Friday, March 21, 2008

Metamour Connection Levels

In polyamory, we refer to our partner's other partners as "metamours". We know that polyamorous relationships can get quite complicated to manage and characterize. One question that seems often asked is: do you let your partners talk to each other? The polyamorous credo of open honesty would suggest that the answer is obvious, but the truth doesn't always shape up that way.

It occurs to me that it could be helpful to have a handy set of terms to describe how close two metamours are to one another:

Level 1: Acceptance. You are at least aware of the other person. You know his/her name. You have at least some sense of what your partner sees in this other person. You might have met once or twice.

Level 2: Acquaintance. You hang out now and then (maybe once a month) and have talked somewhat with your metamour. You have certain things in common. You have a general trust and you understand what your partner sees in this person.

Level 3: Friendship. You hang out a lot (a few times a week) and have talked extensively. In some ways, you consider yourself to be just about as close to your metamour as your partner is.

Level 4: Integration. Your metamour is also your own lover. You are part of a triad or other tight intimate network. You share almost everything with this 3rd person. Technically, s/he's no longer a metamour, but part of the family.

To be sure, the connections between any two metamours is complex and certainly not "digital" like this. Still, I think these terms can help.

Also, I would stress that this is not meant to suggest that any level is somehow more moral or better than any other. For example, if you have a good friendship with a metamour but have no romantic interest in him/her, it doesn't make sense to think this is somehow a failing. On the other hand, it's my own opinion that only reaching the "acceptance" level can be dangerous. It could be hard to trust a metamour's intentions or otherwise be sympathetic to his/her perspective.

I welcome feedback on this concept and these terms.


misspolyamory said...

I like the 4 levels a lot. It's a good stepped process to getting to know someone, whether a metamour, friend, or potential lover, if you like to move at a pace like I do, ensuring that both people are moving forward together and consciously relating. Thanks. xo

ourpolylife said...

I really liked you idea about the 4 levels. However upon closer inspection I think it is truly 5 levels.
By your own admission you said that level 4 actually passed the point of metamour.
Take away the point of being a lover or intimate in level 4... let 4 stand as being integrated in the fact of possible cohibtation or tribe living.
Level 5 could then be termed Meta"morphosis"... that is when intimacy happens and that relationship does leave the realm of metamour to become a partmer/lover/loved one.


Brandy said...

I agree with temptress.

Other than that, this is very helpful! I was looking for something to send to my two partners who are not involved with each other...


Lovely Wednesday said...

I really like this. My metamour and I spent a good amount of time at acceptance, or perhaps not even quite there, skipped acquaintance altogether, spent the last few months at level 3, and she asked me out today! There have definitely been tones of level 4 seeping in for a while, so I'm really excited about where this will take us.

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