Categories
Family Polyamory

Navigating Family Gatherings When You’re Not Out

Family gatherings can be difficult to navigate no matter the season. The holidays don’t make them any more or less tricky, despite what we may think. The trickiness comes from the sheer number of gatherings that happen during that time. For 2 months, we get pulled in all directions to spend time with family and friends. Add in a partner, and you have doubled those numbers. Add in multiple partners and… Well, thank goodness for Google Calendar and planners.

If you’re polyamorous, and open about it with everyone, then these family gatherings are easier to deal with. Everyone will assume you’ll either bring multiple partners or trade off, depending on schedules and personalities. If you’re polyamorous and not open about it, you have got your hands full!

Who knows about which partner? Who has met which partner? Are you open with some, and not others? Did Aunt Betty spill the beans to Grandma about your “unique” relationship? Will Grandpa Joe spill the beans to everyone over Christmas dinner because someone poured him one too many cups of the eggnog?

And let’s not forget the effect this can all have on your partners. If, like me, you started your polyamorous journey from an  already established relationship, where family members know your main or primary partner, then your other partners can feel left out. Or like the dirty little secret that you are keeping from your family. And nobody wants that.

Family Gathering Negotiations

So how do we navigate all of the trickiness that comes with multiple partners and family gatherings? Carefully, and with a lot of communication.

The best place to start is to sit down with your partners. If you can do this all together, at one sit down, even better! If schedules don’t allow for it, don’t sweat it. But make sure no big decisions are made until everyone is on the same page and on board.

Then, it’s time to go through the calendar, event by event. Include their family gatherings too. This is a group project, after all. But not the dumb kind from school where only one person did the work. Everyone is pulling their fair share of figuring out how to maneuver through the holidays together.

Important things to ask each other

  1. Who is out about being polyamorous? And are they out with everyone, or just a select few?
  2. Assuming most are not out, which partner has the family already met? And is that partner available to attend those events? And do they want to? Sometimes the answer is no, and that is okay. No one said we have to get along with everyone all the time.
  3. Are the partners that will be staying home for those events okay with how the evening will go? Are they invited to attend as a friend? Or would they rather just sit this one out? This is going to depend on that individual. Some are not okay just being introduced as a friend when the relationship is so much deeper and more intimate than that. And others are okay with it, so long as they get to spend time with their people.

Family Gatherings: Out or Not Out?

A big thing to remember during all of the negotiating is to not pressure anyone to come out to their family. Don’t push that door open for someone who is just not ready. No matter their reason for keeping that part of themselves private. It is up to them to decide if, when, and how to share that information with other people. If you are already out, I’m sure this can be frustrating at times. As one who is still in the closet to some, I can tell you it is frustrating on this side too sometimes. So please be patient with us.

Holiday gatherings can add another layer of stress to an already stressful season for some. Just remember, it’s also supposed to be one of the happiest seasons. If you find yourself stressed about navigating gatherings, then it’s perfectly okay to just stay in. And this year has given everyone the absolute perfect excuse to skip the big family gatherings, so feel free to take advantage of it! But if you want to go out and (safely!) spend time during the holidays with family, remember to communicate with everyone in your polycule beforehand. Ask questions. Be ready to hear their answers.

I hope you all enjoy your holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate. And enjoy the people you get to spend them with.

Categories
Family Polyamory

Practicing Polyamory Our Way: A Conversation with Lovey

In an effort to better introduce you all to my world, I thought it would be fun to interview my people about polyamory. Because we all came into this a little differently. And we certainly all approach it differently. I also thought it would be great for you guys to hear their voices in this. So here is the first in this mini series! I hope you enjoy it!

What drew you to polyamory?

The idea of being able to embrace all the different aspects of who I wanted to be.

What was the biggest deterrent?

I didn’t know how I was going to handle jealousy and the sharing and lack of ownership… all of that.

What did you struggle with?

I’d say my biggest struggle was with compersion. When you and Boyfriend first started dating I had to figure out how to just be happy and not worry about if I was going to lose something or whatever.

How often does jealousy come up?

After the first couple months, it really hasn’t been an issue for me.

Is he not the cutest? At this point you may be thinking, yeah right. Jealousy isn’t an issue? But I can honestly attest to the fact that it really isn’t. Even prior to our foray into polyamory. He is unique to other guys in that way. Part of why I love him so!

How do you handle or work through those jealous feelings?

I tried my best not to overthink things, and the more you went out and came back the more that everything was okay, it just helped reassure and quiet all of those voices. Meeting Boyfriend and having that meeting go good super helped.

What makes each of your partners special?

My main partner, my person, we have history, we understand each other, we’re comfortable together. I don’t know, there’s just so much to that answer. Bats is new. It’s exciting. They are very attentive. It’s a very different relationship. And we, our friendship has really grown and like the things we talk about. And I really enjoy both the conversation with both of my partners. The conversations are like similar but they”re still different. And it’s nice.

What is the most rewarding thing about polyamory?

The most rewarding thing has been being able to go out on dates and not have like any sexual pressure. I don’t feel like I have to go out and I’m not chasing women or chasing sex or like attention or acceptance. Being able to date without a lot of that pressure, it’s been nice. Being able to explore different things, go out, do tennis or hiking or playing pool or whatever. It is having that time when my person isn’t up to it, you know that’s nice. We don’t have to worry about jealousy. The conversation has been beautiful because… Its definitely been a strange experience learning how to live openly and honestly. But its been pretty rewarding.

What is the most common question/reaction you get about practicing polyamory?

A lot of it has to do with the dynamics. Like how the sex works, and jealousy, and how we figure that stuff out, do that stuff without everybody fighting or getting possessive. It’s hard for them to wrap their head around or something.

Yes! Everyone always assumes there are crazy orgies happening all the time! Which is actually very far being true, in most polyamorous relationships. Another popular assumption is that we are all greedy and yet also possessed with this ridiculous amount of jealousy. So much so that it has become a running joke for those practicing polyamory.

How did you and Bats meet?

I met them on one of the poly groups and she did an intro post and I said hi. I did an intro post, they said hi. I asked her if I could private message, she said yes, so we talked back and forth. I asked her if we could get together and she kind of brushed me off, said she wasn’t ready to meet yet and wanted to get to know me, and then just nothing ever happened with it. And then a month or two months after that we actually matched on a dating site and I asked so when do I get to take you out? And she said oh, I didn’t know you were interested. Oh really? Cause I asked you out like 2 months ago.

And that’s how we started talking.

What is one thing that has surprised you about polyamory?

How okay this feels. It was weird at first talking about dating somebody else or talking about hey that chick looks cute. Or I talk to somebody and they seem interested. It’s weird. Yeah, it’s just very against the norm. We were very mono. We were brainwashed into thinking monogamy was the only way.

How do you wish TV/the media/movies would better represent polyamorous people and polyamorous relationships?

I kind of wish there was more… less toxic monogamy traits. And it’d be nice to see more poly in the media, different groups, differing… different combinations. You know, it doesn’t always have to be a guy and two girls. Or whatever. There’s definitely a lot of different ways to poly. So I’d like to see more of that. But really I’ll settle for less toxic monogamy.

Are you open about practicing polyamory? And how did that go?

To everybody except my parents.

When we went poly I was actually in the middle of a job change. So when I started my new job I just started as poly. They asked and I was like yeah we’re open. And that’s kind of been my story ever since to everybody. To new friends. To old friends.

What has polyamory taught you about love?

Poly has taught me that love doesn’t have to have, doesn’t have to live in a cage. I mean, boundaries… personal boundaries are healthy for love, for your love, for all of that stuff. But love doesn’t have to die, or completely dissolve, or change just because the relationship with someone changes. And it doesn’t disappear after you’ve loved one person. It’s taught me that I don’t have to be possessive. That if the love is really there I don’t have to fight for it, I don’t have to beg for it, I… it’s there you know. So it’s given me a deeper understanding of what true love really is.

What do you think is important in keeping a polyamorous relationship healthy?

Lots and lots of over communication. And enthusiastic consent on things. You gotta pay attention and learn your partner. Pay attention to your partner. You gotta do more. You gotta step up your game. Like this is not easy, it’s not all about the sex, it just doesn’t come natural. You really gotta work at it. You know, you gotta step up your game and be more of an active player in the relationship.

What do you think about our dynamic?

I kinda like our dynamic. It’s a little more go with the flow. You don’t like change which is really weird because we’re kind of letting our relationship evolve as we go, and I know we both want kitchen table and we’d like to add someone to the group but I don’t know. we’re kind of letting that evolve as we go. I like our dynamic. It works for me. And anytime we come across hiccups we talk about it and figure out ways around. The compromise has been really good. I like it.

How do you keep from over venting/sharing about 1 partner to another?

I don’t really vent about you to really anybody except for S. S is my vent to person. So like whenever we’re… I don’t know… mad at each other or I’m frustrated I go to my vent to person. I don’t complain about you to Bats. If we’re having issues or we’re upset I might tell them but I try to keep the specifics out of it. Me and Bats don’t really talk about my and your relationship. Our conversations tend to be about our relationship and stuff. When there’s things that are going on then they might hear the cliff’s notes version but that’s about as far as I really go.

Were the kids a part of the decision to start dating? How did they affect that?

They were totally a factor in the decision and stuff. First thoughts were you know well how does this affect them. How can it negatively affect them. What kind of message does this send to them about relationships and stuff. Part of the reason we decided to go poly was because we wanted a healthy relationship. Certainly one that was much healthier than we had when we were monogamous and married and all of that. So you know we wanted to… I wanted the chance to show them what a healthy relationship could be, a happy relationship could be. And poly it gave us that chance.

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