Meeting Poly People
So now that you have a good idea of what polyamory is, how do you meet other poly people? Where do you find others who are willing to break with convention and love (and allow you to love) more than one person at a time? The answer to that question is deceptively simple. Step 1: Open the closet door. Step 2: Stick your head out.
That sounds like a flippant answer, but it's true. The answer to finding poly partners is the same as the answer to finding any type of partner. Look around, there are people everywhere. Simply step out your front door. The biggest problem is that many poly people don't advertise that they are poly. Not many people fly the poly flag on their front porch. But some of us do. I wear a necklace with a silver heart pendant and a copper infinity entwined around the heart that I got from Abzu Emporium. This is a recognizable symbol that the poly community has adopted to represent the concept of "infinite love", the potential to love people with no pre-defined numerical limit. When someone doesn't know the meaning of the symbol, they usually just tell me how pretty it is, and I always say "thank you, it's the symbol for polyamory" and that often sparks a discussion about what polyamory is and isn't. I have found several people who identify with or desire openess in their relationships but have never heard the word before or thought they were the only one. I have also met several people who are poly but wouldn't have ever said anything in public if I hadn't talked so openly about it within their hearing. I have found the best way to find other poly people is to be open about being polyamorous to the public at large. People can't find you if you're hiding in the proverbial closet. But more on that in the Coming "Out" Poly section.
I have found partners in all the same places that non-poly folk find partners. I found a partner at a local Rocky Horror Picture Show. I found a partner standing in line for a movie. The person who first said the word "polyamory" to me, I met him at a goth nightclub on "80s Night". I've found several partners on online dating sites. OKCupid is a very popular dating site that is not necessarily poly-themed, but it is poly-friendly and I have had several relationships begin as a direct result of their matchmaking. Another great resource for finding poly-minded folk is at local poly support groups. Do an online search for your city (or the nearest large city) and the word "polyamory". You will find a list of websites that cater to your local area, and/or a list of general poly-themed websites that often have local resources. You can also visit www.polygroups.com, which is a new user-submitted resource for listing poly groups around the world. If your area doesn't have a local group that meets up, you can create one and advertise for it online.
A local poly group is not usually meant for hookups and members will often discourage using it as a dating service, and they will strenuously declare that they are not a sex club. There are a few different types of groups, such as support groups, discussion groups, social groups, and activist groups. Through these groups, you will meet other people who are local to your area who are interested in polyamory in some way. Through discussion with these people, you may find some who have similar preferences to yours and outside relationships can develop. One of my sweeties was a very prominent member of our local poly group, which is where I met him. I learned that we shared many of the same perspectives on poly relating through these meetings, and outside communication with him eventually led to a relationship. I met one of my former partners at another local poly group in a nearby town and once I moved to that town for work, we began a friendship that very quickly developed into a romantic relationship. Yet another sweetie was a member of that same poly group that I mentioned first, only I didn't begin dating him until roughly 5 years after meeting, when I became part of his social circle and we interacted outside of the poly meetings.
The easiest way to meet anyone is to know the kind of person you want to meet, without narrowing it down so far that no one could hope to fulfill the grocery list of qualifications, such as "poly" or "sci-fi fan" or "ballroom dancer" or "goth" or "child-free" or "pagan". Once you know what you want, the next step is to be open and clear about it to others. It will be very difficult to attract a poly partner if you don't ever come out and say you are interested in a poly partner, or whatever it is that you're looking for. You can't expect to get something if you never ask for it. My pendant is a conversation starter, and I wear it intentionally as such. Some people prefer to remain discreet, and there are some very real concerns about being "out", which I will address in the Coming "Out" Poly section.
Here are a few of my favorite websites:
A note about dating sites: OK Cupid is definately a matchmaking site and the more effort you put into it, the better the results will be. A clear and thorough profile is attractive to others, and the more questions you answer in the "Improve Matches" section, the better the accuracy will be for their matching engines. I also highly recommend trying the QuickMatch option, and also search for keywords, like "movies", "dancing", "sci-fi", "American Idol" or whatever kinds of things you're interested in. You can do a search for "polyamory" and browse through all of those profiles, but remember, not everyone knows the word, or is open about it. You might want to search the poly profiles to become familiar with the kind of language they use, and then when you're browsing other profiles for your interests, you'll know what to look for in a profile that indicates openness. Contact people who have interesting profiles, and put some effort into your contact. Read their profile and say something that indicates you read it. Trust me, as a female who gets contacted by all kinds of losers, that kind of approach will be very impressive.
PolyMatchmaker is a very valuable resource, but what many people find valuable about it is not the "matchmaking", but the forums. They have quite an extensive forum feature where poly people spout off about all kinds of things. You can solicit advice, lurk and read other people's issues, and I've found it's a great way to get to know someone by what they say in the forums without ever having to go through the First Contact scenario. When you spend some time in the forums, you start to recognize names, and when you do find someone that catches your eye, you will have something unique and personal to say when you make that contact, by referring to something they said in a thread. Sort of like going to a party and joining in on random conversations that you overhear. Then finding some people who share your views and ideas and talking with them a little more privately later, after you've had a chance to participate in a group discussion and you've both gotten to know each other a bit.
So, check out your online resources, and definately attend your local meetings. If you don't have a local meeting, or your local group doesn't quite meet your needs, start your own group! Create a website, a Yahoo group page, a MySpace page, a Meetup page or a Facebook page that says what kind of group you are, and where you are located. Make sure you post where you meet! Create a mailing list if the service you are using doesn't have one built-in. This is how you will let your members know if anything changes and how your members can continue an in-person conversation online. Then, advertise! Do a search for all the other online poly groups and mention that you have a local group that is just starting. Post flyers at your local GLBT headquarters and other alternative venues. Scout for locations where you can have alternative-themed topics, such as restaurants and coffee shops with private rooms, community centers, the public library meeting rooms, even your own living room if you don't mind strangers coming into your home. Make it a regular meeting date and time and you may want to have a list of topics to discuss handy if no one comes up with anything on the spot.
Don't worry if you don't find a poly partner right out of the starting gate. Monogamous people start practicing dating as early as junior high, if not sooner, before finally finding their mates, often after college. It takes time, and you will need that time to refine what kind of relationship you want. Enjoy meeting new people and developing friendships. Dating will come about naturally from that.
Here are a list of poly conferences you can attend around the US and Canada:
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