I was recently asked by a forum how they should respond when informed that two members have begun dating. I was told the forum had good dynamics; everyone liked each other; and the group was functioning well. The remaining (non-dating) forum members were reluctant to make a quick decision with some members trying to understand what options might be workable for allowing them to remain. Others were wary of the conflict.
I shared the following thoughts:
- The fundamental question: Does the new relationship between two members (in this case, dating), prevent anymember from being fully open, honest, engaged and committed to the forum? It is essential that everyone speak their truth and clear the air if the forum is to maintain a healthy dynamic.
- Normally this would be a situation where one member would leave, but there is no reason both need to leave.
- Another forum I observed had two members who were business partners. They were happy and the rest of the group accepted it. My personal view is that this undermines the ability to share and trust, but everyone in the forum is a consenting adult, and that could be the case with this dating couple as well.
- The forum should discuss future scenarios: What if the couple gets married? What if they break up? Even if the group accepts that both can remain for now, does everyone (not only the couple) reserve the right to raise concerns in the future? The last thing you want is an elephant in the room that no one can discuss.
- Finally, in light of this new relationship in the forum, see this other blog post of mine on “Known and Safe, Safe and Known.” Invite all members to read this poem, and then to respond to the questions at the end of the post.