photo by by Glenn Harper
Another common frustration I hear from swingers (both new and experienced) is the feeling that everyone is in a clique. I hear this complaint about meet-and-greets, clubs, parties, and even websites. Cliques are often a perception rather than a reality.
I remember the first time Tyler and I went to a particular meet-and-greet. It was at a trendy dance club filled with couches, lounge chairs, and a few curtained-off booths. After making a lap or two, we were very happy to find a set of four comfy chairs. What luck, we thought, we'll get to meet whichever couple ends up sitting in those chairs! Within 10 minutes, someone did come, but only to ask us if they could take a chair and go somewhere else with it…sigh…We got up and walked around some more, but all we saw were large groups of people who seemed like completely unapproachable cliques. And so in our newness and shyness, we decided not to approach…By the end of the night we did meet a few other new couples like ourselves, but we left the party with the distinct impression that the whole thing was just too cliquey for us.
No too long afterward, we started meeting a few lifestyle couples at a local bar. We talked, got to know their friends, and introduced them to our friends. In short time, the group grew from about 8 to about 30, with varying levels of participation each week. Although we were all swingers, that was about all we had in common. New people joined the group often, and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.
One evening I was talking with a couple who was new to the group, and they informed me that they'd been worried about coming because they'd heard we were cliquey. I was shocked! Us? Cliquey? So I thought about it, and tried to remember any time we had shunned a new couple. I couldn't come up with a single time, but I did realize that as a group of friends, perhaps there had been times when we were all wrapped up in a birthday celebration or the appearance of someone we hadn't seen in a long while that maybe we hadn't realized there were new people who hadn't been welcomed.
It was then when I realized that I'd probably been much too hard on the other meet-and-greet. I'd assumed because no one came up to me, membership packet in hand, that I wasn't welcome.
What I should have remembered is that a clique is usually just a group you're not a member of yet. Sure, there are exclusive cliques that will completely ignore you if you don't comply with their narrow view of beauty or success, but honestly, those groups are rarer than you'd think.
To illustrate my point, a month ago, Tyler and I went to another meet-and-greet just like the first. It was at another trendy dance club take-over that none of our friends were attending. This time, however, was completely different. As we walked around, we realized that although there were large groups of people, we'd made acquaintances in many of the groups at some time over the last 5 years. So instead of sitting waiting for people to come up to us, we spent the whole evening moving from one group to another, sometimes saying hello to people we hadn't seen in months or years, and other times introducing ourselves to people we had never met at all. The event was a great success!
So how do you get from outsider to insider? Well the only real way is to put yourself out there.
- If you're attending a party with a guest list, go through it ahead of time and look for people you might be interested in meeting. If you can, send a message to a few couples – something to the effect of “We noticed you'll be attending XYZ and look forward to meeting you!”.
- If you get to the party and find you do know people there, ask to be introduced to the people they're with, or introduce yourself!
- Some people are more comfortable going to events if they already know other attendees. So if you have friends you can go with, great! Just remember to mingle with other guests too, not just the people you came with!
- Keep showing up. Maybe you won't make a connection the first time, or even the second, but as people start to recognize you, they will be more likely to warm up to you.
- If you still end up not knowing anyone at the event, you're going to have to introduce yourself. I know it can feel awkward or even frightening, but just try to engage those around you. Flirt! Compliment that lovely lady's hair, shoes, or dress. Tell that handsome guy how great his eyes are. Give that sexy couple a big ol' smile 🙂
Most importantly, don't give up. If a stranger is just a friend you haven't met, then a clique may just be a group of friends you haven't met.