Beyond Arms-Length Metamour Relationships

As I was transitioning out of relationship with Kali, my metamours lost contact with me.  I felt incredibly isolated.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve been examining how that transition happened, evaluating my own response to it, and comparing it to poly relationship transitions in my past.  The result of my case study is this:

Metamours are people

Metamours are people with feelings

Metamours have information you need

Metamours are people with unique perspectives

Metamours can help you solve relationship puzzles

Metamours have a special understanding of your relationship

Metamours need you.  You need your metamours.

Your metamours need you to put on your grown up underpants and be brave.  They need you to know how to communicate your feelings with as much honesty and specificity as possible. They need you to learn active listening and practice that skill at every interaction.  Your metamours need you to ask if everything’s OK.  They need you to care about how their relationship is going with the pivot partner.  They need you to ask about their other relationships.  They need your advice.  They need you as a sounding board.  They need you because there is almost certainly no one who understands what they are going through the way you do.  Especially when a lot of our mono friends aren’t exactly going to understand, nor might they have the experience to provide meaningful suggestions.

Fucking take care of each other.  Fucking have each other’s backs.

This isn’t about sabotage or espionage.  This is about treating each other decently.  It is about making yourself vulnerable and opening your heart to compassion.  This is about being responsible for YOUR behavior, regardless of how your metamours or your pivot partner are behaving.

Polyamory is not a race or a competition.  The relationships that you each have with your pivot partner are unique – otherwise it would be like dating clones.  That really isn’t the point of polyamory, is it? The point is to be dating people who are different from each other.  Because there is so much beautiful diversity in this world and we poly folk want the chance to experience a more expansive cross section. Relationships are going to be different from each other.  No relationships are alike.  Each one will have a specialized mix of resources (time, money, energy), date activities, styles of sexual engagement, and parameters.  AND your lovers are going to have different skills when it comes to dealing with your psychological or physiological quirks (anxiety, diabetes, PTSD, endo, whatevs).  Each relationship gets its own custom blend of those delicious, fizzy brain chemicals.

Accepting this is possibly the most important lesson to learn from polyamory, but it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing to learn – not unless we make it that way.

When was the last time you had a metamour outing?  Maybe a voice/video call or a chat?  Did you remember their birthdays?  Did you apologize for that one time you goofed up?  Did you notice something peculiar about the way your pivot partner interacted (or didn’t) with your metamour?  Did you say something?

DON’T bend over backward for your metamours. DO go out of your way to let them know you care.

DON’T spill every little detail about your relationships.  DO at least share the important bits.  ESPECIALLY the important bits.

We all have a limit to how much we can really “be there” for another person. That’s fine.  I’m not saying answer every time they call on you. I’m not saying you are their only hope.  Yet, even a small act of kindness goes a long way.

Maintain your boundaries while making yourself available to them as much as seems reasonable and practical.  But y’know?  If you see something, say something.  Take part in each other’s lives in a mutually meaningful way.  Pay attention to the details.  Watch how your pivot partner treats them.  Offer a non-judgmental listening ear.  Offer advice in a way that doesn’t sound like a direct order.  Ask your pivot partner how things are going.  Ask your pivot partner if they remembered to tell your metamour [that important thing].  Maybe ask your pivot partner if there is anything you need to be sensitive to when interacting with your metamour (such as: death of family member, other extreme stressors).

Keep in Mind: We all have our issues, I get that.  If you are having a rough time and “just can’t right now” with fostering a positive metamour relationship, SAY SO.  I’ll even give you a script: “I know we’re overdue for a metamour checkin, and I just wanted to let you know I am dealing with some things in my life right now.  I want to be in a better frame of mind for our checkin.  Would it be OK if we postpone for [#] weeks so I can really focus on addressing my own issues?”  Don’t use that as an excuse and don’t postpone permanently.  Set a date and do your best to meet it.  Don’t neglect one another.

I’m talking to myself here, too.  Especially in regard to a particular situation where I failed to really check on a metamour after they transitioned out of relationship with the pivot partner.  Having experienced it, I now understand how important it is.  Even if just to say, “Hey, I imagine you might not want to talk to me, but if you think it might help to talk to someone about what has happened, know that I am willing to be that person.”

Your metamours are not your enemies.  Nor are they your competitors in a capitalist market.  A good metamour wants everyone in the polycule to be safe and well.  A better one makes an impact on the wellness of the others, and is open to receiving care, compassion and friendship from their metamours.

It’s really as simple as:

Fucking take care of each other.  Fucking have each other’s backs.

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