Poly Holidays and the Difficulty of Telling Half-Truths

Around the holidays, you tend to get a spike of interest in your family, spurred by that oh-so-popular “what are you doing for Christmas?” question (regardless of your actual religion, I’m guessing the question gets asked).  I find this frustrating because in choosing to only be selectively out about my polyamorous status, it means that I necessarily get stuck telling some lies, and I’m a big truth-teller.  In fact, just being in two relationships has put me very out of synch with my values in some areas, which is uncomfortable.  But the alternative is, of course, being completely open and risking losing job, friends, family, and livelihood.  So I’ll deal with the forced dishonesty.

My coworkers know about Miss H because I told them about “my girlfriend” before Miss A and I were dating.  Most of them know about Miss A as a friend, though it seems like every semester I end up confiding in one intern (the chosen poly truth hearer, ha!)  Telling them about Miss H ends up being a little bit complicated, though, because she has kids, and as was bound to happen eventually, I got hit with the divorce question.  And I stuttered for a moment, since I hadn’t come up with a response to that one in advance, and ended up saying yes.  And it felt awful. Miss H’s husband is awesome, for one thing, and for two, I just don’t like lying. And now, around the holidays, it gets even more complicated, because everyone views Miss H as a single mom and can’t figure out why we wouldn’t be seeing each other, blah blah blah. And when I do get to see Miss A, I can’t be publicly excited about it.  And thus end up feeling, basically, like a rotten person.

So if you’re poly and not fully out, how do you deal with questions like these?  Lie?  Try to tell the truth without telling the truth?  Use the whole “I’m a private person” line?

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

The Downside of Poly Community Online

I’ve been thinking about how the Internet affects poly relationships in anticipation of my panel at Momentum in April, and one thing that strikes me on the negative side is that as more poly people meet their partners online, it makes the idea of poly community, or poly family, much more difficult.  When you meet your partners online, of course, you have the benefit of some degree of anonymity, safety, and openness about poly, as well as a lot more people to choose from.  If you’re not out in meatspace, it’s hard to find poly people to date unless you go to specific poly gatherings that may not be your style.

The downside, though, is that although it’s certainly possible to build community online, it’s also hard to build poly families when everyone lives thousands of miles away.  I have a little group of friends–my girlfriends, plus my girlfriend’s girlfriend, who is friends with all of us–that’s almost like a little family in that we spend lots of time together chatting, we have all these intersecting relationships, etc.  But I find it highly frustrating in some senses, because the idea of poly family does really appeal to me.  I hear about people who live in houses where everyone’s queer/poly/kinky, or just where everyone lives in the same neighborhood, and it seems so unfair that the people I care most about live in different parts of the country.

I wonder if, to some extent, that poly community/poly family model is becoming less common as people meet online, or if it’s just more common for people to move long distances to make that happen.  Either way, it seems like a certain amount of uprooting has to be involved.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.