A metamour is the partner of your partner. Your wife’s girlfriend is your metamour. Having a metamour is a unique connection that monogamous relationship styles don’t get to see. A metamour is an opportunity for a larger network of friends, support and love. I have had excellent relationships with my metamours, and I have had less than excellent relationships with my metamours. I have developed some tips and rules for how to introduce your two partners, and also how to interact with your metamour if your partner has another partner. These tips are of course from my own experience, but hopefully the advice can apply beyond just my experience. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned from them, sharing my experiences hopefully will give you the chance to avoid some common poly mistakes.
1. Let them Meet on their Own Terms
I started to have this conversation with my partners recently. I have preferences for meeting new people in general. The conversation first came up when I walked in to my boyfriend’s apartment and plopped down my stuff, expecting for a quiet evening to begin, and a girl came around the corner with my (as usual) happy as can be partner. Me, the introvert, was suddenly at odds. I was not expecting to meet anyone new, and I immediately felt a hot rush of stress about being “on” after a long day at work. My partner meant no ill from this at all, he was excited to introduce me to his friend.
My preference is to let his relationship with someone grow to the point where he knows she is decidedly a partner, and then I want to meet her. I want to meet her in a low-key setting, either with him present or just her and I out to coffee. I like to plan this ahead of time, so I know that day I am going to be meeting new people. I am extremely shy and introverted, and this is just the style that I prefer. I don’t want to invest too much time meeting someone he has only gone on a few dates with. On the other side of the coin, he would love to meet my new partners as soon as possible, in whatever format gets him more human interaction faster. Now since they are my partners, I still reserve the right to choose when this happens, but I like to let him meet a potential partner a little sooner than I ask to meet his.
Having a conversation with your partner about how you prefer to meet metamours is incredibly important. If you don’t know quite yet what you prefer, set out what you think you would like and don’t be afraid to modify this in the future.
2. Share Phone Numbers, but Hold the Calendar
I think that phone numbers between all involved parties should be shared sooner rather than later. This allows for your metamours to chat when it suits them. If your metamours want to spend time together, they should be able to schedule that without always using you as a relay (although they should keep you in the loop!). Now for calendars, this is something that I learned as I went. Sharing your calendar with someone, to me, is an incredibly intimate thing. I think that if metamours want to share calendars they absolutely should, but I don’t think that the pivot partner (the person in the middle) should decide when that happens. At some point it might be helpful for your girlfriend to be able to see both your calendar and your wife’s calendar, especially if she interacts with both of you regularly, but it should be up to everyone when this happens. When I say up to everyone, I also mean there won’t be a conversation like ‘Ok we are all going to share calendars now’ near the beginning of your relationship with your new girlfriend.
3. If Things get Hairy, Call a Meeting
This tip stems from a huge regret of mine. Meet in person. I don’t care how busy the three of you are, if something is becoming a huge issue get all three of you in a room together and talk about it. If this isn’t possible due to distance, go for the next best thing (skype meeting anyone?). A small miscommunication can turn in to a huge problem if it turns in to triangular communication via text message. Texting has a lot of consequences, and I try my absolute best to not communicate feelings or issues through text. I texted a question to my partner about my metamour (I thought she had blocked me on a social networking site), and what should have happened was I should have texted him and asked for a ‘team’ meeting in the next week. My relationship with that particular metamour was rocky to begin with, but what I started was a cascade of triangular communication that ended in some harsh words being said to me and a very damaged metamour relationship that has yet to be repaired.
So even if you are a little worried about metamour not getting on, or if you are a metamour with concerns, getting the three of you to talk face to face is important.
4. Inclusion is Important
I like to say that as a poly person, you can assume nothing. Your relationship has nothing assumed or implied about it. Every poly relationship is built with a lot of expectation setting and discussion. How will holidays look? How do you prefer to be introduced? The way that I play out inclusion, is if I do something notable for one partner, I try to match the gesture to the other if I can. If I get a small gift for one partner, I’ll get something else for the other partner. I don’t always do this, but I think that it is a good way to show both of them you care. The other big example is family portraits. If I end up doing portraits with one partner, I try to provide the option for photos with the other and group pictures as well if possible. So everyone knows I love them and they are all important parts of my poly family.
5. Your Actions do not Exist in a Vacuum
No matter how careful we are, our actions will have ripple effects. My actions will affect not only my partner by my metamour. I need to consider the whole ‘family’ when I make a decision. Of course I want to make sure my needs are met and my boundaries are being respected, but I also want to spend a few more moments to think about how something I do will affect my metamour. If my boyfriend and I make the decision to move in together (which we recently did) it has the potential to change his relationship with his other girlfriend. We sat down and talked about this, and although the decision is ultimately ours, we did our best to consider our other partners as well.