Choosing the Truth: Coming Out as Polyamorous

by Sandra on April 4

comingoutpolyIf I had told the truth when asked why we were looking for two houses next to each other, would the religious owner still have rented her houses to us? If I had told the truth to my parents right from the beginning, would they have disliked my husband? Would they have blamed my depression on being polyamorous?

I prefer living a life of honesty and openness. I do believe that polyamory is the right lifestyle for me, and in the end, it’s easier than keeping track of all the lies. Yet, sometimes I find myself lying about who I am and how I have decided to live my life. When I’ve lied, it’s been either to protect someone else or to get what I want.

It is difficult to find a balance, but in my life, I prefer the scales to tip towards openness and honesty. Recently, I decided to come out to my mother as poly.

Sometimes the people who are supposed to have our backs no matter what are the most difficult to come out to. If you, too, find yourself wanting to come out to someone close to you, try using these guidelines.

Pick a time when you feel emotionally and mentally strong enough to handle any type of reaction.

At first, I wanted to tell my parents when they were visiting me from The Netherlands (I am living in Mexico, so we do not get much face-to-face time), but unrelated circumstances led to me having a rough couple of weeks, and I decided it was better to not add more stress on my plate. I ended up telling my mom a few weeks ago over the phone, and it went very well. I believe the positive outcome in large part happened because I was able to control my emotions and manage my anxiety—I was in a good place. Because I approached the conversation in a positive frame of mind, it didn’t seem to my mom like I wasn’t as comfortable with it as I am, which in turn made it easier for her to accept what I was saying.

Pick a time that is good for the other person, as well.

Taking the other person into consideration is also very important. I lost a good friendship once because I didn’t consider how the news that I was poly might come across to her at that moment in time. She had “lost” her husband a couple of years ago to another woman, and was at that particular moment in time feeling lost and lonely. She had also dated my husband before I met him, and I can see now how she might feel even more rejected that he would stop seeing her, but would still see someone else, besides me. I could have waited a couple of weeks or months before telling her, and it might have saved our friendship. It might have been a lost cause anyway, but because I didn’t take her feelings into consideration, I will never know.

If you feel anxious or worried about a certain reaction, tell the other person upfront.

When I told my mom I was poly, I was worried that she would become angry at me for not having told her earlier, and angry at my husband for being with someone else. So before I broke the news, I said that I had something to tell her that was important to me, but that I was worried that when she would hear the news, it would make her angry.

Getting those feelings out of the way does two things. First, it helps to prepare the other person for the feelings they might feel, and therefore makes it easier for them to manage those emotions. It is the same reason why doctors will tell you “I am afraid I have some bad news” before actually giving you the bad news. It helps you prepare mentally for what is about to come.

Secondly, it helps you manage the anxiety you feel about their reaction. The worry you feel about someone’s reaction tends to disappear or at least become less prominent if you say it out loud.

Be clear on what you expect from coming out, and make sure it is a fair expectation.

I cannot expect people to understand being polyamorous because it is something most people have never even thought about. The good thing is, I don’t need people to understand, and neither do you. I do need the people who want to stay in my life to accept it. I want them to accept that this is something that is right for me, that being polyamorous is what makes me happy, and that I really am okay with my husband having a girlfriend, and that he’s okay with me dating someone if I want to.

Clearly communicate what “polyamorous” means for you.

Good communication is one of the most important things in polyamorous relationships, and every article or book you read will hammer that home. Communication is also extremely important when telling others about your relationship. If you are not clear in setting expectations, they might think that you are hitting on them, or that you are telling them that their default monogamous relationship is wrong. If you are not clear when telling them that you are happy with the current relationship setup, they might wrongly assume that this is something your partner forced you into, and that you are being brainwashed, or worse, being abused.

Make sure that you really are okay with the current situation.

If you are not truly comfortable with your current relationship setup, it will show in how you tell others about your life. I do try to not sugarcoat the situation because polyamorous relationships are not all rainbows and sunshine. Time management can be especially complicated if you don’t just have one partner, but also another partner, and maybe a child, hobbies, friends, work, etc. On the other hand, especially when telling someone for the first time, I do emphasize the positive parts. I mention that time management can be difficult, and that yes, sometimes schedules clash, but also that I appreciate my husband having another support system when I cannot be there for him.

Give them time to process, and be open for follow-up questions.

Telling someone something personal about yourself can be scary and make you feel extremely vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable can then make you expect too much from the person you are coming out to as polyamorous. If you make it clear that you do not expect a reaction right away and give them some time to process what you just told them, you increase the likelihood of a future positive reaction. Try saying something like this:

 I hope that you can accept this is who I am, and I understand that it is a lot to process. If you have any more questions, now or later, you can always ask!

 Because people usually need some time to process, more questions will usually come up after a few hours or days. I strongly feel that the more open you are about answering those questions, the more accepting people are of our different lifestyle.

Have your own support system ready.

When coming out to someone as poly, you always run the risk of rejection, and that can hurt. When it is someone close to you, who is supposed to accept you no matter what, it can really hurt and drive you into a downward spiral of self-doubt, depression, and bad feelings. I firmly believe that those feelings have their place, and that we shouldn’t suppress them. However, it is important to have your partner or a good friend around who can help you, hug you, and show you that you are loved and accepted for who you are, even if that one particular person you just came out to doesn’t accept you. Feeling the support from the people who love you can be a real comfort and help you get through those feelings and come out on the other side stronger and more confident in yourself and your life choices.

What coming out as poly means for me

I have decided that in order to fully embrace the person I want to be, I have to stop hiding this part of my life. I want others to be able to be themselves around me, not feel like they have to hide themselves or part of themselves, and in order to create that openness, I will have to be that open.

I’ll still lie when my husband or my metamour (my husband’s girlfriend) ask me, but for myself, I won’t hide anymore.

If friends, co-workers, or family cannot or won’t accept me, then I will be sad, but also consider it a good thing to not have them in my life. Someone who only wants to be in my life when I am pretending to be someone I am not is better off finding more suitable friendships.

I am not asking for understanding, and I am definitely not saying that everyone should live the way I live. But I am asking for acceptance for who I am with all my differences and quirks. And I will give everyone in my life the same. You can be yourself, and I will accept you for who you are, whoever that is. There is no need to hide, to pretend, or to keep up appearances. You do you, I will do me, and that’s that.

Have you ever had to come out? Either because of your sexuality, mental illness, or relationship style? How did it go for you? What would you have done differently?

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Sandra

Sandra is a 33 year old mother, wife, life coach. As a Dutch national living in Mexico she is trying to find ways to make most out of life. She’s passionate about simplifying life, yet loves her luxuries and non-minimalistic lifestyle.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lyaferrer April 4, 2016 at 11:42 am

I like it when I ask questions and you are not bothered by them. Some situations are difficult for traditional seniors. It takes time. But when the important thing is being able to “flow in life”, we can only think about “how to help” and “be there”.

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Corrie April 5, 2016 at 11:39 am

I never expected the message that Sandra brought me.
1/Of course I would not be angry. It is her life and when she is happy, I am to.
2/ But why am I keep thinking about her, being a poly. I just can’t understand why.
Perhaps I have to take some time to get use of it.
My husband en my son bought said when Sandra,s happy it’s oke for me.
I agree off course that’s the most important thing of all.

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