#222: Love Polygons (with bonus bad flowchart and Long Distance Relationship Post Script)

Dear Team Awkward,   

I guess I could start by saying I (a queer poly submissive) am in a non-monogamous couple…but the problem is I sure as hell don’t feel like it right now. My het male partner/Dom basically wants us to be defacto monogamous unless we find a female partner who likes us both (I am mainly attracted to women, and butch ones. They are not his type, so this is tricky).

Part of the problem is that my partner is really insecure and has a hard time seeing me even flirt with other women (well, butches. Femmes are ok as long as they flirt with him too). He keeps saying that we can really give this non-monogamy a go after this thing happens or after he works out his issue with x. I am feeling really stir crazy at this circling the non-monogamous airport. I know that sometimes I tend to want everything yesterday, so I don’t want to rush into this, but we have been together almost three years now. How long is it until we get to the “right time”? Will we ever get there? I feel really conflicted right now.

 I do have to add that part of my problem is that I am not sure if I want to be with a man at all. I really love this man, he makes me laugh and cares for me in so many ways. But part of me is not sure a man is right for me. So you have that layer of complication.

Anyway, do y’all have any advice for someone whose non-monogamy really isn’t that right now?

Let me fully admit that my own Adventures in Open-er Relationships have been shitty, half-baked compromises where I tried to reconcile how I “should feel, in theory, because I am not a jealous person/spend a lot of time wishing I were French/look how cool and Not Jealous I am!/am really afraid of losing you” with my actual feelings and needs. My verdict on them for myself after trying out several permutations including “1 year, two boyfriends” is that even when there is love, the best intentions, and definite bright spots –  I’m from Ensign Perception’s planet.

And let me also fully admit that I have a shitte tonne of letters piling up from poly people, or theoretically poly people, or formerly poly people, or not-poly people who met someone who is GREAT except he also has another girlfriend and wants to make a triad work and should I try that out even though it fills me with dread and trepidation? that make me want to make the following blanket statement:

This particular situation sounds like it is not working for you at all. Strongly consider breaking up with everyone and starting from scratch.

Because…you beautiful poly people, I totally love your fierce loyalty and utopian desire to see the good in everyone and make things work and communicate and set boundaries and find ways to joyfully connect in an imperfect mixed-up world….but those of you in my small, self-selecting sample of poly Letter Writers* are TERRIBLE at breaking up with people when it’s not working because even more than most you need to find some logical, watertight reason. Otherwise, it’s “But he’s really a lovely person who means well, surely we can make this work out at some level, and I can get x and y needs met by somebody else if I need to. Hey, what are you bringing to the potluck on Saturday?

Hard relationship truths for which there is no good answer:

  • You can have really good sex with people who are not good partners for you.
  • You can find people who are really great partners for you in every way…except the sex doesn’t work and you will forever be unsatisfied.
  • You can really adore someone but be unable to create a happy life together.
  • Things don’t have to get “objectively bad” for you to break up. “I could be happier” is a perfectly fine reason.
  • Only you can decide what you need and what you want to do about it.
  • If you decide to end a relationship (or one gets ended for you), it will suck for a while, but time will mend you eventually. Yes, even you.

So, I made everyone this really awkward and terrible flowchart:

Flowchart about whether a relationship is working.

Letter Writer, if you’re still reading, I’m sorry I used you as an example for a bit there. Let’s talk about your specific deal.

It sounds like your partner is not really into this whole nonmonogamy thing. He wants you and your full attention, and while he will halfheartedly endorse your attempts to find that theoretical partner who is equally into both of you, he’s not seriously looking for or wanting that to happen. If things stayed exactly like this forever, and you and this guy continued to be a monogamous couple who would theoretically play with just the right third person if she came along at exactly the right time and everyone is in exactly the right mood (which has never once happened in three years), would you be happy? Can you wholeheartedly sign up for the possibility that you’ll never again be with a woman?

*AND people in long-distance relationships, you optimistic sweethearts. LISTEN: ONE OF YOU MAYBE HAS TO MOVE, EVENTUALLY. If you don’t want to move and the other person doesn’t want to move and you can’t find anywhere to move together and you have no deadline or concrete plans to move and every time one of you brings up maybe moving you end up changing the subject or postponing the decision but you are unhappy living apart and feel like the relationship is stuck, what miracle is it that you think is going to happen to resolve this situation? Your options are:

  1. Enjoy this cool pen pal you have!
  2. Break up and find someone who lives closer.

95 thoughts on “#222: Love Polygons (with bonus bad flowchart and Long Distance Relationship Post Script)

  1. LW: I’ve known poly people who say “move at the speed of the slowest person,” but that only works assuming mutual goodwill and a shared desire to actually have an open relationship. From what you describe, it doesn’t sound as though your current partner wants that: it sounds as though he might be willing to have an occasional fling with someone else who pushes all his buttons, and maybe it’s only accidental that there’s not much overlap between the women he’s attracted to and the ones you’re attracted to.

    It sounds as though you’ve got two issues here: do you want to stay with this guy, and are you prepared to be monogamous? But it also sounds as though, if you were to tell him that you do want to be with him, but three years of monogamy is at least a year too long, and you’re not giving him veto over your relationships anymore, he’d break up with you. So that leaves you about where Captain Awkward said: break up with this guy and then figure out what to do.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found, from my own relationships and those of people I know, that the success rate of “I’m poly, you should know that up front” is higher than the success rate of people who start a relationship, have it get serious, agree on or default to exclusivity, and then try to open it up later. Part of that is that by telling people up front that you’re not interested in/willing to be exclusive, you eliminate people who that’s a deal-breaker for.

    It’s entirely fine for someone to have that as a deal-breaker, in either direction. My now-husband knew long before we got involved that I wasn’t going to agree to monogamy, with anyone. For other people, neither is a deal-breaker: for example, I am fairly sure my husband could have been happy as we are, or in a monogamous relationship. So, think about whether this is a deal-breaker for you, and in what ways. (For example, is the problem here monogamy, or is it that this particular person who you’d be monogamous with is male, and you might be happy being monogamous with a woman?)

  2. Thanks, Captain Awkward – man, bless the polys, but if you are in a non-monogamous relationship where you are only sleeping with each other, you are..actually in a monogamous relationship.

    Also, may I Gently Suggest that someone who is, in the LW’s words, “really insecure” and “has a hard time seeing me even flirt with other women” is, IMHO, not cut out for a polyamorous relationship.

    And to perhaps be a tad harsher, this guy has been dangling you on with promises of sweet, sweet non-monogamy for three years. If you actually want to be in a polyamorous relationship, this is the wrong relationship in which to be. And furthermore, stringing on a partner like this is (apologies for the heteronormative language here) a real dick move.

    You could always try coming home and being like “hey! We’re supposed to be in a polyamorous relationship. I’m going out tonight and sleeping with another woman!” and seeing what he does.

    Or, just take the Captain’s excellent advice and break up with him, so you can find a het/dom/poly/purple paper hanger/whathaveyou/floatsyerboat who not only says they are into nonmonogamy and means it by not, you know, being monogamous.

    On a more personal note, I don’t think it’s the poly part of the polyamorous I couldn’t handle, but the constant talking about it that those relationships entail. 0_o.

    1. WRT the talking, it’s not that bad. The worst is when people new to poly feel the need to define everything, which is a normal part of opening up but also very boring and stressful.

      After that, talking amounts to five or ten minutes once a month (to check in and do relationship maintence, which is a good habit, period) and a few minutes of discussion whenever a potential love interest comes up.

      Miranda: I’m going for coffee with Jane. I think she’s been flirting with me.
      Jack: Are you interested?
      Miranda: Maybe. If she offers I might fool around with her to see if there’s chemistry.
      Jack: Okay. Can you keep it to kissing until you know what’s up?
      Miranda: Totally. Love you hun, bye.

      I can see where people might find it exhausting, but I don’t see it as any different from the general small talk I do about people’s friends.

      1. Sure, it’s probably me (yeah definitely just me) but I imagine the feelingstalk would really cut into my eating-Bugles-off-my-fingertips-time. Which is precious.

        Actually now that I think about it the thought of having to negotiate stuff all the time is probably the single biggest factor keeping me from considering a poly/open relationship. Which, in turn, is probably a good indication that I shouldn’t be in one?

        Tl;dr: Feelings! Bah. Bugles? Yes!

        1. That’s fair. It’s part of how I communicate normally, so it naturally fits into my life. Given where my relationships are right now, it’s practically indistinguishable from small talk.

          It IS great to have a partner in crime when you have a crush, though. My boyfriends have helped me get laid more times than I can count.

        2. Depends on the relationship. There was a little angst with me when I first started trying the whole thing out, but now my husband doesn’t much require any Discussions Of Boundaries because he already knows that Ima fuck whomever I choose and he has no problem with that, and he knows I’m always coming home.

    2. Speak for yourself only please. I’m poly but not currently seeing anyone else besides my partner, for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t make me not-poly, thanks.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. Poly as

        1) personal identity
        2) relationship standard, and
        3) current circumstance of having multiple romantic relationships

        are all different and valid things.

        I currently hit points 1 and 2, as I consider myself poly and my partner and I are both looking but not seeing anyone else at the moment.

          1. Ok, looking back at Commander Banana’s comment (if that’s who you’re responding to initially), this is the quote:

            “if you are in a non-monogamous relationship where you are only sleeping with each other, you are..actually in a monogamous relationship.”

            S/he didn’t say ANYTHING about the LW’s orientation, and only pointed out the de-facto monogamy of the relationship which the LW also pointed out in her letter. The LW has come through later and clarified that the partner has played with women and they’ve played together with woman/women in the past, so, ok, it’s been clarified/corrected.

            Since no one actually said, suggested, or even implied that orientation or preference gets expressed only within an active relationship, let’s close this line of discussion.

          2. Thanks, Jennifer – that’s exactly what I mean. I mean, I identify as bi, but I’m in a relationship with a man – that doesn’t make me straight. It means that right now, I happen to be in a heterosexual relationship. I’m not saying the LW isn’t polyamorous – I’m saying she’s not in a polyamorous relationship.

            Because, if she was, there’d be some poly up in that amorous.

  3. Captain, on the long-distance thing, I’ll take choice 3, with a side order of 1. Because for those (I admit, relatively few) people who do make a long-term long-distance thing work aren’t writing to you or any advice columnist, at least not about that (we’re not immune to other life problems, obviously). I’m happy with my long-distance relationships, but I suspect I wouldn’t be if I didn’t also have a solid relationship with someone I do live with. My girlfriend, on the other hand, likes living alone, though we don’t need 200 miles between us.

    1. Poly people and LDR people who don’t have any problems don’t write letters to Captain Awkward Inc, ’cause y’all don’t need any advice. Ur doin it rite.

      But if you had written a letter to the effect of “My girlfriend lives 200 miles away and it is making me sad. How do I not be sad about the distance?” then the advice would apply. If all is well on all fronts, SHINE ON YOU WACKY RAINBOW UNICORNS!

      1. I’d just like to say that my bf and I did the long distance relationship thing for a year to the day exactly. It sucked. A lot. Here’s the thing that you have to be able to do to make a long distance relationship work.
        1. You must spend at least an hour a day TALKING to each other. Not IMing, not texting, actually communicating with words. Skype is preferable to the phone because you can get body language as well as voice recognition. You can get none of those things through written words alone.
        2. You must go visit each other as often as possible. The amount will vary based on couple. For my bf and I it was two months. If we went more than two months without having actual physical contact our relationship would start to crumble. We would argue over little stupid things because we both wanted to have sex with one another and couldn’t, and because we hadn’t gotten to have the cuddle up and have bonding moments that are so vitally important in a relationship.
        3. You must be really good at communicating with one another before you start a long distance situation. My bf and I started our relationship with a seventeen hour conversation. We literally could not stop talking to one another. If you can’t handle that level of communication you will never be able to make an LDR work.
        4. You must be completely honest with the other person. Frankly I think this is necessary for any relationship, but especially so for long distance ones. LDRs will intensify every single problem you ever had or will have with your SO. That means that you have to be honest when a problem comes up and work through it then, not when you get to see each other, and you certainly can’t bury it and expect it to go away.
        I wish anyone who tries to make it work good luck.

        1. Not to invalidate your experiences at all, but my partner and I spent 6 years in an LDR as we both finished college, and I think we may have never used the phone in that time, and only visited for a week once a year. Perhaps it’s because we’re both nerdy writers so she and I found the written word sufficient to deal with our relationship, but I just cringe at ANY “But you MUST” recommendation on LDRs. Like any other relationship, I think just being honest with your needs and understanding that your needs might be different is the rule of thumb.

          1. that’s fair enough. I can see where someone who writes anyway would find that medium easier to establish and maintain a relationship upon

        2. An hour a day? I was in an LDR for a year with someone who wanted to talk that much. I wanted to stab him in the eye once he ran out of content and started reading his junk mail at me as he picked it up on his way into his apartment.

    2. So I don’t particularly believe in the Institution of Marriage, and neither do a lot of my friends. However, I ended up marrying someone pretty cool about six months ago. Suddenly, my Facebook feed seemed like it was full of sharp objects aimed precisely at my softer feelings. All of my friends seemed to be bitching about marriage, and how stupid it was, and how only stupid people would want it, and how on earth people could get married when they were younger than Friend’s Age? Because at Friend’s Age, you were only just getting started on your life! And you knew that everyone who was lame enough to get married in the first place had immediately bought themselves a one-way ticket to BoringInstitutionalizedMonogamyville and clown-car-vaginas, amirite guys? And somebody else would post an article about how Single Women Have Better Careers, or something, and suddenly all of my friends were involved in a massive conspiracy to make me feel uncool for signing a marriage license.

      “But I’m five years younger than Friend,” I would seethe. “My career is excellent actually, SO WHATEVER. And Friend knows this. Friend knows that I am getting married. Friend knows that I look at Facebook. I HATE FRIEND. HOW COULD FRIEND POSSIBLY POST SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET, WHERE I COULD READ IT, THAT DOES NOT 100% REFLECT MY OWN PERSONAL INNER TRUTHS.” And so I would seethe like a bitter animal, convinced that everybody was mocking my lifestyle choices. And every time I saw a post like that, I had to recite to myself “This is not aimed at me, and carrying it around actually drains my self-worth and sense of humor.” Because I knew that it wasn’t actually a personal challenge to me and I was only taking it personally because I was reading into it. Sometimes, it turned out, I’d skimmed the actual post and seized on something that I’d interpreted as MARRIAGE IS BAD and it turned out to be I ENJOY BEING SINGLE which is something that I had always vehemently agreed with.

      Your natural impulse here was to respond “Well good thing I didn’t write in to you because my answer is totally different!” And I recognize that impulse and I understand that and I have been there, so let me tell you with all the love I have for you that that sentence is not an attack on your long-distance relationships. Good job on maintaining – and getting great pleasure from – what many find to be a difficult situation to manage well; it speaks well of your sense of self and communication abilities!

      1. I may be a bit sensitive on this point, yes: I can get tired of people telling me I don’t exist. Not that the Captain did that, but a number of other people have (usually the claim is that I am/must be deluding myself).

        1. Do you have any tips/guidelines for those of us who are just embarking on a long distance relationship and really want to try to make it work?

          1. 1) Use your words.
            2) Figure out who is moving and what kind of timeline that might look like (even if that seems far in the future).

        2. I think you exist! And when I was in a zillion long-term relationships circa 1998-2005, those totally existed, too. And lots of people are happily married to people who are deployed overseas?

          You know what else exists?

          TWENTY FIVE separate letters in my inbox that say some version of:

          Dear Captain Awkward: I love my partner and s/he loves me but neither of us want to move to be in the same place and I’m filled with anxiety and unhappiness all the time. What do we do?

          To which I say: Gee, yeah, that sounds like a problem.

          I just did a quick “polyamory” count in my inbox, and there are ELEVEN letters that say: Dear Captain Awkward, I’m in some form of poly relationship that isn’t really working for me. How do I fix it?

          This was one of the few that clocked in under 1800 words.

          To which I say: Solve it the way you would any other relationship. Try to work it out, if that doesn’t work, break up. Whatever polyamory is, it’s not fucking magical fairy dust that makes unworkable situations that stress you out suddenly workable. Just because you’ve set up a system where everyone could theoretically get all of their desires met it doesn’t mean you will get all of your desires met, and sometimes the answer is “Glad we tried that. I have to leave (you) now.”

          I don’t hear from the people where it’s working just fine, so they are by definition excluded from today’s answer-rant.

          If you (by which I mean a global you, not you, thoughtful, awesome Vicki) recognize yourself in something I post and it resonates with you, then hopefully you can apply it in a way that’s constructive and useful. If you read it and think “But she didn’t mention my totally awesome thing that totally works!” you’re correct…it’s not called Captain Perfectly Adequate.

          If you read it and think “AND THAT MEANS SHE IS A MEANY PANTS WHO IS SILENCING AND EXCLUDING ME AND INVALIDATING THE BEAUTIFUL LOVE I HAVE” please put that clearly in your comment so I can delete that shit without straining my eyes.

          Also, finally, I am far from an expert on different permutations of Ethical Slutdom. I think I know (and possibly messed up/incorrectly correlated them in my response and subsequent comments) the difference between “poly” as an orientation vs. swinging vs. open relationships and that the Venn diagrams can look like concentric circles for some people and for circles that never even touch for others. Since the underlying principle seems to be that “assume little or nothing about how any one person’s relationship works based on a label, they’re all different and everything is up for negotiation” – well, that’s something I wholeheartedly support in any kind of relationship between two adult humans. I’ll take whatever lumps and corrections you throw my way about the vocab and try to do better next time.

          1. it’s not called Captain Perfectly Adequate.

            Where all the answers are: “that sounds great! We’re all happy that you’re happy. Rock on.”

            Would save you a lot of time, not having to write long, thoughtful replies. Just saying.

            “Dear Captain Perfectly Adequate. I had a minor annoyance with a Person in the world. We used our words, and now it’s better. Just wanted to let you know.” – Contented from Funville.

          2. I see major potential in this spin-off idea. You could have Captain Snarky, Captain Suave, Captain Paralyzing Social Ineptitude….

            Captain Constructive Denial? Captain Suck It Up? Captain Quitcher Bitching? Captain Fuck It? Captain How About Two Fingers of Gin in a Warm 7-Up, That Always Solves MY Problems? Captain Ann Landers Omnibus and a Stick Pin? Captain Call Your Mother?

            I’m going to be Captain DON’T SEND THAT EMAIL.

          3. This is several days old, but I just want to note that I agree that poly isn’t some kind of magic potion that will fix all relationships. People want different things, including different things in relationships, and time is still finite. And if someone is bad at relationships, being in two or three at once isn’t likely to help.

    3. As someone currently in a successful long distance relationship I wanted to say that in my experience, contrary to what the Captain says, it’s not necessary to have a deadline for the end of the long-distance-ness for the relationship to be successful (where by successful I mean that both people in the relationship are happy).
      My boyfriend and I have had a lets-see-how-this-goes approach to most changes in our relationship: from going from dating to hooking up to a more serious relationship and now to being long distance. We don’t have a deadline because our respective careers mean that we need to live in different cities (in different countries!) probably for the next year or two before we can even think about moving to be together, and even then it’s probably going to be pretty hard.
      I know that this means that this relationship may not last in the long term but right now being in a relationship, even if it’s long distance, makes us much happier than not being in the relationship would.

      Obviously if there’s something about your relationship that is making you unhappy you should probably try to change that, and probably leave the relationship if changing it isn’t possible.
      But I just wanted to add that there are many ways of being in good long distance relationships, just as there are many ways of being happy in all sorts of other relationships.

      1. Cool, glad it’s working. For all the people who wrote to me about LDRs in the past couple of months? MOVE or BREAK UP.

  4. Part of what we’re missing are the original terms agreed to by both parties. This is one area where monogomy is simpler than the alternatives.

    Monogomous couple: “Hey, I’m only going to engage in sexytimes with you!” “Me too!”

    The alternative is that you negotiative boundaries for what is & isn’t off limits. What can you do with other people (kissing, oral, penetration, toys, D/s scenes, other play) and under what conditions (partner must be involved / present / notified in advance with veto power / informed afterwards with photos or videos) needs to be pretty well mapped-out, and revisited every so often in case people’s feelings or desires have changed.

    We don’t know what the LW’s agreement was with her partner, so we don’t know exactly what flavor of non-monogomy is in play. Is the LW forced to remain monogomous, while the Dom partner is allowed to flog all and sundry? Is there even that explicit of an agreement, or does this non-monogomy have an implied reciprocity clause? (“I’m not fooling around with anyone else, so you shouldn’t either!”)

    So here’s what propose the LW does:


    Sit down with the partner, and say “Hey, we’ve been together for a while, and I think we need to really lay out what we want and don’t want, what’s working and what’s not working. I want us both to be happy, and to have the things we want. So let’s figure out, together, what’s important for us, and where our boundaries are!”

    Truthfully, it sounds like the most likely outcome will be “Hey Mr. Dom, I want to be your friend, and I like the scenes we do, but I can’t offer you much more than that right now, because I like girls too. I like what we have, but it just doesn’t run that deep for me.” And if Mr. Dom does have problems with insecurity, then he’ll take that as a break-up, get freaked out, and that will be that.

  5. LW, it sounds like you already knew the answer to your questions. You want to be non-monogamous and your partner does not, or at least not in the way that you want to be non-monogamous (i.e. with a woman you are attracted to). You are also not sure, for independent reasons, that you want to be with your partner. Three years is long enough to know whether those are temporary issues or more permanent barriers to happy-coupledom with this dude, and it certainly sounds like it’s the latter. Go find someone who is explicitly interested in non-monogamy. Go find someone you are sure you want to be with.

    1. Yes to all. Funny thing is this song keeps getting They Might Be Giants “Nonagon” stuck in my head. It begins with the line, “Everybody at the party is a many-sided polygon!” And then all I can think is, “No, no everyone at this party is not.”

  6. Yo, successful poly person here. Let me tell you a short story.

    I dated a guy for a while and told him upfront that I was non-monogamous. He said that was okay, but wanted to be monogamous for a while. I said that was fair. After over a year of him “not being ready yet” I dumped his ass (he was also a super-abusive douchefuck, but that made it HARDER to dump him, not easier). I promptly found two amazing people, we became friends, and over the course of two years started dating them (we’re a V, not a triad). I have been with those people for seven and six years, respectively.

    What your SO is doing is a ploy to keep you monogamous. The term for what you’re doing is “unicorn hunting” because the number of femme bisexual women who are interested in being in a closed triad are so tiny as to be mythical. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do finding the woman you are looking for, and I think your SO knows this.

    I also note that he doesn’t seem interested in her as a person, but as a sex toy. You have a list of physical attributes he’s looking for, but no mental or social ones. If you start flirting with women and take them over to meet him, that comes through loud and clear, and it’s CREEPY. It is the number one complaint of single poly women.

    What I’m saying is that three years is a long enough time to find someone, and if he hasn’t now it’s because he’s not interested. He’s being passive-aggressive about not wanting to be poly because he doesn’t have the courage to admit that he strung you along.

    Dump him and move on. You don’t sound that invested in the relationship (I wouldn’t be happy in that relationship either), and all you’re doing is preventing yourself from meeting people you may have a better connection with. Go forth and be happy!

    Oh, one final thing on poly dating: it’s a lot easier to find people you’re compatible with by going on a bunch of dates and telling them you’re poly. Poly communities tend to be small and (metaphorically) incestuous, and while they can be great for friendship and support, all the successful poly relationships I know started by dating someone outside the community.

    Good luck.

    1. So true, so true. Also, while I understand (kind of?) the requirement that both folks in the poly relationship agree to adding a third partner, that’s a bit different than “I only like Y!” and “I only like Z!” and never the twain shall meet.

    2. “(he was also a super-abusive douchefuck, but that made it HARDER to dump him, not easier).”
      Hey, Latining, I’m curious about this part of what you wrote. I found myself in a similar situation, and damned if I can figure out how that dynamic came to be. It seems really counter-intuitive to me. I’d love it if you could expand on how that relationship ended up being a difficult one to get out of. (I’m assuming that it wasn’t out of a need to protect yourself, and if that’s incorrect, I certainly understand why you would stay in a bad relationship until you felt safer.)

      1. Not knowing the details at all, I have a working theory that abusers are super-good at making you question your own judgment and sanity.

        1. Yes. Not that I know the details of either of these relationships, but yes.

          I dated one of those. And I only got out of it when he started fighting with me in front of our friends the way he fought with me when we were alone, and the friends were like, whoa, that dynamic is not okay.

          Just as an example from my own dark past: if every time you disagree with someone you end up sobbing and agreeing that it’s all your fault and they’re too good for you and the best thing that ever happened to you and you just need to try harder?
          1. Bad news bears.
          2. Incredibly impossible to get yourself out of it, because when you try to break up? That happens again. Even though you know they are unquestionably not The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You, because the best thing that ever happened to you was graduating college, or that one perfect flower in the middle of the snow that reminded you winter was almost over, or perhaps even the boyfriend you will date next who let you be crazy while you were getting yourself off of antidepressants, or the boyfriend after that who will encourage you to leave his ass and move to another country.

          1. This. This, times a gazillion. Abusers are super mindfuck ninjas, and any argument with them will inevitably bring you to tears apologizing for how much you suck. Traumatic bonding is the worst. I admire and respect the hell out of all of you ladies who are brave enough to try again after tangling with one of these assholes. I am, at 43, divorced and alone and trying to summon the courage to believe (and then act on the belief) that there are decent, honorable men who don’t abuse out there. But alone isn’t the worst thing to be, true fact. Sorry, I have no advice for our LW, except this: want what you want and don’t explain or rationalize or apologize or minimize it to please anyone, ever.

        2. That, and stalling. The problem isn’t them, it’s [work stress / family stress / their upbringing / past relationships / friends], they’re working really hard and WANT to give you what you ask for, and things will be better after [getting a job / quitting their job / the holidays / an upcoming vacation / this last bender / a therapist / switching therapists / starting a new medication / quitting that one medication / reading that self-help book they bought and ditched after the first chapter].

          Granted, everyone can be a temporarily crappy partner for any mix of those reasons and tons of others, but in a dysfunctional situation, there’s a pattern of refusing to be held accountable for past failures and trying to shift the focus to the new, shiny solution whenever you confront them.

      2. Here is some sample “reasoning” that helped keep me in my last relationship about four years too long:
        “I’m a terrible person and can’t think of a single good thing about myself except that X loves me.”
        “If we break up, X will hate me forever and that will be worse than staying in this relationship, which isn’t that bad if you squint hard enough.”
        “If I dump X, he’ll be stressed and fail his exams and his life will be ruined and it will be all my fault.”
        In general, being an asshole means that the range of tactics you’re willing to use is a lot larger, giving you more leverage over your partner. A non-abusive parter isn’t going to undermine your self-worth and dump guilt all over you so that you won’t leave.

      3. Just a theory that most decent people when told you want to break up with them are sad / hurt but don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want them. Douchefucks see it as a soft spot to stick a knife in or a challenge.

        1. This is one of the many reasons that I hate stupid rom coms that frame “I won’t take no for an answer!” as a big romantic gesture. The kind of person who does not take no for an answer is the kind of person you do not want to be with, but is also maybe the hardest kind to get rid of.

      1. Ugh, unicorn-hunting. I am a “unicorn” (femme bisexual poly–even bakes and makes julienne fries!) and I tend to run SO HARD when I’m being scouted for a closed triad. The relationship I’ve been in that was awesome was a het couple, and what made it different was that the guy in that relationship was very, “Girls! Girls are awesome. Girl parts are awesome. Yay!” and not demanding or expecting anything of us. (They’re getting married now–I should give him a Georgia O’Keefe picture as a wedding present.)

        It feels to me like a lot of guys look at a MFF relationship as “Oooh, TWO women to cater to my needs!” and not, “Oooh, TWO women I can love and look after and take care of!” To be a little crude, they think it means twice the blowjobs, not twice the eating out. And if someone with that mindset goes, “Hey, staranise, come be our third wheel!” my response is, “Sorry, I have an international paint-drying observation competition to prepare for.”

    3. Thanks so much for this perspective, I was dearly hoping happy poly people would weigh in.

  7. LW, I will make this easy for you: End this. End this yesterday.

    Your BF is making it very clear through his actions that he’s not into the poly thing (though he seems to be into the idea of a threesome, as long as it’s with a really femme woman you’re not into but he is into. Um, what??).

    You are not even sure that you want to be with a man.

    You said he’s great in many ways. But being great in so many ways doesn’t mean the relationship is a good one for you. These are two very fundamental things that can’t really be worked out.

  8. The Second Rule of Poly Dating* is that “existing couple seeks A Third to date us both equally” is a recipe for frustration. A lot of people are uncomfortable with poly but imagine they would be cool with a Unicorn because they think that arrangement will somehow soothe their anxieties. It won’t. Triads can grow naturally, but starting out with a recipe of the triad you intend to form rarely ends well for either the unicorns or the original couple.

    If being free to date others is something you need, then you’re going to have to dump him. If it’s something you can live without, you should say “let’s stop this charade and just be monogamous.”

    *The First Rule of Poly Dating is that partners are still partners, with all that that entails for making relationships work, even if you have more than one of them.

    1. Super yup. I can be attracted to men, women, and other genders, and as terrible/misandrist as it sounds, I do not regret my decision to not date men.

      1. LOL “misandry” – it’s far from terrible to express a personal dating preference.

        1. When I hear the term “man-hating lesbian” I tend to think the person using it considers not sleeping with someone a form of “hate.”

          1. Isn’t this, like, patriarchy in a nutshell, though? Also Nice Guys in a nutshell? You owe me your vagina?

            I think it’s really interesting to think about stuff like this, because humanity is fascinating in its complexity, but I think it becomes dark and terrible when we start feeling guilty about what turns us on. Literature and human history teach us: boners are not always very smart.

            I can’t speak to the LW’s orientation ratio, but it is important that she have the space to explore her own feelings. If her relationship isn’t offering that, then it’s not suited to her. And yeah, that might mean locating a guy who’s more comfortable with other women.

  9. I love the flowchart. That is all.

    Well, that and I totally agree on the LDR thing. Unless it is a poly/casual relationship, in which case it may not matter. But if you’re pining for the person, then it’s either move or break up, period.

  10. LW,

    There’s a reason that you started questioning monogamy and conventional relationships in the first place. If you’re stuck, the answer might be going back to monogamy or it might be more questioning. In my experience, the answer to these things doesn’t come from confronting the other person or the relationship, but what I believe about the other person and what I believe about our relationship. Once you know what you believe, you can figure out how you need to rearrange your life so it is consistent with those beliefs.

  11. LW here…kind of in shock because I never expected my letter to be answered. Thank you all for your thoughts. Kind of more confused than ever, really, but want to give y’all some context.

    To clarify our arrangement, I met him (as a friend) when I was in an open relationship, so he knew before we ever got involved I wasn’t strictly monogamous. I wasn’t poly per say back then (ex partner was ok with sex/BDSM play with anyone, but only in a don’t ask, don’t tell way and couldn’t “fall in love” with anyone else), but was open to the idea, albeit after dealing with some insecurity issues of my own. We have an agreement where a. we can hug/kiss/flirt with no worries (although I have never kissed another woman in front of him, and I don’t think if I kissed a butch he would be that ok with it) b. no sexual/ BDSM play without negotiation (unless a pre-approved partner and then only with prior notification during pre-discussed meetings), and c. anything more than play relationships have to be discussed or negotiated.

    Also, my SO is not abusive in any way; he is an amazing person whom I would say is one of my dearest friends. We were talking about some of this stuff yesterday, and for context, what brought on part of this was I wanted to go out for a vanilla, non-sexual dinner with a butch woman I find attractive, just to get to know her. He was really upset by this and vetoed the idea. Part of it is that with me working and going to school, he feels neglected in our relationship. I can understand that, I don’t always give him as much time as I should. But I feel kind of cheated out of an opportunity to meet someone. I don’t want to start dating her and don’t have the time for anything deep, but I feel like I get so few opportunities to meet women that I want to jump on this. He feels like regardless of how many opportunities he has (he has played with several women over the years, including the one other woman I have played with since we have been together) that his right to veto is his right.

    Oh, and one more layer: part of my issue with him is that I resent him for not knowing my needs without me telling him. *rolls eyes at myself* Going to go to the time out corner for that big relationship mistake. Going to have to put myself in Ethical Slut remedial course until I get a handle on this part of my issue(s)

    Anyway, spilling that all out there makes me realize I have a lot of thinking to do. He asked me if I loved him yesterday, and that I could answer easily. Then he asked me if I was happy and wanted to make time for him as a relationship, and I realized I don’t know anymore. I told him “yes”, which was wrong, but I don’t want to hurt someone I love so much. I am going to be pouring over the CA archives to get ideas for better communication. It was not right of me to be dishonest, but I don’t want to hurt him. But I think I’m going to hurt him if i don’t confront this, so I really need to reflect and get straight (just realized I made a bad pun…*groans*) with myself and with him. Just going to listen and reflect on this for a while, ok? Thanks.

    1. *loved him yesterday, and that I could answer easily and fully honestly as “yes”. Sorry, left that important bit out!

    2. LW… your comment doesn’t really make sense to me. First you say he is “not abusive in any way,” and then you say he flipped his shit at you over your potentially trying to make a new friend.

      Trying to isolate you from having friendships is a big ol’ red fuckin’ flag with a Jolly Roger painted on it.

      If you really believe you do need to make more time for him, you need to find a way to do it that does not start with “Step 1, do not make new friends.” That is a bad place to start.

    3. Yeah, I’m calling shenanigans on him being able to veto a fucking dinner. It may not be abusive, but that doesn’t even sound like your agreement. In what sense is having a dinner “more” than play? Having a dinner sounds more like the flirting category. By your own agreement, you should be able to do this without asking him.


      The fact of the matter is that neither you nor he A) respect your agreement, or B) are getting your needs out of this relationship.

      A) is true because the relationship you’ve negotiated is clearly not the relationship you live in. The fact is that you can’t “hug, kiss, or flirt with no worries.”

      You’ve said that he’d be upset if you made out with a butch woman, i.e. most of the women you’re attracted to. That is not “we can kiss who we want to with no worries.”

      He has specifically vetoed you from having dinner with this woman. That is not “we can flirt with who we want to with no worries.”

      B) is true, because he doesn’t feel like he gets enough time with you and you feel like you don’t get enough time with anyone else.

      Since the other things that are taking up your time seem to mainly be “work and school,” his problem seems unlikely to be resolved unless you give up either work, which I doubt is possible, or school, which do I even have to say what would be fucked up about that?

      You feel like you don’t get enough time with anyone else. You’ve only gotten to play with one other woman in your three year relationship, and that’s not okay with you.

      Also, he’s played with many more women than you have, and that’s also clearly not okay with you.

      Yeah, poly relationships don’t have to be, like,numerically equal to be fair, just like oral doesn’t have to be “one blowjob per carpetmunch” to be fair. But if one person is getting all the oral/side action they want, and the other has gotten one carpetmunch/sidelay in the whole relationship, that is not fair and it’s definitely not a sustainable pattern.

      Okay, I’m done with all the A and B stuff. You’re lucky I’m not outlining for you! 🙂

      But if neither of you are happy in this relationship, and it would take A to make you happy and absence-of-A to make your partner happy, which is what it sounds like to me, then you aren’t going to be happy together.

      “Oh, and one more layer: part of my issue with him is that I resent him for not knowing my needs without me telling him. *rolls eyes at myself* Going to go to the time out corner for that big relationship mistake. Going to have to put myself in Ethical Slut remedial course until I get a handle on this part of my issue(s)”

      I’m not sure how that comes into this. When you say this, it looks like you’re just looking for an opportunity to badmouth yourself so that this becomes something you can fix.

      SO! Final suggestions.

      GO OUT TO DINNER WITH THE LADY. Per the agreement you have made with your partner, you have every right to do this.

      TELL YOUR PARTNER YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS. And the fact that when he asked if you were happy and wanted to make time for him, and you said yes, you actually weren’t sure. You may feel like sharing these and other feelings, such as your resentment at being “cheated out of an opportunity to meet someone,” may break your relationship. This is incorrect. If sharing feelings breaks the relationship, it isn’t the sharing of the feelings, but the feelings themselves, that the relationship could not support. So if you share your feelings and it hurts your relationship…it didn’t really hurt your relationship. It destroyed an illusion.

      Finally, if your relationship withstands the first two (And, LW, you’d better go out to dinner with the hot butch! You just better had, because I can’t stand it if you miss that opportunity for no good reason! As Hermione would say…), then GIVE HIM ONE MONTH. Yeah, it’s arbitrary. But.

      You’ve spent three years not getting what you want out of this relationship. If by the end of the month you can’t wholeheartedly say, “I love you, this relationship is making me happy, and I want to make time for you,” then it was already over.

      Whew. That was long.

      1. I agree with pretty much everything in this comment. Also, after reading this:

        “We have an agreement where a. we can hug/kiss/flirt with no worries (although I have never kissed another woman in front of him, and I don’t think if I kissed a butch he would be that ok with it)”

        a second time, it strikes me as super problematic. Basically, it sounds to me like your partner is only okay with you making out with people that you aren’t actually attracted to. Like, he has no problem with the idea of you making out with someone that he finds attractive, but if it’s something that actually gives you real physical enjoyment, he’s not okay with it. He might not be doing it intentionally, but it sounds like he’s really only into meeting his own needs in this open relationship, even when it comes to the people you get to play with.

        Also also, school and work take up time, and that can suck for relationships, but I really really have a problem with the idea that you should put all of your extra time into your relationship at the expense of time for yourself, which includes going out for dinner with potential new friends and playing around with other girls, if that’s what you want it to include. School and work are things you have to do (I assume?), so, even if you enjoy them, they don’t count as self care. Your SO might not immediately see the difference, because to him, time you spend at school and work and time you spend hanging out with other people probably both feel like time you don’t spend with him. That’s totally understandable, but he needs to respect your need to have time to do things that you find fun, even if they don’t include him. If he doesn’t respect that, he’s being unreasonable.

        1. Yeah, I’m not sure why exactly and I’m super tired so I’m unlikely to figure out how to articulate why, but —

          “I don’t think if I kissed a butch he would be that ok with it”

          — seems SUPER sketchy. To me.

    4. LW, maybe a helpful thing for you to do is to sit down with your partner and discuss what your best end-case scenario for this relationship is. Because honey, three years is a long fucking time to be in a “One day we’ll change our relationship” limbo.

      What does your ideal relationship with this guy look like? Is it “Committed partnership with him and casually seeing and sleeping with hot butch girls away from him”? Is it “Committed partnership with him and also committed partnership with other/s yet to be nominated”? Is it “Committed relationship with him and other person or persons as a poly unit”?

      What does his look like? Because if he’s aiming for “I have two or more hot femme girlfriends who also love each other” and you’re after “I’d like to date or sleep with butch ladies, but I’ll come home to you”, that’s a disconnect you’re gonna want to discuss.

      There’s lots of ways to do poly and non-monogamy, but saying “We’re non-monogamous” and then getting mad or jealous and vetoing your every attempt to date other people doesn’t really strike me as the most constructive way to do it. It sounds like you guys need to have a serious talk

    5. See, the phrase “unless a pre-approved partner and then only with prior notification during pre-discussed meetings” sounds about as sexy to me as “I’m going to need those TPS reports by this afternoon, and come in on Sunday, mmmmkay?” *coffee slurp*

      I understand (kind of?) the need for some sort of veto power in a relationship like this, but it seems fairly clear that of the two of you, only one of you is getting their needs met consistently, and it’s not you. Sure, you can talk about it, and you probably should, but I don’t think even having a discussion (or, a whole bunch of them over three years) is going to change the dynamic of this relationship.

      Yes, his right to veto is his right. You also have the right to seek a mutually satisfying relationship. This is not that relationship. That feeling of being cheated out of the chance to meet people who can meet some of those needs you have is an important feeling. Listen to that feeling!

    6. LW, I never called your BF abusive, but your comment here has raised a huge red flag for me. WTF? He gets to veto a platonic dinner where you possibly make a friend? He takes away opportunities for you to meet women–even as just friends–while he’s had play partners? Um, no. Just, no.

      However, let’s put this aside for now. Again, I might be wrong, and he may not be that controlling or needy. Either way, you don’t sound happy. There is no shame in leaving. And if you decide to leave, do it cleanly–don’t try and force a friendship afterwards. Give yourself (and him) space to adjust, develop those friendships you’ve been missing out on, and then go and find a partner (probably a cute butch woman, since you sound like you’re more into women) who will be just fine with a poly relationship.

    7. Hun, he doesn’t have to be abusive to be a bad partner for you. You need a relationship in which it’s okay for you to hook up with butch women. He would be upset if you kissed a butch woman. That is a basic incompatibility, and if neither of you have changed your mind on those points in three years, you’re not going to.

      I’m sure that you love him, but it doesn’t sound like you love being in a relationship with him. And really, you need both of those things to be happy.

    8. “Veto?” That’s right up there with “let,” “allow,” “forbid,” and “permission.” Ew. I’m in a traditional hetero marriage, and I would blow the heck up if my husband ever purported to “veto” something I wanted to do. Nor would I do so to him. Those expressions imply that one person has authority over the other person, rather than that you are in a partnership of equals where both parties care about what the other one needs to be happy. We like to lean over backwards the other way, actively giving the other person our blessing for stuff they want to do that we maybe don’t love, but know is important to their happiness.

      I’m not really talking about the terminology, either. Regardless of words used, he clearly acted like he had a right to say no and have that no be the end of the discussion and have you obey…. and you didn’t call him on it. There’s a huge difference between saying “I would be really upset if you …” and “No, you can’t.” The latter: ick.

      The idea of your SO vetoing lunch with a possible girl-friend because he’s insecure and feels like he has prior claim on all your free time because he doesn’t see as much of you as he’d like would not work for me totally aside from bisexuality and polyamory issues. The fact that his attempt to veto is a violation of the MORE liberal relationship you agreed to, where you could do quite a bit more than eat lunch across the table from another woman, makes it infinitely worse.

      Whatever your SO said three years ago, or even the words he’s mouthing now, it seems pretty clear he doesn’t want to share you. Which would be fine if he were honest and you discussed it and you said “ok, I think you can be enough for me” — and if there were reciprocity. But it doesn’t sound like he IS enough for you. And it sounds to me like what he wants is for HIM to be able to get side-action, but not you. And instead of being honest about that, he’s manipulating you with what someone above dubbed “unicorn hunting” (which seems a very apt description!). Not ok.

      It’s great to be able to answer the question “do you love me?” with “yes.” But that question, shouldn’t be the end of the inquiry. What if he had asked, “do I make you happy?” or “does our relationship make you happy?”

      Yeah, I know: one person can not “make” another person happy. But you can up the person’s happiness quotient, or not. And it sounds to me like the “plus” from this guy is outweighed by the “opportunity cost” of keeping you from other things that are important to your happiness, too.

      In the grand scheme of things yes, you need to think about what your SO needs in the relationship to be happy… it sounds like you do that automatically, and have been accommodating his needs.

      But for now, think about what YOU need to be happy. Then compare it to what he needs. Are those two compatible? Or is someone (probably you, by the track record here) always going to be giving up big chunks of what he/she needs to preserve the relationship? If so, let it go. If you love your SO, but don’t love the relationship, set him free to find someone who wants what he wants, and yourself free to find people who want what you do.

      1. We’ve discussed the poly aspect of this situation a lot, but I wonder how much the kink factors into this as well. This guy and his “vetoing” of things seems like someone who can’t/doesn’t want to leave the D/s dynamic in the bedroom. Some people are fine with that, to varying degrees, but it sounds like LW isn’t, and that makes it a bad fit.

        1. This. I’ve been trying to find a way to ask this question, because I think it’s an important one, but I don’t know enough about a D/s dynamic to know how relevant it is or how much overlap it has with the poly issues. LW, could you clarify that?

          1. I’m going to say LW, don’t clarify it! I’m sure the whole D/s thing is contributing in some way, but it really doesn’t matter WHY or WHICH LABEL.

            What matters is IS IT WORKING? and ARE YOU HAPPY? A conversation about labels and dynamics is going to buy the LW three more years of not fucking hot butch women.

          2. Good point. I had a thought and got all excited about having a thought, but it’s really not helpful. Sorry, Captain.

          3. It’s cool, I suspect we’d come up with “It makes him feel even more entitled to get his way about everything because it’s part of their groovy sexy dynamic!” in the end, and I already got that.

  12. I’m a little confused by what seems to be a conflation of open relationship with polyamory, both by the LW and in some of the comments. One can be poly, but not be in an open relationship. And one can be in an open relationship, but not be poly. It sounds a bit to me like the LW wants to be in an open relationship, and *this* is what has her partner anxious, not the prospect of having an exclusive poly relationship.

    1. Maybe she wants to be open because she’s got a vacancy in the poly and she wants freedom to explore candidate?

    2. but her partner has already made an exclusive poly relationship basically impossible by veto-ing (side eye) the only sort of partner she would be interested in pursuing (i.e. a butch type woman) – so he’s kind of got it both ways.

      actually, he’s got it EVERY way because really, he doesn’t even have to be involved in her other relationship (if my admittedly very limited understanding of poly is correct?) – she could have a relationship with a woman that he is not involved in at all, but he has veto-ed THAT too (side eye side eye)

      LW, i think you have some hard questions to ask your bf (and yourself). goodluck.

  13. Your options are:

    1 Enjoy this cool pen pal you have!
    2 Break up and find someone who lives closer.

    THIS. We dated, yeah, but it was with the clear understanding that eventually someone (me, because of the whole pesky homosexuality being criminal in my home country thing) was going to have to move, or we’d have to set our relationship back to being close friends with benefits. Long-distance relationships have expiry dates on them, and if you’re waffling about moving, you’re actually waffling about the relationship. Which is fine and normal, but…. eh. Eventually it gets to “move or gtfo” and it’s always so much more polite to end it before then.


    You are the greatest of all great things

  15. I’m never sure if you read this, but I wanted to tell you:

    Most advice columns I read for the problems, so I can come up with my own answers. So I read Prudence’s letter but skip her terrible writing style answers.

    Your column I tend to scan the letter and take in the answer. I love this chart. Keep doing what you do.


    I’m going to bed, I’ve got an early class tomorrow and won’t be reading or moderating comments for a good 12-16 hours.


  17. This isn’t really a direct response to the LW; it’s more of response to the various poly questions.

    First, I’m a bi woman, currently in a poly relationship. When I met the man to whom I’m now married, he knew I was poly – we were friends for a couple of years before we fell in love, so we knew a lot about each other. For him, poly was a problem. He said clearly that he couldn’t understand how it was possible to love more than one person, and he didn’t know if he could change that. I said that I didn’t know that I’d be happy in the long term, not being able to see other people, but that I was willing to give it a try. We both promised to keep talking about it, and especially that if it wasn’t working for me we’d have to find some way of resolving it.

    A while later, a mutual friend spoke to both of us about her interest in a sexual relationship with us both. That turned out to be a very nice thing, for everyone, and when it ended it did so with the friendship intact. So my husband realized that it’s possible to have friendship + sexual feelings for someone, while still being in love with only one person. We were very lucky, this particular unicorn didn’t even need to be chased… and we still love one another dearly as friends.

    About a year later, he fell in love with someone else. I saw it happen, and of course he spoke to me about it. He said that he had never thought it could be possible for him to love two people, but apparently it was. And he was so happy that he didn’t have have to choose to either leave me or not pursue the other woman. They ended up having an LDR for a couple of years; it ended because neither was willing to move, and we’re all still friends.

    Since then, both of us have had other sweeties. Of course there have been problems occasionally, and at least one person no longer speaks to either of us – because relationships involves people and feelings and they’re not always logical or easy.

    I guess what I wanted to say is that it can be possible to move from a position of “I can’t handle you having any other love- or sex-relationships” to “poly is actually a very good thing”, but it requires a lot of openness and communication and trust and being secure with one another. Those things aren’t easy.

  18. I’m not a unicorn. I’m poly, and dating…..only one half(the husband) of a couple. We like it this way.

    Situations where both halves of the couple are supposed to be attracted and attractive the the potential third person? So very hard to actually achieve, and often not stable when you think that you have it. Your life is not a tripod. You are a person in motion through life, and coordinating multiple people in motion takes skill, planning…and synced google calendars. 🙂
    (slightly on topic joke….here’s the polyamorous mating call, “Let’s get out our calendars!”)

    Seriously, you have completely different tastes. Finding anyone at all that matches your taste for hot butch women and his for femme types? I’m not seeing it happening. Plus, looking at it from the perspective of the potential date, I don’t like to run into situations where the deal is a package deal or nothing.

    Here is an article from a poly site that I adore:

    Your guy seems to have most of what he wants, except that he wants more of your time and attention too. You don’t seem to be getting what you need. It is time to renegotiate and ask for what you need. You need to decide if it is a deal breaker, too. If he can’t handle what you need, you may need to cut him loose.

  19. Oh LW. It’s hard to break up with someone you like. It’s even harder when that person allows you to cling to the idea that sometime, at an unspecified time in the future, you’ll make the relationship changes you want. I feel really bad for you, because hope can be so damaging sometimes and it’s really not fair.

    Your partner probably thinks that somehow, eventually, he’ll be fine with a poly relationship. But chances are, he won’t. I agree with the Captain, you should look at your relationship with the assumption that the perfect time and perfect person won’t ever come along.

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