ENM Group Members Guide
An Example of Kind and Respectful Communication
We recently had a discussion topic that talked about people who lie about their age in their dating profiles. As you can imagine this topic yielded some passionate discussion about ethics etc… and gave some fine examples of the kind of communication we are wanting to see in this group, and also some examples of what we don’t want to see.
I would like to break this conversation down for the purpose of demonstrating the difference. I’m going to change the names of the people involved so as not to draw attention to them specifically. Due to the passionate nature of the topic the admins have determined this to be a good opportunity to educate people, rather than draw them out, or commit to Admin-action against anyone.
Sally – I do it! It’s for search demographics. I’m 46 but very youthful and not looking for men my age or older. I say I’m 39 for my profile to match with younger guys who may put 40 as their cap. I disclose my real age in my bio. It really changed things when I started doing it that way. I don’t think it’s predatory at all when you’re honest.
Donna – I would reconsider the ethics of this. Also if someone is ageist enough to limit their filter, do you want to date them?
Donna’s response is a perfect response under the guidelines of our group. She is showing respect to Sally even though Sally’s Ethics are questionable to Donna. Responses like this, will cause Sally to reconsider her behavior, and give her an opportunity to learn.
Dave– (in response to Sally) that’s predatory and IS dishonest because people put the age filter up for a reason. You’re wanting to circumvent it for your own gain is gross.
Notice how Dave’s response is passing judgement on Sally. Even though he is Ethically and morally correct in our opinion, his language is judgmental, and unnecessarily critical. Watch what happens next.
Sally– My ethics are fine. I say CLEARLY in my bio my age. It isn’t a big deal.
Sally – They don’t have to match with me if they don’t want to and they can unmatch any time. I’m not trying to date 18 year old
Now Sally is in defense mode. She’s feels attacked and maybe embarrassed. But now she has to defend herself. Unfortunately she is now also feeding the divisive nature this post has taken. Her words will only elicit even more divisive attacks.
Debbie – You are actively circumventing age limits people have set on their filters. They used those filters for a reason and lying to get around it is gross. Sorry not sorry. I use the filters because dating someone literally my mom’s age is not something I’m comfortable with, they are probably great people, but I’m just not comfortable with that dynamic. You circumventing filters put in place for someone’s comfort level is unethical.
More judgement… which only sends this comment thread into a spiral that resulted in the post thread being shut down.
Let’s talk about how this conversation could have been handled better using the Non-violent and non-confrontational communication we want to see in this group.
Dave– (in response as written to Sally) That’s predatory and IS dishonest because people put the age filter up for a reason. You’re wanting to circumvent it for your own gain is gross.
Dave could have said EXACTLY the same thing if he just changed his wording a little, he could have said instead:
Dave (could have said) – “In my opinion that is dishonest behavior because people put the age filter in place for a reason. I feel like circumventing it for your own gain is potentially predatory and feels gross to me”
Notice my use of “I” statements. Whenever you make a post or comment in the group, you should be responding to it from your own perspective, not in judgement of someone else’s ethics, or ENM.
Let’s talk about Sally. Sally has now been put on the defensive… and in being in that place she used language that is challenging her attackers.
Sally – They don’t have to match with me if they don’t want to and they can unmatch any time. I’m not trying to date 18 year olds. Relax
“Relax”…. In my experience when you tell someone in a heated discussion to “relax” they are going to do absolutely the opposite. This statement would have said EXACTLY the same thing if Sally didn’t say “Relax.” It is an escalation, and one she could have received Admin-action for… a warning, or if it was a second offense, even removal from the group for.
If you find yourself feeling attacked… you need only respond with one word… “Admin.” The word Admin triggers a keyword alert and every group Admin and Moderator will receive notification there is a problem brewing. You don’t even need to know who your Admins are (although I highly recommend it) Under our Admin policy ANY time there is a report to Admin, or an automatic Admin keyword alert… there is an investigation to determine if there is a problem, and if we need to intervene in it. Engaging with someone who is unnecessarily attacking you is only going to make it worse, and potentially get you involved with any admin-action that may be doled out. Step back… take a breath, and talk to an Admin.
Debbie (as written) – You are actively circumventing age limits people have set on their filters. They used those filters for a reason and lying to get around it is gross. Sorry not sorry. I use the filters because dating someone literally my mom’s age is not something I’m comfortable with, they are probably great people, but I’m just not comfortable with that dynamic. You circumventing filters put in place for someone’s comfort level is unethical.
Notice how Debbie starts her paragraph with YOU
… that makes everything she says about Sally, and it is in judgment. She literally calls Sally’s behavior “gross.” and then goes on to call her behavior “unethical” which is a direct violation of our Kind and Respectful communication
rule (see “
Judgement Free Zone” for why we don’t allow judgment of others Ethics in this group)
Let’s see if we can change the wording of her comment to say the same thing and meet the criteria of the kind of communication we want to see:
Debbie (could have said) – “I am not comfortable with how you are circumventing age limits people have set on their filters. They use those filters for a reason and I don’t feel like lying to get around it is ethical. I use filters because I’m not comfortable dating someone significantly older than me. I would consider the ethics of someone lying on their dating profile to be questionable, because I feel like it is dishonest, and is misrepresenting yourself in order to gain access to someone who is not interested in dating someone your age.”
Same thing… more respectful wording. You don’t have to respect their ethical choices but we DO require you to respect them as human beings. For the record, the admin team here also considers Sally’s behavior to be of questionable ethics. But we have a responsibility to the group to be fair and unbiased regardless of which side of an argument we agree with.
The bottom line is, and we’ve seen many examples of this. We have a lot of people in this group, we all come from different places in our ENM… some of us have a lot of experience, some are brand new. Some are more on the swinger side of the spectrum, and some are more based on emotional connection… we all have different values, and we are all in different places in our learning processes.
When you encounter someone who has different ethical values than you do… you literally have three choices…
The first option, You can hurl accusations and attack and pass judgment on them. This will always make them feel attacked and will put them on the defensive, and the discussion may and likely will devolve into something the Admin team will have to get involved in, resulting in warnings being issued, and people potentially being removed from the group (including you) this is not helpful, and NO ONE benefits from this.
The second option, You can talk about how their situation makes you feel, and how YOU do things, and situations YOU avoid and why. Being respectful and kind and speaking with empathy gives you an opportunity to educate… not just the person you’re talking to, but others who may be lurking. You give YOURSELF credibility when you talk about yourself and your ethics in response to someone who may have different views than you… by not insulting or putting the other person on the defensive you preserve the opportunity to influence them…. and if that doesn’t work, I recommend going to option three
Option three… keep scrolling. Some people simply cannot get a clue. I employ this option often when I see others have tried and the offending person just isn’t getting it… you won’t gain anything by jumping on the dog pile and may inadvertently get pulled into an Admin-action you don’t want to be part of. Unless you can say what you need to say respectfully…. Just keep scrolling…