Explaining Polyamory to Parents

My partner’s parents are ideal. They’re hippies, and think their daughter’s poly relationships are just fine and dandy. My own parents? Well, I wouldn’t call them ultra-conservative – they try their best to be accepting. But I’d be lying if I said the awkwardness didn’t hang over the family dinner table like a swinging pendulum.

Considering the progress of (or lack thereof, depending on your point of view) race relations, women’s rights, and gay rights; I’d guess that a more common acceptance of polyamory is still another two generations away.

One of the hold-ups is very few people even understand what polyamory is. When someone gay comes out to his or her parents, whether or not they accept it, the parents at least understand what is meant by it. Many of us who tell our parents we’re polyamorous are faced with some variation of, “Like the Mormons?!”. That Polyamory and Polygamy sound the same doesn’t help much; that we connote images of cult-love is also a bit of a bummer.

Like other minorities, we must lead by confident example. We love our partners, and our partner’s partners. We’re not afraid to display it. We’re not ashamed to talk openly about it. Whether or not others accept it is beyond our control. Of those who don’t, perhaps eventually some will come around. That’s nice; but it’s not our problem. All we can do is be who we are.

Eventually society will see that we don’t eat babies for breakfast.

My own parents are getting better through repetition. The more time they spend with me and my partner the more they come to witness and understand the deep bond between us, just like any other loving couple. Once in a while I see they forget the poly side of things completely, then something will remind them and eyes will begin to dart. But at least those little breaks in discomfort are getting longer each time. I expect my parents to reach a point where they accept but don’t understand. If there’s any truth to my “two generations away” theory, I can be happy with that compromise.

What I wouldn’t do is avoid explaining it to your parents. If your first try goes poorly, the last thing you want to do is keep your partner in a separate life-folder. Your relationships with both your partner(s) and your parents will become stressed, and that pendulum will eventually drop.

Let Love Rule!

How do your parents feel about your polyamory lifestyle?

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