Spilling Dye: How To Make A Poly Relationship Work

I had a heart-wrenching night on Saturday—way too many ups and downs. So many that I almost gave up on something truly wonderful in my life. After it all happened I scoured the internet for articles about being polyamorous and dealing with adult family and “in-laws,” but I could hardly find anything. Everything that came up about family was about raising kids. There was nothing on “coming out poly.” So, here’s my story in hopes that it might help someone else.


Way before Pedro and I ever talked about the possibility of dating, I had been over to his house for a school-related project. Apparently, after I left, his dad was teasing Pedro about me, and asked him if we were ‘getting friendly’. Pedro, of course replied right away by saying “No, dad she’s married,” as anyone would if they didn’t think ‘getting friendly’ was on the horizon. So nearly from the beginning his whole family (most importantly, his mom) knew that I am married. Months later, when Pedro and I started a relationship with my husband’s blessing, I started spending a lot of time hanging around in Pedro’s room, watching TV and cuddling. When Pedro’s dad talked to him about what was going on Pedro explained the polyamorous arrangement. While Pedro’s dad didn’t really understand it from my Hubby’s perspective, he still seemed fine with it. He liked me and his son was happy. He did tell Pedro to be careful, but that was the end of it from his dad’s side.

Pedro’s mom was a whole different story.

She told Pedro more than a few times that he should be careful, that he was getting in over his head, etc. I know when she said these things she was thinking that I was cheating on my husband, no matter how many times Pedro tried to explain it to her. I know that she just wants to protect her son. She’s from a very traditional Latino / Catholic background, and she expects her family to live and behave in the way that she believes is appropriate. When her family deviates from her expectations, she takes it personally; she sees it as her failing as a mother. She has still always been nice to me, which has always been a blessing. In the very beginning, I was terrified that she thought I was a horrible cheating slut, but as time went on and I got to know her better, I felt accepted. I figured that, she’s not stupid, and she knew what was going on, but she kept that out of her mind because she didn’t want to be reminded of her son’s inappropriate relationship. She does like me as a person, and so cannot bring herself to be rude or nasty to me. That’s all fine with me. She can live in her denial, while Pedro and I have our relationship.

One day, after being at the dance studio for a while I stopped at Pedro’s house to drop off a flash drive with some music that I wanted to share with him. While I was there, his parents invited us both out to dinner. I had been at the studio and had that I-need-a-shower-and-am-still-wearing-the-sweats-I-have-been-teaching-in-all-day kind of look, and neither Pedro nor I was really hungry, so we said no thank you, and tried to decline. After Pedro’s dad did a lot of arm twisting, we finally agreed to join them.

I’ve had dinner with them before plenty of times. I’ve even been out to dinner with them before— in fact I want out with them for Pedro’s dad’s birthday. I had a great time out with them on that occasion, and I had a great time out with them on this day. We were all talking and laughing about various stories. This time, like the other times, I felt the connection with his family was getting stronger. Which is a HUGE deal for me. Of course anyone would want to feel close, or at least friendly, with a significant other’s family, but this connection with Pedro’s family is way more important to me.

After dinner, I left Pedro and his family to their Easter egg coloring, and headed off to see my best friend and her husband (Janet & Jake). I was over at Janet & Jake’s, on the other side of town, for about an hour and a half when I got a call from Pedro. In the middle of dipping eggs in cups of dye, his mom started talking to him about the elephant in the room. He tried very hard to explain the situation to her yet again. To try to illustrate that my husband really does know about our relationship and is fine with it, he even told her about my girlfriend who lives with us. Her response to this was to declare that was that I am a lesbian. He used every angle he could possibly think of to try to explain it, but she couldn’t get past the idea that my husband doesn’t own me. Finally, she said “everything you are and believe in is wrong.” (He lives openly as an Asatru heathen [Add as link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Neopaganism%5D.) That ended that conversation. Pedro got the hell out of there so he could call me and let me know what happened.

Polyamory agrees with Pedro.

Having never been in a poly situation before, it is really amazing how naturally he took to it. Most people have serious hang-ups transitioning to a polyamorous way of thinking, and it often takes a lot of self-discovery and work to get through a whole host of issues, jealously prime among them. I have never seen anyone more naturally poly than Pedro. So, when I heard that she said that everything about him was wrong it also felt like a personal attack on me and my lifestyle. I felt completely slapped in the face. She may still like me as a person and be able to separate our relationship and my lifestyle from me, but I can’t do that. I am who I am. All of it. You can’t pick and choose parts. So, I suddenly felt kicked to the curb and very unwelcome in his house.

Even though I was fuming and wanted to give her a piece of my mind, I came upon a devastating realization. No matter how irrational his mother can be about things, she is his mother. Family is very important to him, and the last thing I wanted to do was come between him and his family. We had been together only a couple months; we were very hopeful for the future, but anything could happen. His family, on the other hand, will always be there. I might be, I might not. I really felt that the best thing for me to do was end it now before we got more attached to each other–before the rift between him and his family opened wider. So, I left J&J’s to drive back over to the west side in order talk to him in person. This clearly was not a phone conversation.

It was horrible.

I cried all the way over to the west side of town. Why does the radio always know what to play to make you cry? Fuck that radio. Setting my iPod on shuffle didn’t work either, no matter how much metal I had on there. Fuck my iPod too.

I got there and did my best to tell him how I felt while not turning into a complete puddle on the floor. We talked for while, me trying to hold my ground and do what I thought was best for him. In the end though, I realized it’s his decision, not mine. He can stay or leave. I don’t get to choose what I think is best for him. My only choice is how I interact with his family. If his mom feels that way then clearly she doesn’t want me hanging around. I decided I was not going to continue to eat their food and take advantage of their hospitality knowing how she felt. Even if she was completely nice to me, I would know the truth. I felt it would be disrespectful for me to continue to come to her home under those conditions. It’s not like poly is easy, but I knew this would make it that much harder. What if we do have a long future together? How would things work out if our relationship is so wrong in their eyes? Even after Pedro didn’t live there any more it would still be difficult at times. It all felt so Montague/Capulet and I was in despair.

“How is this ever going to work?” I cried to him.
Taking me in his arms he said, “With hope and faith.”
I looked up at him, tears beginning to fade and some hope creeping in to take its place. I inched closer into the warmth of his body, reaching my arms out around. Looking up into his eyes I said, “You forgot one…… love.”


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