Pregnant and Poly and Worried About Coming Out to Mom and Dad

Comments

1

Is she out to her parents as bi, as opposed to being out as poly? If not, PAP's coming out in this sense could be a baby-step towards telling her parents about her other two long-term committed relationships.

2

I think LW needs a reality check about her parents - Are they going to call the pastor your grew up with and/or CPS? If that's the case, well then you have a lot of work ahead of you one way or the other. If they're normal adults who don't like the concept of their daughter not being in an exclusive, committed marriage with the father of her children; well then band aid method is probably the best. No matter how many times they would have voted for Obama, they'll probably freak out for a while, then calm down, and when the rubber meets the road, a baby is a trump card for new grandparents.

3

she'll be so busy raising a child she won't have time to be poly. the problem will solve itself! easy peasy.

4

"If you don't want to see much of them, they're [not?] going to get to see much of their grandbaby."

feel free to delete

5

She is trying to figure out what her kid is going to say to her parents? She's pregnant. Her kid isn't going to be a remotely coherent narrator of anything for a few years. Deal with the issue then if you need to. For now, your parents told you they did not want to know. Don't ask, don't tell. They told you, don't tell. So don't unless you need to down the road.

6

@4: Whoops. Fixed. Thanks!

@5: Included the kid issue not because it'll be a problem right away. But if she never comes out to her parents it will become a problem down the road. A ways, yes, but still.

7

I disagree with trying to "reason" the parents out of believing hell is a real place (if it wasn't a joke). The lw didn't mention if her parents were religious, she just said they're conservative about relationships. If they are religious that's just gonna make things worse, though I imagine the lw would know that. If the parents try to bring the religious angle into it, maybe counter with examples of relationships throughout the Bible that wouldn't look traditional today (plural marriage) and that are more similar to lws arrangement than a one-man-one-woman set up.

I'd stress how a live-in girlfriend, one who has already shown herself to be in it for the long-haul, will be a help in all the extra work/time that comes with raising a baby and will be an advantage for the parents and kids. If the lw wants to not "rip off the band-aid", introducing the live-in girlfriend as a girlfriend first may be a good way to make the parents feel more comfortable that it really is a stable set up for their grandchildren to come into rather than explaining about the non-live-in-girlfriend right away, or giving information about the gfs partners. Info about the gfs partners shouldn't be necessary for the kids or grandparents unless the gfs partners are also gonna be part of the kids life. The fewer ppl they know about, the less overwhelmed I imagine they'd feel.

8

I agree with Dan's advice. You are an adult and your parents must respect your relationships to continue to be in your (and their grandkids') life. But also I'm wondering how much you need to tell them. Do all these other people have kids too? If these other poly people do not have children, the addition of an infant, baby, toddler then child will change the group dynamic, and since kids/childrearing are generally tedious most of the time, it is unlikely that people without kids will prioritize them in the way that you and the child's father will have to, especially as the years go on and they'll also have life choices to make with a different set of opportunities and responsibilities. On the other hand, if some of them have children as well, the community dynamic could prevent you from having to explain the exact nature of the relationship to your parents. In either case, you could just say you plan to raise your child with these close friends as uncles and aunties and it's really not relevant to your parents who fucks whom so no need for them to know. It's a few years before your child will understand anyway, baby will just know these people as family generally which is really all parents need to know as well. For years in my family, a grandparent called a lesbian cousin and her lifelong multi-decades partner her "good friend" even after they got married. If she had decided to make a stand about it, I would've had her back, but since the grandmother was sweet with her wife and included her in everything, they just didn't bother about the label. It was too hard to explain it to her, she had no concept of how two women could be sexual partners, thought "lesbianism" was a funny thing that some women did to avoid marriage and childrearing. She was a first wife in a polygamous marriage herself and left the world last week, in her last days still remembering her granddaughter and her 'good friend'. So I think it depends on how your parents will behave and what they will understand and how long lasting the relationships are etc. As for the polygamous arrangement itself, the distribution of family responsibilities, finances, and outside opportunities was definitely skewed - I'd like to hear more about how modern and nonmormon American polygamists work it out, especially when one woman has children and the others don't. Not that you asked about that, but if you read the comments, I'd love to read a blog about it if you are the type that enjoys that.

9

@6 My father was out of his mind - not because my sister "got herself knocked" up at 18, but because she didn't "save herself" for marriage - until he met the baby. At that point, he gave no more shits about any of it.

But still... LW could say to her parents, "Remember when I mentioned poly, and you told me you don't want to know? Well, a few years from now, Jr. might mention a thing or two, or three, so start preparing yourselves!"

Baby is not going to be seriously ratting mom out for 5-7 years, minimum, by which time this problem may have solved itself.

10

LW- you have plenty to deal with while pregnant and beyond. Concentrate on yourself, your baby, and the people you love. Your child will figure out things as they grow up, no need to do any explanations at this point.

I would apply the same approach to dealing with your parents. Dan was right to point out that they are likely to be in the “don’t ask don’t tell” camp.
So don’t tell, yet feel free to show that all involved are in a loving, committed, supportive relationship. They’ll figure things out and are much likelier to come to terms this way rather than handed an ultimatum.

Regardless, Mazal-Tov!

11

Agree with Dan, tell them now, early on in your pregnancy, LW., If you are still early on. Whatever. Tell them now because as you get closer to birthing, you will not want to be worrying about any of this. Say it with care for their sake and with pride and love for yours.
Congratulations for all involved, and safe journey for you and baby.

12

All those saying wait, what about if gf is at the birth too, the LW won’t want to pretend to her parents when they arrive to see the baby, that this woman is just a close friend. No. All out in the open, so there are no obstacles to a new life coming into the world.
A woman birthing, however it’s done, needs no deep secrets in the way. Who wants to live like this anyway. Parents are resilient, if they love their child, they will handle it. It’s the modern world, tell them.

13

"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."

So @Dan's perspective is that PAP effectively told her parents already, and he believes they made clear that they do not want to have more details about her complicated relationship model. That doesn't quite jibe with PAP's belief that she is hiding or misrepresenting her relationships. Assuming @Dan is correct, PAP may believe that she is hiding or misrepresenting her relationships, but her actions are transparent enough that the reality is not hidden or has not been so misrepresented as to mislead her parents.

Meanwhile, PAP's parents didn't tell PAP she is living her life wrong, start quoting Bible, make any threats, or suggest that they would reject PAP or her multiple partners. They simply don't want more details. I'm not sure what is gained by a sit down in which PAP emphasizes that she loves her husband and two other women, if the contours of these relationships are generally known, as it is not clear what will change.

In any event, the baby is a red herring. Beyond divulging "Mommy loves Daddy and [names of other partners]." There is not much else that this child is really going to be able to tell their grandparents.

14

Harriet @1, good point.

Surfrat @5, another good point.

I'm with Dan's initial observation: She DID (try to) come out as poly to them, and they told her that they didn't want to know. I don't see why she can't respect that and still live an honest life. She doesn't have to refer to her partner as either "my roommate" or "my partner"; the parents know her, so she can just refer to her as Susan. Right? Children aren't supposed to have detailed knowledge of their parents' sex lives anyway, so what is this child going to know? He/she/they will call the partner Aunt Susan or something, the same as they'd call a close friend. If child says something like "Mommy's got a girlfriend" in front of the parents, they can metaphorically stick their fingers in their ears, like they did last time, and pretend the child is being silly. Whatever the child says in front of the parents, PAP and her partners should just go with, as if they are already out. Odds are good the parents will honour their end of DADT and it really isn't any of their business. PAP isn't hiding her relationships so there's nothing she actually needs to change about the way she's living her life, barring answering the sort of direct questions that are unlikely to come but if they do, she should answer them honestly and let the parents deal.

15

I agree with Dan and @11 Lava that now is the time to say. The LW has two important long-term relationships in her life her parents don't know about. These partners will be substantially in her child's life too. The specifics of everyone's sexual arrangements are hardly to the point here. There is a need, though, emotionally to put her parents in the picture re how her gf s (and also perhaps her husband's partner(s)) will have familial or quasi-familial relationships of caregiving towards the baby. As will they, the grandparents--though of course how far any 'family member' pitches in with the practical parenting apart from a primary caregiver (most likely the mother) will depend on circumstances.

16

@14. Bi. PAP's parents will be going to family events and at least PAP's live-in gf is going to be there (and maybe some of her and her husband's other partners). I think it will be easier if they accept the basis on which live-in gf is there before they all start.

18

One of the times I disagree with Dan.

Been poly for 25 years. I agree with Surfrat @5. Don’t hide it. If someone asks a question, answer it. But if they don’t ask a question, don’t answer it. This applies to parents and everyone else.

Your poly partners will be around. In conversation, refer to them by name, not by a description of who they are to you.

19

Harriet @16: But they won't accept it. Did you not read the letter? Do you think telling her parents "we're poly" will magically change their attitude toward poly? Whirled @18 is right. Invite parents to events where partners will be. Act as if everything about their lifestyle is unremarkable. Let them ask questions and/or clutch pearls or not. They will get the idea.

Commie @17, go away.

20

Interesting where Dan falls on honesty. Shagged your now-boyfriend's, and your, friend before you were officially a couple? Don't tell. Had an unethical relationship in your past? Don't tell. Got a friend with benefits? Don't tell. Your "roommate" is actually your lover? TELL!

21

You forget Fan, there’s a baby coming. This is why the LW wrote in.

22

Parents already know or suspect what’s going on, but are uncomfortable acknowledging the “awful” truth and have said so in so many words. No need for further clarification, just get on with your poly life and hopefully mom & pops will loosen up once they see everyone is happy and functioning like a loving family unit. Fear of the unknown is probably driving them now but hopefully it will soon become the new norm. My rural parents love their adopted, Latina granddaughters (my kids) and Latina daughter-in-law (grandson’s wife) unconditionally, where once they carried a “greatest generation” built in prejudice against “those foreigners”.

23

No, Lava @20, I did not forget that she wrote in because there is a baby coming. What do you think that I've said which doesn't apply because there is a baby coming? Think of it this way: In denial or no, the parents currently have a good rapport with the future Auntie Susan, but if PAP makes an issue of the fact that she's sleeping with Susan, that could go south. If they just live their lives instead of having A Talk, either the parents figure it out or they don't. If they do, they have the talk then -- and the talk includes the reason why she wasn't explicit earlier, ie the parents' judgmental attitude. If they choose to ignore what's in front of them, like EmmaLiz's grandmother, that sounds like a good way to keep family harmony, yes, with a baby whom everyone involved will love.

24

Grand-daughter in law...

28

All this talk about referring to them by name or Auntie seems pretty weird to me, especially if this is a long, living together relationship. I certainly don't consistently refer to my wife as auntie or only her name. This important partner will almost certainly be performing parental roles.

@27 It's true. This insistence that monogamy is the only way, is easy and the idea of an isolated nuclear family that cares only for itself is incredibly unnatural and mother nature continues to ruthlessly slap us down as shown in statistics like the rate of infidelity or the stress born by women or the isolation of men.

Of course, just because monogamy is unnatural and forced doesn't mean I am going to judge people for trying to do what works best for them. Natural =\= good after all.

29

Happy @28: I meant that the child will probably call the partner Auntie, not that PAP or her husband should. That would be weird.

30

@19. Bi. I think they might accept it. Before they said that if her daughter did anything like that, they wouldn't want to know about it and couldn't cope. This may be partly a joke--a way of saying 'you're very advanced, we're very old-fashioned, but we just about find a way of seeing eye-to-eye'. Or it could be a jocular sort of warning--'don't you pull anything like on that, Missy'. Of course, the LW knows how serious they were in making their pronouncement about poly--it could be they were absolutely serious, but this isn't the impression I get from her letter.

The stakes for the parents have now changed. Previously the question (as it might have appeared to them) was 'can we steer our child away from crazy lesbian experimentation--which isn't essential to her anyway--into a solid heterosexual marriage?'. Well, if they thought that's what it was about, they were mistaken! The question now is, 'are we going to be involved in the upbringing of our grandchildren, or is the part that we (as grandparents and secondary carers) would ordinarily play be usurped by people we don't know, the gay and/or poly partners of our daughter and her husband?'. When the question is put like that, there's a big incentive to get their heads round the loving adult relationships PAP has formed. (This isn't saying that the metamours will have no role in caregiving--just that the grandparents will be involved).

31

@30/Harriet: That PAP is bisexual doesn't seem to have been raised in the initial conversation about being poly. I also do not see how you frame this issue now to be relevant. So long as her parents are respectful to her partner, she can let them linger in a state of knowing denial, and they can be involved in the upbringing as much as any set of grandparents.

32

She might just consider living her life in the open, but not explicitly tell her parents anything. Let the parents slowly figure it out through as they are exposed to the poly family life, or later what the kids say. Either the parents will be too uncomfortable to ask and will just ignore anything they are uncomfortable processing, or they will ask, at which time you can say, yeah you asked me not to tell you, but since you are asking, she is my girlfriend and a co parent to the kids, and everyone loves each other. How lucky for the kids to have 3 parents.

33

Or be open to your kid and not your parents, but DON'T ever tell you kid to hide anything from them (and don't model active hiding for the kids - don't actively lie or otherwise actively conceal your life/relationships, simply and passively don't mention the things your parents said they'd rather not know around them). Unless it's both the case that your kid is watching you fuck (considered abusive in our society except when it happens accidentally, so probably best to avoid that anyway) and that your parents are grilling zir about the details of your sex life, the kid mentioning more general things about you "friend" isn't going to do anything more to shatter the willful suspension of disbief your parents have going.

And, really, this is a potential problem YEARS down the line, at least after your not-yet-born offspring is verbal; circumstances may change by then, perhaps even dramatically so. If you do eventually have to explicitly out youself and the parents come back with some version of, "Why didn't you tell us sooner?" you have that conversation where they specifically told you they didn't want to know at which to point.

I seems to be largely in accord with BiDanFan.

@12: Do the birthings you attend usually include make-out sessions between the partnered people there? Or does your culture only demonstrate public affection between sexual partners and NOT close friends? I'm not seeing how anyone is going to have to lie about why a live-in "close friend" is at the birth or being affectionate, etc.

@28: That's actual, laugh-out-loud funny to me, because I'm wierded out by people who only refer to romantic partners in relation to themselves (my wife, my boyfriend) and NOT by their names. In fact, I can't think of a single person I know who has continued to refer to zir partner by anything other than zir name once everyone in the conversation knows who e.g. Susan is. If anything, people I know tend toward the opposite: for example, one of my close friends recently started dating someone, which I know from Facebook, but he hasn't directly told me, and he refers to her by her first name in conversation WITHOUT ever having specified who she is (I'd have asked, "Who is [Name]?" the first time, had I not already known, of course - I assume my friend simply hasn't been keeping close track of whom he told what, and expects people to ask if they're confused).

If everyone knows who Susan is, why are you referring to her as though you need to identify who she is in relation to others? It always seems to me like people doing that are denying the person and independant identity, intentional or not, or that the person is really insecure about the relationship (or is a teenager with a first partner and is just so psyched about it that ze feels the need to remind everyone constantly, "I have a sexfriend!"). I'm not saying I'm universally correct or my norm is necessarily better (and I'm not accusing you of anything bad - my interpretation is my biased, sometimes inaccurate perspective, not objective truth), just noting that others may have VERY different norms and behavioral interpretations. LW should definitely take that into consideration when making a decision.

34

Apparently after multiple proof-reads, I still need an edit button. :-P

35

Now mothers often request some initial help from their own mother, as the experience is so unknown, and often a little worrying.
The LW probably wouldn’t ring her mother if the latter hadn’t been clued into the truth about her Intimacy, concerned mother might start dropping in to check etc.
Do it LW, you don’t have to go into details about who is with who, outline the dynamic. Explain to them you are telling them because you want them fully part of their new grandchild’s family, and you are letting them know who that family is. That is a sorta big family.
If you tell them now, they have months till the baby is born to get used to your family structure, as they find things to buy for the baby. They could look on line and see how prevelant this structure for relationships is, they could investigate. Leave it to them how they integrate your truth.
By birth time, you will know if they are on board or not. Like Dan says, maybe they won’t get to see the child that often, if you have to structure the visits around any feelings of disapproval. The baby picks up the emotional vibe as well.
Tell them LW because you are proud you and your extended group do live and love this way. It’s an attitude you will need to show your child, might as well start with your parents, or any others who judge your choices.
A baby is coming, you have much to focus on. Your parents are big people, they might not understand how you live, that’s ok, long as they don’t judge how you live.
That an offspring is being treated well by her family is all a parent need worry about. The rest is not their business.
Be respectful of their boundaries at family gatherings etc, till the truth seeps thru the group. Though always stand proud.

36

Now and New mothers.
I feel the urge to give you tips LW, this is an exciting journey you are now on.
Your mother will want to give you tips, and it will feel clearer and more authentic for you, /as the pregnant one you are the most important concern here, till the baby is born/ if your mother knows your truth. You, your mom and gf(s) might head out often for women time, which is important during pregnancy.
A baby coming generates lots of energy, and the group has to shift, to let this small person join them.
Be brave LW, and good luck.

37

Disagree Fan@23. This is not about keeping peace, this is about creating an environment most conducive to a baby. Grandparents like to see the baby, and if they live nearby, often. So each time they drop in, LW has to make sure nothing in her home will give the game away, while mom and dad sniff out the truth. Who needs that waste of energy experience, when there is a new baby to focus on. To feed. To be woken every few hours by for that feed.
If her parents or any one else doesn’t accept her as she is, at this time, when she is vulnerable she is pregnant, then, they show her who they are and she must guard herself accordingly.

38

Hence my response Fan, to your original post, where you questioned Dan’s responses to different letter writers. He says to tell the parents to this LW, because she is pregnant. Dan’s a parent, he knows what’s ahead.
Her parents are bound to find out anyway, right, that’s what a lot of you are saying. Might as well cut to the chase, close down the gossip because it’s all up front, and then all can work toward a healthy baby arriving, then enjoy that baby together.

39

@26—“Mother nature simply does not care. Neither does god because he is as imaginary as the Easter Bunny.” This is a shocking thing to state. Of course the Easter Bunny is real.

40

Hey Late, hope you and yours are going well.

41

Harriet @30: Oh please. You were not in the room, and PAP -- who both was in the room and has known her parents since she was born -- took it as a completely serious comment. I think we need to take her prediction that her parents will "inevitably decide they’ve failed as parents and I’m going to hell for living in sin" seriously. I'm shaking my head at how you could read the letter and get the impression "oh, they were probably joking around"?

John @33: Exactly. If they say to Junior, "Don't tell Grandma and Grandpa that Mommy sometimes sleeps in Auntie Susan's room," he will tell them. If they just go about their lives, Junior will get the idea that this is completely normal -- he/she/they may get to be six or seven before they realise not everyone has a daddy and two mommies. If they act like they are hiding a shameful secret the child will pick up on that.

Lava @37: What would they have in their home that would "give the game away"? Full-size poster prints of them having a threesome? They will have a baby; like all new parents, they're unlikely to be having wild sex when/if grandparents decide to randomly stop by, if they are indeed the kind of grandparents who would do so. I still don't see why the imperative to tell is Right Now, when they can decide to cut PAP and future baby out of their lives, rather than After Baby Is Born, when the grandparents will already have a bond with baby and be more reluctant to give that up. If they're disapproving enough to report her to social services or some such, why not delay that moment instead of setting it up from the get go? This has the potential to cause a huge rift in the family instead of bringing them together. You seem determined to claim expertise because you are a parent, but I claim equal expertise here because I am poly, so let's agree to differ.

42

Right now Fan, because she is pregnant right now and it can be a difficult time for a woman, being pregnant. Birthing can be a difficult time for a woman.
Depends how close LW is with her parents, her mother especially. Having her mother’s support and guidance during this time might be what LW wants and needs. This could be difficult if such big secrets are between them.
She has written in, it is an issue for her.
We don’t have enough info re how intimate the LW is with her parents or if they live near by etc.
I did explain why Now pretty clearly in my previous comments.

43

Lava @42: "it can be a difficult time for a woman, being pregnant. Birthing can be a difficult time for a woman." Agreed. So the last thing she would want to do is make it more difficult by dropping a bombshell, alienating her parents when she needs them most. If keeping a secret is interfering with her closeness with her mother, imagine how that closeness will be damaged by telling her "I am also having sex with my so-called roommate, among others, and don't intend to stop'." You may know about birthing but I know about being alienated from judgmental parents. If she's reading the comments, she has both our opinions and can proceed based on her own best judgment.

44

It's interesting that people are considering LW's supermarital partner(s - or at least Live-In Susan), but not Husband's partner(s) and parents (if they are still living). If Husband's parents are still living, they're more people who might be dragged into the closet, although it seems possible that their presumed acceptance could prove a useful spur. There seems a lot we don't know, some of which may or may not yet be determined.

There are at least three people here in the role of Bio-parent's Partner. Are any of them going to be recognized as parents or step-parents? LW might be able to carry on not specifying to her parents that Live-In Susan is Mommy to her Mama or vice versa. But it doesn't seem likely that could be extended, especially to another parent connected via Husband.

45

I see no point in putting off the inevitable, assuming the LW’s parents will want to be in their grandchild’s life, in a real way. Kids have birthday parties, the LW’s family is going to come together over this baby, best prepare her parents now, so they will be ready for it.
Don’t blindside them later on thru some sort of osmosis, that’s a rude way to treat good people, the people who reared you.
Rip the band aid off LW.

46

The most important thing for pregnancy is nourishment, having people support and cushion you thru the time. You also don’t want hidden parts of you locked away. The LW has already broached the subject with her parents, they didn’t recoil in rage.
What she has to do now is get them to acknowledge that’s how she lives, they don’t need details, they do need to respect their daughter’s relationships if they wish to be part of their grandchild’s life. Here, she needs to be firm with them, this is not negotiable.
They will come round because they will want to know this baby. And the LW is no longer burdened with this secret while she’s with child. That’s enough for her to carry.

47

Venn my guess is that since she didn't ask about it, it's not an issue. Maybe the other parents are fine with it. Maybe they are not involved in their lives anyway. Maybe they are all a band of orphan pick pockets who don't know their (probably secretly aristocratic) parents. Maybe their parents are polygamists themselves. Maybe even with each other. For whatever reason, the LW is only concerned with her own parents so we can only assume that she doesn't see a problem with the others.

48

Having never been pregnant nor poly nor bi, I don't know the best way to handle it. But couples' body language is usually different than it is between friends'. I doubt very seriously that LW wants to have to act like her live-in girlfriend is just her friend every time her parents are around. It's harder to keep your personal life compartmentalized when you have kids- I assume there will be a baby shower. I assume there will be things done about the house to prep for the baby. There will be doctors appointments, etc. If the partners and the LW's parents are around for any of these things at the same time, is the LW supposed to act like the live in girlfriend is just her buddy? What about the baby daddy? He is in a relationship with the live in girlfriend too, right? Is he likewise supposed to act like they are just friends? This will require an abnormal level of self-consciousness and monitoring of body language. Seems normal to me that the LW would like to avoid that and get it all out in the open. Since the parents don't want to know, then all that really matters is how much info she needs to give them so that she and her partners can behave normally and affectionately around her parents without anything more than the ordinary self-censure. (Most of us do not make out with our partners in front of others but most of us do in fact put our arms around them, hold hands, use affectionate names, etc around others). The parents may not need a lesson in poly lifestyles to accept this behavior- she might be able to skip on the details and the labels, but she'll need to say enough that they can all behave naturally when the parents are around. I think this is especially important when children are coming- you set precedents and create weirdness otherwise, one lie can lead to another. On the other hand, if her parents are rarely in her life anyway, then it probably doesn't matter to pretend once a year or so but I'm assuming they are going to be around a lot considering her letter.

Though it doesn't really matter, the LW mentions a live-in girlfriend but also says all their female partners are married. It does not appear that the live-in girlfriend's spouse could be one of the other women since she did not say "live in girlfriends" but the singular. Again I'm probably be skeptical from personal bias or lack of info, but if the other women are all married to other people who are not part of the LW's relationship with her husband AND if they do not themselves have children, then I suspect the non-primary partners will not end up being in lifelong parental roles to the child anyway. I have a hard time knowing the difference between when someone is in a poly relationship and when it's just a case of two (or more) married pairs who are in an open relationship with each other. The difference being, is there really a lifelong parental commitment to the child in the first place? Or are these others going to be more like aunties and uncles or mom and dad's friends? To me, these differences would affect how hard I go with my parents.

49

Mizz Liz - That's rather the point, that there's no problem with the other parents. It could be that they're dead or totally estranged, but presumably if they're alive the sets of competing grandparents are likely to meet on occasion, and probably more often than they meet at present. How they treat theirs son's or DIL's partners may factor in.

And, as I hinted, this could play out in LW's favour if she decides to be more forthcoming. Seeing the rival set of grandparents embracing other partners could well turn out to provide LW's parents with the strongest motivation to do the same.

And, yes, there may exist sets of grandparents that are perfectly friendly with each other. But I refer Ms Cute to how Mr Woodhouse can never accept Mr Knightley to have any claim on John and Isabella during their holidays from London.

50

Lava @ 35, 42 and apparently many others
Yes, a baby is coming, yes she wrote because she’s worried. I still believe the answer is, “Don’t worry too much.”
I really think your advice in unnecessarily going to complicate everyone’s life, including the future grand parents.

“They could look on line and see how prevelant this structure for relationships is, they could investigate”
Why choosing “tell” over “show,” when you can just live your life and demonstrate time and again that whatever it is you want to call it is working for you?

51

It all depends on the relationship the LW has with her parents, and how close they live and how often they will interact with their grandchild.
If they are close by, and the LW wants them in her baby’s life, and also wants their help, like advice and babysitting, it’s in her best interest to come clean with her truth. Treat her parents like adults.
If they live a long way away and will only see their grandchild every holiday, telling or not telling isn’t such an issue. It depends on the true closeness between the LW and her parents.
A grandmother story: last time my grandkids had a sleep over, the girl is just on ten, the boy nearly three, my daughter and her partner went to an afternoon/ evening party, she told me she’d drop the kids off between 3-3.30pm. She was at mine at 3.06. Grandparents can be a big asset, if you don’t treat them like aliens.

52

Lava-in a way what you’re saying is, ”be nice to your parents as they can be useful at some point in terms of advice, nourishing, and sitting."
I say, “don’t compromise your positions when you sign the peace agreement.”
Don’t be an imposing, righteous, condescending asshole, yet live your life as you know it. Grand parents who are imposing, righteous, and condescending shouldn’t be around your child anyway, despite the social commitment we all feel obligated to follow.

My ex’s parents cut their contacts with us shortly after the first child was born. Despite the crap she got from them over the years, possibly also a result of, she's great parent who often inspired me in this regard. Not that my own parents were that much better, though at least they tried.

Much of our own experiences boil down to what we know when we know it. Is your advice based on your own experience or what you wish it were? If the latter, can you visualize your parent/s capable of coming around one way or the other?

54

CMD @52, no, that’s not what I’m saying.
The LW didn’t give us a full picture of her relationship with her parents, or how close they live to her.
If she is close in intimacy and location, if she has had up till now a warm and respectful connection, and she will want to welcome them into her child’s/ partners’ lives, then she shouldn’t bullshit them about who the important people in her life are.
No, don’t use parents, if you are not close to them, if you don’t want their energies influencing your child, have formal visits to their space and don’t invite them to yours.
This woman wrote to Dan, from that one can assume she has affection for these people, her parents. We don’t know what this woman is thinking re her parents involvement in her child’s life.
As I said, if she’s not fussed having them close in, sees them only on holidays and the like, then telling them is not such an issue.

55

My daughter is mostly loving to me, I know that includes her realising my energies contribute to her child minding network. We had a solid intimacy before she had kids. If she’s got something to say, she will still say it.
She shared her bf stories with me and other stuff, after some of the other stuff had occurred. I don’t judge her choices, as I would have rathered my mother hadn’t judged mine.
Now, though she’s foot deep in kids, I have no quarms about her because her man is A+ in doing his share and taking care of her and she does her share and takes care of him.

56

CMD after my mother tried to take over my first born, when I was a single mother, I had very little contact with her rearing the other five. My husband and I moved away, and did it ourselves.
I would have liked some loving help from family, it came with too much damage. Many people do it without family help, and more power to us.

57

EmmaLiz @47: Correct me, Venn, if I'm wrong, but I thought his point was that the other parents know and would therefore need to be asked to keep this a secret -- that their letting something slip was more of a risk than a not-yet-born child doing so. I dunno. It seems like all these things people are worried will "give the game away" have had an opportunity to happen already -- surely PAP's parents, other partners, and other friends and family who are in the know were all at their wedding, for instance? And the parents have been to PAP's house and know Susan lives there? In a group gathering, the most they'd have to do is use people's names instead of say "my other partner," and refrain from publicly making out with them, which is unlikely to happen at a child's birthday party anyway. (I was just at a birthday party for a 1-year-old yesterday. Other children were there. Couples, bisexuals, and poly people were there. No one snogged, it was all very G-rated.)

I just think it's wishful thinking to assume that conservative parents will necessarily "get over it" in a matter of months. I've known people who were rejected by their parents over their sexual orientation/lifestyle and it took years for those rifts to heal, if they did. They risk a permanent black cloud of disapproval -- particularly where Susan is concerned; the parents will try to muscle her out of PAP's home at every opportunity, as a convenient scapegoat to blame for tempting them off the married monogamous path. PAP has a sense of how likely this is, and if she thought her parents would come round in a few months, she wouldn't have written such a worried letter to Dan.

EmmaLiz @48: PAP says "All my partners are also happily partnered with others," not that they are married. "All" would include the husband and both women. She also says "my live-in girlfriend," not "our live-in girlfriend," so there's no reason to assume she is among the husband's other partners. I agree that few of these other partners will play a parental role to the child, any more than any family friend would.

CMD @52, thank you for providing evidence that parents can and do cut off contact with adult children even when grandkids are in the picture. The fear PAP feels is justified.

58

Don’t know where you get the LW feels fear, Fan.
She’s out to everyone except her parents, who indicated to her when she mentioned poly that they don’t want to know if she lives that way. She writes that she loves her parents, and now she’s pregnant, she feels it’s time to tell them.
Her question to Dan is, how should she do it, and deal with the hell and high water raves which may come her way. My suggestion is she ignores the raves, let her parents concerns be aired and don’t respond. She has nothing to defend.
Fan, I think you have projected your fears onto the LW and read in her letter emotions which aren’t there.

59

We all got sidetracked. The LW didn’t ask whether she should tell or not, rather how to tell and deal with her parents self recriminations.
Tell them how loved you feel, that like a poster above said.. humans have lived with multiple varieties of sexual groupings from the beginning. Monogamy is only one form, it’s not the form, because there is no the form.
Say how lucky you will be because there are more people close to you who will love your child.

60

And you have projected your motherhood experiences onto her, Lava, also reading into the letter myriad assumptions that aren't there. It's what we do with limited information.

61

I followed the group which was saying do it or not, rather than comprehending the letter.
I was talking about motherhood experiences, Fan, because she is going to become a mother. That process usually follows a similar trajectory.
The conversation may not serve this LW’s purpose, because she has already decided to tell her parents, others though may benefit from all the shared experiences.

62

We didn’t have limited info Fan, It’s all there in the letter. Interesting so many of us went merrily in the wrong direction.

63

You were talking about motherhood experiences, Lava, because whenever children are involved in any way (and sometimes even when they aren't), you act like no one else can possibly have an opinion as valid as yours. It's condescending and offensive. The experience of motherhood is unique to every mother, surely you should know this. Indeed, she has made her decision and you won't accept alternate points of view, so there is no point for me to continue in this conversation.

64

Oh fuck you Lava, "think twice, telling may do more harm than good" is not the wrong direction.

65

What, Fan? The tone in her letter sounds decisive, that’s how I read it. She’s telling her parents. Her friends know, and she’s only held out on telling her parents because she was respecting their boundaries, things now are different because she is pregnant. She didn’t ask for help to decide to tell them or not, just how to tell them. Second guessing her is treating her like a child.
Obviously a subject which touches you.

66

@BDF ah. So the "partnered with others" means her partners are each others' partners as well? Or that they are partnered with others who are not her partners?

I know it doesn't really matter too much to the situation, but I'm curious for no reason. The live-in gf's partner- apparently her other partner does not live with them? Or does but is not partnered with the LW?

67

@31. Sublime. You're saying (I think) 'it doesn't matter whether PAP's parents know she's in a LTR with her roommate, so long as they treat her civilly'. I guess I disagree quite profoundly. An approach of carefully maintained ignorance on everyone's parts will be unfair to PAP's lover (and every other partner), unfair to her parents, unfair to her child (eventually) and wearying and grinding to the parents.

If a partner is living with you when you have a child, that person becomes part of the child's family. This could mean a very close relative (present all the time; present e.g. every mealtime) or a more distant one. There will be a large, treacherous and ongoing potential for misunderstanding if PAP's parents don't i.e. aren't asked to acknowledge her live-in lover in particular in these terms. E.g. 'is it really OK you leave the child with Mary-Sue for each of your date nights?'; the answer is to cut through the fog of confusion and constructive lying and say, 'she's my lover; she's the child's 'aunt' long-term--live with it!'. The time for her parents to start learning to live with it is now--as PAP understands very well. Her question is what's best for her child. It’s to have all three secondary partners onside and ready to support / care-give in supplementary capacities, and to have her parents come round in their own time. It’s not to complicate the couple's relationship with their other partners by inviting them into a morass of selective disclosure with grandparents.

Through her integrity and courage thinking outside the box, PAP has created a wonderfully promising structure of relationships into which to bring a child. Don't weaken it now by staying in the closet with your parents.

68

@33. John Horstman. Your answer is too complicated--not to constrain what the child says about her/his caregivers' relationships, but not to be across-the-board unapologetic (to relevant people) about the truth. The child has to be able to say, 'I live with Mommy, Daddy and Mary-Sue' and not to need to explain further. Since this is what any child will say, it has to be a non-issue.

69

@41. Bi. Let's run what the parents seem to have said past us again: 'if you ever do anything like that [i.e.poly], don't tell us because we won't be able to cope with it'. To me, that's something that could be said half as a joke or not at all as a joke. And they didn’t say, 'if you give us the choice between being fully involved in our grandchild's life, or only distantly and awkwardly involved because of our moral views about polyamory, we choose distant involvement'. The parents' line is something you say, if you have conventional assumptions, to an adult child before she 'settles down' (as they understand it). The facts are altered. Give the parents a choice of how they will grand-parent.

In fact, if the cookie is going to have to crumble in a potentially confrontational way, this is just what PAP should say to her parents: 'I'm giving you a choice of how you will grandparent...'.

Every piece of advice Lava has given PAP is bang-on.

70

I'm perpetually confused by people who want to "come out" as something that isn't easily explained without going in to TMI. I don't see any good reason to tell the parents what's up unless they ask. I REALLY don't see any reason to bring up all the various side pieces floating around. But that's just me.

71

Emma @66: I took that sentence to simply mean "we are not a closed triad," that everyone involved is dating other people in addition to the three main characters in their story.
I can't speak for these people, but in my poly experience, it is more common that A is dating B, C and D, while E is dating F, G and H, than A and E are both dating B and H. However, the second scenario is not out of the realm of possibility. I don't think it matters; I think the main point is that there are multiple metamours in all directions here, that their poly web is extensive.
From the letter only three people are sharing a home. PAP's other girlfriend lives elsewhere and has other partner(s), with some or all or none she may share a home and/or wedding rings.
PAP says she has three partners total. I would not assume that any of the partners are dating each other. It happens but is not standard practice. In my experience, metamours get to know each other as friends and then, after years in concurrent stable relationships with the common partner, they may grow to become interested in each other too. But this has happened with only a small number of metamours in my experience. It requires, among many other factors, gender/orientation match ups which are rare because most people, even poly ones, are straight.

Tim @70: It's not just you, it's everyone but Harriet and Lava.

72

Sorry, my alphabet soup got confused. I meant if A is dating B, C and D, then B is dating A, G and H, but neither C nor D. Hope that makes sense now -- you can see why it's said of polyamory, "It's complicated!"

73

Well again I'm probably biased, but my main takeaway then (if that's how it's going down, in 71) is that it's just a married couple (who will soon have a child) who like to fuck other people which is hardly unique. I just don't really understand how 'poly' is used so loosely to mean both committed relationships and just "a larger group of people that I sometimes have sex with and who also have sex with other people" which is basically just married people who have FWBs right? My bet is that once the tedium of sitting around with a baby starts and the responsibilities, etc, this couple is going to have way less time to navigate all these complicated networks and that the childfree people are going to spend way more time without them so I just wonder why the need to go into it with the parents in the first place. If it's really that complicated, the child isn't going to understand it for a decade surely and if these otehr people are mostly living separate lives with other primary relationships, then I don't see why it matters whehter or not the LW's parents know that their daughter is fucking others. Seems like you could just say something diplomatic like "I know you don't want to hear the details, but in our marriage, we have close affectionate friends who are involved in our daily life. You will sometimes notice our affectionate body language, and we wish that you will respect our lifestyle since they will be loving aunties (and uncles?) to your grandchildren." Leave it at that. I doubt if you sat them down to tell them more, they'd be open to it or even understand it anyway, and my (admittedly grumpy) guess is that these other two people (and their partners) probably won't be around that much in five years anyway.

74

@71. Bi. And you forgot Dan--as far as I know, the only nonmonogamously partnered person to have offered a view to have raised a child from birth.

There's some common ground, in that most people think 'PAP's parents should be told (or not told) of her poly relationships on a need-to-know basis'. For me, their newly becoming grandparents implies they need to know.

75

@73. Emma. There's more chance that the three other partners (at least--two women, in PAP's case, and another person in her husband's) will be around for her child in five years' time if she tells her parents what the configuration of her committed relationships is.

I don't think 'this is an issue for ten years down the road' either. What? Are people advising PAP to get back into the (poly) closet for another ten years with her parents? In 18 months' time, say, the parents plus 1-3 or so of their partners will be going on holiday together. Some grandparent will ask, 'why are you taking Mary-Sue on holiday?' Spare yourself, as parents, the continual second-guessing of yourselves negotiating how much to disclose, when, how and to whom--the continual chasing your own tail. Tell your parents you're poly now--with a central responsibility for your own child, and with the variable help of your other partners.

/break/
PAP's question is largely couched as 'how do I tell my parents I'm poly before becoming a mother myself?'. Only she knows the answer--only knows enough about her relationship with her parents to have the specifics of an answer. But I'd think that she's maybe asking for support in the possible contingency that her parents react badly. In this case I'd say, 'perhaps your parents will take 2-5 years to come round--and, if so, can still be wonderfully positive influences on the life of your child'. And 'don't buy into the 'family ideology' that a grandparent is necessarily a better carer than (either of) your lover(s), who's not related to the child. This isn't sure to be true'. Different adults offer children a range of things as 'aunts', 'uncles', 'friends of the family'.

To me, to go out on something (but only something) of a limb, the situation is one in which some queer and poly commenters have betrayed their residual 'political monogamy' (or heterosexism). It seems that, for these people, poly or sexual non-normativity is for fucking, but not a socially acknowledged structure for child-rearing. But if you're not ashamed of polyamory as the form of your relationships, why should you be ashamed of it as the structure in which you're having a child?

76

@44. Venn. Of course it could be extended to PAP's husband's partner(s). In fact it will almost have to be when she tells her parents that she and her husband are poly. (We know she's bisexual; we don't know her husband's sexuality).

77

@50. CMD. 'Viable' might have been a better word-choice than 'prevalent'. But otherwise why not live in the light of the truth?

78

The angle from which I'm approaching this is the 'maternalist' one that the mother is singly the primary caregiver of a child through at least the first two and a bit years of life--understanding 'mother' in a non-biological sense, and actually non-gender-specific sense, too. (In practice, a child's mother is overwhelmingly often its biological mother). Further, as Lava said, it's very common for new mothers to call their own mothers in aid for the first few months of their kid's existence i.e. the grandmother may (won't be necessarily) more help than the father.

And also ... the angle from which I'm approaching it is the 'non-heterosexist' one that a lover or metamour may be just as effective or loving a supplementary carer to a child as a grandparent. The issue is at the bleeding edge of queer rights, but not everyone has apparently noticed.

79

For ref, I'm bi, poly and have a kid.

re: the Auntie thing - you guys, you're making a bunch of assumptions. Live-in girlfriend might not be Aunt, she might be the other Mom.

PAP: I'm with Lava and Harriet, tell your parents, get them started on wrapping their heads around the idea. Don't worry about how to break it to them, it will be awkward and weird however you go about it. This is the nature of coming out to your parents. Just get it done.

One other thing, and I honestly think this might be more important, you should (eventually) be consulting with an estate lawyer to make certain custody wishes are clear and as locked up as possible in the event something happens to both you and your husband. I know you didn't ask about that, but I thought I'd put that out there.

@41 re: give the game away:
Baby, reaching for live-in girlfriend: Ma-ma
Family photos of the lot of them
Live-in girlfriend being treated like an actual nuclear family member by LW and her husband.
Live-in girlfriend's extended family being as important as LW's family, at family holidays, when people get sick, at the baby shower, etc.

I'm poly too, Bi, and not telling them is not going to make things easier for the LW. Lava is right, Bi, the LW has made it clear she's tired of hiding things from her family, and she could easily want her Mom to be nearby around the birth. Hiding this stuff is making her sad. She said so. The pregnancy hormones are no joke and they are amplifying everything.

@43 I totally disagree that telling them would be more painful than hiding. I've been in both positions and I hilariously regret the specific detais of exactly how I came out, but I have never regretted getting it done. It was so important to me not to have this big thing that I couldn't tell my family about, and it since it sounds like that's how the letter writer feels, I think its fair to push back against everyone that's acting like her telling her parents is making a big deal out of nothing. It's a big deal to her.

@73 its not that complicated. Yes, they will have less time, but the live-in girlfriend is right there. PAP just didn't give the details of the extended partners because they aren't mission critical to the advice.

80

H @ 77
That was a quote from one of Lava’s posts, a fellow truther.

81

@80. CMD. I know it was. It was the single word where there was a cigarette paper between what she and I were saying independently (apart from the stuff from her life, where it wouldn't be possible to take a view of Lava's being right or wrong).

82

Harriet, please contact Lava directly if it works for both of you. If it doesn't, and I believe she stated such sentiment in the past, then please refrain from using me as a messenger.

83

@Harriet, fwiw, my advice is that she should tell her parents so as not to force upon herself and her family (partners and children) any unnatural behaviors, especially now from the get-go. My only quibble was with the necessity of terminology and specifics- it might feel good for the LW to tell-all and take a stand (it often does feel good to do so when we suspect others are judging our choices) but it her parents (who have expressed an unwillingness to know) are willing to play along and not cause a scene, I wonder how specific she needs to be. We don't know those details of course, and she should tell them however much they need to know so that she and her family can go about their lives in a natural (to them) way. That might be a detailed coming out or it might be a "respect my lifestyle and keep your comments to yourself".

The rest of my post was curiosity and skepticism about what it means to be poly in a situation like this in the first place, and you are correct that this has no bearing on the LW's immediate question- I did not intend it as such. But if both the other women are in relationships with other people and themselves have no children and those other people (their partners) are not in relationships with either the LW or her husband, then I'm sort of at a loss in understanding what makes this poly as opposed to just a set of individual couples who fuck each other as well. And I'm just personally curious how the "live in girlfriend" (singular) works if she is also primarily partnered with someone else who is not a part of the poly dynamic- does her partner also live there and is not mentioned? The LW describes her as happily partnered with someone else yet she lives with them- I just wonder how an addition of a baby and its subsequent changes in responsibilities and opportunities for the various members of the group will change these relationships in the future. As it's difficult enough to get two parents to make choices for a couple decades that compromise with each other and still act in the best interest of the child, I can't see how an additional two couples who are not even parents of the child nor partnered primarily with the parents of the child will likewise continue to make choices and compromises necessary to continue the family dynamic as it is right now.

Luluisme makes a very good point about custody. If something, god forbid, were to happen, you want to make sure everything is in place the way the parents would like it to be. I can tell you from experience that families will not always agree on these things and it can be a nightmare. All parents should do this, but it's probably trickier if a person is involved in nontraditional arrangements as our society still stigmatizes such things.

84

EmmaLiz @73: The two main differences I see between PAP's situation and "standard" polyamory are, one, that they live with one of PAP's (possibly "their") partners, and two, that they will be raising a child. A couple in a classic "open relationship" (primary + non-cohabiting secondaries) need not tell. But PAP's partner is living there, and will continue to do so after the baby is born, and that would indeed be unusual for someone who was merely a roommate.

Yes, the term "poly" can be confusing because some people use it to specifically mean multiple committed relationships (I am offended by your describing people I have very strong feelings for and have been with for multiple years as FWBs, which are fine, but not the same thing at all), and some people just use it as a synonym for ethically non-monogamous in general. A poly person may have a variety of different relationship styles over the years, depending on the other people involved and their preferences and availability. So it is useful to say "I'm poly" and have that term able to encompass multiple relationship styles. Many poly people are unmarried and prefer to be so; the stereotype of "polyamory is when a married couple open their relationship" sounds so 70s to me! So perhaps you are indeed biased, or just ignorant (which is unusual for you!). I hope it's the latter because you strike me as someone who is open-minded, and not prone to dismiss people who are poly as essentially couple-centric but slutty. That's not what it's about for most of us; we have multiple meaningful connections. If you are curious about how an individual poly person does poly, ask them. If someone says "I'm kinky" they could mean many different things, right? Poly is similar.

Harriet @74: Yes, I forgot Dan, who just today told a married man he doesn't need to tell his potential kink buddy he is married. Dan and I seem to have come down on opposite sides of all of the "should I tell?" questions lately. And Dan is monogamish, not polyamorous -- there are no significant thirds in his life who could be collateral damage from a disclosure. Don't forget Dan was the one who stated the parents already know and are pretending not to. I just went with that observation.

Harriet @78: Good point that if they do lose judgemental grandparents over this, but gain a non-toxic environment in which to raise their child with the help of other members of their poly circle, that may be a net gain.

Lulu @79: Thank you for talking not out of your ass, as the rest of us have done with at least one cheek. :-) Glad it's all going well for you.

85

@80. CMD. Peace and agreement have broken out between me and Lava (at least on two recent issues). I was addressing you directly, not using you as an intermediary.

86

@83. Emma. PAP's life and her 'truth', as she understands it, is that she's proudly poly. She's gone against the grain and risked in order to create (with her partner) a fulfilling set of relationships. She describes her parents as good, loving people--but conservative. I don't see why, with the child coming, she wouldn’t want to open her 'truth' to them.

You ask why is this set-up poly, rather than an open marriage. I think one of PAP's gf s living with the couple makes a significant difference from most open marriages. You said your 'bias', I recall, would be to believe that the couple's secondary relationships will likely become attenuated, even fall away, with the couple being preoccupied with raising a child. There is no reason to me to think this i.e. that a secondary poly LTR, in this situation, will get weaker, rather than just change, maybe get stronger, for the arrival of a baby.

87

@81. Bi. The two most recent letters make me feel old! 25 years ago, the one that would have exercised me was 'is a kinky-sex partner obliged to tell his casual lover he's married?'. I would have said 'no--it's one of the glories of queer life we can really do casual'. Now I don't care about that at all, and the issue that really gets me going is the 'out poly families' one.

88

BDF So it's not "standard" for people in poly families to live together? I'd have thought the opposite. I'm definitely biased b/c poly to me seems as old fashioned (it's ancient) as any other het arrangement including mono marriage. Ignorant, probably too, though after asking if the LW wanted to write a blog I got my lazy ass to google it and found some short descriptions (not a full on blog) from families in these relationships and it's interesting and I'm willing to learn. Tho they were mostly threes or fours living together and raising kids (resulting from different combinations of parentage) which seems to me to be way more likely to tie people together in a family than another couple who lives elsewhere and one of whom is not even involved in the family at all, if you see what I mean.

The other two women are partnered with people who are not in the poly relationship. So I'm not trying to reduce the relationship- it's literally a case in which you have three sets of partnerships and in which one partner in each is also in a relationship with one (or in the LW's case perhaps both) from the other. Which I can't distinguish what makes this any sort of new or not old fashioned poly anything rather than just people with an open relationship who fuck others in their friend circles. I'm not downplaying the emotional/relationship aspect- friendships can include love and complexity and loyalty and commitment and all that, and as for being slutty, in the first place I don't know what that word means other than likes to have sex a lot and I don't see what's wrong with that (and I didn't use that word anyway) but the LW describes them as being partnered with someone else ALSO. So I assume then that the difference is that they would not think of the others as a primary partner while their partnerships are secondary and THIS would be the distinguishing feature between someone being poly and someone just having close and meaningful sexual relationships outside of a marriage? Otherwise, as you and Harriet say, it's up to individual choice and identification. But if there's not other ties between the non primary partners, especially in regards to the children, I just wonder how much this is actually going to matter. How likely is it that all six people (at least) involved here are going to make two decades worth of prioritizing and career choices and financial decisions and household responsibilities that are necessary to raise a child- especially considering that two of these people (at least) are not even in any way connected to either the child or the bio parents?

In any case, the LW needs to make sure her parents are on the same page as she is so that they respect her family's choices, behaviors and words in front of the child, but I don't know how much they need to actually understand the specifics, especially given their reluctance to know about it at all.

89

Harriet @86: I don't consider that the woman who lives with PAP is a "secondary." People define things the way they want, but to me, if you live with someone they are your primary, and this woman appears to have two primaries. She may consider the third woman as equal to the two she lives with, too. Many people reject the idea of hierarchies in polyamory, believing this to be inherently disrespectful. In practice, however, most of us will end up spending more time with one or two people than any others. I agree that with a baby coming, most couples have less time for ANYTHING else in their lives, and this will include the non-residential partners. (Having said that, though, with three parents involved, each of them will have 50% more spare time than partners in a monogamous relationship!)

EmmaLiz @88: No; triads/quads/etc are rare. Perhaps they are more common in America where houses are bigger, but in my experience it is rare for extra partners to join a cohabiting scenario. I admit there have been few children born into the poly relationships of my acquaintance and experience. It is in part generational. GenXers are more likely to do poly as focusing on a central couple (primary plus secondaries) while millennials are more likely to do solo poly/relationship anarchy, where the central unit is one person who concurrently dates several people. How is this not just "dating," the main differences are emotional commitment and openness, ie, everyone involved knows/knows about the others.

If it helps you to wrap your brain around this style of poly by thinking of it as a web of emotionally connected, long-term FWBs, I'm not going to quibble with that understanding. Just know that it may come across as insulting to people who think of FWBs as people with whom one does not have a romantic connection.

I used the word slutty as this is a common aspersion people in open/poly relationships get slapped with. It's not about emotional connection, say the anti's, you just can't commit/keep it in your pants. Never mind that my poly relationships have on the whole lasted far longer than my serially monogamous ones.

I don't think it's likely that more than the three co-habiting partners will play a decision-making role in the child's life. I think that the other partners may be relevant, for example:
- Grandparents come by and see the two women at home and the husband out. "Where is George tonight?" they ask. "He's on a date with his other girlfriend."
- The family throws a birthday party for the child. Family members, friends and partners arrive. Grandparents see Dad kissing another woman, whom they later see going home with her husband. What's going on?
- Non-cohabiting partners stay the night, or a long-distance one may stay the weekend. Or one partner may travel for a weekend with a long-distance partner.

For all of these potentially awkward situations, plus no doubt more that my child-free mind has not envisioned, PAP wants her parents to know that their triad is not a closed one.

90

@89. Bi. OK, yes, sure, re terminology on 'primary' and 'secondary'. I'm not sure you can be a relationship anarchist and a (co-)parent. Someone here has to be realistic here and tell new partners that their time is likely to be requested unexpectedly by family members or co-habiting primaries. My 'prior' of a relationship anarchist would either be an extremely honest, hard-on-themselves person determined to make all their relationships work on the basis of their parity, or else someone whose assumption is that they'll see you on their, not on your, terms....

I'd implicitly (and not in an upset or invested way) disagree, too, with Emma over her notion of 'family' and of who is involved with whom. I'd say that a poly person IS in a relationship of some form with other members of their polycule, including those they're not having sex with. PAP's husband, for instance, is in a relationship (a family sort of relationship) with his wife's live-in lover, though not in a sexual relationship. Why shouldn't these bonds be enduring?

91

Thanks BDF. That does make things somewhat clearer in terms of how people define various relationships, and sort of like with current gender controversies, I do feel that the emphasis over different labels is the growing pains in a larger shift away from het mono norms. And I've all along agreed that the grandparents need to be informed (against their wishes) enough to not make life uncomfortable for anyone. I guess where I'm confused is the idea that the poly relationships will affect the parenting rather than just affect the parents, but after reading your post and then revisiting the letter, I see that she did not indicate that in the first place so it's probably me barking up the wrong tree.

Any bonds may or may not be enduring Harriet for any number of reasons. People's social circles tend to change after kids, and the fewer tangible ties people have to the child or to each other, the less likely they will continue on the same paths/choices after one has kids and the other does not, especially as the years march on.

92

Harriet @90: Yes. Metamour relationships are relationships, and important ones. The fact that they are important, and that they can be far more challenging to navigate than relationships with people you're having sex, feelings and oxytocin with, is one reason poly groups don't usually all live together. Most poly folks these days do not veto each other's partners, so it can't be assumed that everyone involved will by default be the best of friends.

EmmaLiz @91: Indeed, PAP only said that she is pregnant, presumably by the husband. She did not indicate whether her live-in partner will function as another Mommy or as a conveniently located babysitter; either is a possibility, but the former would certainly necessitate more disclosure than the latter. And yes, terminology around non-monogamy is evolving, and different people do have different understandings. I have understood "relationship anarchy" as meaning essentially "no commitments to anyone" (due to a less than satisfactory experience with someone who operated in this fashion), but having since read blogs by RA advocates, it seems quite similar to what I've called "solo poly," meaning essentially multiple non-cohabitating, non-hierarchical relationships. And just recently I learned the term "queerplatonic relationship," meaning a committed but non-sexual relationship which may be considered equally important to a poly person's sexual ones. I would have just called that having a close friend, personally! But upon further thought, that could apply to me and an ex I am still very close to, whom I'd live with (platonically) again if the opportunity arose, which does seem very "queer" as in strange to most people. :-)

93

M?? Harriet - One does wonder whether a mother's outside partner(s) are generally considered to have higher status in relationship to a child than a father's. This rather makes me miss Mme Sissou and the matrilineal model she proposed, in which a woman after giving birth would nominate her child's official second parent. My favourite part of that was that it would limit the number of parents to two; having a third parent would certainly have killed me.