Virtually every fledgling polyamorist has to overcome a certain hurdle:
Your partner has other partners.
Your partner’s other partner, to which you have no romantic connection, is called your metamour.
In my experience, the interactions between metamours will determine the success of any poly engagement. When sharing partners, metamours also have a relationship with each other. One that must be cultured and respected. If metamours have good experiences with each other, it builds a very healthy relationship dynamic between all three people. If metamours have any stewing enmity towards each other, it will yield tremendously poor results.
Before I fire into this guide to the art of metamouring, there are two really solid concepts I would like to drive home:
- Talk about things beforehand.
So much trouble can be avoided with preventative measures.
- When in doubt, leave no trace.
One of the hardest parts about polyamory is sharing partners with a metamour. Unless you have a pre-established discretion, it can be very jarring for metamours to come across evidence of each other.
With that established, we can fire ahead into the guide with many of the FAQs about good metamour relations!
What should metamours know about each other?
Your partners may feel more comfortable sharing you if they know their metamours personally. It prevents them crafting this grandiose idea for them to compete with. Like Rob says in High Fidelity: No woman in the history of the world is having better sex than the sex you are having with Ian… in my head.
Find out what one partner does and does not want to know about your others. While they may want to know whenever you have an encounter with explicit, literotica-esque details; they may want to only know when you have a new sexual partner. Discuss the details they are comfortable receiving and the details they are comfortable having you share with your other partner(s). It goes without saying, but Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell is usually an awful idea.
When you decide to start disclosing information about one partner to the next is your discretion. For a lot of the people I’ve talked to, they ballpark it about a month. By then, the relationship is old enough to not be a passing fling, but not so old that you’ve missed a chance to solidify your engagement.
Significant others can be very territorial. They may be ok with the idea of you sleeping around, just not in the bed you share.
If your partners don’t know what role their metamours have in your life, they could feel like their own role is at risk. Explaining your interest in one partner to a different partner is a very precarious balance. Ideally, don’t mention something they can’t do. Try and mention something they won’t do. I’m totally not bothered by my lady seeing Paul, because the two of them are really into horror films (I can’t watch them for the life of me). I’m an ageplay daddy for another partner, my lady isn’t bothered by that because she has zero interest in calling me daddy in the bedroom.
How to be a good metamour when not around your metamours?
- When in doubt, leave no trace
Unless you’ve established being comfortable with it, minimize the visibility of your relationships to your other relationships. Throw out condoms, don’t leave hickies, don’t tell stories, watch posts on Facebook. People are fine with the idea of their partners having other partners, but the sudden and immediate evidence of it can be very jarring.
- Minimize gossiping
Be cautious when talking about partners/metamours you may have around partners/metamours they may have. Good gossiping or bad gossiping, it’s thin ice. Because virtually none of your partners is an unbiased party concerning any of your other partners.
How to be a good metamour when around your metamours?
- Have a good first impression
If you’re different partners are meeting for the first time, warn them beforehand! It really does help to have some time to prepare yourself mentally to meet a metamour. Ideally, you can meet in a nice nuetral location, like a coffee shop or a local polyamory meetup group event. Try not to meet at one person’s home or a location shared by only two members, like a bar where only two regularly meet.
- How to act
When you’re around your metamours, it’s always safe to act like you’re meeting your partner’s parents. Be on your best behavior. You are meeting someone who’s opinion of you can make or break your relationship.
- Give gifts
Great on a first meeting, birthday, valentines! Even if you aren’t super tight with your metamours, it does wonders to roll them a cigarette when you meet them for the first time, bring a bottle of great wine to their party, bake them some cookies for their birthday, get your vertex some lingerie your metamour gets to see first.
- Check your PDAs
If you haven’t talked about it beforehand, try and limit physical interaction to a kiss/hug hello and goodbye. Talk about it beforehand, though. Your partner might be okay with you holding hands with their metamour, but not at the same time they are holding your hand. Even slight affection might end up getting measured for comparison.
How to be the vertex of two metamours?
- Be objective
Be as impartial as is humanly possible. Treat it like they are two of your friends meeting for the first time, because that’s what it really is.
- Don’t push
Your metamours don’t always have to be friends. Sure it makes threeways a lot easier, but that should happen naturally. They’ve probably already got plenty in common, and the flowers of friendship will bloom all on their own.