What is the right action of the larger community when relationship dramas can destabilize and threaten an entire social network? — a very wise friend
Well, okay, no you can’t do that. But hold that thought a minute.
If you’re polyamorous and are lucky enough to have a social network in your city, chances are it’s pretty small. Even in the largest city, people who openly identify as poly are relatively rare. Being poly, there’s probably going to be interlocking relationships, dating and what have you. People, being people, are gonna fall in love, stay together and have great relationships, break up, be loyal, backstab, gossip, refuse to misbehave — all of it. The one thing you can count on people to do is to behave like people.
This means sometimes there will be Relationship Drama that might splash on your local community.
How do you handle it?
This is gonna be how you handle it, ’cause I doubt like hell many people would choose my method. I go away until it blows over because, well, I’m a recluse. Being at home alone with my knitting or writing is fun. Going to a party that makes me feel like I am back in high school isn’t fun at all. To me, it’s an easy choice. It’s prying my ass out of the house that’s difficult, even to see people I like.
But, allow the person who sits in the corner watching everyone play Telephone to make a few observations.
You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.
Okay, I am going to have to break it to you: Relationships are not always forever and sometimes breakups hurt a whole bunch. If you’re not up for that, for heaven’s sake learn how to be before you start getting heavily involved in a poly community. Emotions can run high. Can you behave yourself when emotions run high? Relationships aren’t politics and they aren’t a war. You don’t need soldiers, minions or yes-men agreeing how wonderful you are when you’re in the throes of an emotional crisis. What you need is to steady and stabilize yourself.
It’s the stabilizing part that’s the important thing. Keep in mind that it’s never a war. People broke up and emotions are running high. Don’t try to be a hero, and keep any righteous indignation out of it.
This isn’t actually unique to polyamory.
Families, churches, and whatnot all have their own versions of interlocking loyalties and relationships blowing up a social structure. It happens. The question is: What do you want to contribute to? Do you want to contribute to growth, or do you want to contribute to drawmuh?
Even though it’s not unique to polyamory, wouldn’t it be cool if polyamory could set the example for Community in general? Imagine how much it would rock if you were a contributing factor to the polyamorous setting the example for how to handle the pain of relationships within breakups!
Even if it isn’t unique to polyamory, polyamory is only for grown-ups. So grow up.
If you don’t wanna see an ex, don’t go to parties where that ex is gonna be. Throw your own parties. You’re not obligated to hang out with a former love if it’s painful. Really. I know you want your old social circle as well as not seeing your ex. Friend, it sucks, you might have to make a choice.
On the other hand, if what you want is vindication about how right you are and how horrible your ex is, get a grip and grow the hell up. We all have exes that we think are a waste of good protein. You don’t need outside confirmation here. You know the truth. Get on with your life and your Evil Ex dig his own hole. If he’s not being ostracized as your sense of justice prefers, get the hell over it and move on.
You’re not responsible for making other people behave.
If you fancy yourself a “community leader”, it’s still not your job to make sure that your widdle flock wipes their noses properly. Don’t go running from feuding party to feuding party trying to make everyone behave. It only makes things worse. You’re participating in and feeding some nonsense. Step back, disengage and encourage other people not to be personally involved in things that are Not Their Problem. You can’t make it all better. You can set a good example.
On a not-polyamory, not-misanthropic note: Gifts to food pantries around the nation are down as people are being hard-hit. If you have some spare cash, try to make sure that you keep up with your donations. For those of us lucky enough that the box of pasta or can of green beans is still a relatively trivial expense, remember that it’s not for everyone. Thing is, don’t stop at the holidays. People get just as hungry in January. Be a credit to your kink and give if you can.
6 thoughts on “High School Musical Chairs”
Given that I’m in this middle of my own personal drama that is, in part, skirting the edges of the poly community I’m involved with, I have my own advice for those who are actually a part of any such drama:
If the mixture is already swishing around rapidly, stop stirring the pot and let the contents settle.
Or, to put it another way, don’t add even more drama to that which is already there; in fact, do your best to downgrade the drama that has already sprung up, which I suppose comes back up to the advice above about acting like an adult.
When the habit is to leave when things go nutsy kookoo, I used to consider that running away – because it’s exactly what I did for years.
Recently I found myself in a situation that would not have been in my best interests to run from, and the whole sticking it out and behaving like a grown up instead of getting the hell away from teh crazy was Not Fun.
But oddly worthwhile.
I no longer consider leaving a drama fest to be running away – because I figured out it’s *also* Choose Your Battles.
Interestingly enough, another thing i’ve noticed is that the group tends to distance themselves not from the one who is “right” or “wrong” but from the one that is the biggest pain in the ass.
I doubt there is anything of social-circle critical importance that cannot be left for a while whilst one goes on sabbatical.
Certainly nothing that gets WORSE with one’s absence would have been made MORE fun by being a part of, at any rate.
Cat Stevens has still not learned this.
i’m a big fan of the art of facilitation. if you’ve ever done any group facilitation, you know that the biggest job, the first job is to be able to facilitate yourself. that is, to be as aware as possible of what you’re thinking and how you are reacting to outside stimuli. when i facilitate myself, which requires asking myself open-ended questions like, “what do i want right now?” “what is fair right now?” “what can i do to feel better right now?”, and really listening to my answers, i find that i very quickly gain distance and perspective. and only when i really listen to myself this way can i begin to listen to a larger group dynamic. without this kind of facilitation, asking questions to raise understanding and really listening to what other people are saying, i find that i more often am helping create drama.
On your non-polyamorous, non-misanthropic note: what food pantries especially need this time of year is *protein*, and good protein to boot. Most of the protein food pantries receive is high in sodium (e.g. Campbell’s soup) and high in fat (e.g. canned ravioli). Please consider that when you’re buying food for donation.