I first glimpsed non-monogamy in the real world as a record-store cashier. My co-worker, Mel, was the essence of cool: lanky and laid-back, she had a pinup bombshell of a girlfriend. They checked other girls out from behind the counter together, and talked about their separate affairs. Mixing romantic partnership with sex gossip (and music nerdery!) seemed like the apex of relationship bliss. If only I’d been born without jealousy, I thought. I never imagined that years later, without a lick of resentment, I’d be planning my husband’s birthday with another woman: his girlfriend, my “metamour.”
Metamours date the same person (a hinge partner), but unlike a triad, they’re not romantically involved with each other. Imagine experiencing all the moments and complications of dating with a bestie: fawning over your shared partner’s cute outfit, commiserating over his grouchy mood. Some metamours prefer to never meet, but regardless of intimacy level, loving or lusting after the same person is a bond that deserves the utmost respect. Interested? Here’s how to cultivate a healthy relationship with your partner’s partner—with a little help from the r/polyamory community on Reddit.
You’re not required to meet your metamour. Dating the same person is a delicate situation, and everyone handles it differently: some want close communication between everyone (kitchen table polyamory), and others want the buffer of ignorance (don’t ask, don’t tell). All strategies work, as long as they’re what feels right. Don’t just adhere to the boundaries; respect them.
Outline your desires
Non-monogamy can be overwhelming. Are you comfortable meeting your metamour? Being close friends? Living together? It’s important to discuss your preferences and then discuss them again when things inevitably evolve. If you’re close with your meta, you might even feel OK blurting out, “I’m not ready to be a sister wife!” and she’ll understand.
Let it unfold organically
“Keeping distance early can enable more connection later,” says Reddit user emeraldead. “Pushing early can destroy what potential may exist!” If you want to meet your meta, don’t force it. The world will eventually bring you together. And pay attention to cues. After my meta grilled my husband about our arrangement, I knew she was hyper-communicative.
The metamour meeting can be magical—your love often extends to one another. “I’m a trans woman, and this is my first poly relationship,” says Reddit user SabrinaMcG. “When I first went to my bf’s house, my meta made me feel so welcome in their home. She also gave me so many clothes that I couldn’t carry them all.”
Meeting a meta can also be awkward, so have an escape. I took my husband to see my boyfriend’s band. My husband got to know him from afar, and they met between sets, so there was an easy out if they didn’t get along. (They did—metas often do.)
“My meta and I watch musicals together,” says CalloftheTriforce, “because our hinge partner doesn’t enjoy things like Singin’ in the Rain. My favorite memory is canning pickles with my meta while singing musical numbers...our partner was hiding.”
Know that jealousy happens
Some folks are blessed with “compersion,” the feeling of joy or arousal at their partner’s satisfaction by another. Compersion is a sexual superpower that’s delightful, but not necessary.
“I can be supported and secure and jealous and insecure; one doesn’t cancel out the other, and [polyamory] operates just fine in that space,” says emeraldead.
When jealousy happens, acknowledge it without acting on it. Why did your metamour trigger it? Are you fearful of being replaced? Do they bring out insecurities about your appearance, emotional adeptness, intellect, or sexual prowess? As much as it stings, understanding these insecurities can illuminate their triviality. If you feel comfortable admitting it, own your jealousy rather than blaming someone else. Remember that, in most cases, jealousy fades.
The metamour bond requires being cool, considerate, and communicative, but don’t fret. It seems like non-monogamous lovers are supernaturally evolved, but in reality, we’ve arrived here thanks to baby steps, humor, and communication. –Erin K. Barnes
By Erin. K. Barnes
Illustration by Dilek Baykara
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