Wow, yes, exactly, in all caps!
The whole us versus them dynamic that people fall into so easily is a terrible way to handle how people change. It's very schoolyard/sports/all-phobic behavior and will crop up at the worst of times.
I'm old, I've had time to learn how to recognize this rejection feeling for what it is, and work to see things from my friend's perspective. :) It really really helps. Alas, I'm still not infallible! *sigh*
I think it's part of our most basic monkey brain - from birth babies try to categorize. And it's definitely every schoolyard ever. So it's natural that our first reaction is dismay or disappointment when we perceive someone moving off "our team."
Moving beyond that takes insight and thought. And I'll admit that my first reactions to things don't always come from the insightful, thoughtful side of me. In some ways, we never stop being six years old. It's what we do with that six-year-old that matters.
I'm going practice psychology without a certification here, but I'm pretty sure that it's a valid theory:
You can only really know a couple hundred people at any one time. You can only bond with individuals that you really know, OR members of groups that your are part of. You cannot be bonded with a total stranger. There's a reason armies make their Soldiers dress alike at work. It's instant tribal affiliation.
It takes time to get to know a new person. A total of several hours of extended conversation, really, unless you get to bond with them under highly traumatic circumstances.
Until you get to know someone, you have to have a category to fit them into in order to interact meaningfully with them.
A poly/kink/bi 'group' sometimes has a hard time defining who is and isn't really part of 'the tribe' and what the defining characteristics of 'the tribe' are. So part of what you're seeing is dissonance between your definition of 'the tribe' and theirs.
But part of it is that if they don't 'really' know you, and you change the cognitive framework they have for dealing with you, it's confusing on a subconscious level, and hence dealing with you makes them uncomfortable. So they react poorly.
Every book I read, and every study I've seen, and every experience I have with other human beings makes me have a lower and lower opinion of the place that the 'insightful, thoughtful' part of ANYONE has on actual behavior.
When true acceptance would be to respect their decisions.
I agree totally. It seems like true tolerance is hard to come by, unfortunately. In reality it usually seems to work as 'tolerance for people who think like us.'
Yes, and arguing for true tolerance is the thing that gets me accused of being both a knee-jerk Left-Winger and a Kool-Aid drinking Right-Winger on an amusingly regular basis. ;-)
I've met so many people who react to intolerance towards them by making their own way life into some sort of intolerant dogmatism . . . and they don't see the hypocrisy in this!
I once had a professor when I was 20 who I initially thought was so openminded and tolerant. Then I realized that she was absolutely brutal towards anybody who deviated from her POV. In retrospect, this was one of my first experiences encountering this sort of behavior.
Yup; those who pride themselves on their tolerance are often the worst offenders.
If you're trying to get a lot of comments, you're going about it entirely the wrong way. You need to say something that's actually controversial. :-)
More seriously, I have (like everyone else, I suppose) seen this six ways 'till Sunday. I think the important thing is not what people's instant reaction is, since that's mainly attributable to the ol' primate brain, but what they do second.
Definitely. Alas, many people never get past primate brain....
Well said! The dynamics of my relationships ebb and flow in irregular, unpredictable ways. I've explored the groups that are centered on certain lifestyle choices, and while I appreciate what I find there, groups just aren't my thing. Some people from the groups are a bit awkward with me when I run into them out of that context. Others are just fine about it.
Some groups click, and some don't. Not being a group person is fine - but some people have trouble accepting that.
Yup. In poly, as in everything else, there are people among your group that you would just as soon weren't. Acceptance of change seems to be a real challenge, though.
OT, but I love the otters. I have an otter tattoo :)
I had a conversation recently at school where it came out I was poly. Since I go to a progressive, liberal school, after the initial hushed voice "are you... polyamorous?" line, I was told "You should talk to X, she's poly too!"
My reaction was something to the effect of "It's not like it's a club. Really."
(Oh, and hi, zoethe. Ferrett links to your writing on his LJ often enough that I decided it sounded interesting and just started reading it without waiting for the links.)
Hi! Glad to have you in the club (ha ha!)
I see that a lot. I don't know why it is in the poly community, but in the pagan community, it's because if you find paganism and then go back to your old faith, most people see it not as a good decision, but as you caving to the social and often familiar pressure to "fit in" and "be normal". And to be fair, i have seen more than one pagan give up on the path because they found that it was more important to them that they not get funny looks at the office or that their parents not find out. That bothers me a lot, but it is their call.
I have a problem with people who feel that they can only be pagan if they are completely in the faces of the people around them, only to give it up because of the social pressure they themselves created by insisting that the One True Way was the Confrontational Way. I question their understanding of faith and wonder what their actual agenda was.
See also: Militant Vegans and what they do to those who go back to non-vegan lifestyles.
Evangelism in all its forms irks the daylights out of me.
This makes me think of this atheist guy that I met last year. He was interesting to talk to before but I slowly realized that he was very intolerant. He used to be a fundamentalist Christian who was in people's faces all the time. Then he went over to the other side and became a fundamentalist atheist who was in people's faces all the time. I called him on it and told him he was being just as bad as he was before. He of course disagreed completely.
"It might be a different flavor my friend but it is still ice cream in the end."
Yes, fundamentalism can take all flavors.
I know someone exactly like that, and that's my opinion of him, too. Just traded one obsession for another.
I applaud this so fucking hard. C and I had to retreat from a poly group when we lived in Tampa, and close things off for a bit to deal with some emotional foo. You'd have thought we kicked someone's puppy.
Thank you for saying this "out loud."
Feel free to link, refer, rub noses in, whatever. People getting bent out of shape because of you making these kinds of good decisions for yourself need smacking.
You know, I don't think I even have contact info for any of those people anymore! This is not really a bad thing. :) My current poly family would understand.
Actually.. It's weird. Both you, and Firerose who posted below/later on the time line, mentioned Tampa. I was beginning to wonder if it was just my poly family who found the Florida poly groups a bit pushy and off putting.. We were more familiar with Orlando, but I imagine Orlando and Tampa have some crossover.
Yeah, the Orlando/Tampa/St Pete poly and kinky groups tend to have a lot of crossover, from what I recall. Luckily, the Tallahassee kink group where I live now is kinda awesome. I haven't talked to the poly people. Old wounds take a long time to heal.
I was fortunate in that I had been away from the "gay scene" so long that when I got together with my Boy, I got no flack whatever, from anyone but myself. That said, considering things I had said and done in re: other lesbians who started dating guys, or a guy, eventually, I was pretty fucking harsh on myself, for some time. It didn't stop me, but I kind of felt awful. "Worst Lesbian Ever," jokes notwithstanding.
It's funny how the anticipation of a bad time can feel nearly as real as the bad time itself. So much so that someone else doing it feels almost like relief... all that mental prep one does? Not going to waste. :p
It's weird how we're hardest on the people who are on our side. Including ourselves.
I hear ya totally here. My hubby and I, while both bi and poly, have stayed virtually monogamous almost for the entire duration of our relationship. We were more interested in solidifying OUR relationship than in being "good poly folk" and dating others like the poly-mink in our Tampa acquaintances. Now, it is simply that we live in uber-conservative catholic-loving area. No one really interests either of us and it isn't very safe to be different - the fact that I am pagan and he is an atheist - and both of us are very open about it - has already made it difficult at times.
Now, however, we are moving back to the "big city" and are both looking forward to being active in our respective groups. But since we are both very laid back about who we are, I can see the disapproval pending among the friends we make. Several of the kink group can NOT understand that I have left that lifestyle for a reason and will ONLY return when I am ready - not due to them trying to pressure me back in.
But I do think I will keep a copy of this writing and refer back to it whenever I catch myself reverting to the same schoolyard-think...
You have to do what is right for you and your primary relationship. That's absolutely key. Go you for being levelheaded about it.
No one really interests either of us
Best reason I can think of not to take on an extra, then. If things change, well then things are different, aren't they? You always have the right to choose again.
Sorry. Sounds like I'm lecturing when I'm really agreeing with you a lot. Cheers!
Once I got past giggling about your journal title, I was finally able to read your actual post. It's wonderful, thank you. And thanks Mari for tweeting it.
It's been titled thus for so long that I forget it will amuse people. Glad you liked the post.
I've been mulling this over in the back of my head, and it occurred to me that I've seen this sort of behavior, at least sometimes, from people who don't really believe in tolerance at all. They may say they want tolerance for practical or political reasons (no doubt stemming from the fact that their position is a (sometimes vanishingly small) minority), but in their hearts they believe that their position is not just right, but more enlightened than the other/majority position.
In other words, they're not blindly or stupidly applying tolerance to themselves and not others; they're hypocritically and falsely appealing to tolerance simply because it gets them what they want in the moment.
I'm not saying that everyone in the group is like that, but I think there's enough of a thread of it that it could account for at least a sizable fraction of the observed reaction.
I think we see that all the time in many facets of life, and it's very frustrating. "Tolerance" turns into, "put up with my beliefs and keep your stupid beliefs to yourself."
There's that, too. But I think there's at least a fraction that never really meant "tolerance" in the first place.
To use the canonical example, if you see yourself as the tiny minority of abolitionists in a world full of slaveholders, you may not really believe that both viewpoints ought to be tolerated.
Oh, there are some viewpoints - or at least actions based on some viewpoints - that do not bear toleration. NAMBLA springs immediately to mind.
And in that regard, slavery is a bad example, in that the practice (like pederasty) is considered not just unenlightened, but morally repugnant.
I'm struggling to come up with a better analogy, one that captures the sense of enlightenment without the repugnance, but the only one that comes to mind is Christian missionaries, and I think that's a bad analogy for other reasons. And sometimes for the same reasons: there were times and places when missionaries felt moral repugnance toward other beliefs.