Metamour Relationships: Should You Be Friends with Your Partner’s Partner?

If you are currently in a polyamorous relationship, or are thinking of entering into a polyamorous relationship, it is likely that you will have one or more metamours at some point. Your metamour is someone who is also dating your partner, but with whom you are not also romantically or sexually involved with. For example, if Tanya and Derrick are both dating Sarah, but are not dating each other, Tanya and Derrick are metamours with one another. If Tanya is also dating Liz, and Derrick is married to Stephen, Liz and Stephen are also metamours with Sarah. In this example, Tanya, Derrick, Sarah, Liz, and Stephen all make up one polycule – a system of connected non-monogamous relationships, whether they are all dating or not.

It is important for mental health clinicians to understand the relationships between metamours as well, especially if they have clients in polyamorous relationships. Metamour relationships can be both very healthy and respectful, but can also be very strained and more toxic. Understanding these relationships is imperative for helping your polyamorous clients, as these relationships can be just as supportive or just as stressful as the relationships between partners.

As in many other aspects of relationships and sexuality, metamour relationships exist on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is Kitchen Table Polyamory, in which the idea is that all individuals within a polycule can and do interact and develop friendships with one another. In this type of polyamory, metamours and partners alike will feel comfortable having a cup of coffee and sitting at the kitchen table together. On the other end of the spectrum is Parallel Polyamory, in which metamours know of each others existence but do not interact. The metamours in this relationship are not friends and may never meet. They often do not know much about one another.

Between these two extremes is a middle ground; metamours may not be best friends and may not hang out with one another, but they may be friends on social media and reach out to one another occasionally. For example, it is not uncommon for metamours to work together to plan a birthday party for the partner that they share.

In many relationships, it may not be necessary or even feasible for metamours to meet in person, especially if one person is long-distance. If these metamours do want to meet, it is possible to have them meet via Skype, FaceTime, or some other videochat platform. This enables metamours to become familiar with one another, even if they live across the world from each other.

Each of these kinds of metamour relationships are possible, and each partner will be more comfortable with different types of relationships with their metamours. However, at each end of the spectrum, it is possible to want to know too much or to want to know too little about your metamour.

For example, if one partner is constantly asking about their metamour, their life, and the relationship they have with their partner, this may slowly move into the realm of being an invasion of privacy for that metamour. If you are a partner who is constantly asking these questions about your metamour(s), it may be beneficial for you to ask yourself why these answers are important to you. You may want to take a moment to step back and ask yourself whether knowing this information is important to maintaining your own relationship with your partner.

On the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to want to know too little about your metamour(s). If you are shutting down your partner whenever they have an interest in talking about their other partner(s), or if there are rules within your home that the names of your metamours cannot be spoken, you may need to ask yourself where this is coming from and if this is a healthy way of interacting with your partner or developing your metamour relationship.

Both of these reactions are likely a reaction to insecurities, either insecurities within yourself, your relationship, or with your partner’s partner. Are you comparing yourself to your metamour? Are you questioning your own relationship with your partner? Are you reacting to your insecurity with yourself? Asking these questions of yourself may help bring some clarity to your relationships, and working on these things can lead to a more healthy polyamorous relationship and more healthy metamour relationships.

Mental health clinicians can also benefit from knowing the types of metamour relationships your clients have. There is a chance that this will give you some insight on where your clients’ anxiety, insecurity, or fears are coming from. Furthermore, if you know that the metamours in a polycule have a close relationship, and you are seeing a couple because the relationship between the two partners is strained, you can encourage your clients to utilize their support system, which includes their metamours.

No matter what type of metamour relationship you and your partner(s) prefer, it is always important to remember: you and your metamours are on the same team! You and your metamour(s) love the same person, and can always connect over how amazing and wonderful that person is. Try not to compete with your metamours; your partner loves each of you for different reasons, and competing with a metamour just adds undue stress to each of your lives. Even if you believe you have nothing in common, you actually have something very important in common: you both have the same partner. And isn’t that person worth getting along for?

-Steph.

[1] Mahler, J. (2016). Kitchen table polyamory, parallel polyamory, and etiquette. Jess Mahler. Retrieved on November 17, 2018 from https://jessmahler.com/kitchen-table-polyamory-parallel-polyamory-etiquette/

[2] Turner, P. (2018). Parallel polyamory, kitchen table polyamory, and knowing the details or not. Poly.Land. Retrieved on November 21, 2018 from https://poly.land/2018/04/03/parallel-polyamory-kitchen-table-polyamory-knowing-details-not/

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