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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where oh where did my poly friends go?

Ever have one of those "duh" moments? I had one the other night at a Poly Social I attend regularly. Several folks mentioned having difficulty finding other poly people to socialize with and/or date. I would then mention the resources of which I was familiar while being surprised they hadn't found them already. That's when I had the "duh" moment and realized as involved as I am in my community I hadn't written an article on the topic, even generally, in quite a while.

So here it is boys and girls, my Introductory Guide to finding frolicking Poly people!

Online:

-Yahoo Groups.
This is a good place to start. Just do a search for Poly or Polyamory and you are sure to get plenty of hits. Narrow your search geographically until you find the groups in your area. Many aren't very active groups so don't be afraid to join a lot of them. If you are worried about privacy, create a throwaway email address and profile to use with joining all the groups. When you find the ones you like, join just those under your regular profile.

-Meetup.com
This is a great place to find out if Poly folks in your area are meeting up regularly and looking for others. Again, just do a search on Polyamory. Refine the results by location. Be aware that their search engine isn't completely logical and will often exclude results when a location + Polyamory is used for a search. If there aren't any Meetups going on in your area think about starting one!

-OKCupid.
This is a dating site that poly people generally seem to accept as very poly-friendly. Do an advanced search using "Poly" or "Polyamory" as a keyword. Email some of the people returned in your search introducing yourself and asking how they are involved in the local poly community. Chances are you will find someone willing to tell you where poly folks are active in your community.

-PolyMatchMaker.com
Another dating site that will allow you to search by location. I haven't used this one much so I can't really describe it or how well it works.

-FetLife
This is a site dedicated to the fetish lifestyle. It may seem a bit intimidating but if you don't post a lot of pictures of yourself, and aren't actively looking you shouldn't be bothered much. There seems to be a growing poly community on this site so it may provide some help.

-Facebook
Yes, believe it or not poly is growing on Facebook. Again, just do a search for Polyamory pages or groups. Several have sprung up recently. As mentioned with the Yahoo Groups, you can always setup a throwaway email address and create a second Facebook account so you aren't using your real name if privacy is a concern. This is becoming a fairly common practice on Facebook these days.

-LovingMore
http://www.lovemore.com/
Based in Colorado, Loving More is one of the larger Poly organizations around. Although their website is somewhat lacking, they do have a personals page and some decent resources. Posting on their forums about finding poly people in your area should get you some feedback and more ideas.

Some other websites with good information that may/may not help:

Franklin Veaux – Polyamory?
http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html#AnchorP1

The Polyamory Society
http://www.polyamorysociety.org/

Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA)
http://polyadvocacy.ca/

Polyamorous Percolations, Polyamory in the News!
Linkhttp://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/

World Polyamory Association
http://www.worldpolyamoryassociation.org/

Now lets talk about functionality a bit. Asking how to find poly people is a common question from people new to the lifestyle. Often I just want to ask them "If you were a welder how would you find other welders?" or "If you collect antique refrigerators how would you find other antique refrigerator collectors?" I think the answer is really the same for any interest you might have. Talk to the people you know and see who shares your interests. When you find those people, ask them what they do to be involved in their community and find like minded people. That should lead you to the community you seek. If it doesn't maybe you should think about being a catalyst to grow the community.

How hard is that? Just put the word out to your like minded friends that you are going to start a new Yahoo or Facebook group focused on a specific interest. Maybe put the word out that you are going to a happy hour at the local pub. See who shows up. Don't expect a lot of people but just hope to make a few contacts. Ask them to spread the word and before long you will be growing a community. The key is doing something you enjoy and inviting like minded people to join you. Then it will always be fun and never feel like a job or commitment.

But where do you meet these people? That's invariably the question that is asked again. The problem with answering it is that you really can't. Poly people come in all flavors and varieties. Some are pagan, some aren't. Some are geeks, some aren't. Some are bi-sexual, some aren't, or are some other orientation. Some are professionals, some are laborers. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats. It would be like asking someone where you can find redheads.

In my experience, hanging around with the pagan crowd, RenFaire crowd, gamers, and festival goers there seems to be a fair number of poly folks in those circles. Some swing circles also have a fair number of poly folks (so I understand) though that hasn't been my experience. Again, find something you enjoy such as a RenFaire and talk to those with which you seem to connect. Chances are you will find people at least interested in the same things you are, if not already involved in them.

And finally, know what you want but keep an open mind. If you don't know what you want you can seem unsure or indecisive. People pick up on that and will hesitate to get close to you. Likewise if you don't have an open mind about others people will often sense it and keep their distance, assuming you don't keep your own distance because of their opposing or unusual interests that don't match yours.

What about you? Do you have a good poly community or circle of poly friends? How did you find them? Did you have to cultivate your community or circle of friends? How did you do that? What worked and what didn't? Or maybe you have resources or suggestions to add to the list I started above?

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