Everybody knows that meeting a partner’s parents can feel a little scary. What if they don’t like you? What if you say something awkward in a moment of nervousness and they think you’re a freak? Meeting a partner’s parents in the context of a poly relationship can be even more nerve-racking. Because of the controversy surrounding non-monogamy, it’s quite possible that you’ll be cast in an unfavorable light before the meeting has even begun, and for those of us who cringe at the thought of conflict, it can feel like a risky chance to take.
I was recently given the opportunity to meet my metamour’s parents and I’m happy to share that I think it went well! I was really nervous beforehand, but they made me feel respected and welcome in their family, even though my presence at the table, not to mention the existence our poly relationship in the first place, must have come as a shock to them. It takes a brave willingness to put yourself out there, but it can turn out to be a great experience. So if you’re thinking of meeting your poly partner’s family, have faith and be sure to consider these three pieces of advice.
Don’t Rush It
In monogamous relationships, offering to introduce you to the parents is kind of a universal way for your partner to say, “I think you’re the one.” In poly relationships, things are not as straightforward. You and your partner might be so in love and so committed to making things work, but the timing might never be right for meeting the parents. If your partner is married, and/or reluctant to come out to their family, you could forever remain a stranger to people you would have normally met long ago. It can feel a little hurtful to be denied the acceptance of your partner’s loved ones, but it isn’t the hallmark of rejection that it would be in a monogamous relationship. Maybe your partner does want to introduce you, but the family isn’t open to it. No matter the reason, it’s never a good idea to try to rush things, or make your partner feel guilty for the boundaries set by their parents. Try to remember that poly relationships are a bit more complicated and have different timelines and markers when it comes to measuring their success.
Try to imagine that you are your partner’s parents. For years they must have had a very specific notion of the ideals upon which their child’s relationship was built and then all of the sudden here you are, some bizarre interloper. “Who is this person? What the hell is polyamory? Who are they kidding? Someone’s going to get hurt.” These are just some of the thoughts I can imagine coming to the surface. It’s a lot for anyone to absorb in one meeting, so don’t be too upset if things don’t go as well as you might have hoped.
Set Aside your Expectations
Maybe you’ve wanted to meet your partner’s parents for a long time, and as the months or years went by, you developed an idea of how the meeting would go. It’s really important to try to stay neutral to any specific outcome and to not base your feelings of self-worth on how you’ve been received. Try to remember that negative reactions are probably not so much about you as they are about the challenge you represent to the monogamous mind-set. If you’re feeling particularly fragile for any reason, it might be a good idea to delay the meeting until you feel stronger, just in case. One positive thought to focus on is that lots of parents just want their children to be happy, and many of us have great big hearts just waiting to accept new people and experiences into our lives. If the timing is right, take the leap and have no regrets!