Gay man in his 30s here. I felt like I just did something wrong and, even worse, unnecessary.
My husband and I have been together for eight years, and married for just over a year and a half. I love our relationship. It's certainly calmed down in terms of passion since we first met, but our bond is strong. Enter our new boyfriend. We met him recently and really hit it off. He was a real infusion of energy and passion. It's going great, and it looks like when our lease is up in October we may be moving in together with him. We've met his mom, she's a darling, and seemed to like me and my husband.
And now my problem. Before meeting him our plan was to leave our liberal East Coast city for the mountains of the South to live near my parents; they even had an empty place we were going to rent from them for a while. But our new beau changed our plans: we're now planning to stay in the area with him, even if we don't move in together. My husband and my boyfriend both though that even though our relationship was in its early stages, we needed to tell my parents about it, since they were expecting us to move down.
I just finished doing that with my husband. My dad was silent the entire time, watching football. I could tell it was a shock to my Mom, but she asked some questions. It's done and I can't undo it, Dan, but should we have told a white lie instead? I didn't even think to say something like, "We made a new friend and we are thinking of being his roommates!", until the call was was over and I was fighting back tears in the bedrooms.
I just feel like this has damaged my steadily improving relationship with my parents. I love my husband, and I love my boyfriend, and I want my parents comfortable with this. What do I do now? What should I have done differently?
The Gay Grenadier
I'm a big fan of running parents on a need-to-know basis.
Did your parents need to know you were gay? Of course they did, TGG. Being gay meant you wouldn't be dating or marrying a woman, which your parents no doubt expected you to do. To avoid having to lie, hide, and dissemble all your life, you came out to mom and dad and reset their expectations. No girlfriends, no wife; boyfriends, a husband.
You had to tell them you're gay because homosexuality, like heterosexuality, isn't just about the sex. It's about sex, of course, but it's also about intimacy and romance and the committed, long-term relationships that sex, intimacy, and romance occasionally lead to. And there's a public dimension to a committed, long-term relationship; the people we shack up with and/or marry play a very public role in our lives. They are by our sides in public, not on top or underneath us in private.
But only a gay man's sex partners need to know what sort of gay shit he gets down to in the bedroom/backroom/playroom. His closest friends might like to know, and he might enjoy telling them, but they don't need to know. Parents, on the other hand, don't need to know what you're doing with your pants off and don't wanna know. If you've already told them you're gay, they've already assumed you're doing all the standard-issue gay shit (kissing boys, sucking cocks, fucking butts), just as they assume their straight kids are into all the standard-issue straight shit (PIV). The parents of a straight kid don't need to know their son is into, say, diapers.
Your boyfriend is not a diaper, I realize. He's not a kink; he's not something you're doing with your husband, he's someone you're seeing with your husband. You're in a relationship with him and his feelings matter. But did you parents need to know you changed your plans—did they need to know you put off relocating to their area—because you just met a great guy and all three of you are dating now and you wanna stay put for the time being to give throupledom a chance?
No, TGG, they didn't need to know that—not yet.
You started dating this guy recently; you don't say how long you've been together but it sounds like it's been less than a year. Which means you're still in the besotted-and-infatuated stage of this relationship. And while it's perfectly understandable that you would want to change your plans in order to keep dating this man, that wasn't something you needed to share with mom and dad—not yet.
If it turns out this guy is something more than an adventure—if he's still around a year from now, i.e. if makes the transition from hot-and-sexy Guest Star to hot-and-sexy Loving Partner—then your relationship with him will begin to take on a public dimension. And at that point you'll wanna tell mom and dad about him and about being poly, TGG, and you'll wanna tell them for the same reason you told them you were gay: because you don't want to lie, hide, and dissemble.
I'm not suggesting that a gay man—or a straight one—should only come out to his parents as poly once he's in a successful triad, quad, quint, etc. If you and your husband are actively seeking out a third, TGG, and will continue to do so even if this relationship goes tits up (fingers crossed that it won't), you'll eventually need to come out to your parents about being poly. If this thing lasts a while, your new boyfriend is as good a reason as any to come out to mom and dad and re-reset their expectations. (Gay meant, "No girlfriends, no wife; boyfriends, a husband," but they probably didn't expect concurrent boyfriends and husbands.)
But telling mom and dad that you weren't moving home to be closer to them—something they were probably very much looking forward to—because you and the husband just acquired a boyfriend... yeah, that seems like the wrong way to roll out the new boyfriend and the fact that you're polyamorous.