Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

February 28, 2024

Today is Metamour Day! Why February 28? It's Valentine's Day times two!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 29:  Missed it?  Put Metamour Day on your calendar for next year!

"Happy Metamour Day" card with cartoon of four hugging people making faces

Today, February 28, is Metamour Day"Honoring Polyamory's Most Distinctive Relationships."

Metamour Day arose five years ago out of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. NCSF is a nonprofit advancing the rights and legal safety of kinksters, polys, and sex-positive people generally. The idea was originally hatched two years earlier, posts cartoonist Anna D. Hirsch, a.k.a. PositivelyPolyAnna. She writes, 

"In 2017, I dreamed about a holiday to celebrate metamours. I bought the URLs MetamourDay.com and WorldMetamourDay.com. ... I was stoked to learn in 2019 that Keira Harbison, having the same important idea, along with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom launched a Metamour Day initiative, ​declaring February 28 as the day. Later, I shared some of my art with NCSF for their 2020 greeting card contestI am so happy that this idea is growing. I am grateful that NCSF picked a day and has done a ton of work to get the word out, so that we can all celebrate metamours even more.​"


So why is this a big deal?

Because look at that slogan: Honoring polyamory's most distinctive relationships.

Which is precisely on target.

Your metamour is your lover's other lover. The defining aspect of polyamory – the thing that distinguishes it from other forms of consensual non-monogamy such as open relationships and swinging – is the sense that your metas are significant full persons in regard to you, who require, at minimum, your consideration, respect, and basic good will. 

Even if you hardly know them and/or don't much like them, and even if ordinary politeness is as far as you go. A lot like extended family. Because polyamory carries an implicit ethic that for better or worse, "We're all in this together."

And of course, there's no limit to how close you and your metas may become. 

No other model of romantic love 
– that magical thing that has enraptured and tormented and driven humanity since humanity began – generalizes its magic into something broader, beyond the private couple-box where most societies have fearfully and rigorously packed it away.

Consider, for instance, that the basic human emotion of compersion did not even have a word until roughly 1980.

● From Elisabeth Sheff's Metamour Day article a while back, Delighting in Your Beloveds’ Other Lovers:

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.

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.

...By promoting Metamour Day, NCSF hopes “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."

If you are lucky enough to have a metamour with whom you share compersion, celebrate them on February 28!

● That bit about "the metamour relationships make or break the family over the long term"? That's not just Sheff's observation of the families in her own long-term study. Joanna Iwanowska of the University of Warsaw has published a paper titled Metamour Connections as the Underpinning of the Fabric of Polyamory.

"These bonds are significant and constitutive of polyamory," she writes;

...Polyamory stresses not so much the openness to having multiple romantic relationships, but the openness to having metamour relationships with other people. It is this second kind of openness – the openness to metamour contact and communication – that singles out a polyamorous person among other people who might be open to a multiplicity of romantic and/or sexual relationships, e.g. from such a monogamist who leads a double life.

...In a paper that appeared in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, Luke Brunning (2016) writes that “the presence of a third party is a constitutive feature of polyamory” (p. 9), and the third party is typically one’s metamour or a potential metamour. ... In addition to that, I argue that accepting the prospect of one’s partner dating another person entails agreeing to be in a relationship with this person, even if this relationship might remain indirect....  Metamour connections are the underpinning of the fabric of polyamory, and they deserve as much academic attention and research as the polyamorous romantic connections. ...

The paper then gets way more academical that I can follow (you need to know your Seneca and the Aristotelian tree model of reality), but those are the basic ideas.

● Cartoonist Tikva Wolf writes, "When things are good, bask in the joy!"

Courtesy KimchiCuddles.com, used by permission. Here are lots more
Kimchi Cuddles comics involving metamours (40 of them!)

●  A reading: What I Learned From Dinner With My Husband's Girlfriend (SheKnows, Aug. 25, 2023)

Ekaterina Popova/ Getty

By Trish Fancher

She was terrifying. A tall, blonde, vegan who was seven years younger than me — and she never wore a bra. She was my husband’s girlfriend.

...After they were dating for a few weeks, all three of us met for a drink at a run-down bar on the harbor. I wore a flowing yellow dress that showed off at least four inches of cleavage. I put on new lipstick and clenched my jaw. She arrived wearing a colorful flowing dress as well. She was certainly tall, blonde, and beautiful. I felt she was different from me in every way. ...

Over popcorn and wine, I remembered she was just a person, not a threat. Later, she’d become a friend. Now, dinner with my metamours—the polyam term for the partner of my partner—is an enriching part of my life.


...Until we sat down and shared a meal together, Per’s girlfriend was a threat — but in reality that threat was a figment of my imagination. Meeting her dispelled a fantasy. She wasn’t trying to take anything from me. She was a smart woman with her own life, needs, and desires. She could relate to Per about emotional experiences I didn’t understand. They added to each other’s happiness.

Now, these kinds of dinners are the norm and a source of joy. I practice “kitchen table polyamory,” which means that I hope all of my partners can, at the least, enjoy a nice meal together from time to time as friends. We have a group chat titled “In Pod We Trust”, a hold-over from when we were podded together earlier in the pandemic.

...Now, polyamory is an important and enriching part of my life. I still make mistakes: I hurt people and I get hurt. Deeply vulnerable relationships often include both joy and broken hearts. And it was often my metamours who helped me feel safe and cared for through the process. ...

My connections with my metamours are uniquely vulnerable and loving. My polyam community is my chosen family. We keep choosing each other and these complicated connections—with life-long loves, deep seated insecurities, heart breaks, and frequent tough conversations. We don’t choose each other because it’s easy. We choose each other because, through our complicated relationships, we can be deeply vulnerable and cared for.

This week, my entire polyam family was out of quarantine [after covid cases] for the first time in weeks. My ex-boyfriend’s wife texted our In Pod We Trust text thread to plan a picnic. Together with Per, his girlfriend, her husband and boyfriend, my ex and his wife, we feasted on a dinner of chips, hummus, figs, and pastries. We celebrated our recovery with the people with whom we can be the most vulnerable — and the people who know best how to care for me.

● From Kiki C.'s The Benefits of Metamours:

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.

● Best-case scenario, by Tikva:

● Here are NCSF's Metamour Day Things To Do suggestions (right-hand side). Browse PolyAnna's Metamour Day cards and print one out for your meta(s). Browse other swag.

● From The Establishment, a women's site on Medium.com, Why You Should Meet Your Partner’s Lovers

By Kit O'Connell

Two months ago, my lovers met over tacos.

...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.”

Anna Hirsch
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. ...

Small bumpersticker from Cafepress

●  And lastly, a warning: Metamour relations cannot be forced. You need to allow them to find their natural level.

Many metas have little or no interest in each other's company, and that's okay. No matter how much you may wish they did. Overbearing pressure for closeness between unwilling metas is a Known Creepy Thing. Open the door, yes. Invite them in, yes. But don't try to drag someone through that door. There is something more important than love, and that is respect.  

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