In the last article we picked on the newbies a bit, unfortunately some veterans in a community may have spent more time picking up bad habits than growing positively. Fortunately learning is a lifelong process even if some do so rather slowly. Here are some ways we can do better.
Communities are their membership
It does us all well to remember that we serve as examples to new members and outsiders. If a new couple posts a bio on their shared account, lamenting loudly and publicly how cringey that is, how much just everyone hates unicorn hunters, or how they obviously won’t last is not helping them and directly harming the community. Yes, it’s the third time this week. Yes, it’s frustrating to watch a pain train coming down the tracks. No, you shouldn’t berate them. If you can offer some advice, please do. If you’re out of spoons for the day, if you’re emotional bandwidth has been exceeded, step out and focus on some other awesome aspect of your life, share that instead. You know your momma told you, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.
One aspect I have noticed is that even members of long term polycules or groups can experience restarts. People are excellent at getting complacent with the amazing. As an example, you daily live in a world where, if you wanted to, you could drive to Chuck E Cheese’s, slam skee balls for two hours, eat the whole pizza by yourself, stop for ice cream, and then go to the pub… adolescent you would be amazed. If the world suddenly had rings like Saturn, in a year nobody would think it’s amazing any longer, in a decade we likely wouldn’t even comment on it any longer. People also become comfortable in how their relationships work, no matter how far out from the social norm they are. When someone in the group wants to date after nobody has in a while many suffer the same issues as when the relationship was first opened or established. Luckily, the cycle does tend to go faster and with less heartache, but it does happen.
Social groups are often great at two things, meeting new people and fractionalizing. Mean Girls is less a movie for some and more a reality. Relational aggression is a form of community abuse that can be explicit, passive, or extremely subtle. Bowling for Soup tells us high school never ends, and for some the mindset certainly seems not to. Don’t drink the hater-aid, and you know if they talk about everyone to you they also talk about you to everyone.
Holier Than Thou
They’re a Level 15 Relationship Anarchist multiclassed with 2 levels in Communication, has all the t-shirts for having been there and done that, learned the official poly handshake of three cities, and definitely relationships better than you… and lets everyone know about it, especially new people and people “doing it wrong”. Everyone is, at most, an expert on themselves and their own lived experiences, if one is wise, they will listen to those around them more than condemning them. Dr. John Gottman says anytime two individuals come together they form a new culture… I think he’s right.
If this resonates with you or someone you know and you’d like to explore some options for support, let me know below.