Back when I was working a square job, I actually went through the process of coming out at work. It was entirely for practical reasons: my coworkers were wondering why I was constantly unavailable for after work functions, and didn’t understand why I was commuting on the Blue Line and on the 136 bus. It was easier to explain that I was dating and staying over at different houses than constantly come up with interesting elaborate lies every time.
I was pretty much the only poly person my coworkers had ever encountered, so they were pretty perplexed by the situation. None of them were judgmental or offensive at all, and I know that I was lucky for that. But I did get just about every basic poly question imaginable. And sometimes these questions were coming from such a base level of ignorance it was hard not to chuckle at their well-intentioned inquiries.
I like being in a position to explain polyamory to people, and share my experiences. I like being a shaman. And I hope that by walking someone down that path for the first time, that it will make it all the easier for the next poly person they encounter to be more accepted and more understood than they would otherwise.
My favorite person to talk poly with at work was this really mono-oriented dorky straight guy. He had some pretty clear ideas on what he thought roles were in relationships, and how gender “should” work, and had fully embraced societal expectations on nearly all levels. I didn’t judge him for this, but I would always go out of my way to challenge his unevaluated assumptions. And the best part was, at the time, he was very single and very much wanted that to change. So his questions about my dating life were very entertaining.
The second he found out that I was married and was seeing other people, he started asking me for dating advice. Everything from where to meet people (get ye to online dating, dorky dude), to where to go on dates (get ye to Silver Cloud, Wicker Park dude), to how to behave to impress “the ladies”. And that last one was the part where we ran into trouble, because he didn’t treat my “just be yourself, don’t expect things, and have fun” answer like it had any real value.
He wanted the secrets, and clearly I had them since I was married and dating four other women. Why wouldn’t I just tell him what the super secret combination to ladies was? His frustration was palpable.
One day, after a rather long conversation about how he couldn’t really meet anyone using OKCupid, I told him that it was a matter of being patient. That dating is hard, and it’s harder the more pressure you put on it. And he replied that it was very easy for me to say that since I was “hoarding women.”
I thought this was just about the best thing anyone had ever said to me. Not just because it was built on such a giant pile on self-inflicted monogamous stress, but also because it was patently false! He could have tried dating anyone that was I already dating. I was totally doing the opposite of what he was implying, in every measurable sense.
So I talked him through it. In the same way that I talked him through a lot of the preconceptions that he had about dating or poly or roles. And it all did end up alright for him, I guess. He learned some things. He did meet someone and went on a bunch of dates, and they did move in together. He said at one point that he and his girlfriend really owe me a nice dinner, since I was instrumental in getting them together.
I’ll just need to decide which of the women in my hoard to bring along.