Ask Amy: Mom in shock after stepdaughter says she and son are polyamorous

Dear Amy: My son and his wife have been married for almost 10 years.

Recently his wife explained to me that they are polyamorous.

I didn’t really know what it was. She explained it and said she wanted to be honest with everyone.

I was in total shock.

After they left, I thought about what she had told me.

I like both of them. I want them to be happy. They got married in his church, and I don’t understand that.

I want to be a part of their life, but I’m not sure if I can stand them bringing other intimate partners to our family reunions, which is one of the things she says she would like to do.

I don’t know anyone who has been through this. How can I keep my relationship with my son? My stepdaughter wants open and honest acceptance. She says they have the right to live their lives as they wish. But do I have any rights to how I feel about all of this?

I’m in shock and trying to deal with it.

Your advice?

– Confused mom

Dear Mom: A polyamorous relationship is a relationship that has more than two partners, where, for example, a couple will bring another adult into their intimate life as a partner.

I shared your question with sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, Ph.D., author of “When Someone You Love is Polyamorous” (2016, Thorntree Press). Dr Sheff and I agree that you deserve a lot of credit for your kindness to your son and your willingness to accept his family.

His response: “This is a great first reaction if you want to maintain positive relationships with family members of sexual and gender minorities. Acceptance doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and I suggest that you all take small steps to get to know each other early on. For example, instead of meeting each other for the first time at Grandma’s 90th birthday or Passover dinner, meet the son, daughter-in-law and their partners on Zoom for a chat, in the park for a walk, on the front porch for a cup of coffee, or possibly a restaurant for a regular dinner a few times. It allows you to make a connection, chat with less pressure, and talk about boundaries before you dive into a big family reunion, which is already a little stressful, even if it’s fun.

“At the same time, learn about consensual non-monogamy by reading and asking questions of your son and his wife about their lives. There are literally hundreds of websites and social media pages devoted to polyamory and even more to other forms of CNM (non consensual monogamy).

“Finally, give yourself a little credit for trying to figure it out, and a little patience if it takes you and them some time to adjust to this new family style.

Dear Amy: My husband is very handsome. As she ages her hair turns gray and is now perfect for George Clooney.

My problem is, he insists on coloring it at home with canned dye … from a drugstore. It starts off well, but then fades into a sort of “burnt fox” brown. Her hair is beautiful when it is gray.

Please help me have this very sensitive conversation.

– Tincture for aid in California

Dear Dyeing: Your husband seems to be open with you about his hair habits. The pandemic has inspired many people to let their hair grow naturally, and now is the perfect time to do so.

Call it a real “silver lining”.

Say to your husband, “Honey, this might be the perfect time to assume your original ‘silver fox’ identity. I’m willing to risk how attracted others will be to you, if you want to give it a try.

There are some fun apps that will allow people to virtually experience what they would look like with a different hair color. Your husband could start there.

Dear Amy, As a family physician for over 40 years, let me highlight what I consider to be an important distinction from your response to “Worried,” which battled obesity.

You suggested a “nutritionist”. I would suggest a registered dietitian.

Dietitians are an important part of the health care team.

They are four to eight years old and have passed the standard CDR exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

They are licensed / registered in most states. In contrast, anyone can drag a shingle and call themselves a “nutritionist” without any training.

– Ken Levites, MD

Dear Dr. Levites: Thank you for prompting this clarification.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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