I wish we lived in a society where being poly was considered a valid choice—where those of us enjoying more than one partner were seen as loving and evolved, rather than some freaky-deaky harbingers of chlamydia.
Until that day, however, we must be prepared, prepared for the possibility of being outed and for the social impacts that will most certainly result. Here’s my advice for how to cope when someone you know, and maybe even love, has spilled the beans about your super-secretive poly lifestyle.
How to Handle Being Outed as Poly
Gather Your Supports
Reach out to trusted people who you know will understand the gravitas of your situation. Avoid seeking advice or reassurance from anyone who has ever been judgmental of your poly ways, even if they claim to be cool with them now.
In highly emotional situations like these, it’s so important to have guaranteed support, especially if the experience of being outed has triggered a mental health crisis. If it has, find a poly-friendly therapist who can teach you how to cope.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
One way a therapist can help is by encouraging you to recognize and name your emotions. You might be feeling a myriad of things, from anger, sadness, fear and grief to relief, pride and hopefulness, and you might even be feeling it all at once!
There’s no right way to experience being outed. Like anything in life that ushers in major change, it’s complicated! Give yourself permission to accept whatever emotions are present. When you’re ready, examine your feelings with bravery and curiosity. Try to understand why you feel the way you do, then show yourself a little compassion.
Take Control of Your Story
If being outed has compromised your feelings of safety and security, or just plain made you feel out of control, you can take back your power. Just remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation and that you are entitled to your privacy.
Even though a major breech has occurred in that department, you can seal things back up at any time. That doesn’t mean you won’t be stuck dealing with the fallout of being exposed, but it does give you more control over your story going forward, which can help you move on with your life once the chaos has passed.
Know Your Rights
Speaking of chaos, being outed can have serious ramifications not only for your personal life, but for your professional one as well. If you have faced discrimination at work because you identify as poly, or if a colleague outed you with the intention of ruining your career, know that you have rights and that you can fight for them.
Get acquainted with your country’s laws regarding polyamory. Where I live, it’s legal to be poly and to cohabitate with your polycule, but it’s completely illegal to marry more than one person. Consult a lawyer if you can, versus just relying on the internet for your information.
Have you been outed as poly before you were ready? Please share!