The circumstance in which you start a new relationship with a friend, work colleague or lover is filled with a whole lot of chance. Even if you are a person that is intentionally creating opportunities to meet people with similar values/interests to form relationships with (like going to munches, board game meets, parent groups, church) there is a lot of chance determining who attends those meetings with you and whether they are open to new connections at the time.
In a previous series, I talked about user manuals – effectively a guide to a person written by them to be given to their important people. User guides are mostly used by people within the poly community, and they are often focused on working out compatibility with new romantic or sexual partners. I think there is room for these to be used much more widely as a tool for self reflection around creating opportunities for other kinds of relationships and compatibility in friendships or activity partnerships as well as romantic and sexual connections.
If you already have a user manual, I invite you to create a section about new connections. If you don’t have a user manual, maybe this is the place to start writing one! There is a good chance that your desires and needs around new activity partners or friends are less specific than they are around romantic partners. After all, whether or not someone sleeps with the window open (or snores, leaves dishes in the sink) is unlikely to be a consideration.
What to include in your new connections user manual?
Start by thinking what new connections you are open to. Would you like to spend more time with work colleagues? Do you want to do more of an activity that would be better with another person (walking, rock climbing, gardening, writing, board games)? Are you craving more people to hang out with? Do you want a very small number of really deep connections?
Whatever it is, write about it!
Write about your desires, and what those connections would look like and feel like. Think about the time you have to commit to them, what you would need from the other person. Perhaps aspects of your identity are really important, so you’d need the other person to be someone that had a basic grasp of the social model of disability, or of non-binary gender identities. Include that.
Once you are done, you should have a clearer idea of what it is you want in new connections at the moment. Do bear in mind that this is a work in progress and highly likely to change at regular intervals. If you are feeling a desire for new connections on an ongoing basis, I would suggest revisiting this every 3-6 months just so you can assess whether your desires have shifted and whether you should therefore shift where you are putting your energy.
Once you have your sense of what you are looking for in connections with other people, start to think about the kinds of places that you can find those connections. For example, if you are looking for walking partners, a local walking group would be a good idea. If you want to have more kinky connections, your local kink club or munch is more likely your scene. A lot of the time you will have intersecting desires that are far more complicated than simply a board game partner. Sometimes it is possible to scope people out in those places to work out whether they meet the other requirements that you have, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is VERY hit and miss.
I have moved cities and countries frequently over the last decade, and I have had the persistent desire to spend time with queer women playing board games. If there was a board games group catering to that demographic in any of the places I lived, it wasn’t one that I found. Nevertheless, I was able to find queer women that wanted to play board games with me if I set something up. I used my old friend OK Cupid to invite local queer women along to a games meet in a pub whether or not I was romantically interested in them.
Of course, not everyone has the capacity to set up a new meet-up in order to create space for the connections they want in their life. Most people do have the capacity to work out which spaces are most likely to contain the people they are most interested in connecting with, and to spend time in those spaces. How likely you are to find people you want to connect with will depend on how niche your desires are – thus, my deciding to create queer women’s games meetups.
Being aware of your desires, and conscious of what you are doing to find those connections is a great way to create opportunities for connection. There is never a guarantee, and you may well find that the people you meet just aren’t ones you want meaningful or deep connections with. Nevertheless, bringing your attention to what you want and spending time and energy pursuing has to give you a better chance than not!