Does polyamorous coming out actually exist?

In an interview, I was asked if I had a polyamorous coming-out. Spontaneously I felt irritated by this term and I tried to differentiate or relativize. In this article, I will like to look more closely at the question of whether coming out from my point of view fits with polyamory and whether polyamory is an individual (sexual) orientation. ((This text was translated by Viktor Leberecht from an original and intellectually rather sophisticated original German text. Any mistakes in English language or “translation” of the original ideas are entirely my fault.))

What is a coming out?

I consider a coming-out so as to have one or several identities or sexual orientations, although these do not correspond to the usual norm. The beginning is probably often an admission in the sense that one sees something as identity-forming and identifies him- or herself by it, although it falls outside the range of conventional norms.

One example would be a young man who realizes that only men attract him erotically. First, it will be more of an idea and will be done in secret, but – hopefully – at some point, he will feel to live it openly. The more intolerant the environment, the more difficult will be the self-confession and even the public coming out.

The term also seems to me to be very suitable for transsexuality, since it is defined as a constant which does not come suddenly and perhaps disappears, but which is permanently present as part of the identity. Of course, it may be that someone denies or suppresses this identity aspect for a long time since it takes a lot of courage to go on this path. But presumably, those affected would confirm that even a late coming out does not mean that this identification was made late, but that it was always there.

Bisexuals are not infrequently irritated. In most societies, a simple classification system is used. In what category should they be fitted? The duality heterosexual/homosexual is disturbed thanks to bisexuals. Obviously, sexual orientation is not focused on just one gender.

And what about all those who have more fluctuating identities or orientations? There are also people who live heterosexually, then they have a homosexual coming out and years later they fall in love again hetero. Pansexuals deliberately live openly and without commitment.

From my point of view, the authentic self is what currently is subjectively real for this person, and if someone knows for themselves and decides that only heterosexuality is possible or homosexuality, that is to be respected as well as openness to both.

Polyamorous coming out

Now I come to my doubts, why I am not quite sure whether I would – at least for me – speak of a polyamorous coming-out. I see a problem in the fact that one defines one’s identity, so to speak, by ostensibly proclaiming it, by coming out.

When I say, “I am poly and actually, I have always been poly “, I do a kind of belated reconstruction that all those moments, in which I was immortally in love and dreamed of a romantic monogamous relationship, I was actually not could also be that a coming out actually happens due to the social pressure, to please reveal, into which group one fits and belongs. Or because you yourself have trouble to ask yourself again and again about who you are and how you want to live. And clearly, it can be that the bottom line is a polyamorous way of life fitting quite well with your own wishes and experiences and yet I would not definitely want to define myself this way. What do I know what will happen to me tomorrow? Do I aspire at all to this identity or is it not much more so that I am glad that I allow this POSSIBILITY as one among several?

It might also occur that a coming out actually happens due to social pressure to reveal into which group one fits and belongs. Or because you yourself have trouble to ask yourself again and again about who you are and how you want to live. And clearly, it can be that the bottom line is a polyamorous way of life fitting quite well with your own wishes and experiences and yet I would not definitely want to define myself this way. What do I know what will happen to me tomorrow? Do I aspire at all to this identity or is it not much more so that I am glad that I allow this POSSIBILITY as one among several?

I am much more comfortable with an empty space where I am now or what I am. I do not mean that I no longer know who I am: Of course, there are identifications that reappear every day, but I do not have to “out” myself.

Another dimension concerns the question of whether polyamorous people are actually different from other people at all, as is the case with transsexuals since not all people have the strong desire to change their body to a different gender. Polyamory, on the other hand, seems to me to be more linked to a process of consciousness, which, from my point of view, people can go through when they have the openness to ask uncomfortable questions.

In their book “Sex at Dawn”, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá criticize the pseudo-science assumptions that define humans as monogamous creatures – they show that anything else is more likely than monogamy. In this respect, polyamory (here in particular in the Sense of sexual openness) is rather a coming out, that we stand by our nature and do not subject ourselves to social values and norms and less an individual matter in which one discovers very special personal qualities and reveals them to society.

And yet, as long as the norm is defined differently, for the individual repeat occurrences of coming out actually happen. Since it is still a taboo and in my youth was even more so, I had to find out that there is a concept, for what I always felt. Polyamory! There it was, and it was not just a bauble of mine.

It took courage to tell my parents that I did not find anything wrong with having multiple relationships at the same time, or that I had written a book about polyamory. I also talked in interviews on the subject, without hiding that it has something to do with me personally. And, of course, there was an enthusiasm when I did realize that I do not need to be ashamed of it and do not have to hide loving multiple people.

It was also a fact that over the course of time I became more and more acquainted with people, who shared my views on relationships and also lived similarly. This is a process that lasts for many years and there are certainly parallels to what is commonly understood by coming out. Perhaps the point comes when one feels free to be like this – or maybe in between, one also does not. In this case there is almost no need for this fixation anymore than in the time when one is unsure whether one is allowed to be like this or not.

Just like the star signs. For some, it does not matter whether they are an Aries or an Aquarius, others read their horoscope daily and orient themselves according to what they read and identify with it. A friend, when asked what he is, responds: “I am a Vacuum cleaner!”

This unexpected answer is a key to many things: we can also be something that is far from all expectations: often the bouquet of posible choices offered to us is limited. We do not have to remain vacuum cleaners forever, once we have outed ourselves as such. Thus, humorous fantasies and gimmicks about our identity may mean more freedom than trying to get a definitive identity-related truth, but of course, this is also always allowed.

Books by Dominique Zimmermann

Dominique has written books about  Love and Polyamory, currently only available in German.

The other relationship: Polyamory and Philosophical Practice Die andere Beziehung: Polyamorie und Philosophische Praxis (AffiliateLink), written by Dominique Zimmermann and Imre Hoffmann. “Rarely, simply leaving a book on a table will lead to as many questions as I this one,” writes Hanna Poddig in “grass root revolution”, 377.

The measure of love: Plea for a subversive No Das Maß der Liebe: Plädoyer für ein subversives Nein (AffiliateLink). According to the publisher, “the subject area is” philosophical, psychological, sociological, literary and mystical points of view, but thanks to the work of Dominique Zimmermann, who works as a consultant in a condomomeria, it keeps an eye on the daily reality of a larger population and guides readers with a sense of humor. ”

Editor´s Note

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Coming-Out as Polyamorous

In the article series Coming-Out as Polyamorous on Polyamory Magazine you will find all articles dealing with radio features and Podcasts in which polyamory plays a role.

Other articles about polyamory

This article series is part of the article series about Polyamory, where you will find all articles on this topic. They are subdivided into various sub-areas, for example:

Coming-out as a polyamorous
Polyamory - one woman and several men
Interviews about Polyamory

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In the section "What is Polyamory" you will find information about what Polyamory is, how Polyamory works, where you can meet other polyamorous people, as well as other topics, for example (all coming soon, translation is in progress):

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About Dominique Zimmermann 3 Articles
*1972, Philosopher, writer and journalist, lives and works mainly in Basel. Since 1999 work as a philosophical practitioner. Emphasis: sexuality and relationships, polyamory. Various publications, among others. «Die andere Beziehung. Polyamorie und Philosophische Praxis», Schmetterling Verlag 2012. (engl: The other relationship. Polyamory and Philosophical Practice), Schmetterling Verlag 2012.

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