevin.”

“That’s fair. I won’t invite him to things you host and won’t be annoyed if you make yourself scarce when he’s around.”

The trick is not to be accusatory about the friend or metamour - don’t say or imply that they’re a bad person, or that your partner is blind to some critical flaw, or wrong for liking them. Just let it stand as a personal preference of yours. I hate jazz and metal music (I know, musically my palate is Unrefined), so when my partner goes to jazz or metal concerts, he finds someone else to go with. Not everything, or everyone, must be mutually enjoyed.

So if your boyfriend suggests that you become one-on-one friends with his girlfriend, it’s okay to politely decline. “I’m happy to be nice to Stephanda when you have her around, but she’s not someone I’m interested in hanging out with more.”

If your boyfriend wants to know why, try to take a shrugging but gentle tone. “She and I just don’t click. I know she makes you happy, and I love that you two have a good relationship, but I’d rather just let her stay on the edges of my life as your partner.”

If he can’t handle this honesty, if he gets angry or defensive or demands that you give her another chance, that reaction is his problem and inappropriate on his part, and you’ll need to think about whether you can be in a polyamorous arrangement with someone whose terms of the relationship include “you are not allowed to dislike my other partners ever” - but I wouldn’t worry about this unless it actually happens. Give him a chance to be healthy and accepting of this imperfect and inconvenient, but not really problematic, situation.

What is the best way for me to communicate to a partner that it’s not okay for them to interact with social media, etc when we’re being intimate and/or having sex?

In the vast majority of situations, the best way to communicate something to a partner is clearly, honestly, and in as non-accusatory a way as possible. Bring it up when you two are together but not in the middle of an intimate moment - just as a check-in and a request.

“Hey, the last few times we were snuggling in bed, you were on your phone - and that actually really bothers me. Could you please put the phone/computer/social media way while we’re having sexy or intimate time together?”

If they say “sure, I didn’t realize that was an issue, sorry!” then, great! If they do it again, a gentle reminder: “Can we agree no phones right now?”

This is a perfectly reasonable request for you to make - it doesn’t mean your partner has been doing something wrong since they didn’t know this bothers you, but once you let them know, it should be relatively easy to work through. It’s good practice to get into the habit of gently but openly having this kind of conversation in any relationship.

If, when you ask, they refuse, if they downplay it, insist that you shouldn’t be bothered, try to argue, etc. then they aren’t ready or willing to meet this need for you, and you need to decide whether this is a sustainable setup long-term for you.

Both my partners are living together hours away from me and I don’t have any way of contacting either of them and recently I’ve been having a lot of relationship insecurities. Usually I talk them out with my partners but I can’t do that and I don’t know when I’ll be able to speak to them again. I don’t know what to do.

It sounds like your inability to contact them is the core issue here - my advice is to consider that situation an emergency and do what you need to do to resolve it. Is it a person in your life or their lives who is being controlling and restricting contact? Is it an issue of access to technology? Is it funding? Make a plan to get some kind of contact in place, whether it’s sending emails from a library or writing letters or buying a burner phone. Start a GoFundMe, enlist a friend to help - do what you have to do.

If you really can’t talk to your partners, you’ll have to find other ways to work on those insecurities. Try journaling about them, joining a polyamorous chatroom or forum, talking to a therapist, spending time with friends you trust, or working on a self-help workbook focused on whatever you’re specifically struggling with.

I have two partners: my husband and my FWB. I am very attracted to both, I climax much more quickly and with much less stimuli with my FWB. There’s nothing they do differently; I just react more. My concern is when talking about my experiences with my FWB with my husband, that he will become aware of the difference and feel discouraged/unattractive/like a bad lover. Might this difference just be New Relationship energy at work? Should I downplay this ease of orgasm when talking with my husband?

It might just be NRE at work. It could be that he has some little technique that he does differently that you don’t notice. It could be that the size, shape, angle, and/or texture of his fingers or other fun bits matches up with yours in just the right way. If you honestly can’t figure out what causes the difference, it’s fine to just chalk it up to the mysteries of the universe or the rich tapestry of life. (If you can figure out the difference, it’s okay to gently request or suggest to your husband that he try some things differently!)

Now, I don’t want to be someone who recommends that you lie by omission - but I’m not sure you need to tell your husband about this specific difference. I think there is a difference between deliberately misrepresenting something because you don’t want to deal with someone’s emotional response to it, and just not saying something that’s unnecessary and won’t make anyone feel good. There’s dishonesty, and there’s tact, is what I am saying.

If one of my partners took me out to an Italian place, and the next week another partner took me to another, less amazing Italian place, I probably wouldn’t say “you know, the place Quandon picked was a lot tastier than this,” because not everything that is true needs to be said. Next time the subject of picking a restaurant came up, I might recommend the other one, but without needing to say “it’s the one Branston took me to, and it’s way better.” That my partner took me out on a date and picked a place that serves my favorite type of food is a situation that doesn’t need to be critiqued, even if it’s imperfect.

If there was something seriously wrong with the food, or if we got there and I really hated the place he’d picked, of course I’d say something. A major project in most people’s lives is finding that sweet spot between “doormat” and “jerk.” But if the sex with your husband is fun, and he makes you come, even if he doesn’t do it with the laser precision of an android specifically and individually designed to pleasure you, it might not merit comment. 

So unless you two have an agreement that requires a blow-by-blow of every sexual encounter, it’s probably not relevant. And even if you do talk about sex, unless you give specific timestamps of everyone’s actions and orgasms, this difference is probably not going to be super clear. It’s fun to talk about sex, sure, but you can mention something fun or interesting without going “oh, and also, he totally brings me to orgasm way easier than you!” If he asks, don’t lie, but there’s no real need to make that detail a part of the conversation. 

My fiancé wants to swing and I’m extremely uneasy. At first I trusted him quite a bit. There have been a couple situations I felt betrayed & that he took my trust as naivety. He purposely kept secret the extent of a friendship he knew I would be uncomfortable with. He says that being in an open relationship we’ll have to be completely honest & open with each other. I have always been very open with him, I’m struggling to really believe he will be open with me. Nearly every time we talk about this I panic.

If you panic when you talk about this, try writing it down. You two can have this conversation over text or email - even if you live together, some things are easier to hash out when you have time to think it over and read it over and draft it.

Talk specifically about the situations where you felt betrayed, particularly this issue of him hiding something from you. Point out that if he wants honesty from you, he needs to also be honest with you. If he can’t do that, then this simply cannot work.

It sounds like you are trying to make this work, but he is so unwilling to meet you halfway that he is being dishonest to avoid having to work on meeting your emotional needs. There is a big gray area between “I’m totally okay with this” and “I am absolutely not okay with this,” and he needs to help you navigate that space. If he’s insisting that you do 100% of the emotional work while he experiences zero consequences in your relationship for his choices, well, that’s a problem and he is not a healthy person to be in this relationship with.

My boyfriend and I got into a really big fight and almost broke up and he’s been really cold towards me since. I send little hearts and he ignores them. I say I love him and he doesn’t say it back. I don’t know what to do. He started doing this a week before we got into our fight and it’s been really bugging me which is partly why we got into such a huge fight and I don’t understand why he’s being this way?

Have you asked him why he’s acting this way?

Maybe he needs some space.

Maybe he does want to break up.

Maybe he just expresses affection differently than you.

Maybe he’s been replaced by an alien pod person.

Maybe he doesn’t like little hearts. 

Maybe he’s feeling overwhelmed by other obligations and doesn’t have the emotional energy to respond to you, even in a positive context.

You gotta ask him! Don’t do it with pressure or accusations; just gently ask him why he seems so avoidant with you and whether there’s anything he needs from you to solve the problem. If he really seems to just not want to be present to you in ways that you need in a relationship, then maybe this isn’t the relationship for you.

Is it irrational to want my partner to message me in the mornings when they wake up? I understand if they have things to do but I’d just like to know they’re thinking of me and for them to let me know if they’re going to be busy or not and they act like I’m asking something really difficult and irrational? It just makes me feel like they always think of me last because they wake up and do things and message me hours later. I rarely even get a good morning from them first.

It’s not irrational of you to want it, but it’s also not irrational of your partner not to do that. Some people don’t like to start their day immediately with texting. It sounds like your partner prefers to wake up, get their day started, then settle into whatever daily conversation you two are going to have. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a priority; or that they think of you “last,” it’s just a difference of preferences and routines. Just because someone’s behavior bothers you doesn’t mean they’re obligated to change it; neither of you is being “irrational,” but neither of you gets the right to put unilateral demands on the other one either.

For many people, taking a few hours to start their day is key to their mental and physical wellbeing, so your partner might feel really threatened by an imposition on their morning routine. For other people, their morning routines aren’t as important to them, or they can reasonably accommodate post-wake-up texts.

Try letting go of the framing here that makes you take this personally. I doubt your partner is going “Ah, I’ve just woken up, and I could text my partner, but they are NOT IMPORTANT TO ME so I’m just going to do something else and make them wait!” Instead, it’s probably more like “Ah, I’ve just woken up! I need some time to get started and settle into my day before I feel up to using my phone or talking to other people. As soon as I’m ready, though, I’d love to connect with my partner about how our days are going to go!”

It feels to you like they’re putting you last, but really, you two just have different morning routines. If this is an absolute dealbreaker for you, then you have the right to seek a partner who likes the same exact type of connections and routines as you. But you might be able to find a compromise with your current partner. Maybe they text you before lunch every day, and that can be early enough for you but late enough for them. Maybe you need to find something else to focus on during your mornings. Maybe they could text you before bed and you could read it in the mornings. This isn’t about who is being “rational,” it’s about finding a way to meet in the middle so that neither of you feel hurt or ignored or unfairly put-upon.

Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 years now and for the past few months I have been going through family problems. I guess in a way I’ve been letting it out on him which I don’t purposely do it just I have so much going on and I feel like my relationship is falling apart. He said “this relationship isn’t for us” but I know he loves me and I love him but I feel like he’s giving up on me what should I do I love him so much.

If someone has decided that the best thing for them to do is to leave, you gotta let them leave. You can believe deeply that he’s making the wrong choice, that you two love each other and that you can and should work this out - but there is no guarantee that you can get him to feel the same way.

If you know that your family problems and life stresses are wearing down on your relationship, and you are fully committed to working on healing that, you can try to have that conversation with your boyfriend. You can say something like “I know that our relationship has carried a lot of tension and negativity because of the stress I bring into our time together. I want to fix and heal that. I am committed to going to therapy to find healthier ways to manage my stress, I am committed to intentionally bringing presence and positivity into our time together, I am committed to finding other support systems to help me through this family situation, etc.” Make space for him to let you know what, specifically, he needs from you to get through this.

If he accepts - if he wants to try and fix what has fallen apart - then you need to commit 100% to those promises and work on rebuilding. But there is no guarantee that he will accept, and he has no obligation to. If he has decided that this relationship isn’t one he wants to stay in, it is okay for him to make that call. Try to be gracious about respecting his choice, and find ways to care for yourself in the event of a breakup.

Whether you two stay together or not, it sounds like you very much need to work on healthy stress management and positive communication strategies to help buffer your relationships, romantic and otherwise, against life stresses. Even if this relationship ends, you can learn a lot about how to lay a strong foundation for future relationships.

So my bf and I have started dating this girl, and she definitely is more sweet and affectionate towards him then she is to me, even though I’m like that towards her. It always makes me a little jealous, and I try not let it bother me because I know their relationship will be a little different, but idk I’m a really affectionate person. I don’t really want to say anything to her though because i want to be natural. Thanks!

Something you have to let go of in polyamory is this belief, or fear, that openly talking about a feeling or a desire is not “natural.” You gotta be willing to talk about this kind of stuff. It feels awkward at first, but it’s critical.

It doesn’t have to be a serious, formalized thing, though. Next time you two are alone together, you can bring it up gently and positively. “Hey, can we talk about something for a sec? I’ve noticed that you’re more touchy-feely with Morgon than me - is everything alright? What are your preferences and feelings about physical intimacy?”

Then, make space for her answer. She might be attracted to you differently, or put off by something about your way of expression affection. She might just not have noticed, or misread your signals. No matter what, the best thing to do is to have a chat about how you’re feeling, what you’ve noticed, and how you two can better communicate your needs and meet each other’s needs going forward.