More unhelpful advice columnists
Among newspaper advice columnists, Dear Margo now gets it about polyamory, but this morning Dear Abby and Ask Amy both indicate they have some learning to do.
DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old son is involved with a 22-year-old married girl. He has moved in with her, her husband and their 4-year-old son. He says he's happy with the arrangement.
I have tried to accept this even though I don't approve. I don't want to alienate my son, but I see no good coming from this. Abby, please help.
—Disgusted Mom in Henderson, Nev.
DEAR DISGUSTED MOM: You do not have to “accept” it, and as your son's mother you are entitled to tell him you don't approve and why. But he is older than 21, and some lessons have to be learned the hard way. So bide your time because sooner or later the husband's tolerance will wear thin or your son will realize that he deserves to rate higher than No. 2.
Never mind the cracks about the husband's tolerance and rating "higher than No. 2." For all we know this really is a bad setup, with the three doing poly ignorantly or carelessly. Or they could be the model poly family, with relationships guided by wisdom and intention and flowing like clear mountain streams. We don't know but Dear Abby has no interest in finding out.
Clue in Abby here about the fact that good poly relationships can and do exist. Be polite "be a credit to your kink" and remember, it was apparently our letters that turned Dear Margo around.
Elsewhere in today's morning papers, Ask Amy fumbles a question from a woman interested in growing closer with a couple:
DEAR AMY: I have what some might consider an "untraditional" question.
I am a very undersexed single woman. A female co-worker and I became very close friends this year, and I am steadily becoming close friends with her husband as well.
I'm interested in pursuing a threesome with this couple, but I don't know how to ask. Certainly, directly asking seems to be the best way, but I'm worried that I might ruin this relationship.
They are a very liberal couple, but how do I bring this up without offending anyone or losing my friends?
DEAR UNDERSEXED: If you need a stapler, look for it at the office.
A threesome? Not so much. Intimately engaging with this couple would interfere not only with your friendships and your professional life, but also with their marriage.
I believe the protocol here is for you to wait for them to invite you.
You are an adult and can make your own choices with other consenting adults, but people don't invite themselves into another couple's relationship.
Be forewarned even if they do invite this entanglement and it does happen, your relationship with both parties will change and (I believe) eventually suffer.
Why is this a fumble? Amy is correct that a direct proposition might shock and embarrass the couple and queer the friendship. But has Amy never heard of tact? There are polite ways to nudge the friendship forward a bit and see whether the people notice. Or, one could find occasion to drop an offhand comment about some poly-aware friend or stranger or (ahem) item in the media.
Even among the most conventional people, a flirt to test the waters can be done either ham-handedly in a way that puts the other person on the spot, or so gracefully that if the other doesn't already have an interest, they may not even realize they've been flirted with (especially important if it's a co-worker). Amy could have done her readers a service by using this opportunity to explain how.
Respond to Ask Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org .
By the way, in my observation the most successful long-term poly relationships often do grow out of pre-existing friendships.
Labels: advice columns