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.