Saturday, March 30, 2024

Finding your tribe

At a recent non-monogamy potluck I hosted, one of the attendees remarked to me how happy and relieved they were at the event, hanging out with "their tribe."

This made me think: is the non-monogamy community I'm so thickly involved in, my tribe?

I'd say no. Yes, I share the non-monogamy identity, and that provides a kinship. And yes, it's a relief to attend and host events in that community, where I can be open about that part of myself (as opposed to work and extended family settings, where I "turn down" or conceal that aspect of myself.)

However, it's far from the center of my many overlapping identities. Overachiever, tech employee, father, fitness freak, intellectual, writer, ant enthusiast, heterosexual, *post-conformist, altruist, curious student, runner: many of these identities are better guideposts to my ideal tribe.

Honestly, nowhere feels like my tribe right now. I'm too conventional and overachieving to fit in the non-monogamy community, which is a more normal distribution of humans (e.g. on employment and education dimensions), leaning toward the unconventional and anti-establishment if anything. I feel more amongst my tribe at my large tech company employer amid other high-functioning highly educated overachievers, most of whom are conventional and conformist in almost all ways. I'm in the minority being divorced and non-monogamous, sure, but relationship model & status is less important in that community. And in most other ways I fit in, bond naturally with other altruists there (e.g. I'm active in groups for bereavement, effective altruism, divorce/separation support, and accessibility for users with disabilities), and feel at home in the large bureaucracy. 

And when it comes to humans I'm most intensely attracted to romantically and drawn to friend-wise, the majority of them are peers in the overachieving community. As a result I'm skeptical I'll find my tribe in the near term, especially in the romance realm. Building it seems prohibitively difficult too, for someone in my position whose energy is mostly sapped by parenting and a demanding full-time job. 

I wrote on one of my dating profiles: "Someone once asked me to describe 'my tribe.' I haven't found mine yet: but an overachieving altruist that wants to overachievingly altruist a bit harder as a result of their primary relationship, sounds like a kindred spirit to me." That is something I seek, and something I valued when I was married: that I was able to perform at work and in altruism and parenting, a bit better than I would alone. I thirst to be higher-functioning and more effective than I am now, to be a better version of myself.  

*post-conformist: a new term I've been experimenting with. It describes someone who spent much of their life, let's say the first 2-3 or more decades, conforming socially (e.g. go to college, get married, have kids, live out the religion you were brought up in), followed by a significant departure in at least one area. That might look like coming out as gay, leaving your religion, switching from monogamy to non-monogamy, or quitting your high-paying job to pursue a decidedly less lucrative aim. Since I've left Mormonism and monogamy, I find I have a lot in common with other folks that've walked a similar path - obviously post-Mormons and post-monogamists, but also post-Adventists and post-tech-workers and post-raised-Republicans and expats. There's something about the overlap of attaining the social status that results from conforming to social norms, while also having the power and awareness to depart from a chosen subset of those same social norms. 

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