I want to give a quick thank-you to everyone who was able to attend my class on Saturday; the group was responsive and wonderful and it was a great time. Also, I’d like to thank everybody who listens to the podcast - the wrap up to season two has been wonderfully well received (I love the feedback!) and I am working on season 3, which will start releasing April 10. We have great guests lined up, and some really interesting topics! If you want a sneak peak and early releases of some episodes, you can subscribe at the Patreon page at the $5 level or above.
One of the most variable things in polyamory - something that can be either a piece of cake or completely confounding depending on who you are interacting with and how it’s going at this moment - is interaction with one’s metamours.
If you’re close with them, it can be easy and relaxed, natural and comforting - the reason people often take communal living or tightly knit kitchen table units as an ideal for their polycules. I’ve had that ease with some metamours. The ease of not just a literal cup of coffee or glass of wine at a table or on a couch with someone, but of sharing interests and goals; of making plans together to go on little adventures that reflect our shared hobbies (I remember hour long multiple transfers on public transit journeys to the best yarn stores in the city with one meta in mid-winter to debate what colors we’d use for making sweaters, notably), of working together to surprise hinge partners with events, of lazing around one or the other of our houses with a shared television show on and work of one kind or another on our laps.
When you aren’t close, sometimes it’s fine and comfortable because everyone came to a decision about it together, and sometimes it’s… awkward. It’s awkward because it’s one-sided, or awkward because one of the partners who doesn’t get along is a nesting partner and it limits the parameters of the other person’s interactions with the hinge, purposely or not. There are layers on layers of considerations that can make it a little less so, but the key to all of them is that sense of intentionality, of making choices deliberately about your relationships with your metamours.
I like to think about my boundaries regarding my metamours, and my relationships with my metamours, as a series of types of interactions I might want to have with them or not - categories I can consider in each of these relationships.
"I'm happy to do big social events on special occasions but nothing else";
"Big social occasions from time to time since they aren't every week are great, small social occasions are good for hinge partner milestones, and I don't want to have an individual relationship with metas";
"I'm /always/ good with some big and small social interactions, so long as it isn't taking away my alone time with partner, maybe some minor individual interaction”;
“(All of the above and -) Individual interrelationship will happen as me and Meta A or Meta B get along well at those social events - but I don't want to feel pressured to".
Also, I like to meet metas at least once just to see if we get along, so long as they’re also OK with that.
Seeing where metas fall and how the two of our boundaries overlap, and going as quick as the slower of the two of our boundaries allow, sets us up for success, generally, whether that success ends up with a more kitchen table or more parallel relationship. It also leaves options for things to fluctuate over time, an important trait in the real world, where people have changing circumstances and feelings.
If that’s handled deliberately on all sides, it’s pretty sweet - everything can roll on with minor adjustments to suit people’s lives and be just fine. When it’s not, and when there isn’t ongoing communication about it, it is potentially every kind of wild. It can be extremely painful to experience rejection at the hand of someone a partner cares a great deal for. One of my greater lingering regrets is a time that I’ve come to understand I made a former meta feel this way - that I’d rejected them completely because I wanted to see them only at large social events and they really wanted to be closer friends, but I didn’t feel that spark of connection. At the time it didn’t occur to me that this was what the interaction was. The most challenging periods in my polyamorous journey have been times when I’ve received the effects of that social ostracism without explanation from my larger polycules. Maybe this is a fault in my personality, or in my boundary-setting abilities not being strong enough yet, but unless there are deliberate conversations (even if they’re uncomfortable!) to go with decisions to not be certain kinds of social with metas, I read them as a rejection and shut down. This shut down isn’t good for my emotional state and the ongoing communication I have in all my relationships, not just the ones with the metas in question.
For emotional well-being and overall interpersonal health, deliberate choices and deliberate action regarding social interaction with one’s metamours are one of the best steps one can choose to take in polyamorous relationships. They allow for gradual and intentional change over time along with life circumstances to suit changing boundaries, and help you keep track of situations even when they aren’t a piece of cake.
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