Ask Wendy

I’m Polyamorous. Do I Have to Meet His Parents?

Friday, November 29, 2019
Hey Wendy,

I’ve been in a polyamorous relationship with a wonderful man for the last three and a half years. We don’t live together because we are both married to other people, and everyone likes each other, so there’s no problem there.

Here’s my dilemma: I’m working in New York in December and January. My boyfriend will be visiting his family for the holidays in New York. He’s asked me to meet his parents as his girlfriend. I’m kinda freaked out. I think saying “no” to him sends the wrong message. I feel like our relationship is solid, I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not embarrassed to be with him. I just don’t think his aging parents will get it, and they’ll likely look at me as a homewrecker, which I am not. Should I go or should I tell him no?

Tiffany F. – Los Angeles

Hey Tiffany,

Being a pioneer is never easy, and rarely comfortable, but you know that already. Here are my questions:

  • Do they already know he’s polyamorous?
  • Do they already know he’s in a relationship besides his wife?
  • Do they know about you? Your name? Your situation? Etc.
  • Are they open-minded?
  • Are they religiously and/or morally opposed to how you live your life?

These are all important factors in granting your “yes.”

If they’re open-minded aging New Yorkers who were hippies or beatniks in the sixties, they might be fine. More conservative or super Christian, perhaps not. Which I find ironic, since Jesus said, “love people” and that’s exactly what you’re doing, but the Christian thing is another topic for another time.  Back to your sitch.

Ask your boyfriend why he wants you all to meet. Does he expect you’ll be welcomed into the family, or is he out to prove he’s doing life on his terms despite them? And how’s his track record around being realistic in his expectations and predictions? Three and a half years gives you some clues, I’d think.

If you decide to meet them, may I recommend you go out to a nice restaurant instead of their family home? Show up with a good story or three, be yourself, don’t drink too much out of nerves, and don’t worry about impressing them—it’s dinner out with strangers. You’ve done it before, you’ll do it again, and if they like you, great. If they don’t, that’s not on you.

And finally, before you go, the two of you need to hatch up an aftercare plan to make sure you’re in good shape no matter how it goes. If the evening goes totally sideways, what happens after that? Make sure he can be there to put you back together if you think you might need that. If I were in your shoes, I’d schedule a massage for the next day. Aftercare is always worth doing, whether you’re running a marathon or meeting the in-laws (of a sort) for the first time.

Good luck!

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