“There is a horrible kind of conceited independence,” says Miss Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, talking of Elizabeth Bennet’s willingness to walk across fields of a few people’s property to come see her sister Jane, “I fear, Mr. Darcy, that this may have lowered your opinion of her fine eyes?” While we don’t usually judge women for wanting to go somewhere alone or get muddy anymore, we do still judge people - our partners and our metamours included - for their choices, especially early in our relationships with them. As our partners form connections with new people, there is an impulse to determine what kind of people our prospective metamours are by these early dates. There is also an impulse to question whether we’ve understood our relationship with the partner in question, if they answer, as Darcy answers Miss Bingley, “Not at all, her eyes were brightened by the exercise.”
Your partners’ relationships are inherently separate from your relationship with them, for better or for worse. This means watching them from some distance, practical, emotional, or both. If you’re the sharing kinds, you will often get to know a bit about the person they’re seeing and what activities they get up to early on. You may also meet potential metamours relatively early in your partners’ dating process. This can be great - it can humanize people and banish jealousies built around the idea that someone is superhumanly awesome or “the most beautiful” or whatever equivalent - but it can also be fraught sometimes. It can be hard to remember that your partners’ other choices of relationship aren’t at all about you.
Possible pain points include confusion over how fast or slow a relationship moves emotionally or sexually, or feelings about how similar or different one’s metas are. Does anyone have a partner or meta who is in love overnight? Or who is happy to sleep with people on the first date when you, personally, don’t do that? Well, it’s really none of your concern, or at least not one you get to be judgemental over. If that sounds harsh, because you think that actually, you get a say in those things, let’s take them apart a little. Having a different speed of intimacy and vulnerability, emotionally speaking, than your partner does, can be scary, and insecurity inducing, and anxiety inducing, and make folks seek control of situations. But it’s a false sense of control because feelings aren’t something any level of rule can possibly limit. Regarding timing of sex, you can have sexual health agreements in place, but timing usually has very little to do with how to implement effective sexual health measures. Assuming honesty and trust in our fellow humans, the timing of their last tests and last partners are much more relevant than what number date we’re on or when we met them, and partners keeping within sexual health agreements about testing, asking questions about other partners or a lack thereof, and using barriers are fulfilling their due diligence and don’t deserve shaming or mistreatment for their choice to have sex earlier in a relationship than you would be comfortable doing. Assuming that all rules are being followed, it’s a matter of ‘their relationships are about them, not about you, and so what you would do doesn’t apply here.’ That means not just no shaming but also no silent treatment, no indirect ‘punishment’ that teaches a partner it’s not safe to either do a particular action or tell you about it. Creating an environment where honesty is punished, rather than setting a boundary like ‘hey I just want to know after what point I can assume sex is a possibility on dates because you’ve discussed the health side of things, I don’t want details of when and how much, etc,’ is worse for both your partner and for you. Treat yourself better and express what the problem is (that you don’t want details), don’t shame or mistreat your partner or meta.
In a totally different scenario, upon meeting your meta, if you aren’t attracted to your metamour you may feel worried you’re like them and it triggers insecurities in you, or if you ARE attracted to them but are very different from them, you may be insecure about ‘what your partner sees in you,’ and again, this is a time to remember that the relationships are individual. It’s the dynamic with the people that matter more than anything else. For all that many of us talk about ‘having a type,’ most folks like a wide variety of people both in looks and personality. This can lead to interpersonal conflict between metamours but it really doesn’t have to, and it also doesn’t have to lead to insecurity within our relationships and ourselves. Ask for reassurance if you’re worried that ‘you don’t know what your partner sees in you’ after meeting a meta you admire - I bet your partner sees lots of things you don’t think of everyday. Remember the ways that the people you love are different from one another and you still love them all, and recognize that similarly, your partners can love very different people - and you don’t have to love or even like all of them.
Your partners’ relationships aren’t all about you. They have one relationship that is, the one with you. Relish that one, and give space to the others to grow as they will. It’s worth it for them and for you.
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