This past weekend I received a lot of sad texts. Both Tinkerbell and The Flautist had a rough time of it with family, and for both it was because they are polyamorous. Their situations are different but there are some really important similarities. Both came out to their families thinking that it would be fine and that people would be okay with it and both have had real problems being accepted.
It is worse on the holidays. Something about ritual time together winds up the stress and anxiety level and having people be hostile to you in that situation is hard. You can't get away without offending people and so often you have your own desire for a happy family time get torpedoed by people who insist on belittling or dismissing your choices. I think because holidays are so wrapped up in other sorts of tradition people get into the mindset that everyone ought to pretend to be perfectly average people so you can all fit into the nice 'normal' box.
I am lucky with my own family this way - some of them really don't get my choices, but they haven't ever made it a problem when I visit. I don't expect people to convert and I know that for many polyamory is inexplicable but as long as they decide to just set it aside and treat me as they always have I won't fuss. I don't discuss it around Wendy's family, as I am sure that would be a disaster (though what shape the disaster would take I can't say exactly) so in that regard I am in a similar boat to my paramours. Keeping silent to avoid a mess isn't fun, especially for me.
This is why I talk about polyamory here and why I won't just shut up about it. People who accept all kinds of other life choices still consistently react badly to news that their relatives have open relationships or are polyamorous. Moreover because it is still a small, fringe sort of thing people feel justified in being awful to polyamorous people.
Somehow because poly is still on the margins people largely have it in their heads that it is okay to be cruel and unpleasant to poly people in order to try to get them to stop doing it, or at the least pretend it doesn't exist. There is a pervasive idea that just talking about poly is somehow offensive, crude, or rude, and that is so messed up.
If a polyamorous person is trying to recruit you, then certainly feel free to be dismissive. But even then you should expect that if you try to recruit them into monogamy that they will be equally dismissive. But if all they ask of you is to accept their way of being then you need to just do that.
Right now our society is in a place where it is expected that if a polyamorous person comes out to their family they will end up being treated badly. The norm is that you either shut up and hide in the closet or end up being made miserable. I shouldn't have the expectation that people I care about are going to be made unhappy every holiday and that I will get lots of stories of woe. Who needs family that acts like that?
The way I fix this is by being loud. The way the world gets better in this way starts with people knowing that poly exists, that lots of people do it, and that there is nothing wrong with it.
My being loud probably won't help the people romantically involved with me, certainly not quickly. These changes take time. But fielding sad texts on holiday weekends (and sometimes sending ones of my own) because of anti poly bigotry shouldn't be a feature of my life, and I am going to take what steps I can to nudge the world to a better place.