Having lived a poly lifestyle for over 10 years, I am familiar with metamour relationships. I have made both friends and enemies with metamours, so I have my own spidey sense when it comes to whether a relationship will work based how the conversation with the metamour goes. Many of you will disagree with my approach to metamour relationships, but I think this method promotes honesty and openness that is key to polyamorous relationships.
Step 1: Meet the potential partner. When I meet a new polyamorous person, I am interested in their personality, desires, and needs first. I have a specific set of needs that I look to fulfill in a partner, and I don’t proceed with a relationship if none of those can be met by the particular person.
Step 2: Ask about their other partners. I do not need to know their name, age, orientation, or even where they live. At first I just want to know that they exist. One sign of a healthy polyamorous relationship is that all partners are dating others (unless the metamour is mono). If one partner is dating and the other is seeking without success, that is a potential yellow flag to me. It is often difficult for men to find other partners immediately, so I make room for that possibility. A red flag is when my potential partner has not dated any other people or has only engaged in sexual activity with people and their current partner. To me, that indicates that the person is new to poly or ineffective at dating. It would take another post to explain why I don’t date people new to poly, but the short reason is that they may not be emotionally ready to handle the complexity of polyamorous relationships.
Step 3: Communicate with the metamour. I usually ask to communicate with the metamour when the potential partner and I have a good rapport going. I do not need to meet them in person ever, but I do want to know how they feel about their relationship with the other person. During our conversation I will ask how long they have been poly, what their poly style is like, and how they like their other partners. Red flags during this conversation are clear: if the person is not really interested in seeking partners, not sure they want to be poly, or only doing poly because their partner is, then that tells me my potential partner may not be doing a good job communicating and listening to their partner. It is difficult for me to be in relationship with someone who has not attended to the needs of their original partner. Another red flag is signs of codependency in either partner. As a recovering codependent, I do not have the emotional energy to relate to codependent people or their enablers. A good book to read if you are curious about codependency is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.
Step 4: Circle back to the potential partner. After I talk to the metamour, I want to know how the partner thinks about their current partners. Unless given consent, I don’t talk specifically about what the metamour has said to me, but I make my concerns clear if I have heard things that are red flags to me. I hope that the potential partner is willing to listen and work on issues with their partner, and at that point I may start dating them. If the partner ignores my concerns or doesn’t believe what their partner has told me, then I cross that person off the list. I am not a guru of poly, but I have been in enough relationships to know that someone who is unwilling to listen to feedback will be difficult to have a relationship with.
How do you interact with metamours at the beginning of a relationship? Are you interested in getting to know your metamours, or do you ignore them and focus on your partner?