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Drama Mamas: Preemptive polyamorous preparations

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Results! We want them! If you've written in to us and we've answered you, please send us an email letting us know what happened. We already have a few responses, but we'd like to collect a few more to fill up the next Drama Mama: Results Edition ... coming soon.

On to this week's letter:
I'm writing as a "preemptive strike". Like a good boy scout (err... girl who would be a good boy scout if she was a boy), I want to be prepared.

This would be excellent material for a Soap Opera or a Greek Tragedy, so grab some popcorn and enjoy.

I run a fairly big raiding guild (about 30 active raiders). Many of us are very close, and a few of us have hung out in real life. We know a lot about each others' lives and we laugh, cry and celebrate when life events occur.

Now to the fun part. Two of my officers (We'll call them "Ross and "Rachel") are married to each other. Ross is a raid leader. They have an open marriage (I don't judge and neither should anyone reading this). They're happy and comfortable in their marriage so as long as they're happy, I'm happy. I consider myself very close friends with this couple.
In addition to her husband, Rachel has a significant other in the guild as well (we'll call him "Chandler"), and they raid together. This triangle isn't the problem. They've been happily coexisting in the guild for over a year. The two partners don't "overlap", Rachel is with Ross, and Rachel is with Chandler. Ross and Chandler are separate from each other.

However, Ross and Rachel have wanted to add a third person to their relationship (which has nothing to do with Chandler). Of course, they end up with another member of my guild. We'll call her "Phoebe". Phoebe is significantly younger (but not jailbait) who had just gotten out of a very serious long term relationship (and they have young children together). I am worried about Phoebe because this breakup has really messed with her head, and she's very vulnerable. She also has a very explosive personality. For the record, I also consider Phoebe my friend as well.

My fears: If Phoebe really isn't ready to be in this relationship, and if it explodes into a burning blaze of fail, it could have serious ramifications not only on my friendships with all of the above, but the guild as well. I don't want to be forced to "take sides", I want to be there for them and support them. I also don't want to lose any of them as guild members. With this arrangement, they hold the power to seriously do damage to the guild if the officers end up leaving over relationship drama (if they ever leave it would break my heart anyway).

I'm staying out of their relationships and letting it run its course. I'm writing to you for advice on how to handle any potential fallout if it doesn't work.

Yes, I understand I'm worrying about something that hasn't even happened or may not happen, but because it's a very real possibility based on how well I know the people involved, I want to be prepared, just in case.

Sincerely,

Cassandra of Troy
Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: Kudos to you, Cassandra, for staying out of this relationship and not looking for a way to prevent anything. Yay! Meddling = drama. And while WORRYING about something that may never happen is bad, PLANNING for a possible drama causing event won't hurt anything -- as long as you get no one else involved. The moment you start discussing contingency plans involving other people's relationships, you've got gossip. Boo. Gossip = drama.

But you're not worrying and you're only discussing this with us, hopefully, so there won't be any guild gossip (unless someone in your guild reads Drama Mamas and recognizes the email, of course). So let's discuss some of the possible outcomes:
  1. Something bad happens in the relationship, but none of it ever hits guildchat or affects the guild dynamic.
  2. Something bad happens in the relationship and it does hit guildchat and/or the other people in the guild.
If 1 happens, it's none of your business as a guild leader. Offer a shoulder to cry on as their friend, but if they are successfully keeping the guild out of it, so should you. If 2 happens, you need to put your GM hat on and sweep that drama right back out of the guild, by gently enforcing the rules (which hopefully you have) about keeping personal drama out of public chat and forums.

Either way, the advice you would give would be the same. Phoebe, or whoever is hurt, should take a break from WoW. Offer her a home in the guild for when she returns (as long as her explosive personality didn't burn any bridges), but recommend a new server and guild. I know you don't want to lose her as a guildie, but it would be the best thing for you and everyone else concerned. She can still keep in touch with friends via Battletags or Real ID, but separation from the source of pain is really the best way to go.

I leave you with two action points:
  • Tidy up your guild rules to make sure you have them to fall back on should things get really ugly. You specifically want to be clear that bringing personal drama to guildchat, guild forums, voice chat, etc. is an actionable offense. The action can just be a warning at first -- you don't have to be draconian about it in your friendly guild -- but you do need to have something in place to nip drama in the bud.
  • Steel yourself to losing a guildie. It's not a matter of choosing sides. If it hurts Phoebe to be around Ross, Rachel, Chandler and possibly a new person added to the mix (Joey?), then she needs to take a break from everyone to deal with her issues, while focusing on her children and her own happiness outside of the game.
Hopefully this relationship is just something lovely for Phoebe to soothe her wounds with and nothing bad comes of it at all. I wish her, you, and the rest of the gang nothing but drama-free happiness.

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: The best strategy comes from the grand dame of advice, Ann Landers: "Make somebody happy today, and mind your own business." As a guild leader, you DO have some "business" to mind -- and I would add one more point of it to Robin's action list:
  • Make sure your officers know how to do their job. You can't be online every moment of the day, but in a guild the size of yours, you should have enough officers that somebody from the guild leadership is usually around during reasonable play hours. Hold a brief officers' meeting in a private channel; before a raid is good, because it gives you a focused window of time when everyone is available to make your point and then move on with the raid, without the opportunity to stew or gossip. Without slithering into the bubbling murk of the gossip bog (details and identities are completely unnecessary), remind your officers that it's their duty to disarm any drama that worms its way into public channels. Offer some hypothetical examples -- the rage quit, the loot squabble, the relationship overflow. Instruct them to send private whispers to all the involved parties in a friendly but firm, matter-of-fact fashion to cease and desist and take their matter offline. Remind your officers to report the incident to you at the earliest opportunity.
Once you've worked through the business of your action points, you're off the hook. Time for the "make someone happy today" part -- get out there and enjoy your drama-free guild atmosphere and Mists of Pandaria!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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