Family Gatherings and Polyamory: How to Proceed

When the family gets together, are you open about your polyamorous life? Do you bring your partners along?

Barbecue season is upon us, and with it many invitations to family gatherings. If your folks are anything like mine, you will be making summer salads and sitting out in shady backyards more times than you can count.

The question is, will you arrive alone, or with your entire poly posse in tow? If you’re brave enough to choose the latter option, there are a few crucial things you should keep in mind.

Read on to learn how you can make integrating your polyamorous lifestyle into family life a little less stressful.

How to Handle Invitations to Family Gatherings

Talk to Your Polycule about Being Out to Your Families

Before excitedly sharing all the juicy details of your poly life with family—or anyone for that matter—be sure to get the go-ahead from every member of your polycule. Being outed as poly can have serious repercussions depending on a person’s social or professional situation, so don’t take these conversations lightly.

Read: Coming Out as Polyamorous

Unless everyone agrees to being outed, don’t do it. The poly community might be tight-knit, but it has many connections to the world beyond and gossip travels fast.

Don’t Force Introductions or Family Involvement

Even if everyone is on board with being out to family, don’t force or guilt anyone into participating in gatherings or events. Additionally, don’t strong-arm family members into meeting your poly partners if they aren’t comfortable.

Read: Meeting Your Poly Partner’s Parents

I’ve been with my love for over seven years and have yet to meet his mom. I’ve made peace with the fact that she’s older and set in her ways and that I will always be a shameful addition to her son’s life as far as she’s concerned. Thankfully, the rest of his family is amazing.

Consider Your Needs and Mental Health

Just because you’ve attended the last two family holiday parties with all of your partners doesn’t mean that you have to do it again next year. Allow yourself to be flexible and speak up if you feel that some family get-togethers are made more stressful by the addition of all your partners. Sometimes it’s all we can do to handle family stuff without making it more complicated and that’s okay!

Read: How to Put Your Needs First in Your Polycule

There can be pressure in poly relationships to maintain consistency when it comes to these types of things, but let’s get used to evaluating our needs as time goes on. We are all allowed to change our minds.

Don’t Feel the Need to Defend Your Life Choices

When involving poly partners in family matters, things can get awkward.

Did bringing your wife and girlfriends to Aunt Janet’s funeral unleash a flurry of judgment? Just stay calm and don’t feel the need to defend yourself. You are entitled to live the life that feels most authentic to you. You deserve to be happy and seek out the love and support you need. People might try to convince you otherwise, or suggest that you are a flawed degenerate. Don’t take it on.

Read: Tips for Telling Acquaintances that You’re Poly

You do you, and keep living in love and peace.

As a poly person, what are your challenges with attending family gatherings?

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