Hi!! First of all, want to say thanks so much for all the advice here. I’m kind of new to Poly Life (and love) but I’m a little uncertain. I’ve been friends with these two for a year and the better half of a year and we’re all dating now. They’re in Europe and I’m in America… I can’t see them until July and I can’t even tell anyone but my best friend that I love them. Any tips on how to keep communication flowing?

Group chat! I cannot speak highly enough of a group chat. Find a service that works for you - Google Hangouts, Facebook chat, Slack (which lets you do all sorts of fancy things), whatever. Keep that group dynamic going!

Shared experiences are crucial, so find ways to share things: run a tumblr together and post things you want to share with each other. Or have an email chain going where you send link sot articles you find interesting and share your thoughts on them. Watch a TV show together by watching the same episode at the same time each week and discuss it. Give yourselves something to talk about!

And make sure you stay up to date on each other’s lives so you don’t end up with info-dump catch-up sessions. Send photos of little things from your day. Have an image in your head of where they are when they’re chatting you from work or home. Keep track of the names of their friends and coworkers, so when they tell you a story, you can follow it - and keep them abreast of your life in the same way.

Long distance relationships can be rough, but you can do it! (I’ve spent almost all of my dating life in at least one LDR.) Identify what you need and make sure you get it, and identify what they need and make sure you give it! Good luck!

I’m in my first poly relationship and it’s long distance. My partner was saying how they feel like I’m only their boyfriend when I’m in town and how they feel like we aren’t friends. I want this relationship to last. What can I do? I’m so new at this

It sounds like both of those issues are primarily stemming from the long distance, not necessarily the polyamory. 

If your partner feels like you’re only their boyfriend when you’re in town, it sounds like they need more from you during times when you’re apart. Being long distance can be hard, because the foundation of a relationship is often build on the shared little things - knowing the names of each other’s classmates or coworkers; little chats when you’re leaving in the morning; all those small shared moments.

The best thing to do would be to ask your partner for specifics about when and why they feel this way. What are they missing from you? What would make them feel like you’re their friend? Their boyfriend? What is their best-case scenario? Then, ask yourself whether you can provide that, or whether you two just need different things. 

They might have more of a focus on ‘slow burn’ things that keep a relationship alive in the day-to-day rather than the big bonfires of exciting visits. Things like:

  • If both of you have smartphones, sending each other photos of neat things you see during your day
  • Sending links to articles you enjoyed & discussing them
  • Texting them little details about your day
  • Asking them little details about their day
  • Mailing them letters, postcards, or care packages
  • Calling or video chatting once a week (or on whatever arbitrary schedule works for you two)

If you’re really not the kind of person who likes to keep up this daily chatty shared-life thing, then you can either:

  • A.) set up things like reminders on your phone to send them a text, set up rituals like texting them when you sit down to lunch, etc. or
  • B.) let them know clearly that this is not something you are willing or able to do, and that dating you long distance means seeing you during visits and getting as much boyfriend-type attention during times apart as you are willing and able to give.

Both choices come with pros and cons, as do most choices in life. If you choose A, it comes with the risk that this will frustrate and burn you out, if this is really something you’re not emotionally equipped to do, and you may feel resentful if meeting your partner’s needs feels like a chore or a demand. On the other hand, if they are worth the energy and you genuinely enjoy it, problem solved!

If you choose B, your partner may decide that they cannot be in a long distance relationship with you under those terms, and that’s their right. Or, you two might figure out a way to be together with different expectations now that that’s out on the table. I was actually just in a very similar situation with one of my long distance partners, which ended with me explaining that I needed more from him, him explaining that he could not give me more, and me making the hard choice to end things.

Good luck!

I recently visited and had sex with with my 2nd partner (long distance) for the first time and when I came back I felt different about my live-in partner. I don’t feel sexually attracted to him since I got back. What is wrong with me? Am I horrible?

You are not horrible, first off. This kind of feeling is actually pretty normal. Give yourself a break and let yourself think and feel through this.

Having sex with a new person is very different than sex with someone you’ve been with for a long time and live with. You’re both trying to be on your best game. Everything is new and exciting. Also, when you visit a long distance partner, you are essentially on vacation. You bring less of your daily grind and stress into those interactions, and by extension the sex. You’ve also probably been building up a lot of sexual energy over the time you’ve been apart by sexting or whatever else you built the relationship on.

So now your brain has two very different things to compare, and it’s natural for your long-term, live-in partner to suddenly seem less interesting than passionate, first-time sex with someone you’ve been waiting to see for a while and without any of the baggage of your regular life.

The first thing to do is just to be gentle with yourself and give it time. You’re still riding on the high of visiting your partner, missing them, reliving the awesome sex in your mind. That will settle down. (If it doesn’t after a while, if you really just snapped entirely out of your attraction to your partner, that’s a different issue to address, but that’s pretty rare, and a bridge to cross if you come to it.)

The second thing to do is be thoughtful and intentional when working through this in your mind. This is a good signal that it might be time to spice things up with your live-in partner. What was it about the sex with your new partner that was so great? Can you introduce some of those elements with your live-in partner? 

Ways to re-energize sexual intimacy in a long term, live-in relationship include:

  • Taking the Mojo Upgrade together
  • Finding erotic stories that depict fantasies you relate to, and sharing them (literotica is a good place to start)
  • Finding images or videos that depict fantasies you relate to, and sharing them
  • Sharing your own fantasies, either verbally or in writing
  • Shopping for new sex toys together, in a store or online
  • Being mindful of the energy you bring into the bedroom - if you end each day relieving stress by venting about your work stresses, it’s no wonder there aren’t many fireworks to be found when you finally flop into bed together

This feeling you’re having is good to dig into - it’s very information rich - but the information it’s giving you is probably not that you’re horrible or that you should leave your partner. It’s just letting you know that you have some desires that feel awesome when they’re met, and that there may be some better ways to get them met by all your partners!

So, I’m poly. I’ve known for years, but I finally have accepted it. Completely. My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship for two years, and we have recently started to talk to a good friend of ours about joining for a triad. I’m really nervous but really excited, and our biggest worry is communication with me being 100mi away for 2/3rds of the year. Any advice on how to keep the communication alive and well?

First off, good on you guys for taking things slow and figuring things out with honesty and love! Best of luck in your new triad! Long distance is rough on everyone, but I think polyamory can reduce a lot of the stress by removing the fear of “cheating” and the frustration of not getting physical intimacy. 

Keeping communication alive and well in an LDR comes down to some key things:

1.) Establish clear expectations

Some people are into chatty all-day text conversations. Some people are absolutely not. Figure out what kind of LDR communicator you are, and own that. Be clear and up front with your partners about what they can expect from you and what you need from them.

2.) Never assume intent (it’s not about you)

It’s easy to forget that your LDR partner’s world doesn’t revolve around you, because you can’t see the parts of their life that don’t involve you. If you text them and they don’t reply, or send something short, avoid assuming that they’re doing it intentionally because they’re upset or don’t care. You can’t see the other things distracting them, so give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t take things personally.

3.) Get creative

LDRs are most frustrating because they prevent you from having shared experiences, which are the bedrock of relationships. So try to come up with some traditions or ways to stay connected. Maybe you text them a photo of every cool car you see. Maybe you send them a sticker from every show you attend. Maybe you email naughty stories to each other. Maybe you watch the same TV show every week and discuss it afterwards. Whatever works for you, find a way to stay involved in each other’s lives.

4.) Try to avoid info-dump catch-up

One thing that drives me crazy is when I haven’t talked to someone I care about in a while, so when we do get a chance to hang out, I don’t have context for any of their stories, interests, or problems. I can’t get excited about their date with so-and-so if I haven’t been updated on their ongoing crush. I can’t give advice about the new job they were offered if I don’t know how they feel about their current job day-to-day. So make sure you keep each other updated on the little details that make a life make sense, so you can share your lives in meaningful ways.

Good luck!