I need some help finding an online support group. Can you help me? Do you have a master list of polyamory groups?
I get at least one message that asks this question a week. Typically, I will walk them through more or less what I’m about to write in today’s post. A lot of times I’ll even do the searching for them, based on the location that is showing in their profile.
But I’ve gotten the question enough times that I thought it was probably time to write an article. Here goes.
How People Find Online Groups and Why You Usually Have to Seek Them Out
No master list here, no. Some groups do keep sticky forum posts listing other groups that their members have access to once they’re in the group, but for the most part, people learn about new support groups a few different ways:
- Searching for and finding them.
- Hearing about them from a friend.
- When people promote their groups in another group (many groups have rules against this, however).
While I am familiar with at least one directory that tracks polyamory conferences (Alan’s List of Polyamory Events), as far as I know there is no official well-maintained public master list of online polyamory groups.
There are a few likely reasons for this:
- There’s a desire for anonymity in online support groups. Gathering all that data on groups (especially closed or secret groups) in one public place would leave it vulnerable to people who would want to use it for doxxing or trolling polyamorous people. Some of the larger online support groups have already had to deal with incidents of this as it is; making it even easier for folks with ill intent to do it would only increase the frequency. As anyone in info sec will tell you, the harder you make it for someone to mess with you, the less likely they will. Even just a few extra steps will drive off a surprising number of ne’er-do-wells.
- Often people who are seeking advice/input on support groups aren’t just asking for any support group, they’re asking for good support groups. And pretty much no one wants to post a master list of groups with any sort of implied endorsement that those groups are good, uniformly full of supportive members, and/or going to provide the type of support the person who is seeking them out wants.
- Online groups are fairly easy to form and can spring up or shut down overnight. So any master list would most of the time be quite out of date AND would require constant updates (which is pretty time consuming for the person maintaining it).
Finding Real Life Polyamorous Meetups Is a Different Process But Fairly Straightforward
In a past post, I covered how to meet polyamorous people. That article focused on real-life meetups, ones that can possibly turn into real-life friendships or potentially even relationships. Meetup.com is your friend here. By default, it searches for in-person groups that meet near your location. You only have to type in the interest (for example, “polyamory”) and you’re off!
But how do you find groups online? For example, Facebook groups. While different from real life groups, it’s pretty simple. Here are a few different strategies.
Just Try Searching for “Polyamory” and See What Happens
The first technique is really easy and straightforward. Search for “polyamory” in whatever social platform you’re on and see what comes up.
On Facebook, you literally just type “polyamory” into the search bar and then you click on a tab that says “Groups,” which will filter your results (getting rid of any other close-but-no-cigar varieties — public pages, articles, posts, etc.).
From there, you can review the results manually and investigate further any ones that sound interesting.
Try Searching By Your Geographic Region + “Polyamory”
Sometimes people want to find an online support group in their area because they’re shy and don’t want to do a real-life meetup right away but want to reserve the option of meeting up with forum members later if they do grow comfortable enough to do so.
If that’s you, another technique that can work is searching a keyword of your geographic region + polyamory.
What these are exactly depends on where you are. You can try your city. Your state. Your country, even.
Now, there’s no guarantee that there will be anything set up that’s based anywhere near you. This is especially true for folks who live in rural areas. But then again, you might be surprised by how many regions now have devoted online support groups of several hundred members.
I certainly have been surprised by it as I’ve been doing a quick search for readers who contact me. Sometimes people who are convinced that there’s nothing in their area will have two or three local groups to choose from.
Try Words Other Than “Polyamory” Because Some Groups Have Other Terms in Their Names That Can Help You Find Them
Not every group that can be relevant and helpful to polyamorous people is going to have the word “polyamory” or “polyamorous” in its name (or commonly found shortened forms like poly, polya, polyam, etc). Sometimes other words are used to describe groups that cover a variety of relationship styles (but include polyamory). A few extremely common examples:
- Non-monogamy, nonmonogamy (no hyphen), non-monogomy (a common misspelling), nonmonogamy (common misspelling, no hyphen)
- Ethical non-monogamy, consensual non-monogamy (with all four variants on “non-monogamy” listed above)
- Open, open relationships
If It’s Not Against the Rules, Ask About Niche Groups in Larger Groups
If you can find a large general purpose support group but are interested in one that specializes in something more specific to your situation (in your area, talks about X thing, etc.), you might find it helpful to ask group members if they can point you in the right direction.
This of course depends on the rules of the particular group you’re in. Some have rules against mentioning or promoting other support groups on their platform. But in others, this is not against the rules but encouraged.
Always Read the Rules of a Group Before Joining & Whenever in Doubt
No matter what groups you join, make sure to review the rules of the group before joining and reread those rules again whenever you’re in doubt about whether a post you want to make is allowed or not.
I myself don’t post often in online groups, but I make it a point whenever I do to review the group’s guidelines in case anything has changed since the last time I posted.
And if you’re new to a group, it’s probably a good idea to “lurk” for a bit to get a sense of what kind of things people post and what seems to be appropriate (or not). Don’t post right away if you can help it. Take a little bit to get a sense of the group’s culture, how it seems to operate, before chiming in.
You’ll find that your online experience in groups is much more pleasant if you do.
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