If there are already poly social groups, why start another one? The answer is that Josh and Rose (the founders of the New York Polyamory Meetup Group and the New York Bisexual Meetup Group) were specifically looking for a relaxing, friendly atmosphere that would help us to gradually build a community of poly and poly-friendly people. Other groups are more oriented towards finding a date, support for coming out, discussion of relationship tools, and other specific purposes. Those absolutely have their place. They started the meetups to be a little more general: a bunch of people with something in common getting together for dinner in a congenial atmosphere that would be conducive to building friendships and providing a space where people can relax. As new organizer, I intend to keep the monthly meetup for the group as such, while adding a variety of low-key no-pressure social events/activities throughout the month, should members be interested. In addition, one of my goals is to keep members informed of what fellow poly-groups are doing in the Greater New York City area, as many of our members are finding the polyamory concept/label for the first time and need support and information.
That being said, there are a few things the group requests of all of you, in order to keep that relaxed no-pressure vibe for everyone:
- Be respectful of other people's personal space. If you haven't met someone before, don't touch them or their things without their explicit permission. The booths at the diner can get, shall we say, cozy; many of us already know each other, from past meetups or other places, and are on hugging or kissing terms. Please don't take that as an invitation to snuggle up to the person sitting next to you or hug everyone goodbye.
- Don't be surprised if no one mentions polyamory. This isn't a discussion group or support group, and we all have a wide variety of other interests. We may talk about politics, computers, food, events, the weather, and anything else that comes to mind. At one meetup we tried doing a bit of a round-robin "share your story" session, and it ended up being one person talking at a time while everyone else had to listen politely, even if they weren't particularly interested. I'd much rather encourage multiple smaller conversations on a variety of topics. Talking about relationship structures, sexual politics, and the like is perfectly welcome, but it isn't in any way mandatory, and there's no particular structure to our conversations.
- Being part of a group like this takes patience. That's what makes it different from a pick-up scene. Come back a few times and get to know people. Don't expect to learn everything important about someone the first time you meet them. Even if you find someone really attractive or interesting, I suggest throttling back a little and keeping your interactions at the meetup strictly platonic. You can always get together elsewhere if you're both interested in more intense flirtation.
- Remember, polyamory means there's no starvation economy! You're not in the competitive winner-take-all monogamy world anymore. Take a deep breath. Relax. If you're always on the lookout for potential partners, take a break for an evening; you might be surprised by how good it feels to let that hunting mentality go. If you don't think you can do that, then this meetup is not the place for you.
- Treat everyone with thoughtful respect, and check your ego at the door. In particular, please remember that women--especially bi and poly--are often on the receiving end of enormous amounts of unwanted attention. The best way to stand out from the crowd and pique a woman's interest is by paying attention to her as a person, not by trying to impress her with your wit, charm, and lustful appreciation. Before the meetup, I received an email from a woman who saw that most of the people planning to attend were men; she was worried it would just be her and me and a bunch of guys aggressively vying for our attention. I reassured her that aggressive behavior was kept to a minimum and often not present at all. Please don't make me a liar. The same goes for those who are attracted to men, incidentally; men generally don't have to deal with as many unwanted advances, but that doesn't mean it's not important. The people you meet at the meetups should be treated as people, not lust objects.
- Finally, if you do have a problem with anyone's behavior and can't resolve the situation yourself, please let one of the organizers know at the meetup if possible, so that we can step in and make sure that person understands what behavior is appropriate. Often at this kind of social event, people won't want to "make a scene" by bringing up problems; but if you wait until afterwards, that makes it harder for us to do anything about it (and in the meantime, the miscreant may bother other people as well). Our job is to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable. If you don't, please let us know so that we can fix the situation.
Before anyone panics, let me reassure you that I'm mostly trying to stop problems before they start. Our meetups so far have been very comfortable and welcoming, and I think everyone's had a good time. I just want to make sure everyone's on the same page regarding appropriate behavior and reasons for attending. That way it's a lot more fun all around.
last edited on December 4, 2008 1:25 PM