"Please Don't"

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I have a friend who is in the process of coming out as poly to her family.  This is a brave, brave thing to do.
However, the initial reactions have been so traditional that I feel like I’m watching a script from a movie – “This isn’t a good time to stress out people with this sort of thing.”  (Hint: It never will be.)  “Will they be at the family gatherings?” (Please don’t bring them.)  “Can’t you just talk about this later?”
Gay or straight or poly or kinky, here’s the underlying tone to these types of familial responses to “I want to tell you about the person(s) I love”:
This isn’t a real relationship.  So it should be easy for you to act as though it doesn’t exist.
You see this type of response all the time, whether it’s that they’re embarrassed that you have a gay lover or they’re embarrassed that you have a low-class husband or they’re embarrassed that you have another partner on top of your current partner.
But the real motivation behind almost all of these responses is this: the person you’re dating is so unworthy of our respect that deep down, even you must know that you’re just fooling around to piss us off.  Stop grabbing for attention and find someone who you’re serious about, and then we’ll let you sit down with the big kids.
The reaction to this sort of thing is inevitably family guilt – your grandmother is in fragile health, your dad is stressed about his job, your sister’s about to have a baby.  Why are you bringing this up now?  And it’s quite natural to feel that terror of Oh my God I’m bothering people let’s wait let’s wait.
It can help, however, to think about what they’re really asking you to acknowledge. Look at your partner. Look inside your heart. Take their hand, and feel that joy when you realize you’re linked with them.
Does that feel fake?  Does that feel any less real than the relationships they’re in right now? Can you look your partner in the eye, those beautiful eyes, and tell them that what you have isn’t as worthy as the “officially” sanctioned partnerships of your family?
If you can’t, then maybe it’s time to look at what your family’s really trying to sell you on.  And to deny that.

2 Comments

  1. Naamah
    Aug 10, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more. Especially with the “it never will be a good time” bit. I have little else to offer, except my support and heartfelt best wishes to anyone trying to weather this sort of interaction.

  2. 78Amy
    Aug 10, 2011

    “they’re embarrassed that you have another partner on top of your current partner”
    I probably shouldn’t be snickering like a 12 year old boy, but I am.

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