There are some things in polyamory that just have no equivalent experience in monogamous relationships. Meeting your partners’ other partners (or metamours) is one of them, and having done this several times, I can say it’s a surreal, valuable, and eye-opening experience.
Knowing about her is totally different from meeting her. When my boyfriend tells me he’s seeing someone else, that person is simply a concept to me. Usually, there are some strong emotions connected to that concept—nervousness, fear, jealousy, curiosity—but there’s a blank space in my mind that can be easy to ignore if I don’t want to face the realities of it. Actually meeting that person suddenly makes it a lot harder to ignore and can be quite confronting.
She suddenly becomes a real person. The flipside of not being able to ignore her is that she suddenly becomes a real human being capable of her own thoughts and feelings, fears, and desires. This is a wonderful and important realization. It’s much easier to compare myself to an image of perfection in my head and end up feeling terrible about something that doesn’t even exist. Meeting a real-life person reminds me that we’re all in this together, none of us are perfect, and comparisons don’t help anybody.
We have something in common but it’s unusual common ground. Most people are brought together by some mutual interest, but it’s rare for that interest to be a shared lover. It can be surreal to form a connection with somebody based on that but it also makes for an interesting first meeting. In my experience, it’s become something to laugh about and marvel at and has led to immediate intimacy with someone who might otherwise have only been a stranger.
It’s a unique opportunity to bond. There aren’t many instances in my life where I’ve formed such a close bond with somebody so quickly. Finding ourselves together in such a strange situation, one which we’re both still figuring out, has created a space for a kind of openness and vulnerability that is usually reserved for years-long relationships.
There’s been so much mutual support. Polyamory, while wonderful, isn’t always easy. It can be extremely challenging and having another person to talk to can ease my struggles in the hardest times. Because we’re in such similar situations, my metamours and I can provide a support network for each other, offering empathy, compassion, and advice where it’s fitting.
It tells me a lot about my partner. Through meeting his other girlfriend, I get an insight into my partner that I wouldn’t have access to if we were monogamous. Seeing the ways in which my metamour and I are similar or different tells me a lot about my partner’s personality. What is it that he’s attracted to in her and what does that say about him? It’s fascinating to see parts of his personality come out with her that I might not usually see. It reminds me how complex he is and how impossible it is to ever know all of him—he remains a beautiful mystery to me.
Jealousy has less room when I play it right. One of the best pieces of polyamory advice I ever received was to see my metamours as mentors rather than competition. Having the opportunity to meet my partners’ other partners has lessened my jealousy, rather than increasing it. Instead of competing for our mutual boyfriend’s affections, we can support each other because, hopefully, we have the same goal: his and our own happiness. Seems pretty simple, right?
I get to see my partner through someone else’s eyes. Knowing that my partner is with someone else often triggers a perspective shift in me. My little, isolated relationship bubble is suddenly burst and I see my partner as a new human being, separate to me. It can be a surreal and wonderful wake-up call, reminding me that he doesn’t belong to me. Seeing him through another person’s eyes reminds me of the way I saw him when we first met. He’s new and exciting and mysterious.
I have a new appreciation for my relationship. This is one of the greatest gifts to come out of meeting my metamours. It’s so easy to take a relationship for granted when it’s just plodding along as usual. Having another person come and shake things up is a great catalyst for gratitude and appreciation. My partner is with me because he chooses to be, not because he has to be, and that’s something worth celebrating.
It’s a great exercise in personal growth. It takes a big person to overcome jealousy and fear and choose love and acceptance instead. There’s often an urge in me to succumb to the green-eyed monster, throw a tantrum, and blame my metamour for all my insecurities. Instead, I do my best (most of the time…) to remember that she’s a valuable human being just like I am and that she brings love and joy into my partner’s life. I’ll chalk that up as a success on the personal growth front.
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