So polyamory is really interesting to me, and I think I may like to try it, but I’m actually terrified at the same time. I live in an environment where gay couples are unwelcome, and the idea of adding even more stigma to my life (if I try polyamory and it ends up clicking) scares me beyond belief. I don’t want to outcast myself more than I already have, and yet I’m really curious and think this may be an amazing opportunity… Any advice for a still dependent, bisexual female?

Here’s the thing…if you try polyamory and it “clicks” with you, that seems more like a discovery than a decision, doesn’t it? We can’t control who we are or how we love, even if it’s very stigmatized and inconvenient. Don’t try to ignore or repress part of who you are because other people won’t like it. Let yourself grow and explore what makes you happy, and try to let go of the fear of judgment.

THAT SAID, please keep yourself safe. When you say you’re still dependent, I assume that means you still live with your parents or otherwise are not financially independent. If you know that living openly as polyamorous would put you at risk, there is no shame in waiting it out. It is possible to explore your identity without “adding more stigma to your life” - you can read about polyamory, you can do self-work and introspection about relationships, you can find a welcoming community online, etc. And in the meantime, you can make a plan for getting yourself out of an environment where you’re afraid of being an “outcast” for living and loving authentically.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether to try polyamory right now, where you are. I can’t tell you whether it would be worth it or not. I wish I could tell you to let go of your fear entirely and not care what other people think - but sadly, in the world we live in, there’s a wide spectrum of what it means to be “unwelcome.” If you are only worried about social disapproval, I’d say go for it…but if there’s a risk of violence, of losing certain freedoms and privileges, of this impacting your schooling, college prospects, etc. then you have to put your safety first.

Just try to separate out the fears. It’s ok to be concerned about a genuine, specific risk because people in your life are terrible. Just don’t let yourself internalize a fear of who you are, a fear of your own authentic self. Don’t let the culture you’re stuck in teach you that you’re inherently unwelcome, unlovable, or that it’s bad or dangerous to be you. Be afraid of the nasty jerks in the world; don’t be afraid of being bisexual or polyamory. I hope that makes sense.

Please keep your eyes on the future - you won’t be in this situation forever, and someday soon you’ll be able to be yourself without fear of the response. I don’t know your situation, but if it’s possible/relevant, save for college, keep your grades up, develop strong relationships with other adults in your life. Set yourself up with a strong foundation to get out of there and build a life that is healthy, happy, and fulfilling. And when you do, please find an LGBTQ+-friendly therapist to help you work through the fear and shame your upbringing tried to impose on you.