Monday, September 3, 2012
Gossiping and the Poly Perspective
When is something considered gossip? Can there be positive/nice gossip?
-Gilly in Germania
Here's an anticdote that may or may not resonate with you:
Several years ago I was talking to a friend (let's call her Gomer) who'd been hanging out with a new group of partying queers.
Gomer said, "I don't understand why they are friends with each other- all they do is talk behind each others backs".
I hadn't ever heard anyone actually say this out loud before and I thought it was important:
If you choose someone to be your friend, then you are saying you like that person, and you should treat them as such. Which might mean not saying mean or weird things about them behind their backs.
If you are saying nice things behind a friend's back, it's not gossip- it's just talking nice (which is very feminist).
If you are talking about a friend's problems or behavior behind their back and it's not for a specifically helpful purpose (i.e. you are rallying the troops to have an intervention or getting advice you WILL USE when dealing with a difficulty that's arisen), then you are gossiping.
Now listen- some people are unabashed gossips and they don't care. Hey- if you want to talk bad about everyone you know and cultivate weird vibes, that's your business. Own it!
Don't pretend like you were doing something inherently therapeutic by spreading other people's business. "VENTING" ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS TO OTHER PEOPLE THEY KNOW IS NOT THERAPY. It's gossip.
If you must vent, I think it is okay for you to speak freely about your friends with one intimate partner who can listen to you and keep their nose out of it. If you don't have that, then one friend who (ideally) does not know them is fine.
Because you know what is the worst? When you've been a party to some gossip about a friend and then you see them and you have this film of weirdness over your entire body because you have just been brewing and stewing bad vibes behind their back and now here you are trying to have a kind conversation to their face. No thank you.
Another thing about gossip: If you are traveling or working in close proximity to other people (i.e. You are on tour or in an office together), I recommend you do NOT gossip about them to other people you are traveling/working with!
This is a tour "Do" that I learned along the way- if you need to vent, save it up and do it at a friend's house on a day or night off. It's better then being in cahoots with someone else in the van/office and sullying the good vibes of the team.
Take care, Gilly, and don't you DARE say anything behind my back!
p.s. I admit to being a full-fledged frothing at the mouth gossip sometimes. But not always. I try!
From a poly perspective: Should I tell my current sexual partners that one of my partners is pregnant with my child?
-Knocking Up in Yonkers
I don't think you need to tell a sexual partner that your current partner is knocked up unless you are planning to sleep with them more than three times, and/or get into something more significant than a short term bone-sesh. If you find yourself gazing dreamily at them after encounter number two and suspect this may go further than a roll in the hay, I say disclose. You don't want them to pin any hopes on you that you can't fulfill.
Good luck, and tell that baby "Hello" for me.
p.s. I am advising you with the assumption that your pregnant partner knows and is totally kosher with your polyamorous ways.