This letter recently appeared in a Dear Prudence column:
You can read Prudie’s reply here, and below is mine:
I’m wondering why you’re curious whether you’ve gone too far. Have people seemed uncomfortable, awkward, or, in general, aghast at your news of adding a new man to your twosome? Was there a reaction you were expecting or hoping to get that you didn’t? I’d use people’s reactions and the context in which they were given as a gauge for whether or not you should continue sharing personal information like this with those particular people in that particular context.
When it comes to work friends and colleagues, for example, it’s always best to err on the side of conservative, especially in the office (as opposed to out to lunch or enjoying happy hour drinks). Personally, if a work friend asked me, “What’s new?”, I wouldn’t immediately jump into the most personal or intimate of news, especially if I knew the information might, on some level, be shocking or unexpected or even uncomfortable, regardless of how important I thought it was. Even with family or acquaintances outside the office, depending on the relationship, the dynamic between you and these people in question, and how much they know about your lifestyle, the inquiry “What’s new?” might best be answered with a discussion about upcoming vacation plans, some new restaurant you just tried, or how renovations on your kitchen are going.
If people know you are polyamorous, you could fairly seamlessly weave in something about this new man into more mundane conversation topics: “Charles and I are going to Nantucket in August, and it looks like we might have company this time. We’ve been getting to know this man, Nathan, for the last couple of months, and things are going well.” Or, if your polyamory status is news itself, I’d share that first — though maybe not as an answer to “What’s new?” — before name-dropping the new boyfriend. Maybe over brunch or happy hour or some other activity that is a normal part of your relationship/friendship, you could say, “By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it to you, but Charles and I are polyamorous. I haven’t had much reason to discuss it because until recently it was just the two of us, but we recently met someone and it’s going well and you will probably hear much more about him, so I wanted to give you a head’s up. So far, we’re all very happy!”
Finally, it’s wonderful that your budding relationship of two months is going well, but two months is still… well, just two months. I’m not sure that warrants save-the-date cards or any special announcement just yet. I get that you’re happy and excited and hopeful that this is the start of something new, but, to be honest, if a friend of mine was pulling me aside and gushing about a new boyfriend two months after meeting him, I might feel a little wary. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing here, but I am suggesting that if you feel like you’re getting some side-eye to your news, it may be more about your tone and delivery than the actual news itself. There’s a big difference between: “I’ve been seeing someone a couple months and it’s going great and I’m feeling pretty excited about our potential together” and “Oh my God! I met someone a couple months ago and I’m falling head over heels, and I think this could be it and we’re talking about when we might move in together!” Essentially, the message is the same — there’s someone new in your life you’re excited about (whether he’s part of a polyamorous relationship or not) — but the delivery is completely different (and one is a lot less side-eye inducing than the other).
Also, since you specially asked about TMI, I hope it goes without saying that no1currs about your sex life. If you’re sharing any of the details about your intimate, between-the-sheets happenings, then you deserve any weird reactions you might be getting. If you’re keeping that stuff to yourself and being normal about your delivery and not acting like you’ve just met the second love of your life and everyone needs to know because it’s just so amazing, oh my God!, then any weird reaction you might be getting is a sign that the person you’re sharing your news with probably isn’t used to not-quite-maintstream lifestyles. No biggie. The world isn’t going to stop spinning because Aunt Margaret thinks your threesome is weird. If anything, you’ve given her something new to gossip about at her next bridge game, so win-win for everyone (except, I guess, for whoever gets dealt a shitty hand).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected]arwendy.com.