Sexuality Love + Sex Love

What being in a polyamorous relationship has taught me

In May of 2018, I met my current partner at our job. When they casually mentioned being bisexual, my interest in them was piqued, until they brought up their boyfriend. But then they said they were polyamorous.  Could I be in a polyamorous relationship? I hadn’t been in a long-term committed relationship in a while and the last one I was in was a monogamous relationship that lasted two years, that I had grown utterly bored of about halfway through. From that point forward I had only engaged in sexual relations, thinking that I didn’t want to be tied down to any one person. Polyamory offered a different option.

Months later, we were flirting and they finally asked me out on a date. I met their boyfriend. And their playmate. I got on okay with both, and I didn’t feel threatened by either of them. We continued going out and flirting and writing each other love letters and giving each other gifts, and at some point, we just agreed that we were now in a relationship.

I’ve learned a few things about myself and relationships since embarking on this journey. I have had to cultivate ways to communicate with my partner more openly and honestly than I’m used to. I’ve had to talk about my sexual experiences and what I’ve liked and didn’t like, and where I lack skill. This should be the norm for any relationship, but our conversations have also included bringing their playmate into our sexy time activities and what we both would like to do with each other and him.

I’ve also had to be open about my attraction to other people. This is quite liberating as past relationships saw jealous reactions whenever I commented on being attracted to anyone else. Our monogamous-centric society has conditioned me to keep quiet about said attraction so I’ve found myself feeling uncomfortable going into detail about my other crushes. There does regrettably continue to be a lingering fear that such discussions will spark conflict. Fortunately, when I did get around to bringing up my other crushes, my partner was delightfully excited and encouraging.

But while they didn’t exhibit any jealousy in response to my interest in others, I learned that I myself am not immune to jealousy. Mariana Guerra wrote in a Tempest article that, “When you have multiple concurrent romantic or sexual relationships, people tend to assume that jealousy doesn’t (or shouldn’t) affect you.” Because I hadn’t experienced any such feelings in relation to their boyfriend or playmate, I assumed I was okay with them having other partners.

Then the pandemic hit and with my heart condition making me particularly vulnerable, I was left unable to see them in person. They started dating someone else and at first, I was glad that they had someone to fulfill needs I couldn’t. At the time, their relationships with their other boyfriend and their playmate were experiencing difficulties so they needed positive companionship that I couldn’t provide in person.

But then the new boyfriend came up more and more in our conversations. My partner made presumably inadvertent comparisons between us that left me hurt and yes, jealous. His picture was the wallpaper on their phone, my partner posted Instagram stories of the two and tweeted about him. They shared his music and all the while I was left isolated and unable to make contact with the world out of fear for my health. I wondered why I was never used as a wallpaper picture or why I was never mentioned on their social media or why they never shared the stories I had written and shared with them. I assumed the worst of my partner and it sent me spiraling into a self-loathing that compounded my depression.

But I never brought it up because I took on the attitude that my jealousy was my problem. Their new boyfriend eventually broke up with them right before I started therapy so I didn’t feel the need to mention it or get advice on the situation. They did continue to live with their other boyfriend, who they had also broken up with, and their association was a toxic one.

At first, being in a polyamorous relationship led me to believe that I had no right to speak up on the issue because doing so would make me as unaccepting and controlling as him. After all, rules have no place in such relationships. But boundaries do. And my therapist encouraged me to reach out and set my boundaries, as long as I also made it clear I had no intention of trying to exert control.

 So after they finally moved out of his place, I told them that I would prefer they didn’t talk to him anymore because their friendship was so fraught and abusive and harmful. And I was glad I did. They agreed and later admitted they were proud of me for putting my foot down and setting a boundary where they felt they may have been unable to.

Some assume that opting for polyamory allows an escape from the burdens of monogamy. The appeal of it is that it is more flexible and perhaps more liberating. But it certainly comes with its own challenges, as I’m finding. It does require a commitment of time and a willingness to be open and honest, even in ways that you fear might spark conflict. To succeed in a non-monogamous relationship, you have to be willing to own your feelings, even the negative ones, and to take responsibility for them. You have to apply the principles of flexibility and liberation to your partner and be willing to allow them to find love beyond just you, even if that sparks feelings of inadequacy. And if you do develop such feelings, don’t drown yourself in them, don’t assume you can’t talk about them. Be willing to make space for difficult conversations and be willing to set boundaries. They’re not just helpful, they’re needed. 

I’m hoping that as long as we continue to communicate with love and honesty, our relationship will be an immensely fulfilling adventure for everybody involved.  

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History Historical Badasses

Meet the badass Irish warrior queen Medb

If you’ve ever read about the relationship between mythology and history, you’ll notice some trends. Many of heterosexual relationships feature men in dominant positions over women. There is a double standard in the acceptance and portrayal of hypersexuality in men versus women. Take Greek mythology, for example. One of the most famous couples was Zeus the philandering rapist and Hera, his supposedly vengeful, jealous wife. There’s the hero Agamemnon, who despite expressing entitlement to Achilles’s lover, chastised his wife Clytemnestra for taking a lover in Aegisthus. When Ares and Aphrodite engaged in their affair, they were caught by Hephaestus, and only Aphrodite was humiliated by him. 

That’s why it was such a delight to learn about warrior queen Medb (pronounced May-v) of Connacht from the Celtic Ulster Cycle in Irish mythology, and her open relationship with Ailill mac Máta.

Ailill was Medb’s primary relationship in the Celtic Ulster Cycle, was aware of her polyandrous nature, and had no issue with it. In fact, she made it clear to him that she’d “never had one man without another waiting in his shadow.” Ailill was made to promise to not give in to jealousy, a vow he mostly managed to keep. He was one of the multiple husbands of Medb, while he was apparently only linked to her. Ailill didn’t have the same liberty though, as Medb did not react well to Ailill having any other romantic relationships.

Queen Medb wasn’t even unusual in how many partners she had. Her story reflects the values of her time, which, under the Brehon Laws of ancient Ireland, held that women were equal to men and marriage was a contract, not a sacrament. There’s even an entire text describing some of her relationships, Ferchuitred Medba, or Medb’s Man-Share.

This contrasts a lot of mainstream historical laws and attitudes towards men’s extramarital relations versus those of women. Even Biblical figures like Abraham, David, and Solomon had up to 700 wives. This is in stark contrast to the conservative and monogamous standards set by both Judaism and Christianity, which prohibit adultery through the Seventh Commandment.  A similar attitude is seen in the laws of Ancient Greece; while adultery was forbidden, men took the liberty of sexual relations with enslaved females and prostitutes. These values are reflected in some Greek and Roman mythology,  as seen when the goddess Artemis fell in love with Orion, and Apollo tricked her into killing the mortal because he was protective of her virginity.

Despite traditional mythological stories of female sexual subservience, warrior Queen Medb was both the more sexual one in her marriage and the dominant one in regards to the power and authority she wielded. The Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) states that rather than Ailill choosing Medb for his wife or Medb being kidnapped (think Hades and Persephone) or being sold off to him in some kind of arranged marriage (Aoife to Lir, in which the former is offered by her father to the latter), she chose him.

Better yet she didn’t choose him because of his strength or ability to best her, as with Queen Hippolyta and Heracles, or Demon Lord Sumbha and Mother Goddess Parvati, but rather, she had “exacted a singular bride-gift, such as no woman before me had ever required of a man of the men of Erin, namely, a husband without avarice, without jealousy, without fear. ” (Táin Bó Cúailnge).

She also wouldn’t tolerate him being superior to her in any way. Her philosophy was, as she told Ailill, “as I am great in largess and gift-giving, and it would be a disgrace for my husband if I should be better at spending than he.” In fact, she went to war just to ensure they would be equally wealthy. When Ailill owned a valuable stud bull and Medb did not, she commanded the soldiers of Ireland to invade the kingdom of Ulster and steal its prized bull, Donn Cúailgne, the Brown Bull of Cooley, leading to the eponymous cattle raid of the epic.

As a Celtic warrior queen and an Irish sovereignty goddess, Medb was a woman of her time and shared many similarities with other warrior goddesses from myths all over the world. She was independent, territorial, ambitious, and her relationship with her husband was delightfully subversive of much of the relationships of mythology. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

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Love + Sex Love Life Stories Advice

Here’s how to deal with jealousy in a non-monogamous relationship

Nearly everyone deals with jealousy once in a while.

After spending the last four years exploring consensual non-monogamy, I still haven’t mastered it. When you have multiple concurrent romantic or sexual relationships, people tend to assume that jealousy doesn’t (or shouldn’t) affect you. But it can – and it’s a persistent feeling, with as many heads as we have fears, insecurities, and doubts. It can show up in the most innocuous of situations, and in those times we can be left wondering what it is that is bothering us so much.

It takes courage to admit difficult emotions and even more when trying to overcome them. It takes bravery and patience to sit with our feelings and use them to improve our relationships both with ourselves and with others.

I like to think of jealousy as a composite feeling as if it had multiple parts and components, numerous iterations and displays. Jealousy is nothing more than our fears, doubts or insecurities, most times. We feel threatened, left out, and excluded, and jealousy is right there to help us through it. We think horrible things and react badly, jumping to conclusions before giving others a chance to explain.

The first few times I felt jealous in a non-monogamous context, I brooded, convinced that I was going to be abandoned and that that was proof I was in fact as unlovable as I thought I was. I would detach emotionally whenever I felt jealous because I thought no one could possibly love me when they had other people.

Picking apart these feelings can seem like a waste of time, but we have so much to gain from this. So, next time you feel a tinge of jealousy, remind yourself that things are more complicated than they appear – that humans, such as yourself, have more layers than we realize. Stop for a minute, breathe in deep and try to make a bit more sense of what you’re feeling.

Don’t take this as an indication to pin it all on your partner or to try to find out what movement triggered your rage so you can forbid it. Try instead to just figure out what you’re feeling. And talk to your partner about it in a way that is not blaming but loving.

Don’t be afraid of asking for help in processing these feelings. Each time I do, it results in a more secure connection and better communication in my relationships.

When we try to combat jealousy through the so-called regular routes, we usually worsen the problem for ourselves and others. We either don’t talk about it and hold our feelings to ourselves, eventually exploding; or we blame our partner for our feelings, displacing both anger and responsibility. I’ve definitely done both and I can assure you it didn’t work.

Our emotions are not our partner’s fault unless they’ve broken agreements. We must learn to sit with our feelings, to quietly and compassionately pick jealousy apart. Ask yourself what you’re feeling around it: is it discomfort, insecurity, fear?

For me, it’s usually a combination of fear of abandonment and inadequacy that rips through me. I feel it immediately, this hot white rage that wants to detach emotionally and feels hurt and small and mad. If I listened to it, I would’ve left too many partners behind in crowded rooms. Instead, what I try to do is take a deep breath, find someone to talk to or go to my partner and ask for reassurance.

The third one is still the hardest one; I’m very used at processing feelings by myself, bottling them up and labeling them as I please. Asking for support or reassurance is very foreign, and I still feel weird about doing it. But when I do it, I get a great response and feel better immediately.

Whether you’re non-monogamous, single, or monogamous, engaging with your jealousy is important. Many skills can be freely adapted across relationship styles, structures, and orientations. Humans will be humans, and we tend to have similar fears, doubts, and hesitations when relating to each other. Whatever fear you’re clinging to, someone feels the same way, believe me.

We can’t guarantee our relationships will last forever and we can’t guarantee that they will never change. Loving includes a degree of risk that we need to be willing to take so we can allow ourselves to relate to each other honestly. We might not like it, but we need to deal with it. And, in my opinion, honest relationships and fulfilling love are worth it.

So, go on, face your fears and love deeply without hesitation.

Editor's Picks LGBTQIA+ Gender & Identity Life

When my sexual identity shifted, I learned why Spirit Day is vital to LGBTQ+ communities

Though Pride Week has become a worldwide celebration, September and October are also special months to celebrate queer communities. On September 23, Bi-Visibility Day kicks off Bisexual Awareness Week which recognizes the bisexual community. Coming Out Day takes place on October 11 and honors the day that members of the LGBTQ+ community came out. It also is a day that’s dedicated to raising awareness of LGBTQ+ civil rights. Spirit Day, in support of queer youth against bullying, is October 18. However you choose to celebrate, there are many ways to do so.

While it’s important to celebrate the entire LGBTQ+ community, events like Bi Visibility Day are especially important because of the frequent discrimination those who identify as bisexual face, not only from the outside, but often within the community itself. In fact, 85% of bisexuals report facing bullying.

Some of the most frequent misconceptions about bisexuals are they only date cis men and women (non-binary people can also identify as bi), bisexuals are more likely to cheat, they are more open to being into polyamory or threesomes, they’re going through a phase, or are really just gay but not “out” yet, or if they’re in a “straight relationship” (read: opposite genders), they are no longer bi.

I have always considered myself to be a queer ally, but I never imagined myself to be a part of the community – that is until I got to my mid-twenties. In the past, I’ve identified as a cis straight female but as of late, I’ve begun to question whether I actually belong to that category or am a little more fluid myself. I’m not sure what triggered these thoughts.

Maybe it was the rush of initial attraction I had on meeting a new female friend, from her warm smile with deep dimples, bright colorful skirts (bought during Peace Corps in Malawi), or her intelligent, feminist soul. Maybe it was seeing Janelle Monáe as she danced her way across the screen in transparent rose-embellished jeans, owning her sexuality. Maybe it was recalling thoughts in middle school like wondering whether girls in my class looked the same as me when they were naked or having a sort-of-maybe crush on my best friend in high school for the first year I knew her.

When I was young, I didn’t know anyone else who was gay or bisexual, I didn’t know it was a possibility. Maybe if I had, I would have realized I was bisexual earlier on in my life. Whatever it was, exploring my sexuality has been a fun and confusing time for me. Letting myself admit that I find people attractive besides straight hetero males is freeing. It feels like I was in a room that was stuffy until I threw open a window, allowing cool air to kiss my face.

The interesting part is that I’m in a long-term relationship and have been for six years. I absolutely love my partner and we are a great fit for each other. When I opened up about my feelings to him, he was very understanding and willing to listen. Nothing has changed much. The fact that we are in such a solid place in our relationship means we can now point out attractive people to each other (men and women) without either one of feeling distrustful about it. I may never date a woman or non-cis male but the fact that I’m open to it feels freeing to me.

Having a day devoted to honoring LGBTQIA youth is so important to a community that is still often overlooked, bullied, harassed, and persecuted simply for trying to be themselves. I now look forward to celebrating Spirit Day and Bi Visibility Day, where I can show up and celebrate, out and proud, and I invite you to do the same.

Love + Sex Love Advice

7 do’s and don’t’s of dating more than one person at a time

In our current day and age, monogamy is the norm in most Western societies. Monogamy is a valid lifestyle choice, and many people feel comfortable dating only one person at once.

Many others, however, prefer ethical non-monogamy.

This is a blanket term covering different types of relationships in which some or all participants have multiple marital, sexual, and/or romantic partners. In other words, any type of consensual and thoughtful romantic or sexual setup outside the realms of monogamy. And it can be a viable choice for you! It’s time to destigmatize the concept of a multiple-partnered-lifestyle, as long as things remain honest, ethical, and safe.  

This spring, I took a dive into the world of non-monogamy, dating five men at once. Through some trials and tribulations, I came up with a helpful guide for choice-craving women to ethically date multiple people at once.

1. Do be honest.

GIF of someone saying, 'Being honest was the right thing to do'.
[Image description: GIF of someone saying, ‘Being honest was the right thing to do’.] Via GIPHY
If you’re looking for something casual, say it! If you want to continue to lead a multiple-partnered lifestyle, say it!

Communication is key if you’re serious about maintaining multiple relationships at once, whether they’re casual relationships or something a little more serious. It’s great to explore your options, it’s just not okay to lie about it.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

A GIF of two hands forming a pinky promise.
[Image description: A GIF of two hands forming a pinky promise.] via GIPHY
Don’t bring up exclusivity, don’t pitch visiting your cousin’s graduation in Chicago this November, and don’t yell out “I love you” during sex – unless of course, you really mean it.

Be upfront about your intentions.

3. Do take your time getting to know each person.

GIF from Bachelor in Paradise where someone is asking, "So you kind of like me?"
[Image description: GIF from Bachelor in Paradise where someone is asking, “So you kind of like me?”] via GIPHY
Getting to know people should be fun. I know it’s hard to avoid thinking what you could potentially be doing with each suitor a year from now (what’s their opinion on the name ‘Audrey’ for a girl?), but breathe in, breathe out, and do your very best to stay in the present moment.

Take your time learning about the people you are electing to spend time with! Dating’s a great way to do extraordinary activities you normally wouldn’t. Let these meetups be an escape from the grind, not an addition to it.

4. Don’t mix it up.

GIF of Kate Mckinnon on Saturday Night Live. She's saying, "Let me check my day planner."
[Image descriptions: GIF of Kate Mckinnon on Saturday Night Live. She’s saying, “Let me check my day planner.”] via GIPHY
Don’t text Fred about your reservation this Friday, when he’s under the name “Patrick.” Even if you’ve followed rule #1 and were honest about non-monogamy, you don’t need to add fuel to the jealousy fire by rubbing each suitor’s face in it.

We all think we’re smarter than the fable of the girl who texted evil comments about a person to that same person, and yet if you’re dealing with two parts fatigue mixed with one part “all these men have the most generic names on the planet,” then you’re bound to mess up. Keep codenames, keep a calendar organized by color, and keep it all private.

5. Don’t assume they’re not doing the same.

GIF of Donna from Parks and Rec saying "I have several men in rotation."
[Image description: GIF of Donna from Parks and Rec saying “I have several men in rotation.”] Via GIPHY
Just because Jared texts you once every thirty minutes and bought you an Arrested Development mug does not mean he’s solely dating you! If you’ve pitched the idea of non-monogamy to your partners and they’ve okayed it, it’s important to have a conversation about your partner’s intentions. Looping back to point #1, honesty is 100% essential for developing a healthy and ethical non-monogamous relationship.

And jealousy is a normal part of having multiple relationships.

But that doesn’t mean it has to consume you or cause you to take action. And of course, if the burn is too fiery, it may be time to have a dialogue with your preferred mate and talk about giving a one-on-one relationship a try.

6. Do use protection.

GIF of the sex education teacher from Mean Girls. He's holding out a box of condoms and saying, "Okay, everybody take some rubbers."
[Image description: GIF of the sex education teacher from Mean Girls. He’s holding out a box of condoms and saying, “Okay, everybody take some rubbers.”] Via Giphy
I’m not gonna tell you whether or not it’s okay to sleep with more than one person at once. That’s a call you have to make for yourself. But I am here to lecture you about protection like a hip NorCal single mom.

Until you’ve had an in-depth conversation with your partner(s) about who’s sleeping with whom, wrap it before you tap it.

7. Do schedule time for yourself.

A GIF of Oprah relaxing in a bubble bath. She's drinking champagne and smiling, and she's surrounded by candles.
[Image description: A GIF of Oprah relaxing in a bubble bath. She’s drinking champagne and smiling, and she’s surrounded by candles.] Via GIPHY
It’s easy to get caught up in the aforementioned color-coded calendar filled with drink plans, dinners, sexcapades, and wine sipping on the Barnsdall Art Park grass (go ahead, steal my place, I’m handing it to you) once you’ve committed to non-monogamous dating.

Don’t let it all become homework! When you need to take a night for yourself or your friends, by all means, take it! Get some Epsom salts, light a candle, and craft your breakup message while lying in a pool of bubbles. It’s cliché to say, but if you love yourself above all else, you can see non-monogamous dating for what it should be: an adventure.

It’s a big ocean out there with a lot of fish. Have fun, get messy, and remember to be upfront.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories Wellness

I’m disabled and married – but I also date other people

Being disabled, I encounter a lot of casual ableism throughout my day.

A lot of that ableism causes physical inaccessibility, such as heavily-scented places. Sometimes it’s something so simple as using ableist slurs like ‘crazy’ or ‘idiot’. Whatever the cause, it takes an emotional toll. It’s hard to exist in a world that isn’t set up for us.

Ableism often seeps into every interaction. Dating with a disability can be terrifying at times. We get messages like “Can you even have sex?” or “It’s too bad you’re in a wheelchair, or you’d be cute.” It’s enough that I haven’t checked my dating profiles in a while. Of course, this all gets even more complicated when you’re non-monogamous like me.

I didn’t start out as a non-monogamous person. I’ve been with my husband for over a decade. He is my rock and my best friend.

When we met, I knew that I wasn’t straight, but I also knew that I would marry him. Non-monogamy hadn’t been discussed very much in the media, especially in a positive light. It wasn’t until I became a sex educator that I learned about different relationship structures like ethical non-monogamy.

The next year, I started falling for a friend. While this friend and I are not as close as we once were due to physical distance, it kickstarted the non-monogamy conversation in my household. After a year and a half, both my husband and I were okay with me starting slow and going on dates.

Oddly enough, my husband got used to the idea before I did.

I’d never had to really use dating apps or sites in my youth. I wasn’t really sure where to start.

It’s overwhelming at first, which probably contributed to me taking a longer time easing into dating. I had a Fetlife account already for sex education purposes, so I started joining more groups on there. I found a lot of other disabled and chronically ill folk, but have had odd interactions with abled people.

Across dating sites and apps, I would find people I felt I would really click with and shoot them a message. A lot of them wouldn’t reply or, if they did, they’d share how they are not open to non-monogamy or dating disabled people and those messages usually weren’t kind.

As someone with fatigue, it irks me when I put a lot of effort into a new or potential relationship only to have boundaries crossed or ableism show up. I already don’t have enough energy to take care of everything I need to do. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to do more than watch TV, eat chips, and make it to the bathroom. It gets hard to justify the time spent with other people if I can’t shower or do dishes as often as I really should.

Sometimes I feel guilty about going on dates.

My husband gets to see the hard stuff I go through – the allergic reactions, poor mobility days, and heavy chronic pain moments I wouldn’t wish on an enemy. Why is it that he doesn’t always get to go do the fun and silly things with me? Thankfully, the fact that he’s very introverted does help. He may not want to go to Pride, especially as a cishet dude, but the gal I’m seeing would love it.

Non-monogamy is giving me more opportunities to do things that I would normally have.

The gal I’m currently seeing is also polyamorous and lives with two partners. These other partners have accessibility needs, which makes this gal so much easier to date than anyone I’ve ever known. Sharing what I need and what I need to avoid is getting easier the more I find others willing to listen. Because of ableism, I haven’t shared as much of that in the past and it’s wound up hurting me in the long-run. Being able to communicate my needs more gives me more confidence to do so in other relationships.

For example, I’ve been able to share my pain levels more with my husband instead of getting quiet.

Non-monogamy has given me a much larger in-person support system. I have friends all around the world, but it’s easy to forget that we’re all here for each other. By improving the way in which I communicate, I’ve been able to reach out for help when I need it. I’ve also been able to share crushes on long-time friends, leave spaces that aren’t good for me, and use my assistive devices more.

As odd as it feels to say, I think I’m a much better person because of non-monogamy and my disabilities than I ever was without them.

Love + Sex Love

My boyfriend cheated on me with another girl – but I didn’t feel jealous at all

I remember the first time I ever felt jealous about a romantic partner. It felt like my chest was splitting in two. For the first time, I understood why they called it ‘heartbreak’: it physically felt like my heart was cracking, and it winded me so much I couldn’t breathe.

This was actually a panic attack, but my 13-year-old self didn’t know that. She thought she was in love. She thought that the pain in her chest was a sign that she should actually be with the person that was making her jealous. After all, only your soul mate could make you feel something so deeply, right?

Fast forward to when I was 18. My boyfriend at the time cheated on me with another girl, who he ended up dating. There were many things I felt when I realized he cheated on me: hurt, betrayed, angry.

But one thing I didn’t feel? Jealousy. I didn’t envy the poor girl who became his girlfriend. I didn’t feel possessive over him. I didn’t want him.

I was surprised that my heart didn’t crack in two like it had before. This strange reaction prompted me to do a lot of soul-searching. At first, I asked myself why I didn’t feel jealous, but then, I asked myself why I thought I should feel jealous. After all, why would I want someone who mistreated me?

Sometimes, jealousy is about feeling unwanted – it is for me, anyway. We might feel jealous when we see our crush with someone else because we feel unwanted in comparison. We also might feel jealous when our partners pay more attention to others because we feel insecure and we think it’s a threat to the relationship.

When my boyfriend cheated on me, I realized it didn’t mean I was unwanted. It wasn’t a reflection of me at all, it was a reflection of him. I had no reason to feel insecure, so I didn’t.

Of course, jealousy isn’t always rational. Often it comes out of nowhere, and there’s no reasoning yourself out of it. But this epiphany stuck with me, and since then, I’ve hardly ever felt jealous.

When I tell people this, they assume it means I don’t have any real feelings for my partners. This isn’t true. I’ve loved people fiercely and deeply without feeling a pang of jealousy at all. To me, my lack of jealousy didn’t mean I didn’t love my partners, but it meant that I loved myself and was incredibly secure in my own self-worth.

Learning about non-monogamy and polyamory has also expanded my understanding of jealousy. Many people are able to love more than one romantic partner at once. For many people, having more than one partner is possible because their love isn’t a finite resource.

Think about it: if you can have multiple children or multiple pets while loving every single one of them, it makes sense that some people can have multiple partners and love them all the same.

By this token, some people can find more than one person attractive at the same time. If I’m dating someone who finds someone else attractive, that doesn’t mean they don’t find me attractive. And if they don’t find me attractive, that’s a separate issue – one that has no influence over my worth.

Many people believe that jealousy is an indicator of love, so much so that they’ll make their partner jealous to ‘test’ their love. This is a common trope in rom-coms, and I often see it with acquaintances and friends of mine. We’re taught from a young age that love hurts, so we confuse the ache of jealousy with feelings of care and partnership. This attitude is troubling because it can romanticize people being over-possessive, and even abusive, towards their partners.

It’s okay to feel jealous. There’s nothing wrong with you if you experience jealousy. That said, we should stop romanticizing jealousy and we should stop equating it with love.

Love shouldn’t crack your heart in two – it should mend it. Whether it comes from a friend, a romantic partner, a family member, a pet, or yourself, love should be a source of support and energy, not pain.

Love + Sex Love

These 10 signs will tell you how good your relationship REALLY is

No one said that relationships are perfect.

In fact, how can they be? The combination of two or more very different people deciding to make a commitment to one another can be a difficult space to navigate. You won’t always get along, and there won’t always be rose petals on hotel beds every Valentine’s Day.

But there are certain behaviors in relationships that are red flags for significant issues down the line. Abusive behavior manifests itself in ways that both the abuser and abused might not even realize, making it important to seek help when you feel confused or unsure.

And remember: heartbreak, though painful, is completely and totally normal. There are so many different ways to deal with it, but don’t let it scare you into making the right decision for your physical and emotional wellbeing.

1. They keep score.


Like I said, no relationship is perfect. You’ll have your ups and downs, that’s just part of getting to know someone.

But when your partner decides to keep a metaphorical ‘scorecard’ of every bad thing you ever did in your relationship, it’s time to consider whether or not they’re really happy being with you. Scorecard keeping is a sign that your partner may be unhappy but settled. It can also hint that they enjoy bringing up the past to put you down.

Healthy relationships mean having to forgive the past and move on.

2. They refuse to compromise.


Compromises are an important part of any relationship, and not just the small things either.

For example, if every time you go out on a date you’re doing what your partner wants to do, that might implicate that they don’t really care about your desires, your likes, and dislikes. They’re happy so long as they get their way, and that can have severe implications in the future.

Imagine that you’re both still paying off student loans but your partner decides to buy a new car without consulting with you. Or you want to have kids somewhere down the line but your partner won’t even entertain the conversation. All these big, important life decisions cannot be made by one person only.

Being able to compromise on decisions in a way that both parties can be content with is important for building a healthy, equal relationship.

3. They beat you when you’re down.


Everyone goes through rough times every now and then. It could be failing a test, losing a best friend or even being retrenched. Having a partner who will be there to support you through those tough times is fundamental for any healthy relationship.

But if your partner blames you for your difficulties, puts pressure on you to get over it or fix the situation, it is possible that they don’t really care about your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Tough times like the ones mentioned above can alter a person’s mental health for good. Many of us suffer from depression and anxiety because of the stresses of modern life. And you’re going to need someone who’s going to have your back; for better and worse.

4. They feel entitled to sex.


Consent. Consent. Consent.

A date does not entitle you to sex. Three months of dating does not entitle you to sex. Marriage does not entitle you to sex. Every single time you engage in sex with your partner or partners, each person needs to give their consent.

If you are in a relationship where someone is pressuring you to have sex when you’re not ready, or even when you just don’t feel like, that is constituted as sexual harassment. If they coerce or force you into sex, no matter what kind, it is considered rape.

If this happens to you, seek help immediately. Find a trusted friend or family member to turn to, or reach out to national hotlines and help centers for support. You can get out.

5. They cheat.


Of course, Beyoncé can forgive Jay-Z for cheating on her if she wants to, that’s her prerogative and it’s yours too.

But what I want to address here is cheating in polyamorous relationships. There are many misconceptions about polyamory, like believing that it involves no commitment or communication about sexual partners. In reality, it is possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship. When a set of boundaries is established, they have to be respected. Partners who deviate from those boundaries are violating the trust of that relationship. In other words: cheating.

This goes for monogamous relationships too. For some, dancing with someone else at a club is not considered cheating. For others, mild flirting can be considered grounds for breaking up. Establish those boundaries and make sure that both you and your partner respect them.

6. They give you ultimatums.


“It’s either me or x-important-thing-in-your-life.” is the worst thing you could hear from a significant other.

Your partner could expect you to give up education, work, lifelong dreams, family and friends for them, and none of it is okay. But of course, we need to look at context.

For example, in same-sex relationships where one partner’s family is homophobic, it can be difficult to deal with that kind of rejection and animosity. But if you love your family and want them in your life, no one can ask you to give them up. Instead, you can work through it together and find a solution that doesn’t involve distancing yourself from those you love.

7. They try to fix your problems with marriage or kids.


Let’s be honest: lifelong commitments like marriage and kids will not solve your problems.

Sure, you may be going through a rough patch at the moment, but binding yourself to your partner is not going to solve anything. In fact, it is most likely going to result in resentment.

When it comes to marriage, of course you have the option to divorce or annul. But children are a no-going-back commitment. When you make the decision to bring a child into this world, you do it with the understanding that this kid is a whole human being, not an arts-and-crafts “I’m sorry!” card to stick in the middle of a feuding relationship.

8. They refuse to acknowledge their privilege.


My fiancé is white and I’m Indian, and to cut a long story short, our differences in race have been an issue.

When your partner has certain privileges that you don’t have it is important to acknowledge and talk about that with an understanding of systemic oppression. When my partner and I met we were just 16 and 17 years old, and barely knew how to comprehend our this.

But now that we’re older and wiser about issues like white privilege, we are able to talk about it openly and honestly. When I experience discrimination (because yes, racism does exist) I need my partner to be there for me. Not to defend white people’s actions with a young #notallwhites, but to listen and empathize with my situation. And hell, even defend me in the arena.

9. They verbally and physically abuse you.


Of course, any kind of verbal and physical assault is completely and totally wrong.

Your partner hurling insults and curse words is abuse.

Your partner hitting, punching or pinching you in any way is abuse. Things like throwing objects in your direction is also abuse. In fact, anything that puts your physical being in danger is considered abuse.

If this happens to you, seek help immediately. Find a trusted friend or family member to turn to, or reach out to national hotlines and help centers for support. You can get out.

10. They can’t accept change.


Repeat after me: everyone changes.

It is ridiculous for someone to expect you to remain the same from the time they meet you till five years down the line. People can even change from month to month, that’s a normal part of being a human being. You know what is strange though? Expecting someone to look and act the same way they did in high school, when they’re 28 years old.

Your partner being unable to accept change can be a sign that they aren’t happy with your growth. And if they simply aren’t happy with the person you’ve become, that’s normal too. It’s okay to break up with someone when transitioning into different stages of your life, in fact, it’s very, very normal.