If you are looking to expand your poly connections, a Meetup is a great way to meet like-minded people. This article will give you suggestions for how to make the most of your experience in the real world of polyamory.
Find your group
Black & Poly has several official groups on Meetup.com. Check out our official list, and if you don't find one, try searching for “polyamory” on the site. Facebook also has groups geared toward in person meets. Read the group description carefully to see if it is primarily a discussion group, a dating group, or a social group. Outside of B&P, the majority of poly Meetups are majority white people, but you can still find people you can learn from and be friends with.
Go with the right intentions
Go to the first Meetup just to get an idea of the atmosphere. Be aware of the group rules and how they apply you. Interact with the leadership and long term members so that you have an idea of how the group operates. If you are more introverted, sit back and watch how people interact. Do most of them appear to be friends outside of the group? Does one person dominate the conversation? Do people have poly configurations that you are interested in?
Whatever you do, don't go with the intention of finding a date right off the bat. Things can happen, but seasoned poly folk are hip to people who only come to hunt. Avoid monopolizing the time of the person you find most attractive. leadership will notice if you are too focused on one person. Spread your attention across the room. This will give potential partners an idea of how you interact with others and the chance to make friends. This is especially true when you are at a mixed race Meetup. Feel free to make conversation with the other black people there, but talk to others to avoid giving the impression that you are part of a clique.
After you attend one Meetup, attempt to attend at least one other before giving up on the group. You may not like the vibe at one meeting, but you might enjoy it with a different mix of people. Attending other events lets the leadership know that you are there to be a part of the poly community, not just to find a date. Regular members become trusted members, and within time others may recommend people who you might be compatible with. You will also learn a lot about the different types of poly and common mistakes to avoid in relationships.
If you are a couple, try attending Meetups separately. Many poly people bring their partners to Meetups because they know they will have at least one person to talk to. However, you risk being viewed as unicorn hunters when you sit together the whole meeting and only talk to the same people. Separate yourselves and interact as individuals. Admit it if you are new to poly and unsure about process. Once again, do not try to pursue a date at your first Meetup. Have a conversation and tell them you hope to see them at the next one. If the person is showing interest, ask if you can contact them after the meeting. Do not assume that because someone spent time talking to you that they are interested in dating you.
But what about dating?
Once you have attended three or four Meetups, you will have a sense of the diversity and scope of the group. This is the time to focus on people you have a connection with. Keep an open mind: they may become partners, or they may become good friends. Try not to burden new friends with complaints about the dating world. Everyone knows finding compatible people is hard, and dwelling on it makes you seem desperate. Instead, talk about your shared interests and positive events from your life.
If you are a man or male-identified, do your best to allow the other person to take the lead. Women and femme-identified people are usually turned off by someone who asks a lot of personal questions, especially those related to their dating life and what kind of person they are looking for. They will volunteer that information if they are comfortable. If they like you, people will either seek you out at future events or ask for your contact information. That is not to say that you can't ask to contact them in the future. Just be aware that you may be misjudging their interest. If you contact the person a few times and do not get much response, move on.
The same rule applies for couples. Do your best to talk to different people at events so you are not seen as inseparable. Even if you are looking for a triad, learn from others about their poly styles and experiences. Never ask a woman if she is “single.” If she's at a poly event, she's most likely already dating or looking for open configurations. It's up to you to decide how to approach a person for a triad, but always be upfront about whether that person is going to date just you or both of you. Have that conversation after you have gotten their contact information and received a positive response back. Having this conversation at the Meetup will make the person feel cornered and uncomfortable, and the leadership may flag you as a possible bad fit for the group.
What if I hate talking to people?
Introverts are just as welcome at Meetups as others! Show your interest in being a part of the group by showing up to the events where you feel comfortable. Make an effort to connect to one or two people, and volunteer to help with something if that means you will feel less awkward. Follow the same advice if you are interested in someone as a partner. Ask if you can contact them later, or--if you are really shy--ask a mutual connection if they will contact them on your behalf.
Meetups are a great way to connect with your local poly community. You will not always find someone you're interested in dating--in fact, you may never meet someone who returns your interest. You will, however, build up a group of people who understand your situation and can provide advice or support. Leaders and regular members are highly aware of the people who show up at one meeting, don't find what they are looking for, and never show up again. Don't be that person. If the group is a good fit, stay active and be open to connections. The poly community is small, and your reputation will get passed around the more you are involved. That just might be the difference in finding fulfilling poly relationships.
What are your suggestions for getting the most out of a Meetup?