Cheers Sexy People!
I am writing this blog post as a follow up to an earlier one, to continue my story on “coming out” to our family and friends about being polyamorous. The last post, I spoke about what lead up to the decision to “come out” including the reasons that we finally decided to take that brave step. This post will talk more about the nuts and bolts of HOW we went about it, and some of the reactions that we received.
Our small circle of lovers and poly-friendly friends already knew of course. But I can count on my fingers how many people this was at the time. My boyfriend, my sister and I were involved in putting on a Rocky Horror Picture Show-themed event together. My husband brought a married friend of ours as both a date and to help cheer us on. Given her being there without her husband, several other swing/poly friends in attendance and our desire to potentially start the process of “coming out”, my husband asked if he could tell my sister. Secretly relieved that he was doing it instead of me, I said “sure”! My sister, who’s super-cool, open-minded and one of my best friends, was not that surprised, and totally accepting. (A good thing too since she walked in on him kissing his date just an hour later!)
My sister knowing felt like a relief. Months later, we decided to continue “coming out” to more. We were quite nervous. We set up a dinner date with a sweet monogamous couple that we are close to, who seem to be open-minded. Frankly, they were our “guinea pigs” for getting the wording down. We practiced how we were going to approach this. We wanted to make sure we focused on the “more than one love” part of being polyamorous (and less on the negatively-received concept of “swinging” and casual sex). To simplify understanding, we mentioned that we have an open marriage, but then explained what the word “polyamorous” means. We explained that we each had a love interest that we have deep feelings for, and this really feels right to us personally. And then added that we wanted our close friends to know more about us, as an effort to let them into our lives more. We received a warm response, including things such as: “we kind of already figured that”, and “we love you guys no matter what, this doesn’t change anything,” and “thanks for telling us.” It was great. Success!
Next was beginning the journey of telling my old time friends near and far. Almost all of my old time friends are parents and monogamous… not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just that there is this big percentage of the population that is following the same path of traditional families with traditional values, whereas we are part of a minority of people that are following a very different, sometimes challenging path that we pioneer seemingly on our own. It can be quite a scary prospect to divulge these personal, intimate and very NON-traditional sides of ourselves to our loved ones. We don’t know how they will react, or if they will understand and accept us.
We chose to tell the next couple while we were on vacation with them, after the kids went to bed. Again, MAJOR butterflies and nervousness. Our “speech” was met with some silence… Uh oh. We started to babble at that point, adding that we were both former cheating serial monogamists, and it all seems so clear to us now that this is who we were all along. They asked some questions about “how long has this occurred?” and “what does this mean moving forward?” It all felt rather awkward. In the end, it was fine. They accepted us… well, by morning at least. I think they had to get used to not only the idea that we were polyamorous, but also accept why we hadn’t told them earlier. We explained that previously, we weren’t ready to talk about it, until WE were really ready to talk about it – after we made sure this was right for our marriage, and right for our lives.
Several months later, my husband confided in his mother (I let him do that one on his own). She was accepting, not all that surprised and has seen a lot in her life, so she understands. She and my husband did decide to not tell any other members of the family who would NOT understand or be supportive however. This one was surprisingly easy. Yay!
Later, an evening was coming up where my boyfriend was going to be attending an event with all of my old time friends from back home. I thought… this is it – I need to step up to the plate. The best metaphor I can come up with for how this all feels is… jumping off the high dive. Every summer as a kid, I would think… I’m going to jump off that high dive by summer’s end. All summer, I would work up the courage, and by the end of summer, I would DO IT and high five myself! Then when NEXT summer rolled around, the nervous anxiety would start all over again, only slightly diminished by already achieving it last summer. That’s what it feels like to me.
So I told some of my closest girlfriends and then gave them permission to tell their husbands (who are also my close friends, but there are only so many hours in the day to have these Big Important Conversations). I received a lot of the same positive, accepting responses. There was only one friend whose negative reaction blind-sided me, and it happened to be the one I was least worried about – I think I was a little lax on my wording as a result. Big mistake. Also, in hindsight, it should have been face to face instead of over the phone. It turned out that she was angry. But she wasn’t angry that I was polyamorous. She was angry that she missed the “old me”, and didn’t get to see enough of me in recent years. See, I’ve had several deaths in the family, and also found out that I cannot have my own biological children, thus I’ve had ALOT of grief to sift through. Is being polyamorous partly a band-aid for that? …If you call getting more and more love in your life a band-aid, well, then yes. I am trying to heal myself in whatever way I possibly can. We had an awkward and difficult conversation, where I had to try to understand her anger, while I explained that we all grieve in our own ways. And I’m simply not the same person I was several years ago, partly because of what I’ve been through, but also partly because of all of the personal growth that I have thankfully done.
So in summary, what we learned from our experience that can hopefully be of benefit to others:
- Don’t tell others until you are ready to, and have reflected on why you want to tell them. Will it help your relationship with them? Will it help you be more authentic?
- Give some serious thought as to what you plan to say, and practice having the conversation. Also, practice responding to their potential questions.
- Choose in what order you would like to tell people, preferably starting with someone you think you will get a positive reaction from to help ease yourself into this process.
- Be thoughtful about the where, when and how of it as well, including being gentle and caring with both your words and the process, doing it face to face if possible with plenty of time for questions to be asked, and indeed INVITE the questions.
- Don’t go overboard. Act like this is a natural part of your life, and then move on. Also, you don’t have to tell the whole world. Be choosy. And be timely.
No one said polyamory was easy. Heck, no one said life was easy. My goal: to connect sincerely with as many people as possible. To LOVE them as well as I possibly can. To leave a positive imprint on this world for as much time as I have. But also, we have to take care of ourselves first, before we can be there for our loved ones. One step at at time, and one foot in front of the other.
How about you? What have been your experiences, either with “coming out” or getting to the decision to do so? Or even just getting the nerve up to have a potentially difficult conversation of any kind?
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)