There are many more people involved in a polyamorous set-up than you might think. Many people can view polyamory just in terms of the romantic and/or sexual relationships that you have – What, like, two girlfriends? – but it is actually so much more than that. Everyone focuses on their lovers, but what about the other people who are included and affected in different ways? The other folk involved with or affected by an individual poly set-up are many, but the most obvious of these is your partner’s partner, otherwise known as your metamour. This has the potential to be the trickiest of all relationships because it can require as much work as maintaining a relationship with a lover, only there’s no sex and – crucially – you didn’t choose to be closely connected to this person. Because of this, in some ways a relationship with a metamour can be like spending time with a sibling.
I am very lucky to have the best honorary sister that anyone could wish for. After an awkward first experience of spending time with a metamour – where a therapist helped me to discover that the feelings I didn’t understand were mistrust – I was delighted to discover that this time my partner had effectively found me a best friend. We are similar in so many ways and different in so many others. When we get on well, he must wonder what he’s let himself in for. When we argue, we swiftly forgive and forget. Getting on this well helps both of us in our relationship with our boyfriend too, as we have a friend who understands the situation like no other. Lucky just doesn’t cover it.
Then there are the oceans of friends you accumulate via polyamory. When many of your friends are also poly, this means that social gatherings involve lots of partners and so yet more connections are made. We have friends of lovers, friends of metamours, ex-lovers, lovers of friends, metamours of friends, friends of friends… the group just gets bigger and bigger. With the assistance of social media, this swiftly becomes a support network of people who understand. Whatever you’re going through, there will be someone who has been there before. Someone who gets it and can offer advice, a shoulder to cry on or simply a distraction. When you feel you have to give a partner space, or are simply at a loose end, the pool of friends a poly person can call upon is often vast and varied.
And then there’s the little ones. The children of friends who won’t realise just how lucky they are to be loved so much by so many people until they get to school age and wonder why their classmates don’t also have a crowd of wonderful and interesting adults around them. When I was growing up, my parents’ best friends were often around but my friends weren’t always so lucky. Some of them had only one wonderful parent to look after them and be everything they needed. The child of an adult with many friends has the benefit of the love, knowledge, creativity and sense of humour of all of them. Poly families are simply bigger than most. Don’t get distracted by the idea of sexual relationships between the adults. Remember, many monogamous couples with children still have sex, but this isn’t something their children will know about. Poly families are just the same – they’re simply filled with more love.
All this goes some way to explain why you will often hear polyamorous people talking about how great their life is. It’s not that they’re gloating about having more sex than you. It’s not that they’re smug about being so greedy and getting away with it. It’s simply that their lives are full of all types of love, and all kinds of people who care. Sometimes this really is worth shouting about.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month seven bloggers – ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin – will write about their views on one of them.
Main image via Paulo Otávio‘s Flickr photostream. Second image by Jon Topper. Final image by lipsticklori.