This is something that has come up in my own life several times, and from comments on this blog and conversations I’ve had, seems to be an issue for others, as well.
I have been told on multiple occasions, by various people, that it’s fine with them if I insist on practicing polyamory…. as long as I don’t talk about it.
‘People don’t want to know!’ they cry. ‘What happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom!’
Um, forgive me, but weren’t people saying something very similar about gays and lesbians not too long ago?
What people don’t seem to understand is that it’s not simply about what happens in the bedroom. Yes, absolutely, the intricacies of my sex life are between me and the people I’m involved with, and I’m generally not interested in sharing it with anybody else. But being polyamorous isn’t about what I’m doing or not doing in bed – it’s an entire lifestyle, how I choose to live, who I love, and a very fundamental and important part of me. I want to be able to openly talk about my partners in the plural, to mention my metamours or my tribe or my polyamorous communities. This isn’t forcing unwanted details of my sex life on people. This is doing what everybody else gets to do on a daily basis. Talking about the important people in my life.
I don’t get uncomfortable if somebody else talks about their husband or wife. I don’t suggest they’re cramming their views on marriage and monogamy down my throat. And yet if I mention my partners or allude to polyamory in any way, suddenly I’m pushing a lifestyle onto others and talking about a subject which makes them deeply uncomfortable.
What I don’t understand is why it makes them so uncomfortable. I’d understand it if I got all evangelical about it and insisted that polyamorous people are just more progressive, more evolved, or whatever – but I don’t, and to be honest I don’t know any poly person who does. No one lifestyle is inherently superior over any other. I don’t want or need to get into a big, philosophical or moral debate about my choices with everyone I meet. All I ask is that talking about my relationships and the most important people in my life won’t be met with eye-rolling, negative comments about ‘trying to convert people,’ and a huge sense of unease and discomfort radiating from everybody else in the room.
I believe that those of us who feel able to absolutely should talk about it. Most of the time, we’re either invisible or hugely stigmatised. We’re misunderstood constantly. This is why we should talk about it. Because the more we talk about it, the more the barriers will be broken down and people will realise there’s no need to feel threatened or frightened by us and the way we choose to conduct our lives and loves. Openness leads, eventually, to greater understanding and acceptance.
At least, that’s what I hope.