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Friday, September 24, 2010


I heard an interesting question the other day and although I have plenty of opinions on a variety of topics, I wasn't quite sure how to respond. In this article I'm going to try and explore the question and see if I can come up with an answer.

Here is the situation. . . Lucy who is married to Rickie was out on a lunch date with her SO, Fred, when a co-worker who doesn't know about her poly lifestyle saw them together. Now seeing Lucy and Fred together wouldn't have been hard to explain except the two did a bit of hand-holding at lunch.

The question is; What do you do when you are caught out on a date with your SO by someone who knows your primary partner (spouse)?

Initially I can see this going a couple of different ways:
1. The person could approach Lucy and Fred to say hello and try to figure out what is going on.
2. The person could let it go and approach Lucy later privately.
3. The person could go running to Rickie and tattle on Lucy and Fred.
4. The person could do nothing at all and ignore it.

Number 4 wouldn't make for interesting contemplation so I'm going to ignore that one completely.

Number 1, in my mind, is probably the most difficult to deal with. The person will likely approach with a fishing expedition in mind and ask who Fred might be. For Lucy, trying to explain Fred away with him sitting there could hurt his feelings. And since Lucy probably wasn't expecting to come out of the closet on her lunch date with Fred she may not give good answers leading to more probing questions.
My initial reaction would probably be to steer the co-worker away. I would likely cut them off rather quickly and introduce Fred as a friend while in the same breath stating that were we having a somewhat important private conversation. I would then nicely let the person know I would catch up with them later. This would give me some time to formulate the answers I would be comfortable giving to the person in a later conversation.

My reaction to Number 2 would be much like number 1. Being surprised I would probably say that I'm not prepared at the moment to talk, maybe making an excuse about another appointment or deadline, and promise to talk to the person later. Again, it would give me some time to decide how much information I was willing to share.

Number 3 wouldn't be much of a problem for Lucy or Fred but it would be for Rickie. In this case Rickie would be the one who is surprised. My first impulse, as Rickie, would be to put the person off until I could decide how to respond. The problem with that however is that putting them off could cause problems down the road. If Rickie acts surprised when first approached how could he come back to the person later saying he knew all about the relationship? It would make him look a bit silly to say the least. On the other hand, saying he knows all about Lucy and Fred when first approached will open a huge can of worms and probably end up with Lucy, Rickie, and Fred all coming out of the closet. What effect will that have for Lucy who works with the person who is tattling? Is it Rickie's decision at that point?

I think this has helped me understand how I would deal with the situation. The first thing I would try is putting the tattler off and having a conversation with them later. More importantly though I have realized this is a conversation I should be having in my relationships before it happens.

Are we out? Does that include co-workers as well as friends? Family? What is the comfort level of everyone involved regarding being open? If we aren't going to be open then what are the predetermined and appropriate answers when questioned?

Interestingly enough maybe the best answer is one I heard from someone and mentioned in another article; "It is none of your business" is their response. And I have to agree. If you aren't comfortable then maybe that is the best answer. Fortunately I haven't run into this problem much which is probably why I don't have a good answer to the situation.

Have you had to deal with being "caught" on a date before? How did you react? What were the consequences of your reaction? Would you do it differently next time and if so, how?


  1. Consider option #5: Co-worker doesn't say anything to Lucy or Rickie or Fred, but DOES say lots of things to other co-workers and/or the boss about what a cheater Lucy is. Lucy's personal life is not affected, but her work life becomes mysteriously more difficult.

    I was seen by a co-worker in July, and made a point of coming out as polyamorous to that co-worker so that I had some control over the gossip. The only reason I had a chance to come out to this person was that he told me he saw us - if he hadn't, I would never have known or had the chance to come out. I'm glad he did mention it to me, rather than feeding the rumor mill.

  2. Polly,

    Thanks, that was something I had completely overlooked! It also looks like it could be the one with the most damaging results as well.

    It sounds like you got hit with #2 then if I understand correctly. Although you came out to the co-worker, did you ask them to keep things quiet at work?

    It sounds like things worked out okay for you, and I'm glad to hear that!

    Thanks for the comment, and for keeping me on my toes :)