A fellow with a 93% match percentage on OkCupid sent me a message last night. It was harmless enough, but my answer clearly upset him. Minutes after receiving my reply, he took down his profile (or possibly blocked me, I’m not sure how that works).

His question was this:

I decided to address his question in terms of online dating in general, and here is my response.

Hi, I’m glad you sent me a message, but upon reading a bit further through your profile than I was able to using quick match, I don’t think we’d be very compatible. 

In response to your question of why it’s “easier” for women, the answer is somewhat complicated. For starters, it’s a matter of perceived risk. A guy’s worst imagined scenario for matching with the wrong person is finding out the other person is unattractive in real life. In contrast, a girl’s worst imagined scenario is that she’ll end up drugged and raped by a serial criminal. Women are socialized to be a lot more selective and careful with how much we share online. Simply posting a photo of our face can be dangerous, let alone our bodies. Guys, on the other hand, feel safer looking for romance online. They face fewer, less serious risks and when it comes to photos, are not told repeatedly that their appearance is to blame for their own harassment and assault. Since men feel safer, there are more of them willing to put themselves out there. 

Because there are so many more guys online, women have a perceived advantage of choice. We can be more particular and choosy because there are more options. Anonymous guys with low match percentage flood our inboxes with one-word messages. We use stricter filters to keep this problem at bay. We stop filling out our profiles because it seems like nobody reads them anyway. We hide our answers because creeps will bring up sexual preferences in chat that are really nobody’s business until at least the third date (yes, ALL of these things have happened to me and every woman I know). In spite of all of this, there are still guys who don’t understand any of it and make stupid demands about how much of our body or face they can see in a photo. 

Dude, it may seem “easier” but trust me, it’s not. I’d trade this “advantage” any day for half of the advantages dudes have in every other aspect of life.

Thanks again, but I don’t think you and I would get along at all.

Happy New Year, readers! (I probably should have posted this last month, but at least it’s still the first week of 2016.)

New Year

This year was an adventure in new beginnings and false starts. I moved to a new city full of new dating opportunities and job prospects only to find that none of these panned out the way I had hoped they would. In the end, it meant I was closer to defining exactly what it is I want and what I am worth.

I don’t want to re-hash specific relationships, but there were some stand-out experiences. I met several people on OkC. One I had an excellent first date with, then by the third wanted nothing to do with him. The others ranged from “meh, not too bad” to “I THINK I AM IN LOVE.” I dated more than one person I didn’t meet online, which is a rarity for me, and even though they ended up fizzling rather quickly, I’m proud of myself for asking them out at all. Finally, I was contacted by someone who I never expected to hear from again and whose presence in my life is a surprising and exciting treat.

I learned that it is not worth staying in a crappy job if I can’t stand the people I work with, and it’s ok to stand up for myself. I learned that I deserve better from a first date than, “Yeah, this person isn’t too bad I guess.” If there’s not an affinity that makes me fluttery and flushed, then I’m probably not going to feel that way by date three. I learned that when searching for jobs, it pays to be persistent and actually talk to people in person. I regained confidence that I am still an attractive, sexy, funny person deserving of love. I learned that Sydney, despite having more schools, is a saturated market for teachers. I learned how to break up with someone succinctly and politely. I learned, once again, that I should not get involved with people in ‘somewhat open’ relationships. I finally felt like it was ok to really want someone, to truly desire them, and that it was ok to tell them I did. I also remembered that it’s pretty great to be desired too. By the end of the year, I took control of my mental health, my love life and my career.

It’s been a difficult year for more reasons than the ones above and next year could be harder. But I am coming through stronger and more complete. I literally crawled through mud, faced my fears and found out what I was made of. Next year will be a piece of cake. Or not. Either way, I’ll make it count.

One of the first things that comes up whenever I come out to someone as poly is the J word.

“How do you handle the jealousy?”

“Don’t you ever get jealous?”

“I could never handle the jealousy.”

And a video I watched recently put it rather well. Jealousy is not exclusive to romantic love or sexual partners. We get jealous of colleagues, friends, siblings and even strangers. How do you deal with that jealousy? I think the common answer to that is, all kinds of ways!

The worst thing you could do is assume that being poly means never being jealous, so if you feel jealousy, you must not be truly poly. Don’t let your guilt get the better of you! Learn to listen to your jealousy, as it has some important things to teach you. You can manage this without throwing everything away.

My personal method for dealing with jealousy involves several steps. The first, I identify and name whatever is making me jealous.

Example: I’m super into my new lover. We have only been on two dates but I am already totally smitten. I’m still chatting with other people on OkC, but this is really exciting and new.  Then he tells me that he has been chatting with one of the girls I’ve been chatting with. I tell her, “Haha, a guy I’m seeing says he’s chatting with you too!” She replies that they’ve been on a couple of dates.


Ooh, that hurt.

STEP ONE: Why am I hurt?

  1. I feel slightly scared because I don’t remember him saying he went out with her. I am worried that he might have lied, and if he lied, then I might not be able to trust him.
  2.  I feel slightly let down because if he went out with someone else, maybe that diminishes my specialness.
  3. I am a little jealous that she met him first, which could mean she knows him better, and I am envious of that.

STEP TWO: I have a little chat with myself, and try to think of some other stories I could be thinking of:

  • It’s possible that he said they went out and I don’t remember. It’s possible that he isn’t sure what my boundaries are and what I want to know about. It’s possible that even if he didn’t mention it, he was using discretion for her sake rather than his own.
  • My specialness is not diminished because he found someone else to go out with. I am interested in meeting other people too. Hell, I am even thinking of asking her out too, and that doesn’t diminish his specialness to me, so this is clearly a double standard. I am amazing, whether he thinks so or not. And he has made it clear that he thinks so, so I have nothing to worry about.
  • It’s not who got there first, it’s who is there now. He also has a girlfriend, who I am not envious of. There is no reason to assume that because he went on a date with her first that she has any sort of advantage. Besides, it is not a competition. I am happy that he is meeting lots of cool people and that I am one of them. Having more people interested in him increases his value. If someone as cool as her found him attractive, then I am in good company!

STEP THREE: I create an action plan.

  • I make sure to let him know I felt like this, (using “I” statements, of course) and let him know about my boundaries about honesty so we can find some common ground and build trust (even casual relationships require some trust).
  • I remind myself how amazing I am and go catch up on my other OkC match messages.
  • I feel the feelings and recognise that they are valuable reminders to take care of my needs and make sure I am not placing too much pressure on the relationship to fill them.

This is loosely based on the ABCDE method of self-management which I learned in teacher education. It’s a valuable tool to work through strong emotional reactions and negative experiences.

A funny thing happened while I was writing this, my metamour called me to help her deal with some jealousy she was experiencing and I walked her through my process. I think it really helped her to hear how I deal with this and she said she would give my method a try. It probably didn’t hurt to know that even us old veterans of poly still experience those pangs from time to time!

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I have a confession to make. I have ADHD inattentive type. This is why I have a really hard time keeping up with this blog, and why I always seem to have something else on my mind when you’re talking to me. This is why I burst into song at random times, but also why I burst into tears when I have to do my taxes.

My story with ADHD is pretty typical for a woman my age. I wasn’t diagnosed in my teens and as a result, grew more and more withdrawn from school, but then blossomed when I got to college. I didn’t finish college, however, until after I had taken some time off and then finally got that last unit finished. I coped for years with trouble starting tasks, or finishing projects. I was kicked out of my improv troupe, not for creative differences, but for the fact that I didn’t follow through with responsibilities. But I coped. I coped with alcohol, with cannabis. I smoked cannabis to stop hating myself. I drank alcohol to kill my perfectionism and anxiety. I quit self-medicating to try to fix myself. Then as a mother, the consequences of my symptoms, which never went away, which I had never “grown out of” became much more vivid. So I finally went to a doctor and got diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type.

One of the things I’ve always wondered, especially since I got my diagnosis, is whether my ADHD brain is drawn to polyamory because I crave stimulation so badly. There are different camps on whether or not this is true, with neurotypicals mostly of the side of “NO” and ADHD-ers mostly on the side of “SHUT UP, YOU DON’T KNOW ME.” (#notalladhders) Me, I think the question posed is the wrong one. It’s not should people with ADHD pursue polyamory, but whether/why someone with ADHD might be drawn to polyamory.


Here’s my take.

Warning: I am not a doctor. At all. But I do know a few things about how my ADHD brain works that the average neurotypical person might not know.

Why I think ADHD makes Polyamory good for me:

The AD brain is not a broken normal brain. It is a perfectly good brain and in fact often excels at things neurotypical people might not excel at. The AD brain has a dysfunction in  norepinepherine levels and dopamine. Different types have different neurotransmitter dysfunctions, though it’s mostly these two involved. Limerence, NRE or whatever you like to call that first flush of love in a new relationship raises your levels of dopamine, something the AD brain craves. Our desire for dopamine is what drives many of us to overeat, or to become addicted to social media (who, me?).

I crave novelty and stimulation, and this means when those neurotransmitters level off, I can still love someone, but I start to get new crushes all the time. This is what led me to believe I had a sex addiction a decade ago. ADHDers also have intense emotion and intense focus (called hyper-focus) when we really like something. When you have our attention, you feel like the centre of the universe. And that can make for a rewarding and exciting relationship.

One of the symptoms I have is that I don’t do subtlety well. I like things to be up front and open. Passive aggression is deadly in polyamory and I have no tolerance for it. This means I can come off as blunt to some people, but I prefer people who are open and honest about how they feel. This requires emotional intelligence and resilience, which I have found polyamorous people to have in abundance.

Why I think ADHD makes Polyamory a minefield for me:

Another aspect of my perfectly wonderful and magical AD brain is executive function dysfunction. Executive functions are the brain’s secretary. They involve working memory, organisation, activation, sustaining focus, impulse control and the ability to prioritise tasks among other things. Not everyone with Executive Function Deficit has ADHD and vice versa. But for me, this is where my AD brain really lets me down, and what drives people to believe ADHDers make terrible poly partners.

The ability to plan and prioritise is essential in a poly relationship. You have to juggle a lot of balls, time-wise, and this can let you down. There is also the “out of sight, out of mind” problem with the AD brain, which can make some partners feel unloved or uncared for. If someone is untreated or undiagnosed, this can come off as “flaky” or even apathetic. However, once we learn what is expected, or even set up clear routines and reminders, we can overcome this problem. Sometimes, if someone is aware of their ADHD and has set up their organisation sufficiently, they may excel at it.

We sometimes don’t pick up on subtle signals, so communication sometimes takes more effort and need things to be spelled out very clearly, especially when it comes to expectations. We may be intuitive and sensitive, but we don’t always know what to do. We get overwhelmed easily by things and can give up or withdraw when things get too hard. For me, my emotions are so intense they take me time to process before I can talk about them. This makes emotional discussions with Husband difficult, especially if he initiates it. I just hear the emotion first, then it takes me a few minutes to process the actual words. It’s not easy, it is frustrating, but we manage.

What is the verdict?

It’s possible that someone with ADHD will find themselves drawn to non-monogamy or even polyamory, but whether or not they thrive depends on how well they can manage themselves, their partners’ expectations and how honest they are with themselves about how their brain works. ADHD or neurotypical, polyamorous or monogamous, everyone and every relationship has its blessings and challenges. It takes willingness to accept yourself and your partner(s), and willingness to work hard and grow as a person to make any relationship work. It’s a journey and not a destination, and anyone who thinks polyamory will solve all their problems only knows about half their problems.


I had a look through my top search terms and below some very specific ones, i.e. people looking for me specifically, this question was closest to the top. I thought I’d try it out in Google and my page, in fact, is in the top ten when I type this phrase in.

So I’ll try to answer this question as best as I can.

First of all, there are authors out there who know a hell of a lot more about this stuff than I do. Their wisdom is humbling. Start off by doing some research.

Here’s a basic reading list of books:

Blogs to check out:

As for my advice, based on my own experiences, there are some key points to ask yourself if you’re wondering whether to explore polyamory.

What are your views about sex?

Do you believe that sex is fun, natural and an important part of life? Do you feel that it is a need, something that you have a right to have fulfilled? Is it something you can do without and still feel fulfilled? Do you have any guilt or shame associated with sex, alternative sex practices, homosexuality or paraphilias? Are you currently with a partner who for whatever reason, leaves you feeling sexually unfulfilled? Is polyamory appealing to you because you want to have sex with more than one person, or because you feel constrained within a monogamous relationship? Is your partner’s pleasure important to you? How would you feel if your partner had better sexual chemistry with someone other than you?

The reason these are important questions is because sex is a big part of this. If you are able to honestly assess your sexuality, and openly talk about sex, polyamory will be a lot easier for you. If you have any discomfort about sex, either your own sex life or that of any of your partners, that’s something to work on.

All that said, it’s possible you are not a very sexual person. Maybe you are asexual or demisexual. This does not mean you have to miss out on multiple loves. I have met several people with low sex drives who still live a poly lifestyle. The best part of that is, they do not have to have ‘perfect’ sexual chemistry with each of their partners. They are happy for their partner to find sexual chemistry with someone else, and are happy to have the pressure off them to be more sexual than they want to be.

Are you an honest person?

Do you share everything with your partners? How do you feel about ‘little white lies’ or lying to protect someone’s feelings? Are you able to talk about things which are uncomfortable, awkward or unpleasant? Do you like to keep certain things to yourself, or preserving some privacy?

Honesty is very, very important in polyamory. I cannot stress this enough. If you feel that people have a right to their secrets, or that someone doesn’t have a right to know about something that doesn’t directly affect them, then maybe polyamory is not right for you. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for privacy in polyamory, it’s just that it is something each couple (or triad or whatever configuration) needs to negotiate for themselves. If you prefer a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell arrangement, your partner needs to be comfortable with that. If you don’t want to know details, then if your partner is a sharer, you’re going to have conflict. You just can’t base a decision about whether to share information on how you feel in the moment, whether because of fear of judgement or because witholding that information gives you power. You also cannot make assumptions about what someone ‘needs to know’ or ‘has a right to know’ for them. These kinds of things are best sorted out before there is anything to know. For me, it’s better to err on the side of over-sharing than under-sharing. Nothing feels worse to me than feeling like I’m not getting the whole story. Some people don’t need to know everything, so long as they feel loved and trust that their partner is practicing safe sex. In all cases, lying, either by falsehood or omission takes away a person’s consent, even if that lie is with the best of intentions.

Are you a good communicator?

Do you choose your words carefully? Do you speak your mind without a filter? Can you clearly express your thoughts and ideas, or do you often find yourself struggling to find the right words and often say the wrong thing? When you’re unclear on somebody’s meaning, do you ask them to clarify or do you assume you know what they mean and act accordingly? Are you good at reading someone’s actions when their words don’t add up, and do you ask questions to make sure you don’t misinterpret them?

Communication is hard. If we could hook up our brains to cables, and transmit our thoughts in binary, polyamory would be a walk in the park. Sometimes, even then there would be miscommunications. Sometimes, it’s easy to take what people say at face value. Personally, I’m a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person, and I sometimes miss important information because I listen to what people say rather than reading their actions. I’m getting better at doing the latter, and I’ve been able to avoid some conflict because of this. Communication is essential in creating trust and establishing consent.

How good is your emotional intelligence?

Do you usually know how you feel? Are you able to articulate your feelings or do you tend to react before you think about them? Do you respect the feelings of others, or do you think someone’s feelings are their own problem? Do you allow yourself to have feelings, or do you suppress them to avoid conflict?

As a mother, I’m starting to try to teach my son to identify and express his emotions in a healthy way. I’d rather he say, “I’m angry” than throw things or hit another child. Tantrums are expressions of emotions: frustration, anger, fear, loss, rejection and even embarrassment. In adulthood, we do some of the same things, or we punish people around us for making us feel negative things. Maybe we don’t throw Lego blocks around the room, but we might yell and kick the furniture. We might threaten violence, or use our emotions as a weapon.

In polyamory, we often talk about ‘owning your emotions’ as a key to avoiding jealousy. Jealousy itself is a sign of other, deeper emotions and insecurities. When you own your emotions, you don’t hold them back, saying, “don’t worry about me, I’m just feeling ____.” Or worse, keeping them to yourself because it’s not how you’re “supposed to” feel or you have “no right” to feel that way. This can be very hard to overcome. The ability to identify, communicate and negotiate your emotions is extremely important, and if it’s something you don’t do naturally, you’ve got to be willing to work on it, to try to improve and to forgive others when they mess things up. Owning your emotions means you are able to say “I am feeling some anxiety whenever you’re out with ____, and I’m afraid I’m going to be replaced. This is my own issue and I’m trying to get over it, but it would help me if you call and check in if you’re staying overnight, just until I start feeling more secure.” Statement of feelings, admission that this is not the other person’s fault, and a suggestion of a solution.

By contrast, “I don’t like you staying out with ____. You shouldn’t stay out overnight without checking in.” Doesn’t identify any feelings, and instead of a request, it’s prescriptive and suggests the other person should already have known this would be a problem. Another bad thing would be: “That was really rude that you didn’t check in last night. That made me feel really anxious and I couldn’t sleep.” Here we have an expression of emotions, but also punishment for unspoken expectations, judgement and blaming the other person for those emotions. And possibly the absolute worst. “I’m glad you had fun last night. Don’t worry about me, I was just at home crying in my empty bed while you were out planning your new life with ____.” Gee, passive aggressive much?

Do you know where your boundaries are?

How many second, third or X number of chances do you tend to give? Is there any behaviour that is a hard limit for you? The truth is, in poly relationships people are going to make mistakes. You are going to make mistakes too. Can you forgive these mistakes in others and in yourself? Without a dictated social script, you are going to have to define your boundaries for yourself. I’ve written about rules and boundaries before, and it’s still a very important topic.

I have found my hard limit is dishonesty. Also, breaking a safe sex agreement is difficult for me to get over. Actions that repeatedly show a disregard for or insensitivity to my limits and feelings, another. Even within these, I can be flexible and forgiving. I just need to be assured that the person is willing to work on things, and if it is clear to me they are not, if I get a lot of apologies and not a lot of change, then it’s time to part ways. An important lesson I’ve learned about apologies is that if you are not willing to have someone turn down your apology, it was never a real apology.

Do you know any other polyamorous people?

There are poly enclaves in every city I’ve lived in, with varying levels of cohesion. Sometimes there is just a pocket of a few interconnected folks, sometimes it’s an assumed part of another sub-culture (I’ve found this in the kink community – rather than an assumption of monogamy, there is an assumption of non-monogamy). There are many online communities and groups around. The poly community on Reddit is very active and there are many private and public Facebook groups. But not everyone is comfortable being part of the ‘polyamorous community’. There can be pressure to define yourself by this one facet of your life. There is also usually drama, and often there can be factions and splits.

Whether or not I have been a part of a ‘poly community,’ I’ve always found it helpful to have at least one poly friend who is neither a lover or a metamour. Someone who I can talk to about poly relationship issues who is not directly or indirectly involved. Being a lonely poly island is difficult and it helps to have someone you trust who may have been through similar trials.


Well, I hope that helps. Keep in mind, this list is based on my own experience and preferences. There are a lot of experts out there who might say different things, and it’s important to find the advice that applies to you.

What about you, reader? What advice would you give someone who is just starting out? What sites, groups, books would you recommend?

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I was re-watching Toy Story with my little one recently and I couldn’t help but notice, there are a few lessons in there that are applicable to conversations about polyamory.

Woody says at the beginning “It doesn’t matter who Andy plays with the most, so long as we’re all here for him when he needs us.” Which is easy for him to say when he’s Andy’s “primary” toy. With the inevitable arrival of Buzz, Woody loses his status as Andy’s favourite. He loses his sense of ‘specialness’ when Andy is playing more with his new toy.

For all his speeches about being “there for Andy,” he acts selfishly because of our favourite foe: Jealousy.Woody’s jealousy gets the best of him when he tries to get Buzz out of the picture.

The rest of the movie, he tries to redeem himself by rescuing Buzz and restoring him to Andy’s toy collection. Eventually, Woody’s love for Andy allows him to see Buzz’s value: Buzz makes Andy happy. We the audience also see Andy’s side. Sure he takes Woody for granted, but when he can’t find his oldest and dearest toy, he’s distraught. Andy is able to love more than one toy. By the time we get to the end of Toy Story 3, we see that Andy too is able, finally to share his treasured toys with someone he feels he can trust.

Next time you are having trouble explaining how jealousy works in a polyamorous relationship, just turn to our good friends at Pixar.