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Dear Captain Awkward,

I use she/her pronouns.

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost four years. We live in different but nearby cities, and I don’t own a car (though I can get access to one with advance notice), so he often drives to mine. In our region, there is a lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit where you don’t get criminal charges, but do get your license suspended and pay a fine. I used to assume that my boyfriend could self-assess his level of inebriation, but after a roadside encounter with the police where I’m not sure whether he’d have blown over the lower limit if they’d asked, I’ve been more frequently using a BAC calculator to find out what time he would be expected to be below the limit, and asking him to wait until that time to leave. It’s imperfect, but it’s what I have available.

He feels that his self-assessment is more likely to be accurate than an online calculator (and I’m not sure that he’s wrong), and that I am being controlling by constantly pulling up the calculator when we’re out. I feel like I’ve enabled this by allowing him to drive me, and I’m being a bit hypocritical because I often drive while tired. I drink only occasionally, so I find it hard to assess what’s normal for the average person. It also feels difficult to ask people I know about this without inadvertently maligning him, because people may (very understandably!) have strong opinions about combining alcohol and driving.

I’m considering just offering to split costs on a taxi when he comes to visit, and/or arranging more dates where I drive to his city. However, that only covers the time we spend together, and it makes me nervous to think about him driving after drinking in any situation. Is this just a fundamental incompatibility? Is there a way to approach this that doesn’t feel controlling and self-righteous? Even now, I feel like I may just be asking for validation of my opinions instead of actual advice, but I really don’t know what to do.

Not BACchanalian

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m currently over 2 years into a poly relationship with a wonderful person. Our policy is that we’re both free to have casual sex, and we’ll treat dating people on a case by case basis. The majority of our relationship has been long distance, but I very recently moved to live a few blocks away from them.

Partner has a friend who was also known them for as long as I have. Over the course of our relationship, they’ve grown very close. Every time I heard about Friend from Partner for the first year or so, they kept assuring me they were “just friends” and that they’d never be interested in anything more with him, even though I didn’t ask for that assurance.

Then, Partner asked me if they could do nonsexual kink things with Friend, which I was okay with. This came with more assurances that they’d never be interested in doing sexual or romantic things with him, again without me asking for them.

Early this year, Partner asked to start dating Friend. I said I wasn’t comfortable with it right then. Partner asked again a month or so later because Friend’s partner decided to open up their relationship. I said I needed to wait until I lived near Partner and see if I felt more comfortable in our relationship.

Over the summer, Friend visited Partner and they had sex, even though I told Partner I was uncomfortable with that. They apologized for being inconsiderate of my feelings, saying that it just happened. A day before I moved, Friend’s new partner referred to Partner as their “metamour” in a place where I saw and Partner brushed it off as a misunderstanding. After that, I told them I wasn’t sure I’d ever be comfortable with them dating Friend while still dating me.

It’s now been two months since I moved and while my relationship with Partner is stronger than before, I’m still not comfortable with them dating Friend. They’ve given some hints that they want to talk about this sometime soon, but they haven’t brought it up yet.

Other than this issue, I am really in love with Partner, although I still don’t feel like I’m getting enough affection (school and health issues make fixing this hard).
I don’t know how to get over Partner giving specific boundaries for their relationship with Friend and then changing them suddenly.
Thinking about this situation makes me have anxiety attacks and cry. I’m working on finding a new therapist, but it’s hard having just moved and needing to find a bunch of new doctors.

Am I being ridiculous about this whole thing? What do I do when Partner brings up the subject again?

– Too Anxious, Too Needy

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Joseph Gordon-Leavitt from 500 Days of Summer, looking pleased with himself.

500 Days of Summer: A movie about selective hearing by a nice guy who turns into a Nice Guy (tm).

O Captain! My Captain!

Our fearful trip is not at all done.

I’ve moved quite recently to a city I quite like.  I have a lot of casual pals but few close, trustworthy friends.  I’ve just started a new job, and am trying to balance my time between this job, a long-term creative project, taking care of myself (cooking, exercising, etc.), and of course making friends.

I also met someone who is, in some ways, really great.  (That “in some ways” may tell you all you need to know.)  He’s attractive, considerate, fascinating, and fun.  He’s also ridiculously intense. Like, RIDICULOUSLY.  I’m pretty sure that I am going to have to have an awkward conversation with him, and I’ve actually already figured out what I need to say, so that’s not the question.  (“I just moved here and am trying to put my life together, and I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed.  I really do like you and I want to be friends and hang out, but I need to get my life on track and make friends before I can even think about getting involved with anyone romantically.  I really do mean the friends part. Will you still come to my party?”)

The question is, instead, two other things.

One.  The way he’s intense reminds me of myself, like, five years ago.  I can totally understand why anyone didn’t want to date me then – I thought everyone would be the love of my life, and I was obsessed with my own perceived inability to have a normal relationship, and I took things personally that were not at all about me.  My do-gooder heart wants to find some way to be able to help him.  Can I?

Two.  A much more selfish query.  Is there any way I can go backwards in time, get rid of all the serious crap, and somehow just do silly things with him and maybe sleep together for a while?  (I didn’t sleep with him, never fear, in part because I was trying to find a way to get him to chill out.  In retrospect, maybe I should have; he’s bending over backwards trying to tell me he doesn’t just want to have sex with me, which might not actually be a bad thing.)  I suspect the answer is no, but I can keep hoping.

Love,

Too Much Too Soon

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