This is a common question and was part of the Monthly Gathering Discussion Topic for February. As we have grown, we have gotten a bit lax about covering our Monthly Gathering rules. In the past we kicked off the Monthly Gathering with the following guidelines:
- No cross talking
- No offering advice unless it is specifically requested
- Respect everyone’s right to confidentiality
- Group is a support group/network and not a dating service
I wrote about number 4 in 2012 on my blog. You can find that post here. I still feel that way today– only we have grown and with growth comes change. When these guidelines were created, we only had the Monthly Gathering and maybe a random summer picnic. Times have changed. Saturday night we had a dance with over 80 people in attendance.
So here is how you meet people at PolyColumbus Events. Go to events designed for meeting people and making connections. Go to the PolyLounge. Join the Group at the upcoming PolyColumbus Eats Out! Check out game night. When the group meets up around town– go.
Go to one of the two after the Monthly Gathering Socials. Those social events are designed to build relationships of all kinds. These events help build friendships and community, they are times that you can share a conversation and get to know someone better. Yes, they are times that flirting can and does occur.
The Monthly Gathering and educational events are designed to support and educate all our community members. Some of our community members may not be looking to add partners now or ever. It is important that we have spaces where the pick up lines and flirting gets checked at the door. Just as it is as important, that we host events that are safe and welcoming places for making connections.
It is also important to note that one of our Core Values is Consent.
Consent is the foundation of ethical intimate relationships. We model consent that is enthusiastic, fully informed, and free of coercion.
This is all we ask members and visitors to remember. Have consent. Be aware. There is a difference in making connections and/or asking someone to coffee vs. creating an environment where someone feels uncomfortable. If someone seems uninterested or uncomfortable, stop. Disengage.
Asking for consent can be hard and it is true, our community is trying to change and embrace changing gender roles with respect to dating. We are redefining for ourselves what relationships look like and how they are structured. We are seeking to model consent based relationships in all their complexity and beauty. If you aren’t sure. Ask. It might feel strange at first, but it is how we balance a varied range of needs in a welcoming and safe way. Be open to asking for consent and be prepared to accept graciously a “No.”
It is also important to note, that not everyone is as open, as experienced with, sure about, or interested in building new connections. Respect that. We are on a journey, a highly personal journey.
In addition to honoring our Core Value of Consent, we aim to find balance with respect to another Core Value – Inclusion.
We all bring different life experiences and perspectives to our relationships. We take affirmative steps to make our organization’s services and support equally accessible to all who desire it, not simply in principle but also in fact.
The balance is tricky. Having every space be one where flirting is endorsed tends to exclude people that view that attention as both unwanted and unwelcome. Having all spaces that we gather as a community as flirting free zones, hinders our ability to meet others, form relationships, and help others on their journey.
Bottom line: The Monthly Gathering and PolyColumbus Educational Events are still a flirt free zone. Our Social Events are more relaxed and are exactly the places we hope you make connections and experience the vibrant and interesting community that we are. We fully expect you will make a friend or two and maybe more.