When Should You “Come Out” About Your Open Relationship?

Are you obligated to "come out" and tell people about having an open relationship?

When Should You
When Should You "Come Out" About Your Open Relationship?

Modern relationship styles come in all different shapes and sizes these days, and open relationships are becoming common

If you are in an open relationship, you may feel nervous about admitting to friends and loved ones your state of affairs, and may wonder if you should “come out.” Society has only recently become more open minded about relationships different to heterosexual monogamy. It is only in recent history that the western world had given them more freedom of expression.

Polygamy has existed since the dawn of time. Similarly, polyandry, while rare, exists in some remote Tibetan and African tribes. In contrast, the western world has been practicing heterosexual monogamy for centuries. Now that contraceptive use is more widespread in the west people are starting to explore more diverse styles of relationships. However, it is hard for people who firmly hold on to traditionalism to be open-minded about alternative relationships.


Non-traditional relationships

Everyone is aware of the struggles that people in the LGBTQ community face when “coming out” to family and friends. It was only around a century ago that authorities were arresting people for falling in love with someone society deemed inappropriate. Sadly, to this day, many cultures around the world retain laws that enable society to treat LGBTQ people violently. Some countries even sentence such people to death. Therefore, “coming out” as LGBTQ has always been fraught with potential danger.

If you are in a relationship that doesn’t fit within the monogamous framework, such as an open relationship, you may worry what your family and friends would think if they found out. Ironically, even many LGBTQ couples can view anything outside of monogamy as too unnatural. Therefore, many people who are polyamorous, who practice open relationships, may feel tempted to keep it a secret.


Out and proud

However, individuals who practice polyamory sometimes feel restricted by living, what they believe, is a lie. Having friends and family see them in public with more than one partner means they might face tricky questions. Some may accuse you of committing adultery. Others could assume you are sex-obsessed or kinky. Additionally, polyamorous people may have one or more partners that wish to brazenly “come out.” They could be putting pressure on you to be “out and proud.”

In an interview with Refinery 29, psychotherapist Kristy LaRocca explains how kept secrets and withheld information create walls between people. These barriers can impact relationships in a detrimental way. This is especially so when the consequences of “coming out” could destroy relationships with families. Even worse when these families that have been acting as a support network.




Preparing for worse case scenarios

For example, many religious parents will reject and eject a family member who does not abide by traditions. Therefore, similarly to what can happen with coming out as LGBTQ, people coming out as polyamorous can also make others exhibit derision. Therefore, polyamorous people need to decide with caution whether or not they want to be honest about their romantic life. These individuals need to weigh up what would be the consequences.  What if their family chooses to alienate them?

According to Eric Yarbrough, Psychiatric Director at Callen-Lorde Community Center in New York, it is key that you plan for a worse case scenario. Ask yourself how dependent you are on the individual/s to whom you are coming out. It is important that you create a concise plan of action that enables you to become entirely independent. Initially, this may seem unfair. But the universe contains no written rule that says everyone deserves fairness.

Fairness is something we choose to create. Therefore, prepare yourself to begin a new life. A life in which you can perpetuate your own values.  Create a new world where you surround yourself with people who genuinely love and care about you. And you never know: your family and friends may still love you no matter what lifestyle you have chosen!


References: Quora, ABC TVHuffington Post