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Thank you for years of great advice which has helped me live my best, queer, poly life. I’m 33, married to my husband and partnered with two incredible women. All my partners are also happily partnered with others. We’re mostly out to all the people in our lives, but not my parents. They’re lovely people, but very conservative when it comes to sex and relationships. They truly believe my live-in girlfriend is just a good friend. When I once mentioned polyamory to them, they told me if I ever did anything like that, they wouldn’t want to know and couldn’t handle it. So I’ve respected that and hid my poly life from them.

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But now I’m pregnant. And I’m not going to hide my relationships from my kid or expect my kid to lie to my parents for me. I’m also sad about and tired of misrepresenting the most important relationships in my life to my parents, two people I love dearly. It’s clearly time to come clean but I have no idea where to start. Do I just rip off the bandaid and do it? Should try to gently prepare them and slowly divulge things over several conversations? And how do I handle it when they inevitably decide they’ve failed as parents and I’m going to hell for living in sin. Can you help?

Poly And Pregnant

There's no way to "slowly divulge" your poly relationship to your parents—or no additional ways to do the slow divulge/roll. You've already tested the waters (you raised the poly subject) and you've already introduced them to your "roommate" (the live-in girlfriend). If you and your husband don't need a roommate—if you don't need someone helping you out with the rent—your parents should've been able to connect those dots.

And I'm fairly certain they connected the dots during that first conversation: when you raised the subject of polyamory, PAP, your parents didn't say, "We disapprove of people who do that." They didn't make a general observation. They made a very specific statement about you. They essentially said, "If you're planning to do that or you're already doing that... please don't tell us about it, okay?"

So they know—at least unofficially. Like a lot of conservative parents, PAP, they'd rather not know officially because that would make it hard for them to suspend their disbelief and pretend their daughter isn't doing what their daughter kindasortamaybeactuallydid tell them she's doing. And unlike yesterday's LW, you can't file this (meaning: at least your live-in girlfriend) under "mom and dad don't need to know." Relationships—committed, romantic, longterm relationships—have a public functions and public dimensions. You can and should continue to run mom and dad on a "need to know" basis when it comes to your private life—they don't need to know what you do with your girlfriends (or your husband)—but the only way to keep your girlfriends secret from them forever is to either cut your parents out of your life or to insult and hurt your girlfriends by minimizing the role they play in your life and asking your live-in girlfriend to pretend to be someone she's not when your parents are around.

I'm glad you plan to be out to your kid, PAP, but being out to your kid but not out to other important people in your life introduces its own set of potential complications, as I explained to another LW...

If you tell this kid that mommy is poly and then swear the kid to secrecy because you live in a conservative area [or have conservative parents], TRIAD, you didn't come out to this kid. You dragged this kid into the closet with you and put the stress of protecting that closet—keeping mommy's secret for her—on that kid's shoulders. You've also handed that kid a weapon. I got a letter not long ago from a polyamorous woman whose ex learned she had a boyfriend and a girlfriend when her kid, furious about being told, "No, you may not smoke pot in this house," outed his mother to his angry, religious, vengeful father. (This particular dad didn't sue for custody; he outed his ex as bi and poly to her very religious parents instead.)

So tell mom and dad now. Let them freak out, let them have their tantrum, give them some time, but stand your ground. ("Love is not a sin, mom and dad, and hell is not a place.") If they can't love and accept you and your partners, then see your parents less. If they're awful or cruel, don't see your parents at all. And if mom and dad would rather be judgmental assholes than play a role in the life in their grandchild-to-be, well, that's their choice. I have to say, though, that it's amazing how quickly conservative parents come around and/or learn to handle something when not coming around and/or learning to handle something means they don't get to see their grandchildren often or see them at all.

To be clear: It's not about using your kid as leverage or issuing threats. It's just... math. If your parents are shitty to you about who you love, you aren't going to want to see much of them. If you don't want to see much of them, they're not going to get to see much of their grandbaby.


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