I’ve written a few times now about coming out as poly, but then what?  Once we’ve made this disclosure and asserted who we are, whether as a single person exploring or as a couple, how do we proceed in dealing with non-poly family and friends?  Do we let it simply fade into obscurity as an abstract fact or do we keep trying to educate and exemplify the life we’ve chosen to live?

The way we’ve dealt with each of our families has been pretty much the same despite the different situations we face.  My family lives 3,000 miles away, so it’s easier for them to be newly surprised every time I mention A or someone new I’m seeing.  It’s not a conversation I wish to get involved in every time I visit, so I really have just started mentioning our partners as I would anyone else in our lives.  Sometimes they ask who I’m talking about, and that’s when we usually have a discussion about my poly life.

We have done very similar things with Hubby’s family with the additional feature of familiarization.  Mouse is an employee for Hubby’s mom.  She lives with us.  Even so, we’ve experienced more resistance from Mom than from my family.  In most cases she has accepted this part of who we are and done what she can with it.  She’s always been polite, but there is a part of her that still can’t fully grasp that we are happy this way, mostly that  could be happy this way.

A while back we had a family anniversary dinner.  When I asked Mom if she was inviting Mouse she told me no, stating it was just for family and she didn’t want to have to explain it to Hubby’s grandfather, who we’ve since come out to.  It wasn’t my place to push, so I let it go and let Hubby take it from there, but it felt to me like an excuse.  Pop pop had definitely seen Hubby and Mouse interact.  She came to our house often at the time and had spent many special occasions with our family.

When confronted about it she reiterated what I’ve heard her say before, that she is only concerned about her daughter-in-law.  It’s not like I don’t talk to Mom about the men in my life, she’s even met a couple of them, but as a woman who has been hurt by men in the past she finds it hard to understand why I would consent willingly to live this way.  She wonders if I just accept it as a condition of my marriage to Hubby, and if I left him over it she would not blame me one bit. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard from many people when they find out I’m poly, but it’s very quickly detrimental in a family.

We’ve all talked about it, but we don’t ever make a big deal about it.  We simply keep doing what we’re doing.  We don’t need her approval.  We only require her respect when it comes to out chosen family, and she has gone above and beyond in that regard.  For a while she tried to hide it from the men she dated, but eventually it came out as he and Hubby became close and began to spend time together outside of her presence.  Again, he may not completely understand it, but he has accepted it as fact, and we don’t dwell on it.

My family has been able to accept this as a very abstract idea.  My dad was, until recently, the only one who had experienced it first-hand.  He is also the only one who asks questions when they arise.  I don’t know where his opinions or concerns lie, but I know if they get strong enough he will tell me.  So far he has listened,  but I have a feeling his concerns are the same as Mom’s.  It may be easier for him to believe that I’m happy merely because he has only talked about it with me, whereas she heard it from Hubby first and foremost.  He’s also known me all my life and knows I wouldn’t live a certain way just to please a man.  I’d do it for me, for both of us, or not at all.

In my opinion, the only way we are going to help them grasp this is to keep living it and to keep representing ourselves as a solid couple and a solid family. The happier and healthier we look the more they will see that this is not something we rushed into and not something we do to fill voids in our lives.  We do this because it’s who we are, and in order to gain that acceptance from our families we need to be open with them about all of who we are.  I can’t tell my father I’m poly and not that I’m pansexual, because that means hiding my girlfriends.  The same goes for Hubby.  So far none of that has come up in the questions, but I know it’s only a matter of time, and when it does we will address it as we have everything else to this point.  Openly.  Honestly.  With love.

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