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-   -   To be open or not to be (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2103)

booklady78 02-02-2010 04:22 AM

To be open or not to be
This issue has been weighing more heavily on my mind lately and I'm totally undecided on the issue. My triad with my hubby of 13 years and bf of 6 months is doing really well. We are 'out' to a handful of friends only and the issue hasn't really come up with any other people, including family. I don't have a desire to complicate our lives with having to defend or explain our situation to people, I think it's private really.
However, when I'm out with my bf, we don't hide our relationship at all. We hold hands and kiss and act like any other couple. There is a big 'risk' of someone seeing us and assuming that I'm cheating on my husband. Could have already happened and they just haven't approached either of us yet.

This is my question, do we have an obligation to be up front and open, or is it fair to just have our relationship 'as is' and let people approach us if they have a concern or question? Is it fair to 'flaunt' it, inviting misunderstanding, possibly upsetting people? On the other hand, it's not neccessarily anyone's business. If they were to approach either me or my hubby out of concern for our marriage, then there would some kind of explanation.

I wouldn't even know how to broach the subject, how do you even just bring it up out of the blue with someone? "Hi Mom, I have a boyfriend."

I guess I'm looking for the pro's and con's of being open. There are going to be people who understand, or at least try to. Then there's other people who are just not going to accept it and judge it as evil, and those people won't have a place in our lives.

I guess I tend to be rather passive in general so I don't want to have to bring this up with people. I would much rather have people bring it to me to then explain. I don't know how 'healthy' that is though.


LovingRadiance 02-02-2010 05:55 AM

Well-my thought is that you have a good question. ;)

I know-not very helpful, sorry.
I am VERY interested in hearing opinions as I am in a V relationship and my boyfriend tends to try to NOT do anything "like a couple" in public-because he worries that someone will "cause issues". I tend to think it's b.s.

It bothers me to have HIM act like I'm his "dirty little secret". I would rather deal with people's questions.

So I'm very interested in the opinions so I can share them with my guys!

Seasnail 02-02-2010 06:12 AM

I don't know... I'm exploring the same things at the moment. Most of my friends wouldn't see anything wrong or out of the ordinary, though, as my BF and I are both not terribly comfortable with affection in public anyways (introverts!!), and at most we might hold hands. Mostly I don't want my clients & coworkers to ask questions if they already know my husband!

GroundedSpirit 02-02-2010 02:54 PM

HI Booklady,

Yea, this seems like a pretty common quandary. The topic seems to have come up even here several times.
My thoughts are that every situation is unique. So you have to look at how PC dependent everyone's lifestyle really is. It's unfortunate that we can't live in a world where living with 100% honesty & forthrightness is the rule rather than the exception. But few can. Society - and everyone's dependence on it - vary. And like you say - it's a private affair anyway and nobody else's business.
From what we've seen it's pretty common to come up with some 'canned' response to offer those inquisitive people who would be brazen enough to approach you with the "who was THAT" question. There's plenty of options to choose from to acceptably explain a hug, a quick kiss etc to someone other than your known SO. Same goes for when you are out & about as a group. A REALLY close family friend etc
So, as I say, depending on the setting, whether it's a childrens event, a professional/social setting, a general public event where family or professional contacts may attend etc, the behavior varies.
But one thing that helps to quell a lot of nasty rumor mongering is to appear in public together as much as possible. The more people realize that everyone is 'together' - on the same page - about your group (3-4- whatever) the less it will seem unsavory.
So, depending on the setting - the whole 'public affection' thing may need more or less restraint. But if you think about it - except from a philosophical standpoint - how important really IS that ? IS a deep tongue kiss really that important in the parking lot of the restaurant as compared to a nice hug?

You'll find the balance :)


booklady78 02-02-2010 06:55 PM

LR - I agree, I think part of me would gladly deal with people's questions, I just feel awkward to show the initiative in that conversation. I don't feel a need to say to anyone 'My husband and I are poly' and then see where that conversation goes. Mostly because I don't fully know who needs or even wants to know.

SS - It's my husband who isn't overly affectionate in public, but he is slowly becoming more comfortable with it. I think it's one of the things I love about my bf, that he's quite happy to hold hands or show affection. I feel no need to share any of this with my staff or peers either, but my bf stops by my workplace often to take me to lunch or go out afterwards. It's not unusual though as many of my friends do this as well, both male and female, so my staff don't think anything of it.

GS - We do adjust our behavior to an extent, as I mentioned to SS I don't feel a need to have any of my work circle know. As far as the last part, our actions when we are out as a couple doesn't usually involve brazen deep kissing in public (ok, sometimes, but not when anyone is looking :P) but it does involve sitting in restaurants, holding hands across the table, holding hands walking down the street, and as my hubby says, anyone who sees the way I look at my bf knows that I love him. That's something that can't be restrained and it feels very unnatural to have to consciously hold back what's in our hearts to want to do. It has been a huge learning curve to find that balance, even within our triad. At first, there was no physical affection when my hubby was with us, to ensure his comfort with things, then slowly, he began to get comfortable and then curious as to how we behaved when he wasn't around. Now we all cuddle up on the couch to watch movies, each of them by my side and it's sheer bliss :)

As my hubby puts it, he really could care less who knows, but he does care about who knows the 'details'. We are very private, quiet people anyway so it would be out of character, and our comfort zone, to just announce to the world that we are poly. I think, for the time being, we will just see what happens.

I would still really appreciate any stories or opinions on the subject.

Thank you everyone!

LovingRadiance 02-02-2010 07:14 PM

I don't generally offer up the information to people randomly.
My family and my friends know. But a lot of that is that they simply know me-so it was more just a matter of knowing that yes everyone was being honest and no Maca wasn't "out of the loop".
But even then, for the most part it was within conversation that the topic came up, not because I jumped in and said "oh by the way we decided we're poly".
My sister was HERE the night I gave Maca the letter, so I did tell her. I felt it would be wrong to potentially subject her to his emotional fallout-without forewarning. (she had recently moved in so there was no "better day" to give it to him). But others it's been in context of a conversation that it FIT with.
For example, if someone is talking about how they feel that sleeping with another person while married is cheating blah blah, I'll offer up that I don't NECESSARILY agree and feel it depends on the married couples understanding of marriage which will generally lead to taklign about my beliefs on relationships, dynamics, honesty, integrity etc, which depending on how things go may lead to explaining OUR life choices and why we've made them (that's happened a couple times).
But "out and about"-if they are curious I would answer, but I dont' think I'd randomly explain myself-that to me would suggest that I myself believe I'm doing something wrong..

I haven't encountered GG's co-workers yet this year, but I expect at some point we will encounter either co-workers, friends or family and one of my concerns is how that will go-not for the reasons generally brought up on the forum.

I will be unimpressed if he pulls his hand from mine or steps away a little to put some distance between us...It bothers me to think he might not acknowledge who I am TO HIM. I know he has MANNERS-he would introduce me, but I don't want to be introduced as "my friend" or "my roommate".
I do recosnize that there are some situations it would need to be that way (at least in theory). But... I guess I'd prefer he be willing to acknowledge that I'm his girlfriend as a "rule of thumb".......

Ok-sorry, that was a lot of info not answering your question. :o
As I said-I find your topic VERY personally interesting. Sorry if I expanded unreasonably on your thread!!

DrunkenPorcupine 02-02-2010 09:50 PM

I am openly poly. My wife doesn't identify as poly and I think she may not be. The fact that our relationship is open is not a secret and I'm pretty visible and vocal about it.

That's kind of my personality type. I'm iconoclastic and have no problem being the "initiator".

I will say this though, given that my worldview comes from the "visible" perspective, I don't know how I would avoid it if I wanted to.

If I'm talking to people I'm friendly with and they ask me "Where is your wife", saying "she's on a date" is my honest answer if she is. To me, lying to my friends or even people I am just friendly with is far bigger of an issue to me than the complications of revealing that I'm poly.

When invited over to the home of a friend, how do I explain to them "She's not here tonight" without making them feel blown off if it happens repeatedly without that honesty? Related, how would I shift from "part of the couple" to "an individual" if I couldn't honestly answer how that happens within the couple?

Also, there is the possibility of being seen as "the cheater" or even weirder (and I admit, this comes from a web series on being poly) the oddball cases where two poly folk are being dishonest to the same people (She's my sister!). :D

I don't see anything wrong with people wanting to keep their personal details close to the vest, but for me, I don't have any concept of how I could be anything BUT visibly poly and still act consistantly with my other values.

Seasnail 02-03-2010 02:13 AM


Originally Posted by DrunkenPorcupine (Post 21559)
I don't see anything wrong with people wanting to keep their personal details close to the vest, but for me, I don't have any concept of how I could be anything BUT visibly poly and still act consistantly with my other values.

.... you and my husband both! Though, he agreed for my comfort not to talk about details except with his close friends.:cool:

LovingRadiance 02-03-2010 03:00 AM

I feel that way too. I never lie about it. I just answer honestly. But GENERALLY the three of us are out together-so that minimizes a lot of questions.
Maca and GG aren't like that though. They both keep things quiet. Sometimes that's ok with me, but other times it really drives me nuts!

I choose not to socialize with people who "can't know" for the most part, as it's not my nature to make stuff up. I just say what's on my mind (my sister says my filter's broken). ;)

constlady 02-03-2010 04:24 AM

My experience has been that the more comfortable and matter-of-fact I am about my relationship dynamic, the easier it seems to be for others in my life to accept it.

I don't go out of my way to exclaim my polyness but willl explain as necessary. As an example, I had a picture of me, R and rosevett at Christmas time as wallpaper on my work computer. It got a few odd looks but only one coworker actually asked me who those people were.
I responded "That's my boyfriend"
He asked "Well, who is she?"
And I said "That's his other girlfriend"
A moment's pause, then my coworker said "Well I could introduce you to this swinging couple I know at the conference this year."
I said "It's not swinging, it's called polyamory. Look it up, but not on your work computer" :)

The four of us attend various work functions together, our families are all aware for the most part and we simply behave in public like we would with anyone we loved.

I understand that for some people, the risks and discomfort associated with being out are just too much.
For me, it is just too much not to be open about who I love and how we all relate to each other.

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