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.