Polyamory 101: Metamours and More

Lately, I've been writing some 101 articles for the blog; you can find them using the poly101 label on the site. In this article, I'm addressing a key idea behind polyamorous relationships.

A metamour is your partner's partner.

Okay, work with me. Let's play with a few scenarios.

Imagine for a minute that you're polyamorous and you've got a husband and a boyfriend. Your husband and boyfriend are metamours.

Switch it: your husband's girlfriend is your metamour.

And one more time: your girlfriend and your other girlfriend and your other girlfriend and your wife are metamours!

Now, is your boyfriend's girlfriend your metamour? Sure!

Is there a criteria that you're having sex with these people? Not at all! Sex isn't required.

And is your boyfriend's girlfriend your husband's metamour?

Ummm ... Well, that's probably a matter of opinion.

Do metamours exist more than one jump out?  Can someone three or four hops away from you in your network be your metamour? In my circle, the answer here would be no: my girlfriend and my wife's boyfriend's girlfriend aren't metamours.

Maybe it doesn't end at a couple of hops for you. The number of hops away probably doesn't matter anyway.

Metamours have a certain connotation in our circle. A metamour is somebody with whom you don't share a direct loving relationship with but you are still sharing a relationship. You're sharing time, energy, and commitment. You're sharing another person. In our circles, a metamour is a person we're invested in. That means we spend time with these people and build a meaningful, extended community. Our metamours are our intentional family.

Yeah, okay, not all poly-peoples recognize metamours as being so familial. Some even believe that metamours owe each other nothing: they have simplistic dyadic relationships with a mutual partner and that's all. There isn't any kind of investment let alone a requirement to talk or get along. I've even seen some instances where inquisitive metamours who try reaching out to another are swatted away as being too intrusive or controlling. And I've seen metamours never meet each other - a mysterious other partner who nobody's ever met nor talked to.Yikes.

Now, this isn't bad. It's just different. And different is okay-dokey. Really.

Well, myself, I'd find it difficult to get what I want if nobody wants to talk through issues and resolve problems. If everyone is huddled up in their own little corners and incapable of finding common ground - or not interested in working together, totally ignoring their metamours or not investing themselves in their metamours' happiness - well, I think that would foster suspicion, fear, sadness, and animosity.  Who wants to introduce that kinda of Drama Llama into your life?