I did this for several reasons. One was simply that I was scared of this whole reunion thing and I felt that having the support of all three of my loves would help a lot with that. One was that I figured I actually really don't need to impress these people in some 'look what an excellently functioning regular member of society I am way'. One was that I am just tired of always having to think, even if we're all going to a given event, 'who is my 'official' date and who is just there along with us' so that we don't confuse people. And one was 'f*%k it, I want to be allowed to bring my partners just like other people bring theirs and I don't want to have to pretend'.
So off we went, all pretty nervous about how this was going to go.
For the tl/dr: it went pretty fine.
I introduced the guys as my boyfriends and the girlfriend as my girlfriend. Some people did a double-take. Others just looked blank. A few people had accidentally already found out because one of my old friends had outed me. This part I actually really enjoyed. A girl from school said to my friend 'Yeah, I'll be there with my husband and my girlfriend and my girlfriend's girlfriend'. And my friend said 'Oh that's fantastic because AnotherCountryGirl is going to be there with all her partners so it's cool there'll be more than one poly group'. To which she got a blank stare, and realised that 'girlfriend' had meant 'friend who is a girl'. When she explained, everyone found it amusing and kind of cute. Not weird, just kind of cute and funny. I liked that.
Some people asked me questions. Some people chatted to my loves. Some people asked stupid questions (but obvious ones) like, 'so are you all going to have sex together when you get home?' The answer was 'we wouldn't normally and we're definitely going to be too tired after this anyway'. I danced with boyfriend #2 and girlfriend. We were all affectionate with each other, but not all PDA about it. People sat with us and seemed perfectly comfortable. Some people said clearly that they didn't get it, or that it wasn't for them, but they didn't say it judgementally and nobody said anything about us going to hell or anything like that.
I'm pretty damn sure there were plenty of tongues wagging off where we couldn't hear them. But on the whole everyone tried to be cool, and kind. And that's a win as far as I'm concerned.
So, here are the things I learned from this that may be useful:
- First talk about doing something like this with your partners. Make sure everyone is on the same page and is comfortable with it. We didn't really talk about it enough and we landed up all being a bit unnecessarily stressed about the occasion.
- It helps if there are one or two people at the occasion who already know your life choice and respect it. You feel more secure, and they can help mediate with others.
- Nonchalance works quite well. People deal surprisingly well with 'So let me introduce you to my boyfriends and my girlfriend, this is Boyfriend 1, and Girlfriend, and Boyfriend 2. Guys, this is X. So, X, what are you up to these days....blah blah blah'. If you don't act like it's a huge deal, people are more inclined (it seems) to try and be cool.
- Be normal. If you normally are affectionate with your partners in public spaces, that's fine. If you're normally quite restrained, that's fine too. It felt, to me, like us behaving in a way that was comfortable and regular for us made people feel comfortable with it.
- Don't make everything about your situation. Introduce your partners. Answer questions if they're asked. But talk to other people and show interest in them and they'll soon be far more interested in themselves than in you.
- Support your partners. If you're at an occasion that's more about one of you (like a reunion), they won't know anyone. Don't leave them in a corner. Introduce them to nice people and include them in conversation, dancing and so on. This goes for people with only one partner at something like this too. I saw a couple of bored-looking guys and girls sitting on the outskirts at this party, clearly wondering why the hell their partner found us all so charming.
- Believe in yourself. Nobody has a right to question your choices. You don't need to be aggressive, just firm. If you're clear that you know your lifestyle is different, but it's not weird or creepy, and you're happy and fulfilled, it goes a long way.
- Know that none of the above will stop asshats from being asshats. They are not your problem. Just walk away.