The hardest part about being in a ldr poly relationship for me is feeling like I’m being left out of my partners life. Their other partners get to go on dates and spend time with them but I don’t and I feel like I’m always the last person to know things that are happening. It makes me feel really distant with my partner. What do you suggest I do?

Long distance is so hard! My current partner and I were long distance for 4 years, and I just ended a 6 year ldr, so I totally feel you. Basically, the number one thing to do is: talk to your partner. Let them know this makes you feel unhappy and see if you two can work together to find ways of bridging that distance that work for both of you.

I find that it’s the little things that can make or break that feeling of connectedness and shared lives. Knowing what they had for lunch or what they chatted about with their boss that day takes a lot more effort to share across distance, but it’s what keeps you close. Silly little texts throughout the day like “hey I saw this dog” go a long way; don’t wait for a long catch-up session.

Here is a previous column of mine where I give some advice about how to stay connected during a long distance relationship. If both of you are okay with it, try and set a routine of more frequent, low-key contact. If their job, routine, or preferences don’t allow for that, you’ll need to talk more about how to get your needs met.

I am also a firm believer in the magic of the group chat. Set up a text chain, a slack team, a google hangout, whatever, with you, them, and their other partners and just be silly and chatty in there. (This doesn’t work for everyone; some people hate group chats. But I find that if you can find a platform that works for everyone, they really foster intimacy.)

Previous columns on this:

Group chats & shared experiences

Keeping communication open across distance

Managing when your LDR partner can pay different attention to their proximal partners

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!

I’m in a long distance relationship, and so is she. She has always been very open about being poly, and me and my partner are too. I would like to maybe start a relationship with her, and my partner supports this, but I have had very little communication with her ldr partner. Is it best to communicate more with her partner and try to figure out more about their rules and boundaries before expressing any romantic interest in here? or can we work on that after I express interest?

Well, for starters, it would take one incredibly smooth operator to be able to start asking someone, or their partners, about their poly rules and boundaries without making it clear that you’re interested in the person. (If you figure out how to do that, please write a guest column teaching me how!)

It sounds like you’re going about this all the right way, so kudos to you. But I don’t think you need to go straight to her partner to learn about their rules and boundaries. For one, it’s a bit impractical. For another, this makes some people uncomfortable. Her partner may not be interested in meeting everyone interested in her, and she may feel like you’re asking someone else for information she has the agency to provide for herself.

I personally don’t like when potential partners think they need “permission” from my boyfriend(s) - I decide who I date, no one owns me. But other people would appreciate you wanting to check in with the other partner first. So you don’t know which she prefers without open communication.

I would recommend having a conversation with the person in your life about what her arrangement is with her partner. Ask what their rules and boundaries are, and get a feel for how compatible you two are. Then, bring up the topic of her other partner. Ask if she would like you two to have a talk. If she says it’s not necessary, I wouldn’t push the issue. If you really wouldn’t be comfortable with it unless you talked to the partner, let her know about this, and find a way to chat with them that’s low-pressure for all parties. 

Hi ive just started a poly relationship with two girls– my best friend and the girl ive been dating for over a year over long distance. But honestly im a little mervous about it constantly bc im not sure if my old friend is fully okay with it. Would you mind helping me a little..??

This is an issue of trust and communication. It can be hard to read someone over long distance, but that means you two need to commit even more strongly to being fully honest and open with each other. 

If she tells you she’s okay with it, you need to trust her, and respect that she is an adult with agency who can speak to her own mindset better than your own internal nervousness can project it.

If you can’t trust her to be honest with you, and suspect that she’s just saying what she thinks you want to her or otherwise not being totally open, then one or both of you are not ready for a polyamorous relationship.

so ive been single for about 5 months now i like a girl and she likes me the only thing is im not sure if im ready to be in another long distance relationship even if i have known her for awhile what should i do?

Going for a long distance relationship can be daunting. It can also be hard to jump into a new relationship if you were just figuring out who you are in this new period of being single. There are a lot of variables influencing your decision - the long distance and the recency of your last breakup should be considered separately, I think.

Ultimately, it’s about you knowing your needs and how to best get them met. There are pros and cons to every choice, and I can’t make yours for you. The one thing I’d recommend is to commit to whatever choice you make, rather than keeping her (and yourself) on the line while waiting to see how things shake down. That doesn’t mean things can’t change later, but it means that whatever terms you set for your present relationship with this girl aren’t being clouded by hopes and expectations for a future that may or may not happen.