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The last two weeks have been an interesting and rather cathartic game of chutes and ladders through my past. I wasn’t able to address all of them, and there were a few I left out due to private details of people I still consider friends. I know a few of you were looking for your stories, and I assure you that omission from this little experiment was not an indication that you have ever meant any less or more to me than anyone else. Also, for those who like to chase monsters, this was not meant to be a smear campaign. It was meant to give an idea of how one heart has grown and learned from each and every person who still resides within it. You see, I don’t believe that once a person has been loved I ever truly un-love them. I may move on, and it may not be healthy for me to have certain people in my life, but that doesn’t mean what we had wasn’t real. If it was love, it still is. If it wasn’t love, it was still a valuable experience in my growth as a person.
The biggest lesson to come from all of this was that every moment is valuable, and nothing is as bad as it has seemed. I don’t believe that every cloud has a silver lining, because that glorifies the rain cloud. I believe that every battle has some blood. I believe that every blue sky has some rain. I believe that every word worth writing has a little pain behind it, because that’s life. What I do not believe is that a single cloud should ruin the sky. A dear friend, who has been with me through most of these stories, told me recently that most people are morally bankrupt. “Not most,” I responded. “Just the ones most of us remember.” It’s true. I could choose to remember and label any or all of these stories as tragedy, but I don’t. They have simply been opportunity for growth and a chance to shine, even on the darkest nights.
I’m choosing to end this series with the one who has been both the beginning and the end of all my stories, my husband. Again, this is not a new story to many of you, but humour me anyway.
When I met him I had just started a new job. I was seeing a few people, and while I cared for each of them I wasn’t interested in a committed, monogamous relationship. It was on a trip to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with one of those men that I met the man who would become my husband. He is the cornerstone of our family, our tribe, our Ohana.
He was working for a booth that sold dragon puppets that sat on your shoulder, and he lured me into a conversation using raffle tickets as bait. He was cute, and I was still unaccustomed to being flirted with, so I followed, my confused date following behind us. After convincing me to wave a flag in the parade and using that time to both question me about myself and critique my flag waving, the raffle began, and he was gone. I bought myself a cute little dragon puppet and tried not to look disappointed as we headed for the car. Before we left the gates I stopped off to use the Privvy where I tried desperately to push him from my mind as just another “could have been”, but something just wouldn’t let me leave it that way.
I told my date to wait where he was and took off running towards the puppet booth where I made up some story about losing my debit card. It wasn’t until a year ago that I told him I had gone back just for him. We struck up a conversation. I was nervous. So nervous, in fact, that I failed to notice when my bodice stopped functioning. I was essentially topless. “I’m sorry,” he said, eventually unable to focus on the work he was doing, “but it’s really hard to be a gentleman with you like…like that.” After that I couldn’t not take his number. Unfortunately, I took the wrong one, and it took me a week to figure out the problem. On our first date he bought me a pair of blue horns and a bottle of mead, which I had to open with a screw and a hammer because I didn’t have a corkscrew. Within weeks he was spending every night with me, within months we were handfasted. It was eerie how much we had in common, down to some of the same stuff, and how often we had most likely crossed paths in years previous.
When we decided to be poly we knew we were embarking on something big. We both knew it was the right decision, and we both breathed a sigh of relief at finally being able to express ideas we’d each held for years, but we knew there would be growing pains. We knew there would be mistakes on both sides, and we knew it would be the biggest test our relationship had faced to date. We were right. We fought. We exposed fears, insecurities, and emotional roadblocks of every kind, but we kept pushing forward. We fought some more. It strained friendships, relationships, and for a long time we were that couple that brought tension to every social gathering like a side-dish. It cost us more than we could have imagined, and it was almost the end of us. Almost.
Ultimately we came out of the fire more closely bonded than ever. The people who were truly our tribe rallied around us, and our families were able to see us stand tall as a team. Whenever we have issues now it is those moments that we remember, that first victory that inspires us to keep trying, because those were the fires of truth that made us one. No handfasting or legal document could have done that. These new issues are never actually new. They are simply echoes of the first, and they are generally fixed with the same tools. I have learned a lot of lessons from my relationship with Hubby, and I continue to learn from him.
I have learned how to communicate. I have learned better ways to control my emotional responses. It doesn’t always work, but he has learned to try to see why I respond as severely as I do sometimes. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever think I am. Through sickness, money troubles, losing our apartment, and loss, we have thrived as a couple. In times of trial, we have proven to be each other’s strongest ally. Even when we have been against each other, the love we have has inspired us to fight for the life we have built together. I have learned what it means to be humble, what it means to compromise, and what it means to forgive. I have eschewed the I-would-nevers and the expectations of love and marriage that I held onto for so many years. I have learned to accept that I don’t always have the answers and that sometimes we’re just floundering together in the sea of life, and that’s ok. I have learned what it means to lean on each other and how to carry myself knowing it doesn’t mean I’ve been abandoned. I have learned when to let someone I love fail or hurt, because his experience and lessons are not mine to feel. I have learned the definition of unconditional love. I have learned what it means to have someone’s support no matter what. I know that on any path my journey takes I will carry the love and faith of my husband, even if he doesn’t understand or agree with it. I have learned compersion and true happiness for another human being. I have learned to accept that I am a lovable, capable, beautiful human being who deserves to be accepted and cherished by someone who loves her as much as she loves him. I have learned to trust in love, magick, and hope above all other things, and when even those things fail, to trust in myself. I have learned what it means to build a life with someone instead of just living a life with someone.
I have learned what it means to be Ohana.
To my Hubby. Aloha nui loa.
Note: This letter is written mostly as snark, but partly as a genuine list of concerns families have on both sides of coming out. I found that when I stopped trying to gently explain things and just started pointing out to our family just how ridiculous some of their concerns sounded to us, they began to understand more that our lifestyle choice didn’t have to be a lifestyle change for them, that we were still the people they raised to be responsible adults, and that we weren’t going to destroy our extended families with our poly laser vision. Maybe don’t print it out verbatim, but feel free to use it as a rubric for conversation.
Dear Friends and Family,
I have chosen to be open with you about my family and how we choose to live. This honestly means that I trust you to at least not condemn me, though I hope you’ll try to open your heart and accept my extended family even if you do not understand how or why we have made these choices. I understand that this may be unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable territory for you to navigate, so I will do my best to give you some helpful highlights to make this holiday season enjoyable for us all!
1. My partners are people, not aliens or monsters. They have lives, families, and personalities of their own. Try having a conversation. About anything, really. You don’t need my mediation.
2. My partners are not made of glass. See above.
3. My partners are not homewreckers. See number 1, and see my husband/wife/etc. That smile? That means we’re still happy together and that this is a mutual decision we’ve made.
4. Remember when I went to prom and you met my date at the door cleaning a shotgun and interrogated him until he had sweat through his cummerbund? Don’t do that. We’re all adults now, and the fact that these are people I love and value alone should convince you that they’re good people.
5. There is no need to tiptoe around our children. They know exactly what they need to know, that they have a family full of people who love them and that there are presents to open. I assure you they are more concerned about the presents than who sleeps in what bed with whom.
6. You don’t need to buy us all gifts. Don’t worry, this is not a scheme to get more stuff. If you want to include us all, and we hope you do, you can give us something we can all use! Or feed us. We LOVE that.
7. We don’t care if you say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or Hi. Just be nice, and smile.
8. There is no need to worry about us acting inappropriately at your gathering…unless it’s that kind of gathering. The important thing here is that we’re people, not animals. Those manners we’ve exhibited for years? Didn’t disappear when we chose to love more than one person. Let’s add to that that we won’t discuss our sex lives out loud if you will promise the same. Lookin’ at you, Grandma.
9. I understand that members of our extended family may not understand our relationship situation. If they question you, tell them whatever you feel comfortable saying. It’s not integral to our household that you use titles. When I introduce my family to people who might not be poly-friendly I simply say “this is Jane”. Jane knows she’s my girlfriend. People who have asked me know she’s my girlfriend. Let Aunt Gertrude make her own assumptions. People do it all the time for all kinds of ridiculous things. Again, see that part about acting appropriately at a family function. We have this covered.
10. Please don’t feel like you can’t ask any of us questions or trust us not to make the entire family name look like a circus. I’m still your son/daughter/etc, and we are all family. We want to share these celebrations with you, and we are thankful to be included as a family.
So, much like last season I am late to the review game on Showtime’s Polyamory: Married and Dating, but I did want to cover it, so here we go.
As you remember, last season my criticism was pretty much what you’d expect of any review of any reality show, its lack of reality. That was the trend that poured from the poly community, and Showtime must have absorbed it all. The result was a season that dealt with some pretty serious issues if your household is going through them.
In season two we see the newly introduced triad experiencing some friction right out of the gate. We see a lot of lessons from this triad that I’ve written about before. Leigh Ann is feeling left out of the loop because life sometimes just isn’t cooperative with the schedules we’d like to keep. Instead of talking to her husband, Chris, and their girlfriend, Megan, about it she has an affair, which she tries to justify with the poor excuse that she feels she’s being neglected at home. We find out after some time that she has some resentment over how involved Megan is in their marriage and that she has felt this way since the beginning. The two remaining member of the triad are railroaded by this sudden revelation, as it had not been discussed in the entire three years of the relationship.
The lessons here are:
- Communication, communication, and even more communication. Before poly. During poly. Communicate.
- Cheating is always cheating. Own your behaviour, don’t excuse it.
- Never be poly or arrange your relationship just to make a partner happy. Talk about it and compromise, but don’t just let it happen, or it will most likely fall apart on you all later. There is no room in poly for conflict avoidance or placation.
The situation with the triad also brings up a few good points. What do you do if you’re deeply committed to one partner and the other decides it isn’t working? As a triad this is huge. Do you ask to continue with the other person outside of the triad? Do you risk your marriage trying not to lose either one? Do you agree to have the conflicted partner see others as well? Chris grapples with these questions as he tried to save his marriage and be true to Megan and her feelings, and neither of them seem to consider the place it puts him in as she fights for her relationship with him.
From last year’s pod we see a lot of new energy. There are new partners, but there is also new drama. Jen’s relationship with a man who can’t quite accept polyamory puts her in a rather awkward situation where she agrees not to even play with anyone new. I have made this request myself when I felt a need for some foundation building in a new relationship, but in this case it seems like he doesn’t want to try to embrace polyamory. This kind of attitude can be detrimental to a relationship, and unless the monogamous partner is at least willing to be open-minded about the poly partner’s lifestyle. Towards the end of the season Jen is already starting to feel the strain of the restrictions and emotional needs of the relationship. We see the exact opposite with Michael’s insistence that his new girlfriend be involved sexually with his wife. They are both unable to accept that she might not be interested or willing to be, and she makes a good point in asking that their relationship be focused on the two of them for a while not her interactions with his other lovers.
I do have to commend Showtime for how they portrayed Tahl’s experimentation with bisexuality and his budding relationship with Christian. We’re usually so inundated with homoeroticism on a very carnal level that we are barely presented with a real, emotional picture of how these interactions can go, especially when bisexuality is involved. We hardly ever see two masculine hetero-normative bi men represented showing tenderness and playfulness with each other. Kudos, Showtime!
In the end I got exactly what I asked for last season, a portrayal of the side of poly that was not of some Shangr-la existence. No, we got to see some of the human aspects of poly relationships. The catch? This is what opponents of polyamory want to see. These are the things that say “see? this is why this relationship model must fail”, because we most commonly associate things about which we are unsure or blatantly against with negative portrayals. My family grocery shopping is boring. My family constantly having our hands on each other is unrealistic. My family having issues to work through like any other relationship in the world is proof that polyamory is a sham. The moment we come out as poly we are examples. We are lessons. We are representatives, and anything we do, any way we act, and any mistakes we make are takes as typical. Season 2 brings up the most important lesson I have had to learn being poly. Just because the relationship falters or fails doesn’t mean that poly has failed. It just means those particular people needed to grow or move on from each other. If these people were having these issues as single people in the dating world there would not be a show about it.
Go now, live your reality,
All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family. At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there. I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle. I think the main question was which one I would pick and when. That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it. If anything they outed me to themselves.
I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it. I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry. No one asked. My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning. No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”. With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests. In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of. I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.
I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age. I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it. My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was. I never felt the need to have a “coming out”. I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable. Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else. That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival. He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad. He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.
Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”. Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day. My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist. In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received. Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.
A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media. I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona. I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live. This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.
This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone. I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye. I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time. I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.
There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true. I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation. I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”. I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo. I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers. If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth. This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.
“Polyamory probably saved my marriage.”
I have heard this statement made several times, and it always refers to something different. Sometimes it refers to a sense that things had gotten stale and polyamory put a fresh spin on the marriage. Sometimes it’s been sexual desires or orientations. Other times it’s been a deeper need to become closer through shared experiences. For me it’s been about lessons. I mentioned in a previous post that recently Hubby and I had some troubled waters. I strongly believe that we would not have come out of them unscathed as a monogamous couple, at least not as the monogamous couple we were. While the idea is emotionally unfathomable, realistically I don’t think we would have had the right tools to keep our marriage afloat.
Communication: While this one seems like it should encompass everything else, there are a few key lessons in communication that come from experience with polyamory. Most of us know how to identify communication, but many don’t know how to actually communicate. Good communication makes the difference between an electric mixer and a wooden spoon. Where good communication makes things smoother and easier to handle, bad communication often causes nothing but soreness and a mess. My apologies to anyone who likes to mix things by hand. To communicate freely requires that one eschew fear of being honest. Oftentimes when we bring up an uncomfortable topic we try to avoid confrontation and word things to sound more innocuous. Sometimes we even try to predict what the other person’s reaction will be and how to avoid it being negative. The truth is, sometimes we need a negative reaction. Sometimes Hubby needs to know things are not copacetic. We can’t fix a problem he doesn’t know exists. That being said, communicating dictates you be calm, concise, and factual with no emotional mudslinging or attacking. Everyone listens instead of plotting their next move, and everyone gets to talk. As long as this can be done in a mature manner, you’ve done it! You’re communicating!
Dedication: It has always been my belief that one contributing factor to our nation’s divorce rate is how easy it is to give up. There have been moments when we may have thrown in the towel had we not been married and committed to those vows. If in the end we agree that we’ve done everything we could to fix our problems I will fully accept that, but until then I will keep trying to make our marriage stronger and healthier. Many people in relationships act as if a difference in opinion or beliefs is an automatic sign that the relationship is doomed. No one is perfect, and nothing that lasts a lifetime is polished in a day. The marriages that last are the one that are constantly maintained by people who don’t avoid or repress their problems. Instead they work through them one at a time to nurture their bond and grow as a couple.
One Step at a Time: Think of a math equation. Looking at all the different functions in the equation all at once can seem daunting, but if you break it down into smaller, easier to handle parts you can focus on one function at a time. Quite often when a relationship experiences an obstacle it seems insurmountable because it’s never made up of just one issue. Usually by the time a marriage is in serious jeopardy the root cause is an amalgamation of smaller issues. Trying to work on them all at once can be overwhelming and will only cause more frustration and friction. Prioritizing and processing one problem at a time and accepting that there will be setbacks can help the healing process to not become such a burden that a couple gives up. Poly teaches us to deal with one thing at a time as it pertains to each situation. Just as no two partners are alike, no two problems are alike. Still, no member of our family is alone when problems do arise. Working on them together makes anything possible if we take it one step at a time.
Letting it Go: Once a problem is discussed and resolved it needs to be let go, not just until the next fight, not just until you’re feeling a little neglected and need some attention, but let go for good. There is nothing as detrimental to a relationship that’s trying to heal like bringing up old baggage that doesn’t serve the issue at hand. Poly teaches us to deal with any possible situation then let it go, because there is no room in healthy non-monogamy for extra baggage.
Perspective: Sometimes the way we see things is not how others see them, and either way may be a skewed version of the truth. Polyamory has taught me not to use phrases like “you did X” but instead say things like “it seemed to me like you did XYZ”. Blame solves nothing, and it makes you look foolish and out of control. Instead, calmly recounting the situation from your perspective can help the other person understand why there was an emotional response, and understanding is the beginning of both of you processing.
Avoiding Scapegoats or Insults: Blaming solves nothing, but playing dirty makes things worse. These issues are between you and your partner, not other partners, kids, or other mitigating factors. Accept that they didn’t cause the problems you’re having, the two of you did, even if your partner’s behaviour was based on these other things. I had this realization not too long ago when A told me it seemed like I was mad at her. Even to her it seemed like I was blaming her when really my real anger was towards how Hubby was treating the situation or acting because of something in their relationship. While it all may have exacerbated our issues, it wasn’t their relationship that was responsible for it, it was his behaviour and my reaction to that behaviour that was.
Emotional Independence: Polyamory has taught not only to be responsible for my emotions but also to handle them as much as I can on my own. There was a time when both of us where extremely needy and co-dependent on each other. Opening our marriage and branching out forced us to be aware of that co-dependency and to become more self-reliant. I now feel that I don’t need to run to Hubby every time I feel emotional. This puts less stress on him and allows him to be more self-reliant as well. It also means he’s available when I really need the support instead of being burnt out or overburdened already. Because of this emotional independence I have been able to trust both of our emotions and have faith that he’s with me because he loves me, not because he needs something from me emotionally. It has also given me the confidence to voice my emotional needs and know when I just can’t process certain things on my own. When working through problems in a marriage this is all integral. I feel less desperate for that emotional support, therefore I can be more articulate about real needs. I feel less burnt out and more willing to be supportive when he has real needs. Without emotional independence neither of us can be honest with ourselves or each other about emotional issues. Without it neither of us can grow as an individual.
What Worked Before: Marriages sometimes fall into a comfort, and resentment can build when the NRE starts to fade. When issues arise this is the first thing that gets flung between partners. “We never do XYZ anymore!” My first question is always, “why not?”. I have found that polyamory has kept us fresh and inspired. We have found new ways to keep our lives exciting, and we hold on to the memories and traditions that still serve us. The truth is that what worked before may not work now. This can include little things like mutual hobbies and weekly rituals to big things like relationship style and family dynamic. You may not do those things anymore because those people are no longer who you are as individuals. That couple may not be the couple you are now. That marriage has grown and evolved just as the two of you have done. Nostalgia can be a great reminder of where we come from, but it can also be a great road block to moving forward. We hold on to thing that once felt good forgetting that as we change we can and should find new things that make us feel good, too. Whether it’s changing how you date others or changing how you eat dinner together, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate. Polyamory has taught me to constantly re-evaluate our needs, my needs, and the needs of our family as a whole. If there is not growth and movement a stagnant marriage cannot thrive.
I’ll say it one more time… “Polyamory saved my marriage,” and possibly my life, or at least the quality of my life. I’ve used these tools with friends, coworkers, children, and clients. I feel enriched and empowered, and confident that I can tackle anything. Having my husband and our family on board helps, too, of course.
So, there’s this guy…
Doesn’t every good story start with “so, there’s this guy”?
In any case, there’s this guy, and we meet at a bar. I ditch the excruciatingly dull date I’m on, and I bring home a guy from a bar, which is something that, at the precipice of 30 years old, I have never done before. Another item on some kind of unwritten Bucket List I didn’t know existed.
This guy has a very black and white perspective on life and how the world turns. He not so much questions my beliefs but preaches his opinion on them like a sermon to save me from a life of ridiculous spirituality and ill-advised relationship decisions. On the former I stand firm, and there is no doubt in my mind that my faith is unshakable. He seems frustrated that I won’t try to prove my beliefs, but it is not my responsibility to convince him of their validity or sciency data. On the latter, however, I waver and bend a little. I am unsure. I unearth old doubts and question my faith in myself and the choices I have made over the last decade. When it comes to believing in myself I am weak. Things that were once true seem less so. Things that made my love and my marriage healthy and good for me begin to seem detrimental and lacking. Hubby and I no longer seem like the strong, loving partnership we once were.
This guy dangles in front of me all the things I’ve wanted in life, but as with most things worth having, it all comes with a price that until recently I have not been willing to even consider. More questions. Would I be willing to give up one big piece of who I am now to have a shot at goals I’ve been vying for my entire life? In the last few years I have resigned myself to a limited path. I have chalked up a lot of my dreams and aspirations to bad decisions or believing those things just weren’t meant for me. Hubby supports me where he can, but more and more reality sets in, and when our goals are in direct conflict mine fall away. He is always more driven, always a better opportunist, and almost always has more backing and resources. This is just how it’s always been.
I see myself now at a crossroads where it is integral that I have no doubt in the direction in which I choose to continue my journey. This is something I’m unprepared for, and it’s a self-portrait I cannot begin to paint. Can I adapt my current path or must I make a complete break and risk being lost? This is a question I am unprepared to answer, but how long can I wait for life to make it for me before all the doors close around me?
The big question here is not whether or not I leave but whether or not we can fix the rift that’s grown between us. It has not gone unnoticed, but I don’t think either of us has been aware of how big it’s gotten. If we can we will be the solid couple we once were. If not, it will swallow one or both of us, and we are each too beautiful and unique to be unhappy. This guy is not my future, but he has prompted me to think about what I want my future to look like and how I can make that happen. My hope is that a clear idea of just how deep and wide this rift in my marriage is can help us begin to fill it in with healing and love.
And here we are now. We have faced the end of our story and refused to accept it. Instead we have once more rewritten our future together. We still stumble occasionally, but we now have a better understanding of and commitment to this marriage and the promises we’ve made to each other. The Death card dealt here was not for a finite ending but for a razing and rebuilding, and we are building something strong and wonderful together.
Well, you’ve either made it through my last posts without being smacked silly or you have been and liked it. In either case, you’ve made it to a turning point in your new relationship. If you haven’t already, it’s time for your new love to meet the tribe.
Hubby likes to meet my dates before we go out, because it makes him more comfortable with me being out with a stranger. We don’t have a vetting process, but I appreciate having a perspective other than my own, and he’s generally a good judge of people. I trust his opinion, and he’s been correct for the most part. I like the two to meet before the rest of the family gets involved. It makes it less overwhelming for my date, and it gives he or she and Hubby a chance to bond a little bit as metamours.
Once we’ve gone on a few dates and feel comfortable as a couple in a controlled environment I like to introduce new partners in a light setting. I generally prefer to have it be a public outing or occasion where everyone feels on even ground, and something laid back in fun to reduce tension and anxiety.
If everyone gets along it’s great. If not it doesn’t immediately dissolve the new relationship, but it does limit things a bit. We push to foster a sense of family and community, and if there’s an impasse it greatly stunts the progression of a new relationship. Sometimes it’s a matter of mere growing pains, and with time the kinks can be worked out. At other times it’s an irreconcilable issue. I’ve never encountered a situation where a partner and Hubby couldn’t stand to be in the same room together, but I have had metamours refuse to ever meet me. In the end one of the relationships will fail if we cannot either smooth out the problem or live double lives. I would never consider the latter a viable option.
We are not a family who believe in shielding our children from our lifestyle, therefore where there are kids involved there is a second family outing, one that centers around them. Thus far I admit this has only concerned small children, but only time will tell how it will work with older children and teenagers. When people ask how kids can benefit from or this kind of lifestyle I remind them that children are without preconceived notions about what love and family looks like. Children are not as easily confused as we think they should be. They will accept what we show them as reality, and as long as what we show them is an honest, open, loving family they will be happy, well-loved children. There is nothing wrong with that.
What advice can I give to you as you introduce a new partner to your family? Be yourself. Don’t act differently with either your family or your new love. Don’t feel a need to entertain everyone. Your family will do just fine on their own. Let them all get to know each other naturally. Don’t feel a need to constantly be at your new partner’s side. Let him represent himself, but do quietly check in once in a while to make sure he’s not too overwhelmed, especially if this is his first poly experience. Follow up later with everyone, as if your family would hold their tongues anyway.
My advice for family members meeting a new partner? Again, be yourself. This is a friendly introduction, not an interrogation. Remember what it was like to be new and nervous. Remember all the mistakes you might have made and consider your reaction if the family had been this particular about your first impression. You’re not losing status, and you don’t need to prove your place or experience. Just relax and have fun getting to know someone new who has obviously really connected with someone you love.
Lastly, my advice to a new partner? Can you guess? Be yourself. These people are a part of this new step in your life and this new love you’ve found. Embrace them and think of them as valuable resources. How often do new relationships come with living manuals? Last but not least, don’t let them intimidate you. You mean an awful lot to someone. Find strength and pride in that and let them love you, too.
The last piece of advice I can give is one I’ve given before. Remember that this relationship is unique, and it will continue to be unique as it becomes a part of the greater family structure. You must let your new partner’s relationships with the rest of the family form as they will, without interfering or trying to control them. This new addition will ripple throughout the family and indelibly change its inner workings. The more you can let that happen organically the better the transition will go and the stronger the new family unit will be.