I have had the pleasure of being the administrator for several groups. From the several hundred members to less than 100, these groups were my unpaid, part-time job for several years. If I'm being honest with myself, I've dedicated far more time than I really should have.
While doing so, I've realized the importance of what these groups could mean to others. For some, it's just another source of fun to exploit with little care. For others, it's their first encounter with the idea that the active lifestyle community is MASSIVE. And others still, it's their source of quality friendships in a world where it's difficult to make friends as an adult.
But here's the deal: Without structure and a common theme, almost all of these groups will have a predictable life cycle and ultimate death. Even with structure and theme, many of these groups will not last. That's because these groups rely on the leadership to thrive, and the leaders have a common weakness. They are human.
Our groups have been incredible. From them, we have seen the organization of amazing Happy Hours, House Parties, Club Takeovers, Hotel takeovers for NYE, and so many personal connections in between. In the groups, we've discussed everything from fantasies and desires to parenting advice and relationship problem solving. When a community truly is a source of support, friendship, and sexy fun, it's somewhat unbelievable to feel that connected to others.
For a specific example of how a group can be truly awe-inspiring: We once attended a party on Lake Lewisville in Texas that was a mild disaster. The party barge we rode out on kept getting blown into the dam that we had dropped anchor near. The rest of the boats that had tied up to the party barge were struggling to maintain a line. It was appropriate to untie and go find a different spot.
As everyone was untying, I offered assistance to the boat I had moved to. (It's not uncommon to swim to other boats at a large tie-up.) As I was working with the rope that had been tied to the cleat of a boat next to us, the wake of the lake rocked the boats apart, taking the slack I was working with instantly. Along with the slack it took the tips of two fingers. I'll spare the rest of the gory details, but I was still new to my job at the time and insurance wasn't available for another 2 days.
The problem with having an emergency without insurance is that EVERYTHING is expensive. The ambulance ride, the ER visit, the surgery to have my fingers cleaned up. We had savings, but most of it was already planned to go to our future wedding. We didn't budget for an unexpected amputation.
After we paid the bills, the community knew we were in a tough spot and started a fund to help us. We shared the link to donate far and wide, and the only people who demonstrated their generosity happened to be our dirty friend group. Our families were nowhere near as giving. Our friends from school, the military, coworkers... all quiet as our LS community shined through during our rainy day.
Needless to say, that forever left an impression on us, and we've tried to continue being the same type of support for others during their times of need.
You can't have a community of humans without accepting the fact that we're all flawed. We'll fuck a good thing up royally if left to our own devices. And, yes, there's an asshole in every crowd, and the LS has several different crowds. Sometimes, for some crowds, the assholes are also the leaders.
Drama exists everywhere. As much as people say they don't want to be part of it or preach that we're not in high school anymore, there's still plenty of opportunity for sensitive topics and circumstances to be misinterpreted, mishandled, or just plain screwed up by anyone involved. Part of being a community leader is the unspoken commitment to handle this drama in a way that respects all parties and doesn't increase the drama.
Good groups create a bonded feeling with fellow group members. Without realizing it, many people can harm or break that bond. Conversely, group members can often create unreasonable expectations of others purely because they are in the group. Managing these vibes/energies/cultures of the group is also a necessary component in the equation.
Additionally, there are some groups that are doomed to fail from the start:
Are They Worth It?
The best thing for members to do in these groups is to be supportive. Encourage others, help with events, share your success, and ONLY bring up failures publicly when they offer humbling assistance to everyone. Also, keep an open mind... to everything. There's a side of every story we aren't witness to, and it's up to us to have compassion for the things we don't see.
Don't be catty, petty, or assume your way is the only way. Everyone approaches the LS differently, therefore they have different solutions to similar problems.
The best groups and group leaders will be filled with people who follow these do's and don'ts, and they will be some of the most fun you've ever had. The worst groups have a "Leave" button somewhere.
Daniel is a pan-sexual, open-lifestyle advocate and event-organizer who has used his appearance on PlayboyTV, with wife, Nikki, to commit to being the voice for the unprotected class of non-traditional relationships.