Episode 82: Dating Metamours

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When your shared partner is making you both feel like you’re a triad when you’ve never agreed to that… it can get a little awkward.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

Discussion Topic:

Have you had your partner date another partner you’ve had?

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Non-Monogamy Help

Non-Monogamy Help is a relationship advice podcast for people in non-monogamous or polyamorous relationships. With the help of a therapist with over a decade of experience, your host Lola Phoenix, answers the questions your questions about rules, hierarchies, unicorns and more.

 

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use our affiliate link for 10% off your first month.

Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

I have found myself in a situation where my primary partner (Al) is seeing another person (Ash) and they have been dating for nearly 9 months, they are very much in love and I’m very happy for them and supporting of their relationship. 

Recently over the course of the last 3 months Ash and I have also started to see each other casually, which has then developed into our own semi serious relationship. This has created a lot of emotional turmoil for Al and she has recently spoken up about her uncomfortable feelings about Ash and I seeing each other. Her feelings range from feeling like she has to always act as the glue to the 3 of us which creates a strain on each of her relationships with us separately and all of us together when we hang out too. 

She has also told Ash and I that she feels as though her needs aren’t getting met, we are still in the process of talking things through to come up with a solution to make everyone happy and comfortable. Al says she never wanted or agreed to a triad relationship and that she feels like she is sometimes made to feel like we are forcing her to be in one by Ash and I being together. 

We all enjoy each other’s company and will hang out the 3 of us, sometimes this is Al wanting to do so and sometimes is either of us, none of us have talk about being in a triad relationship and it isn’t necessarily something I want either, I’m happy with where things are now and don’t want them to change. Al has thrown around the idea of Ash and I simply just being platonic friends (effectively vetoing our relationship so that she feels more comfortable) even though none of us have a veto agreement in place. 

This is creating a lot of heartbreak for Ash and I if this comes to fruition. We are all so lost with coming up with an amicable solution that suits everyone. It seems to us that no matter the outcome either Al will have to deal with her negative feelings of us being together, or Ash and I will have to go through a break up of sorts which seems to be as equally painful and uncomfortable. 

Ash and I both love Al and would do anything to make her happy but it feels as if we would be sacrificing our happiness and love to make Al happy and that seems very unfair in our minds.

Response:

This is really bizarre. It feels like the only one who’s forcing you all to be in a triad is Al and you haven’t said you are in a triad so you effectively aren’t even if you all three hang out together. It just seems like Al is super uncomfortable and is making this a big deal when nobody else is and I don’t really understand why it is that Al’s uncomfortable. And I don’t know if she’s come to you both and says that her needs aren’t being met by you both. This is really bizarre. 

She’s come to you both to say that you both “are not meeting my needs”. She is kind of creating a triad where you’re not asking for one. What makes her uncomfortable about the situation? Is she like afraid that it’s going to be awkward if you two break up? Yeah, you might not all hang out together right away because there might be some pause in that. But friendship circles break up all the time. It is what it is. Is she afraid that you’re going to be upset with her for still dating Ash if you break up? 

What is it about the situation that makes her so upset? She needs to be able to like actually say that and it’s okay for her to be a little bit uncomfortable. It might be awkward and might be weird and then might you know, it might take some getting used to and she kind of may have to sit in that discomfort for a little bit because she doesn’t have a right to tell you — “Al has thrown around the idea of Ash and I simply being just being platonic friends” Like what? Are you are you having sex in front of her? Like, what do you—? 

No, you don’t get to tell your partner, “Oh, you just be platonic friends?” No, no, that’s not the case. You did not agree to a triad relationship. Why does she feel like she has to be the glue? Is that something that she’s doing to herself? Is there something that you both are doing that’s making her feel like that? She seems to be the one who’s having the problem? It doesn’t sound like Ash is having any problems. Or you’re having any problems. It’s her that’s kind of having the freakout about this. 

And it’s okay for her to feel anxious about this. But she doesn’t have to be the glue. She’s not in the middle. That’s not the situation here. And if she feels like that, then maybe she needs to talk that through with someone because — what about the situation makes her feel like the glue? And it also seems like you’re saying— I could have read your email wrong, but it seems like you’re saying that all three of you hang out because Al is wanting all three of you to hang out. That doesn’t make any sense. If she feels really weird about hanging out all three of you together, I can totally understand that. That probably would feel a little weird. 

You do feel a little bit awkward sometimes when— and I felt awkward to like when I’ve been out with a partner and they’ve seen another partner and they’re like trying to kiss and like talk to you like, “Hello, hi!”. I’m like, greet them as you would a partner is a little awkward. It does feel a little bit like okay, we’ll just sit here. Sometimes even just the expectation that you should feel jealous kind of makes you uncomfortable. At least that’s my experience. So it is super awkward. 

And if you have to like hang out a little bit separately sometimes, that’s fine and give each other a little bit of privacy. That’s fine. You can do that. But she has to ask for that. It just seems like she’s decided that you’re all in a triad relationship. And it’s her job to keep all three of you together, which is not what either one of you are asking for. 

So first of all, no. She needs to stop suggesting what your status of relationship is with other people. She’s allowed to feel uncomfortable about the fact that you’re dating her partner which is now effectively your partner too but it is awkward and that’s fine. But no throwing around the idea of you being platonic with somebody that you’re now in a relationship with. No. That’s a veto and you are right to say, “No, you don’t get to decide  what I am with somebody else, especially when this is not a triad”. 

You all three need to sit down and have a conversation about this and ask Al what it is that is making her uncomfortable. Is she afraid of you and Ash breaking up and that like making her feel awkward? If you and Ash breakup you might need some time apart and that’s fine. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the world and it isn’t the end of the world. So figure out what it is that is making her awkward. Explain to her that she does not have to be the glue, that neither one of you are asking for that. You have a relationship with Ash. She has a relationship with Ash. You have a relationship with her and Ash has a relationship with her. That is a separate thing. 

Explain to her that you are not a triad, and don’t allow her to bring grievances about your individual relationships to you together as if you are one. Address with her whatever she feels is lacking— what needs are you not meeting in your relationship with her and let Ash address that with her. But don’t don’t address things as a group because you’re not a group. If you haven’t agreed to being a triad relationship, you’re not on the triad, so don’t act as if you are. And just figure out what it is that makes her feel so uncomfortable. 

Because it doesn’t seem like you or Ash have a problem with anything that’s happening and it’s okay if she’s uncomfortable. She may have to sit in that awkwardness and that discomfort for a little bit. She might just have to deal with it for a little bit. That is what it is. Sometimes transitions and phases of our life are a little bit uncomfortable. But just like— and I hate to compare it to this because it seems like infantilising, and I’m not trying to do that — But plenty of times whenever a group of parents has a baby and then they have another kid sometimes the first kid feels unhappy with the fact that the other kid’s showed up. 

If you adopt a kid that maybe other kids you have might feel uncomfortable. Sometimes shit happens like that. Okay, you’re going to be uncomfortable about this. It’s going to be a little bit awkward. You can make agreements with her like don’t hang out all three of yous together anymore. Don’t do that anymore. Fine. But you got to ask. I can’t read Al’s mind and tell you what her problem is. You got to ask. All three of you sit down and ask. And then that can be the last meeting that you all three have on the topic of the relationship because there is no triad.

And then talk with her separately about whatever she feels needs are not being met in your relationship and why and then let Ash deal with that in their relationship, if that makes sense. To sum up, I feel like the only one forcing you to be in a triad is Al. None of you have said that you are. You need to ask her what makes her uncomfortable about it. Find it out, see if you can compromise about hanging out together or not hanging out together and do not accept any kind of veto. 

As much as that may be shitty for your relationship with Al, she doesn’t get to decide that unless you have agreed to that kind of power being bestowed on her, she doesn’t get to decide that. It’s awkward and she may have to sit in the awkwardness but that doesn’t mean she gets to decide that you end a relationship with somebody and I would put my foot and my boundaries down a little bit on that and say “Don’t do this. Don’t suggest this anymore because that is a veto. And I do not agree with that”. So yeah, I hope that helps and good luck. 

Now published!

If you’re looking to start exploring polyamory or you’ve been non-monogamous for awhile and struggle with anxiety, The Anxious Person’s Guide to Non-Monogamy may be for you. Even if you aren’t exactly struggling with anxiety, it could be a great book for beginners.

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