DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a 38 year old woman that has only participated in monogamous relationships in my life. Until D. D has been a friend of mine for about 5 years and 2 months ago we both admitted that we’ve had crushes on each other for years, but we both assumed the other wasn’t interested. We started dating and for the most part this is one of the healthiest relationships I’ve ever had. So there’s only one catch.
D is polyamorous. I knew this long before we started even thinking about dating and when we first began hooking up he already had two partners. His more recent partner, N, is also poly and she took the news of me becoming part of his polycule with minimal insecurities. His other partner, J, on the other hand…
J is not polyamorous and plays a lot of head games with D. She tells him that she doesn’t mind that he’s poly but when he started seeing N and me, she guilt tripped him by telling him “I just wish I was good enough for you.” When he and I started dating she completely freaked out and insisted he call it hanging out because dating was what they do, not he and I.
This was the point where I put my foot down. I made it very clear that if I’m taking a chance on being with someone who is poly, I refuse to be part of a situation where his other partner tries to diminish and erase me. D is very bad at standing up for things that he wants, but when it became clear that I was not going to stay in this relationship if he continued to allow her to try to make me gone, he talked to her and made it clear that we are both his girlfriends and she needs to accept it if she wants to be with him. And she’ll pretend to be fine for awhile, then have another freak out where he just has to take care of her, especially when she knows he and I or he and N are spending time together.
So at this point we have an ongoing pattern of her being emotionally manipulative and sometimes even abusive in order to try and get him away from me and N. And for me it’s beyond frustrating. I’ve legitimately reached the point where if he brings her up I mentally cringe because I don’t know if telling him he needs to get away from her is a line I can cross as his other girlfriend. I don’t think I’m jealous of her because it doesn’t bother me at all when he talks about or spends time with N. But when I know he’s gonna be with her I get angry and nauseous. She doesn’t have to be my friend, but I deserve better then J constantly ignoring or trying to erase my value to D.
Any thoughts or advice would be really appreciated.
Polyamory Is Confusing
DEAR POLYAMORY IS CONFUSING: So let’s put this out there right away, PiC: no, you’re not being jealous and J is absolutely crossing a line. Several lines. She’s running up and down a football field at this point.
Here’s the thing about poly relationships: there are many, many ways of doing them. There are triad relationships where everyone is dating one another. There are poly relationships where two parties are both dating a third, while not involved with one another. Some poly relationships are hierarchical with a primary partner, while others have everyone on the same footing. And if you’re going to be in a poly relationship, you need to be pretty clear up front over what kind it is.
Which leads to the problem that you and N are having with J. You two entered this relationship under the expectation of being equal. J clearly has other ideas. And the problem is that your boy D doesn’t seem to be willing to actually follow the rules that you are all presumably working under.
Now the biggest problem here is that J is poly under duress. It’s clear that this is the only way that she can have a relationship with D and she has, technically, agreed to it. And since she’s not happy being poly, she’s determined to do whatever she can to control the situation. D may be poly, but J is trying to make sure that he’s only poly in name. If she had her way, you two wouldn’t be in the picture at all. And since she knows she can’t just demand that D dump you both, she’ll just try to manipulate him and occupy all his time.
Now I’ve seen this literal situation play out before and I’m here from the future to tell you that this is going to end badly for everyone, messily and all over the place. The only question is how long it’s going to take and how much screaming and crying is going to result.
In an ideal world, D would realize that he needs to actually put his foot down — not in the half-assed way he’s been doing it thus far, but laying down firm boundaries, letting J know that if she’s going to be in this relationship, she has to quit playing stupid head games.
But it’s not an ideal world, so you and N are going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with him about this. J’s head games affect the two of you, so the two of you need to present a united front. The two of you need to tell D exactly how J has been screwing with the two of you, and how it’s affecting your relationship with him. It’s not right, it’s not cool and it’s materially affecting everyone.
And while it may not seem fair… it may be necessary for you and N to consider throwing down an ultimatum. He doesn’t necessarily have to dump J (but he should) but he sure as hell needs to be willing to stand up to her.
Why talk to D and not confront the source directly? Well… because honestly, it’s not going to do anything. J wants you gone. She’ll quite cheerfully claim ignorance or try to flip it around on you and then go running to D and claim that you are bullying her. J is a habitual line-stepper and gaslighter and while have no real problem making this about how you’re actually the baddies in this situation.
Plus: while D isn’t the only person in this relationship, he is the one who’s refusing to stand his ground or enforce his boundaries.
N is your ally and fellow victim of this BS. Talk to her. Make common cause. And then the two of you confront D with this. And if he’s not willing to stand up to one of his partners in the name of preserving and improving his relationships… well, then maybe he’s not somebody you should be in a poly relationship with.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m 30. Never been in a relationship. I’m considered good looking. However I’m deaf but I don’t sign.
I have no problems whatsoever getting dates online. I’ve gotten much better on my dates. More daring, more in charge. More confident. But the problem is…I never seen the women again. The dates never lead to third or a formation of a relationship.
We chat lots online, they’re very very keen on me.
We meet for a date, have a great time. I’m leading them. We connect.
Have amazing conversation. I’m a gentleman who has everything planned, no doubts. Take them to places that I know they will like.
We hold hands, kiss, flirt. Spend hours talking and laughing. Sometimes I take them back to mine for you know what (with the intention of seeing them again). We make plans to meet again. They text me they’ve had a great time and thank you. They say I’m a great kisser. One girl said she couldn’t wait to see me next week.
Then a few days later…radio silence! I try to text the woman…I can tell they’re disinterested, more flakey. Their texts are shorter. Boring. I ask then what’s up? They either say nothing or they will say “you’re such a great gentleman but no spark” “I’ve had a fantastic time but no chemistry sorry.” “I don’t have time to date sorry or I’ve met someone else”
It’s getting me so frustrated and so depressed . I’ve been on 85 dates this year with different women and this keeps happening. I want a relationship, I’m sick of dating so many different women only for them all to disappear or to tell me I’m a great gentleman but not for them. I can’t seem to be for anyone! I want to be the chooser not the chaser.
Could you please help me? I’ve tried reading all your books but it doesn’t seem to cover my issue. I’m really really desperate as I’m getting older. All of my friends have partners, married. Kids etc.
I’ve asked my family and my friends about my issue and they think it’s my deafness that is subconsciously putting them off.
Hard of Feeling
DEAR HARD OF FEELING: These are the questions I hate getting, HoF because there isn’t really a clear answer. I’m not there to silently spy on your dates, so I can’t really say what it is that you may or may not be doing that puts people off. Generally, if someone’s going to ghost you, it’s because they’ve lost interest or they weren’t that interested in the first place.
It’s one of the frustrating truths about modern dating that many times, we tend to have a hard time telling people that we’re not interested. It’s a lot easier to just say “yeah, I’d love to do this again” even when you know damn good and well that you’re not going to call again. It’d be nice if people could muscle up and say what they actually mean… but they don’t. And that leaves many of us confused and frustrated and having to try to figure out just where things went wrong.
That means looking for points of commonality. And in this case, those seem to be few and far between. When they seem engaged and enthusiastic on those dates — even coming back to your place for the you know what in the you know where with the you know who — and still lose interest afterwards, then we have a couple of possibilities, none of them fun.
First is to accept that yes, it’s possible that your being hard of hearing is turning people off. They may be ok in the moment, but what’s acceptable in the short term — over the span of a couple hours, even for a hook-up — may not be something they think they can handle in the long-term. The potential inconveniences of dealing with someone who can’t hear may start to sink in the more they think about seeing you again. That may well be the dealbreaker for them.
Alternately, it may be how you handle the dismount… er, as it were. Some folks are great on the first date, but get less appealing over time. Sometimes they let the charm drop or they turn out to be complete dicks. And then there’s the guy who tried to drag the world to hell after he slept with someone. But that’s another story never mind. It’s possible that there’s something that you do after the first date that turns people off and that’s why they start getting less and less interested.
Or it could be that you’re not great at maintaining the vibe or excitement after that first date. You may get a little too clingy or enthusiastic, expecting (or giving) levels of intimacy and closeness that aren’t warranted by the relationship you have. You may not be texting with the same charm or verve that you were beforehand. Or you might be not be texting at all except to try to set up the next date.
Of course there’s the possibility that they’re just not enjoying the sex or the dates.
But it could also be none of those things. As frustrating as it may be, it could just as easily be that you’ve had a string of bad luck, with people who weren’t compatible with you in the long term. Dating is a numbers game, and sometimes you are going to get a lot of false positives — especially over online dating — and first dates to nowhere. Sometimes the problem has absolutely nothing to do with you and the only thing you can do is grit your teeth and keep trying.
Which is the most likely? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you. If you have the opportunity, then I’d suggest talking with friends who know you, friends who you can trust to give it to you straight. If you have an ex or two that you’re on good terms with, then getting their input could be valuable.
Otherwise? It’s time to do some journaling and some A/B testing. Keep a detailed journal of your dates, what you said, how you said it, what you did, everything. Over time, you may see patterns develop that you couldn’t see otherwise. And as you track your results, try doing things differently. See what happens if you change up your routine or the way you usually handle your dates. It may well be that making changes will get you the results you’re looking for.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)