I really dislike my girlfriend's partner - how do I feel compersion?

When I started seeing my gf she had just gotten out of a mono relationship and her ex was extremely mean to her after the breakup and I was there for her. Recently they have started a romantic relationship again and it is like all of that didn't even happen. My gf knows that I don't care for her now-gf because of that but I want her to be happy so I don't make a big deal of it. So my question is how can I feel any sense of compersion when all I have is negative feelings towards her?

It’s typically an exercise in futility to try and force yourself into a feeling you don’t have. You don’t need to try and conjure a sense of compersion or a feeling of goodwill about this person who you have every reason to dislike. 

It sounds like you’re doing everything right here - not “making a big deal of it,” letting your partner make her own choices, and just sitting back and staying disengaged from a situation you find irritating and frustrating. 

Try to re-frame this as not being about the metamour, but about your girlfriend. She is making a choice that she thinks is best for her, and all you can do is support her in that, recognize her agency, give her space to make her own choices. Sometimes people we love do things that we wish they wouldn’t. Sometimes they make choices that we think are bad choices. But that’s the beauty and the aggravation of having relationships with people. They insist on being their own people and doing their own thing even if it means refusing to quit a job that clearly makes the miserable or dating someone you don’t think is right for them.

And you seem to have that pretty well figured out - you’re leaving her to make her own choices and figure her own stuff out, without adding pressure or ultimatums or futile cajoling. Give yourself a break for not being able to feel thrilled and excited about this situation. If it starts to negatively impact you, set the boundaries you need to set; otherwise, no one can really fault you for only being able to achieve a sort of detached neutrality at best about this person’s re-entry into your girlfriend’s life.

I get really bad at compersion whenever my self esteem is low. What can I do to work towards changing that?

You know what the source of the issue is: your low self esteem. So work on changing that, not only for the sake of compersion and your partners, but because everyone deserves to have a healthy level of self esteem!

If you aren’t already, the best thing you can do is talk to a therapist about this! That’s what they’re there for - to help you be your best self and live a life that feels good. 

A book that really helped me with self esteem issues is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Different things work for different people. Poke around the “self help” section of your local bookstore and see what jumps out.

Try thinking about what makes your self esteem dip, and working on that. Self care, journaling, spiritual rituals, going outside, reaching out to friends and loved ones - whatever works for you to lift that self esteem in a healthy way!

Again, getting outside help is so great, if you can make it happen. Whatever’s making you feel down on yourself, get a professional to help you get things under control. Whether that’s a life coach, a nutritionist, a house cleaner, a financial planner, etc. If you are a religious person, talk to a clergy member at your church; if you are a student, talk to a counselor at your school. If you are employed, see if your employer or insurance offers certain self-help services. You don’t have to do this alone!

My partner and I have been in a monogamous relationship for almost 2 years. A few months ago, I brought up polyamory to them. Baby steps and a lot of talking later, we’ve conditionally opened up our relationship. I’m so happy that they’re giving this a shot, and actually putting themselves out there. My concern is that they feel like they will not be successful at finding other partners, as they have had issues dating in the past. How can I help both emotionally and wingman-ly? <3

Dating is hard! It’s hard for all folks. How many standup routines, sad songs, sitcom scenes, etc. focus on that whole “I’ve been single forever; when am I going to find someone?” problem. People of all types - mono and poly, gay and straight - go months, even years, without finding a romantic partner. And that’s okay! You and your partner should remember that simply opening up your relationship doesn’t magically invite the universe to start raining down potential partners into your life.

As for acting as a good wingman, I find it pretty fun to help my partners through their dating adventures. I do things like coach them through how to write a nice message to someone they like on OKCupid, help them pick out a first date outfit (or make sure their one nice shirt is clean that day), and mysteriously find somewhere else to be when they start chatting with someone cute. Talk to your partner and find out what they see as areas where they need support in this, and keep the lines of communication open as they step out into the open waters of dating as a newly poly person!

Im a woman, and im bi, my boyfriend and I talked about polyamory for the past year, and finally became polyamorous about 4 months ago. We both have individual dating profiles up that are honest and open about being polyamorous and what each of us is individually looking for as well. Although I have women writing me, it seems to go nowhere at all, whereas my boyfriend has one woman he has great chemistry with and is planning on taking out soon. Im jealous, how should I cope?

I often say that monogamous people could learn a lot from the poly crowd, but it’s also true that poly folks could take some lessons from monogamy. It’s a pretty common refrain among single people that meeting partners is hard. Plenty of books, movies, songs, standup routines, and poems lament the immense gap between wanting to have a partner and having a partner. And that doesn’t change for poly folk, unfortunately.

Four months is not a lot of time when it comes to meeting someone you click with. If one of your single friends complained that they’d been in the dating pool for four whole months and had yet to meet someone, you’d probably advise them to stay positive, be patient, and recognize that compatible partners don’t come custom order with overnight shipping. Your boyfriend got lucky, but his timeline isn’t a standard or a benchmark.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stigma around bisexuality - being an openly bi, polyamorous woman currently dating a man and looking for female partners could be handicapping you. Be gentle with yourself and try to remember that finding a partner is difficult for everyone. Consider increasing your odds of success by checking out local poly meetups, social events for gay and bi women, and adding other dating sites to your repertoire. 

As for the jealousy issue, know that another person’s success is not your failure. You two decided to open up your relationship, which is awesome, but that doesn’t come with a guarantee that you’ll both find partners at exactly the same time. You’re getting what you wanted - both of you have the freedom to pursue other partners - so try to enjoy the ride, be happy for your boyfriend when he finds something exciting, and remember that his ability to date other people now builds the foundation for you to start dating when you do find the right person.