Polyamory open relationships differ from standard monogamous partnerships, in the fact that polyamory allows for multiple partners to be involved, as supposed to just one dedicated and restricted partner.
These multiple partners may or may not be involved with each other.
This is, they may or may not overlap romantically and or sexually but it is arranged beforehand, consented and agreed to when setting up the rules of the relationship.
Everyone confirming these relationships may decide to know and meet each other or not. In fact, some may decide to also get involved romantically or/and only sexually or others may decide not to be involved.
What is the role of a metamour?
One of the initial and most important questions that one may ask themselves when entering the world of open relationships, specifically in the world of polyamory is, what is a metamour?
A metamour is the term commonly employed to define a partner’s partner, involved in a polyamory relationship. The word metamour is the combination of the words “met” and “love”.
In Greek, it means “lover of the spouse”, or “secondary partner” which can be a bit of a confronting or awkward term to get used to at first. Especially if new to polyamorous relationships.
In other words, a metamour is a person who is implicated in a private, emotional, romantic and/or sexual relationship with an intimate partner of yours.
Metamours can have a friendship-type relationship, they can be lovers or both. They may have even known each other from the past or even been friends earlier in time before becoming involved sexually or emotionally. A metamour may also be involved in a relationship with one person or multiple people.
Metamours is the group of people or person/s whom your partner is dating, having an intimate, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with, but the main partner is not dating these individuals directly.
The level of inwardness and/or sex is something that is decided and agreed upon by all the individuals in the polycule.
In Polyamory relationships, all the individuals conforming to the relationship, usually know about their existence with each other, regardless of if they choose to get along, spend time together or restrict their relationship to just know about their existence.
Oftentimes, in lengthy polyamory relationships, metamours do become quite emotionally, romantically and sexually invested, they have met, have a good relationship and most of the time know about the rules, boundaries and contract agreements of the poly relationship.
Depending on their situation, they may decide to meet their metamour/s, as some people involved in a polyamory relationship, prefer meeting and know, at least minimally, about the partners whom their main partner spends time, life and intercourse with.
Deciding to meet a metamour is definitely a personal choice and it has to be agreed upon and consented to by the people compiling the poly open relationship. There is no right or wrong when it comes to practising a polyamory arrangement, it is different for everyone and there are not really official rules. The key is that all the individuals in the polycule have given consent to how the relationship is going to be carried out like.
Some people who are involved in an open relationship or polyamory partnership, do think that meeting and having at least a friendship or being acquaintances with the metamours is categorically necessary for the success of their poly relationship.
In contrast, others, do not wish to connect or touch base with their metamours at all, as they consider their polyamory arrangement a more bracketed and compartmentalised type of relationship, where metamours don’t relate to one another.
This kind of polyamory is what is informally defined as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” (the metamours, as per request, do not know about outside relationships). This is the sort of relationship where partners are not interested in knowing or hearing about their metamours.
As mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong, both ways in polyamory alliances are valid, as metamours do have a pivotal role in the “management” of the relationship. This is, they have a big influence on critical aspects such as the time available to be deployed to the relationship or the attention given to partners.
They have the “control” of the overall emotional and interpersonal dynamics of how the individuals conforming to the polycule relate with each other and their respective partners.
The success of a polyamory ring relies on how the “metamours” fit within the boundaries of the relationship. That fit will later determine if the whole poly will develop into a “kitchen table polyamory” or a “parallel relationship”.
This is because the metamours will sometimes click well with each other and other times not so much, if at all. What is crucial though is that everyone is on the same page, with clear thoughts on how the status of the poly is at. Trust and communication are key factors to always promote. Thus, allowing for conflicts and misunderstandings to be resolved within the relationship as promptly as possible.
Despite not being an excluding condition to love a metamour, it is important to understand that there are certain interpersonal skills required to make the relationship successful, just in like any other relationships such as friendships, flatmates and roommates.
It doesn’t have to be a “kitchen table” type of polyamory per se, but good enough so that it doesn’t cause a major conflict and issues in the polycule down the track such as jealousy and big negative vibes.
The idea behind metamourship is essentially to behave well with your lover's other lover. This is as you would normally relate on good terms with any other friend. In polyamorous relationships, metamours may have a friendship and or sex with, or not.
Usually, it is the case that metamours often have a close friendship or relationship with each other, where they share and get involved in daily activities together, in other words, they get along to be able to hang out together.
What are the main types of metamours?
There are fundamentally six types of metamours:
- Primary partners: Partners are romantically involved with each other. The setting of this romance can be in the same household or not and they may also have additional lovers or sexual partners outside the emotional and romantic alliance.
- Secondary partners: Partners who are dating each other (mainly sexually) but are not romantically invested in each other. They are already involved in primary relationships. They can also, simply not be interested in being emotionally or romantically related. This type of metamours is also based on not dating each other's lover/s.
- Friendships: Partners have no romantic or sexual interest in one another but choose to carry on with their friendship-type relationship. Partners are dating other external people and usually, one of the partners has a sexual or emotional interest in meeting the other partner’s lover. Virtually, all members of the relationship are friends, regardless of their sexual or romantic attraction to each other, it might or might not exist. The main connection is friendship.
- Intimate partners: Partners are in a primary couple, which is considered “the main couple” and everyone else in the polycule is considered secondary (metamours). The primary couple has an exclusive intimate relationship, this is essentially romantically and emotionally and although there might be occasions for having other sexual partners, they still consider each other their primary partners above the rest of the parties. Intimate metamours are considered "best friends" and they are similar to primary partners.
- Positive metamour/partners: All partners within the polycule have mutual acceptance and respect for each other. It allows and cherishes all parties to be happy with each other’s lovers and external partners.
- Indifferent partners/negative metamour: All partners in the relationship have no interest, feelings, attractions and often times any regard towards each other.
A metamour is the term used in polyamory relationships to define the partner of your partner’s partner. This is two individuals who share a partner, but who may not be lovers themselves.
A metamour is a unique emotional and physical connection that individuals in a polyamory relationship get to enjoy in contrast to those standard monogamous relationships.
Polyamory may not be for everyone, but being part of one and having a metamour is an incredible chance to expand friendships, romance, love and sexual connections.
Meeting the metamours is a process that can be a sensitive and sometimes touchy subject, for which everyone involved should always be respectful, highly communicative and overall understanding about the timing that this process takes to develop properly.
It is pivotal that in a metamour relationship, all partners have their own needs worth the respect and regard of the rest of the parties involved. To avoid conflicts, simply apply the following rules:
- Keep track and control of negative emotions.
- Above all, respect and fulfil the agreed-upon boundaries.
- Communicate honestly with all partners.
- Never make any decisions or assumptions about the partner of your partner.