If you make it out to enough meetups and make a group of poly friends who have other poly friends, you will with time meet all the stereotypes of polyamory. If we could gather them into one good-sized meetup, here are The Polyamorous People You’ll meet:
The Wise Elder Who Will Leave As Soon as Someone Argues With Them:
This is one of two groups of people who have been doing this since 30 years before the term Polyamory was coined who might make it out to a meetup. He (it is nearly always a he; the lady version of this stereotype will only come out to the Leather Community version of this event to Tell You Off, Youngster) will set up court in a corner, with three of his (always younger, all genders welcome) proteges surrounding him. Hellos will lead to expository speech on how No One Does Things The One Twue Way anymore; and one of the Up and Coming Community Leaders will get into an argument about that, at which point he and his coterie will leave dramatically, one of the proteges slinking back into the venue to pay the check a few minutes later.
The Up and Coming Community Leader:
Absolutely not just here to tell off the Old Guard of the One Twue Way, the Up and Coming Community Leader has an event to promote, a set of parties to get attendees for, Education to Correct, and networking to do. If the event is at a bar, they will always have a drink in hand, but only one will actually have liquor in it, regardless of how they dress up their tonic and lime, because they’re here to work. They flirt only when it’s the way into a conversation, ask before hugging and remind people that we should! And make sure to mention their class series or the party they’re on the committee for before moving onto the next bundle of people. This group may overlap with any number of other stereotypes, but are most likely an Are you also kinky? I have other events for you! or an Expert Polyamorist (Because that’s real).
Manic Poly Dream Girl:
Has a bullet planner but also uses Google Calendar and can’t make time to show you its ways, but will send you a great youtube link about it at exactly 6:15 on Wednesday next week. You will fall in love instantly, want to be her, or go “wow I wanted to be that ten years ago. Thank goodness I realized being an actual nerd was also ok,” within 45 seconds of being introduced. You can’t imagine their natural haircolor, they have 14 love interests, about 4 of whom are co-primary, and none of whom have labels, but they really reject the name relationship anarchy despite using its principles more effectively than anyone else you know. Their conversations are either so deep that everything is understood at the end of that, or so surface that you aren’t sure you weren’t ice skating whilst having them, and realizing that your best friend at 22 was that girl is a horrible shock to the system for ladies of the author’s age.
“Are you interested in my pamphlet on Relationship Anarchy?”:
This is always a man. It is nearly always a man who has just entered the event, notices you’re watching groups before approaching, and thinks that means you’re new, even if you’ve met 16 times in the last 2 years. He will tell you all he knows about relationship anarchy. It will All Be Wrong. If you are the Expert Polyamorist (Because that’s real); you will have to decide if TODAY, AGAIN, it’s worth it to tell him why he’s wrong. It isn’t. I Promise. I’m That Person, and it’s not even satisfying to watch his face crumple because You’re Mean. If he finds prey who have never heard of it, he spreads a false notion that RA means you get what you want with no responsibility to any partners you may find because “they need to be responsible for their own feelings.” People who have been to this event a lot hate That Guy.
The Expert Polyamorist (Because that’s real):
This is me on a bad day. This person has heard someone say something appallingly false or problematic one time too many in the last half hour, has been drinking since just before the event began and thought a salad was dinner, had none of the flirtations they’ve been working on show up, and teaches classes on polyamory and related topics. They’re ready to argue with whoever says something crappy next, in earshot. The argument will begin with “While there are always exceptions to prove the rule, in the last (minimum 7, maximum 30) years that I’ve been non-monogamous, that has proven to be exceptionally wrong/problematic/unwise because…” and it will not end until the other party admits their wrongness or has left. It is A Bad Look, and makes event coordinators who are smart less likely to hire you, and event coordinators who are unaware of events outside their own more likely to, because they’ve vaguely heard your name. The Expert Polyamorist believes the latter is Good Press.
“Are You Also Kinky? I Have More Events For You!”:
It’s unclear whether this person is only at the polyamory event to figure out who they can get to come to their kink event or whether they actually want to be here and are simultaneously happy to help- if you’re also kinky. While the kink and polyamorous Venn Diagram has a pretty decent sized overlap, this person can bring a slightly awkward sexual overtone to a casual hangout, and will almost certainly interrupt a conversation about tabletop RPGs to make sure that all the kinksters in that convo know about Kinky D&D she’s organizing.
The TTRPG Polyamorists:
They are polyamorous only to ensure that they always have a group big enough to try the latest tabletop RPG; everyone in their polycule plays a different character class in D&D 5e, and at least two of them listen to Critical Role. If you don’t know what any of that means, you will not date a third of polyamorists. Sorry, but them’s the breaks, kid.
The OG Free Love Hippie:
The floaty, positive counterpart to the angry elder who leaves instantly, the hippies who have seen it all wander in and out of people’s lives and have a million connections that they choose not to label at all times. They’ve also been doing this since the 70s, may have lived in the communes that inspired the term polyamory, and think it’s GREAT that people have made up words for all of this and are spreading them around, but have no time for the bad vibes of arguing about it, and only time for suggesting cuddle piles that might result in an orgy after the potluck next week. They’re dramatically good at sex, and equally good at conversations you weren’t expecting, so long as you don’t want them to be about anything digital.
The Couple Seeking a Third:
“We heard about polyamory last week, and we think a third person to join our existing relationship would really balance our perfection to still greater heights. We aren’t unicorn hunters because it could be a dude, and it would still reflect and enhance our perfection.” Everyone single will run from them.
The Extremely Hierarchical Primary Partner:
“Sorry, give me a sec, I have to send the 8 o clock check in and set my clock for the 10pm one.” It’s totally fine to do things separately from one another, but constant check ins are required, and any whim of their primary partner can become an emergency, physical or emotional, without warning and without question. You will date them until the second time they leave because the cat looked at their partner wrong and now there are tears.
“We aren’t a package deal” Bait and Switch:
A variation on the Extremely Hierarchical Primary, this person is part of a Couple Seeking a Third who has realized that people run when you admit that your goal is a triad - they have very strict rules about only doing certain kinds of play or sex together, but they lead in with a lot of very wise sounding talk about having space to do things on their own… until you find out that sex is off limits unless their partner is invited to join you, or sex is fine but romance is only allowed if you also love their partner. Generally a disappointing discovery, especially if you’re in the big chunk of polyamorous people who are straight, despite the press implying otherwise.
Controlling Helicopter Partner:
The last major variation on The Extremely Hierarchical Primary Partner, this person has come to the meetup not to have fun, but to monitor their partner’s behavior. They helicopter around their partners’ conversations all night, have none of their own, and spend the car ride home passing judgement on the hair, outfits, and conversational style of every person their partner spoke with, but attempt to make it appear a sign of compersion that they did so.
“I’ve been doing this five minutes but I read a lot, observe my wisdom”:
This was my entreé into the polyamorous world - give me a copy of The Ethical Slut and a couple hours, and I was wise beyond my mere months of practicing non-monogamy. Almost always found in the wild arguing with the Polyamorous Expert, or simultaneously being The New Girl and therefore in someone’s lap, this variety of new person is at all meetups, but especially those aimed at young people.
The New Girl:
No one knows her, but everyone wants to. Likely overwhelmed by the attention, the new girl may actually be as beautiful as a poet’s love, or as funky-looking as an exploited PT Barnum worker, but she is Brand New, and therefore in the highest demand by all Couples Looking for a Third, Local Cult Leaders, The Person with No Spacial Boundaries, and Polysaturated Regulars alike. She flits like a butterfly until settling into her actual personality’s role 2 or 3 meetups in.
Local Cult Leader:
Like the Up and Coming Community Organizer, the Local Cult Leader knows everyone at the party’s names, but they only speak to half of them and are feuding with the other half. They are quasi-religious in their belief in something controversial - maybe that if you aren’t nesting or planning to nest with your partners, your relationship is ‘Less Than,’ maybe that ‘Kitchen table polyamory’ actually means ‘down for sex with your meta and telemours’... or something else that most people aren’t on board with but just enough people are to form a cliquey cult. They may be eccentric in appearance, or may host events based around their controversial belief, or both.
Rival Local Cult Leader:
Is trying to poach believers and counter-convince anyone who will listen that the other Local Cult Leader is deeply wrong. May be kinky and trying to convince people that polyamory is a kink and they should have a D/s harem. Grows up to be the Elder who leaves when argued with.
The Poly Parent
Their kids are their primary partner, and they make sure you know it within 15 minutes of meeting. You will always come at least second, as this variety may additionally be solo-poly and ALL OVER loving themselves first. Me, when I’m not drunkenly arguing semantics, or failing to respect personal space as the Person with No Social or Spatial Boundaries.
The Burning Man Enthusiast
Will talk to you about any kind of camping, but especially wants to tell you about their many Burning Man Experiences, and how they shaped their understanding of the human mind. Probably has a verbal pamphlet on relationship anarchy, and it’s a lot more accurate than the RA enthusiast above. They will offer to take you to a local Burn for your second date.
Person with No Social or Spatial Boundaries:
Has probably been drinking, but may just lack social skills. This person forgets to ask before making physical contact, believes all their advances are wanted, and may offer to climb you like a tree at an inappropriate venue and time in the evening. Often overlaps with Secret Agent Man.
Secret Agent Man:
“Needs to be really discreet;” to a point where either he’s a celebrity (he’s not), he has the highest level government clearance ever (he doesn’t), or he’s cheating and doing a poor job hiding it (ding ding ding! You’ve won the prize!). Is most often so desperate to manage his maneuver while he’s out of town for work or his wife is that he loses all sense of boundaries and fails to close the deal, multiple times in a row across the meetup, and then he’s asked to leave when the organizer notices.
The Person Who’s Never Met a Need, Ever:
Also may overlap with poor boundaries, but much more likely to get a date, the person who’s never met a need, ever, will tell you that they really believe in everyone owning their own reactions and feelings; but what they mean is that if you’re ever upset or in need of reassurance, they won’t be around to offer that. Sometimes overlaps with the Polysaturated Regular, because there’s a threshold past which you can’t offer more support.
The Polysaturated Regular:
This happy community member has filled the slots on their dance card with a couple or several ongoing relationships, but is a flirt who wants the hit of endorphins that being wanted offers. They may be interested in something casual, but they don’t want to be who you call for support - they’d rather you had your own network of friends and partners for that because they’re managing their reactions and three other peoples’. They mean well, but they have the power to leave destruction in their wake.
The cowboy or cowgirl gets into a relationship with one member of a polycule and tries to “rope them off from the herd.” At a meetup they may be finding a new target, or quietly sowing community dissent against their metas to let games of telephone tell their partner to only be with them - a direct ultimatum is so last year, after all.
The NRE Chaser:
Addicted to the thrill of Meeting That New Person, the NRE Chaser will make you believe you're in love....for exactly 3 weeks before their hormone levels drop and you're left confused at next month's meetup about exactly what happened.Did you do too much? Not enough? No, you just caught someone who wants limerence more than relationships.
Last, but certainly not least:
The Swingers Who Realize They’re at the Wrong Party:
Hopefully they make it out unscathed before they get hit by judgement from most of the meetup, not just the Local Cult Leaders; if they’re lucky they’ll grab the couple looking for a third for a fun night, and if they’re REALLY lucky, they’ll get to go home with the OG Free Love Hippie and learn what decades of experience can teach someone about sex. If they insist on sticking it out, they will get into a lot of minor arguments, and have A Pretty Bad Time..