Tag Archives: Introductions

Introducing Your Polyamorous Partners to Each Other

I’ve talked elsewhere about why I think it is important for metamours to meet at least once. The short version:
1) It helps with general comfort levels in the relationship and allows everyone to know everyone else as a person, and not an imaginary caricature.
2) Because you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Nothing is more awkward or uncomfortable than meeting your partner’s other significant other across their unconscious body lying on a hospital bed.

Still, even meeting in a cozy diner or at the local coffee shop can be damned awkward for folks who are new to poly. And questions about meeting metamours are staples of polyamory forums. To reduce that awkwardness, we’re going to look at what you can expect and ways to make everyone comfortable.

Where to Meet

Where ever you meet, you want your partners to be comfortable. Or as comfortable as possible. For some people, this will mean meeting in “neutral territory.” A coffee shop, a local park, or even the next town over can all be good options. If you don’t want to be outted, a mall or other busy area makes a surprisingly good place to talk. While you are surrounded by people, none of them will hear more than a few words of your conversation as they hurry on their way.

Alternatively, one or more of your partners may prefer to meet on “their” ground. In which case, they may invite your other partner to their home (your home if you live together). If a partner wants to meet on their ground because they will be more comfortable, go for it! If this might be the start of a power play between your partners, be wary.

While you can not control your partners’ behavior, you can set boundaries about what you will put up with. Personally, any partner of mine (and I mean any) who starts playing social power games with another partner will get one warning. If they don’t heed that warning, I will no longer be a part of their life. I’ve been on the wrong end of that shit and have no patience for it.

Ideally, you want to find a place to meet where your partners are comfortable. Sometimes, what makes one partner comfortable will make the other uncomfortable. All you can do is your best.

After the Introductions

The basic introductions are straight forward. “Michael I’d like you to meet Chris. Chris, this is Michael.” It’s after the introductions that things can get awkward. You know your partners, they don’t know each other. It can help to introduce a topic they are both familiar with. With most of my partners, geeky stuff is a safe bet. The latest Avenger’s movie, a hot new video game. At the moment, I’d start with PokemonGO, because what geek wouldn’t 😉

If you don’t know any topics they both enjoy or are familiar with, you can fall back on the usual getting-to-know someone topics. Where they work, what their hobbies are, etc. If that doesn’t work, pull on something interesting that happened in your life recently. “I told you both about the publisher that was interested in my book? They’re doing some kind of major restructuring and I’m still waiting for the contract…” The one thing you can be certain they share an interest in is—you!

Idle Hands Are a Pain

Awkward stuff is more awkward when you don’t know what to do with your hands. I don’t know why this is. But if possible, try to have something for you and your partners to do while you talk. Get everyone drinks they can fiddle with, meet over dinner, play a multi-player game together (depending on personalities a non-competitive game might be best). Dinner and games have the advantage of having built-in conversation. “Have you tried to chili here?” “No, but the fish is always fresh. I’ve never gotten a taste for spicy foods.” etc etc

This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.

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Introductions in Polyamorous Relationships

July will be Introductions month in our etiquette series.

I touched on introductions and specifically introducing poly partners and metamours to friends and family, in June. But I’d like to go in-depth on introductions. July topics will include introducing poly partners to each other, etiquette for when you are introduced to your partner’s other partner (aka your metamour), and introducing a polycule.

If you have any questions about handling introductions in polyamorous relationships, leave a comment and I’ll try to cover it!

This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.

Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patreon.

Etiquette for Polyamory Partners and Children

I talked about interactions between poly partners and children a couple of times in the Raising Children in a Poly Family blog series. But this apparently an issue a lot of people stress about, so I’m going to pull it all together in one place.

This article assumes that you want your children to meet your poly partners. If you don’t, that’s okay. Do what works for your family and relationships. (Should I be out to my children?)

The First Rule is KISS

Keep It Simple, Stupid. This rule will get you through large parts of life and especially large chunks of parenting. Kid’s are smart. But they are also…let’s go with focused. They don’t care about the details of your job (unless they are planning on going into the same field). They don’t care about what you and your friend do when you go Tuesday nights. And they don’t really care about the details of your relationship with your poly partners. Answer the questions they ask–the exact questions they ask–as simply as possible. Then stop. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.

Introducing Your Poly Partners to Your Children

Short version: Follow the same general guidelines as introducing anyone. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Your poly partner is another adult friend of their parents, of no immediate interest to your kids unless you make it a big deal.

The long version is here.

What Should my Children Call my Poly Partner?

Short version: Let the kid decide. If you are in the closet and worried about the kid outting you by calling a poly partner “Aunt” or “Mom 2,” then this is a good time to teach them about formal and informal interactions. This is a useful tool in other areas of life, such as dealing with their boss at work or teachers at school. Some situations are informal and we can call each other nicknames, some situations are formal and we use formal names or Mr. and Ms.

The long version is here.

How Should I Interact with my Poly Partner’s Children?

Keep it relaxed and casual. If you want to keep a bit of distance in your relationship, treat them like a co-workers children. Polite, but don’t interact beyond basic courtesy:

Poly partner: Jason, I’d like you to meet my friend [you.]
Jason: Hi, [you].
You: Hi Jason, nice to meet you. [Poly partner], are you ready to go?

If you want to interact with the kid directly, and maybe develop a relationship with them, act like a family friend:

Poly partner: Jason, I’d like you to meet my friend [you.]
Jason: Hi, [you].
You: Hi Jason, nice to meet you. Cool shirt.

(next time you bump into each other)

You: Hi Jason, how you doing?
Jason: I’m okay. School sucks, though.
You: Yeah, I always hated math class. (pause, let Jason respond more if he wants, if not) I’m supposed to be picking up your mom. Do you know if she’s ready?

When you see the kid, engage a bit, ask how they are doing, what’s going on. If they mention one day they are practicing guitar, the next time you see them ask if they learned to play any new songs. This shows that you paid attention and are interested in what they are doing.

Do NOT force a conversation when the kid isn’t interested. Don’t let things get awkward. If the kid doesn’t respond to something you say or seems like they want to be doing something else, give them a graceful escape and return your focus to your partner.

When Your Relationship With Your Poly Partner Changes

A lot of emotional upset gets spent on how traumatic it can be for kids when their parent’s poly partner leaves their lives. The mistake in this is that adults kids like and relate to leave their lives all the time. That teacher who changed your life in fourth grade? Were you really traumatized when you moved onto fifth grade and she wasn’t your teacher anymore? When I played softball as a kid, we had a different coach almost every year. Some of those coaches I really connected with, but when the season ended, the team split and I didn’t see the coach until next year–if I saw them again at all.

I can’t say I was particularly traumatized by most of the adults who moved in and out of my life. The only one I remember with any real hurt is a priest who had a big impact on me. He left my life (moved to a different congregation) and when I ran into him years later he didn’t remember me. His leaving didn’t hurt-his forgetting did.

If you are going to leave the lives of your partner’s kids, here are some guidelines for how to make it work:

1) Give them some warning and a timeline. Yes, it is hard to do this when a relationship with a poly partner is changing or ending. But you and your partner can still say “This isn’t working anymore. Let’s stop seeing each other gradually over the next two months.” Which gives you and the kids time to adjust.

2) Give them some way to stay in contact if they choose to.

3) Allow them to be hurt or upset.

You: Hey Vanessa. I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with you and talking about your artwork. I need to let you know that my relationship with my parent is changing. After the next few months, I probably won’t be coming by anymore. Here’s my phone number. If you ever need to talk, you can give me a call okay? And I’ll still be around for a little while longer.
Vanessa: But…I’m gonna miss you.
You: I know, I’m going to miss you too. We can cry about it a bit. Change is sad. I won’t stop caring about you just because I’m not coming over a lot. And like I said, you can always call me.

If you and the child in question wants, changing your relationship with their parent doesn’t need to change your relationship with the kid. If you have taken on a large role in the kid’s life, this can be an important option.

1) Tell them about the change in your relationship with the partner

2) Reassure them that it doesn’t change your relationship with them

3) Give them a way to control how your relationship develops from there.

You: Hey Vanessa. I’ve got some tough news. Your parent and I aren’t going to be seeing each other anymore.
Vanessa: Does that mean you won’t come hang with me?
You: Of course I’ll come over if you want me to. Parent and I are changing our relationship, but you and I can still be (friends/family/what have you).
Vanessa: Good. I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t come to my art show next week.
You: I’ll be there. And you have my phone number. Anytime you want to get together, just give me a call.

(For younger kids: Parent has my phone number. Anytime you want to hang out, ask them to call me.)

This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.

Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patron.

Introducing Your Polyamory Partners and Metamours

Introductions are fairly universal. You bring person A over to Person B and you say “Person B, I’d like to introduce Person A” or some variation on that theme. In a social situation, it can be good to add something about the person. “Person A is a big Star Trek fan.” Try to make this something that will give the two something to talk about.

Names

When introducing someone it is “proper” to give both their full name and their title or relationship with you. So a “proper” introduction between your mother and your poly partner might be:

Mom, this is my poly partner, Francene Brook. Fran, this is my mother, Wanda Stiles.

Keep in mind, however, that poly etiquette is based not on propriety, but on honesty and respect. Not everyone likes their given name, not everyone wants their family name to be known, and many people have chosen names they prefer to use. Part of respect is introducing people by the names they want to be known by. So a poly introduction between your mother and your poly partner might be:

Mom, this is my poly partner, Fran. Fran, this is my mother, Mrs. S.

In formal situations, for instance at a work event, you are better off giving everyone’s full name. Having your boss think you are being disrespectful generally goes under the category of a Bad Thing. However, you can still respect people’s name preference by saying something like:

Mr. Jones, this is my partner Francene Brook. She goes by Fran.

Describing Relationships

It’s usually a good idea to include relationships in you introductions so people know what kind of social situation you are in. Your mother’s interactions with your boss are going to be very different from your mother’s interactions with your poly partners. For one thing, your mother probably won’t be tempted to show your baby pictures to someone from work. (Or you can hope anyway.)

Not giving people an idea of the relationships involved can lead to awkward social situations. It is slightly more respectful to include those relationships to help people avoid that awkwardness. However, you should not feel like you need to give a relationship with everyone you introduce. There is nothing wrong with saying:

Mom, this is Fran. Fran, this is Mrs. S.

If you do describe your relationships, try to use terms that the people you are introducing identify as. Your mother is probably comfortable being introduced as your mother. But Fran may prefer to identify as your girlfriend, you SO, you fiance, or your friend.

Similarly, Steve, who is dating Fran, may prefer to be introduced as your metamour, Fran’s OSO, Fran’s boyfriend, a friend, or something else.

Order of Introductions

If you are introducing several people from your polycule the formal approach would be to introduce them in order of entwinement:

Mom, this is my girlfriend Fran. She’s another stitch witch. And this is Fran’s boyfriend Steve. He’s the one to talk to if you want to know about film production. Fran, Steve, this is my mother Mrs. S.

If everyone is equally entwined or in informal situations, just go from left to right (or right to left, depending on which direction your language reads in.)

Mom, this is my girlfriend Fran. Next to Fran is her boyfriend, Steve. And on the other side of Steve is my partner Nick.

This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.

Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patron.