The Hook Up: Identity Crises


My gf and I have been together for a year and a half. After graduation, we were both too busy to hang out. Without seeing her for about four months, my feelings for her have decreased. I feel like I can’t break up with her because she is very vulnerable and I’m afraid that she will collapse if I do. And here comes the massive problem. I’ve got this new roomie who is extremely hot, humorous, and most important of all, she understands me thoroughly. Last Friday, she cooked me lunch. Now I’m pretty sure that I’ve got a thing for her (which is probably partly why my feelings for my gf have decreased), but I don’t know if my roomie is just being kind or… I really have no idea what to do. Help?

Anna says: Well, I have pretty strong romantic associations with lunch too, but your roommate cooking for you doesn’t exactly translate to a love confession. So, further intel on this “roomie” character is needed before I can make an accurate judgment. But what you can and should do before all that is break up with your girlfriend, whom you haven’t seen for four months and whom your feelings have cooled.

Will your gf be sad? Yes. Will she also eventually recover? Yes. The word “collapse” seems particularly dramatic—I am picturing fainting couches and smelling salts—but if you really fear for that, perhaps break the news to her while she’s sitting down.

Breakups are universally awful, I think we can all agree. Even the most benign, mutual endings leave us with Big Feelings we then have to sort out, and that can take months. But imagine the alternative. Are you really content to stay in a relationship you feel “meh” about in order to spare someone else’s feelings? What about your own feelings? What are they telling you to do? (Besides bone your hot roommate, although that is a feeling that should be listened to, as well).

New crush feelings aside, don’t resign yourself to settling for someone who makes you unhappy, because in the long run, it’s only you who’ll pay the price for it.

Is polyamory a sexual orientation? I’ve been fighting with some friends about this and wanted your opinion. Thanks!—Poly Polly

Anna says: Polyamory is a relationship model, not a sexual orientation. You can be poly and gay or poly and straight or poly and polysexual. If it was an orientation, then monogamy would also have to be included. Some people argue that sexual “identity” and “orientation” should be more inclusive, to include kinks and fetishes and dominance/submission, etc. and I see some validity there. But I think the argument about polyamory and orientation usually boils down to the false dichotomy of whether something is innate or whether it’s a choice. That dichotomy tends to erase bisexuality (and fluidity), and frankly makes me anxious.

Also, the bigger problem seems to stem from a political viewpoint. Poly people struggle with visibility and discrimination, and much like LGBT people have successfully fought for their rights using the “born this way” model, the theory goes that if someone is born poly then they can’t help it and shouldn’t be denied rights because of it. There’s a whole long debate thread about the question here. Give it a read if you’re curious (though it probably will only fuel the argument with your friends).

And here’s the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of sexual orientation, which they remind us is a relatively new concept, like homosexuality.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at   


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