Advice – Dad hired a female sex worker for me even though he knew I was a gay man [NSFW].

A year ago I (20M) made the decision to tell my parents I’m gay. A week ago my dad made the decision to surprise me with a female sex worker (25F) for my birthday. If that sounds weird to you, you’re normal. If it doesn’t, welcome to my world. My old man gave me the whole “nothing beats pussy” speech before leaving me alone in the house with a random stranger. I was so embarrassed and awkward I didn’t know how to react. The sex worker introduced herself as “Zoey” and encouraged me to relax. Without wasting time I apologized and made it clear that I’m not interested in girls. Zoey asked me a bunch of questions about my sexuality. Questions I never had to answer out loud before. Her attitude seemed really sincere. Like she genuinely just wanted to learn about my life. The two of us ended up having a good time talking. However, talking turned into touching, and touching turned into my first sexual experience with another person.

As soon as we were both naked, Zoey wrestled me onto my stomach and started humping my butt. She humped me harder and harder without slowing down. Even though nothing was penetrating me, the feeling off getting pounded from behind was enough to send me over the edge. I came from that alone. Nothing touched my penis. Didn’t even know that was possible! It wasn’t over though. I wanted to be inside Zoey. I’ll be honest, it felt amazing. It made me question everything I thought I knew about my sexual orientation. It’s been a week and I still have no idea what to make of it. My dad is now convinced I was never actually gay and that all I needed was the right woman to remind me I’m as straight as they come.

Is my dad right?

Can you be gay and still enjoy sex with girls?

Even now I don’t feel any sexual attraction towards other girls, but when I think about Zoey it makes me excited. Is she a unique case?

I’m lost.

Chris, Reddit.
Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

Dear Chris,

Let’s first talk about sexuality.

For many, sexual expression and sexual orientation exists on a plane or a spectrum. It is the easiest to explain this complex concept by first visualizing a triangle. In this case, the first point of the triangle represents a homosexual sexual response, the second point a heterosexual sexual response, and the last point an asexual sexual response. And somewhere in that triangular plane – between each of the extreme endpoints – lies your true sexual orientation as a simple point on a plane. Many people decide to use the endpoint labels (gay, straight, or asexual) to describe their sexuality even though they actually don’t lie in the extreme ends of the sexual orientation plane.

It is so wild how much power we lend to the words we created ourselves.

It appears that for you your sexual orientation also exists somewhere in that plane of sexual expression; not all the way at the gay end of the plane nor all the way at the straight end off the plane (like your father appears to believe), but somewhere in between. If it is comfortable for you to hear, I am connected with many self-identified gay men who have had semi-successful long-term relationships with opposite sex partners in the past. They still identify as gay. So it could be possible that this particular experience need not alter your self-identity as a gay man, but represents a minor blip in the radar that is your sexual orientation. Or this experience could be more than an incidental point of data that might help you question where specifically you belong on that plane. Perhaps homoflexible or queer might be better words to describe your sexuality if you decide that gay no longer represents your sexual orientation.

And the fun part is that you are never static in your sexual expression. Sexual orientation is often flexible and grow as life circumstances change. You are never beholden to the label itself. In fact, it’s the other way around. So even if you believe that you were more homoflexible now, your sexual expression and orientation can lean back towards identifying again as a gay man sometime in the future. Part of the fun in life is in wading through the unknown and figuring out what does and doesn’t work for you. So keep an open mind and don’t feel hurried to shed your previous sexual orientation just because of this one experience.

I do think that there is a different, more profound conversation to be had about your relationship with your father.

What your father did was really awkward and inappropriate. It is very difficult to look past the negative intentions imbedded in not just the words he shared with you but the actions behind his decisions.

It is possible that your father had good intentions when he hired a sex worker that he knew to be incompatible with your sexual orientation. But I do not get the sense that his decision was framed in a compassionate way to allow you to expand upon your sexual expression. However, it is much more likely that he thought you might change your mind “about the whole gay thing” if you had a successful sexual encounter with an opposite sex partner. The truth is that your father just happened to hire a really great, professional sex worker who worked with your sexual expression to help you to experience sexual pleasure in an otherwise very unsexy sexual context. And digging deeper into his decision reveals a more dangerous and scary thought – that he is willfully ignoring your gay identity.

I think it is important to be in a place of mind where you can be both appreciative of his decision which allowed you to more holistically experience a wider range of sexual expression but also apprehensive about your father’s obvious boundary violations.

It could be that your current inability to rationalize what just happened to you is tied up behind how upsetting and humiliating it was to have your father boil your entire identity down to your sexuality. As such, you lack the proper resource to accurately gather data about what happened, to internalize what this experience means to you, and to externalize what changes you need to make. And until that stressor – your father in this case – has been acknowledged and addressed, this can’t move forward.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Your father is not entitled to know anything about your sex life.

There really needs to be a healthier set of boundaries around how much influence your father has on your sexual orientation. That could mean that the next time he asks you about your sexual orientation, you remind him how weird and awkward that experience was. And keep mentioning until he understands how weird it made you feel. Do note that this doesn’t reflect on what your actual sexual orientation is or even what specifically happened with Zoey. It only calls into light that it is weird to talk about it with your dad who is weirdly engrossed in ensuring that his son is straight. The goal of this approach is for him to acknowledge and understand that what he did was not acceptable and that your sexual orientation is for you to validate, not him.

If you are currently living with your father, this would also be a great time to start looking outward for a new place to live. I’m not sure what other weird things your father might do to keep encroaching on your boundaries. But I am willing to guess that this won’t be the last time he disregards your boundaries or willfully ignores your sexual orientation. You mentioned parents in plural form, so you might also want to check in with your mom about how weird your dad has been about this. Perhaps she can address this in a more productive manner, especially if the message is clear from two of his family members.

And if your father keeps pushing, you have my permission to lean into his boundaries and tell him all about the gay porn you masturbate to and the sexual scenarios you fantasize about. Two can play at that game.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My family keeps commenting on my resemblance to my dead father.

My father passed about two years ago from a sudden car accident. Even before he passed away, I often received comments from family and friends about how much I look like him. But it never used to bother me but now that he’s gone it does. His death was hard on everyone in our family. I know that but honestly I’m ready to move on. However, I can’t live every day of my life thinking about the fact that he’s dead. I have a hard enough time looking in the mirror and see him in my reflection. It’s a constant reminder on its own. How do I tell my family to stop without hurting them? Thanks!

Anonymous, Reddit.
Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Dear Anonymous,

I am really sorry for your loss. It is clear from what you have shared that your father meant a lot to you, and that the loss you experienced two years ago is still very fresh and raw in your mind.

Many people experience loss and grief in such different ways. Some would grasp onto the remnants of their deceased loved one to keep a reminder on the type of person they were. Some would move on through compartmentalizing their past firmly in the past where they could process their loss and grief from a distance. In my own personal experience with loss, I have found that there is very little reason and logic to the feelings of los and grief. Instead, they were found to be entirely emotionally driven, often unexpected in the ways grief would rise up from beneath the surface.

That could also apply to your family. You say that the loss was heavy for your family. But your family could be processing the loss of a father and a husband in completely unique ways. It could be that some of your family members are trying to hold fast to their own personal mental image of your father through the physical resemblance you share with your father. For them, it is a way for them to process their grief, albeit illogically and irrationally thrust upon you.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

I want to touch on regarding your comment here.

However, I can’t live every day of my life thinking about the fact that he’s dead.

I was very close to my father-in-law when he passed away – also unexpectedly – about a year and a half ago.

It would have been his 65th birthday yesterday.

There were days when it felt like we were all lying flat on our back on a seashore with the waves washing over our faces. And there were days when we had to take the extra thirty minute refuge in bed. And there were days I felt normal but suddenly get hit in my gut with something that reminded me of absence of him. Even a year and a half alter, there isn’t a single day that goes by without a thought of my father-in-law.

It could be something innocuous like how organized and structured my partner is, much like her father. One time, it was on an ad for a local brewery he liked to visit. Sometimes, it is on the very signature lips that my daughter inherited from her grandfather she’ll never get to know.

What I am trying to say is that the recognition of his death and celebration of his life need can be a part of the process for moving on. Those reminders in the mirror are there as a way to remind you that he was there once upon a time in your life. And the resemblance you two continue to share is something to be cherished, not to be shed.

You say that you are ready to move on. But like loss and grief, the process of moving on could look very different for your family as it is for you. And so, your family might not be ready to move on yet.

It could be that for some of your family, acknowledging the traits they carry forward past this particular loss could be a way to honor who he was when he was alive. But for you, you personally envision the state of closure where you are no longer reminded of the absence your father left behind. As such, you see the way your family is processing loss and grief in real time – to turn inward – as a direct conflict from the way you want to process loss and grief – to turn outward. And to your family, your desire to turn outward could feel like anticipation of another loss on the horizon, except this one isn’t determined by a sudden death but rather a conscious decision to create distance.

It might be a good time to check in with your family about how their grieving process is going, and share with them how your own grieving process has been progressing. Take this opportunity to strengthen and reaffirm your connections with the surviving family members who are all grieving in their own unique ways.

If you really strongly feel that your family’s comments about your shared resemblance is detrimental to your own self-recovery, perhaps relating to them about how their comments about your shared resemblance feels hurtful for you.

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My family keeps yelling at each other.

I (18F) would like to preface by saying that I come from a Slavic family that currently lives in the US. I was born in the US.

As far as I can remember, yelling has always been something that frequently occurred at my house. My parents constantly argued, and to this day consistently argue.

If something wasn’t done, screaming. If something wasn’t done the right way, screaming. Screaming over every little thing possible. My mom is the worst. She’ll scream and yell and it feels like she throws a tantrum because she either is not having a good day or something sets her off.

My dad always took pride in the fact that he was a “good father.” But I literally don’t have fond memories of him. He always insults my brother and I and talks down on us, and did his fair share of yelling.

Things have progressively gotten worse when my mom found out last year she was pregnant. It was a surprise pregnancy. The baby is 5 months old now.

Every time I hear yelling I just can’t stop crying. I feel sick to my stomach and nauseous and at times think about ending my life. I feel like I’m at my wits end because I just can’t handle this anymore. I’ve asked them to stop yelling when they’re upset but they just don’t care.

I don’t know what to do anymore. Moving out is not an option. If I leave the house too much, my mom complains that I don’t get things done around the house. My parents hate it when I hang out with my friends. I’m just so exhausted.

/u/yuliaburdak, /r/relationship_advice
Photo by CHI CHEN on Unsplash

Dear Yulia,

I am really sorry to hear that you are going through this. At eighteen, you should not be at a headspace where you feel emotionally unsafe around your parents. At difficult times like these, as sad as it is, it is necessary and imperative that we – as our parents’ children – parent our parents.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. 1878.

This is a quote I personally like to repeat to myself and keep in mind often when assessing difficult and toxic family relationships. It is a brief yet incredibly poignant looking glass through which we can understand why dysfunctional families perpetuate the dysfunction internally within the family. The quote itself is deceptively simple, but the nuances run deep. At its core, the quote states that there are numerous types of dysfunctions within a family unit that can make that family dysfunctional. And in order for a family to be happy, that happy family needs to avoid all the pitfalls and successfully manage all the common dysfunctions. It is why every happy family resemble each other in its bountiful peace and harmony, while each unhappy family suffer from its own unique concoction of dysfunctions.

In any perpetual problem, we need to first consider the Why (as in why did it happen first), the How (as in how does it keep happening), and the What (as in what do we need to do to manage it better). Let’s start with the why.

The Why is actually very straight forward. It could be that your family’s conflict management skills are culturally inherited. It could be that both of your parents were raised in their own respective households where as kids they saw their own parents resolve conflicts through yelling. And because that was how they were raised, they used their respective parents’ model for conflict resolution and continued to use yelling as the only viable conflict resolution method for themselves. Think of it as a time-warped reflection of what you are currently seeing through your parents.

The How on the other hand is a bit more complex. You’ve already outlined a couple different points in which the conflicts within your family is perpetuated and dilated through echo.

First is the way your mother perpetuates the verbal abuse. In short, your mother appears to lack any proper self-soothing measures. In psychological terms, this is specifically called grounding or self-soothing techniques. Healthy adults implement calming tactics to manage their difficult emotions and feelings. For example, a person who has a good self-soothing management skills might deal with a bad workday by taking some self-care time in the evening to listen to their favorite music or taking a long bubble bath. It could be that your mother acts out and screams in order to receive the emotional validation or support from her loved ones, often at the hefty price for those who do provide support. If she was raised in a family where this type of behavior has been normalized, then this behavior is already a well-paved pathway extending decades into her past.

Second is the pandemic. We are all currently going through a pandemic-induced societal trauma where we are all put under immense emotional distress through extreme social distancing. Humans are by default social creatures, and being sequestered to our most immediate family members – even in the most happy and healthy households – can be difficult. As such, it could be that both of your parents as well as you and your brother are all low on emotional resources that would have otherwise been used to manage difficult feelings.

But the most obvious is the surprise baby. Taking care of a newborn is one of the highest emotional, physical, and financial stressor anyone can take on, even when you plan for the baby. And as such, it is very likely that your parents are both driven to their own respective wits ends maintaining the household harmony, even less than prior to discovering that they were expecting a third addition to their family. This in combination with pandemic adds a compounding mechanic that exacerbates the tension within the house that never gets resolved and worsens over time. As you said, your newest sibling was a surprise. And if both of your parents were not totally on board upon discovering that your mother was pregnant, it could be that there is a lot of internal marital tension between your parents that are now unfairly and unfortunately coming onto the surfaces of their relationships with both you and your siblings.

Photo by Vivek Kumar on Unsplash

Now let’s talk about the What.

It sounds like you already took the right first step in trying to de-escalate the situation, albeit unsuccessfully. I think it is time to relate, then to clearly state your boundaries with your family. Both of your parents need to sit down and understand how their actions make you feel. A productive dialogue might sound like, “When you do X, I feel Y.” Here is an example. “When you yelled at me for coming home late after spending some time with my friend, I felt really depressed and unsafe in our home.” This will help your parents understand how their toxic actions are correlated with your and your siblings’ respective headspaces. They need to understand that their behaviors affect others, intentionally or unintentionally.

Once they have a better understanding of how you feel, then it is time to state your boundary. The actual boundary might vary, but a good starting point could be this:

“I will not have a conversation with someone who is screaming at me.”

Then go into detail about a hypothetical scenario that outlines what you might do if they yell at you. You have a couple different options to de-escalate a situation where your parents are screaming at you. First is to physically remove yourself from the situation. Go on a walk or step away from the house until they have learned to better manage their emotions. If removing your physical self is not possible, then closing your eyes and disengaging from the situation entirely is a viable option for you as well, as a way to mentally step away. Meditating in particular can come very handy even if you aren’t facing your parents. So you can even practice before you have the next abusive situation arise.

If necessary, kindly remind yourself and your parents that you are still an adult even if decades junior.

I already mentioned meditation, but self-care for you will go a long way in order for you come up with and maintain your own self-soothing tactics. It is very easy to get trapped into a codependent mindset where you are stepping into manage your parents’ feelings instead of managing your own. In particular, if you are finding it difficult to assess your own needs even when it is only in mild conflict with your parents’ needs, it might be time to take a look at that list to figure out if you are developing a codependent attachment to your parents, and then determine what you want to do to acknowledge then grow past your codependent habits.

The last thing I’ll mention is that you said that right now living apart from your parents are not in consideration. Sometimes, physical distance is the best boundary you can establish with your loved ones. In these times of social distancing, it is especially important to know how close you can let your family in while also keeping them at a distance to maintain your own sanity. That could mean establishing some proactive future-oriented plans to become financially independent from your parents so that you can maintain that safe distance from your family by living on your own again.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My girlfriend’s parents rejected her relationship orientation.

My boyfriend and girlfriend are married. A few months ago I spontaneously called my mom while he was on video call with me and outright told her that “This is my boyfriend. Oh, and by the way, he’s married and she’s my girlfriend.” And my mom was okay. As long as I’m happy, shes happy. And then we called my dad with my mom on the line and told him, and he was also glad as long as I was happy. My parents are very openhearted. They understand that even if they wouldn’t do something or if they don’t understand something, that in the end, it’s my choice, my life and if I’m being safe and happy, that’s all that matters. To say I’m blessed with my parents in this way is an understatement.

So soon after, my boyfriend called his parents and we told them. His mom wasn’t completely surprised because she had met me once before in a video call, but she didn’t know me past that. But although the two of them weren’t “expecting” their son to end up having two women in his life in this way, and they might not have agreed with it or understood it, at the end, they accepted that it was his choice, and we were all consenting adults. They weren’t like let’s celebrate this woman, but they would be welcoming during holidays and whatnot. As long as he is happy and can support the responsibilities.

Now, my girlfriend has been avoiding telling her mom because her mom is very traditional, often closed minded. However, she loves her mom more than anything in the entire universe. Her mom is her rock. I don’t know how to express this more. Anyway, she knew it would break her mom if she told her, 1, that she’s bisexual, and 2, that there is a second woman in the relationship, that shes poly. She has been hiding the Bi thing for years. And just recently was it that the 3 of us had become serious to the point of talking about children in the future and whatnot. So the other day when my boyfriend and I were spending time together, we got a call that she finally told her mom. And, it was the outcome she feared so much. Her mom was not okay with it. She was confused and angry and just didn’t look at her daughter with an open heart. And of course this shattered my girlfriend because she loves her mom more than anything. But why she’s so torn is because she also loves her husband equally. But her mom now hates him. Said a lot of terrible terrible things about him. Telling her that she deserves so much better. Telling her that he obviously doesn’t love her if he can love another woman at the same time. Saying that he manipulated her into the triad, and some other just insanely crazy things.

She’s torn. Because she loves and respects her mom and her views, but she’s also worked her ass off to be with her husband. And I promise you, he loves her just as much.

So now we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Because if I leave them, he’ll be shattered.

If he leaves me, he’ll still be shattered, and her mom will still hate him and she cares about her mom.

If girlfriend leaves him, or if he leaves her, she loses everything because her mom can’t honestly support her. And he still loses a part of his heart, but he will still have me.

If girlfriend stays, she loses her mom, who she loves more than anything.

Just, none of us know what to do.

/u/perplexed_panda, /r/polyamory.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Dear Perplexed Panda,

I am a huge fan of Dan Savage. I have been listening to his podcast Savage Lovecast for over a decade. So when his Savage Love Live came into town last year, I convinced both of my partners to attend with me.

If you haven’t been to Savage Love Live, you get a blank paper when you walk in. You can fill it out with a random question, and Dan (and Dan’s team) will pick out what he’ll answer on stage in front of the live audience. Most of the questions he answered on stage were very basic, like “How can I spice things up in the bedroom?” and “Why are chastity belts becoming more common?”

Then he picked my question.

“How can I explain polyamory to my very Christian, very Korean mother?”

I was so shocked. I leaned in, grabbed crushed both of my partners’ hands in each of my hands, and listened intently. After the audience laughter (and audible “oofs”) died down, Dan answered my question with a different question.

He asked…

“What is the burden of not knowing?”

It really is a deceptively short and simple question at sight, but gets to the heart of many relationship questions. What is the price of admission we are willing to pay in order to be with our loved ones? How much does it cost to live in denial or non-recognition of an integral part of who you are?

Dan went on to explain how strained his relationship with his parents became when his conservative, Irish Catholic parents rejected his gay identity. His mother eventually came around to be his most ardent supporter until she passed away in 2008.

I eventually went on to come out as polyamorous to my very Christian, very Korean mother because I thought the cost of living in the closet for the sake of my mother was too high a price of admission to be in my mother’s life. I also considered that my mother had a right to not know. But it went against every fiber of my ethics to continue lying, both by intention and by omission, even if it was for my mother’s benefit.

Photo by Athena on

There is always an inherent risk in opening up to and sharing our vulnerabilities with the ones we love. And that is in rejection or misunderstanding of that vulnerability. Based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like your girlfriend already acknowledged that there was a very real, implicit risk of rejection when she opened up to her mother about her relationship with you. But decided that opening up to her mother even at the risk of rejection was worth it for the sake of the legitimacy of her relationship with you.

But let’s step away from what your polycule is experiencing at the moment and try to gain a better understanding of your girlfriend’s mother’s perspective. In coming out to her mother, your girlfriend revealed that she is bisexual and polyamorous at the same time. In addition, she revealed that she has a girlfriend that her husband is also dating at the same time. That is a lot of “walls” that were shattered in one singular conversation. Even if her mother wasn’t traditional and more closed minded, it would have been a lot for her to acquiesce with. She had to contend with an image of her daughter that she had in her own head that was very, very different from who she actually is today. In a way, it was a self-perpetuated betrayal, manifesting in her mother’s rejection of reality. And because she didn’t want to believe that she had grown so distanced from the idea of the daughter that she thought she was really close to, she instead redirected all of her pain onto her son-in-law (your boyfriend). Admittedly so, it was not fair for her mother to besmirch her partner in front of her in that way. But recognize that even as irrational and hurtful as it was, it likely wasn’t really intended to be that way.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

This isn’t to say that your girlfriend made an errant calculation or a mistake. You and your partners are talking about eventually caring for a brand new life. That is a level of life commitment that often trumps existing family connections, including the ones you already have with your parents and siblings. She made the right choice.

If we hold that her mother will maintain her view that polyamory is wrong, there is very little that her partners – both married and unmarried – can do. And the best you two can do for your partner in distress is to support, to cherish, and to remind each other that you are all here for each other. Ultimately, your girlfriend’s relationship with her mother is for her to manage, even if that anger is unfairly directed toward your boyfriend and her husband.

And let’s talk about that management for a bit. Your girlfriend isn’t here to receive this advice, but she first needs to acknowledge and understand that the previous relationship that she had with her mother is no more. That past relationship is already lost. It doesn’t mean that it is beyond repair, but it will need to compose of new parts that were lost in part due to this traumatic exchange, but also due to the histories they didn’t share with each other.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a choice of picking her mother over her relationship orientation. Instead, she needs to focus on how to survive in this new reality. One where she might have to compromise by living in a subdued universe where you both exist. One where she might have to set some strong boundaries against her mother so that she does not openly disrespect your girlfriend’s multiple partners. One where she might have to step away to heal and recover.

Photo by Little Visuals on

To go back to my story, my mother did not take the news well, the news to her that her son had multiple partners. And that rejection completely shook me. I took some time to heal. And when it wasn’t so painful anymore, I reached back out to my mother to let her know that I’ll still be here as her son whenever she is ready to reconnect.

I am really sorry to hear that you and your polycule is going through such a traumatic experience together. It is a big loss, to lose the support from the loved ones. It is traumatic, and I hope that you can use the support that you found through your parents, his parents, and any other poly support networks all three of you developed to heal and recover.

It is important for you three to remember – now more than ever – that an explicit action is not necessary. Healing from pain of rejection is action enough.

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My partner resents me for missing his father’s funeral from before we got together.

“Before we got together, my partner’s father unfortunately passed away. This was around when we knew each other for about 2 months, we wouldn’t really hang out a lot but we did talk here and there.

The day I found out his father died I gave him a hug and talked a little bit about it to comfort him. A week later, he invited me to the funeral and unfortunately I couldn’t make it due to work and told him so and that I was sorry about it.

Part of me also felt like I wouldn’t belong there as I couldn’t properly mourn him (because I didn’t know him or the family at all and was not super close to my now partner) , so I didn’t want to feel like I was being disrespectful in that regard.

A month later, we became very close and decided to date each other. It’s been a year and a half now, but my partner told me he partially resents me because of it.

I’ve supported him emotionally with the aftermath of his father’s passing and have suggested we should visit his grave to clean it up and leave items in honor of him, but he always refuses. I’ve tried to ask multiple times about this before he said this, but he always says no. Part of me understands the resentment, but part of me doesn’t at the same time. How do I fix this?”

Anonymous on /r/relationship_advice.

Photo by Connor Forsyth on

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say that you and your partner are building a Lego Hogwarts Castle set together. The catch is that your partner is building this Lego set from scratch while you have the instruction booklet the next town over. So you two call each other to communicate what piece goes where and in what order. I would imagine it’s probably really difficult to complete that set without getting frustrated at each other when you have to shout over the phone for the fifth time to place a thin green four-peg block six pegs right from where he placed Harry two instructions ago.

Helping your partner through grief can often feel like shouting over the frustration your partner feels while they sort through all six thousand and twenty individual pieces in the Lego Hogwarts Castle set in front of him.

I don’t think his grief is your responsibility to manage. You had your own reasons. And as you said, you’ve already reiterated your reasons to your partner. This tells me that his sense of resentment is not one that is rooted in logic, but rather emotion. But even if you were really dating him (let’s say you two have been dating each other for a month when his father passed away), it is still wholly within your own personal right not to attend the funeral for all the reasons you already shared. You’ve only known each other for two months when this happened. And even though he did extend an invitation to you, your decline was fair and reasonable. This decision is not something you should have to defend.

Furthermore, you’ve done your subsequent emotional labor of supporting a partner through the grief process, a deed you did not necessarily need to sign up for. This article from What’s Your Grief talks about the concept of Continuing Bonds where it discusses that grief is ongoing. It isn’t something we get through. Grief becomes a part of our lives. And while you didn’t say that your partner was close to his late father, I am guessing based on his actions and words that they were very close. And even if you are completely fault-free and you’ve done your personal best to help your partner process through that grief, one of the myriad ways grief can manifest is through blaming. And in here, I don’t mean that he is blaming you for his father’s death, but that it is manifesting in something you couldn’t do for him.

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It is very important for you to acknowledge that his grief is his to own. And even more important for you to recognize your own needs as distinct from meeting his needs. In stressful times like these, it is very easy to get caught up in codependent habits. Codependency is loosely defined as excessive physical or mental reliance on a person usually experiencing addiction or illness, and I do think supporting a dependent partner through grief also falls under this umbrella.

Sam Dylan Finch defines codependent relationship as “a relationship in which a partner becomes a substitute for healthier coping strategies. By being an individual’s sole source of support and caregiving, they interfere with their partner’s ability to be self-reliant and adaptive in the face of stress.” You mentioned that you two got close and started dating each other only a month removed from his loss. That is a lot of weight burdened upon a beginning of any relationship. I wonder how much you two grew to depend on each other as emotional support and thus inadvertently interfered in each other’s ability to become more self-reliant.

And let’s talk a bit more about your own feelings in this situation as well.

Hearing that your partner partially resents you for turning down the invitation to attend his father’s funeral could be a very painful realization, especially if you feel like you did your best to support him through this very traumatic time. Your pain too is real. You and your partner have been dating each other for a year and a half. And to hear that he harbors negative feelings for what you reasonably decided wasn’t the best course of action could feel like you’ve been misled. So you too need to acknowledge your pain that comes from your partner either

  1. Withholding his true assessment of your ongoing emotional support for the past year and a half, or;
  2. Misusing his ongoing grief to blame you for something that you chose not to do.
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Like many other pains in life, time will heal this too.

It sounds like you are already doing your best by offering to visit his father’s grave together. And in continuing to engage in a conversation with him, you’ve left the door open for him to come reach out to you in dire need of emotional support. But I’m curious if he himself acknowledges that he is mired in the process of grief and loss, and what he is doing to productively manage his own grief. I sincerely hope that he has been able to receive grief counseling or at least talk about his grief and loss openly with a professional therapist who can help him develop his own tools to manage his feelings.

At the end of the post, you asked “How can I fix this?”

My answer to you is that you can’t. Your partner owns his own feelings, and those feelings are for him to manage. To go back to the Lego example from earlier in the post, it’s just much more efficient to bring him the instruction booklet and offer to help in person. So let him know that you are here to support his journey back to sanity.

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My wife is terrified to come out as polyamorous.

“So basically my wife has been bisexual her entire life. We have had discussions in the past about being poly and have agreed we both are and she would love to do it. But she physically can’t get herself to because of her extremely religious and conservative family and she says she likely never will be able to.

This has gone on for 3 years. Recently she has brought it up in a more serious tone the last month saying she will be upset if she goes through life not living it how she wants to and being as happy as she can be. She still says she will never be able to do it because of the judgment and fear of other people knowing. She has cried about it multiple times recently.

I have no issues with it or what people think and just straight up don’t care.

Do you guys have any advice on what to do here? Anything I can say to her? People with similar experiences?”

Hot & Buttery Cop Porn, /r/polyamory.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Dear Hot & Buttery Cop Porn,

Coming out can be a very intense and delicate process. One of my partners – also bisexual and polyamorous – once equated the process of coming out felt more like a continuous process, that it was an ongoing development to seek radical acceptance from people who formerly knew her as a straight, monogamous woman.

Your wife could be contending with the same hesitation regarding coming out to her very religious and conservative family. It’ll be really difficult for her to explain her bisexuality to her family without also coming out as polyamorous, and vice versa. When each of those bi-closet and the poly-closet seem so heavy to open, it is sometimes easier to just live a life compartmentalized in smaller, bite-sized chunks that others might better understand, even if it isn’t the full picture. As her husband, you have been lucky to be there to accept and understand that both her bisexuality and polyamorous identities are essential to who she is. That is a privilege that she feels intensely guilty about in regards to her family.

Based on what you have shared, I get the sense that your wife is very close to her family. And even though they live a very different life than your wife is living, your wife would still like to remain close to her family. For her, that price of admission to be close to her family is that she sort of has to live her life in a lie. And it is a continuous upkeep and maintenance to manage her true identity as a bisexual and polyamorous woman separate from fake identity as a straight and monogamous woman she retains for her family. It is an incredibly burdensome weight for her to carry, but one she is opting to carry anyway.

Photo by Kara Muse on

So to go back and answer your question on what you can do for her. If you and your wife live in a conservative area or even possibly with your in-laws, then moving out of that area to look for a more open-minded community is your next most obvious step. Doing so will help her realize that she can choose to seek acceptance elsewhere, in a more queer- and poly-friendly environments.

You can continue to be the safe space she needs you to be – where she can true to her bisexual and polyamorous identities. That means repeated reassurances that she can freely explore her sexuality and relationship orientation in the confines of your own home without any worries of any repercussion. Three years is a long time just in your marriage to be openly struggling with core facets of her identity. So give her time to be who she needs to be. Sometimes, the words don’t necessitate an action plan. Sometimes, she just needs to vent about how frustrating and difficult it is for her to live in denial. So commiserate with her and empathize by seeing how difficult it really is for her and reiterate your commitment to being a safe space for her to be her true self with you.

If it feels too exhausting for you to be her sole queer-friendly space, then she might benefit from seeing a queer- or poly-friendly therapist who can help her be more accepting of her true identities.

This past weekend, I attended a poetry show by Andrea Gibson. And Andrea talked a lot about how queer communities are so used to rebuilding their family around people who can accept them for who they are. Most queerfolks are ostracized upon coming out. It is why the suicide rates are higher in LGBTQ folks, sometimes 1.5 to 3 times higher than that of het folks. What I am trying to say is that we all live in a society where external pressures constantly mold and shape the queerfolks – mono-normativity and hetero-normativity, by name – to ask us to live a lie on behalf of their ease. And it is a constant struggle to have to defend who we are, sometimes even against our own inner tapes informing us so. So please understand that sometimes, your wife just needs a firm branch on which to rest her tired bird wings.

So be the tree your wife needs you to be.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My sister owes me money.

“When I [22F] was a freshman in college I got a really cool job and made 1.7k a month. I’m really frugal and I was able to save it up. At the time, my sister [35F] found a well paying job and was raking in dough. Or at least that’s how she appeared to be. She would always fly first class, she has two kids, they would travel a lot. Her husband [38M] also had a good paying job. They purchased two houses, and they even paid college tuition for his 3 siblings!

I think that’s what killed them financially. She eventually got demoted at her job (with a massive pay decrease). Her husband got fired and lost his insurance. When he received a cancer diagnosis, they paid for his cancer treatment out of pocket.

One day, she called me asking how much money I had in my bank account. She asked to borrow $5,000 and promised that she would return it in 3 month’s time. She told me she needed it to pay one of her mortgages. I love my sister, so I was more than willing to let her take some under the pretense it would be returned.

It has been 4 years and I haven’t gotten it returned yet.

It gets worse. I go to NY and Boston with her on vacation, where with my permission and understanding that it would be paid back immediately. Instead, she used my card to buy clothes for her kids (my niece and nephew who I also love to bits).

And like that another $2,500 is taken out.

I’ve stopped lending her money, partially because she has stopped asking for money and also because I told her that her spending habits aren’t sustainable. From what I hear, she apparently also borrowed $30,000 from one of my brothers as well.

I’m not sure what to do now. Her husband is unable to hold on to one for more than a year and is currently in between jobs. They still have 2 houses (renting one out for money). She switched jobs but I’m not sure if that came with a change financially.

They still indulge a bit. Not massively. But they have subscription services, and live TV. they enroll their kids in soccer, karate, and ballet.

Every time I breach the subject of paying me back, she says that her finances are still in a bind and she promises that she’ll pay me back soon. I haven’t brought it up in a long time and now with her new job I want mention it again, but I’m not sure how.”

/u/naalotai, /r/relationship_advice.

Dear Naalotai,

I am sorry that your sister has taken advantage of your (and your brother’s) financial situation(s). $7,500 is a significant sum of money for a new college grad starting out. That could be a down payment on a new car, or a pretty great overseas vacation. But more important than the number is the value of your connection with your sister.

I do believe that a lot of people get trapped in the concept of lifestyle creep / lifestyle inflation where they incrementally spend more and more to match the household income. Once that bubble pops, the reality will sink in. It sounds like your sister’s family got caught up in living in a partial denial of her new reality that her lifestyle has outpaced her income.

It sounds like you’ve already established some very sound basic boundaries with your sister to make sure that your financial aspects are not too adversely affected. You did a great job by putting your foot down and reminding her that she cannot come to you for financial support any longer. And I think it is time for the rest of your family to come to the same realization, that your sister’s spending habits are unsustainable.

Photo by cottonbro on

I also wonder how beneficial it could be to reframe your sister’s habits and behaviors from a perspective of an addict. The cycle of guilt-tripping, codependent behavioral traits, and the period of calm before the next “hit” all seem to reflect the same mentalities that substance addicts embrace in order to maintain their livelihood. If anything, I strongly encourage you to read up on codependency and reflect on what that concept means to the relationship you have with your sister.

And in a lot of different ways, the money you (and your brother) loaned her is being used to enable her clearly unhealthy and unsafe financial practices. As such, she is living in a fundamental state of denial that she does not have any problems with managing her finances. And sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is to just let it be, to let her fail.

You’ve already done the best you can. If you are keen on getting that money back, you might be able to find some legal success in small claims court. But it’ll be difficult to prove that the money you loaned her weren’t gifts especially if you lack proper documentation. Otherwise, keep holding your boundary; you’re doing great.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – I found out my father isn’t really my father.

“I [37F] took an Ancestry DNA test to find out more about my family history. What I found out is that my father [64M] isn’t actually my father.

It all started with a free trial to Ancestry. I like history and don’t know a ton about my family tree so one day while I was bored I figured I knew enough to get the ball rolling. My mom’s family is pretty diligent about preserving the history of their side so that info was easy. My dad’s side was more of a mystery. One little leaf linked to another and suddenly 3 hours later I was deep in the rabbit hole of census information. After I couldn’t go any further, I was already in too deep. I saw the DNA health kit and decided to go for it. I sent in my vile of saliva and waited for my results.

My health results came back first and were pretty unexciting. My DNA and ethnicity results are a little more complicated. At first, I just glanced through the DNA results because who cares about 2nd and 3rd cousins really. At the top of the list of shared DNA was a man and just under his picture, it read “parent/child” in the related field. My brain did not process it. I read it as a parent/child of someone in my immediate family even though I have no idea who they are. Like I said, my dad’s side is more of a mystery. I looked at his picture and saw some resemblance and that was that.

Fast forward to yesterday. I woke up to a notification of a message from this guy via the Ancestry app. He was asking me if I wanted to talk and that he had just seen me because Ancestry sent him notification of the DNA match. STILL, I wasn’t following. I thought he was being polite because of the family match. Then I looked at the actual data. It says parent/child because I have half his damn DNA. We exchanged a couple of messages. He seems genuinely interested in knowing about me. I asked if he knew my mom and from where. He explained that he knew both of my parents but had no idea about me. He knew them when he lived in my home state, 37 years ago.

I called my mom this morning because I needed some answers. She had a pretty terrible childhood and a young adult life full of things she wishes I didn’t know about. At first, she was very defensive, then I think a bit of shock set in. DNA doesn’t lie so there isn’t a way out of it. She admitted that the possibility was there but she always believed my dad was my father and she doesn’t remember this guy at all. I am still not sure if she is telling the truth or not.

I am just at an absolute loss right now. My dad and I don’t have a super tight relationship because my parents divorced when I was 3 but he’s a really great guy and he really tried his best. I love my dad and think the world of him but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like something was off my whole life. He adopted my brother when he was a baby and raised him as his own. I feel like it would crush him if he found out that the one-child he did have, wasn’t his at all.”

/u/TheNWTreeOctopus, /r/relationships.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Dear NW Tree Octopus,

I’m really sorry that you had to discover and learn about your heritage in this way. The pain from the complexity and confusion are very apparent in your words. I really hope you can take some time to process this on your own first and foremost.

Let’s be frank and honest here. Even if your father was not your biological father, that does not make him any less of a father for you. We all get so caught up in the idea of the blood bond between kin defining family. The truth of the matter is that family is what you make of it. It honestly sounds like your father has done his best to make sure that you survived and thrived in a divorced household. He was the one that was there for you from the beginning, the one that saw your grow up, and the one that can better identify as a father. He does not need to share a single drop of blood with you to be your father.

And no one has ever said the title of a “father” has to be exclusive to one person either. It could definitely be shared by more than one person. You can definitely have more than one father figure in your life. Fatherhood is a privilege and it’s a title worthy of being shared by multiple people. I really feel for your biological father who missed out on 37 years of his own fatherhood he could have had with you. Your mother certainly robbed him of that experience. If you decide to connect with your biological father, I strongly suggest to approach that new connection with caution and compassion. You’ve been alive for the past 37 years. But he just discovered that he has a daughter. So be patient and allow him to discover and connect with you slowly.

Photo by Mahima on

And let’s talk more about your mom. You might never discover why she decided to withhold that information from you. Based on the timing, it is possible that she was having an affair with your biological father. It is also possible that she was just casually seeing multiple people at that point in her life. And when she became pregnant, she chose your father to attempt parenthood with. She could have just completely blocked out her experience with your biological father and decided to live out the reality she wanted to live in. Whatever the reasons are, it is ultimately unimportant and unnecessary to paint the broad picture of your own life. It doesn’t matter if her obfuscation of reality was intentional or accidental. You still live in this world after all. Just like you can have more than one fathers, you absolutely do not need to have a mother at all. But I strongly suggest that you forgive her for whatever decisions she consciously or unconsciously made. She tried her best.

As for your father you grew up with, it honestly sounds like he too has tried his best to be your father. And I think you have a decision to make, on whether or not you disclose your new findings with your father. You mentioned that his discovering the truth about your biological parentage might crush him. So I ask you to weigh your burden of not sharing against the security of his current reality. Like your biological father, your father spent the past 37 years of your life with you as his biological daughter. It is clear from what kind of father he has been to your adopted brother that he doesn’t necessarily need biological linkage to be a good father. But the circumstances are completely different here; he opted for adoption with him whereas he was (falsely) granted fatherhood with you. And that too doesn’t take away from his 37 years of fatherhood. Like I said above, he does not need to share blood to be your father.

It might not be unethical to not share this new discovery with your father, as your mother has done so far. It is not necessarily important or pertinent information in the grand scheme of his fatherhood with you. I also wonder what is the “need to know” basis here as well. It isn’t like he is with your mother anymore. And you’re all already grown up. It might just be kinder to allow your father to continue in his fatherhood as he has done so for the past 37 years. Sharing that kind of world-altering discovery might take years or even decades for him to recover from. And sometimes, the best action is to not take any action at all.

Photo by Josh Willink on

I’ll tell you that as someone who comes from a very traumatic childhood, one of the most influential father figures I’ve had was my father-in-law. Until I met him, I had a very difficult and different ideas about what a father should be. He taught me that even the most secure and confident man can be completely awkward and goofy at the same time. And it completely broke my heart when I lost him almost a year ago. He might not have been my biological father, but I definitely looked up to him as one.

So I ask you to look to your father the same way. He might not be your biological father, but you certainly can continue to look up to him as one. Most people don’t even get to have one father. And you have options. No need for you to rush into making any decisions now. So sit and think about what you want to do.

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – Open marriage problems.

“My partner and I have been together for 15 years and married for 13. We opened up our marriage four years ago. She has been with several men and I have not been with other women other than threesomes that included my wife. I have attempted to date other women but have not had success, partially because it is not something I really need.

Throughout these four years I have really struggled with jealousy. This past year I have broken my jealousy down into my emotions underneath and tried to walk through the door and change. But I have recently realized that the change I was trying to make was for her and not for me. Realizing this I have decided to stay monogamous. Becoming non-monogamous / polyamorous is not something I am capable of. I have tried my hardest and it is just not me.

This week I told my wife that I cannot be non-monogamous and it did not go well. She called me a liar and that she knew all along this was going to be the result. She is not speaking to me at the moment, which I probably deserve. This past four years I thought I could become something I am not and kept trying and trying. She is very upset and I believe she feels like she has to choose between being with me or not being with me.

We have two children, a beautiful house, a dog, lots of toys and we both love our life together.

Please advise.”

– Anonymous

Photo by Breakingpic on

Dear Anonymous,

You’ve given non-monogamy your best shot. You tried dating (and it is difficult for men to date non-monogamously). And you’ve done your emotional labor by breaking down jealousy into smaller, more digestible chunks. Ultimately, it is just not something you’re all that interested in. So it is obvious that you are not going to have non-monogamous encounters of your own. You tried your best.

Your experience does not mean that your wife has to stop exploring non-monogamous relationships of her own. In your post, you’ve shared how destructive jealousy has been for you. In your post, I sense that you’ve not only ruled out non-monogamy for yourself, but also partaking or even hearing about her non-monogamous relationships as well.

Your wife’s subsequent reaction makes emotional sense. In a way, you’ve consented to non-monogamy for the past four years. And she might feel like she has been lied to for the past four years with your sudden retraction of consent. Her pain is understandable. But maybe we all need to step away from that absolute reading of consent.

You didn’t just consent to having a non-monogamous relationship for perpetuity. Your consent was proactive and continuous. You are perfectly within your own rights to revisit an agreement you’ve made in the past in the face of ongoing changes and new developments, just like your wife is perfectly within her own rights to feel upset.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Now you and your wife are standing at an impasse.

Especially since the divorce is completely off the table, I would strongly advise some couple’s counseling for you and your wife. There is a lot of flesh out here that I don’t have personal insight to. I would also strongly advise some individual therapy for you as well. In your post I sense some really deep self-critique that cuts a bit too deep. The safe confines of a therapist’s office will help you analyze that wound and learn to heal yourself more effectively.

Separation might be a prudent option considering the circumstances. If you have a separate third or fourth bedroom to stay in, giving some space for not only you but your wife to grieve the reality trajectory she has lived in for the past four years will be necessary for these next steps. Think of this as both you and your wife experiencing a loss. A loss of this version of future together, as you might have experienced in the past four years of your non-mono experience together. And she is distinctly feeling the gap between the reality you are suggesting and the reality she lived in. And that might be what she is feeling when you suggest she might be deciding whether to be with or not with you anymore; with your aligned visions or living separate realities apart.

I strongly advise against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policies for the simple sake of your own sanity. That is not going to help with your sanity or managing your jealousy. You and your wife already nest together. For her to live a life that is completely separate and distinct from the one she shares with you will continue to drive a gap between you two. Even if you both decide that the romantic/sexual aspects of your marriage is no longer viable, continue to mindfully engage with each other for the sake of scheduling. Parenting is already difficult enough with two fully on-board parents.

Photo by Amber Lamoreaux on

As a father, I can also understand how the end of this phase of your marriage could affect your children. You didn’t say how old your children are. But I’m guessing based on how long you and your wife have been together that your children are not quite teenagers yet. And I’m also assuming that you are not fully out to your children as non-monogamous either. It is far too early to fully embrace or understand that their parents’ marriage is not perfect. And while kids are resilient, you and your wife need to set some priorities and regarding the safety and security of your parenthood together even if your romantic future has ended. They’ll quickly sense that things are different when the mood and environment changes are apparent. So while you can’t shield them completely from this new transition of your marriage, you and your wife can start preparing to best frame this new transition in the ways that doesn’t threaten your children’s livelihood. So think about and at least proactively align what you’ll tell your kids about why you’re suddenly sleeping in the spare room.

I am really sorry that you are going through this. I feel for you who have to be the bearer of bad news. I feel for your wife who feels like her rug has been pulled from underneath her. I feel for your kids who are about to experience some major turbulence in their home. I even feel for your pup who will have to adapt to new changes as well.

Someone at some point in time told me that blood bond in family is resilient. Through time and time again, I’ve questioned why that was so. It was in the past couple months that I’ve realized that your family is what you make it out to be, not who you share your blood with. But in your experience, why not have that chosen family also be the one you share blood with? What can you and your wife accept and compromise from your current positions to choose to remain as a family together?

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

Advice – My family still loves my ex.

Photo by revac film’s&photography on

/u/herbalbaby writes on /r/relationships…

“We broke up a year ago, were together for 6 years. It was a very sudden breakup for my family because I never shared the hurt, pain, and damage he was causing both of us.

He was bipolar, manic depressive, and had very bad separation anxiety (with me). I loved him through it, he had always had those issues, but in the last year and a half I noticed I was isolated and depressed. He was jealous of any friend I had, would want me to come home ASAP, didn’t want my friends over because he didn’t know them – he never explicitly said these things, he would kind of just throw tantrums. “Oh.. I was waiting all day to hang out with you… But if you want to hang out with so and so, I’ll see you later. ” And then he would call after an hour. If I didn’t pick up he would go super Saiyan and assume I was murdered in a ditch – if I was alive, why wasn’t I picking up??? And once I did pick up he was pissed at me because “I was so worried”. So I slowly stopped hanging out with people to not make his anxiety worse. He also couldn’t sleep without me in bed with him, so when he went to bed I did too.

There were many other reasons, but I won’t get into those.

Main point of this post it to get advice about how I should handle my family, specifically my grandma. He’s reached out to me apologizing, saying I was right about his anger problems and that he was finally seeing a psychiatrist. How he wanted to just be my friend again. I’m not having it, I’m so much happier in my life.

But my grandma thinks I’m being cold. “He’s such a good boy”, and “well he’s seeing a psychiatrist now, what if he gets better?”. Honestly I think she feels this way because he’s actively going to school, has a decent job, and he IS a very kind soul when he’s in a good mood. She’s all about success over anything else.

I have no intention of getting back in contact with him, I just need help navigating my family. Especially since I’m dating (in literal terms) a new guy who I really care for and match really well with, but isn’t “successful” on paper. Any advice is welcome.”

TL;DR – Broke up with my mentally abusive boyfriend a year ago but my grandma has made it obvious that she would prefer I get back together with him at some point since he’s seeing a psychiatrist and “could get better”. I say she feels like this because he’s “going places”.

Dear Herbal Baby,

I think it is time for you to negotiate and establish a better set of boundaries around your family regarding your ex.

It honestly does not matter at all what your family thinks about him. If you are in a better place for not dating him, it is not in your family’s place to try to convince you to go back to dating him. That is deeply inappropriate. You’re an adult. You are in charge of your own life. So I’d probably set my foot down and say, “Hey grandma, thanks for these frosted sugar cookies. I hear you about my ex boyfriend. But I am not going to date him again. I feel hurt and uncomfortable when you continue to push this issue upon me. If you feel like he has redeemable qualities, then you can initiate and maintain your own connection with him on your own without me.”

And leave it at that.

They too are adults and they can maintain their own connections with your ex if they want. It is not at all your responsibility to maintain it for them, especially at the cost of your own sanity.

And going forward, whenever your family asks about your ex, just say that he is doing okay and change the topic to something more relevant. Maybe even redirect it to talking about something incredible that your new guy has done for you recently.

I might also be more straight forward with your ex as well and put my foot down and say that you’re happy to see him make progress but that you’re not ready to be friends quite yet (if ever).

It is time for everyone to move on. A brand new 2020 is almost upon us.

Good luck!

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