Coming Out as Non-Monogamous; again and again and again and again


Coming Out as Non-Monogamous; again and again and again and againSo I’m sick, of course. Last night was my final seminar at university, and as I left I could feel the coldy fog descending. Sometimes I really wish my body wasn’t quite so all-knowing. It can feel me relaxing, knows when I have time to be sick. Except that I never have time to be sick! I have too much to do, and I refuse to be ill at Christmas. Again.

Anyway, due to the sniffing and sneezing and coughing, I am letting myself relax at work. I have been in the staff room all day drinking spiked tea (don’t worry; just cold medicine), slipping off to tend to pressing tasks, and letting the rest wait until Monday. My podcast co-host, Gryph, says I’ve done it the wrong way round: that I ought to be in bed working, rather than out of bed not working. But I prefer to be up and about. So this is my compromise.

But more to the point, as I’ve been sitting here I have been fighting with the company internet connection – or perhaps it’s my laptop? Whatever it is, my connection is very intermittent. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say it’s been so perplexing that I have deemed it necessary to call on Michael’s ever magical technical help. As my computer goes back and forth, in and out of the wifi area (it seems) I have been growing increasingly frustrated and Michael’s help has been needed more and more, and at some point, my colleagues (who pass through the staff room from time to time) were bound to ask who exactly I am chatting with; and so I came out. I explained that “one of my partners” was helping me with my internet connection, and they stopped and asked, quite pointedly, “ONE of?”

I’ve actually been coming out a lot lately. There was the time in the car giving a lift to one of the women I work with, and then on the train with one of the men; and today in the staff room. Then there’s regular conversations with various students at my university. And, of course, family, which seems to go relatively well. I much prefer it this way: just as and when the topic arises.

AND! overall I am happy to report that the statement “I’m non-monogamous” – or, okay, fine yes “I’m polyamorous” – tends to be met with interest and delight, as though the people I tell are uncovering some magical secret about me. And evidently everyone is curious about their colleagues’ personal lives. I do find though, that it can be a bit of a conversation killer. People tend not to know what to ask next. Every now and then I get an awkward kind of “so how does that work?” once the excitement of the discovery has bubbled down. And truly, I don’t know how to answer that question: how exactly does it work? I could offer a list – communication, openness, honesty, understanding – but that can seem a little bit empty without the whole conversation.

Anyway, I do usually manage to cobble something together, but I digress: the point is that coming out is clearly not a once-and-for-all action. It’s something you have to repeat over and over again throughout your life. On the other hand, as I’ve mentioned, so far and (I’m going to conclude from this) most of the time, coming out seems to be almost… fun. Generally speaking I’m met with very little negative judgement and asked questions more often than I am subjected to assumptions. So hey – I guess being sick has some benefits if it paves the way for me to come out. Again.


Harper Eliot is a writer and podcaster whose work mainly centers around eroticism and social observation. You can find an archive of work, and links to all her other projects, on her website Harper Eliot. Harper lives in London, but rarely sees her own house, spending most of her time on public transport, listening to podcasts and tweeting too much. Her vices include cigarettes, lubricant, Earl Grey tea, opera, nail polish, and pinwheels.

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