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-   -   Too close to workplace? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2120)

redsirenn 02-08-2010 07:10 AM

Too close to workplace?
Hey everyone,
I have a question that I am unsure about how to address myself.

a little background first:

I am currently a phd student in a relationship with someone who is not in my career field. One of my concerns with us dating other people is drama that might ensue as a result of this information coming out to my peers. I have requested that neither of us date or get involved with any of the other students in my graduate group because of this. I am with people that I will have a working relationship with for the rest of my life, and because I am so new in the field, really want to avoid roadblocks this early on - and for something that is really unrelated to my career.

The thing is, I know how people can be - not all are understanding to say the least...

My SO brought this up to me and he seems upset by the boundary request. The reason he states is because these people are friends (not all of them) and that it seems to limit our possibilities and also hides "who we are"...

The way I see it - they are more than that to me. They are my colleagues. I will probably always be friends with people I work with, and they, more than likely, will comprise the majority of said friendships simply due to shared interests, and the amount of time I spend with them.

I cannot let it go though. I don't want to even have the situation come up where we are at a party and I feel like I have to hide anything. I don't want all those people to talk if we don't hide, and I really don't want to deal with drama with people that I may have to deal with for a long time.

I just want one part of my life to be separate from my romantic relationships - That is my work, my career, etc. I enjoy knowing that the separation exists, and it allows me to relax when we are out with them and when I am at work or working on projects with those people.

Any thoughts here?

NeonKaos 02-08-2010 01:05 PM

I think your approach is a mature and professional one. It also depends on the field you are in. If you are in the arts, you probably have colleagues that have been exposed to a wider variety of "alternative" lifestyles than if you are with say, engineers or business-people. But I'm going to stop there before someone gets up my ass about assumptions and stereotyping.

GroundedSpirit 02-08-2010 03:05 PM

Always tough
Hi RS,

Yea - this is always a tough one. And it manifests itself in a number of areas for different people, whether it's professional life, family etc.

I think it's a very personal thing for each individual. It basically comes down to a choice of whether we feel that the 'cause' - whatever it may be, and living a life of honesty in all regards is worth the penalty we feel we may have to pay by doing that. And as you said, society and people being what they are, there will very likely BE a penalty.

For me - I try to approach such decisions from a 'where will the greater good come from via my decision ?'. Where will the harm be ?

And we have to be willing to live with the repercussions of that decision. Some of us are a little more pain resistant. Some of us have more to lose - i.e. the ramifications could be more widespread.

But one other thing I always weigh into these internal discussions & debates is where ego is sitting in all this. It seems when we want to stand up for our beliefs in spite of all logic appealing to us to do otherwise that it's often our ego that's screaming loudly. It screams we're being a hypocrite. It screams we're not 'true' to ourselves. Etc Etc It wants us to believe we're less than we think we are.
My response is usually - 'Yea - I hear you - but this isn't all about you' ! There's other factors to be considered here which MAY mean you (ego) have to take a little wound so that someone else isn't more fatally wounded. A sharing of the damage society passes out to us.

Never an easy choice.

In my history I have chosen in both ways depending on the overall picture. And still do. I'm willing to take a harder hit as long as I feel it's only me that's going to take the brunt of it.

But this is drifting into generalization...........

When it comes to poly, I really feel our love & sex lives are nobody's business. I don't feel attached to it as some 'cause' I need to champion even though I feel it's a better and more reasonable way to live. If I were approached by anyone who I felt had a sincere desire to explore it, I would be frank with them. Otherwise it's a private matter.

Good luck with your choices. I hope you find that balance too.


DrunkenPorcupine 02-08-2010 04:11 PM

There's a thread about "to be open or not" where I gave a longer description of my views on being openly poly. That post is here if you're interested.

So, more to your specific situation. First, understand that I'm not judging. I respect your concerns and I think they're valid fears and something that does need to be addressed in some way. But I differ on your approach to it.

I am part of a self-selected community based on philosophical ideals. As such, a big part of my fear when opening my relationship with my wife is that feelings about romantic relationships would get in the way of our activism relationships. So we originally put up a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Additionally, we have an understood but unspoken rule that we do NOT pick each other's partners.

We've rescinded that don't ask rule because it created a ton of tension for us and didn't work. But the "don't pick each other's partners" rule is very much in effect. For me, a prohibition on "Don't date from this pool" would be a violation of that rule. My wife doesn't exactly know what it is different people bring into my life and her blanket casting a "No" on a group would be disrespectful of the things those individual people could bring me and vice versa. I would feel hurt and denied by that.


I cannot let it go though. I don't want to even have the situation come up where we are at a party and I feel like I have to hide anything. I don't want all those people to talk if we don't hide, and I really don't want to deal with drama with people that I may have to deal with for a long time.
It seems like the very kind of "drama" you're trying to avoid is CREATED by the seperation you want. You say you don't want to hide anything, but you put this boundary in place SPECIFICALLY to prevent your colleagues from knowing that you're poly. To me, hiding a pretty big part of how I love is a lot bigger than dealing with drama that may or may not ever come out of a failed relationship with someone in that circle.

sunnydee 02-08-2010 04:26 PM

My two cents: Well, most university crowds are pretty liberal, and, even if individuals are not, the pressure is to appear tolerant, at least, so I would think there's not much reason, really, to hide what you're about. In my school, it would just make you appear more interesting. But, that's separate from dating people in your department or whatever. My feeling is you can be open about who you are, but still not date people in your department if you don't want to, and that might be quite sensible. However, you can't really make that decision for your partner, imo, and, really, you are two distinct adults, so what your partner does really doesn't reflect on you.

ImaginaryIllusion 02-08-2010 08:46 PM

I'm afraid I'm with YGirl in saying that your approach is mature and professional, and I'll happily jump into the assumptions and stereotypes on this one.

You need to make your assessment about the field that you're in. I've not had the pleasure of getting involved in grad studies, so I don't know how the politics work exactly in that. My own feelings about academia is that while the student body tends towards the liberal, those at the top of the ivory tower, the profs and administrators congeal into an organization that is similar to many others of their age and size. Due to policies, public pressures, tradition, politics, etc. it's an organization that isn't the most responsive to change. Working in a not so responsive organization, I do know a little bit about that.

I will assume for the moment that you have already assessed that those in your field are not likely to be understanding. Or that being out of the closet, or being involved romantically by proxy to co-workers is going to cause issues with your career either during your studies or afterwards. In which case I do not see any issue with requesting your partner look elsewhere for the dating pool.

Does it reduce the numbers? Yeah...12-30 people? How many grad students are we talking here? Out of what? A couple thousand students and staff on campus? How many in town? Tens to hundreds of thousands? 6 Billion worldwide? It's not a great sacrifice to the pool numerically. The better question might be how committed is your partner to allowing you to develop and pursue your career?

At the very least it would be reasonable for the time being until such time as you are either established in the field, and/or you have had time to determine how such life/lovestyle choices would be received in the community of fellow professionals. However, while you are starting out...and while your ability to get a degree is still under the prevue of those who may be able to block your progress due to personal opinions about your way of life, it may be a risky time to be doing things which could rock the boat. If you think they’d so something like that, then your partner would be better to respect your wishes on this.

My 2% of $1.

NeonKaos 02-08-2010 09:09 PM

OK Imaginary. You got the hamster turning the wheel now...

I'm thinking perhaps there's more to the OP's story... like maybe, her partner is already interested in dating a particular individual in her academic peer group.

Still, it would be very selfish of him if he were to insist on pursuing that at this juncture.

redsirenn 02-08-2010 10:15 PM

hey - thanks for the responses thus far.

I have the gut feeling that not having us pursue people in my graduate group is a good decision.

I believe this might come from a couple of places for him. 1) we have found the elusive unicorn...(a cure bi girl that obviously likes us both) and 2) I have alot of hot colleagues.

It is not like I am not interested in them, or that I don't flirt with them... I just am not ready for this. It is exactly as someone earlier stated: I want better grounding in my career and my understanding of living this lovestyle before I rock the boat. It's not like I don't want anyone to know - my closest of this group are well aware of the situation. I trust them to have discretion as well. And my sister knows too. I just think there is a happy medium between throwing everything to the wind because you are fighting some "cause" and hiding under a rock for all eternity. Really - this isn't my cause either. What I am pursuing in my career IS! Which is probably adding to the reason that I don't want to mess with the dynamics in that right now. I work in the environmental field with climate change and conservation issues. I have enough of a time trying to convince people of something I care a great deal about. MORE so than my PERSONAL sex life.

It is really funny... It's like the moment that this came up he got very - shall we say - defensive? I mean, for months I wanted to visit local poly groups in our town, and he didn't want to go for fear of being "outed" in a community where he teaches high school in. It wasn't as hard for me since the people in the poly group are not all my colleagues... but may be more likely connected to his career as friends of parents of students, etc.


I think I am going to stick to my guns on this one.

xmakina 02-08-2010 11:20 PM

As you should. The flip-side of the coin is, what happens if/when things don't work out? Would he really be comfortable knowing he could put you in the situation of working with an ex?

I like your philosophy of keeping work and play separate. It's an idea I subscribe to, to the point of not even friending workmates on Facebook! Relationships complicate professional matters, I'm sure your BF wouldn't be too keen on hooking up with one of his colleagues :eek:

DrunkenPorcupine 02-09-2010 12:46 AM


As you should. The flip-side of the coin is, what happens if/when things don't work out?
As you should. The flip-side of the coin is, what happens if/when things don't work out?[/quote]

There's a negativity in that which I do not admire. Before entering into a relationship, one is thinking of the repercussions of it failing.

I don't think that can lead to many fulfilling moments.

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