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!

What do polyamorous people find attractive?

What do poly people find attractive? I ask because I regularly get asked out by people who tell me that they are polyamorous. I am curious why so many poly people approach me.

For the most part, polyam people find the same things attractive as mono people. We like people who are interesting, charming, and genuine - and it helps to be good looking. So, congrats on being generally attractive! In specific, polyam people are going to be more likely to be drawn to someone who is a clear communicator, demonstrates healthy self-knowledge, and is skilled at drawing appropriate boundaries.

It’s also much more likely for you to encounter polyam people who want to date you if you run in circles where a lot of us tend to hang out and seek new partners. Any other type of “alternative lifestyle,” from the Pagan/Wiccan community to the kink/BDSM crowd, is going to attract a larger than average slice of polyam folk. We’re also more out and open in big coastal cities or liberal arts colleges, so if you live in one of those, you’re more likely to be approached by polyamorous people.

Honestly, unless you’re accidentally wearing polyam pride colors/symbols, or wandering into polyam meetups, it’s probably just that you’re a generally attractive person who happens to regularly encounter polyam people! If this bothers you, you could try putting it out there in your extended social circles that you’re happily mono and don’t want to be approached for polyam dating, and keep some rehearsed lines in your back pocket: “Sorry, but I don’t date polyamorously - so it won’t work out.” “

What are some of Zinnia's opinions?

Hello! I see tons of asks about advise and now I'm actually wondering what are some of your opinions about the whole community? I'd like to know more about the lovely creator of this amazing blog❤️ :)

This reads to me like “please, sir, could I have some discourse?” but I, like most humans, adore being asked for my opinion, especially if it comes with some flattery, so here ya go, some Zinnia Opinions, RIP my inbox:

I think more, if not all, of us should be in therapy! I think working on our own issues and patterns is critical for healthy relationships, whether you’re polyamorous or monogamous. I think we as a culture should be fighting for more accessible mental healthcare, and one of the best things we can do for our people is help them find therapy that is helpful and affordable for them.

I miss the word '‘poly.” I fully understand why we are making a shift to polyam, and I would never put my linguistic comfort over someone else’s very real cultural hurts and needs, but I find “polyam” clunky and it makes me sad that we are facing this namespace collision right now.

I think “ground rules” and “boundaries” are incredibly misunderstood and mis-used in polyamory. I’ve almost never seen “ground rules” work out well - they’re often arbitrary, lead to unnecessary ‘betrayals,’ and let people hide behind them to avoid actually interrogating their true feelings and needs. And people need to realize that “setting a boundary” does not obligate everyone to do what you say or else they’re toxic abusers.

I think we need to do a better job with our language. I’ve written about this before, and I stand by it. I especially think we need to be very careful about words like “abuse” and “trauma,” because they really do mean things beyond ‘made me feel bad.’ I strongly recommend Sarah Schulman’s book Conflict is not Abuse as an in-depth discussion of this and think it belongs on any standard polyam reading list.

I don’t think polyamory is a better, more enlightened or truer way to be in relationship. I disagree with Dan Savage and the Sex At Dawn crowd that all humans are ‘naturally’ non-monogamous and therefore polyamory or monogamy are just personal choices anyone can make freely. Some people are better served by monogamous relationships, and polyam people need to stop evangelizing polyamory as a one-size-fits-all solution to existing problems.

That said, I think monogamy culture is pretty destructive. When practiced with intentionality and as meets the needs of the individuals in the relationship, monogamy can be plenty healthy! But I have seen so much abuse in the name of monogamy, of possessiveness, of jealousy; damage done out of fear of cheating; repression and rejection and violence - we need to better understand and interrogate the social, political, economic, religious, and sexual power structures that drive our assumptions around monogamy.

I wish we had better pride colors and/or full ownership of the infinity heart. I love symbols! I would love to be able to wear my polyam pride on my sleeve, but tons of mono people use the infinity heart to just mean “endless love,” which makes it a pretty diluted symbol, and the pride colors are not great.

I think more polyam families should become foster parents. I think more people should, honestly; but being polyam gives you an advantage in that you have more adults to help out, and most of us have already done a lot of self-work around healthy emotional management and communication styles, which is critical for foster parents. It’s not always easy to get certified as an “unconventional” family, but it is doable, and we should be doing it!

My polyamory is queer. Not all polyamory is queer, but I truly believe that polyamory can be queer, when it is a ‘queering’ of the dominant monogamous culture, a re-understanding of relationships, an individual reclamation and rejection of culturally imposed assumptions, and love as “praxis” that challenges economic, political, and sexual systems of dominance.

Polyam people need to make a lot more space for relationship anarchy in the conversation. Related to my opinion that not all polyamory is queer, but polyamory can be a queering of relationships. It’s sad to me that so many people think polyamory is only about sexual-romantic relationships, and often looks in practice a lot like monogamy culture just with more people, where the sexual-romantic relationships are prioritized in terms of values, commitment, finances, etc. Polyamory can be an invitation to re-understand relationships in a whole new way. Who say that the people we have great sex with have to be the people we live with have to be the people we co-parent with? Let’s make our own way, friends.

I think “best case scenario” daydreaming is an under-utilized tool in polyamorous relationships. Thinking through what you really want, having words for the feelings you want to have, understanding what you want your day to day life to look like - this is so helpful! We should all have a clear picture of where we’re headed, what our goals are, and what our deal-makers and deal-breakers are. I don’t know why so few people are able to really articulate what they want out of their relationships - grab a journal, or a questionnaire, or a boring work meeting, and dig in!

I think people should make my life easier when writing in to this blog. People should check my FAQ, not send me thousand-word letters that don’t include a clear question, and not do these other things. I also think it would be super swell if people contributed to my Patreon!

There we go; some of my most strongly held opinions about polyamory. I have many other opinions, like:

  • People should stop assigning moral value to food and eating habits and drop the food-negative fear-of-calories nonsense; diet culture is absolute bullshit, and the concern-trolling about fat bodies is cruel, disingenuous, and needs to die.

  • Caffeine is an addictive drug and we are way too relaxed about young children becoming dependent on it to the detriment of their sleep health.

  • Being critical or ironic about something does not make you smarter, more mature, or better than someone who earnestly enjoys it.

  • Genetic connections do not a ‘family’ make, and no one is obligated to stay connected to someone who isn’t healthy for them just because they are ‘related.' And if you are deeply connected to someone whose connection to you isn’t recognized by monogamy-culture - like a kid who isn’t genetically related, or a life partner you aren’t romantic-sexual with, that’s great! Ignore the haters.

  • Movie theatre popcorn is always better than anything you can make at home, and is always worth the $7 it costs at the theatre. Drinks and candy, you should smuggle in.

  • If someone isn’t drinking, people should leave that alone and not harass, pester, or tease them about it.

  • Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” music video is not cultural appropriation, because she brings in people who are skilled in those dances to perform them well, and the point of the video is that she can’t do what they do and is just being herself alongside performers she is sharing her stage with. Cultural appropriate is a real issue in pop music (and everywhere else) but I think that video is absolutely not an example of it and don’t understand why it’s constantly used as one.

  • Alcohol is a lot more dangerous and addictive than marijuana and the reasons it’s legal and socially acceptable are racist and classist and are not based in reality.

  • Tumblr and Instagram should do more (that is, literally anything) to fight pro-eating-disorder content on their platforms.

  • No one should feed me food with tomatoes in it, ever, ever, ever! (And I don’t want to hear about how I haven’t had a “real, good” tomato - those ones taste worse because they taste more like tomatoes!)

I'm in a polyamorous relationship, crushing on someone else, and feeling lots of guilt and confusion

I (M-18) have two bi-monogamous (F-18) partners and wish to add a third (F-18) who is a straight-monogamist. She (F3), is aware of what poly is and knows that I am poly but not that I have romantic feeling for her. No, I'm not just getting more and more partners to boast and use them as trophies but still do have a want for her. For 2 different reasons, I am feeling guilty about it and have resorted to comedy in order to partially cope. The first is simply that I am relatively new to polyamory and up until recently wasn't aware it was possible. The second is an irrational fear that either I am physically stronger or am more experienced with relationships or both that if I make some grand mistake and end up in court that there will no possible way to defend myself due to a couple of other factors. Due to this guilt, I have come to grinding halt and am completely unsure of how to continue. Being new to poly, neither of my partners know what to do. Side note that I should make is that out of the 4 of us only the last girl (F3) does not depression and or anxiety.

If she is monogamous, then I’m not sure how it would work for you to date her while you’re dating two other women. It’s possible to have a crush on someone and not date or pursue them, and it sounds like that’s your situation. You can “have a want” for someone and not “get” them. That’s part of being a person and interacting with other people, who all have their own agency and desires. If it’s causing you pain to be around this person who you “want” but can’t “have,” it’s okay to take a step back from that friendship and spend less time around her.

There is nothing “to do” about this, really - wanting to date someone is not something that absolutely must be acted on and this is not a problem that demands a solution. Sometimes we like people who don’t want to date us, or can’t date us, or are otherwise incompatible! Liking them does not make us bad people and we should not feel bad about it. Try to let that go. Continue cultivating the two relationships you are in, and don’t let this unrequited crush convince you that you are somehow stuck.

This “guilt” that comes from a fear that you will “make a grand mistake” is a serious problem and you need to with with a professional on this. If you genuinely fear that you are a risk for assaulting women who you’re “physically stronger” than, you should stop being around women immediately and start working with a therapist who specializes in helping men with this kind of warped view of women, sex, and power; or with managing impulses; or with healing trauma, or whatever is leading you to worry that this is a behavior you’re going to engage in. If this is more of an intrusive thought based on anxiety, then you need to work with a therapist who specializes in that kind of problem. I know that a lot of men are worried about being falsely accused and “ending up in court,” but know that false accusations are incredibly rare, and the best way to not get accused of assault is to not assault someone.

As far as just feeling “guilt” around being polyamorous in general, the best way to manage that is to learn more about polyamory and develop your own polyamorous identity and philosophy. Instead of “using humor to cope,” don’t joke away or dismiss your feelings. Own them. Acknowledge them. Don’t exaggerate for effect, don’t downplay them, don’t deflect or distract. Be honest about what you’re feeling and give yourself and your partners the change to think about address what’s going on. I’d suggest that the three of you read some blogs or books about polyamory together and discuss them! Be open with each other, talk about your fears, your desires, your best and worse case scenarios.

And since all three of you are dealing with diagnosed mental illnesses, you all need to be working with therapeutic professionals to manage them. A diagnosis isn’t permission to go “well things are just going to be harder and more complicated because there’s this Other Thing in the room.” It’s a tool you’re supposed to use to find ways to feel better. Learning you have strep throat is just the first step in a process toward finding the right treatments to feel better; it’s not the end of the line and a sentence to spend the rest of your life going “welp I have an infection in my throat so certain things are more painful for me.” Mental illness diagnoses are the same way! See my Mental Health Resources page.

I had a bad experience with polyamory, and am not sure if I want to try it again

My ex girlfriend was poly but didn’t communicate to me about her other partners and saw my discomfort and continued anyways. She would purposefully do this to hurt me and broke my heart. It really hurt me and I am scared to date anyone else who is poly. What should I do? I don’t want to be rude to poly people but I feel like my ex girlfriend kind of ruined the idea of me dating someone who identifies as poly. Can I get some advice please?

It’s totally okay for you to decide that, because you got burned by past experiences, you just don’t feel like dating polyamorously is right for you right now. You are not being “rude” to polyamorous people by not wanting to date us! You tried it, it didn’t work out for you, and you can act on the information you gathered. You are not obligated to be open to doing something that feels scary or just isn’t something you want to do! I give you full permission to not want another polyamorous relationship - there are plenty of monogamous people out there and you might be happier with one of them.

It’s also okay if you think you’d like to try polyamorous dating again, but with someone who isn’t going to be hurtful and bad at it. (Lots of people have horrible monogamous partners and are willing to date monogamously again with someone who’s better at it! You can decide that you don’t want your ex to have the “power” to “ruin” an entire area of relational experience for you.) Be gentle with yourself and start small! Hang out with polyamorous people without dating them, and just get a sense for what a healthy polyamorous relationship looks like. Read about healthy, functional polyamory, and think about what your “best case scenario” might look like. Be honest with potential partners about your ‘once bitten, twice shy’ situation and ask them to go slow and be gentle.

You don’t have to rush into being ready for another polyamorous relationship, or even another relationship period! Give yourself time to heal from that very painful relationship. Consider being open to a monogamous or polyamorous relationship, go at your own pace, relax, and let the right person come into your life. Keep trying things and be honest with yourself about what does and doesn’t work for you. If you’re struggling with a lot of difficult feelings after how your ex hurt you, talk to a therapist to get your feet back under you. Best of luck!

some FAQ-answerable questions

I would really like to learn more about polyamory, do you have any go to resources for me?

Yes.

How will I know if I'm poly if I've never been in a polyam relationship? How will I know if that will ultimately make me happy, to have multiple partners, or if I can be happy being mono?

You can’t tell the future. All you can be self-aware, introspective, informed, and willing to act on the best information you have at the time. More here.

can you just dm me?

No.

Hello I sent an ask in a month ago and I haven’t seen you answer the question on here, of course I understand that you probably don’t/maybe cannot answer every single question you get. Is there any topic of question that you don’t answer or cannot give advice on?

Here are the reasons a question may go unanswered.

sorry if this is a topic that comes up often but i have been recently questioning if i am poly or not and i dont really know alot about it but from the research ive done it seems kind of interesting and it seems like something i would want to try. do you have any tips or helpful resources

Yes.

We have been in an open relationship since we got together but now want to add another woman. We’re not sure how to go about this really, not that we’re really “hunting” as far as just talking about it at this point. It’s been an on and off topic for us for over a year and we are ready to commit to it. Any advice on how newbies should begin their search?

Here ya go!

I've been using alcohol to manage my feelings around polyamory

I normally get drunk to cope with my boyfriend calling/video chatting his fiancé and I don’t know how I’m gonna cope when he tries to move her into our house.

You should never ever stay in a situation that is so emotionally painful that you turn to alcohol (or other numbing behaviors) to get through it. Something serious needs to change, immediately.

Please talk to your boyfriend about how you’re feeling. If there’s something specifically that you two can work on to help you manage whatever feelings are coming up, find and start that. But it just might not be healthy for you to continue dating someone who also has a fiancé. It will be better for you in the long run to leave a relationship that is driving you to “get drunk to cope.”

Please also see a therapist for help with your use of alcohol to self-soothe. There is nothing wrong with drinking, but using it as a coping strategy is dangerous both physically and psychologically. You deserve help finding better ways to get through painful feelings, and to stand up for yourself in situations that hurt rather than trying to drink yourself through them.

My partner's metamour broke a boundary our poly network has, and now we've been exposed to an STI

One of my metamours broke a huge boundary in his relationship to my partner. In addition, he potentially exposed our entire poly circle to HSV. Both my metamour and the person who was HSV positive knew about this boundary but claim "we just weren't thinking/too in the moment." My partner forgave him, but I'm still really angry. One of my other partners talked to him and he lied about it. I don't know how to talk to my partner about it. He’s being tested soon and so am I. What do I do???

It’s up to you to decide what are dealbreakers and what are not dealbreakers, but things to be taken very seriously.

It’s perfectly okay to say that, as part of the terms of your relationships, you only have sex with people who use condoms for all penetrative sex, or you only have sex with people who get STI testing every 3 months and require that of their partners, or whatever specific rules and terms you have. If someone violates those terms, it is within your rights to end or change the terms of the relationship.

It feels stickier since the problem behavior came from a partner of your partner, and not your partner - you can’t exactly “break up” with a metamour the way you an break up with a partner. But you can re-frame your boundary as I don’t have sex with anyone who has sex with anyone else who doesn’t follow these boundaries. This could mean leaving your partner if they’re willing to allow other people to violate those boundaries; or putting a hold on sex with your partner even if you don’t end the relationship. This is not a threat or ultimatum - “leave them or I’ll leave you” - it’s just you holding your own boundaries.

If it’s not a dealbreaker, but instead it’s “something serious and worth addressing but not a relationship-ender,” you need to talk with your partner about how this made you feel, what you need going forward, and what your partner considers to be their boundaries and dealbreakers. Mistakes and accidents do happen, and polyamorous dating does come with some level of risk. But you’re not required to just sweep this under the rug and move on - there is some space between “drop the issue” and “end the relationship,” where you can work out a plan and clarify your boundaries.

Best of luck with your upcoming test; scares like this are incredibly stressful, but it’s good that the parties involved owned up to it and were honest enough with you and your partner so that you can get tested. That, at least, is a good sign.

I want to be in a polyamorous relationship

I’m jealous of a poly relationship. I wish I was a part of it.

I’m not 100% clear from your wording whether there’s a specific polyamorous relationship you want to be part of, or whether you just want to be in a polyamorous relationship.

If there are people in your life who you want to be in a relationship with, it’s okay to pursue that! Flirt with them, invite them out, identify what you have in common. Ask them out!

If they make (or have made) it clear that you’re not interested, it might be healthy for you to take some distance from a situation that makes you feel jealous or left out. Hang out with them less, find other friendships and hobbies to invest in, unfollow them on social media.

If you’re interested in dating polyamorously even if you don’t get to date specific people, check out my page on finding polyamorous people to date!


My partner wants to get back with her ex, which I believe puts her at risk of getting hurt

One of my girlfriend's exes popped back up in her life and wants to date her. Exclusively. If that's what she wants I'd never stop her, but he's an addict that rides the sobriety line constantly. This factor has hurt her in the past and I don't want her to go through that pain again. Should I tell her I don't feel comfortable with her dating him because of his past? Or am I being controlling?

If he wants to date her “exclusively,” then she’d have to leave you for him, in which case, none of this would be your circus nor your monkeys. Of course you would “never stop her,” because it is impossible to stop someone from dating someone else, and it’s inappropriate to try.

It is not controlling to give advice, to remind her that he has hurt her in the past, and to encourage her to really think through what she wants and what choices are most likely to get here there. You can tell her that because you care about her, you’d recommend against this; that if you were her, you wouldn’t do it, etc. But people are going to make the decisions that they are going to make, and it’s ultimately not within your control, no matter how right, or persuasive, you are.

If I’ve misread your use of the term “exclusively” and the situation you’re being pitched is one in which she dates both of you, it’s within your rights to say “I’m not comfortable dating someone who is dating this guy,” in which case it would be on you to leave the relationship. You’re not threatening to leave her if she dates him, you’re not forcing her to choose - you’re making the best choice for you based on the situation you find yourself in.

I feel wholly responsible for carrying the mental load of my entire polycule

I am the "glue" in my polycule (their words, not mine, though I agree with them), and it requires a LOT of emotional energy, scheduling, etc and I feel like the lot falls to me. When I'm low-energy, it feels like the polycule is in "danger" because I feel this pressure. I'm positive that other poly folk have felt this way! What do I do to cultivate my own security (cause this is a me problem)??

Wow, it’s been a while since I got a letter that could have been written by me. I totally feel you, Letter Writer! I’ve been there; I am there.

Part of it is recognizing where that desire and behavior comes from, for you. You mention security, and that’s a huge thing for me. (I’m an Enneagram 6, if that sort of thing helps you give language to the situation - my core need is to feel secure). I’m a Type A control freak, and planning everything is a great way to be in control, but then people get used to you planning things, and it can get exhausting. I try to recognize when I’m doing something because I genuinely enjoy it, and when I’m doing something out of a draining sense of obligation.

It’s okay to try to “wean” people off their social/emotional dependence on you. It’s hard, but totally worth it. Next time you’re feeling down, if people are over at your house, it’s totally okay to say “y’all are welcome to keep hanging out, I’m going to go lie down and have some me time. You know the wi-fi password and where to get drinks. Peace.” I’ve done that before, and the first few times it’s nerve-wracking, but it usually works out fine. And the more times it works out fine, the more reassured you can feel next time.

If people try to wheedle you back into doing the work, or seem lost and confused without you, hold your boundary and let them figure it out. Often, feeling responsible for the group’s cohesion is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and when you let yourself let go of that responsibility, people will be a bit directionless for a bit, then they’ll figure out how to manage themselves.

But be careful - when you do this, it can be very tempting to passively sabotage things to prove to yourself and everyone how critical but under-appreciated you are. Don’t just neglect to plan dinner and then wallow in how everyone will starve without you. Let your people know that you won’t be able to shop and cook, and that someone else will need to orchestrate dinner for movie night. But then, don’t hold their hand through it, making them a shopping list, texting them reminders to go to the store, and running out to get some backup snacks just in case. If it falls through, it won’t be your fault. Don’t play the “clearly you’re useless without me” martyr, just give some guidance about what it actually takes to plan, shop, and prep dinner.

You’ll need to be explicit about what you need them to step up and do. “Look, folks, I’m not feeling up to the task of choosing a board game, corralling everyone to play, and teaching it. But I also don’t want the evening to devolve into a boredom-mope-flop session. Can someone else please take point on organizing a board game?” Or, “There’s a 3-day weekend coming up, and I know some of us were talking about going camping. I don’t have it in me right now to find a camping spot, book the spot, organize carpools, make sure we have enough tents, and plan a grocery list. But I’ll show up to whatever y’all plan. Who’s willing to set this up?”

It will be an adjustment, because in many ways being the “glue” for a group of people feels good, and empowering, and letting go of that control means giving up some of the good with the bad. But if you’re clear and intentional about it, you can make that subtle shift.

I don’t know the gender makeup of your polycule, but this article does a good job articulating the sort of emotional and psychological labor that certain people end up doing to keep relationships and households running - it might help you find some language or definition for what you’re struggling with.

Some short, FAQ-answerable questions

my significant other recently came out as Poly to me. I understand them but while looking up what it means to be poly I found the term Polygamy I was wondering what it means because all the dictionary and google searches for its meaning say pretty much the same thing that its a marriage between more than two people. While searching I found the term Polygamist and I was wondering are Polygamy and polygamist the same thing? I don't want to offend them and you’re good at explaining stuff like this.

Polyamory and polygamy are not the same thing. Polyamory is a way of being in relationships that prioritizes consent, intentionality, and communication. Polygamy is the institution of plural marriage, typically associated with oppressive cults. You can read more about that here. The term you should be searching and reading about is “polyamory” - that should lead you into corners of the internet where you won’t be getting confused. Start with the resources here.

How can I find people who would actually like to be in a poly relationship?

Check my FAQ page on this here!

Hi! I was wondering if we could talk pm!

I’m sorry, but no. You can read about my policy here.

I've sent in several questions over the past year and not seen them answered. Is this a case of Tumblr eating them, or are you just really busy? How long is your queue? I love what you do and don't mean to complain. I'm just wondering.

I answer this here!

I think I might be poly but I'm not sure. As of right now I am happy in a mono relationship, but I do not think I would be opposed to being in a poly relationship. I have had crushes on more then one person at a time and even have one now while in a mono relationship I am happy in. What is your take on this, and do you have any advice on how I could figure this out?

Here’s my FAQ page on this!

I'm a writer looking for polyamorous people to consult

Hello there! Sorry to bother but I am a writer and some of my characters (not the main ones but still important) are a triad and I want to write them as respectfully as possible, so I was wondering if I could ask you some questions or if you knew of some blogs that would be okay with me asking them questions.

Here’s a good place to start - a post where I answer a nearly identical question. If you want to interview some people with specific questions, check the reblogs on the tumblr version, or the comments on the main site, to find volunteers. To readers: if you want to help this person out, let them know in reblogs or main site comments!

One of my metamours treats me, and our mutual partner, terribly

my partner and i are both poly, in non-hierarchal relationships (i have one other partner they have two, and even though we’re not primaries, we’re the more serious relationship) but i Hate one of their parters. he treats me really poorly when we’re all together and i don’t like how he treats them either, but i don’t know how to bring it up without upsetting them cause even though they’re aware of how poorly he treats them and me, they feel like it’s worth it to stay with him and idk what to do.

You can't control your partner's choices or thoughts - but you can control your own behavior. If someone treats you poorly, you can choose not to be around them. Tell your partner "I don't appreciate how Klavfin treats me and makes me feel, so I'm not going to be around him anymore." That's not you setting an ultimatum, or making a demand. You're not saying "stop seeing Klavfin," or "never invite Klavfin to a hangout" - you're just stating what boundaries you're going to hold. 

Your partner might feel frustrated by this, since it's difficult to accommodate around partners who don't like each other, but that's their response to choose. You're giving them information: that you don't want to be around this person. They can respond to that information however they choose.

People may accuse you of "starting drama," but that's not your problem. You get to decide how you want to be treated and who you want to spend time around. If that means you decline an invitation to a dinner, or make yourself scarce when he's around, that's fine! Don't try to get people to pick sides, or start a whisper campaign to oust this guy from your poly network - those usually backfire.

It's frustrating and painful to see your partner stay with someone who, from your perspective, is an ass. And there's a time and place to point out specific behaviors you have an issue with, and remind your partner that they don't deserve to be treated that way. But beyond that, remember that your partner is going to make their own choices, and all you can do is make the best calls for yourself.

My partner isn't affectionate to me when his other partner is around

I’ve been dating this guy casually for a year or so, and he has a partner that he’s been with for almost 10 years. They’re a wonderful couple and we speak openly about our relationships together, but when she’s around he doesn’t flirt with me at all. I know I’m not the main girl, but it sucks being treated differently just in front of her. Do I ask for more attention or should I just look for attention else where? How do I not offend anyone and address this in a formal manner?

Healthy polyamory, and healthy relationships of all types, are about communication! This is totally something that's valid to bring up. Be specific and focus on what's observable. "Hey, whenever we're around Esmeretta, you never call me 'babe'/kiss me/hold my hand/etc. and that's starting to bother me. Is that something specific you two have negotiated, or is this something we can talk about and work on?"

It's possible that he's doing it subconsciously or just assuming that it would be more comfortable for everyone if he acted in this way. A little more intentionality and awareness is never a bad thing! 

Don't just assume that because you've been dating him for less time that you're "not the main girl." Polyamorous relationships don't need to be ranked - you can both be on a 'level' where you have his flirty and affectionate attention. Don't relegate yourself to a place where you don't get to ask for what you want because you think that's how things are set up. 

If he comes right out and tells you that it's intentional - that he, or she, or both of them are uncomfortable with him being flirty while she's around - then you have to decide whether you want to be in an arrangement where, after dating someone for a year, you still don't get the type of attention you want because of another person's preferences. 

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My partner and I have an open arrangement, but I feel like he did something that violated the terms we agreed on.

My partner and I have agreed that we’re allowed to have sexual encounters with other people from the start of our six month relationship, but have never been intimate with anyone else without the other being present. While I was out of town, he slept with a woman we were entertaining playing with together. He didn’t tell me about it until yesterday, almost a week from the event. He said that he didn’t want to ruin my holiday and last night was the first opportunity when he felt we had a chance to talk. We didn’t discuss when we would disclose encounters to each other, although I did state that I preferred he told me beforehand. That’s alright, that was a learning moment. However, what’s really bothering me is that he said that he wouldn’t sleep with her by himself and that the three of us would play together first. Additionally, I feel hurt that we were intimate before he finally told me that he has slept with her. I’m simply hurt/confused... This is my first foray into open relationships, and my boyfriend’s first intimate encounter outside the relationship. Am I overreacting because I’m jealous or so I have a valid bone to pick?

You've got a false dichotomy in your question there. When a couple is in conflict, remember that it's you two vs. the problem, not you vs. each other. Your feelings are totally valid, but that doesn't necessarily mean he did anything wrong.

Stuff like this happens all the time - you set up rules and expectations to protect yourself, but life has a funny way of getting around those. Events unfold, energy between two people sparks along its course, and things play out differently than how the ideal would be. Your partner was probably very startled and frustrated by the whole thing, and anxious about telling you. 

You're right that this is a learning moment. You two are learning to be more clear with yourselves and each other about what, exactly, you need and want out of this arrangement. You're also learning that the real world might not play nicely with your clearly defined boundaries, and that you'll need to find areas of flexibility and compromise. Figure out what's a need vs. a desire, what might not be realistic, and where you can give each other and the world some 'wiggle room.' Remember that the more rigid and specific your rules are, the easier they are to break, which feels like a betrayal. But, if they're too wishy-washy, then you might accidentally hurt the other person without realizing that they were more serious about something than you thought.

Keep talking this out! Remember that feeling hurt is totally okay, but it does not mean that the other person is in the wrong. This is a sticky, feeling-laden thing you're doing, so feelings are going to happen. Work through them and with each other.

Is my relationship polyamorous if my partners haven't met?

Am I in a polyamorous relationship if I’m seeing two people who do not know each other? But know of each other like they know I’m seeing other people?

Yes, that's polyamorous as long as they know about each other and are freely consenting to the arrangement. Your partners do not need to be connected romantically or otherwise for your relationship to be polyamorous. This arrangement is most frequently referred to as V or "Vee" polyamory.

I'm polyamorous, but the people around me are jerks about it.

I’m very new to polyamory, but I do wish to continue with it. I feel very comfortable with it. But most people around me don’t accept it and think it’s bad. How do I deal with it?

There's not a ton you can do to change other people's minds -  trying to explain and educate people and convince them to be okay with polyamory can be exhausting and ineffective.

Come up with some prepared responses to the things you hear most often, and collect some resources and brief explanations for people who are more interested than combative.

Let go of people's opinions that really don't matter - some random coworker, that person one pew over in church, the cousin you see four times a year. You don't need anyone's 'acceptance' to be who you are and live your life. 

Check out polyamory-friendly online spaces for some support and positivity. Keep yourself safe and set clear, strong boundaries around how people treat and talk to you. If you lose some friendships or family relationships, that's worth it for your own health.

You might also want to think longer term about who the "people around you" are. If you're living with family who are being judgmental, make plans to move out. If you're surrounded by a social circle that's acting like jerks about this, start reaching out into polyamory-friendly circles (and polyamory-adjacent circles, like kink/bdsm). If it's the demographics of your general area that are causing the problem, think about choices you might have to make in the future to keep yourself happy and healthy.

Two people I like told me they also like me, and I don't know what to do

I have 2 crushes which are both female and bi. I identify as pansexual and newly poly (pronouns are she/her). A few days ago they made a group chat and told me that they liked each other but they also like me. They then told me that they might be poly as well. I don't know what to do! Should I tell them I'm poly as well? That I want to be in a relationship?

Oh my goodness this one is so easy! YES! Two people you have crushes on told you that they both like you! This is the opposite of a problem! What reason could there possibly be not to tell them that you also like them, and would also like to try a polyamorous arrangement?

Since you three are all pretty new to identifying as polyamorous, it would be wise to have some serious heart-to-hearts about what you want, how you envision things going, etc. Maybe in the group chat, or maybe face to face, whatever works best for you! Best of luck, and enjoy this new foray into wlw polyamory!

I don't know how to try and date people in my social circles if my non-monogamy is a semi-open secret

I've been dating the same person for 2 years and we've been poly the entire time. Our community and peers think we're slutty because we flirt with others. We're not necessarily out about not being mono but how do you even bring that up to people who aren't open minded anyways? I've been trying to date this other person recently but I can't tell how to bring up polyamory. They know I'm in a committed relationship and that my partner knows I'm openly flirting. I'm at a loss for what to do.

You can't have it both ways - if you're not out to people about being non-monogamous, and you flirt with or pursue other people in front of them, they will assume that something untoward or inappropriate is going on. One could argue that visibly flirting/pursuing others is essentially outing yourself.

If people are not open minded and accepting enough to understand non-monogamy, it's probably not wise to try and flirt with or pursue them. If you're just pursuing other people in front of them, like giving a cute bartender your number while out drinking with them, then they are probably going to be uncomfortable about witnessing what they think is immoral/cheating behavior.

It sounds like you really want to be able to live openly in your community of peers - so it might be best to come out to them. You could do it more formally, sitting down with them and telling them, or you could work with your partner to bring it up more casually, conversationally, just make it known. Secrets and ambiguity make people uncomfortable; if you two talk and joke openly about how you're ok with your partner seeing other people, that usually works better for everyone else.

When it comes to the specific person you're trying to date, you need to be really clear with them! Just knowing that your partner knows you're openly flirting isn't enough. If you want to really make a go of trying to date them, you need to let them know exactly what's going on, how you feel, how your partner feels, what they would (and wouldn't) be getting involved with by dating you. If you don't feel like you can have that conversation, then you should probably let go of pursuing this person.