Don’t Let the Community Eat You.

I occasionally see people getting burned out on the BDSM community.  It can happen for a variety of reasons: constant drama and fighting between groups or individuals, a gradual turnover which leaves few long-term friends in the community, not finding what they’re looking for, or simply overdoing it.  My ex from my last relationship fell into the latter category and dropped out of the local scene a few different times when we were together.  And that was when the community here was about a third of its current size.  Now, there are far more groups and events of all flavors.  Another couple I know recently came back after a 3 or 4 year hiatus; they dropped out because of the drama that existed at the time between two of the biggest groups.

When you first enter the public scene,  the “ooh, shiny!” effect can smack you in the face.  So many munches, classes, parties, sloshes, and activities!  It’s easy to get caught up in all this and drain yourself (and your wallet) going to events.  It’s not unheard of for some people to have an entire week filled with nothing but work, sleep, and BDSM events.  It can take its toll over time.

This energy-sapping is even more true for introverts.  As an introvert, I do like being around people (contrary to how most people think introverts work.)  I go to events and enjoy them.  But they also drain energy from me.  I need to recharge.  This requires time alone.  There are some weekends that have different events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday- After weekends like that, I find myself thinking, “Wow, I could really use some time off now.”  It’s not fun to start the work week drained and wanting a break.  The bigger weekend-long events have this effect as well.  I just don’t want to be around people by the time it’s over.  When possible, I try to get the Monday after the event off.  That way, I have a full day to get myself back together and don’t have to rush off to work immediately after traveling back from a stimulating event.

I work varying shifts and days, which means I miss a lot of local events due to my work schedule.  I’m totally fine with this.  It lessens the pressure I feel to go to everything.  Still, sometimes it can feel like an obligation.  I have started to skip things more frequently in order to avoid burnout and to have some time to myself.

There are some things I just can’t skip though.  I run a bimonthly femdom group as well as a monthly meet-and-greet for new people.  Those are things I have to go to.  I also help run three other groups.  Plus, a friend has a newer group that I’m trying to help get off the ground; while there are no in-person meetups scheduled yet, we’re talking about changing that soon.  With the groups I help run, there are others who can drive the ship, so I don’t need to be there all the time.  Skipping some of the local events is one way I try to stave off burnout.

One other way I combat overdoing things is by limiting the larger events I go to.  Generally, once per quarter is about the most I’ll do for the bigger weekend events.  Not only are they more expensive than the smaller local events (ticket, hotel, food, gas) but I’ve discovered that they lose their “specialness” when I go to too many of them.  Limiting the number keeps the excitement high and makes it feel like a small vacation.

It all comes down to one simple fact: I need to take care of me.  I’ve met others who couldn’t balance involvement in the BDSM community with the other parts of their lives.  When they were going to too many things, they just stopped going altogether.  I’m not going to be one of those people.  An all-or-nothing approach in a world of continuums doesn’t taste right.  For me, having a healthy level of involvement means going to some things, but not nearly all of them.  It means not running myself into the ground.  This is supposed to be fun, right?  If you find that it stops being fun, it’s clearly time to change something.  Or better yet, head it off before that happens.  Rather than burning it all down, why not fix what’s broken?  This community can be as much or as little a part of your life as you make it.  You’re in the driver’s seat.  Will the community rule you, or will you rule the community?

People are Dumb (part 7,845)

So you’re poly.  Congratulations.

And you over there- You’re in an open relationship.  Good for you.

The person back there is monogamous.  Yippee freakin’ skippee.

Way over there is someone single but with a lot of play partners.  Yay.

Does that mean you need to knock everyone who doesn’t share your preference?  All too often, I see people posting about how poly is “the natural way” and that monogamy is some artificial construct.  Others point to various animals to “prove” that monogamy is the right way.  Some claim that one arrangement or the other is more “evolved”.  There are also the ubiquitous assertions about certain emotions being unnatural or primal, emotions that should be pushed away or swallowed.

Why do people feel the need to stick all sorts of bogus claims behind their personal choices?  Do they really need this shaky “evidence” to bolster their own decisions?  Why not just say, “This is what I prefer” and stand behind your desires rather than grasping for flimsy reasons to back them up?  Does it come from a lack of confidence in their beliefs?  Or a desire to be looked up to and admired as being more evolved?  Maybe a sense of wanting to belong to an in-group, with the need to knock others who aren’t members of the in-group?  I really don’t see what’s so hard about not talking down to others.  If someone is in a relationship arrangement that you’d never go for, so what?  That doesn’t give you the right to act smug and look down your nose at the infidels.  Personal preferences are just that- They’re not some universal standard.

The tactic of insulting monogamous people is not the best way to get people to look at poly in a favorable light.  And saying that poly people are sick, indecisive, and have purple tentacles  is not the way to win any friends for the monogamous side.  If people genuinely want to gain social acceptance of various relationship dynamics, talking condescendingly about people who do it differently is definitely not the way to go about it.