Mental Health

Metamours in Polyamorous Relationships

By February 12, 2024June 13th, 2024No Comments

Polyamory, a relationship structure where you can have multiple romantic and/or sexual partners, provides a vast array of relationships that you can engage in, examples include:

  • Comet (a romantic and/or sexual partner that you see infrequently that comes into your life on occasion)
  • Nesting Partner (a romantic and/or sexual partner you live with)
  • Metamours!

What’s a metamour? I’m glad you asked. A metamour (or meta) is a partner of your polyamorous partner; a non-romantic friend that you have a romantic and/or sexual partner in common with, for example:

  • your boyfriend’s boyfriend
  • your partner’s girlfriend
  • your play partner’s spouse
  • and any amalgamation thereof

There are so many terms in polyamory that we’re creating to help us navigate relationship styles that are outside of mononormative structures. Mononormative? This refers to monogamy (a relationship structure where you have one romantic/sexual partner exclusively) as the default, how society in general tends to teach us how to engage in romantic and sexual relationships, and metamours is one of these terms.

What does having a meta mean in the context of your relationships? That’s entirely up to you! Like all relationships, how you choose to engage with people in your life is your choice:

  • Some people love meeting, getting to know, and frequently interacting with their metamours
  • others prefer not to have any contact with their metamours whatsoever
  • Sometimes a meta wants to have a relationship with you when you don’t, and vice versa
  • Your partner can also want you to interact with your meta when you don’t, and again, vice versa

Not Meeting Your Metamour
Now let’s say you don’t want to meet your meta, what would that conversation with your partner look like?

  • Make sure to use “I statements” such as “I feel uncomfortable meeting my meta” or “I don’t want to have a relationship with my meta with where I’m at right now”
  • It’s important to use statements that describe YOUR feelings and YOUR boundaries; if you get push back from a partner or meta remain firm in your boundaries you set
  • It can be uncomfortable if your meta asks why you do not want to spend time with them, you can be kind and honest while having this conversation. This can look like “I’m experiencing difficult feelings around meeting you, I want to work on managing those before we interact” or “I appreciate you wanting to connect but I’m not looking to have relationships with my metas” Again, you get to engage in relationships how you want to, regardless of outside pressures.

Tips When Meeting Your Metamour
Let’s say that you do want to meet your meta. Great! Here’s some tips on navigating that:

  • Collectively decide if you would like your mutual partner to join
    • If your partner does join, have conversations with everyone about their comfort level with displays of affection around each other
  • Treat this like a first date, in a sense. It’s okay to be nervous!
  • Decide together on a setting that’s most comfortable for you two
  • While you may want to have a close relationship with this person you may find that you don’t mesh well, that’s totally okay! You can still hold respect for each other regardless
  • Refrain from finding common ground through complaints about your mutual partner
  • Take deep breaths and practice self regulation skills (a skill that helps you understand and manage your reactions to feelings and events) when needed. Emotions might come up that you weren’t anticipating
    • An example of a self regulation skill, would be deep breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4, then exhale for 4. Repeat as needed
    • Another can be noticing where in your body you’re experiencing discomfort. Maybe your chest is tight or your stomach is turning, notice this and hold space for what you’re experiencing. You can tell that part of your body “I hear you, and I appreciate that you’re trying to keep me safe. My feelings are valid and I’m safe in this moment”

All of this can involve a lot of communication and navigation, but ultimately remember that this is your journey and you get to take it in the way that’s most comfortable for you. Pushing our comfort zones can be healthy! But we don’t want to be so uncomfortable that we don’t feel safe. And these boundaries can change over time! While everyone’s pros and cons list looks different, a general overview of potential pros and cons can include:

Potential Pros of Meeting Your Meta:

  • Having someone to celebrate your partner with. Whether that’s planning birthday parties, going in on presents together, or simply having someone to gush over your mutual partner with
  • It can remind you that your metas are humans too, not just some “other” who your partner meets with.
  • It can be enriching to have someone who understands the complexities of polyamorous relationship in your specific circumstance
  • If your partner thinks they’re cool, there’s a strong chance you might think they’re cool too! And having more cool people in your life seems like a win

Potential Cons of Meeting Your Meta:

  • Managing difficult emotions such as jealousy
  • Adding another relationship to navigate in the context of your immediate circle. For example, your partner and meta may break up; there may be disagreements between them that involve their relationships with you; or you and your meta may have your own breakup.
  • You may have conflicting needs and wants out of your relationship with your mutual partner

Metas can be an incredible addition to the relationships in your life in whatever capacity you choose. Just remember that everyone deserves to be treated with respect while they have different needs and wants. When people feel free to explore relationships in the way that feels most comfortable to them it promotes mental wellbeing. Shedding shame and embracing authenticity have a droplet effect that can echo into other areas of your life.


This blog is authored by Emily Cooksey, MSW, LCSW, CADC. IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, identity, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support, please click here or contact us at