Let's be honest; we have problems. I'm not talking about the community level; I'm talking about the individual level. Yes, there are community problems (for more information, see this example at Leatherati), but I think that most of the real problems that dishearten people and drive them away from kink, leather, or BDSM happen down closely at the personal level.
No one is immune from these problems. I'm certainly no exception.
What causes all the fighting? And no, I'm not referring to the fighting of a board of directors or the organizing of a conference. I'm just talking about standard, normal, kinky people from the same local community. The conflict can be caused by a variety of reasons. 100% of people will not be able to get along 100% of the time.
I think one of the promulgating factors is the personality type of our community. I feel like we're filled with people who have the "Dolphin" personality type. These are the idealists; The people having this type of personality tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials. They are very enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, seek their true self, and dream of attaining wisdom. But they are also a very intelligent, yet very emotional people who can get defensive. If you ever do something wrong to a Dolphin, they will remember it.......forever.
The kink community is too small. We spend too much time together, and people get sick of each other. Tempers flare. True selves come out. It's pretty much unavoidable.
It won't ever stop. So I'm writing this because someone asked me, "How do you cope with the unending drama?" The answer is complex.
There's several factors that help me cope with the unending frustrations and interpersonal meltdowns around me. First, I'm an RN. I have training in mental health nursing, and working in critical care has made me develop a thick skin to a lot of different emotions. It's generally pretty easy for me to keep my temper in check because I've likely developed a stronger wall to stuff it all behind than most poeple. I've heard several of my friends mention to others, "Tynan is pretty tough to anger." I take pride in that. Anger and impulsivity rarely solve anyone's problems.
Second, I live in Rochester. Although that's not the end of the world, the gays in Minneapolis treat the city like it is. I get to run away to the middle of nowhere and escape it all. When I'm not exposed to it seven days a week, it's easier to deal with.
Finally, though, I've developed a poor coping mechanism. I jerk off. A lot. Sometimes I get so stressed out by some of my kinky friends that just the thought of sitting down to write about anything remotely related to fetish makes me want to puke. In those situations, I usually sit down at my desk, and intend to write....but then I end up looking at hot pics on Recon or Tumblr and end up jerking off. For HOURS. Clearly this is not so productive. It's a habit I'm trying to break.
Overall, I would say I just float along and go with the flow of the social situation. I don't, in general, let the fights get to me. I don't know how I ever reached this point in my life for certain, but I think it was sometime in college. One day I just woke up and thought to myself, "Why do I even care? It's not going to change anything, there's not much I can do about it, and it's not my job to police the entire world."
I've taken a personality test before. I'm not a Dolphin, so I'm guessing that also helps my coping skills. But here's my overall advice. These are based upon the ideals with which I try to live my own life:
1) Let it go. Really. When something dramatic happens or someone offends you, first, give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn't mean it or even know they were doing it (whatever "it" is). EVERY SINGLE TIME. Then, Let. It. Go. If you can develop the ability allow the petty shit to roll off your back, you may find that you'll be a more pleasant person overall.
2) If it doesn't concern you, STAY OUT OF IT. There's enough drama queens around. If your friends want to vent, fine, but consider just letting them vent. Not everyone needs advice. Consider the rammifications of your advice getting you involved in an unpleasant situation.
3) Remember that we don't all have to love each other, or hell, we don't even all have to LIKE each other or get along. However, the community is so small that we have an obligation TOLERATE one another. Anyone is capable of that, including you. Instead of bad-mouthing or fighting with that person at the bar that you don't like, consider just ignoring them and finding someone else to talk to or something else to talk about.
4) Never forget that anyone who's kinky should feel welcome in your local community. If actions are happening chronically from an individual that are making this less of a reality, it's your responsibility to speak up about it.
5) Find a productive coping mechanism/outlet for you to engage in when the drama-meter gets too high. That mechanism should NOT be to unload onto a different friend. Read, write, dance, pray, sing, work out, or fuck. Your mechanism should be done in a constructive and healthy manner. If the only way that you can cope with everyone else's drama is to spread it around by "venting" or unloading on others, you're only adding to the problem.
6) When someone asks you, "What's going on with (person x)?" Practice, and become comfortable with the response, "Why don't you go ask (person x) about it?" Triangulation is the heart of most drama and fights. This isn't high school. We're all adults, and we should ask one another directly about our problems.
7) Find peace with the fact that the drama won't stop, because it won't. Accept it. Acknowledge that it's not your job to fix it or stop it. There are steps you can take to reduce its impact, but it won't EVER go away. Find the courage to listen, smile, laugh, and move on. These things really do resolve themselves time after time.
8) Swallow your pride and admit if you've done something wrong. No one is perfect. When you're confronted about a mistake you've made, own it, offer an apology, and try to fix it. Don't make excuses for yourself or make up explanations that don't make sense.
9) Kink isn't a therapy session. We're all brothers by the fetish that we have, but if you find that you spend more of your time in kink communities discussing your own problems, it's really not helpful to the sexual culture that we live and share. This is why they make therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health professionals. Seek them out, or check the Kink-Aware Professionals Directory if you want a therapist who specifically knows about kinky issues.
10) Open your heart. Remember that compassion will go a lot farther than hate, grudges, or disdain. Think about the philosophy of compassion in every form for every human being. Remember, you may think you know what life is like through everyone else's eyes, but you don't. You can't. And you never, ever will.