Cheers Sexy People!
I have two questions for you to ponder, and as always, I welcome your thoughts on both:
1) If someone takes the time to confide in you that they are living a non-traditional, alternative lifestyle (such as bi, gay, polyamorous, etc), do you focus on the fact that they trusted you enough to tell you personal details about themselves that are different from mainstream society (thus risking rejection or scorn)? Do you notice that they may seem to be genuinely happy with this decision? OR do you judge their behavior and choices (consciously or unconsciously) because it might not be choices you would make for yourself?
2) Do you think that when someone “comes out” to their family and friends about whatever alternate lifestyle they are living that they are “done” after this brave act? Is there a big relief and a lot of aha’s, hugs and accepting type of conversation and that’s it? OR is there potentially ongoing explanations, awkwardness, discriminations and judgements that have to be dealt with?
As far as the first question I’m throwing out there, I can’t answer for you. On the second question I am posing, I am here to tell you, that no, you certainly are NOT “done”. Even if the “coming out” conversation itself goes well (as many of mine did), there will still be awkward moments, explanations that need to be made, discriminations and potentially hurtful comments to deal with, feelings of exclusion and isolation even after others say they “accept” you and your choices if they make you happy. It is a tad bit sad but true. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, mind you. This is me… a married, polyamorous, ethical, loving woman, who is happy with both my choices and my life (most days, Ha! I am human). I am doing my very best to live an authentic life, growing and learning about both myself and the world around me, living, and loving as I go and trying to help others where I can, as with this blog. I dig my life! And I’m proud of it. Hellz to the yeah, as I like to say sometimes!
So what’s with all the haters? Why haters gotta hate…?
Yeah, unfortunately, gotta deal with it sometimes. I had two experiences recently along these lines that I will share with you. My boyfriend and I (and occasionally my husband but less frequently) enjoy going to our local Fall Faire on occasion. These type of events typically have open-minded type of people in attendance, so we generally feel quite comfortable there, and have made several friends. First they knew my beau and I as a couple, partly because that is easy to describe to new acquaintances. “I’m with him.” That is true. Eventually we invited several of these friends to our house for a get together, so we explained ahead of time that I have a husband and we are all polyamorous. These friends ended up being some of the first that we “came out” to as we trusted them. They came to our house, met my husband and we all had a great time. Fast forward a couple years… my boyfriend is polyamorous, thus he is not monogamous to me. As a result, he dates other women and always has. We have agreements between each other about safe sex and Open Awareness in terms of transparency, and we both abide by them, thus ethics and honesty are intact. Hooray! I have known about and in most cases even MET each woman that he has dated. This past weekend, he/we brought a woman that he is currently seeing off and on to Faire with us. When my beau went to the restroom, one of our mutual friends that we came out to several years ago mentioned to his date that she should be “warned” about him. Hmmm, warned about what? That he dates? Um, yes, single people and even some married people date. Sometimes when dating, sex and physical intimacy happens. This is not a crime, nor is it unethical. Sex is fun and pleasure is good for you. And hey, we all like having friends to connect with, right? Why do people date anyway but to try to get to know other people – to see if they click or not for future hangouts and potentially more all the way up to potential lifelong friend and/or partner. We’re not that different from you! Plus, wait a minute… didn’t we already come out to these people and explain polyamory? What gives? Why is his dating several women something to be “warned” about?
I would like to say once and for all here that SLUT-SHAMING is wrong, whether insinuating that a man is a “slut” or a woman is a “slut.” And for those that have not read it yet, the book Ethical Slut does a great job of reclaiming the word “slut” as a positive four letter word. No shame. Be proud of the fact that you are a sensual human being who likes to connect with other people. If you connect with your minds, great. If you connect with your privates and it’s consensual and safe, well then good on ya. And by the way, it’s really no one else’s business, now is it, what happens behind closed doors with consenting adults?
Speaking of slut-shaming, recently I was at a pool party with a bunch of friends and their children. I was splashing around with my close friend’s cute toddler daughter in the pool. The subject of boys came up and her father, whom I had come out to as polyamorous over a year ago, was within earshot. I started to make a joke about how some fathers get very protective of their teenage girls once they start dating, and he had that to look forward to. Haha. To which he responded in kind… that he wouldn’t have to worry about that as his little girl “wasn’t going to take after Aunt Kitty.”
Did that just happen?
As happens to me sometimes, I was a bit dumbfounded and could not think of any response. Did he just imply that I am a slut (in the negative use of the word)? Did he imply that he does not approve of my lifestyle after all? Did he also imply that he will have control over his daughter’s future lifestyle choices in regards to monogamy or non-monogamy, and he will only approve of the traditional route, and shame her otherwise? Do I have to have a serious talk with him? To be fair, this may have been a rather bad attempt at a lame joke. But I am here to tell you, I did not find it funny.
I wondered whether I should share the above experiences with you, but at the end of the day, I’m trying to help people, get the word out about polyamory and the pros and the cons of it all, and create more general awareness, all while living authentically. So these are my stories and experiences, and I would like to share them with you, my readers, when I feel it’s appropriate. Also, I came across this great article that describes VERY well the thoughts and feelings associated with both the decision to come out or not, and also the potential ramifications and awkwardness that can ensue.
Am I glad I came out? You betcha! Was the process easy and the aftermath even easier? Nope! But keeping secrets wears you down, as this anonymous poly man also describes. Please ponder this:
These days, you know who your gay neighbors are—gay people no longer have to seek out loveless heterosexual relationships to hide behind, or move in together but pretend to be roommates. Meanwhile, you don’t know if your neighbors are poly (or whatever other term they may use), because they’re still afraid that if they don’t hide that aspect of their lives from you, something bad might happen. Those potential consequences range from having all future interactions feel awkward to having authorities take away their children.
I have identified as bisexual since my first year of college in the mid-’90s and as polyamorous since a few years after that. Over the last two decades, I have always been out as bi… On the other hand, I have never, ever been out as poly in a workplace. Start trying to explain consensual non-monogamy, and some people—a lot of people—are going to think you’re obsessed with sex. (Never mind that I’ve been with my wife, Rose, for 10 years, have been married for three, and in all that time the two of us have dated fewer people than plenty of serially monogamous singles I know.) Some co-workers may avoid polyamorous colleagues because they’re paranoid that they may be on the prowl. Others will become distrustful because they think that poly is an attempt to re-label behavior that they consider cheating, and cheaters aren’t trustworthy.
…Over time, the weight of many such small nuisances adds up. At first you don’t know how people might react, so you conceal things, or tell a few little white lies. Before you know it, it’s been months, or years, and maybe you might like to come out, but that would force you to admit past deceptions. So you go on, wasting energy on these internal conversations about things you don’t think you ought to be ashamed of, trying to evade questions without raising suspicion.
….The contrast between these two experiences was impossible to ignore. It forced me to notice the closet we’re living in. It’s hard to even describe my feelings about it. It’s not exactly anger, or sadness….What’s more, it’s hard not to feel that hiding the relationship devalues it. I’m continuing to hide behind a mask…
…I’d like to live in a world where nobody who conducts their sexual and romantic life with respect for consent, love, and generosity toward their partners—one at a time or otherwise—has to maintain a charade, pretending that they live and love in a more “acceptable” way than they actually do.
Amen, Brother! If you would like to read the full article, which I recommend, here it is.
What about you? Have any stories to share? Are you living an authentic life? Do you wish it was MORE authentic? Are you learning, living and loving as you go? No matter where you are, I wish you the best on your journey.
Wishing you love, peace and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
Your blog is helping me discover the vocabulary that I need to describe a lot of my feelings, a lot of the time.
I lost a friend when I thought it would be ‘safe’ to come out to her about my feelings and my efforts at tip-toeing towards trying to live a more authentic life. We had been friends for over 20 years, she had witnessed my struggles with sexuality and identity close up but told me she thought my “self-development had become selfish”. And hasn’t spoken to me since.
It hurts a lot. But isn’t as painful as not being myself felt.
Thank you so much for commenting here. I wasn’t sure if I should share those stories, but then I realized that I should because this blog is here to tell the good, the bad and the ugly of living a polyamorous life to help offer guidance to others. So it is really gratifying to hear that it helped even one person in some tangible way.
I am very sorry to hear about your friend. I understand your pain. Some of my friendships changed as well. I think people don’t quite know what to make of me sometimes, or don’t quite know how to relate. The funny thing is, I’m different in some ways than most but not THAT different, eh? We all want friends, love, acceptance, some laughs and smiles and to enjoy this thing called life.
I too struggled with my sexuality from a very early age, partly because I grew up being taught that masturbation was evil and even THINKING about sex was a truly horrible thing to do. I believe this stunted my sexuality and I had to overcome these beliefs that later did not fit who I was or what I believed in. And today, I am very much an advocate for being sex-positive. And I think people should be free to discover who they are and what makes them happy, and it would be nice to tell our friends about it without being judged or abandoned. But it is at moments like those that you find out who your true friends are. Your true friends accept you for who you are, and support your journey, and try to understand your troubles.
I am sorry you are hurting, but do try to remember that you may be better off in the long run. Surround yourself with those who care about the real you and your discoveries. Self-development and discovery is NEVER selfish. Personal growth rocks. Your former friend is confused. Relish in your bravery and keep on going. 🙂 I applaud you.
I’m mostly out to friends and sort of out to family. One of the first friends I was out to (as non-monogamous and kinky) is a close friend but socially conservative. We’ve both mostly just accepted that we will never want the same things out of romantic relationships and we will probably never quite get each other’s choices, but we mostly respect each other anyway. But I have noticed that since I opened this avenue of conversation with her, she often brings up examples of either kinky, open or poly relationships, sometimes in pop culture and sometimes from people she knows, and will explain exactly what she finds unhealthy/off-putting about them. She will always say something like “and I know this is different from you because of X” or “I’m sure your relationship is much healthier, but I think you can agree that Y is just gross” so that it doesn’t seem like she’s directly judging me, but still. I sort of want to passive aggressively start talking about why I think not having sex until you enter into a monogamous marriage is unhealthy and sexist and then qualify it similarly, but I just can’t bring myself to do it lol.
Thank you for contributing and sharing your story. I have been in similar situations and understand your perspective. At least she is open to discussing the topic with you, so that’s positive. I see no reason why you couldn’t offer your point of view as well. Maybe it would help open her mind even more. Either way, my best to you, and good luck as you continue on your journey.
Yeah, she does that one annoying thing, but otherwise she is actually a very supportive friend. I think we are just due for a talk about why our views are different and why that’s ok and what we each believe. Which just goes back to your point that coming out is a series of discussions.
Great to hear that she is a mostly supportive friend. We can all use those! And I have a few of those conversations slated for the coming weeks myself. Yes, the work continues even after you’ve “come out.” Seems there can still be quite a bit of confusion and potential judgements to sort through, as well as passive aggressive behavior as you mentioned as well. This is not an EASY path, but it can be done!