I’m sure this has come up before, but in case you haven’t noticed - I’m a relatively insecure person. I’m not good at “oh yes everything is stable and I have nothing to worry about,” I’m an overthinker. I do this about everything, not just relationships - but relationships are definitely included in my scope of this. One of the ways I try to mitigate this is making sure I meet metamours as soon as I know I’m pursuing a relationship. A couple months in, once I know I’ve clicked with the potential partner and it’s not just attraction, I try to meet their other partners. I have ways I prefer to do this and ‘mental rules’ I try to follow, both when my partners start seeing someone new and it seems to be going okay and when I’ve started seeing someone new. Sometimes I run into issues because these are only my own preferences and no one else has to share them, so they may not, and I have to respect their boundaries (and will!).
If I get exactly what I want in an ideal world, this is how my meetings with new metas go: The meeting would take place in a public space so neither of us “controls” the space. (In the last year this would obviously have been pretty problematic, unless it were in a park last summer? But I haven’t acquired any new metas in the last year, so I didn’t have to grapple with this issue in particular.) I’d prefer to meet metas one at a time rather than all at once if at all possible, but if they’d prefer to meet all at once, meeting at a big social event that I have something else to shift focus to or friends at so that if it’s awkward with them I can fall back on something or someone else is preferred. If either or multiple meta(s) is/are a or some nesting partner(s), being aware of the potential power dynamic differential they’d try to be a little extra nice and reassuring to the meta who is not a nesting partner and who is in the newer relationship, that’d be great. That applies to me, too. When I was nesting with either of my two exes who I lived with for a few years each, I tried to be positive and kind and friendly with their partners to make sure they knew I wasn’t intending to throw around hierarchy in either of those relationships. Generally, my preference is for a nice one on one coffee and a chat to see if we have anything in common to figure out what level of interaction we want. If we don’t want a high level of interaction after that, not a big deal - we’ve made each other human now, and I’ve swept away a bunch of my insecurities.
But, as I said, there’s no guarantee that other people want to do that. Sometimes that timing is no good for people. They want to meet you before a first date - or not until things are very serious - or some other arbitrary timing that they’ve determined in their relationship agreements. Sometimes they really need you to be better at certain kinds of hanging out with their whole polycule or their definition of kitchen table is wildly different than yours. It ends up including hobbies you’re not into or joining the family business or the whole polycule being one large relationship as a ‘switcheroo’ when that isn’t what you signed up for. (I know those are all very different examples - but there are very different people out there and over 13.5 years I think I’ve been on or heard of my friends being on dozens of kinds of unexpected bad dates.)
Sometimes it’s the opposite - people don’t really want to meet. Or they feel obligated because it’s an “ought” but they see you and go ‘this was a bad idea’ and get out of there fast enough that you worry that you forgot to brush your teeth and said the wrong thing in the first five minutes without realizing. Usually, it’s not you. It’s someone doing what Ken described in our Boundaries episode of the podcast as ‘violating your own boundaries’ - and then regretting it when they realize they’ve done so. We’ve all done this at some point in our life. Meeting metas is anxiety soothing for me, but it isn’t for these people, and I respect that, so I respect this boundary of theirs, even if I don’t fully understand it.
Figuring out where your boundaries and preferences, insecurities, anxieties, and actions to calm the same lay regarding meeting metamours can be super valuable. Some of this is easiest to figure out through trial and error, but some of it is stuff that you can extrapolate from your thoughts about friends, anxiety, new people in general, and boundaries. Take a little while to think about it. See what you get.
I’ll be teaching my Beyond the Kitchen Table: Modes and Models of Parallel Polyamory class at Tethered to Wifi 2.0, the digital version of Tethered Together, on Saturday March 20 from 11:30am -1pm. The con as a whole runs from the 19-21 and you can get tickets at tetheredtogether.net. Tickets are $30 until sales close the day before the event. There are a lot of great presenters on topics ranging from relationships to movement to rope and a couple cool shows; come play with us!
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