Emotional Bandwidth

Guest Column: Think twice before putting sex outside of the “friend zone”

I (Viro) have been traveling extensively for a number of weeks and I’m currently re-adjusting to life stateside, so instead of answering a question this week, I’m posting a guest column on sex within the context of healthy friendships from Soatok, your friendly neighborhood gay dhole (Asiatic wild dog), “cryptografur,” and pun enthusiast. I’ll soon be resuming the usual weekly advice column posting schedule, hopefully beginning next week!

How do I make enough time for my partner during graduate school?

I am a student who has been engaged in undergraduate research for one semester now. It is something I am passionate about, and definitely a step in the right direction towards my PhD aspirations. However, it is already pretty time-consuming. With full-time classes, homework, research, and volunteer work, it is sometimes hard to find a lot of time to talk to my partner.

I'll note here that I am monogamous and have been in my current long-distance relationship for about a year. We managed a one-month visit last summer and will be doing the same this summer. I might be applying to a few graduate schools somewhere geographically closer to my partner if any faculty in his area are a good fit with my research interests. Fingers crossed!

However, I have heard and I fully expect that the time crunch is only going to get worse in grad school. I have two questions now. First, between taking my own classes, teaching undergraduates, and doing thesis/dissertation research, how will I ever find time to devote to my partner while I'm in graduate school?

Second, how can I properly communicate with him about what I'm studying, now and in the future? My partner and I have aimed for very different levels of educational attainment: my partner has his country's equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma, whereas I am on my way to a Ph.D. I want to be able to talk about my research to him, because it's a big part of my life and it'd be nice to be able to talk with him about the stuff that makes me tick. But it is a daunting task, because there is not that shared foundation of knowledge. He has not taken the years of classes in a specialized subfield that my peers have. For example, I don't know how to express to him my excitement at finding statistically significant results, when those two words (statistical significance) would be enough to get one of my peers excited with me.

What are the red flags for a toxic poly relationship?

When should you back out of a poly relationship, no matter how awesome it appears to be right now? What are the key ingredients that, if found missing, make it so that it is better to just move on and save everyone the heartbreak? Are there any red flags?

Someone who used to be close won't talk to me. What do I do?

So I have been friends with this person for 10 years over the internet. We met on one furry site in a group, and our relationship quickly grew. Soon enough we were mates, then he left the fandom, then he came back and we were mates again, only for me to have to go live in the ghetto. When I came back we were best friends, then he stopped coming around as much. It worried me, and with the onset of my anxiety I had a panic attack and told him I loved him. This was a year and a half ago. Since then he barely even talks to me, and has been spending alot of time with others and short changes me whenever we DO talk, with responses like: Yep. Sure. Uh-huh. And quick to get angry. He is like family to me and I would do anything to get him back, and I know he thinks of me as clingy. What should I do? He is tired of my apologies and any attempt at trying to fix it makes him think I am having a breakdown.