This anonymous snapshot of a bunch of closeted polyamory people at our monthly San Diego Poly Potluck who prefer to remain nameless and faceless.
You can’t tell just by looking at people who is poly and who is not. There are no tell-tale signs like pink hair, a lisp, or special handshake that gives someone away. As such, polyamorous people have the privilege of passing in a hetero-mono-normative society.
There are many safe benefits to staying in the polyamory closet. Why would poly people want to deal with judgment or risk losing friends, family or jobs if they don’t have to do so? Here are 10 powerful life changing reasons to come out of the polyamory closet:
1. Get into Integrity
By definition, polyamory is about loving with the informed consent of everyone involved. Honesty is one of the cornerstones of being poly. By telling people that you are poly, you are living your life within your own value system. Further, by coming out, you give other people permission to be totally transparent.
2. Simplify your Dating Pool
Coming out poly optimizes your dating options. By letting your romantic prospects know that you are polyamorous upfront, you are pre-screening people and don’t have to waste precious time and energy getting intimate with people who may not accept your lifestyle. In other words, when someone knows that you are poly, he or she can make an informed decision about whether or not he or she would like to date you. So be loud and proud–post it on your profile. This will make dating so much simpler.
3. Increase your Intimacy
Intimacy is a state of closeness in which you feel there is little or nothing separating you from another. Few things foster intimacy more than trusting someone enough to speak your truth, show your vulnerability, and share your real feelings and needs.
Humans bond by talking about the deep matters of our hearts. Closeness is formed through knowledge of each other. In fact the verb “intimate” actually means “to state or make known”. So if you want true intimacy, state that you are Polyamorous and let it be known!
4. Shock Value
Coming out poly is a good way to make your monogamous friends nervous. They may get squeemish around “Too Much Information (TMI),” or start to wonder if you are hitting on them, or their spouse. People like to pretend that their sex lives are private, but in truth, everyone wants to know juicy details. My husband’s girlfriend, Rachel, recently came out on Facebook™ and all her friends in Florida started asking if she had joined some kind of a sex cult. Over time, people get over the initial shock. And some people may even shock you by how well they take the news. Some may even surprise you with a confession of their own!
5. Weed out Old Friends
People might reject you when they find out that you want to be honest and open with multiple lovers. But why waste your time with their conditional love? Coming out poly may be a good test to see who loves you for who you are, not for how well you follow society’s norms. If your friends are only friends with you because they think you are like them, they are in a delusional relationship, anyway. How far do you want to go to uphold their version of who they think you are?
6. Educate Others
Many people think that poly stands for Polenysia, polyester or it is short for Cal Poly. Or worse, some ignorant people think all non-monogamy means you are cheating. By coming out polyamorous you are able talk to people openly about other relationship choices. You become a role model and a representative for a silent minority. People will ask deep, personal and awkward questions. I say, bring it on! When you answer the most uncomfortable questions, you’re giving them an education!
7. End Polyphobia
When my mother first found out I was poly she said, “You are such a hog! Some people can’t even find one good man, and you’ve got three!” She maintained her belief that poly was selfish and wrong and continued to give the cold shoulder to all my new lovers. This continued until one day when Christina, the Latin talk show host, invited me to do a segment where I would come out as poly to my Mexican mother. My mother, a longtime fan, considered the challenge, and though she initially got cold feet before doing the show, she changed her tune. She later told me she was proud of me. Polyphobia is an irrational judgment and hatred towards poly people. The more people see lifestyle out in the open, the less likely they are to partake in polyphobia. I imagine one day we’ll even elect an (openly) poly politician! I remember my surprise a few years ago when my mother said, “So what if Bill Clinton was in love with Monica, as long as Hillary knew about it.”
8. Stop Lying
Lying sucks. Not only does it feel terrible to withhold intimate information, but studies have shown that lying can lead to significant declines in mental and physical health. (Jaslow, 2012, para. 6.) People usually withhold the fact that they are poly because they are addicted to people pleasing. They long for social acceptance and belonging so deeply that they are willing to sacrifice their full expression. However, withholding intimate information can take a major toll on your well-being. No matter how hard it is to talk about your personal love life, you are doing yourself a huge favor when you do. Even if it’s awkward at first, the more you talk about being poly, the easier it gets.
9. Coming out is a Revolutionary Act
The polyamory movement is relatively young. The term polyamory was coined in the early ’90s by Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (and still not recognized by most spell-check dictionaries!) (The Ravenhearts, 1996-2013, para. 2 -11.) As an emergent new lifestyle, we need role models and membership. By declaring your status as polyamorous, you are supporting alternative relationship choices. Think of our future.
Tomorrow’s generation needs responsible healthy role models. Visibility is important. By coming out poly you are speaking for a silent minority. Becoming visible is a way to stand up for our civil liberties and one of the most direct ways to increase social awareness and affect change.
10. Meet more Poly Peeps!
As hard as it is to come out, one of the greatest benefits of being open is that you will find yourself surrounded by like minded lovers who share similar values and really accept you for who you are. The poly community is a conscious and honest group of people who are committed to love. Whether you find your poly community online, at a poly potulck or at a big annual festival like PolyPalooza, you will be welcomed in with open arms. These are the people who love you … no matter what.
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