So, I wrote a piece on my personal experiences of #abuseinpoly a year ago.
Oddly enough, that piece still gets between 10 and 50 hits a day from about 10 to 20 unique visitors. It is also the landing page for my blog for probably a third of my readership, followed closely by my solicited response to Wes’s attempt to hoover me back into a place of exploitation and unpaid emotional labor. It is the most commonly searched item on my blog, and still gets shared on twitter occasionally.
There was a recent conversation between a friend and I regarding local polyamory groups — I am beginning to become active again, in part because of an exciting side project I’m working on which I will talk about in a moment. I’m likely to begin attending Polydelphia events from time to time to connect and promote with humans for the app I’m a part of developing.
So that’s some feelings. Polydelphia approached me quietly around this time last year, among a few other organizations in the area, asking me to talk about my experiences with my former polycule. At first, I had asked to keep those conversations private, but ended up changing my mind after Wes, Gina, Amber, and Jessie all, in their own ways, publicly solicited myself and other persons of interest to air our grievances in the light of day. As it turned out, sunshine was in fact the best disinfectant, and it helped clarify the distinction between human beings I could trust and upon whom I could rely, and human beings who had way too much of their own shit in the way to be present or accountable with me. I stand by my choice to risk public exposure and ridicule (of which honestly, I received very little from anyone except, you know, the people who had been bent on controlling my words, responses, and behaviors for the previous year from the start.
Now, a year later, I’m a member of a development team for an iPhone based dating application that is inclusive, consent-promoting, trauma informed, and revolutionary, and specifically targets LGBTQIA and polyamorous humans as its user-base. It’s called Dating Sapiens, and I am super thrilled to be their GitHub Seneschal and resident polyamorous team member. (By the By, if that sounds up your proverbial alley, we are actively seeking Beta Testers — please do sign up!)
That means that I’ve had to examine my own thoughts and feelings on dating and connection, and also my role in the greater polyamorous community — however big or small I want that role to be, and how much or how little I want to have to share space with manipulative and poisonous people. Dating still feels weird for me. I don’t feel ready to trust people’s motives for expressing interest in me — a legacy I’m still processing. For sure, there are humans in whom I am interested and friendships that for sure exist in romantic or pseudo-romantic territory.
It’s been helpful that I’ve been reading The Science of Trust by John Gottman (mandatory reading, especially for dudes, y’all). It has helped undo damage done not only by the NJ crew of my recent past, but also damaged messaging I got earlier from people like my parents. Things like, the difference between someone who is emotionally coaching and emotionally dismissive (and how they teach someone a new thing); what data shows about how trust is built and how it is degraded or repaired; these lessons do a lot to form a new understanding of how I want my relationships to function outside of former toxic (not to mention, just plain incorrect) influences. It’s also taught me that just because Some Dude speaks with authority on the subject of relationships doesn’t mean he knows jack shit. Now when I have questions, I go to rich data sources, people who have done actual professional research, and thus have no stake in dictating how I relate to others, what I require from them, or how we ought to interact. Just because a human thinks he knows what’s best or effective doesn’t mean he has soundly grounded those thoughts in a fully informed view of the available data. There is a lot of available research and data out there, and assertions about how we treat others perhaps ought to at least have some root in what we, as humans, actually know about things like trust, intimacy, consent, and kindness.
I’m a far happier, more fulfilled human than I was a year ago. I’m also far more confident in the social circle I’ve cultivated. I’ve moved from a place that felt pressured to assimilate and be subsumed by rhetoric and values that were not my own to a place where the people around me see my own contributions as valuable, worthwhile, and worthy of love and respect. I’m so happy to be bringing that journey to bear in a way that will impact my community in a positive way. And if you see me at the next poly meet up, come grab a business card! I might not feel ready to go on a date, but I’m happy to talk to you about changing the face of dating and connection, building a robust culture of consent and respect, and using technology to fuel diversity in our communities.