A while back, a question floated through my Quora feed, about what to do if one‘’’s friends all object to one’s dating partner.

It wasn’t a question about polyamory per se, but it did cut to the heart of something I’ve been struggling with for a very long time. I’ve written countless times about “veto,” I’ve had partners veto my lovers and been on the receiving end of veto, I’ve seen direct and indirect vetoes, vetoes where veto was part of the relationship and vetoes where it wasn’t, vetoes from lovers and vetoes from friends… After due consideration, I have come to the conclusion there simply is no right answer. When someone in oyur life objects to someone else in your life, in any capacity for any reason, thee is nothing you can do that does not make you to someone, a villain.

At this point in my life, I firmly, 100% believe that the moment you find yourself in a position where your friends or your lovers are telling you not to date someone, you’re screwed. It doesn’t matter why they’re telling you not to date. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re right. It doesn’t matter what choice you make. No matter what you do, you are going to be a villain in someone’s eyes.

I still remember the first time it happened, the first time my ex-wife vetoed someone. And not just our romantic relationship—she vetoed our friendship as well, telling me I was to have no contact whatsoever with her again.

Another partner at the time, Shelly, was there when it happened. Shelly later wrote in her blog she’d never seen me so upset, so absolutely heartbroken, crying uncontrollably becase of this veto.

A couple of years later, Shelly would do exactly the same thing herself. She and I were both dating another woman, someone I will call “Tina.” Tina (not her real name) wasn’t the best match for Shelly; Shelly tended to require a lot of attention, while Tina was introverted and valued her alone time and her agency. The two of them soon stopped being able to be in the same room without yelling at each other, and predictably, they broke up shortly after that. I will never forget what Shelly told me after the breakup: “Can you believe ina still thinks she gets to be with you?”

And here I am, years later, without any of them in my life: my ex-wife, the woman she vetoed, Shelly, Tina. (I still do believe that, had I chosen to defend my relationship with Tina back then, there’s a chance we’d still be together.) Perhaps ironically, the four of them are now united by the fact that all of them see me as the villain.

That is inevitable. It’s intrinsic in the dynamic. It can’t not happen.

“So-and-so dumped me because their friends said to, not for anything I did!” makes you a monster to some people. “So-and-so chose a new piece of ass over our friendship!” makes you a monster to others. There’s no choice that can’t be spun to put you in the “persecutor” slot of the Drama Triangle, and whatever you do, someone will be aggrieved.

And that’s not even the shittiest part. The shittiest part of this situation is that not only are you absolutely guaranteed to aggrieve someone, whichever choice you made, but from that moment on there’s a sword of Damocles dangling over your head.

If at any point something should go wrong with the person you chose—if you listen to your friend and then later alienate that friend, or you keep dating your partner and then break up, guess what? Your former friend and your ex have a common enemy.


And nothing brings people together like a common enemy.

The only solution I know of, and it’s a shitty solution, only marginally less bad than any other, is to have no truck with the kind of people who would ask you to make that choice.

Don’t be friends with anyone who would tell you who you ought or ought not have in your life, and for God’s sake never date such a person.

There are two downsides to this:

  1. You’ll cut a lot of people out of your life. A lot, and I mean a lot, of people feel it’s within their purview to venture ideas about who you should or should not allow in your personal inner circle, socially or romantically (or both).
  2. You have to get really proactive about developing those partner selection skills.

It’s okay to solicit input (“Hey, what do you think about me and so-and-so, think we’re a good match? No obvious warning signs?”), as long as you make it clear the decision rests with you, not with them.

These days, having ridden this ride and learned from experience there is no right choice, I believe the only winning move is not to play.

You tell me not to date someone, or not to be friends with someone, you’re out.

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