DEAR ABBY: I am extremely upset. My son got married a year ago. We were very happy and have welcomed his wife into our family. He met us for lunch yesterday and announced that he and his wife have a polyamorous relationship. They will stay married, but both of them will date and have long-term relationships with other people.
My husband and I are in shock. We have been married for more than 30 years and have always been faithful to each other. We thought we had set a good example. They are asking to be able to bring other boyfriends and girlfriends to our family events. I’m heartsick at the thought of watching them be affectionate with other partners. My granddaughter was a flower girl at their wedding. How do we explain this to her? I love my son, but does a relationship with him mean I have to abandon the values I have always felt were important to uphold? Right now he isn’t speaking to me because he thinks I was not supportive enough when he told me. I feel like I’m being forced to accept this new lifestyle or not see my son. How should I handle this? —
DUMBFOUNDED IN DALLAS
Well, let me first off say that you are not alone. Public displays of affection (PDA) are gross. Why would you bring that out of the bedroom? But, don’t worry, it’s not too late!
Perhaps you have failed slightly in your upbringing of your son. That is okay. We’re none of us perfect. First things, first. No banging at family events. Seriously. How have you not already informed your son of this basic rule? Yes, a lot of vanilla, monogamous folk condone public sex at family gatherings, and it follows that polyamorous folk would probably start a public orgy. But YOU need to stand up for YOUR values.
As for the values you are abandoning, don’t! Stay true to yourself. I don’t know what yours are, but I do know many values of polyamorous folk. They believe in commitment, love, communication, healthy boundaries, and all sorts of relationships, including friendship. That kind of long term commitment is nasuating and unnatural. Also, you shouldn’t emotionally invest in anyone not your spouse. That’s what boarding school and nursing maids are for, to prevent any emotional attachment to one’s offspring. This modern idea that mothers and fathers should spend quality time with their children is ridiculous and abandons traditional morality.
Still, that doesn’t mean your son should never see other women, in the right context. Men, especially, need to spread their seed. Quietly take him aside and tell him to sleep with other women on the side (no falling in love! use these women for what they’re worth, only!), like any normal man. His wife needn’t know about any of this.
Yeah, that sounds like solid advice.
On the other hand, maybe, just maybe…your son might have something to teach you. A new way of living. It might be scary to change, but I am guessing your son is actually an amazing guy that you’ve raised well. He may have a lot to teach YOU. As may his girlfriends. If you’re open to it, grab a coffee with one of them. Who knows? You might find yourself liking the people he surrounded himself with, after all. Trust me, they won’t bite you. Unless you ask respectfully.
(Not A Therapist)