Learn about Polyamory: What is a Metamour?
There’s an enormous difference between polyamorous relationships and monogamous ones - and it isn’t that you can have more than one intimate relationship at a time! Instead it’s another connection, that of the metamour dynamic.
What is a metamour? Metamour is the term for a person who’s the partner of your partner. So if your spouse has a lady-love, she’s your metamour (and you’re hers). If your enbyfriend has a boyfriend, then you’re his metamour, and he’s yours. It’s a little like having in-laws, in the sense that often these aren’t people we intended to have a relationship with, but being in relation with them comes along with someone we did intend it with. And just like in-laws, some metamours can be amazing, and some can be challenging. Some you might have lots in common with, while others…well, with some it can be perplexing to know what your partner sees in them. Some are already present when you begin a relationship, while others might be added later on.
Along with this, there’s no one way to be a metamour. You might be (or become) best friends, be an acquaintance, a stranger, or remain someone you wave hello to at parties. For some people having one or more metamour is a perk of being polyamorous, while for others it can be neutral or challenging.
The metamour relationship can often have a learning curve for those new to consensual non-monogamy, and there are some useful concepts which can help.
Types of Metamour Connection
There are some terms you might hear which can be useful to have some awareness of, as they can describe the type of metamour connection two or more metamours can have (or for polycule dynamics more broadly). Bear in mind that while these are generally descriptive, sometimes people will use them prescriptively - in the sense that they’re actively attempting to create connections that fit a certain mould.
Kitchen table polyamory is generally used to describe connections where you’d be comfortable sitting down and sharing a cuppa in the morning, or eating a meal together. Each person can define it a little differently, but overall it suggests being comfortable with your metamours and having built friendships (or more) with them.
When it comes to garden party polyamory, metamours and the broader polycule might not necessarily be friends or close to one another, but will come together to celebrate events in the life of the mutual partner.
Parallel polyamory is what it says on the box: metamours run in parallel - that is, they generally don’t interact much or have anything to do with one another. Sometimes this is practical (logistics, distance) and sometimes by preference. It’s not inherently good or bad, although it can get complicated when one metamour prefers kitchen table and another wants parallel.
And finally, this one isn’t mentioned as often, but lap-sitting polyamory can refer to a metamour who wants to be much closer than their metamour (or their partner) is comfortable with, often desiring them as a best friend or lover.
Communication with Partners about Metamours
Due to being the person in common, partners are often the go-to to talk with when feelings come up about a metamour, or a polyamorous relationship.
There’s lots of places to learn more about metamours, and how (if) you want to relate to any in your life. Here are a few options.
Exploring the Relationship Spectrum is a whole series of articles by Lara Boyle / Ready for Polyamory
Dealing with Difficult Metamours is a book by Page Turner, full of useful information, suggestions, and scripts
Podcasts episodes worth listening to:
When you break up with your metamour on Polyamory Weekly
Meeting your metamours on Multiamory
The metamour bill of rights on Monogamish
Do you have experience with metamour dynamics? Let us know the delights, the challenges, the learning curves that have been part of your life. (And if you and your metamours get on well? Don't forget to let them know that they can sign up to vote for a new polyamorous flag!)