Recently, I attended an event in my local polyamory community that was a top surgery fundraiser for one of our members. As I looked around the room, I saw hundreds of people who had been brought together by our shared approach to relationships, supporting someone on a personal journey, and it made me very emotional.
Co-founding ENM Fam London two summers ago has been an unimaginably rewarding experience. Primarily because it is the living embodiment of one of my big missions: to help people realise that finding community is just as important as finding partners when they first start being polyamorous. But also because it has brought so many more amazing friends into my life.
Like any non-normative identity, community is the foundation of polyamorous life. It’s where you find platonic pals who understand you in a way your monogamous friends and family can’t. It’s how you share resources, create events and dream up adventures. It’s the safety net that catches you when your relationships go haywire. It’s a space for joy and love that includes and extends beyond your romantic connections.
So, here’s why I think you should prioritise community in your polyamorous life. Plus, I share all my tips for finding yours locally and/or digitally. Can’t find the kind of community you need? Well, you should get out there and start your own.
Don’t underestimate how transformative it can be to surround yourself with like-minded people who approach relationships similarly. In our mononormative world, where we grow up thinking that monogamy is the only option for romantic connections, it can sometimes feel incredibly isolating if you are non-monogamous.
Many polyamorous folks don’t feel comfortable being completely open about their relationships with their family, let alone their workmates, teammates, etc. Yet, when we don’t disclose this aspect of our lives, we are still surrounded by people talking about their weddings, monogamous spouses and children every day because our society positions this as the norm.
If you’re queer and polyamorous (like so many of us are), this can sometimes be doubly challenging. It’s not unusual for polyam folks to have a straight-presenting anchor relationship that they allow others to assume is monogamous while not being open about our queer relationships. When we feel this is necessary, it potentially sows seeds of shame and internalised bi/trans/homophobia within us.
Finding a community where we can be open about our polyamory is very validating, especially when we live our lives partially in secret. Being in a room with tens (if not hundreds) of others who also have multiple romantic connections can be joyful and relaxing. Suddenly, you don’t feel so alone or odd. Just normal.
Expand your support network
Your partners can give you incredible support – until something goes wrong with one or all of these relationships. Then, if they are the only people you can discuss your non-monogamy with, you could feel stuck in a pretty stressful, isolating situation, with no one to turn to for advice.
It’s essential to have a polyamorous support network that extends beyond your partners. We need pals who understand what we are going through, so we can find support and a sense of outside perspective. I feel that it’s good to have non-monogamous friends beyond your polycule/anarcule so that you can talk about what you’re experiencing with someone who doesn’t have a relationship or even a close friendship with the people involved.
That’s why finding your local community (or a digital one) should be the first step on your polyamory journey rather than finding new partners. Build these connections so that the support structure is already there to catch when you begin navigating the world of non-monogamy. You may think you won’t be welcomed by your community until you have multiple partners, but you would be surprised how many people will have more respect for you if you seek out a strong support network first.
Share resources and experiences
Once you’ve been in the polyamory community for a while, you’ll realise how common specific experiences are, such as going through multiple breakups at once, having your established relationship rocked by some NRE, or struggling with a metamour connection. But, as we don’t grow up with social scripts to navigate these situations, going through them without a support network can make them extra confusing and upsetting.
The hard reality is that your monogamous friends probably won’t be able to give helpful advice about polyamory dilemmas. So, having a support network where you can ask for guidance and resources in these situations will be invaluable. It’ll normalise what you are going through and illuminate a path for navigating such experiences. I love sharing polyamory podcast episodes and books with friends that relate directly to what they are going through in their relationships so they know that others have been there before them and made it through too.
Find your joy
Most of the big-hearted, adventurous, insightful people in my life are also non-monogamous, and we have been drawn towards each other because of this shared approach to love. My life is so much richer for finding my polyamory community, and I feel truly loved and cherished by these like-minded folks. For me, my community is my joy.
I’ve found my community especially valuable as I’m over forty. When all your monogamous friends couple up and socially disappear throughout your thirties, you can be left wondering where everyone went. But the beauty of non-monogamy is that people remain very open: to fun, to new connections, to deep conversations unpacking your new relationship dynamic. Plus, you won’t believe the fantastic parties and adventures you are invited to by those in your community – and who doesn’t want to grow old having a riotously good time?
How to find local polyamory groups and events
So, now that you know why you need community, how can you find it?
If you’re based in London, Sydney or Melbourne, then the good news is that I have done all the hard work for you. In these guides, you’ll find ample info about meetups, Facebook groups and events in your city. They’re all great places to start when looking for your local polyamory community.
In other places, take a similar approach to your research. Search your city name on Google and Instagram along with terms like polyamory, non-monogamy, ethical non-monogamy, ENM, etc. Sometimes, these events are challenging to find, but if you do a little digging, you’ll find a gem, such as the new NoMo Social happening soon in Stockholm.
Event platforms like MeetUp and EventBrite are also good places to search for community events. People increasingly don’t use Facebook to host their event info because there are few people under forty on there, and not everyone wants to indicate that they’re attending an event about polyamory if they aren’t yet out to their family and friends.
What type of events to look for
When you live in a major city, you could end up with a range of local polyamory events to choose from. But how do you know which ones will be best for finding community? Of course, you’ll only know once you attend, but here are some things I feel are worth looking out for.
I recommend seeking out events that are less focused on meeting new partners while drinking alcohol and more on community and are openly inclusive of folks who are sober, disabled, queer and polysaturated. The latter term refers to people who already have multiple partners and aren’t looking for more (i.e., at capacity). When our community events are solely about helping people meet new partners, we miss out on the wealth of experience and insight that polysaturated folks bring. So, there is value in surrounding yourself with non-monogamous people who aren’t interested in dating.
Also, look for community groups centred around an activity to get to know folks while having fun. Bouldering, hiking and playing Dungeons and Dragons are common in the polyamory community, but I’ve seen book clubs, poker nights and vegan potluck gatherings too.
If you don’t live in a major city or cannot attend events in person, then there are digital polyamory communities that you can find online. I have yet to engage with any of these platforms personally, but if I had reason to start looking for one, this is where I would begin.
Reddit is an obvious one, and the Polyamory Reddit currently has a whopping 316,000 members. I don’t know how much of a sense of community you’ll find on those boards, but it could help you build some digital friendships that point you in other directions.
Facebook groups are also another place you could try. For example, if you’re solo polyamorous, there is a very active Facebook group for people who practice this relationship style, currently with over 13,000 members. You can try searching for a local group or looking for one specifically related to something you’re interested in, such as being a polyam parent or for those in mono+poly relationships.
Similarly, Normalising Non-Monogamy has a smaller (currently around 250 people) but still active online community as part of their Mighty Networks membership. They also have an online forum, regular Zoom video Q&As, and group calls, ideal for folks who prefer voice chats to text-based ones.
Remodelled Love doesn’t have a podcast anymore, but they do have The Buddy System, where members of the Patron group are paired with a couple of others, so you have an instant network. It’s a great idea because you’re provided with an instant sense of community without having to go out and find it.
The critical thing to remember is that very few polyamory community events are run for profit. That means the people creating them aren’t doing it for money but for the community’s good. So, be an active member. Volunteer to help out or contribute financially where possible.
And if there are no events in your local area (or you aren’t into the ones currently available), why not start your own? As I said, co-founding ENM Fam London has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and it has been a joy to watch that community grow. So, take the initiative, and if you need any guidance, feel free to message me.
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