POSH just finished a weekend camping trip, a cross-group event with our sister group, Polyarmory. While some people ended up unable to come, we had 24 people sign up from across Houston and Austin. A lot of people met for the first time this weekend. It’s possible that that might lead to some first dates, as connections can, but it definitely created things that sometimes are even more important to our polyamorous journeys: polyamorous friends and community.
Early on, it can feel like the whole point is to get partners. Partners, partners, partners. An introduction to that person who fits your partner wish list, flirtation at a cocktail event, and eventually a first date. Wash, rinse, repeat until polysaturated. However, as people progress in polyamory, it seems like that polyam or polyam-adjacent social circle and a sense of a community that supports you in your unconventional relationships can become even more important.
If you’ve already developed that social environment, it’s probably at least a little obvious why it’s important and why it’s something you want to keep investing in. If you’re new, though, it might not be that clear. Polyamory is about having multiple partners, right? Well, kind of.
Just meeting other polyamorous people is probably the first goal anyone has when they enter “the community” (and by community here I mean just about any polyamory-focused space). This isn’t always all about finding dates, and many people are just as driven from the start by finding polyamorous friends, but a lot of the time it’s all about introductions.
This is how we find our feet and figure out where we belong when we first enter the community. You can find friends, dates, metas, and other polyamorous groups that might fit your style and needs better than the one you started out in. (Yes, even an amazing group like POSH isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok! We each need to find the group that suits us best.)
You’ll also be able to vet the people you do meet on dating sites or elsewhere, since people in the polyam community tend to know people, or have a friend who knows people, etc. Vetting can be extremely important, especially when you’re new to polyamory or new to an area. You don’t know where the red flags might be, you don’t know who’s got a reputation, and if you’re completely new to polyamory you might need some extra info to stay physically and emotionally safe.
Stopping once you’ve met a few people is entirely possible, and many people do. Some of these people drift back to monogamy, some keep dating but don’t make multiple relationships a part of their overall life, and some are just content with a couple of polyam friends. If that’s where the path takes you and it’s what feels right, then good! The groups you’ve been in have served your needs. If you’re open to it, though, the community may be able to help you more as you deepen your relationship with it.
Advice As You Grow
Polyamory requires a lot of very unique skill sets, and the longer you’re actively polyamorous the more time you have to improve those skills and gather anecdotes on others who did or didn’t succeed with theirs.
I’ve been nominally polyamorous for my entire adult life and have actively dated for the last seven years, and between my own relationships and those of even just my closest polyamorous friends, I’ve seen dozens of intentional/committed relationships rise and fall, plus three or four times as many first dates. Looking at my monogamous friends… maybe a quarter of that?
The best way to reap the benefit of all others’ experience is to hang out in the polyamorous community, learning from discussions about past experiences, asking your own questions, and simply just watching your polyam friends’ relationships run their courses, good or bad.
If I had chosen to spend my time talking to my mono friends about my life and relationships, I would’ve been running without a lot of experience to go on, and probably would have found a lot of scenarios harder to navigate.
You can read books, but books can’t show you the huge variety of relationship styles within polyamory, they can’t give you a detailed view on the nuances that made this or that situation unique, and they can’t give you information that’s as tightly scoped to a precise moment in time. Books are great, but witnessing it all in real time is invaluable.
A Place To Be The Norm
I observed something at the camping trip that really brought home the most important thing for me about having our community. We weren’t talking about polyamory itself all that much, but we were talking about our lives, which just happen to include polyamory, and nobody had to stop to explain anything.
This is something that’s important from day one, but I found myself appreciating it more and more this weekend, camping with our weird and wonderful and delightfully fun group. Outside of the polyam world, I’m used to using certain words and phrases. I’m out of the closet and have been for a very long time, but I still usually don’t mention my triad as a triad, I don’t talk about dating and an established partner in the same conversation, etc., because it’s just easier not to pause the conversation for education or clarification. But this past weekend, all of that went out the window.
Having been in the community for a while, I already have a wide circle of polyamorous friends (monogamous friends are rare these days – we just don’t have a lot in common) and I’m more likely to be giving advice than not. No matter how far I go in polyamory and in this community, though, I will always, always, always need this. The simple relaxation of being among people who see the world in at least some of the ways I see it. The conversations where terms the rest of the world doesn’t understand can be used without explanation. The conversations where the way I live my life is the expected norm instead of something novel.
Sometimes it feels good to be normal. You could say this is where polyamory-as-a-relationship-style ends and polyamory-as-a-culture begins, because the vibe around that campfire was more about us all sharing a culture in which multiple partners are the norm than about us each just having multiple partners. About half of the people at the campout weren’t even with a romantic partner, and there was only one polycule (I think).
Either way, this is a huge part of why communities like POSH are important, and why we keep running events as much as we can. To provide a place where polyamory isn’t weird or something to be stared at. A group where we can be at home.