Tag Archives: Emotion

How much sex is enough?

1 Jul


QUESTION: A good friend is always going on about how much sex she has with her husband.  I’ve been with my partner for 14 years — like my pal and her spouse — and we’re lucky if we make love once a month (although it’s great when it happens). I’d blame it on our kids, but my friend has children, too. How can I stop feeling inadequate by comparison?


Dear Frustrated,

The issue isn’t your friend.  Him bragging is just the catalyst.  If he was an avid golfer and you didn’t much care for the sport would him bragging about his golfing performance bother you?  Probably not.  So the issue is he has touched on a subject that is a sore spot for you.  Presumably because YOU ONLY GET LAID ONCE A MONTH.

The tone of your note suggests you would prefer more physical intimacy.  I suspect most people have physical desires for more than once a month sex.  Have you discussed this with your partner?  Do you know why you two don’t make time for one of the most fun, free connected activities with incredible health benefits?  You wouldn’t feel inadequate if you were happy with once a month sex. So go address the real root cause of the issue and have a conversation with your partner.  You should also stop being mad at your friend who just gets laid more than you but really means you no ill will and .   Good luck.


If you would like a personal question answered directly please send me an email at dearpoly@gmail.com  I’d love to hear from you!


Limerence, teach everyone this word!

8 Jun

Limerence is the most important word/concept that the majority of people in our culture are ignorant of.  It causes so much damage and broken families.  It explains a lot of relationship behavior.  Limerence on Wikipedia  Most people can relate to the word even if they have never heard of it before.  The definition, ““a state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts about the object of interest.”  It’s that state where seemingly unrelated thoughts keep coming back to your new romantic interest.  You CAN’T stop thinking about them.  🙂  I think most people know what that feels like.

Limerence is very powerful and can be overwhelming,even addicting, in some people.  The piece that people don’t understand is limerence doesn’t last.  It’s an inherently transient state of mind due entirely to the newness of the romance.  Unfortunately because we are ignorant of this word and concept there are lots of negative relationship fallout.

Consider Tim, a man married for 7 years who has been faithful the whole time.  All of a sudden he find an attractive woman at work who he has a flirtatious relationship with.  Suddenly he is limerent over her much like he was over his wife when they first met.  He decides to cheat, eventually divorce his wife and then marry the new girl.  Then several years later he repeats the process never recognizing the pattern.  This is a VERY common pattern in our society where people are serial monogamous and have multiple marriages.  The problem is Tim doesn’t understand limerence.  He doesn’t understand that new things aren’t BETTER.  They are just new and shiny.  He doesn’t have a proper appreciation of his existing relationship or the understanding that all shiny things eventually fade.  Tim continues to chase the energy of a new relationship hoping to keep those intense feelings alive which is unfortunately impossible.

When starting out in the poly world people often make the mistake of overvaluing new relationships.  Limerence is an amazing high.  It’s easy to get carried away but to have successful mature relationships you need to balance that energy with the understanding that it won’t last.  Make sure your existing relationships are taken care of with the attention and respect they deserve.  Ideally a person skilled at relationships will be able to enjoy a stable, long term, live in partner with whom they share all the important intimate details of their life while simultaneously having the occasional hot new intense energy filled whirlwind romances.  It’s a great life guys and I hope learning more about limerence and it’s limitation can help us all enjoy a more full life.


Judge people by their actions

6 Jun
I’ve been with my boyfriend, James, for almost two years. We lived together for about four months until he left me. I moved to a different state, and he recently moved to the same state. We do not live together at the moment. It tore me apart when James left. My father had left me a bunch of times when I was younger, so being abandoned is nothing new to me. My boyfriend says he is sorry and that he won’t do it again. He wants me to move in with him.On top of that, James cheated on me when we were in different states. I was even more torn. He says he is sorry about that too. During video chats and phone calls, I’ve heard and seen him cry. He says he messed up and made big mistakes and has learned his lesson.

I just want to know someone’s opinion. Would he ever do any of those things again? Would he ever leave or cheat on me again if we were married?

– How do I know he won’t hurt me again?, California


Yes he most cheaters and leaves will probably do those things again.  Generally speaking people don’t change.  Why do you think marriage would change things?  It’s very easy for James to make promises and say things will get better.  He will never cheat again.  He will never leave again.  He is sorry.  Really apologies are fairly worthless.  Pretend for a minute you had a choice between apologies without behaviors changing or no apology but the unacceptable behavior changed in the future.  Which would you choose?  I think everyone would choose for behaviors to change without the apology.  An apology is soothing but behavior change prevents injury in the future.  So what to do?  It’s difficult to answer absolutely.  Some things can only be resolved experientially.  I think you should attempt to trust him but be wary and ready to cut and run if he is unable to change and runs or cheats again.

I’m not sure why you think marriage will change things?  James will be the same person the day before and the day after your wedding.  Try not to think of getting married (or having a baby) as a miracle pill that will solve issues between you.  Good luck.


Jealousy is a second order emotion

1 Jun

People confronted with the idea of Polyamory often say they could never do it because they are too jealous.  I believe this attitude doesn’t take a critical enough look at the emotion of jealousy.   Jealousy isn’t a first order emotion.  It’s caused by something else and without investigation you can’t solve the root issue.  Generally most people only treat the symptoms.

The classic example is John’s ex-girlfriend is coming into town.  He wants to go have dinner with her and his girlfriend, Jennifer, feels jealous.  Stereotypically the outcome of the situation is an attempt to veto the dinner by Jennifer.  John often feels resentful if he gives up the date or Jennifer does if he doesn’t.  The relationship takes a little damage and gets a little weaker.  Whether he goes on the date or not isn’t really the issue though.  Most of the time it’s one of two other possible things.

It’s possible that what Jennifer really fears is her boyfriend cheating on her.  It might even be justified if John has a history of cheating on girls in the past.  In this case her jealous emotion is an appropriate rational safety response to a dangerous situation and should not be dismissed.  The real solution though isn’t to veto the date.  You can’t just veto everything.  The solution is to learn to trust John if he has changed.  A dinner date with an old ex is fairly benign and doesn’t detract from your relationship.  If John hasn’t changed, Jennifer should figure out whether not being able to trust him around ex-girlfriends, pretty girls or when he is out drinking is a deal breaker.  It would be for me.

Now the flip side of the coin is it’s possible your boyfriend is an angel.  He loves you and has never had a history of cheating.  You, generally speaking, feel totally secure almost all of the time.  In this situation it’s your own insecurities that is causing the problem.  You have no rational reason to feel jealous (which doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel jealous).  It just means the solution is going to come from within.  You need to figure out why you might feel insecure and what might help the issue.  Try and be as honest and upfront with your boyfriend and together hopefully you can learn to worry less in a situation that you need not worry about at all.


You are not your emotions!

31 May

People often don’t distinguish between how they feel and how they think.  It’s a really important distinction particularly in relationships when feelings can come up unexpectedly and harshly.  For example, say your incredibly faithful boyfriend says they saw a sexy, attractive girl in a bikini at the swimming pool.  He is not a cheater and has no intention of acting on it.  He is just sharing an observation with you.  You have years of experience and a pair of beautiful children with this guy and know with 100% certainty he isn’t going to stray (without permission).  Despite this knowledge you still get upset.  Pissed in fact.

First off emotions don’t follow logic.  You can feel emotions 100% contrary to your actual intellectual beliefs about a situation.  You can feel secure intellectually and threatened emotionally.  In these moments you need to know that though you feel pissed your relationship isn’t in trouble.  You are not in trouble.  Everything is fine.  You are not your emotions.  Your partner also hopefully understand this point.  Hopefully if you slip and say something snarky he can more easily forgive you knowing that you do absolutely trust him but in the moment your emotions got the better of you.  You are not your emotions.

So where do these negative emotional responses that don’t jive with our greater theories of life come from?  I think emotional responses are part of societal norms.  We are programmed to react a certain way in certain situations by examples from adults, movies and sitcoms from an early age.  That’s part of why being Polyamorous is so difficult for many people.  It requires working through emotional responses like, “I feel threatened and scared when my boyfriend sleeps with a new girlfriend.” and replacing them with, “I don’t think my boyfriend sleeping with a new girlfriend detracts from our relationship and I feel safe and secure in the life we share together.”  Yeah it’s not easy.  The benefits of a life filled with lots of love is a really fantastic payoff if you can get there though.