Archive for the ‘coming out’ Category

Imagine you have an acquaintance who is a big soccer fan. They play soccer, sing soccer songs and watch soccer. They love soccer and they talk about their soccer team all the time.

Soccer Ball Cake Pops

One day you tell them that you’re not really into soccer, but you are a sports fan.

“What do you mean, you don’t like soccer? What other sport is there?”

“Well, I like basketball. I play on a local team.”

“Basket ball? What’s that?”

“Well, players try to get a ball into the other team’s basket.”

“Ok, I follow. Like soccer.”

“Yeah, except you bounce the ball with your hands instead of using your feet.”

“Wait, what? You mean you can CHEAT?”

“No, it just has different rules.”

“What do the other players think about that?”

“Well, they all play by the same rules.”

“Maybe you just didn’t commit to soccer. It takes a lot of hard work.”

“So does basketball. It’s really difficult.”

“But it’s just basically permission to cheat. I just couldn’t do that. Sorry.”

“Well, I don’t like playing soccer. Basketball is closer to my skill set and I find it much more exciting and intimate to play. I love watching the game because it’s more fast paced and suits me better.”

“I just couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if the other players were allowed to use their hands like that. I couldn’t do it.”

“Well, it takes skill, but you realise you’d be able to use your hands too, right?”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to. I prefer only using my feet to kick the ball. I couldn’t do it any other way. I just couldn’t.”

“Nobody is making you. We just like different things.”

“Okay, but please don’t talk about this basket ball thing around my soccer friends. It might make them feel weird.”

And this is what it is like to talk to some people about polyamory.

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Well, I survived.

I survived my paramour’s – that is, my BOYFRIEND’s – month long absence and it was ok!

He actually ended up meeting my parents, which was a bit strange. My mom knows the whole story, but my dad was just happy to meet one of my friends (as he was led to believe). Dear old Pater did the dad-ly, dudely thing and gave my ‘friend’ a tour of the town and took him out for a pint. Things he would still have done for a mono-boyfriend, but was happy to do for ‘just a friend.’ Because of that, I feel no need to break my dad’s innocent ignorance. He’s happy enough to treat my man like a member of the family as is. No need to fill in the details.

Upon his return, my sweetie declared that he was ready to use the official title ‘boyfriend’ since he had met my folks. A move which I found incredibly sweet. It was all NRE all over again, and only a few weeks later, we broke the seal on the “L” word. No, not “long-term” but “love” as in “I love you” and even, “I wuvs you” when we’re feeling particularly disgusting.

There was another interesting development which I meant to write about but didn’t (oh, how life tends to get in the way of blogging…). And that is that my Godparents’ sons and their wife have come out as a poly-triad (open ended, I assume, since she also has a girlfriend). It’s nice to have a bit of my extended family, of sorts, that can validate my lifestyle choice, but it was still very telling to see my family’s reaction. There was no outright shock, but there was a bit of ‘I don’t need to see that’ reaction. We all kind of knew, but there was a sense that they should keep that stuff to themselves. I sent a message voicing my support to them, explaining that I was in the same boat, or at least the same fleet. I was surprised that my brother, in particular, was very judgmental. I think he still sees his friend (one of the brothers) as being exploited by the situation. I don’t know, but I know that they’ve been together for years and they are raising beautiful children together in a house full of love. And that’s all ok by me (even if they are a bit on the hippie side of things).

As far as my son goes, he’s doing very well. His speech is coming along, slowly but surely. He’s seen a speech therapist who thinks he’s probably just delayed, not showing signs of ASD or anything. I’ve been given some strategies which I’m trying to implement, and like I said, he’s making progress. He’s able to sort of say “lemon” “watermelon” and “apple” as well as “house” and as of today, he recognises the letter “D” and says “deeh” when he sees it. So proud.

Husband has started seeing a new lady, with whom I really get along. She’s also great with my son and he has taken to her easily. She crashes over at our house quite a bit since she lives far away, which doesn’t bother me at all. I like her. In fact, I think I’ve got some kind of meta-NRE. I just think she’s fabulous and really good for Husband. He feels happy and relaxed with her and I like to see that. Between the stress of talking about home and Baby when he hangs out with me, and the stress of talking about work when he hangs out with Girlfriend, he deserves to have someone he can just talk about video games and other stuff with. After all, that’s what Boyfriend is for me.

This weekend, Husband’s Girlfriend, Boyfriend and I are going to be running in a 10K fun run. Inspired by HG’s participation in a fun run (during the training for which, I was her gym buddy), I thought it would be great to challenge myself. Between those two and their active lifestyle, I’ve picked up some great healthy habits. I’ve been running, working out and generally just being an active person for several months and I’ve noticed huge changes in my body. I’m fit. Like, really, noticeably fit. And I’m the weight I was when I was in college. Lighter, actually. I wasn’t doing it to lose weight, I was doing it to be healthier and fitter, and I can feel that I really am. It’s great. I’m thirty and I’m in better shape than I was when I was 20. Hot damn.

And I have my poly family to thank.

Who would have thought polyamory could be so good for your health?

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My last post ended with the thought that when I begin my career as a teacher, I do not plan to be out amongst my co-workers. However, if it should come to pass that I am outed, or if I let slip my relationship style to a friend and it gets back around to my supervisors, I don’t intend to lie about it. This got me thinking. What would I say to my employer if they proposed that my relationship style made me unsuitable for a job teaching at their school? The following would be my response:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am polyamorous. You have discovered this fact, and I do not intend to deny it. The truth is, I am romantically involved with more than one person with the full knowledge, consent and acceptance of the people involved. These are the most important people in my life, and while I have tried to be discreet, my intent was never to deceive you or hide them from you. I understand if this situation is puzzling to you, and perhaps you find it confronting or even shocking. I hope you will consider what I have to say in my defence.

I make every effort keep my personal life separate from my work life. My activism and activity online is always under a pseudonym and while I am an activist for my lifestyle and other issues, I do not intend to allow that to enter the classroom. I am here to do a job, and espousing my lifestyle, religion and other beliefs do not enter into that.

The truth is, my love life is not much different from a single person’s. If I were a single person, nobody would be surprised to find me dating someone or if I had a series of relationships. Similarly, if I were divorced, nobody would think it odd that I had a boyfriend but still had contact with my husband and custody of my child. The difference is my relationships are concurrent. My husband and I are still married, still love each other deeply and profoundly but we also feel drawn to pursue other relationships individually as we did before we met. Loving someone new does not preclude us from continuing to love each other and remaining together for the rest of our lives.

I should emphasise that my relationships are not about sex. Furthermore, I am not a sex addict or a sexual predator and what goes on between consenting adults is none of the school’s business. If I were gay, and the school had a problem with it, I could file a discrimination suit. I don’t go around recruiting students or talking about my personal life to them nor is it my place to do so. My choices and activities have nothing to do with the school. What I do outside of school or behind closed doors should not reflect on the school, and I do my best to prevent overlap, as I stated before.

Furthermore, I try to live within strong moral and ethical guidelines, and that includes my personal life. I believe very strongly in honesty and fairness. I live by the Golden Rule, but more often the Platinum Rule, to treat others as they wish to be treated, which often takes more effort. I respect the autonomy of the individual, and the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so long as that does not infringe on the rights of others. I hold myself responsible for the consequences of my actions and I try to be a positive force for good in the world. These are values I think anyone can agree with, whether or not they agree with my views on relationships.

Additionally, because of the nature my relationships, I have learned valuable life skills that I hope I can model and impart to students. My relationship demands that I have all the same skills that are required for making monogamy work, but without the expectations and assumptions that come with following a relationship model proscribed by society. If students are taught “Just find that right person and everything will be perfect,” as they are told by the media, they will grow up without the skills needed to form a lasting connection. Teens should learn that a relationship requires effort and must be built over time; if they expect things to be perfect when they meet ‘the one’ they are going to be disappointed. All the skills I have learned in my relationships, as a monogamous person, as a single person and as a married, polyamorous person translate across the board to all relationships and I believe my students will be able to benefit from my experience.

I hope you will consider these points and continue to see me as an asset to you the team, rather than a liability.



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Recently, as I may have mentioned before, I went back to work. I’m only working one to three days a week, but it helps.
On my first shift back at work, I was talking to a former, now current, co-worker and I couldn’t remember whether or not I had explained my relationship style to her. I decided to mention it anyway, and found myself derailing the conversation to explain myself.
It occurred to me, it would be nice to have a simple way of explaining it, or some sort of information card to give someone. While my co-worker was on her break, I quickly wrote up some key points on a bit of paper and handed it to her when she came back. She nodded and said, “Oh, ok. Cool! That makes much more sense now.”

And so, I decided to have some cards printed up.

A Polyamory Card

I ordered 250, which seems like a lot to me. If you’re in Australia and you’d like to order some, leave me a comment and I’ll send you an email with details.

I later found out that Joreth had the same idea, and provides a free .pdf for her version of Polyamory Cards to print out and hand out.

These cards should provide a little bit of clarity, and, as I state on the cards, can be a starting point for future discussions. I think have succinctly addressed what I find are the most common questions, and I think leaving sex down at the fourth Key Point will calm fears that I’m some sort of sex weirdo.

I’m wanting to be more ‘out’ amongst friends and people I care about and even some acquaintances, but as I’m going to be getting a degree in education and a hopefully a job teaching, I know in the future I’m going to have to be very careful. I already try not to talk explicitly about my sex life on this blog, but I know that as soon as someone hears you say ‘non-monogamy’ they instantly think about all the crazy, kinky group sex you must be having. Sex is tied up so intimately with morality in our culture that the idea of polyamory strikes some people as hedonistic and immoral. I really hope I can compartmentalise well enough to keep this side of my life separate from my career, and I really hope my lifestyle won’t affect my future job choices.  I also hope that I can be strong enough to stand by my choices and the people I love if faced with that decision.

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This is a guest post by reader CT. I met CT through OKCupid back when I was pregnant as he is a fellow polyamorous parent who was happy to offer advice. We have been chatting online for over a year now, and though we have yet to meet in person, I consider him a trusted friend.

Here, he offers his experience and insights on dealing with some of the tougher aspects of being polyamorous.

Published in 2008, Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up attempts to be a simple guide to the not-so-simple subject of navigating a non-monogamous relationship.  It’s been reviewed fairly widely since its publication so rather than a review, I’d like to use Opening Up as a springboard for discussing two topics explored by Taormino – honesty and coming out.

Honesty is an essential ingredient for non-monogamous relationships, and this is a view that Taormino endorses. But Taormino has a particular kind of honesty in mind, and it’s not the “radical honesty” promoted by Brad Blanton. In criticising ‘radical honesty’, Taormino claims it is:

an egotistical and confrontational style of communication. It isn’t fair to or useful to share everything with someone who doesn’t want to hear it, is not ready to hear it, or doesn’t have the skills to process the information.” Opening Up – Chapter 4.

In place of radical honesty, Taormino proposes honesty with kindness and compassionate communication. As one of her interview subjects explains, in a relationship:

There has to be a kind of gravitational pull toward each other. If all of your focus is on yourselves you’re just going to fly off in different directions, and there’s not going to be a relationship. I think a commitment to kindness can be the gravity that keeps you in orbit.” Opening Up – Chapter 4.

However honesty with kindness isn’t just something to practice with one’s partners. It’s also something to be considered when thinking about coming out as non-monogamous.

Coming out earns a whole chapter in Opening Up. Taormino guides readers through the benefits and risks of disclosing one’s non-monogamy, addressing topics such as how best to come out and finding support during this challenging process. Arguably, one of the key messages of this chapter is that being selective in coming out, or not coming out at all, can be a legitimate and valid choice.

Which brings us back to the question of honesty.

If you’ve signed up to radical honesty and not hiding your true self from the world, one can imagine a lot of internal angst being generated by not being ‘out’ to family and friends. But as Taormino’s interview subjects highlight, coming out carries the risk of causing a lot of hurt if not handled carefully.

There is the risk of hurt to oneself through rejection by family, friends and community.  There is the risk that one’s children, partners or family will also be subject to ridicule or ostracism. Finally, there is the risk of hurt to family or friends who may struggle with having their perception of a person or relationship turned upside down.

It’s this last area where I imagine ‘honesty with kindness’ can make a big difference. Both questions of who to come out to and how to have that conversation is something that arguably needs to be done  with not just one’s own welfare in mind, but also with kindness for the recipient.

Who to tell and how has been a big struggle personally, and one that’s been guided by a principle similar to ‘honesty with kindness’. There have been times when it has been tempting to just relieve the weight of secrecy by telling everyone and expecting them to simply  “deal with it”. That temptation has been tempered by a desire not to risk hurting those who really don’t need to know about the openness of my marriage. The decision not to be more openly poly is also, of course, driven by fear of the potential backlash against my family and myself.

And so it is that those who know about my poly lifestyle are mostly new friends made since we opened up, and neither of our families.  Whilst being able to be openly honest with more friends and family is appealing, I think my wife summed up our situation well when she said:

“I like the friends we’ve got, they don’t need to know to be our friends, so why take the risk on telling them?”

Thus, through a combination of kindness and fear, it’s a relatively small circle that knows the nature of our marriage.

And so dear Polymomma readers – I ask you for your experiences in coming out? How “open” are you? How did you weigh up the desire for honesty with the risks and the need for kindness? And what has been the outcome of your decisions?

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