…it’s imperative to understand, this isn’t somebody coming out.
This is several somebodies coming out.
The instant they say, “I am… we are a plural system,” it’s time for anybody claiming to be their friend or ally to adjust their perception accordingly.
If the plural system starts behaving differently than you’re used to, including behaviours you see as negative, in your presence, take it as the compliment it is: they’re actually allowing their members to be themselves around you. They’re dropping the mask they wear in public, the false,created, artificial persona that has allowed them to function day-to-day among human society. You might see ‘negative behaviour’, but what they’re seeing internally is, “X headmate is getting to speak for himself openly for the first time in years.” It might be the first time a given headmate has even seen the light of day on their opinions, feelings, and thoughts.
At this time in the life of the system, it is crucial that you, as their friend, not ask for “the old ____ back”.
Get it through your head, please: “the old ___” very likely doesn’t even exist, unless the system has a single incredibly dominant fronter who never-ever-ever takes input from the others while fronting. “The old ___” is a construct that, up to this point, has existed for your comfort and the system’s safety. It isn’t a realistic representation of the identities, morals, or opinions of ANY single system member.
For systems who are just discovering their own plurality, this becomes doubly important. The headmates being discovered may very likely have been not just concealed behind the artificial persona, but squashed by it, to the point where they haven’t been able to communicate with anybody, even inside the system itself. If they get a “you are a horrible person, go away and bring back the old _____” reaction on their first ventures into the world of social interactions, it can be personally devastating.
Just picture how you would feel if you were prevented from voicing even one of your opinions, and you’ve been the passive, helpless passenger for years, and just as soon as somebody finally notices you even exist, you’re being attacked for existing, for saying what you feel- something you previously weren’t able to do at all.
We don’t know about you, but we find that entire notion simply horrifying, and it’s why our system has rules in place against erasing each others’ statements. It’s hard enough lacking a voice, but being forced into censorship when you finally have a voice… it’s unconscionable.
Any system new to system-awareness is going to have an adjustment period, during which the ‘hidden’, squashed headmates are discovering each other and being discovered. The system probably won’t have behavioural rules in place at all, because the dominant fronter has never needed them, having had total command to that point. Some of the headmates might be socially awkward or even a little moody or inappropriate. They’re still coping with things like controlling the body, being heard at all, being recognized by the dominant fronter and judged for every little thing, probably even being afraid that the dominant fronter might kick them out- and who knows what happens to a kicked-out headmate? Does that qualify as death, or something else? Regardless, the prospect is terrifying, especially when one is in such a vulnerable and powerless position. The headmates are probably going to be scared not just of being judged by society outside the body, but of being judged by the dominant fronter, and of the two, the latter is the one that puts them at risk of what might be death.
In other words, at this stage in a system’s life, expecting the system to act like the ‘person’ you used to know is completely failing to understand the nature of plurality, and it verges on cruel and inhumane. That isn’t to say that the reaction is unusual to have, or unreasonable to experience… but there is not one good reason for voicing it to the system. Asking for “the old ___ back” is basically telling the system’s members, “I don’t believe you exist” or “I wish you will stop existing.” That may not be what is intended by it, but it’s very likely how it’s going to be received.
If you feel a system isn’t actually plural, let them figure it out for themselves, because if they are plural, but the main front is just strong enough and willing to go through with it, it’s the headmates’ lives, or at the very least their free agency, which are at stake.
You personally have absolutely nothing to lose from your friends’ identities as a system, and their plurality is not putting your life or agency in danger. If you have an urge to tell the system that they’re unhealthy or “less pleasant of a person” because of their plurality, please do us all a big damn favour and keep it to yourself, because you do NOT have a dog in this fight.
It isn’t the system’s job to be likeable to you. If you can’t cope with them being honest, then you probably don’t need to be claiming friendship with them, and they probably don’t need you in their life. You don’t have to totally believe in plurality or assimilate the language of it, but the least you can do is use the pronouns they request, avoid treating them like they have to behave precisely the way they always did before their coming out, and have the damn decency to think about the connotations of what you say to them about their identities, the way you would with any other type of variant-identity like otherkin or therian.
Disclaimer: This isn’t necessarily targeted at anybody here. It’s just something we’ve seen happening more than once, and it really pi$$es us off when it happens. Thanks for reading.
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