I’m a high schooler with a crush on a girl, but she’s already dating my sister. Is this just teenage rebellion or something? I know it’s weird and I’ve heard it’s basically incest, but I don’t feel that way. Is it really incest, and should I leave this whole thing alone?

Crushing on someone who is dating your sister is not incest. On any level. Whoever told you that is wrong.

It is certainly uncomfortable and frustrating and annoying to crush on someone who you can’t pursue, and this probably won’t be the last time you feel like this. Learning self control around inappropriate crushes is a good skill that will serve you well throughout your entire life.

The best thing to do is, yes, to leave it alone. Crushes fade, but if you destroy your relationship with your sister over this, that will be much harder to repair. It is not wrong to have these feelings, but acting on them would likely hurt a lot of people. 

Try to minimize your time spent around this person. If she’s around to hang out with your sister, find somewhere else to be. Resist the urge to flirt. It’s generally impossible to just turn off feelings entirely, but don’t indulge or cultivate them. 

Many people ask “How can I talk about polyamory to the person I like?” and I know the answer is communication. The problem is that I am 17 and kids my age aren’t very open minded. How can I tell a guy/girl what I like without being bullied?

I work with teens, and I can confirm that while they do tend to rebel against the status quo in many ways, teenagers actually do tend to be more conservative when it comes to things like gender roles, homophobia, etc. Online, you may find many young people who have very open minds, but the average teenager right now tends to have pretty rigid attitudes about how relationships should be.

There is no surefire way to prevent people from bullying you, and there is no guarantee that you can explain polyamory to a peer of yours and have them understand. Dating polyamorously in a culture that is hostile to it - whether it’s due to age, politics, religion, or another demographic - can be very difficult.

My advice to you is to read up on polyamory and develop a strong sense of yourself as a young poly person, so you are prepared to explain and perhaps defend yourself when people ask you questions. You may want to have some quick definitions and examples ready to pull out, and some “Poly 101″ resources to share with people who are more interested.

As a student, you can also use that to your advantage - if an assignment permits, you may be able to do research on healthy nonmonogamy and present it to your classmates! You could also see if there is an LGBTQ+ club on your campus that you could partner with to raise awareness about polyamory and host events for any student interested in “alternative” (as much as I hate that term) relationships.

When you like someone, it’s okay to be clear about what you’re interested in - “I want to date you, but also be able to date other people. It’s called polyamory, and I’m happy to answer your questions about it!” They might say they’re not okay with it, which is their right. But hopefully anyone worthy of your affection isn’t someone who will turn around and bully you over that. And if people do, keep your head up and know that as soon as you get into your late teens and early twenties, your world will open up to include a lot more people familiar with, and down for, polyamorous relationships.

I’m a Senior in High School and feel secure in being Pan and Poly. Problem is, I haven’t dated since elementary school, which doesn’t really count in my opinion, and I don’t really know anything about dating in general, never mind as a young, queer woman. I’d like to explore that before I graduate, but I’m not sure exactly how to start.

Honestly, you can’t really set a deadline on dating. It might not happen before you graduate - you can’t force it no matter how badly you want it. And you may find that moving on from high school, whether it’s to college, a job, travel, the military, etc. without trying to maintain a high school relationship is easier in many ways.

There is no rule that you have to have your first dating relationship before you graduate high school. Many people don’t, and you won’t be at a disadvantage or get left behind in knowledge or experience. It can easy to feel rushed or pressured, especially when it seems like everyone else is dating or if you think there is something you need to be learning that you’re not. But trust me, everyone’s dating life moves at its own pace.

But it’s totally understandable to want to start dating now that you feel ready and while you’re still in high school. The best thing to do, in my experience, is to be yourself, be patient, and be open to experiences as they come. Join clubs or activities where you can meet people who share your interests. Cultivate the boldness and courage it takes to ask someone out if you’re interested! Learn to let go of the fear and desperation that can come with rejection - because everyone actively seeking to date will experience that.

And there’s plenty you can learn about dating without having to be actively practicing yourself. Read up about healthy relationships, safe and consensual sex, setting boundaries, self-love and self-esteem. Learn about yourself and what you need in relationships. Masturbate, read erotics, and/or do other things to help you explore what your sexual fantasies and interests are. Think critically about the subtle lessons you’ve been taught about relationships. Tend to your non-dating relationships, because close friendships are just as important as romance. Read narratives by other queer women. Try to let go of any hard deadline to start dating and enjoy the journey you’re on. You’ll get where you want to be. I promise.

Here are some resources:

Good luck!