I’ve gotten asked enough times how I started out blogging for a wide audience. I wish I had a better origin story. That I’d gotten bitten by something radioactive. Or that someone swooped down from the sky and knighted me or something.
But it isn’t that colorful.
In all honesty, I was the advice friend. It’s a role I’ve spent most of my life performing. That friend who wouldn’t make fun of you if you said something weird or unsettling. Who didn’t know all the answers necessarily — but wouldn’t make asking the question an unpleasant experience.
I was in a particularly good situation to give advice to the polyamorous community of Cleveland several years ago. Because after a few years of dating actively as a polyamorous person, I had a series of breakups (including a divorce) that left me reeling.
In just a few months, I went from five lovers to one. And while I still held a lot of social attitudes and beliefs about relationships that were very much in line with polyamory, I was functionally monogamous. Because I just kept on dating the one person that it seemed to work really well with. The one relationship that survived everything. All the change and upheaval.
I still had all the same friends as before. So I was surrounded by polyamorous people. But not dating any of them, for a change. And therefore, not plagued by nearly as many conflicts of interest as other polyamorous friends they had (who were often metamours or telemours due to the small interconnected community).
This made me an excellent candidate to listen and give relationship advice. I “got” polyamory, but I wasn’t really participating in our local community in a way that would cloud my judgment.
I did eventually go on to date polyamorously again but only after a four-year hiatus. A time in which I took the extra time and energy I had been spending dating and went to therapy, returned to school, paid off bills, and worked on my career.
Let’s Hear It for the Advice Friends, You Unsung Heroes
A while ago, I was looking for a new name for “Ask Page,” which is a recurring feature in which I answer letters from readers seeking advice. Ask Page had never been intended as a forever name; it was just a placeholder until I thought of something better.
Well, it held that place for years.
It finally occurred to me the other day that I should change it to “Advice Friend.” Because that’s what I am. And a lot of what other people out there are. I know I have a few in in my life.
Advice Friends, I salute you. You’re the unsung heroes. I don’t know where I’d be without you. (Yes, even Advice Friends have Advice Friends — or hopefully should.)
So yeah. Advice Friend, it is. That’s what I’m calling that column from now on.
Have a question about a post? Maybe need some advice about a relationship or situation? Write me. I love getting messages from you.
Your letter and my answer might be featured in Advice Friend. I regularly change identifying details and/or completely rewrite letters I receive in order to preserve anonymity.