So...I finally came all the way out to my dad today. I'd been expecting for a while now that this would happen in the near future--hadn't been expecting it today specifically, but I'm glad to have finally done it. And thank goodness, it was a lot less awkward than it could've been and he warmed to the idea faster than I'd expected. He always does manage to pleasantly surprise me.
To clarify: at least since adulthood, I've been keeping him fairly well apprised of the general outlines of my love life, so he's known for quite a while that I've generally been dating more than one person at a time. At first, though, he was under the impression that I was more or less "playing the field" and would settle down once I got "serious" with someone. I didn't quite have the nerve to disabuse him of that notion all at once, but I tried to think how to work up to it, and over the last year or so I've been managing to hint that I wasn't really ever planning for a monogamous future. Today, though, he finally asked me a direct question, which freed me to give him the direct answer I'd only recently found the courage to deliver.
Interestingly, he worked around to it through the subject of bisexuality--whether because he thought the two were related or just because it was a convenient lead-in I don't know (and I probably should find out at some point), but what he asked was "so, if you do find someone to settle down with [as that subject does seem to keep recurring between us, though for unrelated reasons], will you still be seeing women, or will you settle down with a woman and keep seeing men, or both, or neither, or what exactly?" So I said "well, both" and he said "so you're basically talking about an open marriage, then" and I said "yeah, pretty much" and he said "well, I've got no moral objection to that, but I'm not so sure it would actually work." Which was a little daunting, but not too far from what I'd expected, really. His morals have always been quite liberal, but he does have a history of being overprotective and I'd figured such qualms as he had would all be born of fear for my mental well-being. Hell, I think I'd been a little afraid that he'd imagine, as a therapist once did, that I was being inducted into some kind of cult.
So I tried as best I could to explain that yes, I've seen it work and it's working fine for me so far and yadda yadda, but I worried I wouldn't get very far with anecdotal evidence. My vague hand-waving assertions that there are tons of folks all over the place doing this and no, it's actually not just a "San Francisco thing" seemed to go over a little better, but interestingly, I think what finally convinced him was my manner of speaking, more than anything I actually said. I don't recall what else I told him exactly, but he finally said "You know, you sound happier and more sure of yourself than I've ever heard you. Not so long ago you sounded kind of directionless, and now you don't. I get the impression you've finally figured yourself out a bit." My immediate inclination was to debate that statement, as there's still so much about my life I haven't got figured out yet--but it's undeniable that I have in fact figured out a lot about how I want my love life to go, and I do feel good about that, even if the details are going to require some more hashing out. And based on that, it seems my dad was convinced that I really do know how I'm going to make this poly thing work. He even seemed positively glad about it by the time we were done talking, and that was definitely more than I'd expected. I am so grateful to have a parent who loves me so unselfishly. When you get right down to it, he really does just want me to be happy, and he really does believe I have the tools to accomplish that for myself. His confidence in me is one of my best sources of inspiration.
We hit some other fairly serious topics, too; it was one of the longer conversations we've had. I came away from it feeling better about a lot of things--most importantly, he reassured me that I've been calling him for advice less often because I genuinely need his advice less often, not because I'm trying to train myself not to need his presence in my life because I'm afraid at any moment I might lose it. Now that I think about it, I think those things might actually both be true, but the first one makes the second one much more bearable anyway. I think I'm starting to learn how to not be too attached to things and still not totally detach from them either--like, how to stop needing something while still wanting it, and enjoying wanting it, and enjoying the thing itself when I have it.
Oh, and he shared this piece of slight mind-bendiness: While his car was in the shop, they gave him a free rental car from Enterprise. The license plate frame said: "My other car is an Enterprise Rent-a-Car." Neither of us could decide if this was a paradox or not, but it was amusing as hell to think about.