Betrayed

Friday, November 20, 2009

Question

How do I handle coming out to a friend that not only doesn't understand how polyamorous relationships aren't about hurting your partners but is more dangerous for catching STDs than monogamy? I feel violated by her reaction even though she's done enough herself to be judged by anyone. How can I be friends with someone who in their heart doesn't respect my choices and whom I can't trust to not talk bad about me behind my back?

Are there no polyamorous support groups in the area to talk about these common issues that polyamorous people tend to go through? I know there are on-line blogging groups but I would like to meet and know people of a similar mindset. There is a difference from having an actual presence in your life to a mere on-line presence. I feel shaken to my core and I have to be at work in an hour and a half.

Answer

It sounds like you were shamed and even violated by your "friend's" response to the revelation that you are polyamorous. Do all my readers understand that this is a form of nonmonogamy that involves sustaining more than one caring, committed, romantic and sexual relationship? Good!

The simple answer is, I don't think you can be friends with somebody who disrespects your sexuality, slanders your relationships, and talks trash about you when you aren't around. There's no way you can educate somebody who has such a closed mind and a negative, judgmental attitude. She doesn't care what the truth is or how polyamoury really works. She just wants to tear you apart because, for some reason, you trigger a lot of fear and self-righteousness in her.

Unfortunately, most people have a similar reaction to nonmonogamy. They think it's a joke, that people are trying to have their cake and eat it too. The fact that you have to be more careful to prevent the transmission of STDs is, in their minds, just evidence that polyamoury is wrong. Meanwhile, allegedly "monogamous" husbands maintain an illusion of faithfulness by visiting sex workers, and often give their wives STDs because they are irresponsible about using condoms.

I believe that the capacity to love more than one person at a time is hard-wired, rather like sexual orientation. A truly monogamous person who isn't just following the herd and doing what society tells him or her he should do can't comprehend polyamoury because they do not understand its emotional basis.

But that doesn't make the rest of us wrong or bad or evil. Our romantic and sexual drives are valid. Being monogamous makes us really unhappy. It makes complete sense for us to seek one another out and try to create novel forms of relationships that do work for us.

Unfortunately, I don't know where you are located, so I can't find a support group for you. I am unsure if such groups exist anyway. I think the Internet remains the easiest way to find people who share your lifestyle. There's always a good chance that you will locate somebody compatible in other ways who lives close enough to have a face-to-face friendship.

In the meantime, figure out how you can "break up" with this toxic person. Get her out of your life. And don't let her negative remarks resonate in your head. Write them down, and next to every one, write the truth, the positive response that demonstrates she does not speak for you. Being different is not the same thing as being wrong.