Where’d My Friend Go?

by Kerry, Hess, Richard and others, 2007

This article is written for people who worry that their ‘original friend’ (or significant other, or family member) has left after a system have come out to them, or are shy about engaging other members in the system besides the one (or ones) perceived as their ‘original friend’. It’s really written up for personal reasons, but the explanations are general enough to share with others. This article is focussed on friends and significant others, although family members can use it, too.

Situation 1a: The ‘original friend’ is really a composite of multiple people, and simply adopted a ‘singlet name’ that belonged to a single person within the group.
This is what happened with most people who knew us as a singlet before. Before we came out as plural, we used the name of someone who turned out to be a specific person in the group. (This doesn’t mean that there is a ‘main’ or ‘body’ person, but that there just happens to be someone who uses the name that the group used as a singlet.) After we came out, they interpreted the person who happened to have the ‘singlet identity name’ as the one they knew before, and assumed that they didn’t know us at all, when in reality, their ‘old friend’ was several writers and speakers who were not aware that they were indeed separate. It was an extremely rare occurrence for someone to only have spoken with the person who they thought was the ‘original friend’.

Admittedly, this idea is difficult for some people to understand. (It was also difficult for us to understand how they couldn’t understand, which caused us to misinterpret things in a way that seemed as though it was torn from the pages of a Jane Austen novel.) They may feel deceived, cheated or tricked. What they must remember is that the ‘original friend’ is not gone, but happens to be more than one person who felt as though they had to hide who they were because of reprisal, ostracism or mere habit. It is not an easy idea to accept, certainly, but in order to understand the collective better, then it is something that should be understood.

Situation 1b: The ‘original friend’ is really a composite of multiple people, and used a name that did not refer to any of the system’s members.
The advice given for Situation 1a applies to Situation 1b as well, with a few differences: in situations in which it is safe to mention the system’s plurality, the ‘collective singlet name’ does not apply to any of fronters. Use their own names: they’ll appreciate it. Situation 1B is what currently applies to us if we’ve introduced ourselves to you as nonplural before, and then came out later.

Situation 2: The ‘original friend’ really is a separate person, and the others really ARE new to you.
Talk to the people with whom you may have things in common, and be polite to everyone if they talk to you. That’s the best advice we can give you. This happened to us once, we believe, and although the situation was initially difficult, it turned out to work marvellously at the end. Perseverance and patience are important.

Situation 3: You’ve made friends with numerous people in a plural system, but their fronting staff have changed, leaving several new people in their place.
This must be extremely difficult for people. We would simply be polite to the new fronters and not ‘demand’ to talk to the old staff. You could possibly ask about relaying messages to the unavailable fronters. Although we haven’t had any large staff changes lately, we do have a few people who are more reluctant to front than others, and we take dictation for those people and relay their messages.