Episode 102: Clear Communication

Your partner comes home from a date and needs reassurance, but you can’t give it in that moment. Is this something to overcome?

Polyamory won’t solve an issue where you don’t believe people when they tell you they are interested in you and this podcast explains why.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

Discussion Topic:

Are you a person who feels there are clear boundaries between lovers and friends?

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This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use my affiliate link for 10% off your first month.

Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

A bit of backstory: I'm in a bit of an odd situation with my boyfriend. He was polyamorous when we met, and even though I didn't have any interest in seeing other people, I thought the alone time offered by someone who is seeing other people seemed appealing. Plus, I have some serious trust issues after a previous relationship, and believing someone won't do something they really want to do just because I'd prefer it that way is impossible for me right now.

Thus, having a relationship where my partner is free to pursue whatever connections he wants really appeals to me. I still don't have any interest in seeing other people, and he really likes that, so together we've determined the relationship will be closed on my end. Even though it seems imbalanced, we're both usually very happy with the way things are.

The issue: There's a food place near me that I've been really wanting to visit, but the portion sizes are way too big for one person. I don't have any local friends or family, so I've been trying to meet someone purely to go to this place and share some food with me. A completely platonic food outing. I'm only intending it to be a one time thing; I have a hard time maintaining friendships because I just can't seem to find anyone who actually wants to keep things platonic, and I'm just not interested in anything more than friendship.

Anyway, I met someone who is willing to go for food with me, and he clearly is interested in more, but I'm fine with putting up with a little unwanted flirting if I can have dinner company for a night. The problem is, my partner hasn't seemed all that attracted to me since I told him. We've talked about it, he says he's jealous but he's fine with me doing whatever I want, but what he's doing doesn't match up with what he's saying.

He insists that he's fine, and that he still wants to do sexual things, but I can ask and have him go "yes, definitely, I want to do that," but make no move to stop doing whatever other activity has his attention at the moment. I've waited for hours for him to finish an activity while he verbally expresses enthusiastic interest in having sex with me the entire time.

The whole situation is incredibly confusing, and it only started after I expressed interest in going out for food with this person. He has absolutely no issue with his other serious partners having non-platonic interactions with people, and he's even said it makes him happy when someone he's seeing has a new interest, or is happy with another partner, etc. Plus, he's never had any issues with me spending time with friends before.

I understand it's different since this person probably wants more than just platonic interaction, but I've been very clear with everyone involved that I'm not interested in that. Even if I were interested, it doesn't make sense for him to have issues with things only when I do them. I've even scheduled it for a night when he's going to have non-platonic company, so he's not going to be at home missing me with nothing to do.

Honestly, I've just got no idea what to do about this situation. I'm sure it'll resolve itself once I finish my one-time meeting, but I don't want this to happen every time I see someone who has a crush on me. Plus, I don't like the idea of him being sad on his own, or losing interest in me because of something I can avoid doing. I don't really know what to do about this. Should I do something about this? Am I being a bad partner if I just follow my instincts and let him figure himself out? I would really appreciate your insight.


I don't really understand why it is that you decided to have a closed relationship. That really confuses me and the fact that you said that your partner is happy that your relationship is closed makes me kind of curious about why that is and I feel like you've not really explored why it is that this is the case.

Because it kind of makes me wonder if there is some type of like cuckholding fetish thing that's going on here with your partner. He has all of these other relationships that are open but with you it's like special because it's closed and you can't date anybody else. And that's fine. Like it's fine to have that. But I just feel like it—There's like a discussion that needs to happen about that. And that needs to be clear, because I feel like… that sounds like what's happened.

That sounds like he has a kind of cuckholding sort of thing. Not cuckholding. It's not the right word. I don't — It sounds like he is interested in this situation primarily because you're not with anybody else. And even the idea that someone else could be interested in you or there could be something that could happen, it makes him lose interest. You need to discuss this a little bit more.

I also think like it’s— I wasn't really clear on what it was that you had trust issues around. But I feel like there's a lack of trust. Being polyamorous isn't gonna get rid of your trust issues and you seem to have trust issues not only in your relationships, but also in your friendships. I'm really curious as to why it is that you— I understand you want to go out to this restaurant, right? I don't know why you don't just get takeaway or ask for a smaller portion size or just— I’m pretty sure that if a restaurant knows that you want to come there.

But you want to come there alone and you're like “Their portion sizes too big. Can you make something smaller for me?” Or can you put it in a box and take it home? I don't know why that isn't the solution to this problem, but it really confuses me why it is that you are so distrusting of this person that you're going to see. Like you're sure they have a crush on you. You're absolutely sure they have a crush on you. You're sure they won't listen to you.

And I just I wonder if you commonly begin relationships with such a lack of trust in the other person. Is the ability to maintain friendships, and your lack of ability to do so partially because you have such a sure idea of what's going on somebody else's head and you have such a lack of trust in their willingness to listen to you? And yeah, I just— I don't understand why it is that you are so sure that this person has a crush on you.

And you're so sure that they won't listen to you. And you're so sure that they expect more. Especially when— Have you talked about it? Have you addressed it? You kind of don't really address the big elephant in the room. You just go with your gut instinct about things. If I had a situation with a partner who you know and I was like, “Do you want to do something sexual?” And they were like, “Yeah,” I think I would just outright be like, “Well, you're not you're still doing this thing. It's been two hours. I'm waiting. If you don't want to do anything, then you should—“

I would find it difficult to not point out the obvious and equally if I was going on a food date with someone, and I felt like they had a crush on me I would have a hard time not being like, “So you know, this is just platonic. And I feel like you have a crush on me”. Understandably I can't be held completely responsible if another person decides that they're going out on this food outing with me. And they think it's going to lead somewhere and I've told them overtly that it's not and they still have those thoughts and then they get disappointed.

That's not my fault. But like, Have you have you pointed this out overtly? And what's being said? I don't know. You can't avoid him losing interest if his reasons for being interested in the relationship is that it's closed. And you also can't help it if he refuses to communicate with you, if you overtly say like, “Dude. You're saying you're interested, but you're not finishing, you know, watching Netflix or whatever it is you're doing. You're not you know, you're not making any moves, my dude. So what's, what's the haps? What's the deal? Like what what's going on?”

If he refuses to communicate with you, then you can't really do anything. But I think that there's a combination here of both your lack of trust in people in general, but also a lack of communication about like, why is your relationship closed? Why? It’s okay if you're not interested in dating other people, but why specifically close it? Does he have a kind of fetish? And if he does, that's fine again, but it needs to be discussed. So there's a lot of things going on here with trust.

And I think that if you just have some honest discussions about why it is this is happening that might help, Also just go to the restaurant yourself. And just get a takeaway bag. Maybe you’re English. I know in America takeaway is very common. Our portion sizes are often very large in America. So it's quite normal to go to a restaurant take some food home. In England, it's like a little bit gross, but whatever. Just take take some home or just ask them not to make you so much food.

I don't understand why you need to have someone go with you. Or ask a family member or if you really feel like a person is crushing on you and that makes you uncomfortable, then just say no and go on meetup.com and find like a foodie group and be like, “Hey, I want someone who will—“ Find an asexual group. There's so many things you can do. You don't have to do any of this.

But I do think regardless of what you decide to do in this situation that he has got some hang ups about clearly there needs to be a discussion here about why your relationship is closed. Why that makes him happy? Because that's really strange to me. And what the deal is like, you just need to ask what the deal is. You just need to talk to each other and also you might want to see a therapist and talk a little bit more about your trust issues.

Don't use polyamory as a way to solve your trust issues. Because it’s—  you need trust in polyamory too. And even if your partner— I guess, like maybe you have a hard time believing people when they tell you that they're only interested in being with you and that is not an issue that's going to disappear just because you're in a polyamorous relationship. If you have problems believing people, when they tell you something, then that will just carry over in some other way into polyamory.

And it may be that based off of the interpretation you've given me of your partner's behaviour that he actually doesn't have a problem and maybe you're over interpreting certain things. I don't really know. But if you have a problem believing genuinely that someone is either interested in you or is doing what they want to do, then that is something that needs to be addressed. You can't just address it by not addressing it if that makes sense.

So I hope that helps. And good luck.

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