The Rake and I had different concerns about how people would react when we started telling friends (and, in my case, family) about our non-monogamous relationship. We’ve been together for a boring number of years, so for old friends who’ve known us since we got together – and longer – it had the potential to be a bit of a change in how they saw us.
My worry was that friends, male and female, might think that I was somehow being pushed into this; that I was going along with it for the sake of an easy life, or perhaps that I suspected he’d probably cheat if I didn’t agree to this, so I put up with it.
His concern was that it might damage his relationship with female friends; he’s always had lots of female friends and enjoys the company of women. Unfair though it is, I think a lot of women sometimes file male friends into those who are ‘safe’, ie committed elsewhere, and those who might unexpectedly hit on them. So he was worried that it might mean that his female friends might feel they needed to be more guarded around him, or withdraw, for fear that ‘being poly’ actually means ‘will hit on everyone and anyone’.
Of course, what both of us forgot is that our friends and family actually know us. Once we’d brought it up, and got mostly positive or indifferent responses, I confided my worry to a couple of friends. Were they secretly thinking that I’d been coerced into this?
Through the incoherent giggles, I managed to make out a couple of phrases – like ‘can’t imagine you being coerced into anything’ and ‘least doormat-ish person ever’. The Rake has, similarly, found his concerns to be unfounded. Hurray!
Interestingly, when I came out to my mum, she later put her finger on what clarified for her that it really was about open and honest communication. I told her in person, in the course of an evening that was about some Big Family Talks and a couple of other revelations, so the moment seemed right. After I’d told her, and answered a couple of questions, she asked where The Rake was this evening, and I said ‘he’s on a date, but I’ve asked him to come home later as I’ll need some looking after and cuddles after what we’ve been talking about’. She later said that this, for her, was what really made it clear that it worked, and how it worked.
We’ve both been remarkably lucky in the almost total lack of any negative responses; mind you, perhaps this just goes to show that we both choose our friends well 🙂