Tips & Advice

Advice on Coming Out as Poly

Meeting the Parents

When I fell in love with my partner, I wanted to tell everyone! I was so elated that I could hardly contain my excitement. It’s a natural feeling to want to introduce the person you love to your family and friends, but how can you do that in a positive way when you and/or your partner has another partner?

It’s fairly expected that people who identify as monogamous and have had no previous exposure to the poly lifestyle might not be immediately accepting of your relationship choice. You may wonder if being open and honest with them is even worth the potential judgement. If you decide that coming out is right for you, there are a few things you can do to make the process a little less stressful.

Gather your Support Network
Talk to your partner and your (supportive) friends about your desire to come out. Let them boost your confidence and maybe do a little role playing to feel better prepared for those questions you might receive. Read books about polyamory, especially if you’re not quite sure how to explain it to people. Information can be a powerful form of support and can help you to understand not only the emotional, but also the historical and social motivations behind our relationship choices. Many major cities even have a poly community that you can join. This would give you access to workshops and support groups when needed. In essence, surround yourself with people and resources that remind you of the validity of your choices.

Plan your Approach
You might be so excited about the love you feel that you just want to tell everyone RIGHT AWAY in one grand declaration. Maybe you feel guilty about being secretive and you really want your partner (and maybe even your partner’s partner) to meet your friends and family. No matter how much you want to just blurt it out, it’s best to have some kind of plan for how to deliver the news. If you’re married and you want to tell everyone about a new relationship, you might consider asking your spouse to approach them with you. This will automatically address the common concern that you’re really “just cheating” rather than engaging in a legitimate poly relationship. It will also give people a chance to observe the strength of your connection to your spouse and might alleviate the notion that your new partner is a threat to your existing relationship. On a related note, if any one of your partners isn’t on the same page as you and would prefer to keep his or her poly identity a secret, it’s really important to respect that. You might want to take the time to explain how important coming out is to you, but don’t rush the issue by outing everyone on your own.

Consider your Audience
It’s important to understand that not everyone will be able to take in your news at the same rate. One’s age or religious beliefs are among the many factors that can make it hard for some people to accept polyamory. You might want to start slowly by talking about what you’ve read on the subject, or find another way to ease them into the conversation. It’s also okay to choose your audience if you feel that telling a certain group of people would provide no hope of a positive outcome. If you choose this path, however, just remember that you’re doing so in the name of self-protection, not out of a sense of shame.

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We’d love to hear readers’ stories about coming out as poly. Please share in the comments!

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