What to do if your partner starts a relationship with another person without asking for your opinion?? She’s had a lot of relationships that ended badly lately so I don’t want to break her heart again by telling her that she’s not allowed to date that person

Have you two talked about this before? Do you have an existing understanding that you’ll get each other’s opinion before starting a new relationship? If so, then she violated the terms of your relationship, and you need to talk about that. If not, it sounds like you have an expectation that hasn’t been made clear, and you need to talk about that.

I’d sit down with her and say “hey, it seems like things between you and Cygnus got serious, and we never had a chance to talk about it. That bothers me - can we agree to check in with each other before starting something with a new person?”

If she had asked your opinion, what would you have said? Do you have a problem with this person specifically, or do you just want the security of knowing that in the future, you’ll be able to voice concerns about someone before she gets serious with them? If you have issues with this person, bring those up. If not - if you just want to talk generally about whether “veto power” is a thing in your relationship - perhaps wait a bit before bringing it up, so she doesn’t feel like you’re trying to establish a position where you put the kibosh on this new relationship.

I recently started seeing someone who’s poly, which is new for me but not a problem. But he’s been flirting with a close friend of mine lately who’s the the one person I’d be uncomfortable with him dating. I told the friend early on that I wouldn’t want anything to happen there and they said they’d respect that, but have been flirting back anyway, which I feel a little betrayed by. I haven’t told my partner about this but he’s said he doesn’t believe in vetoing things. How should I handle this?

You say you haven’t told your partner about this - you need to do that!!! You can’t make huge assumptions about how he’d respond based on what he’s said in the abstract.

There is a difference between having a “veto” rule vs. responding with grace and sensitivity to your partner saying “this makes me uncomfortable.” You aren’t telling him that you forbid him from dating this person, just that you’d strongly prefer that he not do that.

Let him know how you feel, that you know he doesn’t believe in vetoing, but that this specific situation really bothers you and you want to find a solution. Then, if he decides to go ahead and date your friend anyway, you decide whether you want to stay in the relationship. But first, you need to talk this out with him.

Is it alright that I’m not comfortable with my partners dating specific people? I told my partner that I was not comfortable with it and they were fine with that, but the person interested in dating them has recently started throwing a tantrum about how they’ve never wanted anything more than to date my partner and it is making me feel like some kind of mustache-twisting villain.

It’s alright if it works for you and your partner. Some people in poly relationships find that it works well to give their partners ‘veto power’ over people they date - and if someone makes you feel unsafe, has a history of abuse, won’t adhere to safe sex standards, etc. - then you have very solid ground for saying that you’d prefer not to date someone who’s dating that person.

For other people, it does not work to have their partner approve of or screen or have any kind of input on new partners. I can’t tell you what’s universally okay - I can just say that if it works for you, it works for you. It sounds like your partner is okay with not dating this person for your sake, so between the two of you, things seem fine.

If this person is throwing a tantrum over this, it seems like maybe you were onto something when you felt like they weren’t someone you wanted to be involved in a poly network with. They’re showing themselves to be immature and manipulative, so take solace in being proven right. And if they are making you feel guilty, try to let that go. You don’t owe it to people to give them what they want. You did right by yourself and by your partner. You are not a villain.

Your partner is choosing not to date this person based on your input. It’s your right to give that input and it’s their right to act on it. This person needs to recognize and accept the agency of all people involved. Sometimes we want things that we don’t get. Sometimes we want to date people who don’t want to date us. Sometimes we don’t like their reasons. Being a healthy, mature person means learning how to handle those situations with grace and respect. If someone can’t or won’t behave that way, that’s their problem, not yours.