Advice – My metamour hates me. How can I feel compersion again?

“I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year now. We are both polyamorous and fell quickly for each other. The first couple of months were rough – because he and his wife (who is very monogamous) had freshly opened their relationship. We were all new to this and I started out as a strict secondary partner which felt extremely unhealthy for me. Since then, we decided to go non-hierarchical and come out to almost everyone around us last summer. The relationship with my boyfriend has been very stable and beautiful. We consider each other life partners and see each other about every other day.

For most of that year, polyamory was extremely intuitive and almost easy for me. It just feels right for me. I felt compersion and empathy for my boyfriend, his wife, and their marriage.

Unfortunately, she struggled from the start. Most of my own difficult feelings stemmed from specific issues (like the hierarchy thing or when I felt like my metamour didn’t really want our relationship to work), almost never from the fact that my partner loves someone beside me.

But now something has shifted. I’m still poly, I would probably go crazy in an exclusive relationship. But I feel almost no compersion anymore. And I think it’s because I feel extremely rejected by my metamour.

She makes her intent very clear with her behavior, her demands, and her comments about our relationship that she hates the fact that I’m with him. And that she still wants him to treat me like a secondary. Whatever the topic, she’s not willing to really take my needs, my feelings, or my relationship with her husband seriously enough.

The logic seems to be that if her husband is poly and she will never be his only partner again, then at least she wants to be the main one. The one who always comes first. The one who calls the shots and is able to limit his time with me. The only one he can ever live with. He doesn’t want those things, so he keeps saying no and tries to find other ways to fight for the marriage and make her feel loved. But somehow it’s never enough.

And I think she’s projecting all her frustration onto me. After my first vacation with my boyfriend, she decided that she doesn’t want to be my friend after all. She wants me to stop coming to their house (just a month before, I had spent a Christmas day with the family. I had cups of coffee with her alone, built a friendship with their daughter, and helped out wherever I could), she doesn’t want to talk to me or even see my face anywhere. She basically wants to live her life and marriage as if I didn’t even exist. And she wants her husband to treat me like an affair or a hobby, something that only exists when he’s with me.

I feel so rejected. Mistreated. Unwanted. Unimportant. I wanted to be friends with her for so long. I wanted to be a part of this family. And now I’m starting to hate her, too. I’m starting to be all mad and jealous and anxious when my boyfriend is with her. I even find myself wishing he would leave her. And it scares me. Because I used to root for their marriage so much. And I don’t think I can really like living poly without that.

So what do you think? Is there a way to feel compersion again? Or at least indifferent? To love my enemy, so to speak – even though she hates me? Cause I don’t want to feel this shit anymore.”

Anonymous on /r/polyamory.

Photo by Ngô Trọng An on

Dear Anonymous,

I am really sorry to hear that you are experiencing this loss of a valuable connection and a rejection from your metamour. Your hurt feelings are very valid. This particular connection is something you’ve clearly intended to strengthen and forge as your own. And your metamour’s thoughts, actions, and words have clashed against not only your intention but what appears to be your shared partner’s intention as well.

I do think that everyone is making some degree of mistake that contribute to the ongoing conflict. So in this post, I’ll lay out what each person’s perspective looks like and what mistakes each person is making, before I get to the actual advice portion of the post.

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First things first, your metamour probably doesn’t hate you as much as you think.

You – his other partner – just happen to be a convenient lightning rod in which to direct all of her frustrations with polyamory towards. So her current distanced disposition toward you probably isn’t about you personally, but rather more about the resentment she cannot place onto her husband and the father of their child. It isn’t easy to hold a loved one accountable for their mistakes. It isn’t right or fair that your metamour is structuring her boundaries in such a way that makes you feel boxed out of developing a long-term future with your boyfriend. But it is the way that she has decided is more reasonable and reassuring for her soul, that you – as the other woman – is to be blamed. What I am trying to say is that it isn’t so much about you as it is about the resentment building in their relationship as their agreements and boundaries crumble.

With all that said, her perspective also makes a lot of sense. Based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like they only opened up when you first started dating your boyfriend. Your boyfriend and your metamour both had a collective vision for the type of polyamorous arrangement they were both comfortable with – strict hierarchy – that quickly eroded over the summer. Your metamour could feel that sudden shift in his perspective towards lack of hierarchies to be very painful because she is kinda sorta being left behind.

It is very easy for her to point at the catalyst of this change – you – and establish new boundaries in a more forgo-able connection with you than the more essential one she has with her husband.

Her assertion that her husband should treat his relationship with you a certain way is also very problematic. Doing so robs both you and your boyfriend of your autonomy in your romantic relationship. But not doing so conflicts with the original agreements she made with her partner to prioritize their marital relationship above all else. I don’t think she quite anticipated the amount of change that she and her partner would go through when they first opened up. There are a lot of initial growth and challenges that come with opening up: disentanglement, determining your brand of non-monogamy, and establishing & managing boundaries. Living in a state of denial of her changed relationship is neither healthy nor helpful.

Her recent boundary to bar you from entering their home is probably one that stemmed from a sense of jealousy. It seems aligned with the timing after your first vacation together. One of the skills that new polyfolks need to learn early on is in managing and creating spaces for those relationships to exist, even if they’re not your own relationships. In her decision to exclude you from his nest is an incorrect sense of mind to take action over temporary feelings of insecurity, one that she will have to own and course correct on her own. But that motivation to change isn’t suddenly going to spring up. After all, she is married to her partner and has a child together. At the very least, she could hold this boundary and maintain an unstable status quo until either you bow out of a hostile metamour situation or your boyfriend ends his marriage. It will be important for her to acknowledge that both of those are undesirable outcomes.

With all that said, I also think that your metamour is making an ongoing mistake by not addressing her hurt feelings with the appropriate parties. In blaming you, she is refusing to acknowledge that her partner has grown, and that their original vision has deviated so far from each other. And she will become more and more disconnected from her husband the longer this fib goes on. And her refusal to welcome you into her life and their home is just another manifestation of that disconnect.

So if you and your boyfriend consider each other to be life partners, be prepared for a long and harsh period before your boyfriend proves to his wife that neither you nor your boyfriend is willing to quit on this poly relationship.

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Your boyfriend also has a lot of work cut out for him.

It sounds like there has been a lot of shifts for not just you but in your boyfriend’s relationship with his wife in the past year. You were initially introduced as a secondary partner, but things became non-hierarchical over the past summer. Mere months into your entry into her life as her metamour. It could be very possible that your metamour either did not explicitly consent to his relationship with you being on an even playing ground, or that she changed her mind after witnessing his relationship with you blossoming into a potential long-term connection. Either way, your metamour is entitled to changing her mind and settling on a more parallel style of polyamory, where there is a very limited interaction between the metamours. Based on what you’ve shared, I gather that you are more in tune with the kitchen table style of polyamory, where there is a lot of non-romantic interactions between the metamours. That is a direct conflict that neither you nor your metamour is entitled to manage; that is wholly and entirely your hinge partner’s responsibility to manage.

If the initial agreement between your hinge partner and your metamour were such that she will always be a primary partner where she can veto and determine the trajectory of all other relationships, then your hinge partner subsequently broke that agreement when he decided that you will be a co-equal partner to his wife. And if your metamour is infringing upon your personal boundary (“I will only be happy in a polyamorous arrangement where I can be friendly with my metamours.”), then your hinge partner is doing a poor job as he fails to communicate and assert the importance of your boundary with your metamour. If you are infringing upon her personal boundary (“I will only be happy in a polyamorous arrangement where there is a lot of distance between my domestic circumstance and my partner’s other partners.”), then your hinge partner is doing a poor job as he fails to communicate and assert the importance of her boundary with you. Something will have to give, whether it is the change in the status of your relationship with your boyfriend or the change in the status of your boyfriend’s relationship with your metamour.

Remember what I said above about creating space? The same applies to your boyfriend in maintaining that space in his relationship. If you are no longer welcome in the same space that you had before, he will have to figure out how to make space for his relationship with you to exist. He could designate a specific space in his home that his wife has no say in and therefore could welcome you into. Or you’ll have to resort to staying at your own living space to be together. Both of those are temporary measures as long as she remains his only nesting partner.

I do want to say a thing or two about New Relationship Energy (NRE).

It could very well be possible that both you and your partner are entangled in NRE that informs the kind of relationship you two want to have, rather than it actually being justified. Think about how quickly things started changing in his relationship with you. It’s much easier to change when the object of your affection is there to motivate and fuel the change. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the changes themselves are rational or well thought out.

Managing NRE and expectations are one of the most challenging things for new polyfolks to get right. And it could very well be possible that while his NRE drove most of the changes, he needed to defend with materials of substance in his conflicts with his wife. Specifically, using his relationship with you as a specific justification of polyamory.

I do think that the biggest mistake your boyfriend is making here is in perpetuating and permeating relationship and marital struggles.

You shared a lot about the inner workings of what is going on in their marriage that you did not have a firsthand experience with. That tells me that either your connection with your metamour was way stronger initially than you let on (where you two openly talked about the difficulties of opening up) or that your boyfriend shared a little too much detail about the struggles he has had in his marriage.

Part of what makes being a hinge partner so difficult is in selectively filtering what needs to be shared while maintaining a commitment to open communication. You really do not need to hear about the kind of relationship your metamour wants to have with your hinge partner; at the end of the day, your relationship with him is your own. And he needs to do a better job of not sharing too much about the every day struggles while keeping you informed about the big picture relational landscape.

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The biggest mistake you are making is in seeking compersion when you should be addressing the resentment.

Compersion is great when it happens. Being able to associate positive intent behind your metamour’s actions are necessary to long-term survival of any healthy polyamorous arrangement. And while compersion is a good goal to aim for, it is not always a necessity nor will it happen in every poly relationship.

As someone who has practiced polyamory for several years and met with many more who’ve practiced poly for decades plus, I am always astounded with the poly community’s inherent fascination and obsession with feeling compersion. It is almost like people want to avoid dealing with any kind of negative emotion, so they fixate on the one positive feeling unique to polyamory – compersion – and make it this big thing that is necessary. And I honestly think that this particular mentality is doing great disservice to not only the feeling of compersion but also to the emotional labor that comes with the negative feelings such as jealousy and insecurity.

Dr. Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are, talks about accelerators and brakes in an erotically charged scenario to explain why some folks have a lot of trouble getting turned on while others seem to get horny on demand. In this particular scenario, the resentment that you and your metamour harbor toward each other is a lot like a concrete slab resting on your poly-relational brakes. It doesn’t matter how much compersion and benevolent faith you heap onto this poly-relational accelerator, if the resentment keeps on building up. You’re just gonna end up damaging your torque converter by pressing both the accelerator and the brake.

There are a couple ways for you to preemptively address this build up of resentment.

First recognize that we are all human, and we all make human mistakes. Your metamour too is a human. And while her perspective is very limited, it is deeply rooted in saving the vision of marriage that has long been outgrown. So learn to forgive her for the mistakes she has made, mistakes she is currently making, and the mistakes she will make in the future. And learn to forgive your partner for the mistakes he has made, mistakes he is currently making, and the mistakes he will make in the future. Hopefully some of that goodwill will boomerang back and earn you some brownie points as your relationship with your boyfriend progresses.

Allow yourself to mourn the loss of this connection you built not just with your metamour but with your boyfriend’s family at large. That shift in expectation following your vacation together is something to properly grieve over. Step into and sit in the discomfort of this changed reality and learn to accept that you two will not have the type of relationship you two want to have at this exact moment. It isn’t going to be easy, but it will be necessary for you to move on.

And only when you have finally accepted this new reality, figure out what this means to your relationship. How else can you carve out a space for you two to exist as a couple? If your current living situation is not viable to host your boyfriend, is your boyfriend amenable to getting an apartment with you? Is your metamour willing to acknowledge that she’ll be left behind if she chooses not to grow with the two of you together? And what is she willing to do about it?

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It is a very common saying among poly circles that when you have a metamour problem, you really have a partner problem.

Others have sympathized with your metamour, assuming that she is poly under duress. I’m not sure if I agree with that assessment, based on what you have shared. She has consented to opening up. And she just needs do the emotional labor associated with opening up or decide that that is too much emotional burden for her and bow out.

You need to see that she too is being put in a very difficult place, just like she is putting you in a very difficult place. Most importantly, you need to recognize that your personal romantic entanglement with your partner could be clouding how well he is actually treating his two relationships. He unilaterally and quickly altered his relationship agreement when he was enveloped in NRE. Are you sure that your partner is really fault-free here?

Everyone has room for growth here.

In my personal experience, I have had some of the best relationships that fell apart due to bad metamours. And for a long time, I was quick to blame my toxic former metamours or my partners who refused to coalesce together as reasons on why my previous poly arrangements didn’t work. It wasn’t until I recognized my room for personal growth as a hinge partner and a metamour that I was able to have more successful and healthy poly relationships. So even if this particular relationship doesn’t work out, remember that the work you put in could be for your next relationships to bloom.

Fight not for your current partner, but for yourself and for all the future partners you’ll have.

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 am feeling very jealous about my partner’s new partner.

“I [35F] have been poly on and off since I was teenager. I’ve felt jealousy and insecurity here and there, but for the past 2 months I’ve been experiencing jealousy and insecurity so intense that nothing in my toolbox can help me manage it.

I’ve been dating Brian [31M] for the past three years. Our relationship hasn’t been in a great place for the past 4 months or so, mainly due to an ongoing pattern of behavior on his part. When sex with someone new is in the picture, it feels like the empathy and common sense parts of his brain seem to go offline – he’ll do things like talk about other partners while we’re literally in the middle of having sex, or make out with one of my ex girlfriends. We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, and he’s working to improve his behavior. But I don’t feel like he has made any real progress yet.

Last August, I reconnected with one of my exes, Peter [37M]. A couple months before that, he had started dating Logan [25NB]. Peter and I were spending time together platonically, but it gradually evolved back into a romantic friendship – we say “I love you”, and kiss and cuddle, but nothing more intimate. It didn’t go any further than that, primarily due to Logan struggling with jealousy and insecurity.

I felt a lot of empathy for what Logan was going through, and did my best to reassure them that things with Peter and I wouldn’t progress any faster than what Logan felt comfortable with. I made sure that Logan and I spent time together one-on-one, and got to know one another better, and it seemed to help.

I was unhappy with my dynamic with Peter, though, as Logan’s insecurity meant he was explicitly prioritizing them above me. He felt comfortable kissing Logan in the same space as me, but not the other way around. He and I had to make plans a week in advance, because Logan needed to be able to make advance plans of their own, in order to make it easier for them to manage their jealousy. Spending time with Peter on the weekend or overnight seemed like it would cause a lot of friction, so it was something we just didn’t do.

I felt a lot of insecurity around my relationship with him not being of equal importance – the first time we dated, despite him having other partners, there had been no restrictions. I could kiss him no matter who was in the room, see him whenever I wanted, engage in whatever level of intimacy. The insecurity was manageable, though, and I figured these restrictions would shift with time.

In January, Brian and Logan decided to spend some time together. Logan had told me in previous conversations that they weren’t looking to date until their mental health was in a better place, and Brian told me that he was just looking to spend time with Logan platonically. This is not how things actually turned out, as they had some pretty serious initial chemistry, and so they started dating. Brian decided he did not feel comfortable with being intimate with Logan until they had worked through their jealousy about Peter and I, so they held off on that.

In February, Peter and I were spending time together, and he told me that he and Logan had discussed boundaries, and that they felt comfortable with Peter and I doing things “above the waist”. Both Peter and I took that to mean “keep your pants on”, so we made out for a while. While we were kissing, he grabbed my (clothed) butt.

The next day, I got a series of upset texts from Logan, demanding to know what my definition of “above the waist” was, and telling me that they felt like they couldn’t trust me or Peter. I defused the situation as best as I could, and told them that while I want to respect any boundaries they’ve worked out, this was ultimately a conversation they needed to have with Peter.

I waited for two weeks to see what the outcome of those conversations would be, but never got a clear answer from Peter or Logan. I got the feeling that Logan felt pressure to be okay with something they really weren’t, and I was not really interested in being involved in more drama, so I decided to back off. I told Peter that I wanted to reset our relationship back to “romantic friends”, and that we could revisit things in about six months.

Since backing off of things with Peter, I’ve started to feel jealousy like I’ve never experienced before. Brian has continued to date Logan, despite their behavior, and wants to start being intimate with them. I am extremely not okay with this, even though I want to be – I want to be a good poly person!

I’m used to feeling compersion and happiness when my partner meets someone new, but instead I literally feel like I’m going to vomit when I think of them together. I feel like screaming and crying and throwing things. (Obviously I have not done any of those :-P)

Things have gotten to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s affecting my ability not only to enjoy spending time with Brian, but also to be able to focus at work and relax when I’m alone. I don’t think I can tolerate this level of jealousy much longer.

Brian knows about the level of jealousy I’m experiencing, but he has continued to bring up the topic of being intimate with them. When he does, I always tell him that I can’t give him permission to do or not do something, it’s his decision. Since we don’t practice veto (and I don’t want to, either), I’m seriously considering ending things with Brian.

I don’t want to have to end a 3 year relationship because I can’t figure out how to cope with my jealousy. What are your coping skills for dealing with unusually intense emotions like this?”

Anonymous from /r/polyamory.

Photo by Eli Verenich on

Dear Anonymous,

What a polycule! Let’s first unpack what we’ve learned so far.

Peter: Your former partner of a couple months and Logan’s current partner of several months. Previous poly history with Peter that clued you in on the kind of relationship he was capable of having with you. There were initial sparks with Peter, but as Logan continued to make your relationship difficult you decided to bow out.

Brian: Your current partner of three years and Logan’s current partner of two months. Things haven’t been that great for the past four months because they made emotionally immature decisions when he feels emotional labor approaching. Decided to date Logan two months ago even though he stated his intentions as platonic. Haven’t been intimate with Logan yet, but openly talks about how much he wants to.

Logan: Brian’s current partner of two months and Peter’s current partner of several months. Had a lot of insecurity with your budding relationship with their partner Peter. And continued to escalate and flaunt their insecurities around until your relationship with Peter was no longer feasible. Got closer with Brian in January, at which point Brian and Logan decided to date even though they stated their dating intentions as on halt until they get their emotions in order. Looking to be intimate with Brian soon.

Spoiler alert. I don’t think that you have a problem with jealousy. Traditionally, when polyfolks have jealousy problems, they really mean that they have an internal insecurity problem. It doesn’t really seem to be an issue here. Based on what you’ve described, you are clearly a very emotionally intelligent person who manages her own feelings very well.

I do think that you have a problem with one former very shitty hinge partner, one current very shitty hinge partner, and an impossible metamour. I’ll first outline what Peter, Brian, and Logan are all doing wrong before I get into the meat of the advice on what you need to do next.

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I’ll start with Peter.

I have long held a belief that it is the hinge partner’s responsibility to manage and maintain each of their multiple relationships. While it is nice when metamours can come together to resolve problems and issues, but the core needs to be the shared hinge partner to manage who is responsible for what in the same way that a Monopoly board is responsible for telling the players which set of properties they’re buying the full set of hotels for.

And Peter was a bad hinge partner for you and Logan.

Peter has completely and utterly failed you in his approach of developing a polyamorous connection with you while also dating Logan. He did not in any point assert himself into equalizing this discussion. While it isn’t Peter’s responsibility to manage Logan’s jealousy – that is wholly Logan’s to own – Peter has done next to nothing to point out and address Logan’s issues inside of their relationship. Most importantly, Peter has utterly failed in his role as a hinge partner to manage his relationship with you. He kept on asserting implicit hierarchies such as being able to kiss Logan in front of you but not kissing you in front of Logan. And instead of acknowledging and bridging that gap with intention, he chose to flaunt that implicit privilege in front of you.

I get the point of appeasing partners, but that should not come at an unwilling sacrifice of another.

I will also dive deeper into the “above the waist” boundary that Logan asserted. But I have a lot of trouble accepting that someone else outside the relationship can push and pull permission regarding the kind of sexual or romantic acts one person can do with another. It’s like telling a surgeon in middle of surgery that they did a poor job with that incision. Even if you had the visibility and the experience to do so, doctors and surgeons have authority and autonomy to determine what kind of techniques they use for their own practice. In the same way, Peter should not have agreed to Logan dictating and robbing him – and you – of your own sexual autonomy. And Peter should have pushed back and demand a sound explanation beyond “Logan wanted me to, so we are doing this.”

Permission-based relationships are not autonomous by definition. And in this specific case, very unhealthy and extensive.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Now, let’s talk about Brian.

Brian is also being a pretty bad hinge partner.

Intention declaration is a really important skill and a necessary mindfulness practice to develop in adulthood, but especially so in polyamorous relationships. We are so often judged by others by the results of our actions and not the thought that goes into our actions. In declaring our intent, we provide a clear visibility into our headspaces for others to visualize and assess. Doing so helps us mitigate risk, budget for future emotional labor, and adds an extra layer of accountability. Breaking that intention could feel a lot like betrayal since they’re betraying their own words to you.

It is very possible that when Brian first declared his intention to keep things platonic with Logan, he could not have anticipated the kind of chemistry he would develop with them. But Brian should have known about the kind of struggles you were going through with having Logan as your metamour long before you even ended your romantic relationship with Peter. By the time you ended things with Peter, Brian should have known that Logan as a metamour was the dealbreaker and should have subsequently backed off or set some boundaries so that things were on hold until the animosity between you and Logan died down. After all, it is also the hinge partner’s responsibility to broadly gauge the emotional landscape of each of their partners and act accordingly. In this regard, Brian has failed as a hinge partner, as your partner.

Brian’s past emotionally immature behaviors – talking about past partners mid-coitus, kissing your exes – seem to be in alignment with his current emotionally immature behavior – to seek a relationship with a “dealbreaker” metamour.

The “jealousy” you feel also makes a lot of sense in this context. Brian is continuing to choose and date someone you have had a very recent, very bad experience with. But you only have control over what you have direct control over. In this particular situation, the only thing you have direct control over is the amount of exposure you have to Logan – and we’ll get to boundary setting in the next section – or the status of your relationship with Brian.

I do not want you to get caught up in the amount of time you’ve spent with any one partner as a reason to stay. That is a sunk cost fallacy. It doesn’t matter if the relationship lasted ten months or ten years; if you’re unhappy, it is right for you to consider ending things. Brian has displayed time and time again that he is unwilling to recognize your needs and refuse to rationally think through the people he pursues. If three years is however long it took for you to figure that out, then that is three years well-spent. It’s better than thirteen years.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

Where both Peter and Brian have been difficult, Logan has been impossible.

Remember what I said about Peter being a bad hinge partner? Peter should have sussed this out and called Logan out when he found out Logan went straight to you with their internal relationship problems.

Also, remember what I said about intention declaration regarding Brian? The same applies here too, except I don’t think I can make the same generous assumption with Logan as we did for Brian. It doesn’t sound like Logan’s mental health is in any better place compared to January.

Logan is what I would call “the sword and shield” type. They utilize all the sharp edges of their insecurity to hurt others and deflect away with their dense charm and charisma. It is no wonder you had such difficulty with Logan because all you saw were their very sharp sword as they hacked and slashed into your relationship with Peter into a very tiny piece until it was no longer sustainable as a whole.

Logan also appears to the type of “polyamorist” who is completely okay with seeing multiple partners themselves but not okay with their partners seeing multiple partners. I’ve met many metamours who intentionally or unintentionally make things difficult by dramatizing their mental health, weaponizing their boundaries which stem from their deep insecurity, and/or subtly influencing the hinge partner to focus an inordinate amount of sexual/relational/emotional energy to the point of exclusion of all other relationships.

Here is a good example of the second point. The part about “keeping things above the waist” really grabbed my attention. Instead of choosing to address this boundary violation themself or addressing this boundary violation with their shared partner Peter, they went straight to their metamour instead. That was really weird for them to do. While friendship is nice to have between metamours, it is not always a necessity. And it was rude for Logan to confront you with their own insecurity. It is also very clear to me how that particular boundary screams like the “I have issues and I don’t want to deal with them productively. So I’m going to say a bunch of words to dictate others’ behaviors so that they align with what I want instead of what everyone else wants collectively” kind of boundary, rather than the “I went to therapy to work through this, but it still remains a dealbreaker for this and that very valid reasons” kind of boundary. Logan needs to understand that asserting and enforcing unreasonable and mindless boundaries should be a dealbreaker in and of themselves.

I am also having a lot of difficulty understanding how someone who would implement that kind of harsh boundary regarding intimacy in relationships she is not even a part of is suddenly okay with becoming sexually intimate with Brian so soon.

I also hate to point this out, but Logan’s age and maturity definitely appears to be an issue. Everyone else is in their thirties while Logan is in their twenties. And age does play a mild role in their maturity level. That does not excuse their behavior, but does explain some.

Photo by cottonbro on

Finally, let’s talk about what you need to do better.

You are being way too nice. With Brian. With Peter. And with Logan.

None of those three have displayed good character or attributes of high quality partners in what you have shared with us. And it is absolutely not necessary for you to maintain any kind of friendly or romantic connection with connections that you deem inherently toxic.

Completely setting aside what has transpired between you and Logan, Brian’s past behavior and the observed lack of progress can be dealbreakers in and of themselves. But Brian should also know that you ended things with Peter because of Logan. If it isn’t already clear, state your own intentions clear that his continued pursuit of a relationship with Logan will continue to cause difficulties for his relationship with you, possibly contributing to a potential end to your romantic connection with him. And stick to it. You ended things with Peter for a good reason. And you can end things with Brian for a good reason too.

I know parts of the boundary setting with Brian are going to feel an awful lot like “veto.” But that is not what you are doing. Even if vetoes are generally considered unethical, there are traditionally unspoken boundaries such as “Do not date my family members” and “Do not date my or your coworkers” that preemptively rule out groups of folks from the dating pool. Why can’t that boundary extend to toxic metamours?

As for Logan, since you two are “friends,” it would be a very good time to establish a very firm boundary in regard to interacting with Logan. Your boundary could look like, “I will only spend X amount of hours per week discussing Logan” or even “I will not be in a same shared space with Logan”. Once you have determined your own comfort level, communicate that specific boundary with Logan and immediately halt contact. If you share a living space with Brian, I strongly suggest that you take a look at this column I published earlier this week for a more directed advice on how to manage your shared space with a person you do not want to welcome into your own home.

I’m really sorry to hear that you are going through this really difficult transition. I really hope that you can forgive yourself for not establishing proper boundaries and having the right kind of discussions with your partners. But you really are not at fault here. You’ve done the best you can with the resources that you had.

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 – Prioritization in polyamorous relationships.

“I’ve been in a polyamorous relationship for almost 5 years. I was part of a hierarchical relationship as a secondary for the first year of that relationship. Initially it was fine. I wasn’t looking for anything serious. But the relationship evolved into much more and my partners primary relationship evolved too in a different, less romantic partnership. Hierarchical isn’t practiced anymore. There were times during that first year that were bumpy. It was my first poly relationship. I was interested in trying it out. I had to reframe my mind a bit from a monogamous mindset. But I realized I liked it because I felt freedom. I wasn’t suffocating. My custody arrangements have changed so that I now have my kids 80% of the time. This isn’t ideal for someone who wants to date multiple people. So I haven’t had the opportunity to form any solid relationships outside my current partners. So with that background in mind, I have this innate desire to feel like I’m prioritized in some way. Even though we aren’t hierarchical. Is this a monogamous mindset? Should I be working on that? Are there ways to feel that way, things that can be done to accomplish that within a polyamorous relationship? My partner does a lot of behind the scenes prioritization of me that I don’t see or hear…but sometimes I feel insecure when it “feels” like I’m not in certain situations. I know I could “understand” this more if I had more opportunities to date other people. So I’m trying to explore that feeling before broaching this more with my partner. Thoughts, advice?”

Runner Chick 0601 on /r/polyamory.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

Dear Runner Chick 0601,

Let’s first talk about priorities.

My advice to you greatly depends on how you personally define priority in your non-hierarchical polyamorous relationship. In general, priority is defined as a form of lenient privilege that one partner has over other partner(s). These priorities can be temporary (i.e. “I live with my nesting partner. So until you move in next month, I am going to continue to prioritize eating dinner at my home with my nesting partner over driving two hours into the city to eat dinners with you.”), implicit (i.e. “Janet is performing at the concert I want to attend. So I’m just going to go alone and meet Janet there after her performance.”), and/or exclusive (i.e. “Peter is the only person I consent to be fluid bonded / barrier-free with.”).

Priority is frequently used in the context of scarcity of resources in polyamorous relationships: time, space, and energy.

Priority of time means that one partner gets dibs on scheduling their plans with the shared partner, often in the absence of any other plans. Depending on how stringent this priority is, it can even be placed to override existing plans with other people.

Priority of space means that one partner gets dibs on a particular activity, a specific physical space, or even emotional commitment. In an earlier example, choosing to go see Janet at her concert would be considered an implicit prioritization of space. This type of prioritization can frequently be found in kink spaces or meetups in parallel polyamorous contexts.

Priority of energy is prioritization in the emotional, physical, financial, or sexual reserves available. So a priority of emotional energy could look a lot like, “I am currently going through a breakup with my other partner. So I need a little more of your emotional support while I get myself together.”

Not all priorities are inherently unhealthy.

There are bound to be implicit, descriptive hierarchies built into any long-term relationships that stand the test of time. Requesting priority, if done appropriately and respectfully, can sound a lot like communicating your needs, setting expectations, and assessing your followup scenarios.

Photo by Abby Kihano on

It sounds like your polyamorous relationship with your partner has gone through a lot of changes in the past five years. It sounds like the space you occupied in his life grew a lot in the first year as his relationship priorities shifted through his deepening connection to you. And I can see that you’re struggling with the varying degrees of that descriptive hierarchy and different levels of prioritization in his other relationship that make you feel insecure in your relationship with him.

Maybe the first place to start is to consider if this is a problem that needs fixin’. Are there aspects of your relationship with your partner that make you feel not as prioritized? And what about those experiences make you feel less secure in your relationship? Is that insecurity causing you any significant distress? Is that cause of insecurity something that you can address on your own or do you need to recruit help from your partner?

If you aren’t already familiar with the Five Love Languages, I also wrote about it in a previous column here. And based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like one of your primary love languages is in quality time. But due to your childrearing responsibilities, your time is already stretched thin. So take advantage of the quality one-on-one times you can find together and try to come into your experiences fully present together.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

I also want to talk a little bit about monogamy conditioning. I think a LOT of polyamorous folks get wrapped up in disentangling themselves from ALL of monogamy-related mindsets, as if it is the worst thing in the world. From what I have seen and experienced, ability to do monogamous or polyamorous relationships lie on a spectrum; there are many ambiamorous folks who can do one or the other by embracing that there are pros and cons to both ends of the spectrum.

That change in perspective could really benefit you as you assess your insecurities around prioritization. That innate desire to feel prioritized in your relationship is sound; it could come from your fears of abandonment, personal needs that are not being met, or even from how you are mentally comparing yourself to the relationship he has with his other partner. Take some time to consider each of those points and feel it out to see if they apply to you.

Last thing I’ll leave you off with is that there is always going to be a lot of that “behind the scenes prioritization” for any hinge partner. Part of what makes being a hinge partner so difficult is in managing and prioritizing each of their relationships in an appropriate and respectful way also while communicating appropriately – not too much and not too little. Since he is managing his relationship with you and his relationship with his other partner, those are two incredibly fine lines to toe.

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 – What is the common etiquette regarding open phone policies?

“My wife [42F] and I [41M] have been dabbling in non-monogamy for a while and my wife has been pretty much full on polyamorous with her boyfriend since August. She is really proactive about sharing everything – too much sometimes to be honest – but I do completely understand how communication is the most important thing in polyamory and ENM and it has definitely brought my wife and I closer together.

My polyamory / ENM journey has been much slower. And I have recently been developing a much closer relationship with a long time friend. Nothing physical yet but our communications (some phone calls but mostly texts due to our busy schedules) have become increasingly personal. We are planning to take a hiking trip together in June, so it looks to be more serious than a friendship at this point. My wife is excited about my new connection and sometimes she will pick up my phone to read my texts. I know the “open phone” policy is common in polyamory but I also want to respect my girlfriend’s privacy. Last night, my friend and I had a very personal conversation where she shared things with me that I don’t think is appropriate to share with my wife. I haven’t talked to my wife about it yet but I feel that I want to end the open phone policy. But I also don’t want my wife to think I am trying to hide anything from her either.

Just wanted to see if anyone here had this issue and if there is an accepted balance regarding this. I really want my girlfriend to know I value her privacy but also don’t want my wife to think I am hiding things from her.”

Anonymous on /r/polyamory.

Photo by cottonbro on

Dear Anonymous,

I’ve dated my fair share of polyamorous folks and connected with many more through my extended polysphere. And out of all the people I’ve met or gotten to know about, I have only ever heard of one other couple who had an open phone policy. So I do not believe that open phone policies are at all common in modern polyamorous relationships. If it is, I hope to hear from those who can maintain separate relationships without the veil of privacy.

I have often repeated the phrase, “Different people love differently” in my column. And every relationship is different because the people in those relationships are also different. And the same can apply to the level of communication you can have in your relationships. You say that your wife is almost too comfortably open about sharing the details of her other relationships. You do not need to consent to hearing about details that which make you feel comfortable. I’m also curious if your wife has gathered proactive consent from her other partners to share that kind of details with you, or if she has gathered proactive consent to share information that which you have shared with her that you might not feel comfortable being shared with her other partners as well.

I’ll also add here that as new information comes up, your agreements too can adapt and change. When I first started out in my own personal ENM journey, my nesting partner and I had a rule that we had to immediately end our relationship with our respective new partners after we were intimate with them (as a way to assert a time limit). And that rule didn’t last long after my first relationship ended. This is a journey with a lot of development and growth packed into the first couple years. So both you and your partner will need to adapt as you go.

Photo by Anne on

One of the most necessary skills to develop in polyamorous relationships is in compartmentalization. Compartmentalization is defined as an ability to sequester or partition your time and energy into smaller parts of a whole that may exist and house yourself and your relationships in non-intersecting, independent spaces.

One of those ways you can create and maintain a separate space in your relationships is by having some sense of privacy in your communications. Remember that one couple that I said I knew had an open phone policy? They had a lot of difficulties establishing long-term connections with people who were okay with that particular agreement. Eventually, even they revoked that agreement when one of them started dating someone who had a pretty firm boundary about communication privacy.

I think it might also be beneficial to dig deeper on and assess why you two needed to establish an open phone policy in the first hand. What insecurities are being triggered when you think about the texts either of you exchange with your partners? Why does your wife feel like she needs to share every detail with you even beyond your own comfort levels? And is there a better, a more healthy alternative to address those insecurities without resorting to potentially unethical behaviors?

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 – How to define cheating in the context of non-monogamous relationships.

“My boyfriend and my metamour (my nesting partner’s girlfriend) lean on each other to cope with feelings of envy when my nesting partner and I go out together. They both identify as monogamous, and mono/poly has been tough on them both. I think it’s great that they’ve formed a friendship.

Well, they went out last night, ended up drinking too much, and made out with each other – without any communication or even the chance for either one of us to give consent. My boyfriend called me after and said it happened and that he didn’t feel good about it. I’m struggling to see how this is any different than cheating.

How do you handle being able to act impulsively outside your existing relationships? If there’s no knowledge/consent of another partner, do you wait until you have a chance to talk to them? We don’t have a permission-based relationship, but I do like having the chance to give my consent. So this left me feeling pretty betrayed and confused. Any words of wisdom or encouragement are appreciated.”

Jenny Jellyfish on /r/polyamory.

Photo by Nihat on

Dear Jenny Jellyfish,

The betrayal that you feel makes a lot of sense. You weren’t really aware of either your boyfriend or your metamour developing attractions toward each other. So it really appeared to have come out of nowhere, and from the cracks of that surprise emerged pain.

I disagree with the others who posted in your thread about how this is not a truly infidelitous experience just because you maintain a polyamorous relationship. Infidelity can absolutely happen in polyamorous relationships, but the threshold and assessment is very different from that of a monogamous relationship. And I think your circumstances here does explain the sense of betrayal you might feel. And I can see how the feelings you would get from an infidelitous experience could be very similar to the feelings you feel now.

Photo by Firaaz Hisyari on

First things first. Every non-monogamous relationship is different because each relationship’s boundaries, agreements, and rules are all very different. So I don’t think it would be fair to broadly bracket any behavior as infidelitous. What I think could be a more productive discussion is to assess how and why monogamous folks define infidelity and see if the same sentiments can be applied to polyamorous context such as yours here.

Dr. Karen Finn goes into detail about what makes infidelity so painful for the betrayed spouse. In the blogpost, she outlined twelve different reasons on why infidelity might be painful. I’ll list a shortened version here:

  • Violation of relationship expectations
  • Resistance to dealing with oncoming change
  • Fear of the ensuing pain
  • Absence of emotional security
  • Loss of trust regarding past behavior
  • Guilt
  • Grief over the loss of the idyllic relationship experience
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Uncontrolled imagination making worse what really happened
  • Embarrassment
  • Growing desires for retribution
  • Suffering of the body-mind relationship

In short, infidelity is so painful because of how much the reality has deviated from expectation. Pain comes from that gap in understanding. And it is a vicious negative feedback cycle that affects our perspective and our respective footholds in the shared reality. Infidelity is defined by an egregious and intentional break in implicit expectations and explicit relationship agreements, and the cover up that usually ensues after.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

So let’s apply what we just learned about infidelity in monogamous context and see if it makes sense here.

You did not say if you and your boyfriend agreed to committing to an explicit statement of intention to date others or if it was an ongoing dialogue about always being open to date others. It is also unclear if you, your boyfriend, your nesting partner, or your metamour ever discussed expectations about dating others period, or if that was just an assumption based on their assumed monogamous identity. And lastly, based on what you’ve shared, it is very difficult to read to what extent this was an impulsive decision on either of their part.

I think it is absolutely a fair agreement to set intentions to date in the context of your non-monogamous relationships. It allows everyone to gauge their potential emotional and sexual risk profiles. But if you and your boyfriend never explicitly agreed to let each other know when either of you want to pursue other romantic/sexual connections, then this is by default not a broken agreement.

If you are indicating that you and your nesting partner each had very different expectations of their behavior due to their self-identified monogamous identity, then I think it is important to acknowledge the pain, then work as a group to make sure this kind of unexpected pain point does not get retriggered again. This is clearly the first time it ever happened, so it’ll be important to figure out if their connection is going to be ongoing or what this meant. Does this mean that your boyfriend and your metamour are both open to dating each other or others outside of your polycule?

Photo by Vitória Santos on

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if this experience is objectively or subjectively determined an infidelitous experience.

What matters more is if your pain is valid and if it your pain addressed. The pain you feel from fissures of relationship expectations, loss of emotional security, and the general loss of trust are all legitimate reasons for the pain you feel. I also think it is very important to point out here that you are in full control of the source of these feelings. If your relationship expectations of a closed relationship on your boyfriend’s side has been shattered, pick up the pieces and move forward with this new reality. If you are acutely feelin that distance of emotional security, talk it out with your boyfriend and figure out how to earn back your marbles. If you feel that you’ve lost a lot of trust in your partner, reflect on how that is closely related to the shattering of expectation and the loss of relationship security.

Your mind is not the victim of your own feelings; it is just the language in which your pain is processed. Yes. This experience was painful. So what do you want to do about it? Dig deeper and assess why it was so painful. And learn to avoid it in the future by mindfully approaching each of your relationships with clear intention and direction.

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 – Balancing conflicting boundaries.

“My partner John [29M] and I [23F] have been together for around 4 years, we’ve been poly from the start. We’ve both seen other people on and off and been able to work out boundaries comfortably before.

Recently I’ve started talking to and getting involved (sexually, not romantically) with our mutual friend Peter [27M]. Peter and I are really sexually compatible and it has been really good to start playing with him while I get my libido back because it does feel like Peter and I are at a blank slate.

John and I have had a lot of issues with sex in the past. We played together a lot when we first got together. But the hormonal BC in addition to the two years on antidepressants completely killed my libido. I’ve recently switched to IUD which has somewhat helped with my libido. However, John has an enormously high sex drive; so we’ve been in a weird position trying to navigate that, because I still enjoy sex and want to have it, even if physically I haven’t been easy to arouse. Plus it’s something I like to give him because it’s positive for him, and really connecting for both of us.

Over the course of the past two years, my sexual attraction to John has diminished immensely, and I think there are a couple contributing factors as to why. I’ve had to tell him no a couple times because I could not match his libido. It could also be that we aren’t exploring kink together much anymore. We’ve also had a lot of sex together without me feeling physically attracted to him. Or it could just be the changing nature of our relationship in regards to our respective mental and physical health. I honestly don’t know.

I do know I still want to have sex with John. I just don’t find him physically attractive in the way I used to, and the way I do with my new partner. He wants to bring kink back in to our sexual relationship, but I don’t know if I want that because I just don’t really feel attracted to him in that way. He has sort of known that I haven’t felt sexually attracted to him in the same way for a while, but we only recently started really talking about it because I’m only just getting my libido back. Essentially, I don’t want him sexually in the same way he wants me sexually. I do want him. Just in a different way.

Here is where things get even more complicated. My first overnight with my new partner Peter was pretty unexpected because he said wasn’t ready for that a few days prior. My partner and I hadn’t talked much about boundaries because no one expected the overnight stay. And then it was a weird situation where the three of us were just hanging out. I was messaging Peter about what he wanted to do while John sat by, not knowing what was going on. After the overnight, I apologized and explained why things happened the way that they did, and we set boundaries for next time, that I would work out in advance who I was going to go home with. It was difficult for him to deal with emotionally at a time when he was also dealing with physical health stuff too.

Now things are a bit awkward with everyone. There were plans to go out all together this evening. I asked Peter if he wanted me to come home with him tonight. I let John know that I’m sorting sleepover plans with my new partner. Then John responded by saying he does not want to go out if Peter – our mutual friend – is also going because he doesn’t want to put himself in that situation. This put me in a difficult position of having to choose who I want to go out with. My partner knows I’m not comfortable being in this situation. Things eventually ended up working out when Peter decided he didn’t want me to come home with him. And things feel sorted out.

I’m still a bit upset because I want and need to respect each of my partners’ boundaries. But I am not okay with the way John put me in a difficult situation even if things ended up working out.

How should I navigate this situation going forward? I’ve never had to deal with John setting a boundary that he knows I’m not okay with him setting. I thought we were on the same page about maintaining friendship with everyone.”

TL;DR – Seeing new sexual partner who happens to be our mutual friend. My partner asked for boundaries that I am not okay with, which put me in a situation where I had to choose between my two partners.

– A Non Descript User, /r/polyamory.

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on

Dear A Non Descript User,

I am really sorry to hear that you were put in a difficult situation with very little maneuverability. I can see how challenging it is to manage your two relationships while maintaining your partners’ respective boundaries. You have handled much of your conundrum with a sense of respect and depth of experience I do not see many experienced poly folks conducting in their own relationships.

You are right. This situation is very complex. So I am going to break down my advice into three different bits. I’ll first talk about your sexual headspace and how it relates to your libido. Then I’ll do a deeper dive into your connection with your long-term partner John. After that, I will give you some advice on how to manage personal boundaries conflicting with your relational boundaries.

Sexual Headspace and Libido

Human sexuality is pretty incredible and increasingly diverse. There is much to the way we love that the science has not fully caught up to yet. But one of the most common questions that a lot of people ask for advice is to how to spice up their sex life as static eros fades into ambient pragma over the course of any long-term relationships. Dan Savage often recommends to diversify spaces in which you are sexual with your partner. And there is great value to that advice; to occupy new spaces in order to build new neural connections is a very sound way to revitalize your sex life in a long-term relationship.

It is very interesting to read and hear the way you phrase and defend the flow of your sexuality and libido – almost as if your libido is an entirely independent identity wholly separate from your own desires. Instead, you recognize and rationalize your libido as a way to determine what you desire.

It is as if you ate a fried corn dog at a county fair and suddenly realized you were hungry, instead of eating a corn dog because you were hungry. The retrospective justification is evident in not just the way you dance with your sexuality and kink space, but it is also present in the way you manage your relationships as well.

That leads to my next point.

Photo by Nika Akin on

Relationship with John

It does not sound like your sexual connection with John had to compete with Peter; you and John were already experiencing a form of sexual disconnect even before Peter entered your life as your sexual partner. You did well by stating your sexual intentions in regards to your relationship with John here:

He has sort of known that I haven’t felt sexually attracted to him in the same way for a while, but we only recently started really talking about it because I’m only just getting my libido back. Essentially, I don’t want him sexually in the same way he wants me sexually. I do want him. Just in a different way.

But I think it is time to really sit down and discuss what this means for your relationship with John.

Sit with him and be frank with each other about your respective needs. If you want to continue having sex with him but completely take kink off of the table, tell him so. He needs to know that information as soon as possible. You do not need to consent to kink aspects even if that has previously been a part of your sexual connection with John. Consent is ongoing. Please recognize that this is going to be a very difficult discussion where there will be a lot of pain emanating from mismatched expectations about your and his anticipated levels of sexual intimacy. Neither of you will be able to get exactly what each of you want, so compromising to a level of closeness both of you can accept will be necessary. Arrive to a mutual understanding instead of shouting from your respective individual peaks. And be patient in the recovery process. It might take months or years before you and John arrive to the sexual harmony you can both accept.

Ethical intimacy requires ongoing informed consent; and both of you can proactively talk to each other about non-pressing preemptive discussions before the situation becomes immediate. Proactively discussing the potential logistics of your overnight accommodations could have saved both you and John a lot of heartache.

My partners and I call it the Hypotheticals Game, where we do a deep dive into potential scenarios that have not yet happened in the present yet, but could very well happen in the future. Playing the Hypotheticals Game have allowed each of us to do preemptive emotional labor associated with the inevitable changes that come with polyamorous relationships. A real life example involved my partners and I all proactive discussing living together as a polycule months before that scenario unexpectedly became a reality. This might be a good tool that you can use with not just John but also with Peter to get ahead of that anxiety ahead of planning overnight logistics.

Photo by Pixabay on

Managing Conflicting Boundaries

You and John are not quite done yet. Y’all also need to discuss what happened recently, and how his assertion of his personal boundary could be a violation of your relational boundary. But let’s first distinguish a boundary from an agreement.

A boundary is defined as a self-enforceable statement of intention in order to create self-protection, to maintain internal balance, and to preemptively manage risk. An common example of a sound boundary would be, “I will not be sexually intimate with partners who do not maintain best safe sex practices.” Notice that in this particular boundary, the consent lies with the person who owns the boundary even though the assessment is externally driven. An agreement is a mutual, reciprocal statement of intention designed to protect the connection, to retain relational balance, and to insulate external risks. An agreement is different from a boundary in that boundary is wholly self-oriented while an agreement is managed by you and your partner(s). A common example of a similar agreement would be, “We agree to not introduce any new sexual partners who do not maintain best safe sex practices into our polycule.” Notice that a violation of either boundary or agreement could be relationship ending, but the consequences of a boundary violation is explicitly stated and self-enforceable.

You say that you and John have previously discussed that putting you in a position of choosing who to go out with would constitute a relationship agreement violation. But I would also point out that it is wholly within John’s ethical jurisdiction not to be around people he doesn’t feel comfortable with. Even if he did know about this particular relationship agreement, his personal boundary (“I will not spend time with people I do not feel comfortable with”) supersedes your relationship agreement (“We agree not to put hinge partners in difficult positions of choosing one partner over another on nights out”).

With all that said, John is putting you in a disadvantageous position of asserting his personal boundary which indirectly contradicts your relationship agreement. It is even more challenging because John and Peter were/are friends, and now you are put in a position of having to defend John’s boundary through the discomfort.

So I think you and John need to discuss how his boundary assertion made you feel. While he is completely within his right to establish and communicate such boundary (and generally boundaries do not need to be justified), he does need to elaborate on…

  • How long you need to be conscientious about John’s personal boundary when making future plans,
  • If John is actively working on rescinding the boundary at some point,
  • And if your relationship agreement need to adapt so that it is not constantly violated through his personal boundary.
Photo by Evie Shaffer on

I also wonder how this is going to impact John’s friendship with Peter going forward. You mentioned that the local poly community is very small and to ask you to fracture your personal community of humans even further is really asking you to do a lot of undue emotional labor. But the last point I want to make here is about the difficulties of being a hinge in a V-type polyamorous relationship.

It is your – the hinge partner – responsibility to manage the shared resources (i.e. time, money, space), to maintain proper boundaries & agreements with each of your partners, and to create meaningful spaces for each of your relationships to exist. It is also your responsibility to facilitate and organize logistics on who goes where whenever there is no full transparency. It can be very difficult to schedule and plan out in face of all these boundaries that seem to fly everywhere and the expectations that appear to constantly change. But you also need to recognize that John too is in a lot of pain and is constantly mired in a mountain of emotional labors associated with accepting your mismatching libidos, recognizing your new relationship with Peter, and managing his own health struggles. So please be mindful and compassionate that things might need to move at a slower rate than your NRE informs you so.

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 – How do I end my poly relationship nicely?

“I have been questioning whether I was truly poly or not for sometime. So I started dating someone who has a personal history with polyamory to gauge that orientation for myself. I really enjoy our relationship and my metamour very, very much. However, I also started dating a second person but have found I have much deeper feelings for. Let’s call him the second (not hierarchical, just because chronologically he happened secondly). I’ve found now that I do want to continue a monogamous relationship with the second, but I am worried about how this will affect the first, as well as our shared friends.

I’m not usually the one to dump people (I usually get dumped) so I’m not sure how to go about this in the first place. Let alone doing it with the added modifier of being poly.

Really, there is nothing wrong with this guy. He’s amazing and I try to be friends with all my exes, as it would be great to still be friends with him too. He is very understanding and calm, but I still don’t want to hurt him in any way. Especially because to me, I worry that it looks like I’m just ditching someone who had ‘first dibs’ in a way, for someone else. I don’t want him to think it’s because he’s not good enough, or anything like that.

I think I have the ability to be poly and can very much enjoy it, but that I also find benefits from focusing on just one person. As well as my anxieties about having a full home life in a poly situation. While I may like poly dating stages, I don’t think I would like to live married (i.e. forever) in a house with multiple people. I like one-on-one time, and it seems there wouldn’t be enough of it with the first person. I’d rather just focus on the second person, with whom I’ve bonded with more closely and feel more of a connection to.

But geez… how in the world do I explain that?”

/u/fennix32, /r/polyamory.

Photo by samer daboul on

Dear Fennix 32,

It sounds like you gave polyamorous relationship orientation an honest and conscientious try. And as you said, there are sides to polyamory that monogamy cannot satiate much like there are sides to monogamy that polyamory cannot satiate. I’ll add that different people love very differently. And his model of polyamorous relationship just might not be compatible with what you’re looking for (i.e. married with multiple partners in the same house). There are many solo poly or relationship anarchists who maintain their own living space without any cohabiting partners. And there are also many married polyfolks who date other married polyfolks and maintain a perfectly full home life without enmeshing living situation all together. Only you can be a master of your own domains, and that includes your own romantic headspace. That also includes whether or not you are making a mindful decision on whether or not you are monogamous with someone, not as a default choice. Lastly, I’ll add that polyamory vs monogamy is not a binary end-to-end; it is much more of a spectrum with many congregating toward one end or the other. You are simply making a more mindful decision to pursue and focus on one romantic connection for yourself.

I don’t think that there is any way to break up with someone that guarantees that it’ll be painless. Pain originates from mismatching expectations. And there will be some mismatching expectations here. And it’ll be a really difficult road to traverse here for several factors. He could feel that you utilized your connection with your first partner to determine that poly really wasn’t going to be a forever-thing for you. He will likely experience some sense of loss and grief over the expectations of future romance with you. Then there is that actual poly modifier to carefully tread to make sure the causes for breakup was about polyamory, but not necessarily about him specifically. Pretty thorny, yeah?


Sometimes, the best way forward is the only way forward.

And the most compassionate way to break up with him could be by de-escalating your relationship. I wrote a previous column about the PLEASE method for de-escalation. De-escalations are a good poly-specific way to end a romantic or sexual engagement with someone without losing them as a friend. And since you said you would like to remain friends with your partner, this could be a viable transition for this particular relationship so that you two may continue to be involved in each other’s lives, albeit in a different context. Instituting a brief hiatus in your connection while you each heal – for the soil to be revitalized – is something I’ve implemented in some of my past de-escalations as well, to assist with the transition.

If you decide to de-escalate instead of flat-out breaking up, you also have to recognize that your partner could decidedly not take that well and break up with you anyway. It is important for you to embrace that his pain is his pain. And if you’ve done your best to be compassionate and feel that you spoke impeccably & honestly, that is all you can do. You’ve done your best and the rest is in his hands now. Regardless of what happens, be prepared to give some time & space to your partner, your metamour, and all the friends you’ve newly connected.

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I have found that my polyamorous relationship orientation have allowed me to expand my patience and allow for a belief that we are no way settled in any one state for too long. You are not necessarily choosing your second partner over your first. A better way to reframe that mindset might be to reimagine that you want to stabilize and focus on this one partner regardless of where you lie on the poly-mono spectrum. This particular bridge need not burnt. The foundation is still sound, and the materials are still quality. Maybe you can assemble a new fort with what comes out of this de-escalation / breakup.

Regardless, the joie the vivre is in the journey of self-discovery.

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 need help with non-hierarchical polyamory.

“Here’s my situation: I’m a bisexual cis-woman in my mid 20s who started dating a queer cis-man several years older than me. We’ve been together for a few years now. I had never heard of polyamory until I met him. He introduced me to The Ethical Slut and it changed my world. I’ve always been poly, but not ethically. I cheated on my partners in monogamy before him (shamefully) and realized that when I was cheated on I found it sexy and easy to forgive. So my identification as polyamorous is unwavering.

His proposal of non-hierarchical poly seemed ideal to me. The idea of keeping my own agency and him keeping his agency sounds like how unconditional love should be. I don’t want to control him in any way by “vetoing” something or someone. And I wouldn’t want him to do that to me. He has over a decade of poly experience and he’s my first.

We’ve recently hit a rough spot that is making me question my ability to be non-hierarchical. I started dating this girl a year ago and then I introduced her to him and they started dating. We were briefly a triad until I decided I wanted us to break up with her as we would comment regularly on how she wasn’t a good match. So when I broke up with her, I thought he was too. Turns out he didn’t. It was bad communication on our part. They’re still together today and it hurts me so much. It hurts to hear them have sex and it hurts when he wants her to spend the night (we live together) and I don’t like spending time with her. I think she’s an energy-drainer. And then I don’t get to sleep in my own bed or I have to spend the night elsewhere. It has become a real problem in our relationship because technically he’s not doing anything wrong. This is what we agreed on. But the more time he spends with her, the more it feels like he doesn’t care about how it makes me feel. He also mentions that he’s not really that into her, just that he benefits slightly from her kind words and sex. He doesn’t want to be her boyfriend. So it makes me feel like “why are you choosing time with someone you’re not really into over me?” It just doesn’t make any sense to me. He has tried to explain it but it doesn’t stop it from hurting each time.

At the same time, he deserves all the love and sex in the world! He doesn’t have many people in his life and I DO NOT want to deprive him of someone who is sweet to him. Why can’t these feelings of love and compersion overpower my feelings of hurt and insecurity?

Am I not cut out for non-hierarchical poly? Do I just need to continue working through the pain until eventually hopefully it won’t bother me anymore? Should I consider being hierarchical? If I end up doing that, I’ll for sure lose him. I can’t believe I’m turning to the internet but I honestly don’t know where to turn. Not many people I know are poly and don’t understand my relationship. I’m hoping people with experience can give me guidance on what to do or maybe how can look at this differently. Thanks!”

– Nicki, /r/polyamory.

Dear Nicki,

I am really sorry to hear that you are having a lot of difficulty with his other relationship. Your ongoing struggles make a lot of sense, and here are the three reasons why.

First is that you are completely brand new to polyamory which has its own weight. First steps to poly are rife with mistakes. There is a lot of monogamy conditioning and programming that you have to take apart and deconstruct in order for you to start thinking about the kind of relationships you want to have. So allow yourself some breathing room and forgiveness. The feelings you feel are legitimate and not unfounded. You asked why your feelings of love and compersion is not enough to “overpower” the feelings of hurt and insecurity. I will ask you in return, why should it? It isn’t like love and compersion stand directly opposite hurt and insecurity. You can feel both of those feelings without one cancelling the other out. Love, compersion, hurt, and insecurity can all exist side by side. So maybe reframing your mind to accept those hurt and insecurity while continuing to celebrate your love and compersion would be a good place to start for you.

Some of those monogamy conditioning that you’ll have to unlearn is in owning your own shit. Your partner is not necessarily choosing her over you when he chooses to spend time with her. His time isn’t automatically designed with any of his partner as a priority. If he truly is non-hierarchical, then his time is fairly and independently allotted by himself. Please take some time to recognize that the source of this specific feeling is coming from you in the form of projected exclusivity, not necessarily anything he is doing. So acknowledge that this is your emotional labor to own, and decide only if then this ongoing emotional labor is something you consent to.

In addition to all of this, you’ve only been ethically non-monogamous / polyamorous for a couple years at most whereas you’ve been monogamous (albeit flawed) for twenty plus years. So you should not start from the place of expecting perfection even if you closely identify with polyamory now that you’ve embraced it. Different people love differently. And your natural version of polyamory will take some time to establish as you explore it more and more. It is way too early for you to say you need to be non-hierarchical in your approach in the same way that it would be way too early for me (with absolutely no experience riding a motorbike) to commit to a new Harley-Davidson. It’ll take time. So be patient.

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on

That leads me to my second point. You have your own personal history with your partner’s other partner which continues to add to your ongoing emotional labor.

It appears that there was a bit of a miscommunication at the end of your triad-phase where you ended things with your girlfriend expecting that the other leg of that triad will be ending as well. That is a pretty major disconnect, but not one that seems too unaligned with the way that your partner appears to be doing his own relationships. There is a lot of pain from the breakup and the subsequent miscommunication that has not yet been resolved, and constantly get retriggered when you have to be okay and accept his other relationship with your now-ex. You were not given proper opportunity to grieve the end of your relationship or enough time to adjust to this new reality where they continue dating. Instead, your partner is asking for you to continue to this emotional labor from a place of deep dispassion.

And I realize that there are two distinct possibilities here.

First is that your partner really is straight up telling you how disengaged he feels with your ex / metamour and he is not really into her. That would make him a terrible hinge partner by badmouthing his partner and your ex / metamour. It’s one thing to talk so negatively about their partners, but it is another thing entirely to continue to vent negatively to someone who has negative history with that person while that person is still grieving over the end of that relationship. In this possibility, it is also likely that he is telling the same thing about his relationship with you to his other partner and your ex / metamour. What a nightmare! This kind of behavior would make me rethink what his previous decade of poly experience has been like, and if he was the common denominator on why they all previously failed.

The other possibility is that you are projecting your own negative feelings onto their relationship through confirmation bias. Things didn’t work out between you and your ex / metamour for very valid reasons. And the ensuing miscommunication further exacerbated that disconnect you still feel to this day. There are a lot of pain here that you definitely do not have enough resources to resolve on your own. You said you don’t know many poly folks to process these feelings with. Online is great for that, but can be very limiting. Meeting and engaging with your local poly community can help even if you aren’t going there to meet new partners. Otherwise, unpacking these pain and hurt within the confines of a safe poly-friendly therapist’s office would be recommended. At least they can help you navigate through these turbulent times.

Like I said above, it’ll take time. So be patient.

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on

The core issue at hand is not about non-hierarchical polyamory. Nicki, you are being asked to do so much more than you can reasonably handle. You even said in a later comment that he even invites you to bed while he is in the bed with your ex / metamour. That is so fucked up. So I think it is proper time for you to establish some better boundaries and renegotiate your agreements with your partner.

First is to create and maintain your own space. You mentioned that you currently live with your partner. But at no point do you have to feel obligated to share your own bed with her (or anyone else for that matter). If he wants to find a space to maintain his relationship with your ex / metamour, he can rent a hotel room, find an AirBnB, or figure out an arrangement at her family’s house. Or he can provide you with a space that you can stay while he is having sex with your ex / metamour. You have a right to your own space in your own home. And you absolutely do not need to consent to your ex / metamour sleeping in your own home. Your home is your own personal place that you pay to live in. A proper boundary in this regard would read, “I will not nest with partners who unilaterally share my space and bed without proper reconciliation.” Any partner who disregards that boundary is not worthy of your time or energy.

Second is to revisit and renegotiate your existing agreements. Things have changed. You are no longer in a triad and you are entitled to re-discuss and better formulate a set of agreements that work for both of you. You also now have a better visibility into the kind of polyamorous relationship you would like to have – hierarchy or not. Do not allow him to weaponize his poly experience to beat you into submission. You are a person with real feelings too. And shouldn’t it be in his best interest to compassionately approach his other relationships in a way that makes sure that all of his partners are content?

Last is to think about and develop a contingency / back up plan. If your partner holds that the agreements that you made when you first jumped into polyamory, then you’ll need to figure out what to do with what you’ve got. That means making some really difficult decision to either de-escalate your relationship with your partner, move out to a space you can call your own (so that he may continue to explore his respective relationships in his own respective space), or even break up. Whatever it is, you need to communicate the urgency and importance of maintaining your own space so that you can continue to exist in his world. In absence of compassion will come rushing in desperation.

Photo by Andy Vu on

I know this column is running long, but I have to say one or two words about non-hierarchical polyamory. As a person who practices non-hierarchical polyamory, I am always astounded to hear in how many different aspects that insistence on lack of hierarchy can be misconstrued to mean “I do what I want.” A relationship is nothing but a commitment for an ongoing connection between two or more people. And there is no relationship if only one person gets the say-so in how that relationship is structured, conditioned, and realized. Nothing about the way he has structured his current relationship with you and your ex / metamour appear to be coming from a place of compassion, but rather from a sole place of authentically realizing his own polyamorous relationships. Those are completely independent ideologies.

You asked if you are not cut out for non-hierarchical poly. I honestly don’t have an answer for you. It is much too early in this journey for you to even know that. What I can answer for you is that you need more time. You are in no way depriving him from his other relationship by establishing your own boundaries over the space you own. It is merely time for him to respect your space.

Like I said earlier, the core issue at hand isn’t whether or not you can do non-hierarchical polyamorous relationship.

It isn’t even about whether or not you can do polyamorous relationships.

It is about whether or not you can do a relationship with him.

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 – Too much on my plate.

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“My current poly situation: 31F with multiple separate and distinct partners (each heterosexual males with no interest in meeting each other, two new relationships within the last few weeks, one long-term partner who I was monogamous with first before breaking up and getting back together as poly).

My problem: Time management (which I’m actually really good at but struggling here) where each partner is expecting the same attention (texting, calling, in person) as if we were monogamous. Doesn’t help that I’ve always been independent and introverted already. Almost forgot to mention I’m also working while going to school full-time.

My questions: (1) How do you establish time for yourself and communicate that to a new partner and an old partner without hurting their feelings or denying their needs? (2) How do you handle holidays and special occasions? Here’s a good example: Valentine’s day…

Your Questions: Feel free to ask if it helps clarify and allows for better advice. New to this within the last year so all wisdom is appreciated!”

TL;DR – Poly but my partners wanna stay separate, and it’s overloading my schedule. Advice?

/u/smithsfalls32 on /r/polyamory.

Dear Smiths Falls 32,

Your first question is really two parts: “How do you establish time for yourself while in polyamorous relationship?” and “How can you communicate that with old and new partners without hurting their feelings or denying their needs?”

As another introvert, I definitely relate to needing to establish some alone time to unwind and regroup. For me personally, I try to set aside one or two days a week for uninterrupted alone time where I am not interacting with anyone. I utilize Google Calendar to organize all of my dates and plans for myself. So when I sit down to plan for the upcoming week, I try to squeeze in one or two days to myself after the date schedules finalize. I let my partners know when I’m doing my own thing (whether that is a treat-yo-self spa day or a 10-hour-video-game-marathon day) that this specific day is blocked out for some quality me time, to be uninterrupted. So that might be a way you can establish some time for yourself with multiple partners.

The answer for the second half of that question is a bit more tricky. I personally communicate directly with each of my partners what my personal expectations are in terms of time investment. I simply let each of my partners know that I will be allotting X number of days a week/month. And adjust if necessary. For me, that expectation communication almost always laid out in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of way, that this is really all I can afford at this moment. This way, each of my partners can make an informed decision for themselves on my own level of commitment. It’s really interesting to hear you say that each of your partners are expecting monogamous-level time investment. I would advise to repeatedly communicate your own expectations and hold firm to your boundaries on those expectations.

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As for your actual second question, I set aside specific times to celebrate my holidays when I can. So this past holiday season, I ended up hosting a small get-together of my three partners for Thanksgiving the weekend before the actual Thanksgiving. But I don’t think this would be relevant for you since your partners are all parallel. In similar instances, I have just ended up celebrating multiple Valentines Days and multiple birthdays, just not on that specific day. After all, the celebration itself does not have to be on the day, right? This year’s Valentines Day falls on a Friday, so you might be able to get away with doing consecutive dates with your respective partners throughout that weekend.

If you feel restricted due to how thinly you have to slice your weeks, you might also benefit from considering kitchen table poly form where there are some overlaps between your relationships. I go into what kitchen table really entails in a previous column here.

Another option you can decide on is to reflect and accept that if your bandwidth is too full, it is okay to de-escalate some or all of your relationships until you have more space available for those relationships to bloom. You said you’re attending school full-time and manage to do handful of your own independent relationships. That is a hefty load you’re managing there. It’s no wonder you feel so thinly spread.

If you only have enough flour to bake two cakes, making four cakes out of that same amount of flour is going to yield four bad cakes. If you want to learn more about how to de-escalate, you can read a previous column here.

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 – Forbidding sleepovers.

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Anonymous writes…

“I have a situation that I’m unsure how to feel about and that makes it difficult to decide my actions.

I’ve been married for ten years, we’ve been poly for not quite two years. During the first 1.5 years they dated and I did not, they never got to the point of a sexual relationship with anyone they talked to until very recently (November) and the relationship ended on bad terms. I have started dating and I am ready to have a sexual relationship including sleepovers.

My partner has recently come out as a trans woman. This is obviously big news and has changed some things at home. I’m still adjusting to the idea and being as supportive as possible. I’ve known less than two weeks. I don’t know if this is relevant.

My partner has stated that my new boyfriend (3 month relationship) is not allowed to come to our house and if I were to sleep at boyfriend’s house then partner would have to decide if they wanted to continue in our marriage. Partner does not like boyfriend and experiences jealousy in ways that I never have. I feel the reasons are unsubstantiated and based on miscommunication on partner’s side of the conversation. Partner has stated that the idea of boyfriend and I having a sexual relationship “bothers” them but I am free to make that choice despite their discomfort. To be clear: boyfriend and I have not been forbidden to have sex, we have only been asked to not have sleepovers (at the risk of divorce). Boyfriend is not allowed to come to our house per partner’s boundary.

I’m doing my best to be understanding and supportive. It seems like this new boundary is unfair to me and I’m having trouble accepting it.

Could I get some outside perspective please? I don’t know how to even approach a conversation about any of this anymore.

Please feel free to ask for any more details that I might have forgotten about. Thank you for reading and for any potential insight!”

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s first talk about the differences between boundaries and rules. Boundaries are internally driven, mutually communicated, and externally exercised guidelines. Rules are externally driven, mutually communicated, and externally exercised restrictions. Boundaries sound like, “I will not be in a relationship with someone who will have overnights in our shared house with other partners.” Rules sound like, “You cannot have overnights with your partners in our shared house.” The ultimate result might be the same – end of a relationship – but the phrasing makes the difference. In a boundary, the boundary communicator owns the communication, assessment, and enforcement in its entirety. Whereas in a rule, the rule is meant to be acknowledged, assessed, and enforced by everyone involved.

So to get the verbiage correct, your partner communicated a rule, not boundary. And it is also conditioned with a threat of a divorce. You also mentioned that this is one-directional, as in he is allowed to have sleepovers but you’re not.

I have long held a very personal belief that polyamorous identity is not only hinged on whether or not you can have multiple satisfying relationships, but also dependent on whether or not you are okay with your partners also having multiple relationships. It is easy to sleep with and date multiple people. It takes a significantly more emotional labor to manage jealousy and insecurity in order to accept that their partners will love others as well.

I honestly do not believe that your partner is compassionately practicing polyamory. They are taking advantage of your flexibility. They are asserting control over relationships that which they’re not a direct part of. They are weaponizing their unmanaged jealousy in their interactions with you. They are withholding consent and permission over your head in ways that rob you of your own sense of autonomy in your other relationships. None of these reflect healthy behaviors.

While I don’t claim that every relationship needs to be fair and equitable, I do think that the intention of evening things out need to be there. Compassion is a necessary practice in love and relationships, of which there seems to be a sore lack of in your partner’s half. Their behavior isn’t ethically or morally wrong, per se. But it does feel harmful and dispassionate.

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Let’s step away from the unfairness of this one-directional rule and the unfairness.

Depending on your living circumstances, it might be beneficial to design out what is their space, what is your space, and what is shared space. It can be a fair request to permanently disallow others from entering their personal space, and to temporarily disallow from shared space. But the way this rule and ultimatum has been communicated has not reflected their ability to work on their own sense of jealousy. But this is your house too. And you have a right to claim your own space in your own living arrangement. And just like you have a right to claim your own space, you have a right to claim your own relational autonomy to intentionally state what you want and expect from your respective partners.

Their new trans woman identity could be relevant to the discussion. It could be that this new transition is clearly taking up a major part of their emotional bandwidth to process new information. Even though their trans woman identity has only been communicated with you in the last two weeks, it is very likely that they were processing and chewing on what this transition could mean for them for months or even years prior. With that said, I don’t think that is an acceptable reason to reject your space for other relationships. I sincerely hope that they’re receiving their individual therapy to help develop tools and process the ongoing developments in their personal and relational lives. December’s fallout in their other relationship is still really fresh and that wound could also be affecting their judgment as well.

At the end of the day, relationships are all about creating and maintaining space. Is there a sizable space in your life – emotional, physical, and financial – for a meaningful relationship with your boyfriend to exist? If so, how can you make sure that you can keep and maintain that space? If not, how can you get there with the resources you currently have? Can you get there in a month? In three months? In a year? If this continues, will your boyfriend have enough patience to accept your partner’s rejection of your autonomy and to continue hosting your relationship in his space that he created 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!