A Guy’s Guide to Poly Meetups

I’ve got more guys that want to join a polyamory meetup than I can shake a Tristan Taormino book at.

It makes sense.

The average poly meetup group has a number of intelligent, confident, sex-positive women who are attractive and capable enough to have multiple partners.  And the women of this group are most likely available to boot.

Naturally, we have ten new male applicants for every one female that wants to join.  Unfortunately, we lose ten members for every one male member who has misguided intentions.  Because we’re a community struggling to have the organized numbers to be taken seriously, we really can’t afford to be losing our constituency.

Whenever people leave the group, I always try to touch base about their reasons.  Like clockwork, the most common reason is that a male member did/said something that made them so uncomfortable that the meetup group was forever tainted.  This is always unfortunate to hear, because your local poly community is a great avenue to mingle with peers who share your philosophy about romance.  Especially when you’re new to polyamory, it’s very beneficial to have people who remind you that you can be polyamorous and normal.

If you identify as a male, though, please be sensitive to many polyamorists hesitations.  Even if it’s not your intention, you might end up spoiling somebody’s good time…

Before I get assaulted with comments containing #notallmen, let me just say that #enoughmen are guilty or unconsciously guilty of doing this.  So as a benefit to anybody who wants to join their local poly meetup, or wants to improve on their behavior in the poly meetup they’ve already joined, I’ve decided to write a bit about the dos and don’ts of poly meetups.  I’ve polled my male and female peers in the group for which I organize and arranged some guidelines.  Given that I’m a guy’s guy, I would like to offer:

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A Guy’s Guide to Being in a Poly Meetup

Before I dive into the meat and potatoes for male-identified members of any poly meetup group, I would just like to drive home two key points:

  1. Poly Meetups ≠ Meat Markets-
    Lots of people inaccurately assume a polyamory meetup is a swinger group.  They’re wrong.  Don’t treat the group like they’re right. If you are looking for ass, there are avenues for that.  If you’re already a member of meetup.com, join one of the swingers groups.  Sign up for OkCupid, get Tinder, troll fetlife.  Hell, even craigslist is a better and healthier option for casual encounters.
  2. Err Conservatively-
    When you’re getting to know someone new at a poly meetup, it’s real hard to move too slow.  But it’s real easy to move too fast.  If you’re not entirely sure about how to act, treat the people at your poly meetup like your partner’s parents.  Be on your best, most respectful behavior.

The following insights are all drawn from the same thread as the above.  That being said, let’s start with finding your group!

Joining
Finding the right group can be tough, but you only have to do it once.  Meetup is your best bet, though Google can always point you in the right direction.  If you’re already friends with polyamorists, ask them if they are members of any groups.  If they’re not, maybe y’all could start a local poly meetup!

  1. Profile Picture
    Use a PG rated picture of yourself dressed like a sane human being.  While that headless selfie of you wearing only your dog tags may be loved by 3 people on fetlife, that same photo may dissuade people from joining when they see the thumbnail in the current members.  Also, don’t avoid having a profile picture.  The factory-standard picture they put on guys’ profiles with no picture can be intimidating.  If you don’t want your face in your profile picture, just use a photo of your favorite saturday morning cartoon.
  2. Username
    Sure, on AFF, the name ShadOwdragOn is totally legit.  In a poly meetup, however, people don’t want your bedroom persona.  Polyamory meetups are made of real people, so use a real name.  I recommend using the format First-Name Last-Initial, like “Edward A”.  If you don’t want people to know you’re real name, use your middle name, like “James A”.  If you want nothing to connect your profile to your life outside of it, use a fake, but normal sounding name, like “George T”.
  3. Online Behavior
    Don’t message people you haven’t met in real life.  Even if you have met them, it can seem like a touch of stalker if you hit them up after the first time meeting.  If you want to tell someone you liked meeting them, don’t send them a private message.  Post a nice, public greeting on their profile/wall.

Attending Events
Lots of people are used to ignoring poor behavior on the internet.  But when you meet them in person, it’s much harder to let transgressions slide.  If you have any intention of going to an event, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Try to Not Go Stag
    Any given polyamorist should theoretically have multiple partners.  If a guy show’s up with zero partners, it’s tremendously suspect.  It’s an unfortunate level of sexist assumed intent.  If a lady regularly shows up stag, she is often viewed as a champion of singles empowerment.  When a guy shows up stag on the regular, he’s most commonly viewed as tooling for ass.  #notallmen are only looking for ass, but #enoughmen are that it’s a valid concern.
    But, Pilot-Precise!  I don’t have any partners to bring with me to the meetup!
    Be that as it may, you will still need to be sensitive to hesitations of the meetup members.   Your +1 doesn’t need to be a partner.  Ask a friend whose polycurious, ask a friend who’s an ally, ask your mom.  As long as you show up with a lady, you have the feminine stamp of approval and people won’t think that you’re here to leech on the ladies.
  2. Don’t Even Look Like You’re Cruising
    When it’s your first time meeting someone, don’t exchange numbers with them, don’t ask them if they’re looking for anyone new, don’t call them pet names, and you better not try negging a gal.  Similarly, anything you may have heard/seen a pickup artist practice is a bad move.
  3. Befriend Guys Before Girls
    If you don’t talk to any of the guys at a poly meetup, it’s a surefire way to look like you’re cruising for tail.  Like I said before, most of the girls at a poly meetup are available.  But virtually none of the ladies aren’t involved.  If you want to make friends with any of the girls at a poly meetup, get on their partner(s)’ good side first.  Outside of the fact that you’ll have a more complete comprehension of the community, you will also get the chance to meet someone who can empathize with you concerning the struggles of being a polyamorous guy.  You could meet a new friend, maybe even a new poly wingman!
  4. Approach the Hosts
    The event host might be the most important person to befriend.  Outside of the fact that they are putting in the work to help the community socialize, it can be very beneficial to have the favor of a poly meetup’s leadership.  If you get in good with the host, you’ve got someone that knows you at all the events.  If you rub the host the wrong way, you might just get kicked out of the group.  Talk to the hosts, ask if there’s any way you could help set up at the start of the event or clean up at the end of it.
  5. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
    If you really hit it off with a gal, then when she’s leaving you can ask her permission for a handshake.  If she offers you a hug instead, then you can certainly take it!  Please don’t fall prey to the mindset that all women in a polyamory group are always hungry for dick and are just waiting for you to make the first move.  This means don’t get all handsy with the gals at a poly meetup.  Even if you ask permission first, she might be too timid to say no to you at a meetup and will feel pigeonholed, which can be just as bad.
    The most common culprit is soft affections; e.g. shoulder massages, rubbing legs with the person your sitting next to, soft touching in very PG places like the hands.  Just because it seems PG to you, it can make the recipient feel very uncomfortable.  Or it can even make their partner very uncomfortable.  In the latter, we end up losing a guy who is capable of bringing a female partner because of the behavior of a guy who’s so desperate for affection that he can’t keep his hands to himself at a public event with people he just met.
  6. Don’t Hover
    If you want to be part of a conversation, ask if you can join it.  Don’t invite yourself to other peoples’ conversations by just being present and don’t stand around and wait for people to include you.  Just approach an existing conversation and say “Hey, could I mingle with you for a little while?”  It’s very unsettling when somebody wants to be part of a conversation, but won’t add anything to it.  It may just be shyness, but it feels a lot like they’re just around to watch, which can be very creepy.
  7. Don’t Attach
    If you mustered the courage to talk to a gal at the meetup and she seems interested in talking to you, that’s great!  But just because she reciprocates your friendly civility, doesn’t mean she’s your chaperon for the evening.  Invite some other people to come in and talk with the two of you, or just find your way to the other people at the event to talk to.  If you two get along great, try and end things on a high note before you make your rounds and come back to each other.

The driving principle in all of this is a conscious effort to not make the ladies uncomfortable.  In that, I hope this is more than a guide for how to be a good meetup member.  I think this is a good set of guidelines for guys at most social events.  Poly meetups are just one of the places you shouldn’t treat like a meat market.

This is a safe set of guidelines for any event where you don’t want to make women uncomfortable by appearing to potentially be looking for a date.  So please keep these in mind at kink munches, book clubs, your job, weddings, funerals, and brisses.

This is just from the average guy to the average guy, though.  If you’re interested in a vastly more articulate exploration of non-monogamy for men, I recommend Pepomint’s guide from freaksexual.  And if there’s anything you think guys should keep in mind before they join their local poly meetup, please post it in the comments!

5 responses to “A Guy’s Guide to Poly Meetups

  1. The one question I have is about private messages… I’ve always felt it’s inappropriate to post on someones public wall, even something as innocent as “It was nice to meet you at (event) the other night!” because my understanding is there are a good amount of poly couples/triads/quads who are more secretive and don’t want it publicly known. A private message is 1) Private***, and 2) More Personal. I can understand why being “personal” could come off the wrong way, but I’ve always tried to make a point of being very personable, social, and respectful… I guess the question is why post on their wall over a message if you’ve met them in real life and had a mutual connection with all partners involved?

    • Being discreet about somebody’s romantic life should always be a concern. I definitely get that!

      At the same time, a private message is tantamount to sliding somebody a note under the table. Even if you’ve met them in real life and believe you’ve had good interactions with their circles, it can still raise a few eyebrows.

      Private messages are *always* suspect. But based on context, public messages can certainly be acceptable. On meetup.com, if they are publicly members of a poly group, they clearly don’t mind a public greeting. On Fetlife, any public greeting you post probably won’t be as incriminating as the list of their fetishes right above the wall. On facebook, you don’t have to indicate where you met them when you talk about meeting them.

      And if you can’t think of a way to communicate without outing them or sending them a private message, then err conservatively and don’t say anything until you see them at the next meetup. Y’all will live without them knowing that you enjoyed meeting.

  2. bcyork

    Great write up Dan! #1 is very true. I told a couple friends about it, who really should look into the lifestyle, and their first response was “so its it just a bunch of people wanting to hookup” When I respond with “no, not really it is a group of people who have a common interest in polyamory” they seem to look confused and questioned what the point in the group was. Which perhaps with that response then perhaps they shouldn’t look into the group … Just because a group of people are sex positive doesn’t mean they are gunning to hook up with everyone; male or female for that matter.

  3. myndilove

    I just read this from your meetup link–as a single girl who plans on going alone, its a relief to read something like this! The fear of being considered “fresh meat” is very real. Thank you for writing and sharing!

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