Our guiding principle for conduct-related issues is as follows:
We will take action to ensure the event space is as safe as reasonably possible. No person should be required or pressured to interact with any other person at the event that they do not wish to. That being said, we do not vet or vouch for anyone at the event. For future interactions with those you meet, you must date at your own risk.
This means we expect everyone at Poly Speed Dating to treat other participants with respect and to help make this environment welcoming for everybody who might show up.
This is our expectation. Our code of conduct that break this expectation down to more concrete action is as follows:
Code of Conduct
Do not bully or insult. It is never okay to bully or insult anyone at Poly Speed Dating for any reason or in any way. It is particularly unacceptable to mistreat anyone because of their age, ethnicity, race, gender, orientation, gender presentation, creed or religious affiliation, or any other deeply personal trait.
Do not harass, puppydog, or impose yourself in people’s personal space. Although flirtation is often a part of speed dating, it is crucial that the ways you pay attention to other speed daters never turn into harassment or puppydogging (quietly following someone around hoping they will approach you). If you have any doubt about whether you’re approaching someone in an appropriate way, please err on the side of NOT doing the thing you’re worried about, and instead just using the event’s built-in ways of showing interest in someone: the date sheet for people you meet on speed dates, and ‘cruising’ for people you meet in the social area.
Do not touch without asking, and do not touch much. Please ask before touching people. Unwanted touch (even on the shoulder, hand, etc.) is not okay here. (We do understand that there’s such a thing as asking non-verbally, in particular extending a hand to offer a handshake.) And finally, please do not ask for or give hugs to those you do not already have a hugging relationship with.
Take “no” for an answer, and take it as such the first time. Whether it’s asking about touch or asking about anything else, take “no” for an answer. Do not ask again to double-check.
Do not “escalate the date.” This means: Do not propose future plans. Do not say “are you going to say yes to me?”. Do not mention that you’re planning to go see a concert and then look meaningfully at your date. In other words, do not try to actively or passively arrange to see someone again. Those are all things that would be normal to do when meeting someone at a party; there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. But there is something wrong with doing them here, where they are against the rules. We ban those things so that the magic of speed dating can work.
Your rights as a participant
You have the right to be in an event space as safe as reasonably possible, and to not have those who cannot respect other’s boundaries and who fail to follow our code of conduct in this space.
You have the right to not join any of your dates due to safety, ethical considerations or comfort (for instance, if you are matched with a client, coworker, family member, ex…). (If you do take this action, please indicate on your date sheet that you deliberately did not attend your date, but you are not expected or required to disclose the reason.)
If anyone violates on these rights, you have at least two options. We really hope you take one of them. First, you can find a staff member at the event and talk to them. Second, you can write down any issues on your date sheet and we will record and monitor these issues over time to look for patterns of mild but toxic misconduct. See more below.
Consequences beyond the harm you might cause in violating our norms
You can be permanently removed from Boston Poly Speed Dating for breaking any of the above rules, or for making other attendees distinctly uncomfortable in countless ways not described above. When the situation is mild and clearly unintentional, we may, at our discretion, let you stay on the condition that you do no such thing ever again, or make the removal temporary. However, no such leniency is guaranteed.
What to do when people violate these norms
To achieve our goals, we want to hear about all instances of misconduct. Please do one of the two following things if you witness someone violating the above norms in the letter or in spirit:
- Write down a note on your date sheet about the behavior next to their PSD ID. We will collect these and take action for future events.
- Tell a staff member immediately. We can immediately talk to the person or mediate a discussion between you and that person if you so wish. We can also ask the person to leave the event. You are welcome to approach us with a friend along for support, if that would help.
What to do when people violate these norms outside of our events
We have received several questions regarding our policy regarding persons known by some to have caused harm to others in the past (these persons are often called “missing stairs.”
Our current position is that we are open to (preemptively) banishing a person from the event due to external matters, but that other principles, discussed in our reflections document, make this a very serious action that we are very reluctant to take.
We do allow (and encourage the use of!) requests to not be matched with others that may be at the event. We will honor these requests insofar as we can identify the people named in such requests.
In no way should any of our policies be taken as even an implied override to a restraining order.
Further recommendations for righteous behavior
There are other things we would like to ask you to do or not do in slightly less strong terms. Doing these things will make Poly Speed Dating better for you and the people you meet, but getting them wrong won’t result in your removal unless you really try.
- Try to notice when a topic of conversation isn’t comfortable for your date. No matter how bland your question was, if your date avoided it, talk about something else! You only have 5 minutes. It will be easy to fill the time even if you don’t re-ask whether your date has pets!
- Make sure you both talk and listen on your dates. If you don’t listen, you’ll have trouble deciding whether to say yes (and are probably being rude). If you don’t talk, your date won’t learn the things they need to know.
- Remember that not everybody here does relationships the same way you do. They may be new to polyamory; they may identify with swinging or relationship anarchy more than with polyamory. They may be looking for casual flings or for life-long relationships.
- Stay away from painful life-drama description. First, it is unlikely to be your best foot forward. Second, it can be boundary crossing to implicitly ask people to hold something they might not be prepared to hold.
- At the end of a date, say thank you. Be nice and polite, even if you know that this is not the person for you. Remember that this can be hard for people and have compassion for yourself and others.
Where did all of this come from? Please see our reflections document.