Metamour Day is meant to foster positive relationships between you and your metamours, whatever that might look like. It is not about forced compersion. It’s about communal appreciation within our family structures. Metamour Day is a celebration of the unique and special relationships between metamours.
As society evolves and non-monogamy becomes more common, the traditional nuclear family structure is constantly being challenged. Metamours are often taking on important family roles such as cohabitators and parental figures.
It is important to acknowledge and appreciate the special role a metamour has in your partners’ lives and tangentially (or directly) your own life. As a non-monogamous person, it is worthwhile to celebrate that relationship in order to continue to demonstrate the supportive and beneficial impact of non-monogamy on our lives.
Please join the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in celebrating this day on February 28!
For newcomers: Your metamour is your lover's lover in a poly relationship. Good relations among metamours, at least as an ideal, is a defining characteristic of polyamory — compared to other forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) such as open relationships, which are more compartmentalized and often more about sex; swinging (recreational sex at party venues); or simply dating around. Polyamory, by contrast, carries an implied ethic of "We're all in this together."1
People in polyamorous relationships routinely find that existing language lacks the words they need to describe their experiences. As a result, they tend to make up words of their own to explain their emotions and relationships. For instance, they created the word compersion to describe the joyful feeling some polyamorists get when they see their beloved happily involved with someone else. ...
Another home-made polyamorous word, metamour is the term for a partner’s partner. Your girlfriend’s sweetie or husband’s boyfriend is [your] metamour. As friends or chosen family members, metamours are linked through a polyamorous relationship but are not in a romantic relationship with each other. Rather, they are members of the same polycule (a family/small network of people united around a shared polyamorous relationship, not all of whom are lovers but share lovers in common) and hang out together to various degrees.
Why are they important?
For more than 20 years I have been studying polyamorous families with kids, and I have seen them face the usual difficulties that come with life – illness, economic challenges, divorce, disability, and the like. What has stood out to me about these families who remain together in long-term polycules – some of them for 60 or more years – is that the metamour relationships make or break the family over the long term. These emotionally intimate, non-sexual chosen family relationships are so important in polyamorous families that I made up the word polyaffective to describe them. I explain different types of polyaffective relationships and their impact on family resilience in other blogs.
Positive polyaffective relationships among metamours who become chosen family over time are the backbone of the poly family. Metamours who can’t stand each other and are never able to establish comfort (much less delight) in each others’ presence are not going to happily coexist over the long term. Metamours who add value to each others’ lives, however, can not only support each other when life inevitably throws them a curve ball, but also support the polyamorous relationship with their mutual partner if it falls on hard times. ...
...If you are lucky enough to have a metamour with whom you share compersion, celebrate them on February 28!
● Of course there are kitchen-table heartwarmers for such purposes:
...I was confident they’d get along. Besides the obvious, they have several things in common: They both love cats, feminism, and, of course, Tex-Mex food. This would give us at least three topics to talk about, even if things got awkward.
Why Meeting Metamours Matters
...In my experience and for many polyamorous folk I know, meeting other lovers can alleviate jealousy and reduce relationship drama. Until you meet, “the other” is a scary unknown; if we let our imaginations run away, we can inflate them into something perfect and unattainable, and most importantly, better than me. But when you do meet, you find out they’re just another human.
“Keeping them at arm’s length, never experiencing their actual humanity as a person, limits the potential of that relationship,” said Kiki Christie, a polyamorous and sex positive relationship educator from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
“One of my early relationships was with a couple that was married,” Kiki told me. “I got to know my partner’s wife really well. They were living in a different city, so every time I went to visit him I would spend time with her, because it was at their home.”
Because they shared each other’s company so often, she felt safe bringing up problems and dealing with difficult emotions.
“Being in a familiar relationship with my partner’s partner, with her, meant that I felt more open about talking about my feelings to both of them. I didn’t feel like my communication had to be mitigated at all,” Kiki said. “If I had an issue I could speak directly.”
Genuine affection and connection blossomed between Kiki and her partner’s wife. They became such close friends that “we spent some holiday time together without my partner around. We just became very comfortable with each other. In fact he and I broke up, and she and I are still very good friends.”
Like Kiki, I shared a partner with a metamour for years. Our relationship remained platonic, but the intimacy we formed was genuine. We even had pet names for each other. The friendship outlasted our mutual relationship too, and we even got matching tattoos.
As Kiki said of her friendship, “It was its own relationship and it ultimately enhanced the poly relationship.”
Challenges And Fears
...“There’s going to be metamours that you don’t really click with, that you don’t want to be friends with, or that you might not even like all that much,” [Kiki] cautioned. “So how do you manage to still have a sustainable relationship through that? Focusing on people as individuals can help.”
...Even when I’ve felt jealous of one of my metamours, witnessing their small gestures of kindness and affection together during a meeting helps me open my heart to a better understanding of what my partner sees in them. When I’m challenged by difficult emotions, I focus on my partner’s happiness and often find I can share in it a little.
As Kiki explained, mutual respect is key when metamour relationships are challenging:
“If you’re constantly thinking of this person as someone who’s attached to my partner, or someone you’re not relating to one-on-one as an individual, even if you don’t particularly get along with them or see eye-to-eye with them, you’re not giving them or the relationship the respect it deserves. It’s like a relationship with a coworker you don’t get along with — you still have to see them as a person.”
Especially when there’s tension or distrust, we both believe metamour meetings can be crucial. ...
1. Backup, with benefits. ...like when (I've actually heard this one) "I don't like anal sex but my partner does, so when he finds a partner who likes it, I cheer and feel compersive!" Can also be applied to more mundane but equally subjective activities like skiing, movie-going, an affinity for jazz or love of dogs. ...
2. The Emergency Contact. ...
3. The Distraction. Someone who you know loves your partner who will go on a date with them while you're on a date with a Very Hot New Person.
4. The FWB for a threesome weekend, etc. Why not? ...
5.The sister/brother/wife/husband you always dreamed of. Share the pain, the joys, the chores and burping the baby. We. Are. Family. (If you can't hear funky music by now, you're younger than I am, but that's okay, sister)!
6. This is the biggest one, and the one I'm not at all inclined to make fun of. It's more than family. It is, in fact, true intimacy -- with someone your intimate partner is intimate with. With someone who loves your partner so much -- as you love them so much -- that the love just carries on over to everyone who is doing the loving.
I sit with him. His head is bowed, and he looks tired and sad. If tears could leak out of his eyes, they would. But my boyfriend has been trained not to cry....
There are some situations the polyamorous literature rarely covers. What to do when your boyfriend is grieving the loss of his lover?
...If it were me who’d been broken up with, I’d have some anger, some justifiable explanation of why he was wrong and I was right. But it’s not me. I have no anger, no justification. Nothing to water down the sorrow I feel on his behalf. I try to counter with some useless platitudes like, “Well, you’ll find someone else.” ... But in the end, I just keep quiet and listen.
“She changed,” he says. “Here one minute, the girl who was brimming with love and then her heart switched off. This girl, I don’t know her. So it’s not her now I’m grieving, it’s the girl I met. We were so happy.”
I know. I saw them together. It was a whirlwind of passion, tender moments and the look I haven’t seen on his face since – well, since we met all those years ago. He lost her. And we lost our dreams. Love with that depth doesn’t strike every day, every month or every year.
He speaks of her. Of memories. Of what ifs. Of his confusion. I try my best not to think guiltily about my own lover, my other significant other, sleeping in the bedroom. This heartbreak is his alone. And I am the lucky one.
But I miss her, too. We are still friends, supposedly. And yet everything has changed. She’s not coming over every other day. Her laughter doesn’t sound in the kitchen anymore. We have no exotic perfume traces on the sofa, the bedsheets or my clothes that she tried on and were three sizes too big for her.
...And I cry for him. ...
● Practical advice for a new kind of first get-together that you're probably nervous about: Meeting your Metamour, by Jess Mahler (July 21, 2016)
Some poly folk object to the term metamour. They feel like it forces them into a relationship with their partner’s other partner. To which I say, get over it.
Metamour is no different than “in-law” or “co-worker” or “classmate”. You share a connection with this other person through a common point of interest. ...
As I outlined last week, there are good practical reasons for meeting your metamour. Not having a "relationship" with them. Not becoming friends. Just… meeting them.
...Most cultures say you and this other person should hate each other for daring to love the same person. Instead, you are going to sit down and have a polite conversation, without the hidden war of words drama shows love.
Respect and honesty are the basis of polyamory etiquette. Keep that in mind as we go forward. ...
On being introduced:
...After introductions, you have a choice.
You can treat it like nay meeting with a new person. Spend some time getting to know them, what their interests are, make some small talk. This can help lay the groundwork for further conversation.
You can clear the air. Given the way many cultures view non-monogamy, there is likely to be tension. You can start by stating your feelings/concerns/discomfort areas and giving your metamour a chance to do the same. Then talk it out.
Clearing the air.... [which uses Episode 5 of the fictional webseries Compersion for detailed dos and don'ts.]
● Be okay with metas gossiping about you, because they're gonna. Remember, in complex relationships a sense of humor will get you through times of no sanity better than sanity will get you through times of no humor.
● Rebecca Crane gave a Metamour Intensiveworkshop at the 2012 Transcending Boundaries conference:
...Thank you for enriching his life. You can give him things I never can; for the simple reason that you are not me. ... With that, you hand him another mirror to look into. You can show him things about himself that I never can.
...You have a different past. With that, you can teach him things I never can.
Thank you for being so brave and courageous to see him and to receive him. Because you know of my existence. I see you. I see that it takes guts to take of your clothes for a man who has a woman who knows about you. You didn’t run away. Instead you came closer.
...He’s lovely, isn’t he?
With all my heart I hope you enjoyed every moment you spent and will spend with him. ...
There’s only one thing I ask of you:
See me. ...
1. Your metamour, or "meta," is not deeply involved with you by definition. Otherwise you would be "partners" or "co-partners with". But even if you don't see much of each other or even much like each other, polyamory carries the expectation that you will treat each other with respect and good-heartedness and honor your partner's connection with them. Many polyfolks develop their network of partners and metas into extended family, or hope to. Think of a traditional extended family. Maybe you're great pals with your brother-in-law, or maybe you're just as glad to see him drive away after Thanksgiving. Either way, in a healthy extended family there's a sense that you'll treat each other as family and be there for each other to some reasonable degree. Your sister (let's say) chose him as her mate, and your first response should be to respect her choice.