Possibly Coming Out as Polyamorous – An Open Letter to the Folks

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Possibly Coming Out as Polyamorous - An Open Letter to the FolksMy name is Zoe Hanis and I lie. Not only do I lie, but I have become excellent at it over the years.

Polyamory is just now starting to become more well known.  Within the last year or two, it has been in the media more than ever before.  But it is still far from normal.

After growing up in a religious conservative household where much seemed to be determined on how it would be perceived by others, one should not be surprised that I hide our lifestyle from my family.  Some might even say that it is kinder to allow them to believe that we are mainstream. Perhaps kinder for them, but becoming ever increasingly harder for me. To me, open and honest communication is paramount, so this lying (both outwardly and by omission) hurts.

When my children spent time this past summer with my parents, Hubby and I were so sure that we would be outed.  In fact, I think that we were secretly hoping that the kids would say something so that the truth would be known.  But they did not.  And I think, in all honesty, that it is unfair of us to put the children in a situation like that.  They did not choose this lifestyle, nor did they choose to keep it a secret from possible disapproval.

Recently I sat down and wrote a “coming out” letter.  The letter (with names replaced with titles) is as follows:

There is something that we feel it is time to share.  Perhaps we should have told you sometime in the last four years, but it never seemed overly important that you know.  Perhaps you could see it as a lie by omission, though we saw it as our business and ours alone; basically following in the great logic of: what you don't know, won't hurt our relationship.

But it has become more to the forefront with the kids getting older, with current events in the social policies in this country and with feeling like I must actively lie instead of just omit certain details.  So we have decided that it is time that you knew.  What you choose to do with this knowledge is up to you, though we are the same people that we were before you read this.

Hubby and I believe that one person can not be everything that another wants, needs and desires. It is unfair to expect that from a spouse and there is no reason to go without getting one's needs met. To that end, we are polyamorous.  What this means is that we practice an ethical style of committed non-monogamy.  We believe in open and honest communication between us, the kids and our partner(s).  We have grown to love and accept others into our family.

After 3 yrs of dating, Hubby and his girlfriend have recently signed a contractual relationship agreement.  While it is not a legal document, as plural marriage is not legal in the United States at this time,  it is, in our eyes, binding.  We have welcomed her into our family as his significant other and as daughter put it “she is like my step mom but my parents are still married.”  Since it is impractical for her to live here (for many reasons), Hubby spends many weekends in the city.

After last year’s breakup with “my ex ltr”, I have dated several different people. I am tired of trying to come up with excuses as to how I know these people or who they are, when the questions arise from pictures on facebook or conversations.

There are some main things that people tend to ask when a couple comes out as poly, so I thought I would address these.

1. Why stay married?
answer: We both still love each other deeply.  We are each others best friend.  We want to raise the kids together. We want to grow old together.  Basically the same reasons that most people stay married.

2. What about the children?
answer: The children are our primary focus.  We think that there is nothing wrong with them growing up in a stable loving environment.  Yes, they know that daddy has a girlfriend or mommy has a boyfriend.  But they see nothing wrong with that. If anything, they have more love and more adult role models than most children do. And as you can see from having them visit you the past couple of summers, they are well behaved and well adjusted.

3. Don't you get jealous?
answer: Jealousy is a fact of life.  However, it is not a debilitating emotion. It is battled best by being secure within ones relationship.  So as long as we continue to openly and honestly communicate, jealousy is not a factor.

4. Are you happy?
answer:  Yes.  We have been happier practicing polyamory than we ever were trying to fit into society's rigid structure of a monogamous relationship.

We understand that this may come as a surprise, and that you may have many more questions which I haven’t addressed here. We’d be happy to help you understand more about polyamory in general and our arrangement in specific, if that’s what you’d like. We’ll also understand if this is something that you will need time to process.

With Love,

Zoe & Hubby

 

Hubby said it was well written and  had nothing to add.  Though he has asked me not to send it yet, citing that this is not a good time.  Our respective sets of parents are going through a lot currently dealing with health issues and he said that they don't need more to worry about.  While I agree in theory, I also think that there will never be a “right time.”  But we will wait another month, perhaps by then things will have calmed down.  After all I have waited four years, another 30 days can't hurt.

 

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Zoe first described herself as "bad at monogamy" until about five years ago when she and her husband discovered the term that actually described her: polyamorous. Since then they have opened their family to other partners. Zoe is currently juggling relationships with her husband, their two kids, her husband's girlfriend, and a slew of friends/loves that she calls her tribal poly family. She can be reached on facebook or on twitter @ZoeHanis

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    THANK YOU!

    I recently discovered the word polyamory and it COMPLETELY describes me. My wife, unfortunately, is NOT keen on it. I’m hoping letters like these will help. And our many discussions – especially over the last year or so.
    Again, thank you.
    It took me very little time to understand that I was NOT looking for ‘affairs’, but I really wanted to love the ‘other’ woman and be loved by her. AND I am hoping my wife will learn to enjoy being loved by more than 1 man. I just didn’t know that there were others like me and there was a word for it!

    Hope your coming out as a polyamorous relationship goes much smoother than you expect. But more importantly, it makes you & your family much more authentic than it feels already.
    Best of luck!
    M R

  2. Avatar

    I love this letter so much. One day I hope we can come out to our families, but DH does not want to for fear of judgement. I hope everything works out for you!

  3. Avatar

    We never had the chance to explain/discuss our relationship’s “extra” people with my Mom and, though I’m sure she figured something was going on, now I’ll never have the chance. She died of cancer a year ago last August. I wish I’d had the courage to come out to her as I know she would have accepted me the way she always did, with kindness, a little bemusement and great interest. Polyamory has been very good for me and my husband. I adore his girl friend and she loves me, too. We love her husband and he loves us, too! We love their other, even more committed partners, too! Honestly, all this love and honesty and kindness and connectedness is pretty darn wonderful… I am so happy that this way of relating exists. My husband and I have always had an extraordinarily good relationship but this just made everything even better. SO much better than all that dishonesty, jealousy, angst and suffering I experienced in my past relationships… And it’s wonderful not to lie anymore. Honesty really is the very best policy.
    Thanks for sharing your letter- I think it’s beautifully written. I sincerely hope your folks are able to accept you and work through any issues they might have. Good luck!

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    So much hope wrapped up in this letter. Congratulations on putting it out there. Honesty. Integrity. It’s got to count for something, doesn’t it??

    With admiration and support,
    S xo

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