Post-Halloween Armory Wrap-Up

Our last event had 164 people ranging from the 20s to 60s in age. Around 20% were looking for primary partners, 30% were open to it, and the rest were looking for something else. 70% identify as kinky, one way or the other. The words people used to help fine-tune their matches reflect the great range we had at the event. People wanted to connect on fiber-arts, fire-spinning, or scuba-diving. People were democrats, conservatives, anti-fascists. We had film-buffs, ice-climbers, and salsa-dancers. Various forms of play were mentioned in all sorts of flavors. Adjectives abounded: silly, sober, smart-ass. There were nearly a thousand different tags used.

Not only are our events about connecting people to people, but they are also about connecting people to nonprofits that we want to support in our communities. We invite our selected organizations to our events to table and do outreach, and then give any profits to these organizations, partially divided up by how daters “vote.” So far we have focused on nonprofits engaged in anti-racist work and who ideally also connect to our wider non-monogamous communities.

At our last event we raised $1085 for four distinct organizations that we think are doing excellent work. This was partially supported by the Armory in Somerville, who gave us a discount on the venue to support our fundraising efforts.  We encourage all to continue to track what our sponsored organizations are up to, and to continue to support them (with money or time) as best you can. The four organizations for this round are:

The Network/la Red (
Donate here:

Community Change, Inc. (
Donate here:

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (
Donate here:
(You can tag their donations to various anti-racist programs they are working on, if you like.)

The Alternatives to Violence Project (Mass) (
Donate here:

Join us for a post-Halloween PSD event!

We are pleased to announce a speed dating event coming up on Friday, November 2nd. Last time rocked; high on that energy, your PSD organizers decided to actually try and run more than one in a calendar year! As with last time, this is a fundraiser to support and promote various anti-racist activities in the Boston area and beyond.

Your registration options are:


Event Details:

  • Friday, November 2nd, 2018 from 6-10:00 p.m.
  • The event will be held at The Armory,191 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA
  • $18.00 preregistration, $25.00 at the door. But no person will be turned away for lack of funds – please contact us!
  • This space is accessible (accessibility card ideally forthcoming).  There is limited parking. Taking the T to Davis Square and walking up Highland is strongly recommended.  (There are also regular buses.)
  • Check-in starts at 6 p.m.  You must be there by 7 p.m.
  • There will be food and drink (with and without booze). Pay bar.
  • We are constantly looking for organizations, ideally with connections to the broader non-monogamous community, engaged with anti-racist work (e.g., The Network/la Red). If you know of any doing good work, please let us know.

Attire and costumes:
As usual, we expect people to dress up if they so desire. Heck, it is close to Halloween so go nuts if you want to!  Costumes are super welcome, but be sure to allow for visibility, mobility, and seating ability. Also, if people can’t see your face at all, they might not check yes for a date.  Think about whether you want to be creepy or not, in other words. More masquerade ball, less zombie apocalypse — or just come as your fabulous selves.

Regardless, we will supply the candy.

Note: We fully expect a mix of both costumed and not. Both are awesome ways for you to attend.


Armory event wrap-up

At our last event we raised $2061.89  and got the word out about several organizations that we think are doing excellent work. We were helped by our food vendor, Chilacates in JP, who gave us a discount to support our fundraising. Thank you Chilacates! And also the Armory in Somerville, who gave us a discount on the venue to again support our fundraising efforts.

And a tremendous final thank-you to our greeters and volunteers who really made the event happen by making signs, checking in people, making the info sheets, obtaining supplies, cleaning up, entering data, and so much more.

We also wanted to encourage you to continue to track what our sponsored organizations are up to, and to continue to support them (with money or time) as best you can. See our Nonprofit sheets on the four organizations, which are

The Network/la Red
Donate here:
We raised: $490.66

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)
Donate here:
(If you like you can tag your donation as targeting their new project working explicitly on anti-racism.)
We raised: $763.16

Black and Pink
Donate here:
(There are also many ways to get involved, including being a pen pal to support incarcerated persons.)
We raised: $451.07

White People Challenging Racism (WPCR), supported by Community Change, Inc.
Donate here:
(CCI is the umbrella organization that does a variety of work. As you donate, you can tag your money for WPCR.)
We raised: $357.00

We are now going through the feedback you all had for the event. We will post updates, plans, and reflections on our blog. Be sure to stay connected with us, as we are now planning an event for next October (mailing list link at right).



The thinking behind our conduct policy

The following capture many of our reflections in designing our code of conduct and associated policy. It was a hard process, involving many conversations and struggles.  And we know it is not perfect. We do not know if we have found the best answer.  Our code of conduct and accompanying policy is a living, working document, and we invite feedback on it or this piece in the comments section below.  (You can also email us directly.)

There is no single polyamorous community, but rather a network of overlapping communities that share some idea about how love and relationship can work. The goal of Poly Speed Dating is to allow these communities to connect, to expand our worlds as we also find others to have relationships with.

This can be a scary thing to experience. Dating is scary, for many. Meeting people is scary, for many. And, in fact, sometimes these fears are justified. In any community there will be people that have caused harm, and will probably cause harm again as they struggle with their own damage and histories.

In principle, those that cause such harm could be banished from a community, if we could identify them. But the idea of banishment, once considered one of the worst punishments a community could manifest, does not mesh well with the idea that all have the ability to heal. The idea of banishment feels very local: protect our own, send our problems elsewhere. The experience of banishment seems like something that could exacerbate, reinforcing and expanding the bitterness and alienation that creates monsters. We do not see it as healthy for a community to lean towards restriction and exclusion in an attempt to guarantee safety. Banishment is a very serious act.

But safety is also important. Worrying about harm to someone who is causing or has caused harm, while letting those who may have been harmed bear the cost is no move towards social justice. The question is then what we, as organizers, should do.

Our balance is to attempt to structure our events in such a manner that while people might not be entirely comfortable, they will be safe. We work to create a space where people can play with meeting people in a context where potential for harm is greatly limited.

A foundation for achieving this is to enforce our code of conduct, to not allow people to invade other’s space and cause excessive discomfort. At our events, everyone has the right to be left alone by anyone they find undesirable in any way. No one is required to sit through a date they do not want to be on, or talk to people they don’t want to talk to. If people cannot conduct themselves in a manner that aligns with these values, we will ask them to leave and not return. If anyone is violating these principles, we hope people will approach us, the staff, so we can take action on the spot. Furthermore, if people repeatedly have notes about them on other people’s dating sheets or feedback forms when we read them after the event, we take the constellation of poor experiences as evidence that this person should be asked to not participate in future events. We hope these actions, and this intolerance of abusive behavior, will make our events safe enough.

But we do not feel we are able to make such decisions based on reports of history unrelated to our events. We simply do not know everyone in the many communities that attend, we do not know how to separate situational behavior–a bad break up or catastrophic mismatch of expectations–from the damage of predatory behavior. We do not know what the various lines separating acceptable and unacceptable are for different groups of people. Even if we tried, the system would be imperfect: we would miss some who have done harm, while simultaneously suggesting a degree of safety, of vetted dating participants, that is not in fact present. We let strangers sign up for Poly Speed Dating.

This reflection came in part from inquiries about missing stairs. From Wikipedia we have “Missing stair is an analogy for a sexual predator who many people know cannot be trusted, but who they work around by trying to quietly warn others rather than deal with openly.” It is unclear what the solution to missing stairs is, and we expect it varies depending on the stair in question. But our events cross multiple communities, are a microcosm of meeting and dating people in the broad world. We do not know what “dealing with it openly” would look like here. Banishment, in particular, does not deal with it openly.

Overall, we decided to take strong action to prevent harm in our space, but also find ourselves forced to say that you should date at your own risk. Ours is a venue to fairly safely meet strangers, but only so much can be learned upon an initial meeting.

June 20th event officially sold out!

We had to close registration to make sure we could handle the crowds!  It will be our biggest Boston area event ever, so wish us luck.

If you missed the deadline, please join our mailing list (link at right) to hear about future events. We will not sell your email and we will only email you rarely (way less than 1 email per month, on average).

Last call for our Poly Speed Dating event on June 20th!

Due to overwhelming response (250 people registered), for the first time ever we are going to close registration before the event and not allow walk-ins at all. If you have been meaning to sign up, do so now. We will close registration on Tuesday, 12pm (high noon).

We are formalizing our code of conduct, details here.  We are also formalizing our position on missing stairs (sexual predators known to a community) and what to do about them, which we will post soon.

Also, if you have not heard, we have had to restrict registration for some demographic groups (in particular, those not looking for men who need their dates to be looking for men).  Please read this blog post for more on this (including the reasons why).

The weird logic of requiring balancing companions

We get a lot of questions about our restrictions on registration and the logic behind it. Here’s the story.

At our first events, we found that lots of women who signed up to meet other women didn’t get to do so. We wanted to figure out why, and eventually we did.

Our program was designed to make overall schedules to give people as many speed dates as possible. To achieve this we often preferentially match people with fewer options earlier on (well, mostly; see endnote (1)). Why do we do this? Well, imagine a dater who only wants to meet people named Greg. Now suppose there are only two people named Greg at the event! If you pair everybody in random order, the Gregs will probably already have dates by the time you get to our super-picky dater. So we give our dater priority. And there’s another dater who only wants to meet people named Dragon Breath, so THEY will be stranded unless you pair them with Dragon Breath before Dragon Breath has another date. And so on.

But straight people(2) have fewer options than bi/pan people. So this meant straight people tended to get matched first by the computer. And since straight people have an overrepresentation of men, this meant straight men mostly got matched before bi/pan women. Statistically, we were giving men ‘dibs’ on women’s time. This was not okay.

Our fix was to make half of our dating rounds “same” rounds, and half “different” rounds–in the first type of dating round, we make all the same-gender matches we can before we pair off anyone else; in the second type, we make all the different-gender matches we can before we pair off anyone else. (Note: Since gender(3) is “pick all that apply” at PSD, it’s not quite as simple as “same” and “different”. Also, we make other tweaks in order to not penalize other gender categories such as agender and non-binary(4) people. But if you think of it as “same” and “different” or “gay matches first” and “straight matches first” you will have basically the right idea.)

After the preferential matching, we always fill in any matches that are left over (so a straight woman, for example, will still probably get a date during a “gay” round, as long as there are men left over after the gay and bisexual men have been matched with each other, which there probably will be).

But wait! This doesn’t quite work unless the straight people at PSD are about half men and half women. And as mentioned earlier, if we register an equal number of men and women, we will end up with a tilt toward men among the straight population. This is why we wanted to impose some restrictions on registration.

All of this being said, our event is designed to be inclusive and open to all. Because of this, we decided that we would never start registration with any restrictions. Anyone can register independently. We then leave it open as long as possible until the balance becomes worryingly far in the wrong direction, and then restrict registration and hope that as registrations roll in we recover the balance we need. Furthermore, for our restriction we, rather than banning registration altogether for straight men, decided to allow for a “balancing companion” so that if someone registers with their friend they, together, are not making matters (too much) worse. This is our effort to continue to keep things as open as possible.

We recognize that it can be painful to be frozen out of an event. We also recognize that it can put people in an awkward position of trying to drag a friend along. Despite these things, we hope that this solution well serves our community. We also invite any who do feel excluded to reflect on other circumstances where others get excluded, either implicitly or explicitly, from things they want to do. And remember that if you sign up on our mailing list, we will email you when our next event occurs and that you can then register with no restrictions.

Postscripts about gender diversity:

1. You might be wondering whether this insight into our scheduling algorithm means you should be as restrictive as possible on your registration in order to get first priority for scheduling. Well, not quite. As soon as someone gets frozen out in a scheduling round, we increase their priority for the next round. And each time someone gets to “pick” their match, they lose priority. This ensures that the more open daters do not simply get left with the difficult-to-match matches.

2. The restriction is not just on straight men, in part because “straight” is a convenient term to use in a blog post but it doesn’t actually exist in the Poly Speed Dating world. The restriction is on people who don’t want to date men, but whose dates do need to be attracted to men. This latter category includes men, but also anybody who requires their dates to be bi/pansexual, and some groups who choose the “only give us dates that match all of us” option. If you aren’t sure whether you actually fall under this restriction, talk to us.

3. This entire post doesn’t use the words “trans” or “cis” at all, except for this footnote. That’s because being cis or trans has nothing to do with it! One of your faithful organizers–the one writing this footnote–is trans, and honestly feels kind of weird writing something this long about gender without an explicit reference to trans people, because of growing up in a world where people who say “men” often secretly mean “cis men”. But at PSD, that is never what we mean. Cis and trans men are both men, and are both treated the same by this policy. And likewise, when we talk about “same gender” matches, we do not care whether you’re cis or trans; cis women and trans women (e.g.) are the same gender, even though they are different checkboxes on the gender part of our form.

4. You may have noticed that this post sometimes mentions non-binary folks and sometimes doesn’t. This is mostly because when we say “straight” we are specifically referring to binary-gendered people: men who are only interested in women, and women who are only interested in men. But also, non-binary people are, in general, neither making the balance worse nor better, and so are not part of this particular math.