I’ve been evolving my feelings about how and when to reveal that I’m not monogamous. My general principle has been to hold the information back, not because I want to hide it, but because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable. A corollary worry is that if I mention my open marriage, someone will think I’m hitting on them. I know this has happened a few times. However, as time goes by, I’m realizing that I’m overestimating three things:
- The extent to which the rest of the country’s (world’s?) attitudes mirror the ones I tended to encounter in Indiana.
- The extent to which people are uncomfortable with knowing about things that they disapprove of.
- The extent to which anyone cares even a little bit what I’m doing in my private life if they’re not involved.
That last one can’t be overemphasized. Folks in general really are just remarkably tolerant of whatever you’re doing, or at least whatever I’m doing. I’m aware that for various other people that’s not always the case.
For a long time now, I wasn’t telling anyone if I hadn’t known them for a while, and even then only if it came up in conversation. The latter is still important, it’s not like I blurt out that I sleep around to anyone I meet, but I’m relaxing on the former restriction. I’m not sure what the effects have been; I’m made many new friends in the meantime, but can’t be sure how many people were put off by knowing this about me.
I still try to avoid it in situations where I think it might come off as hitting on someone. I mean, unless I’m intending to do that, but frankly as I’ve discussed here before, it’s incredibly uncommon for me to approach someone in person, partly because of the difficulty in navigating that piece of information but mostly just because asking people out is super weird and I’ll take any excuse not to do it.
Now, for some time now most of the people I’ve been meeting have been in the slam poetry and alt lit communities, and it’s more than possible that those people are much more open to being around someone open/poly than the baseline. But some number of people I work with now know, both in and out of the office, just as a result of incidental conversations or, ah, seeing me out and about with, say, Ravaella.
It’s analogous in interesting ways to being bi, although obviously a lot less marginalized (yes, straight poly folks, it is). It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to talk about all the time but that I have to tell people or they won’t know. Having an invisible identity means doing that balancing act an awful lot, and mine aren’t even that invisible. Straight people don’t have to talk about how they’re straight, monogamous people don’t have to talk about how they’re monogamous. I guess I could publicly make out with guys more often, maybe, kill both birds at once.