parte del texto de crear grupo18 noviembre, 2008 a las 7:00/ por moscacojonera
Que es lo que NO son los grupos poly
Es importante también saber que es lo que NO son los grupos poly:
- Una familia. Aunque desarrolles lazos con varios de los miembros del grupo, o incluso que formes lazos similares a los familiares con algunos de ellos… el grupo en sí no es una familia. Una comunidad quizás. Pero no una familia. Si el grupo comienza a asumir que es una familia, habrá decepción cuando lleguen los momentos duros (enfermedad, muertes, divorcios, rupturas, etc) y la familia no esté ahí para un@. Concéntrate en crear tus propias relaciones y amistades, y no pongas expectativas en el grupo mismo para que sea tu familia.
- Un club de ligue. Es tentador el usar el grupo como un terreno del que sacar potenciales amantes poly. Mientras que por un lado, seguramente se cruzará tu vida con la de algunos potenciales amantes a través del grupo (porque admitámoslo: ¿donde vas a encontrar una concentración semejante de gente poly en tu zona?), por otro, tiene sus pegas buscar amantes dentro de la comunidad. Una de ellas es lo incómodo que será después de la ruptura (y lo más probable es que suceda, sé realista) y tod@s querréis seguir siendo miembros activos del grupo. Asistir al grupo para buscar amantes no solo es algo a lo que no se anima a la gente, sino que simplemente se ve como un «efecto colateral» beneficioso. Además, no todo el mundo va a reuniones poly a buscar nuev@s amantes; algunas personas prefieren ir únicamente de sus relaciones poly existentes. Por el hecho de ser poly, no significa que alguien esté activamente buscando nuev@s amantes.
- Un club para sexo/swinging. Los grupos poly no son un truco para conseguir sexo en grupo. No hay un solo grupo poly que conozca que tenga juegos sexuales como parte de sus reuniones. No vayas a una reunión poly esperando echar un polvo. No hay fiestas sexuales privadas después de las reuniones. Polyamor no es una manera más elaborada de llamar al swinging o la promiscuidad.
- Exclusivo. Excepto en el caso de que se diga expresamente, los grupos poly están abiertos a cualquier persona con más de 18 años. Esto incluye chicos solteros (sí, incluso chicos solteros), parejas, triejas, cuatrejas (?), gay, lesbianas, bisexuales, heteros, transgénero, etc. De todos modos ten en cuenta que si vas sin permiso o conocimiento de tu pareja, te puedes encontrar que el resto de l@s asistentes no sean excesivamente amigables contigo, a no ser que aclares que vas con la única intención de informarte. (por ejemplo, si estás pensando en hacerlo sin que tu pareja se entere, eso es generalmente un gran NO-NO entre l@s poly y no encontrarás apoyo para eso en las reuniones). De todos modos hay grupos que están pensados para unos intereses concretos como para polyamor menores de 35, para polyamor queer, etc, así que asegúrate de que compruebas antes la descripción de los intereses del grupo. Aparte de eso, muchos de estos grupos no están abiertos a que se lleven niñ@s, así que asegúrate de comprobarlo antes de llevar a tus hij@s.
El día de ir a tu primera reunión
Ir a tu primera reunión siempre asusta un poco. No sabes qué esperar, no sabes si serás aceptad@, no sabes si la gente será amable, no sabes si vas correctamente vestid@, etc. Y si eres nuev@ en lo del polyamor, puede asustar más, al ser la primera vez que te encuentras con otras personas poly. ¿Serán rar@s, diferentes?
Antes de ir, comprueba en la web del grupo qué dicen que puedes esperar de una reunión. Deben decirte qué tipo de grupo es (social, foro en internet,etc.), cuanta gente suele asistir y qué formato de reunión usan. Si tienen un foro en internet al que puedas apuntarte, regístrate y relaciónate primero de manera virtual con los otros miembros. Si aún así no lo ves claro, no dudes en contactar con l@s organizador@s.
Muchos grupos A lot of groups start with some sort of ‘check-in’ in which everyone introduces themselves and tells a little about their involvement in polyamory. This gives you an opportunity to hear from everyone – but it can be a bit scary if you are not comfortable with public speaking. Just take a deep breath and remember – everyone else in the room probably had the same fear when they first attended and they totally understand. Most groups don’t put pressure on newcomers to say much.
On your first meeting, there’s nothing wrong with just sitting back and soaking it all in. If you feel comfortable, speak up. Remember, people have come to this meeting specifically to interact with others like you – the things you have to say are not invalid. And if you have questions, you’ll find that there are plenty of people more than willing to give you their take on it.
Types of Poly Groups
There are several different flavors of group that you might be interested in. There are drawbacks and benefits to each.
Social Group – This is a group that meets primarily to mingle and mix. The benefits are that it does tend to attract more people and the group may grow more quickly, thus exposing you to a lot of poly people. The drawbacks are that it’s easy to form cliques within this group, and have large portions of the group withdraw at the same time. Also, this type of group is prone to having a lot of inter-dating going on, thus the potential for drama. There’s also no group cohesion present as there’s no intimacy shared amongst members. And this style of group may be exclusionary to those who do not possess extroverted social skills. Also, the lines may get very blurred to some folks as to whether this group is a poly group, or an off-premise swing group.
Discussion Group – In this style of group, each meeting is focused around talking about a topic related to polyamory. Perhaps jealousy, time management, coming ‘out’, meeting poly mates, etc. Usually the topics are moderated by a group leader. The benefit is that this style of meeting encourages sharing of experiences, ideas, solutions and problems and can lead to sharing intimacy amongst members of the group. People who may not be as extroverted may feel comfortable with this style as it’s focused on a task, and you can just as easily sit back and listen as you can participate in the conversations. The drawbacks are that the meetings may lack personal connections, and this style may not be appealing to large quantities of people. Also, if the group grows to much more than 25 or 30 people at a meeting, it’s very difficult to have an inclusive conversation.
Support Group – In this style of group, the members are brought together specifically to help each other. At each meeting, those who are having problems in their poly lives are encouraged to talk about them and other members give them advice and support. The benefits are that this is a great outlet for those experiencing problems with polyamory. The drawback however is that it’s difficult to get a core group established and have a high rate of return visitors because the meetings can tend to be depressing. Those who are not having problems may not feel like being supportive at every meeting and thus don’t have incentive to keep attending, and those who are having problems dominate the meetings.
Activist Group – Some groups come together specifically to serve to promote awareness of polyamory, do community outreach, organize events, lobby political organizations for poly rights, etc. The benefits are that these sorts of groups serve a great service to polys everywhere, and it can be a great outlet for those with activist spirits. The drawback is that these groups only meet the needs for a small group of poly people, as requires being very ‘out’ about being poly and having a drive to promote polyamory.
Hybrid – The most successful groups tend to be those that adopt some hybrid of the above styles. In my experience, having helped organize a group that has stayed active for over 6 years now, having a discussion based group with social outlets has worked really well. Each month, the group meets for a discussion meeting over lunch. There is time left at the end for socializing, and there are many folks within the community who organize other social outings during the month – such as dinners, theme park visits, picnics, movies, etc. This has helped build personal connections, intimacy amongst members and a very high repeat rate of return visitors. Friendships are formed amongst members as a result, and the support to help get through the rough patches is delivered via these friendships – not as a direct function of the group.
How to get a group started
Haven’t found a group near you to get involved with? Well, here’s a recipe for starting groups that I’ve found has worked very well that doesn’t take a lot of effort:
Create a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to tell a bit about the type of group you’re starting, where it meets (city) and how to join.
Create a mailing list. Having an e-mail list is very important for announcing meetings and having discussions. YahooGroups (http://groups.yahoo.com) is a great way to go, and they’re very easy to set up. They provide calendars, discussion boards, photo albums, polls, etc… all for free. There are two general ways to go with setting up your mailing lists:
Have one mailing list that serves as both an announcement list for your meetings and as a discussion list. If you do this, I highly recommend that you don’t have your group completely open for joining and require some sort of membership process (YahooGroups provides this option). This helps keep spammers out, people who are just cruising for sex and anyone else you might consider outside of your group’s scope. (In the group I run like this, I require that folks be located locally or state their connection to the area, be over 18, and demonstrate some understanding of polyamory before joining.) This is easier to manage, however in time you may find you want to convert to the below option.
Set up an announce-only list where members cannot post, just receive your announcements about meetings. This keeps list volume low, and is less intimidating for folks to join. Set up a separate e-mail list for just for discussions. You may even want to restrict it to just those folks who have been to a meeting before. This encourages folks to come to a meeting, and creates a ‘safe’ place to continue meeting topics online – as everyone knows that everyone on the list has made the effort to come to a meeting and isn’t a lurker. (It’s not uncommon for only about 10-20% of those on an announcement list to make it out to a meeting.)
Advertise your group. Make sure your site gets in search engines. Get your group listed with the various poly resources online – www.lovemore.com and www.polymatchmaker.com are great places to ask to be listed with a link to your site. A lot of other sites will start listing you once they find out about you, but don’t be afraid to ask any poly group directory to list you. Also, if there are larger groups in metro areas near you, ask them to make an announcement to their announce list about your group. If there’s any Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Transgender center in your area, ask them to list you as well. Put up flyers in alterative venues – such as bookshops catering to metaphysical topics, pagan, GLBT, etc.
Set a meeting up! Pick a date, time and location… and announce it to your group. It’s a good idea to give at least a week or two advance notice so that people can plan their schedules. You may want to solicit the opinions of your group members.. but ultimately, pick something that works for you and that you can commit to, after all – you’re the one who has to be there. ‘Plan it and they will come’ is my motto.
Considerations for locations:
Public places to consider:
Restaurants – Getting people to come out for a meal makes it a lot of fun, and gives a bit of a social aspect to a meeting. If you can, find a place that offers a private meeting room and reserve it. This will make people feel more comfortable attending a poly meeting that is held in public (they know their conversations won’t be overheard, and don’t have to worry about their co-workers or neighbor seeing them). A lot of places offer this for free or for a small fee. Make sure the management knows the nature of your meeting so they can properly warn your servers of the conversations they might overhear. You may encounter resistance here (although, I’ve personally never had a problem with it), but better to be upfront than to upset your wait staff. If you can’t find a private meeting room, pick a restaurant that can handle larger groups. Places where you order your meals at a counter are great, so that people can show up at varying times and then just join your table. But don’t be surprised if you don’t have indepth poly conversations if you’re in a public place.
Coffee Shops – This makes for a nice casual meeting without a lot of financial commitment on attendees. Unfortunately, because they are usually in public this doesn’t tend to lead to a lot of poly related conversations if you have anyone who is shy about their poly nature.
Community Centers – Libraries, churches (check your local UU church, they’re sometimes poly-friendly), colleges, GLBT centers, apartment complexes and neighborhoods sometimes offer free, donation based or low-cost meeting rooms.
If you or any of your members is comfortable doing so, you can hold meetings in private homes. However, here are some considerations and drawbacks of this:
The host needs to be very very comfortable with inviting unknown people into their home.
Be sure to very clearly state the agenda of the meeting in your announcement. With confusion over poly and swing, it’s easy for folks who aren’t clear on the differences to assume that a meeting held in a home is a rouse for some sort of sex party. I’ve been at home poly discussion meetings where during the break people literally asked ‘So, when do we take off our clothes?’. Also, keep in mind that HBO’s Real Sex series once profiled a tantra session given for polys as a Polyamory meeting.. which leads to further confusion over what a poly meeting is.
Make sure to make newcomers feel welcomed and safe. It’s scary coming to a first meeting. People who feel comfortable on the first meeting, almost always come back.
Specifically greet newcomers when they arrive. Best if this is done individually.
Start meetings out stating what is coming up. If you’re doing a check-in, explain the process and what the expectations are. Don’t force newcomers to go first, and make it clear that it’s optional.
If you have a handout about the group or about poly in general – give it to newcomers. Check out my Essays section for a draft of such a document our local groups use.
Stating a confidentiality rule that says ‘What is said here, stays here’ can help folks feel more comfortable discussing personal information.
Establish regularity. To establish a group, it’s important to establish regularity in meeting. For example, pick a day each month and try to keep the location consistent. (First Saturday of every month at 2pm). This makes it easy for members to remember and plan around. You must be dedicated to attending every meeting… even if you go for a couple of months with no one or few people showing up. This is why it’s important to pick a location you enjoy… because if you view it as a set time each month to do something you would enjoy doing anyway… then it’s a lot less disappointing if you have no-shows. Once you have a core group of people who are regularly attending, it becomes even easier.
Establish leadership. You need someone who takes a leadership role – organizes meeting times and places, gets the word out, greets newcomers, answers group e-mail. It’s usually best if you have a couple of core members who help out with this role. If you’re finding yourself taking this on yourself, ask others to help. A lot of folks are willing to volunteer, but they like to feel asked to do so. It’s very easy the leader to get burnt out after a while.. having others who can take over is very important.