Relationships with metamours

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

This month, the Poly Means Many crew are pondering metamours; I can still remember my thoughts when I first read that word… “what does that mean?”, I had a rough idea but wasn’t sure so let’s start with a definition. A metamour is the partner of one’s partner, with whom one does not share a direct sexual or loving relationship (1). That means, for me, I have one metamour, Kirsty’s other partner Mark.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how this part of being poly would work out. It’s one thing being in a position to explore other relationships that I want, quite another to have to assess a potential relationship with someone you didn’t directly choose to be part of your life. Kirsty and I didn’t set out any expectations of being able to ‘veto’ a potential partner, mostly because we trusted each other to be honest but, perhaps, it was also with a view that any relationship with a metamour only had to be … tolerant? civil? I’m not quite sure what the right phrase is…

For me, I realised early on that part of being polyamorous is being open to new experiences and realising that one person might not be able to meet all of your needs all of the time. We all grow and learn and our needs and expectations, desires and wants, change accordingly. With that in mind, it’s been interesting to see the differences between Mark and I, how they relate to Kirsty, how they translate in my relationship with my other partner Clare, and how that influences the relationship between Kirsty and Clare.

I like Mark, he’s very laid back, level headed and obviously cares deeply for Kirsty. The three of us have chatted through some difficult times recently and he’s usually the voice of calm reason. In comparison my emotions bubble quickly, raw on the surface and I tend to be much more pushed to quick action. Both approaches have their advantages, and disadvantages, and gives Kirsty two distinct voices to consider (which can be an issue in and of itself of course!).

But seeing the relationship between Kirsty and Mark grow has been both fascinating and enlightening. I definitely think it’s made my relationship with Kirsty stronger, prompted me to consider myself in a new light and that, for me, is a huge bonus of the metamour relationship and not one I’d even thought about. Having additional people in your life who bring different views, experiences and expectations has made things richer for all of us.

Other than a few emails here and there, Mark and I don’t hang out together on our own so our interactions are limited to times when Kirsty is around but, like the rest of our poly relationships, we’ve found something that seems to work; this way also means that I don’t feel like I’m overstepping boundaries, I’m aware that Kirsty and I have been together for several years now and don’t want the ‘weight’ of our relationship to have any bearing on the relationship she has with Mark.

As a group, the four of us hang out now and then and that definitely helps, as do the simple things of shared calendars and regular communication. Mark and I will occasionally check in with each other, and he and Clare get on well. We have some interests in common which also helps, and overall we seem to have found a system that works for everyone.

I had some apprehensions about this part of being in poly relationships but I know that any concerns will be discussed and solutions found. I know some people who have very close relationships with their metamours, and others who barely know them, and I guess that’s the point. Acknowledging that the metamour relationship is important, as is defining how it works, beyond that anything else is a bonus.

Want to read more? The Poly Means Many project has touched on this area before.