Book Excerpt: Coming Out – Part 1

Below is an excerpt from my book, Not Your Mother’s Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships. I’ll be sharing a few of these occasionally. If there’s a specific topic that you’d like to hear about, let me know in the comments!

Want to get your own copy of the book? Check out all the different ways to do that here.

It’s all well and good to say that you are proud of your sexuality, your other relationships, or your other lifestyle choices, but when faced with the reality of sharing and dealing with the possible fallout, things may take an unpredictable turn.

You may have friends or family members in the know, who will choose to reveal your way of life to others. You’re at a social function and they’ll use non-monogamy, in particular, your story, as a juicy piece of party gossip. It can be completely embarrassing to be presented as a gimmick when, like me, being non-monogamous is but a small portion of what makes you a whole.

In this situation, all you can do is go with it. Gauge reactions and choose whether it is an appropriate time to start questioning modern sexuality and relationships, or if it might be best to just comment on the punch, suggesting it needs a little more “bite”.

I am certainly not saying that you should be embarrassed by your choices, and I am positive that many of you will choose to ignore this section entirely and that is fine. All I can offer you is personal experience, and perhaps a little forethought, that you can use before entering into revealing territory.

Coming out and revealing your new lifestyle to family and friends possibly seems like a very overwhelming concept. Especially if your life up until now has been pretty standard societal fare, whether you’re in a long-term relationship or single, perceived as trying to find the one. Why should you tell your family and friends your bedroom business? There’s nothing that says you should. You might feel better keeping the details of last week’s foursome to yourself, but telling people about your overall views on relationships and sexuality might be rewarding for you.

This chapter features the different people in your life that you may want to come out to, and the issues that might arise, from learning how to feel good in your own choices, to dealing with the family. Coming out is a journey as unique as you are, and is a very personal decision.

Is It Worth It?

To say that this is a loaded question is a bit of an understatement. There are so many things to take into consideration before you tell anyone about your lifestyle choice.

How serious are your additional relationships, or how serious are you hoping that they will become? If your non-monogamous activities are strictly sexual, and there’s little to no chance of the family running into you and your lovers at the local sex club (awkward!), then perhaps no one needs to know you’re a swinger. Alternatively, if you’re planning on growing your family by having other partners move in, you may have to consider tackling the issue of explaining the situation to friends and family who come to visit.

Do you work somewhere where being out could cause a lot of problems? For example, if you’re a schoolteacher and parents find out, there might be a severe backlash from the community. However unwarranted, it’s still a serious possibility for many career choices, particularly those that involve working with the community, and especially with children. Sadly non-monogamists are still seen by some people as deviants in many parts of North America and beyond.

Are you generally a more private or open person? If you have always had no qualms with keeping things to yourself then you likely are not feeling a big push to share your news with anyone. There are several reasons that people keep things like this private; people could use it against you; you risk alienating loved ones, losing your job, or losing community standing. It may even be illegal in your neck of the woods.

Perhaps you feel that bedroom and relationship issues are nobody’s business besides those involved, and that’s 100% your prerogative. It can definitely be frustrating when you have to hide your affection around the friends and family of lovers who choose not to share with others. But there’s really nothing you can do but respect their decision and do your best to go with the flow and follow their lead.

Embracing Your New Self

If you’re like many people in modern society, you’ve grown up with the image of man and wife getting married and living happily ever after. The traditional definition of family is changing, and here in Canada, four in ten first marriages end in divorce while common-law families are growing faster than any other type of family, according to a study by the Vanier Institute of the Family released in October 2010. Even though times are a-changing, we still have some programming deep within ourselves that needs to be undone.

Accepting my new open self was an interesting journey. While all of our feelings were being validated in books and articles, I still questioned my new path. If it felt so right, why hadn’t I thought of it before? Why had I never questioned monogamy growing up? Here are some Q&As that might help you come out … to yourself.

Is this just a phase?

Maybe. Maybe not. Would it really be so bad if this were your new identity? It’s certainly a challenging road to take if you end up discovering that it isn’t meant for you, but wouldn’t you rather know instead of spending your life wandering? No matter what, the self-awareness that you’ll gain should be tremendous.

Is it me or is it my relationships that are non-monogamous?

Interesting question. Some people say that non-monogamy is their identity, no matter who they are involved with, while others remain open to the possibility of closing up a relationship, if both parties feel that it is the best thing to do. Personally, I feel that I am just as much non-monogamous as I am queer, and that it would be the same if I were single and not married. I’d likely be looking for a primary partner, with the flexibility to see other people. At the end of the day, focusing on being happy, and not worrying about how to label that happiness, is likely your best option. 

On that note: Do I have to always be open?

Do you have to always have long hair? No, of course not. Your dating life is just like any other aspect of your self. If you ask yourself what you would like for dinner, you can also ask yourself how many you’d like at the table. If you’re solo and find a partner that you’d like to be your primary, maybe you’d like to only be with them for a short while, or for forever. Do what feels right to you, without worrying about pressure to be something you’re not.

Does this make me a freak?

I obviously don’t think so but some people might. I realize this will be not so easy to digest for those of you coming from a more heteronormative background, but is it really the end of the world to be doing something freakish? Who’s going to improve the world for the better if the freaks don’t stand up and make changes? You want to have honest, happy, and healthy sex and relationships; that’s the most normal thing I’ve heard in a long time!

Will God still love me?

I’m an atheist, but for those of you who worry about this one and are feeling guilty about wanting more than one partner, here’s my personal belief. Granted I’m presenting it very briefly, in a simplified fashion, and if you are a person of faith, please take my advice with a grain of salt. Sometimes things like this need to cut away all the political, religious, and other expected bullshit. Yes, God will still love you, regardless of who’s in your bed, because, well you’re awesome and he or she wants you and the rest of your lovers to be happy. You are awesome, aren’t you?

 Am I awesome?

I thought we just covered this!