Q: How can you tell The Polyamorous Misanthrope has visited FWB?
A: She actually writes a damn article for once!
One of the significant problems, as I’ve mentioned more than once, about writing about polyamory is that the interesting stuff IS about problems. As Tolkien once wrote, “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”
I’m not trying to imply my life is perfect and my relationships are perfect, because that doesn’t exist. But good? Oh yes, very good.
The Prince was talking about this recently. He’s a comic book artist and was promoting his comic at a con (some of the characters are poly and some are not in the story), and was talking with some fellow artists. At one point in the conversation, they were discussing blanket hogging, and somehow my boyfriend in another state came up. Why, I do not know. He doesn’t steal blankets. But anyway, the subject came up, and he person The Prince was talking to commented, “Oh, you guys are poly.” Then, she went right on talking.
I love this. It was casual. No automatic assumption that The Prince was on the prowl and was going to try to get into someone’s pants. The conversation just went on.
I’d love to see a world where this is more usual. While The Prince and I are about as “out” as you can be without waving an actual flag, I do still wince when I find myself stumbling over myself when asked in the office, “What are you going to be doing this weekend?”
Which is absurd, of course. It’s no secret at all. My direct supervisor not only knows I’m poly, but knows my ex-spouses, and we originally met because he was friends with a former boyfriend. His boss’ boss knows I lived in a group marriage. This blog is on my damn’ resume!
And still, I choke. I’m a little afraid. Not a lot, but enough to make me hesitate to name the relationship, and use the word “friends” instead of something more exact when I say I am going on a trip to visit someone.
I’m not afraid of losing my job, obviously. (Wouldn’t that be a hilarious legal can of worms? You wanna fire me for being poly? Well, it was on my resume, so as far as due diligence, I think that’s on you, cupcake). I am afraid of assumptions. I’m afraid people would assume I’m after their spouses. I’m afraid of assumption of availability that just plain doesn’t exist in ANY office environment for me. (No matter how hot someone I am working with is. Strict rule. Even stricter when I am HIS supervisor.)
And even when everyone behaves themselves (which in justice, my co-workers do), I am concerned it’s the possible Awkward Tension that would just be a complication where I don’t want one.
I feel kind of guilty about it. In terms of low risk for being out and poly, I’m it. My kids are grown, I’m out to my extended family, I’m not at risk of losing my job about it and I live in about as sexually relaxed area of the country as is possible without actually being able to see the Golden Gate Bridge. So as a poly writer, if not full activist, I kind of feel like I am falling down on the job here for you guys. So many of you, for various reasons, would find it dangerous to be out. I know darn well seeing some rather average middle-aged woman doing her thing and being poly openly does help with the normalization process in people’s minds. Which, in turn, helps make it safer for others to do the same.
On the other hand, I’ve been to parties where all anyone wants to do is do the Poly Display, and it gets tedious. God knows I don’t want to do it in an office. I’m poly, but I’m also a swimmer, a knitter, a writer, a mother, a gamer, a cook, a teacher, a seamstress <hem!> <hem!> and other things. I’m a whole person, and while yes, poly is a big part of my life, it’s not the sole focus.
Which is probably why I choke a little. Poly isn’t well-known enough that I can drop, “This weekend? I’m going down to visit my boyfriend and his family.” like I can “This weekend? I downloaded this game I’m going to play ALL weekend, and probably knit a sock.”
I wanna disclose without explaining. And the reality, we ain’t there yet.