I’ve been doing some thinking about what it means to have a special relationship with my metamour, and trying to parse out how to do it right. Some of the surface stuff is relatively easy and there is lots of info online, but some of this I’m figuring out. There aren’t a lot of models on how to do it right. Quinky Girl wrote an excellent blog about some of her thoughts and it’s here. I can’t, won’t, and am not in ANY way speaking for her. If you want her take on things I’d suggest you visit her blog and/or ask her. 🙂 I am asking myself a lot of questions and trying on some answers to see what I think, and I thought it might be useful stuff to others navigating relationships with your lover’s others, so I’m sharing my take so far on a few of those questions.
One of the potential sticky bits is what you should share with each other about your shared partner. I could go all medieval and say “we ain’t saying shit about them”, but I’m not sure that would be my preferred method. I mean, I’d RESPECT that and it’s anyone’s right to ask for that… but I’d LIKE not to lose the good with the challenging. Flamingfoxtale at Emotional Mutation wrote a blog post about ending metamour relationships and “just being friends”. There was a lot I related to. There is a line I especially felt. I too want to collaborate in love. And letting go of this special relationship would be a huge loss. Swearing off of frank talk altogether would be a shame to me.
One of the really unique and special things about a close metamour is your shared love of someone. Pretending that doesn’t exist and not talking about our loved one doesn’t appeal to me. There are a lot of reasons. One is that this sort of metamour is an important person to me and something as huge as their relationships is something I like us being able to talk about. Don’t you usually talk about your relationships with your close friends?
Another reason is I like being exposed to this other side of my partner. It’s like meeting your lover’s oldest friend and hearing all their hijinx. Of course I have to realize that I am hearing someone else’s take on my partner in a totally separate and different relationship, and this stuff may or may not relate to OUR relationship in any way, but it’s still touching, interesting, entertaining, informative, funny, and fascinating in turns. I love hearing about my partners.
Feeling Like I’m Not Alone
Sometimes we have similar struggles and just knowing my partner tends to relate a certain way has been helpful. It just has. Sometimes metamours have really different experiences with them than I do and it’s interesting. Sometimes it’s just fun to be all compersive hearing about the love and affection someone feels about this person that I love. “You love that incredible kindness and goodness of his soul! So do I! Oh my god, the way sweetness just comes off of him in waves, so beautiful!”. I can’t explain how good it feels to share love like that, to be sitting with someone you feel so intimate and loving and close with, basking in the love you both feel for this amazing person you happily share. I know it likely sounds weird if you haven’t been there, but it’s a rarified sweetness I would hate to miss out on.
Here Comes the Big “But”
But what about confidences and intimacy? Where do I draw the line? Should I never say to my metamour what our shared partner says, in any situation? Or is it more nuanced? Clearly there needs to be some limit. Relationships require intimacy and my partner will never be able to tell me anything if I always tell someone everything they say. My partner has a right to expect me to hold confidences. My metamour has that right too. They won’t trust me if I consistently betray that trust. Obviously to me, I shouldn’t share anything anyone told me in confidence. But what if someone I love, my metamour or partner, tells me something the other person should know? What if they ask me to keep secrets I should not keep? What if they ask me to lie? Some situations are easier than others until you are in them. “Clearly I would not lie for them and I’d tell them no”. Would I?
When someone I love tells me something in confidence and says this other person I love doesn’t know and not to tell them, and I know the person I’m keeping the secret from really SHOULD KNOW THIS.. what then? I can try to convince the person not fessing up to fess up, but they don’t always do it. If it’s a small thing, like they are venting or working through something or using me as a sounding board to figure things out, I’m good at that. I’ve spent my LIFE hearing people’s confidences and keeping them. I’m incredibly good at it. I make my living doing it and it’s a natural gift. People have told me their secrets since I learned to listen. But it’s unbelievably hard for me to hear hurtful things, things that are wrong my love doesn’t know and to say nothing week after week and month after month, believing they would be hurt or angry or wounded by the fact that I’m not telling them. It makes me a traitor and puts me in an impossible place. It’s one thing to think you really should tell your boyfriend x thing and another to look into my boyfriend’s sweet unsuspecting face and say nothing, you know? (and no.. I’m NOT talking about anything specific here)
I’ve learned to ask my partners and metamours not to do that to me and to be clearer about what I will hold in confidence. But not all situations are so dire and it’s a good idea to figure out where the line is. I’m not sure where that is, but I’m thinking about it.
Thinking About Who is Listening
I can’t ignore who I am talking to either. Some people will be triggered by some disclosures. It’s possible to cause a lot of drama and hurt by sharing in a totally unfiltered way. I think the poly world puts too high of a premium on being un-feeling ever-compersive robots, but reality is that we all handle things differently. We have to be honest about what we can handle. Quinky Girl can take a lot more than I can. It’s just a fact. She is a lot less insecure and a lot less prone to jealousy than I am. I love to hear about sexy things with my partners and others as long as it isn’t comparing, but I have had to be careful not to read into things like my partner spending 4 days a week with alone with x person when I only see them alone 1 time a week or whatever. I’m still actively working out some of my weird landmines, so I’m just not as unaffected as say she would be. I have to be honest about that and willing to do the work. I can’t pretend I’m more okay with things than I am. I find when I just own up to having a feeling I can work through it much more readily. Fear of being replaced or losing my love is a big fear to me and I have to own that and be honest about what I am okay hearing. And I have to believe my metamours when they tell me their limits or what they are okay with hearing.
Remembering Not to Make my Family “Exclusive”
Because this close metamour relationship is a unique relationship, I have to remember that this might affect others in ways I don’t intend and to be mindful. So here I have a little trouble parsing out what is right but I’m trying this on for size.. what do you think?
Clearly I want to be inclusive and welcoming and good to the people me and my partner’s love, and I hope they are to me and mine too. Things have developed (I can only say in my mind) with Quinky and I and with Quinky and Traveler and I that are so close to my heart. I’ve needed a relationship like the one I have with Quinky Girl for a long time. I find myself in a place of growth and gratitude and joy with her. It’s not all smooth and easy, but it’s incredibly worth it. Good things are like that sometimes. They’re real and they touch real things, and with communication and acceptance and maybe a little forgiveness amazing shit happens (even if I’m not always graceful).
I need, crave, and love this. It’s special to me. I love my time with both of them, and also with Jonah and Peaches and just the whole murder. But I’m not going to lie here- this thing with Quinky and Traveler is fucking important to me. It just kinda began forming on its own and it fills a deep need for me. I can’t speak for them. I feel like they like it but I can’t read their minds. I never want to exclude any of the people that matter to us, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I’m thinking that maybe it’s okay if everything isn’t totally “fair”. (for the record nobody outside my head ever even thought anything about that)
I think that I don’t have to stop spending time with people to be egalitarian. I don’t have to feel bad about loving being with people I love being with. It doesn’t make me not love being with other people in their own ways. I’m not wrong to love my time and connection with (x). I would be wrong if I tried to keep (y) out, and I’m wrong when I’m not careful to let (y) know I love them and if I don’t give effort to include them, but I don’t have to live my life and spend all my time balancing (x) and (y). Maybe special but not exclusive is okay.
This was hard for me to get, because I have spent a lot of time worrying that I was (y) in scenarios and that (y) kinda sucks. I’ve compared stuff on my plate and stuff on their plate and struggled mightily. It’s a hard habit to break. I had to learn to address what I wanted and needed from my relationship in my relationship. For example, I’d hate it if Cleveland thought he was less loved or not special because there I feel I have something wonderful with Quinky Girl and Traveler. Having something special doesn’t make me care any less about any of the other people that I care about. I felt guilty for feeling like it is special. But loving (x) doesn’t mean loving (y) less- anymore than loving Traveler means I don’t have much love to give Cleveland. I don’t have to meter love with Quinky Girl and Traveler, or create distance I don’t actually want. I don’t have to pretend I don’t like playing WoW or stop inviting them to watch Game of Thrones.
NOBODY ever asked me to. I’m just feeling this out. I just need to be welcoming and inclusive sometimes, and careful not to be exclusive or to shut anyone out by accident or design. It’s okay to let things be what they are, and to enjoy them immensely, if I am mindful.