It’s a pretty inexhaustible topic, let’s be honest! The Rake and I are, these days, out to most of our friends, some work colleagues, and my close family (though not his). Our lovers and partners are out to various levels – some totally open, some almost totally closeted – all for excellent reasons.
I was explaining the primary/secondary model of polyamory to my sister (happily monogamous, but open-minded and very supportive), and how one of the most important reasons for me for being open about all this is being able to give the people in my life the importance they deserve – to not just introduce The Rake as my partner, but to also give value to other lovers or partners rather than passing them off as ‘just’ friends*.
In discussing how important it is to feel valued by people you’re in a relationship with, she drew an interesting parallel: in a previous relationship, when she met friends of her boyfriend, they met her with a blank ‘oh, hi, nice to meet you. So anyway, [turning back to the boyfriend]’. Reflecting, of course, the fact that he hadn’t given her the importance she deserved when he was talking about her or introducing her. In her current relationship, on the other hand, her boyfriend’s friends greet her with smiles and a unanimous ‘wow, so great to meet you at last, I’ve heard so much about you!’.
She commented on how nice it must be that, when The Rake meets someone new, they know how important I am to him and can greet me with that same delight when they meet me. I agreed, but said the corresponding nice thing is that as he generally has excellent taste in people, I look forward to meeting new lovers of his, too, as I know that anyone he wants to introduce me to is likely to be pretty awesome. Rather than a starting point of ‘here is a stranger’, it’s a starting point of ‘I expect to find some really excellent and likeable things about this person’. ‘Oh’ she said, ‘so all that work you’ve put into getting to know and trust each other over all this time means you can trust each other’s judgement with new people.’
It’s not flawless, of course (no-one can have perfect judgement in people all the time) but she got it absolutely right.
*Incidentally I write less about them here, so far, as I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s privacy, though I feel I can judge The Rake’s comfort levels pretty well. I’d prefer to err on the side of too much discretion than too little.
Philosophical perspectives on non-monogamy are under development, starting with JS Mill!