Polyamory Etiquette: Bumping Into Your Metamour

I missed a few posts in April, so look for these bonus posts throughout May as I get caught up.

If you and your various poly partners and their various poly parters live in the same area, sooner or later you’re going to bump into each other at a local fair, browsing the grocery store, or at the movie theater. At base, bumping into your metamour is no different from bumping into your brother’s friends. Someone you know, to one extent or another, who is in a relationship with someone you have a relationship with. The big difference is that your brother and his friends probably aren’t hiding their friendship. Your poly partners and/or their metamours may be in the closet about being poly.

You will almost certainly know if your poly partners are in the closet or not. (If you don’t, ask them. Now.) However you may not know anything about your metamours other than the name they use in poly circles. Which may not be the name you use publicly.

On the other hand, and especially if you practice kitchen table polyamory, your metamour may be your friend as well. You may not only know whether or not they are in the closet, but exactly how much hell their mother gave them for not yet bringing home a date to meet the family.

If Your and Your Metamour Know Each other Well

Follow the same guidelines as you would for running into a poly partner in public.

If You and Your Metamour Don’t Know Each other Well

It’s probably safest to politely ignore each other. Even if you think you have a safe explanation for how you know each other (“I’m dating someone in their apartment building.”) you never know when that might just cause more trouble. (Nosy neighbor who was in the next aisle, “Oh? I’m surprised I haven’t seen you. Are you Mark’s new SO, then? I hear he’s back in the dating game.”)

Never Be Offended By Being Ignored

In most spaces, ignoring someone you know is disrespectful. However, when someone might be in the closet, ignoring them is actually respectful. Specifically, it’s respecting their right to decide who knows about a private part of their life. If someone you know through your poly network or community ignores you in public, assume they are either protecting themselves or trying to protect you. If you are comfortable with being seen in public together, wait until you see each other somewhere poly-friendly to ask them if they’d be okay with you coming up and saying hi in public.

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