Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



December 19, 2015

Poly holiday issues, strategies, advice


It's that time of year when family-of-origin problems, and also chosen-family problems, that were quietly sleeping may awake.

Should you come out to your relatives? You don't have to, so think carefully. Is it possible they'll disinherit you? Might they go to court to declare you unfit parents and get custody of your children? It happens. In any case, the big traditional family gathering is almost certainly not the time and place.

Other issues may bubble up within your own intimate group.

● If you do decide to come out to parents, aunts and uncles, Ginny Brown at Everyday Feminism offers well-considered responses to 7 Questions to Brace Yourself For When You Explain Polyamory to Your Family (Nov. 10, 2015). Worth memorizing.


My metamour has the best coming-out-polyamorous story.

She and her family were out for brunch; our shared partner and I were on a date to celebrate six months of dating. They were stopped at a stop sign, when my partner and I obliviously crossed the street right in front of them.

Inside the car, my metamour’s mom said, “Isn’t that [Partner]? Who’s that holding his hand?”

My metamour burst out into only-slightly-hysterical laughter, gave them the one-sentence definition of polyamory, and then said she didn’t want to talk about it any more right then. Later that day, she sent them an e-mail explaining polyamory in more detail, telling them her own history, and telling them who I was....

One difference between coming out as polyamorous and coming out as queer is that families are less likely to be familiar with what that means, for them and for you. That means they may have a lot of questions.

Be prepared to do some explaining, defining, and answering.... Thinking through how you’d respond to each of these may help you prepare for the conversation:

1. ‘Aren’t You Being Exploited? / Aren’t You Exploiting Your Partner?’...

2. ‘Isn’t This Immoral and Wrong?’...

3. ‘But What About Our Grandchildren?’...

4. ‘Do We Have to Meet Your Other Partners?’...

5. ‘Is This Just About Sex and Perversion?’...

6. ‘When Will You Grow Out of It?’...

7. ‘How Will I Explain This to [extended family, co-workers, whoever else]?’....



● By Billy Holder, a very out poly-community organizer in Atlanta: Here come holidays, here comes family…. UGH! (Oct. 20, 2015).


I get asked every year many times over, “How do I tell my family that I am poly?” and “Should I come out at family holiday gatherings?”

The answer to the second one is an easy one for me…. No. There is so much stress and so many opinions at holiday dinners that most families won’t have the emotional reserves to process all the information they will need to to fully accept you for who you are. So standing up and making this huge announcement, admirable as your intentions may be, can backfire and be a horrid disaster.

I suggest that IF you want to tell your family that you are poly, you follow these few steps. And do it well before or a few days after the holiday gathering.

Step 1. Gather information that will help each family member relate to you and not to your relationship. Include things that they know you hold as core values. Be it family, kids, self acceptance, whatever defines you as a person in their eyes, focus on that in your discussion. Have flyers, definitions and sources of scientific research and mainstream media articles and maybe even videos available to share... just have it available to leave with them.

Step 2. Know what you are talking about.... Note cards or sticky notes or draw it on a white board, whatever can help you say focused and on point.

Step 3. Start with the most accepting family member first....

Step 4. Never start with, “Family Member, I know you love me/support me, but I need to talk to you.” This can immediately put whoever you are talking to into a mindset that you have done something they will not approve of. Instead try, “Family Member, I have something new in my life I would like to share with you.” And IF they are open to hearing about it… that’s when you can set up the rules of the conversation.

Step 5. Setting conversational boundaries.... Like, “The thing I am going to tell you is a personal decision. I will be open to any questions but please let me finish first.” Most people are actually willing to do this.

Step 6. Start talking. “I’m Polyamorous” can be sort of a shock/stinging moment for most people who are unfamiliar with the concept. Try a softer approach....

Step 7. You can explain a little of how your dynamic works, dating, time sharing, coping with jealousy, whatever you want to share about your relationship.

Step 8. Q&A... If they ask a question that is off the table (”What about Sex? DO you sleep with both of them?”), politely remind them that that is outside the scope of the conversation.

There will be some tough questions. If you have children, they will ask about the interaction with the kids....

If they are unaccepting and want to bash your choice, you have every right to get up and walk away. You don’t need to argue with them … leave the resources on the table and tell them “thank you for your time… This is my decision. If you have any questions Ill be happy to talk.” The politely walk away.

Step 9. Remind them that you aren’t trying to convert anyone nor are you judging monogamy, that this is your decision to manage your life.

...When we came out to our family, we didn’t have the choice to wait. My father-in-law had passed away and our partner, J, then of 2 years, insisted that he was coming to the funeral. We had to talk to my mother-in-law the day before she laid her husband of 30 years to rest….. Luckily her response was positive. And J was accepted as part of the family. The family even asked him to participate in the flag ceremony.



● Jessica Burde offers three approaches at Polyamory on Purpose: Explaining Polyamory: The Conversation (Oct. 2, 2014):


Lead in...
Oblique approach...
Straightforward bluntness...



● Also by Burde, Four Holiday Tips (Sept. 28, 2014).


Host the Party Yourself...
Rotate Holidays...
Each Visit Your Own Family...
Create Your Own Thing...



● Suppose you're a secondary and you choose, or have to put up with, social erasure? Noël Figart, the Polyamorous Misanthrope, presents Polyamorous holidays: When you’re the secondary (Dec. 3, 2015).


My only current partner is married, and also lives very close to his biological family, whom he is also very close to emotionally. He’s told at least his mother that he’s dating someone, but she has essentially bent over backwards to ignore our relationship. Although we don’t subscribe to an emotional hierarchy, there’s still the functional/social hierarchy of him living with her, being accepted by his family, etc., and holidays really seem to heighten that glitch in the matrix.... I’d like to know how other people have dealt with similar feelings of being the Invisible Partner during a very rough part of the year to be alone.


...One of the problems with polyamory is that in general they are very much “roll your own” relationships, which means that while we’re reared to specific social expectations, the realities of our relationships often don’t follow that social expectation.

In my perfect world, families of origin would be accepting of the people who are close to their members and welcome them into family celebrations. I’m sorry that it doesn’t work that way all the time. It hurts like crazy.

That doesn’t mean you’re totally helpless in the face of the situation, though.

Let’s break this down in terms of relationship skill sets. I’m sure you’ve run across the idea before that it’s important to ask for what you want....



● On the Oklahoma Polyamory Network, Holiday Headaches (Nov. 14, 2014).


I met and fell in love with a wonderful guy, his wife is becoming a great friend, and as the holidays approach, I feel like celebrating. Problem is, holidays are full of traditions, and family, and as a secondary partner, I’m sort of the outsider, not sure what it’s fair to ask for, but don’t want to spend the holidays alone. Help?

—Hope4Holidays


Dear Hope,

...All partners have rights, and the desire to celebrate with those you love is a valid and important issue to address.

Of course, my first suggestion is communication, with your partner and if possible, with your metamour. Share your thoughts about being included in celebrations, and your hopes for a solution that works for everyone....

In my traditional family, we have four Christmas celebrations, my children bring the grandkids for an overnight in mid-December, and we have “1st Christmas”, just the thirteen of us. On Christmas Eve, we celebrate “2nd Christmas” with my in-laws, on Christmas Day, “3rd Christmas” with my mom, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins, and on the day or weekend after Christmas, “4th Christmas” with my Dad and his family.

This year, we’ll host an additional Christmas celebration, with our current poly-partners. Though that new event is still in the planning stages, we will likely make it simple, but meaningful, with dinner and gifts, maybe a show.

It’s as important to be flexible as it is to speak up and ask for the inclusion....



● Is it really a holiday if you're obliged? From Maria Padilha on Planet Waves, How Not To Take a Polyamorous Vacation (May 24, 2014).


...With the bit of time left, I made a bold declaration to Issac:

“I have been working since I was 14. I have worked when I was bleeding from miscarriages, I have worked 30-hour-straight shifts, I have worked when I was grieving, sick, broke....

“From now on, when I have a vacation, it is going to be a vacation. It is not going to be an obligation. It is not going to involve seeing anyone I don’t want to see or staying with anyone I wouldn’t choose to or who I’m not comfortable with. I don’t care how nice their house is or what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. If I don’t want to go, I won’t go. I deserve to have a true vacation or no vacation at all.”

Like most of my bold declarations, it had little chance of becoming reality, but I have a crumb of belief that intention matters....



● On a happier note, on Auntie Bellum.com ("an honest, unapologetic voice for Southern women"): A Southern Baptist Polyamorous Thanksgiving (Nov. 25, 2015).


I’m a bisexual, progressive, southern, agnostic, feminist who comes from a long line of baptist ministers. My parents were both ministers throughout my childhood; my dad’s brother remains the pastor of one of the biggest and oldest baptist churches in Richmond, Virginia.... I grew up in a family that seemed about as baptist as they come — except for that one polyamorous Unitarian cousin and his queer partners....

...Kathy and Greg had another partner, Barbara. I remember my mom trying to work out in her head what that meant in terms of Kathy’s sexuality — ”Wait. So is Kathy a lesbian? But I liked her so much.”... But on that Thanksgiving day, my very Baptist, very traditional, very straight (and occasionally homophobic) family broke bread with our polyamorous cousin and his probably-queer partner....



● And as she often does, Kimchi Cuddles has a happy, perfectly logical solution — in this case, to secondary-stranding:

Full-size original.

Lots & lots more poly-and-the-holidays stuff.

● And it wouldn't be Christmas without another reprise of....


Anne Hunter and partners, of PolyVic in Australia, made this Christmas classic in 2007.



Happy hols!

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