Guest Contributor Edition: "A Letter to My Metamour"
It may be an "off" week for the advice column, but I recently came across an extraordinary piece of writing on social media that I could not not share with you all.
One of the most frequent observations made about my #polyamfam is the fact that my partners all have relationships with one another in addition to their relationships with me. I don't mean that they all date or sleep with one another, but they all get along, can share space with each other, and are invested in each other's well being. That being said, one of the most frequent questions I field is something along the vein of "How do I build and sustain a relationship with my metamour?". And there's a BIG reason for that!
Building a relationship with one's metamour - if desired or expected - is one of the most difficult parts of non-monogamy. In the process of shedding the societal scripts of monogamy that have been bred into us by our culture, automatically assuming nefarious intent of those interested in our partner(s) is one of the hardest lessons to unlearn. Getting rid of the idea that a person who has intimate feelings for a partner of ours' must be "violating" or "disrespecting" us with their "manipulations" or "duplicity" often involves a stark facing of our own insecurities, a process of working through competitive impulses, and a conscious effort to get to know your metamour(s) not as looming shadowy figures waiting to "steal" our partner(s), but as HUMAN BEINGS.
But how do you initiate a relationship with your metamour?
The letter below (shared with permission) was written by a woman who - despite having eight years of non-monogamy experience under her belt - had been deeply struggling with how to "break the ice" with a new metamour. It's so authentically raw, genuine, honorable, and heartfelt that I wanted to share it as a model for future folks to utilize if/when they find themselves in similar circumstances. I especially love that the author is comfortable acknowledging her vulnerability and that she openly admits to struggling despite this being FAR from her first rodeo. Goes to show that non-monogamy is a lifelong process. I hope you find it as beautiful and precious as I did.
I don’t know how familiar you are with polyamory, so in case you don’t know, I’d like to explain the idea of a metamour. Literally it means "a love of a love", but in the poly community it refers to a partner’s partner. Because you matter to my girlfriend, you automatically matter to me. And I want to welcome you.
I met you in person, and I appreciate your respect and kindness towards me. I noticed when you and my girlfriend were flirting, and you would pass me by and reach your hand out to squeeze mine. It helped remind me I still mattered and existed, in a space where I was struggling at times to feel secure in watching the great chemistry between you two. I noticed how positively you engaged with me and asked me questions about myself. I was also glad to learn tidbits about you too. You make a stellar first impression. I think you are beautiful, kind, passionate, joyful, and do meaningful work in this world. I absolutely understand why my girlfriend is drawn to you. I have not yet had a positive ongoing relationship with a metamour, as the few experiences in my past did not go well or last long for a variety of reasons. However, I would really like to have a positive relationship with you.
I don’t know if you share similar fears or insecurities of mine that a person we care about shares time and energy between us. Perhaps you are not fazed. Perhaps you feel compersion consistently ("compersion", if it’s new to you, is the idea of feeling joy at another’s joy, where one feels happy their partner is happy with someone else. It’s often thought of as the opposite of jealousy).
Without asking a lot of emotional labor from you, I would like to give you a glimpse into where I am at, with the hopes that it brings you an awareness to some tender places in my heart and an understanding of my commitments to support your and my girlfriends’ budding relationship. Sometimes I’ve felt scared, lonely, or insecure when my girlfriend told me she was going to spend time away from our home to see you. Or when I saw you two having so much fun together at that party. I recognize that these fears and insecurities are mine to own, and my areas of growth for more self-love.
I want you to know that while I feel scared, I am incredibly intentional not to tell my girlfriend what she can or cannot do. She is her own person and I only have control over my choices. So I commit to you that I will do my personal work to work through my fears and insecurities, so that I do not dampen the light that shines from my girlfriend when she’s glowing about you.
Other times, I get to a beautiful place of compersion, where it feels good to hear stories about you and to feel my girlfriend’s interest in you beam out of her body. She likes you and I like to see her happy. I am grateful in anticipation of what you two will learn together, enjoy together, and how those positive effects will trickle into her relationship with me. I would like to feel these feelings more often, so as I said, I’m committed to doing my personal work to get there. I also would like to express an interest in getting to spend some more time with you. I am interested in having a positive connection with you, but I think you are a lot scarier as an unknown in my head than you are in real life (as if you could really be scary at all).
So if you have interest and availability, I would be honored to spend a couple hours sharing time with you and my girlfriend, preferably in a social space. I think it would help my process of feeling trust with you and ease some of my fears that have built up over time with past pains that have actually nothing to do with you but impact my fears about you anyway.
So, I hope you hear me that I don’t think you have anything you need to prove, and you don’t owe me time. I would consider it a gift and a peace offering, to help me feel more ease. Because I fiercely want to support you and my girlfriend being together. I know that you have wonderful offerings of care, adventure, and joy that will benefit her and help her feel whole. I know I cannot offer her everything, and I would never expect to be the only person she needs to feel happy. I think you and I have the potential to know each other in a very sweet way.
I hope you and I can tenderly connect in support of my support of your and her relationship. I also understand if my request does not feel like something you are interested or available to honor, and I welcome your no. If we were to spend time together, I would want it to feel good to you too, and not come from a sense of obligation. I would be honored by a reply to know how this message lands with you, regardless of whether or not you’d like to meet.
Blessings and Gratitude.