Out as Polyamorous – The Family Responds


Out as Polyamorous - The Family RespondsMy name is Zoe Hanis. I am polyamorous and my parents know.

Earlier this week, I sent the letter to my parents and my in-laws. The email went out first thing in the morning; and the wait began.

My parents were the first to respond. I found this interesting because they were the ones that we were most worried about. Their email reply was simple:

We are not surprised. Although it is not our way of life, we accept it for you as we accept homosexuality in this day and age. We still love you both.

Love, Mom & Dad

A quick and short response – it made me nervous; compounded with the fact that when I spoke with mom (via phone) later in the day, she did not mention it. But I suppose it doesn't matter if they don't want more information or simply ignore the topic; what is important is that I no longer have to lie.

Hubby's mom didn't respond until the next day. We figured that she either hadn't checked her email or was forming a thoughtful response. Turns out that is was the latter. Her email said:

OK! tell me something I had not already guessed and would have bet money on.

It is your life and I hope you live it as happy and as conflict free as possible. You may live however it suits you, I do not feel the obligation to object or approve. As you say you are still the same people we love. And I won't point out the pitfalls of the course you have chosen, I am sure you have discussed them to death. So I can only say Good Luck.
Having said all that I will only add: negative impacts to/on MY Grandchildren do not make me a happy camper. So, I guess the onus is on you to keep it in some semblance of order until they are not dependent  on you. (money needs don't count) They are happy and well adjusted delightful children (as much as Kids can be) the “danger” time is not now— but in a couple of years when the time of comparisons and looking around happens.
Just an FYI  — We have shared this with Hubby's Brother and he is big time supporter of your choices.
I don't know what your folks reaction is but I thought I would share this for what it is worth.
So take care, be well and keep in touch.

Hubby read her reply before I did. Then texted me and his girlfriend to say that since his family is supportive, he no longer cares who knows. I told him I wouldn't go that far – I am not ready to tell the other PTO moms.

And then…  My sister put her two cents worth in.

Well, [ the husband] and I can't say that we are surprised. Judging by both of your behavior in the past several years, as well as Facebook pics, we could tell this might be the case. It is between the two of you how you want to live your lives and how you treat your marriage. I do not feel that it would EVER be the way in our lives.  

I fear for my niece and nephew. It is not healthy for them and wonder how, as they grow up, they will feel about it. I would not like my kids to be subject to it, nor will we acknowledge that their aunt and uncle have “other partners”. It will not be something that they are privy to.  

You both have always been ones that are outside the box on many things. Therefore, really no need to be any different towards you.

Huh. Her response was the one that I had expected from my parents. I thought it would hurt, but it just angers me. The idea that she knows better than I, what is “healthy” for my children is insulting. I guess that I can understand not telling her children about us, but I will be curious as to what happens when my children mention it or when we bring an “other partner” to visit. I had never expected my sister to be so judgmental and close-minded. Well I guess she won't be raising the kids if something happens to Hubby and I.

So our secret is out. We no longer have to hide from those closest to us either by friendship or blood. It is true that in coming out you find out who unconditionally loves you. In this case it is Hubby's family and my folks. My sister (and her family) will either come around or not. But in the end it doesn't really matter because we can finally live and love the way we wish with open and honest communication. And that is such a wonderful feeling.



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


  1. Think about the children! Even if y’all as a family demand your children follow your non-monogamous footsteps I see it no different than a child being forced to go to church and practice the parents religion, which is regretfully totally acceptable in our culture.

    IMO poly is not a thing that people should feel the need to ‘come out’ regarding. If you make a big deal out of it it becomes a big deal. I don’t need to come out as a star wars fan, or a redditor, or any other detail in my life. I just refuse to hide it for anyone. When it comes up in conversation I’m honest. I was in an ‘open relationship’ on facebook. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to post that or whether they approved.

  2. TheOtherProfessor on

    You, of course, know your sister, but I wouldn’t read her message as negatively as you seem to be. Remember, “but…what about the children?!?!” can often be translated as “ewwww…this squicks me out!” Just like coming out of the closet as gay requires some patience with one’s parents as they process the information, you may just have to give your sister a wide berth for a little bit while she gets used to the idea. She may never come to the point where she thinks as being poly as being morally and/or socially equivalent to being monogamous, but I’d guess she won’t be actively judgemental in a way that affects your relationship. And if not, what are you going to do? My brother decided I wasn’t worth having in his life because I kidded him about his hair weave. You just can’t control (or even predict) how other people are going to feel or react.

  3. It’s great to hear that your family was so accepting. I hope your sister comes around in time. For what it’s worth (and sadly folks who say things like that rarely seem to respond to logic) there is a good sized body of research on children in non-monogamous and poly families, and no one has ever found any problems (other the problems that all families can have.)

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