Coming Out as Poly: Why It’s Hard to Tell Others
Polyamorous relationships are still considered to be a sexual/relationship minority. That can make it hard to come out to friends, family, or even someone you might want to date.
Because of the stereotypes surrounding poly individuals, it’s often hard for them to tell others out of fear that they will face rejection, fear, and even shame.
For many people, the idea of something other than monogamy is strange or frowned upon. The truth is that we make decisions about all of our relationship structures. This includes monogamous relationships. Although our society often views monogamy as “standard,” all consensual relationships can work. However the normalization of one relationship structure (monogamy) can make it hard to tell others because many still view non-monogamy as abnormal.
Explaining Polyamory to Others
One of the biggest reasons it’s so hard to come out as poly is because of those aforementioned stereotypes and opinions people have. More often than not, though, people form those opinions because they don’t understand polyamory.
Some people think you just want an excuse to have multiple sexual partners. (BTW, it’s fine to have multiple sexual partners if that’s what you want and it’s consensual). Others might think you need to have all of the control in a relationship. You’ve probably already heard several strange stereotypes about the lifestyle already—which, can lead to a fear of coming out.
Your version of being poly may be different from that of the people you know. You might have specific rules in place. Or, you might be happy in a triad, rather than having several additional partners.
What most people don’t understand about those in poly relationships is their capacity to love. It’s not necessarily about some primal desire to be with more than one person. It’s more about the ability to have that much love to give to multiple partners.
When you do tell others that you’re poly, you should expect that they’ll have questions. Some of those questions might be offensive or hurt you, as a person. That’s another reason why it’s hard to tell others about your relationship choice. It’s not easy to feel “attacked” or worry about someone else’s ignorance.
There will be genuine, sincere questions, too. While they may not always be comfortable for you to answer, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt.
Many people are just plain confused and want more information. The more information you’re able to give that to them from an honest and open perspective, the more polyamory can be accepted in the future. However, it’s also important to recognize that you don’t owe anyone information. Pay attention to what you feel comfortable sharing, but also recognize that it’s fine to say tell people that you don’t want to answer their questions.
Be kind to yourself and watch out for shame
Shame is critical when working towards coming out and self-acceptance. You’re doing nothing wrong by having a relationship with multiple people. However, it can be hard to remember that when others are reacting poorly. Remind yourself that shame is completely normal and identify people who are accepting and supportive while others are not. Practice self-kindness and treat yourself with respect through this process. It’s not easy, but with time you can find support, community, kindness, and love.