The place and house I grew up in are incredibly important to me and I am lucky that my loves feel a similar way but visiting presents a number of challenges.
Not least there is the issue of alternative lifestyles in a rural village – and trust me two women having sex is still pretty alternative round here, so we haven’t yet got to 3. That is not ever to say that the people I grew up with and the community in general are not open and welcoming and capable of embracing their own protectively against those who would scorn or injure them just that these things are dealt with subtly, slowly and ineffably.
More importantly however there is the issue of my parents. For various reasons, less to do with the attitude of my parents and more to do with self-esteem (only a hundred times more complex than that sounds), I am not openly poly to my parents. 80% of the time this is not the slightest problem since they are not actively involved in my life on even a weekly basis and I often visit them alone.
However, there are two main problems – the first is that when my parents are around B gets nervous and the second is that any time W, B and my parents in the same place W & B are both separately twice as anxious as they would be simply in the presence of the aged ones alone. B’s basic parental anxiety is based on a worry that he will slip up and reveal our relationship either through saying the wrong thing or because his instinct to hug, kiss or otherwise touch me might go unchecked. It is exacerbated by the knowledge that he wants them to like him but doesn’t know how to handle their easy generosity. W’s normal anxiety is her normal anxiety – that everyone around her doesn’t actually like her, and being my parents they might extra dislike out of some say underlying homophobia or more likely because they want “something better” for me. When the 2 of them come together in my parents’ company W worries firstly that they prefer B to her (and thus everything he does makes her feel inadequate) and secondly that she will become irrationally angry at his existence and his usurpation. B of course becomes more paranoid that something he will do will upset someone including me and begins to feel that he is completely outclassed by W both because my parents accept and welcome our relationship and because she can keep pace with my father intellectually even after a few drinks.
So how do you keep two people from escalating a competition that is entirely in their minds and steer the conversation to safe topics? If I’m honest I haven’t the faintest idea. I want them to get on with the folks, I want them to enjoy my home but what I don’t want is to make life difficult and make either of them miserable. Maybe I need to back off some more and allow my 2 families to stay at a respectable distance or maybe the answer is small-scale exposure.
On the other hand I still get to share the joy of my home and its quirks with the people I love and that makes me happy