• Laura Boyle

Polyamorous People You'll Meet: Part 2

Gentle Readers, I asked for what stereotypes I missed in my First Part , and you all more than delivered. So, here for you, is Part 2 of the polyamorous folks you may meet out in the world. Fair warning: I have jokes about fewer of these, though many are still as ridiculous as real.


The Wokest Poly:

This person has a lot of loudly shared opinions. They are almost all about “the system,” its various failures, and how the polyamorous community is taking part in all of the facets of the system that they’d love to change as a whole, and how they personally are trying to improve their participation in them. If you cannot meet it with a list of your own, you will walk away from the conversation either vaguely ashamed or vaguely annoyed. If you can, you may agree completely with ⅔ of the points and the last third are “overkill.” They absolutely come to all the events, except the ones that are run by people who are insufficiently ‘woke’ or ‘unproblematic,’ which turns out to be over half of them. Everyone agrees that hiring problematic people at an event you need to pay for is No Good, but there is strong division over whether it matters at Free Events. You’re just buying your own drink and chatting, you can warn the New Girl (of Part 1) to stay away from the Missing Stair and feel OK about being here.


The Poly Snuggle Bunny (I’m just in it for the friends):

This name covers the basics. They probably only come to events with a big group of people they know, so they only have to ask a minimum number of people permission for uncomfortably long hugs, and by the second beer they are in someone’s lap. They will complain that not enough people paid to attend a cuddle party at a local studio and try to convince someone with a larger home to start throwing a free one. They’ve been relationship polysaturated for three years but will never be Physical Touch saturated; their love is infinite and it is their primary love language.


The One Penis Policy:

Despite the gender implied in the name of the stereotype, it can be any One <Genital> Policy; the person who imposed it undervalues both same-sex relationships and trans people, they think the only way they are special to their partner is the genital to genital contact they make, and they generally have low self-esteem. You sort of feel bad for them, but simultaneously angry at them and unsure how to feel for their partners, who have accepted the limitations and undervaluing of their additional relationships. Almost always stated bluntly out loud by a partner going “Oh, my whole polycule all can date cis<gender plural> but that’s it,” in a slightly bitter tone, when they’re approached by any other kind of person. Fought about on the internet a lot because the above is the majority opinion, but it’s a very vocal minority who thinks this is somewhere between great and fine.


The NRE Chaser:

This person has a new relationship every single time you see them. Whether they try to maintain them, and end up with once every month or two meetings with longer-term relationships, whilst talking to the newest one daily and seeing them twice a week, or just have break ups when the feeling fades, they love NRE more than anything else about polyamory. They dive intensely, deeply, wildly into new relationships; are beautiful in their passion; and their flirting skills are second-to-none. You will admire them and kind of look askance at their ability to say someone is a True Love early on and go “oh yeah, we’re still friends but it turned out not to be a love connection, when six months after the NRE obsessiveness wears off, they’ve mutually decided to make their every six week meetings with people about movies and coffee, not love or sex.


The Person With A Chip on Their Shoulder:

This person has walked into the party, meetup, or potluck ready to have it out. It may not be clear to you on observing them whether this is with everyone, or with someone with whom there is an ongoing shitstorm. Regardless, they are dangerous if spoken to wrong. You will discover baggage you didn’t want to help carry. If you are me, you will help them carry it until you can deposit them in a conversation and RUN. This may be a totally different kind of issue (arguing with a partner about relationship style, struggling with sustaining boundaries with a meta who is at this event, resenting a potluck host for commenting on how little they brought last month, when things were tight as hell last month and it was what they could do), or they may be the Most Bitter Half of a Couple You’ve Ever Met.


The Most Bitter Half of a Couple You’ve Ever Met:

This person has had no luck dating, and their partner is a social butterfly who dates easily and well, and may already have a full dance card while they sit home alone. It is often a cisman or a transperson with a ciswoman partner, because the ciswoman (especially the extra cute or bi- or pan- sexual ciswoman), just like in monogamous dating, gets flooded with options upon entering a new dating scene. This is occasionally not the case (I’m a pretty cute ciswoman who’s had cisman partners be doing way better at dating or have more people they’re actually interested in seeing express interest than me for periods of months or years) but when it’s any other way it’s because of very strong extroversion and charisma, which are usually not requirements for cis ladies to get swamped with offers, and after wading through them be suddenly saturated, while their partner goes on dates and strikes out, or can’t even make it to dates. This engenders a veneer of bitterness, which then makes it harder to turn on charisma at events and meet the people you’re interested in. My honest advice to these people, having occasionally been one and realized it’s very much Not A Good Look, and does the opposite of what I want, is to make sure I’m going to events where I have a friend, and talk about something we’re both passionate about for a while, adding anyone who passes by and seems interested in the conversation, early in the event. It hypes me up and turns on the better social skills I have hidden under my nerdy, academic exterior, and makes people more likely to want to talk to me about whatever their interests are.


The Scene Famous Person:

You go on a couple dates and someone mentions they’re a writer on the side and you go “oh cool! About what?” expecting it to be related to their day job, and instead, it’s relationships, or sex, or polyamory… and you realize when you get home and get around to finding their twitter that theirs isn’t a humble blog with 50 followers - they’re scene famous. “On the side” mostly means they don’t always get travel costs covered for conventions. Your long distance potential metamour? Scene famous enough that they’ve quit their day job. Or, instead, you find out they organize events on the side and you think they mean like local poly cocktails, but it turns out they’re a well-known figure who runs a national conference. You panic, and then take a minute to think, because you’ve really enjoyed these dates. You realize you’re cool with dating the person you’re seeing… But you’re maybe never going to a convention with them because there might be groupies.


The Unsettlingly Large LGBTQ Polycule:

The reader who reminded me of this one called it the “unsettlingly large trans polycule,” and while she’s right in part, I think there are usually some chill cis queer people holding together bits of constellation in most real-life applications. These are the polycules where you can easily be chosen family of 30+ people for a holiday party without even touching the giant list of friends no one is dating anymore, and the goal is always a massive commune with self-sufficient farming, housing flexible enough to suit people’s whims, and fast internet to express themselves to the world and make sure that everyone knows which TERFs (Trans- Exclusionary Radical Feminists - people who claim to be feminists while denying the womanhood of transwomen and excluding them from feminist movements at all cost) to avoid (the answer is, all of them, but, who’s admitted being one most recently - with receipts on that) and why we should hate Steven Moffat. (Although I have friends who do both, it is not unique to them- “hating on Steven Moffat” is enough of a stereotype of poly transwomen that I found 6 articles referencing it.)


The TERF That Needs Kicking Out of the Event:

If you’re too unsettled by the large, mainly trans and queer commune above, or the part you’re unsettled by is the transpeople being *Gasp! Shock! Horror!* merely people, as others, and you consider yourself a feminist despite this, You’re A TERF. And, if you’re a TERF, and you’re hanging out at any public or private event that, in trying to be even a little bit not garbage, is inclusive to the best of its ability, You’re Going To Get Kicked Out. On an individual level, polyamory is absolutely no more enlightened, forward thinking, or free of underlying cultural problems than monogamy, or than any other community that holds meetings. As a community, however, we generally recognize a need for inclusivity. That doesn’t mean individuals aren’t assholes, or that assholes might not be the ones running a particular event: But it means that if anyone else is, if they notice or are told that someone is being exclusionary or denying the reality of someone’s life and gender, the asshole will be asked to leave. There are, unfortunately, still people who behave like that, just like there are, unfortunately, still racists and sexists and homophobes; and we are (at least in my area) doing our best to tell people what’s wrong with their behavior and that it’s time to leave now.


The Organizer Who is Legitimately the Best:

This is the person who doesn’t just organize the venue and advertise the event, greet new attendees and keep an eye out if they seem stuck unable to join conversation, but is also prepared to do the hard bits like maintain rules about inclusivity, watch for when that seems to be starting so it can be headed off at the pass with a conversation rather than a horrible situation followed by someone’s removal, and giving a word to the wise about any missing stairs they’ve been made aware of. This is someone who is bright, organized, and charismatic enough to pull off all these tasks, and move between them over the course of a couple hours without looking burnt out (regardless of how much recharge time they may need when they get at home). This is also the person who admits they can’t do it all at once if their event grows, and gets a cohost or a volunteer to share in the greeting and do some newbie watching so they can focus on listening in, mingling, and watching for issues. This person deserves a gold star, because they are the cream of the crop. You will find them at events that either have run forever, or that feel by the third meeting like they SHOULD run forever, because they were so enjoyable.



The Missing Stair:

This person takes his or her name from this excellent article from 2012 which explains that, just as in your house there may be a dangerous or unusual thing that you're used to stepping around or ignoring, but that a guest trips over if they come by, there can be people in communities who you (and other community members) are used to avoiding, but you're so used to it that you forget to repair it, or eject them from events, or even warn people about them. Smart event organizers, if they realize one is around, but don't want to eject them if the bad behavior isn't happening at their event, warn new people; some people preemptively ban people who have been abusive or grooming newbies into unsafe behavior or whatsoever it may be. In a polyamorous context, it usually means a person convincing a series of someones that the missing stair's way is a one true way and that they are bad at polyamory if they don't do it that way; especially if the missing stair's way is considered a red flag in common perception.


The “My Career is My Primary” Polyamorist:

It’s all in the name. They’re interesting, they’re loving, they’re happy to make human connection, but regardless of the intensity of your feelings, you will always be secondary to their career. These people are often extremely charismatic, which is part of how they got the job that made their career start, and the promotions that brought them here; but if you want a primary partner, they are not the one for you.


The Person Who Never Goes To These Things, But Dates Enough That We All Know Them:

You’ve heard of all this person from a half-dozen people. You met them at one birthday and a holiday party. They seem lovely and like a social butterfly. But they’ve got so much “game” via the internet and introductions by partners and friends that they never make it out to a meetup, unless their partner thinks it’s a low-pressure place for them to meet a metamour. The pressure gets even lower when it turns out half the group is happy to meet this person they’ve heard of and have a chat.



*Friendly reminder, I’ve launched a Patreon page to support the podcast coming next month. If you pledge support at any level before the first episode, you will receive bloopers of me using language unbecoming of a lady at equipment and gain my undying thanks; if you can’t justify a monthly expenditure but really like a given post (or podcast episode once they’re up), I have aKo-fi where you can drop a coin in the metaphorical hat.

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