Finding information, people, and resourcesÖPt 2
I am often quite comfortable with discussing things online. It allows for a wider variety of input and viewpoints than is sometimes available in a local group which can sometimes give in too easily to syndromes like groupthink. Online communities are not exempt from it either, but healthy ones usually get a fresh influx from time to time which makes them a little less susceptible to it.
At any rate, this forum has long been my primary source to discuss related issues with poly folk far and wide. Itís not the only forum Iíve joined, and I donít always say muchÖin fact I think I rarely said much at all most of the timeÖ.other than to join in discussions and debates that werenít directly related to my own situation at any given point. While I mentioned experimentation above, itís not always practical, or wise to use oneís own relationships as guinea pigs. The forum allowed me to ask questions (or read the answers to questions I hadnít even thought of yet), and test scenarios before they arose. Iíve learned a lot from many of the stories, trials and tribulations of those around hereÖeven the ones Iíve disagreed with.
My wife was the one who found the forum in the first place. One of the things I always wanted to ensure was that she had a place where she felt safe to voice her opinions and be heard. Fortunately we have a good understanding between each other that we can post here whatever we think, or feel, and it might be subject to discussion later privately if itís an issue that needs to be worked out. But thereís no attempt by either of us to prevent the other from posting. Sometimes what she needs to share here is uncomfortable for me to hear, or possibly erroneous from my point of viewÖbut that doesnít stop her from having the right to express her feelings and it doesnít make her opinions wrong, just because I may not agree with them. Itís been a valuable tool for us, since sometimes it will draw attention to something that Iíve neglected to do, or a latent issue thatís been allowed to fester too long. Itís no different than if she were to tell me these things in a personal conversation or argument. Sometimes itís even advantageous in forcing her to think and process about things in order to post, which actually facilitates the joint process. Fun or not, she needs an outlet, and this one has been a good place for her I think. And if itís something I donít like (or she doesnít like), then it simply becomes a topic for discussion whenever we next get a chance to talk in person. Sometimes when she gets a lot of backup from other posters supporting a certain position in a general discussion thread, it becomes a good lesson for me that perhaps I need to reconsider my stance, or occasionally the supporting arguments of others will sometimes make a point that either she or I might have missed or been unable to express or explain.
None of this of course would be possible without the people who make the forum active. None of it could happen without the participation of everyone here. So hereís a heartfelt thank-you for everyone that makes this community what it is, for our sake, and hopefully yours too.
Iíve probably been rather luckyÖin that the city in which we started this journey has an active poly communityÖand is surrounded by other cities with their own active poly communities. Online communities are always there, 24/7Öbut irl communities areÖwell, real. After all, the connection with real people in real life is one of the main reasons Iím very attracted to poly.
Letís see, thereís social groups, 101 groups, dating groups, womenís groups...and lately a gentlemanís club. I try to get around to whatever events I can, although with my frequent absences it kind of precludes me from being there as often as Iíd like. Itís gotta be pretty bad when one of the facilitators Iíd met last year thought that she was meeting me for the first time again this fall when I finally reappeared after 6 months. Maybe I should try to stay home more.
On the other hand, Iíve turned my travel time into an opportunity to meet poly folk whenever I can wherever I go. Iíve been able to drop in on poly events across Canada and the US. It find itís very cool to not only meet new people (which is usually fun by itself) but I also find it really interesting to see how other groups function. How they talk about poly, general or dominant viewpoints, and terminology, and how they conduct themselves around and with each other. The exploration of poly (and to some extent my work) has made me far more aware about the nature of relationships and interpersonal dynamics. There are very definite traits about the poly culture of the local groups that Iím involved with. So itís been extremely interesting seeing the dynamics develop, and also how they differ from other groups which Iíve had the privilege to meet.
Pseudo-anthropological nonsense aside though, irl groups have some very real and distinct bonuses. Thereís some quick and easy answers...local dating pool, discussion groups, and a rumour mill, which can be a bit of a double edged sword at timesÖ.maybe not so much of a bonusÖ.but a necessary evil.
There are however a lot of good people, poly and not, in any group Iíve met though. Good for support, sounding boards, hosting parties, attending parties, getting loaded at partiesÖdoing other things at partiesÖok, enough about parties. They can discuss issues, raise issues, cause issues...can be an issue (canít we all) put faces on issues, and help solve issues. While thereís always the potential for some to become lovers, all can be potential friends, and as generalizations about groups of individuals go, I find poly folk are relatively easy people to be friends with. After all, It makes the parties a lot more fun if the people who are invited are actually liked.
I think I mentioned that I learn a lot from watching people, or maybe Iíve just been writing and editing this post so long I only thought I was. These groups make it possible to see a wide variety of relationships in action, and a variety of stages, up close and personal. Every one of them no matter its duration or result, contains a lesson.
If thereís a group in your area, find it. And if there isnít, Iíd encourage you to make one. I donít make it a secret that I have a lot of respect for those who take it upon themselves to build, support, and guide these communities. It takes a special kind of person to take that on, and it can have its challenges and risks, particularly in areas where being open is perhaps trickier than it is on the west coast of BC.
But leadership also comes in many forms. Itís not just the person who organizes the event, or opens their house, or a public floor space somewhere for discussion with relative strangers. People who have stories to share, or serve as examples (sometimes if they intend it, or even know it, or not), or make new people feel welcome when they show upÖeven the oneís who arenít afraid to ask silly questions first are good to get conversations going. Far too many people have a tendency I think to underestimate their role or contribution. As I said, any relationship can be a lesson, any person a leader, and any situation an opportunity to learn and grow. Itís only left to us to decide if weíll seize it or not, and how weíll use it.
Ok, thatís enough for this post. Nothing more to see here. Move alongÖ.move along.