I first considered the implications of polyamory when I was in my teens. An eight-year-old girl I was baby-sitting mentioned her boyfriend, Johnny. The previous week, her boyfriend was named Kevin so I asked what happened to him. “Oh, he’s still my boyfriend,” she responded. “Johnny is just my SPARE boyfriend, you know, in case I decide to stop liking Kevin, or he moves away!” It occurred to me then, that loving more than one person had always seemed possible to me, even normal.
Fifteen years later I was living with my boyfriends, one old and one new. It felt deceptive to keep my newest partner from my family. I knew that to honor him I would have to come out to my parents.
I grew up in a family where sexuality was a bit of a paradox. Although it was a private thing, not often discussed, we had several books on ‘growing up’ and were allowed to take some scientific and fairly explicit books out of our town library to get the details. So despite the moratorium on discussion my siblings and I had a pretty clear idea of how sex and love happened and who was involved. You can imagine my apprehension when I realized that my mother’s impending visit meant coming out to her as poly sooner rather than later.
I waited until I had a captive audience as I picked her up at the airport.
“So mom, I thought you should know I’m dating Chris now.” There was a long, dramatic pause.
“You are!? What happened to Kyle?”
“No Mom, I mean I’m dating both of them.”
“In the same house! How the heck does that work?”
At a loss for words, all I could come up with was, “Magic, mom, magic.”
And looking back, sometimes I think it was.