Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pragmatism and Polyamory

This week was the discussion group at our home. One of the topics we were looking into was being partly closeted, and what the advantages, disadvantages, simplifications and complications that being halfway in or out could engender. As I listened to the accumulated wisdom and experience being verbalized, it became fairly apparent that the vast majority of us are highly motivated by pragmatism. In other words, we tend to do what makes the most sense on a practical level at a given time.

While that may sound like a no-brainer, the interesting thing to me was that so many of us had different definitions of what was practical, and some even defined their ideals as practicalities. Here's an example: "My goal is to be out of the closet to everyone, no matter where or who I am with." A person who holds that as an ideal may feel diminished or put upon when attending a function with a partner who isn't as fully out, or opt out of such events, or even decide not to date anyone who isn't out as fully as they are. It isn't pragmatic to them to be closeted with anyone, as it infringes on their personal freedom, requiring them to censor poly stuff.

On the other hand, someone may define their ideal in similar terms, but have areas that are exceptions, "My goal is to be out of the closet in as many places and spheres as possible, but the fact that I am poly isn't the business of those that I work with, and I choose not to disclose that there." Or perhaps there is family that they aren't out with, due to safety concerns.

Another exception to being out that came up was the idea that sharing about poly with people who would then want to process it, ask questions, understand it, was too complicating, and being less open was a way to keep complications in life to a minimum. In short, to keep things simple, some people choose to stay in the closet to certain people or groups.

These were all interesting points, and I found that for me, a pendulum has shifted in the past couple of years. It used to take more effort for me to be out, and a conscious energy was put into sharing that information with people. Now, I find myself on the opposite end of the spectrum, where it requires concentration to edit myself regarding poly to others. It's harder to be closeted than out for me now. There are still a few spheres that I am not out in, primarily things that pertain to work (major sources of business are LDS), and a desire not to shock my frail grandmother to an early grave!

Not to wish ill on my grandma, but the day will come where I won't be concerned for her health, and the rest of the family I am either out to already, or I have no concern for over this topic. My goal over the next several years is to continue to cultivate my community, and orient my business to rely on clients and referral sources that I don't fear will shun me for my poly ways, leading me to actually be open and out in every sphere of my life. That shiny day is on the horizon, and I look forward to it with anticipation!


Anonymous said...

I hope that someday we can all be out :)

polyfulcrum said...

Same here. For now, I will be honest with anyone gutsy enough to ask a direct question, and take it on a case by case basis beyond that.