Tag Archives: non-monogamy

Coming out as poly, part 2

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!

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Coming out as poly

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 🙂