We (I) took the plunge this weekend and added another layer to our “coming out.”
Backstory: As I have written elsewhere here, I am a very private person anyway and tend to keep my professional circle of acquaintances, my family, and my social circles very separate. In terms of our immediate families – they know Dude lives with us and accept him has “family” (invited to family holidays etc.) but we don't discuss the details of our relationship or refer to it directly. We are “out” to my personal friends and MrS's and my shared friends from the pre-Dude years – a total of maybe 20 people max over the past 2 years – most of whom are not from/ do not live in our immediate area. I am not “out” at work or in public due to professional considerations.
So, we live/I work near Dude's hometown and he and MrS have been hanging out with some of Dude's old friends. (Dude has lived elsewhere for YEARS before coming back several years ago – about the time MrS met him, a few years before MrS introduced Dude and I in person). Anyway, Dude and MrS have made friends with one couple through mutual friends that they really wanted me to meet. (Incredible, cool, fun, smart, interesting people.) I have been reluctant, beyond even my usual introvert reluctance...and, it took me a little bit, but I finally figured it out.
If we are going to be hanging out with people in a social setting, I need to be able to be myself – to act as I naturally would and talk about whatever came up without “hiding” anything. Anyone who sees the three of us in a casual relaxed atmosphere is going to be able to see the interactions between the three of us and know that there is more than a married couple + roommate/friend dynamic going on. And it's not that I (or MrS or Dude) mind for these friends/friends-of-friends to know for themselves
– it's that we live/I work in a small town and there is bound to be at least SOME overlap between my professional life and Dude's social circle.
We all talked about the concerns several times, thought about it, and decided that the benefit of opening myself up to friendships within this group of people was worth the potential risk. So, Friday night we all went to a concert in the nearby city and a small group of us went back to the “interesting couple”'s house for a small party. It was the three of us, the “interesting couple”, a couple that I already know and am comfortable with (Dude's other “best friend” and his girlfriend), another couple and 4-5 other random people. We/I had a great time!
There were a few raised eyebrows on occasion – for instance, a few of us were hanging out in the kitchen and somehow Dude and MrS got to talking about how I sleepwalk sometimes and the funny things that I do. One of the “random people” girls (that Dude and MrS have met before but I haven't talked to) asked “So, do you live together?” - I answered “yes” and went back to the side conversation that I was having, then MrS answered “yes”, then Dude answered “yes” - apparently (it was reported to me later) – with each “yes” her eyes just got bigger.
There was, of course, the inevitable overlap that I was concerned about. It turns out the wife of the “another couple” works with one of my partners from the office in a different setting on a semi-regular basis. I wandered in on the tail-end of a conversation between Dude and the “another couple” were he was, I think, talking about our unusual relationship configuration and the need for some discretion in the work arena. (Now, I don't know this woman, perhaps she is the biggest gossip in the county, if so – the cat is now out of the bag. I don't actually care if my partner that she works with knows – he is a cool guy, we have a “work” friendship and HE is not a gossip – I just don't need it to be “public knowledge”.)
Anyway, the “interesting couple” offered us a bed for the night. Some people left, some people stayed. In the morning it was us, the “interesting couple”, the couple that I already know, and the one “random person” guy that I had gotten to know best during the course of the night. I felt very comfortable. I actually woke up before anyone but the “interesting couple” and we had a nice chat. She took me on a tour of their property on the quad. I had an interesting conversation with the husband – where he asked if I had a good time and he hoped that I didn't feel like they had “hovered over” me too much. Apparently, this little “get together” was engineered in such a way because they
were interested in meeting ME
We didn't talk directly about my relationships but they were indirectly acknowledged as a "given".
So – the ice has been broken. I am actually feeling pretty relaxed about the whole situation. The boys and the husband of the “interesting couple” have some projects they are going to be working on together and I see more socializing in our future. Now that I have met them, stayed with them, the boys are free to invite them to our house...
New friendships with interesting people, hmmm – I haven't done THAT it a while (maybe some friendship-NRE coming on?)
PS. Fingers-crossed that I have not just ruined my career...
Somehow I don't think so - these people are themselves hippie-freak counter-culture types and not likely to fault us for going against the mainstream. I mean, really, is the tatted-up guy with the dreads down to his waist really going to rat me out for not "conforming" to society's rules on relationships? The folks that are working toward a self-sustaining farm and off-grid living are going to worry about me choosing an "alternative relationship" style? I think not.