I'm going to emulate the esteemable GalaGirl here and discuss something that I posted in another thread
I am reading that you feel that you were not "really" doing poly if you feel the need to keep it a secret. I, personally, consider myself "fully" poly even though we are not "out" to the world at large - and won't be, at least until I retire, due to my profession (morality clauses and whatnot).
I can't say that this particularly bothers me - there are many areas of my life that I keep "private" from the world at large. But then again, I am a generally private person - I do not develop social friendships with coworkers, for instance. I tend to divide people into three spheres - professional/public, family/acquaintances, chosen family/close friends.
How I present/interact with Dude (or my female FWB for that matter) depends on which "sphere" I am in. In a professional/public context - he is my husband's best friend who I am also close to. I might tell a story about a meal he cooked for us, we might be seen eating or shopping together (with no PDA), I will introduce him as "our friend" if I run into people while we are out.
In a family/acquaintance context - people know that he lives with us but not that we are "together", I might tell a story about how he answered the door in his underwear, I will refer to him as "our roommate".
In a chosen family/close friends context - people know he is my "boyfriend", I might tell a story about a funny thing that happened during sex, or talk about how our feelings have evolved over time.
These levels feel natural to me. I don't think "everyone in my life" - from my boss to the maillady - has a right to know my personal business. My family is great - but they are related to me by accident of birth, not by choice. Acquaintances may be nice people - I interact with them around certain activities or talk with them on limited topics. Just because family/acquaintances share some aspects of my life, doesn't mean that they have to share ALL of them. Chosen family and close friends are the only people who, I think, are entitled to the "real me" - otherwise they aren't chosen family/close friends - these people love ME. They might not agree with me but they get the whole ME.
After posting this, it occurred to me that this probably has more to do with personality type than with anything poly-specific. As an INTJ, I don't seek out "casual" friendships, in fact, I avoid them as being emotionally draining. If I am going to expend the emotional energy to allow someone into my life, then I have decided that they are worth letting ALL THE WAY in, because I care about them.
My current circle of chosen family/close friends consists of 9 people (and, by association, 4 spouses that I would not otherwise be friends with). (I have mentioned all of these people in my other blog on this site.) I can think of possibly 6 other people who have been as close to me during my adult life (say, the last 20 years) that, for various reasons (generally time, children/marriage, and geography), I am no longer as close to. With one exception, should any of these people re-surface in my life I envision that we would simply pick up where we left off (the exception is someone who I found out had been systematically lying to me and I broke off our friendship because of it - the only "break-up" I have ever experienced.)
There are, maybe, another 10-14 people that are aware of our poly arrangement by virtue of being close friends with people in my "inner circle" - which is okay with me. #1) Because I actually trust the judgement of my friends - they would never want to hurt me, and #2.) these other people are geographically, and otherwise, distant from my other two "spheres" (the professional and family ones) and therefore not viewed by me as being "threatening".
If I no longer felt the need to be "in the closet" (as both a poly and a bisexual) due to professional considerations, the next "hump" would be the effect of being "out" on my (and my husband's) immediate family (Dude's family would not come into play, as he is already not speaking with them for other reasons - although I think he would like to be able to be involved with his nephews). Interestingly, I think that our parents would be personally fine with it, once they had time to adjust - their immediate concern would be the effect on my career, on our marriage, and on our relations with extended famly. Our sisters would probably come to term on their own behalf, but I think that their husbands would be appalled - and that, therefore, our relationships with our nieces/nephews would be constrained. My relations with my extended family would probably be decimated...this wouldn't bother me personally, but it WOULD upset my father a great deal.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the only reason that I can see for "coming out" publicly would be so that I could become some sort of "poly activist" - I would have to weigh my desire to do so against the effect that it would have on my/our parents/extended families. (Once my career is no longer at stake, I don't give two shits what "the world at large" thinks of me.)
Luckily for me, my two boys understand and concur with my analysis. We are not at odds about this. I have encouraged Dude to share and seek support from friends (many of whom we have yet to meet) if he wants to. Apparently he has chosen well. He tells me that the few people that he has discussed this with have been of the mindset of "As long as you are happy...." MrS's/my mutual friends were tentatively okay with it as they puzzled it out and realized that #1.) no one was being manipulated/abused and #2.) this did not necessarily change our relationships with them (i.e. no one else was expected to by poly just because we were).
Actually, my biggest fear comes from what happens when Dude decides to start dating again (he's been pretty caught up with his NRE for me/us and hasn't seen anyone new since he moved in.) He says that anyone he dates would have to be okay with him continuing to see me (although the shape of our relationship might/will change) - but I worry about what happens when they argue and she threatens to "out" us. (I hope this is paranoia talking - his last GF, CrazyGirl, is seriously nuts, knows that we are somehow 'involved', partially blames me for their last break-up, and STILL
hasn't tried to ruin our lives...)
Enough rambling for now...