Meeting metamours can be wonderful, scary, heartwarming, anxiety producing and all kinds of other things. How you feel about it is likely affected by the kind of relationship that you are in, how secure you are feeling and what you have heard about the other person. Before you make plans to meet up, it is worth thinking about what will set the meeting up for the best possible outcome. That means recognising what works for you, and if you can, considering what works for the other person, too. Here are 5 things to think about when you go to make a meetup plan:
- Who should be there?
There are SO MANY OPTIONS here, so I think this one really takes some working out. You could meet one to one, go to the same poly (or other) meetup, or just have the two of you and your mutual partner there. The choice you make about who is going to be there will probably be the first decision, because lots of the other things will follow from it. For example, if you decide that you are meeting at a poly group you probably won’t need to plan logistics particularly carefully since there will be a group time and place already set. If, on the other hand, you decide to meet one-to-one then you will have to make more decisions about when, where and for how long you are meeting. It is worth thinking through whether you work better in groups or one-to-one. Some people find meeting at a group easier because there are lots of people around to distract you if something feels awkward. For others, this would be their idea of hell and would in no way make them likely to have a nice and productive conversation. There is no right answer, just a right for you answer.
Whether or not your mutual partner should be there is another important question. There was a time when my partners meeting each other without me there made me very anxious. The people I date typically like each other and have their own independent relationships, which are not limited by any anxiety that I might feel. Obviously, they talk to each other whenever they like. Nevertheless, when they first meet I am usually there because I usually ask whether they would be interested and set it up. I have introduced my people over coffee, lunch, at board games meets, at poly groups and at Bicon. Sometimes we did this in one-to-one meetings, because the people involved preferred that, and sometimes we chose group situations because that felt more appropriate. I think matching the context to the people really helps to make it a positive experience, so work out what works for you.
- How should it get planned?
If your mutual partner is going to be there, then it often makes sense for them to be in the middle of the planning, but if you’re someone that prefers to make arrangements yourself and to get to know the other person in the process, then setting up communication in advance is a great idea. A lot of the time the required planning is minimal, but that doesn’t mean not there at all. Figure out what is going to be the least stressful option for all concerned and give it a go!
- What do you want to communicate before the meeting?
Whether it is that you have a horrible allergy to nuts, or that the colour orange makes you irrationally angry, there may be something that you need to say before you meet. It could be about the process of planning, the meet itself or your boundaries. Whatever it is, work out if there is anything that you need to put out there before meeting up. For some people, if your mutual partner is going to be there then some conversation needs to happen about PDA’s, greetings and even seating arrangements. For others, going with the flow is fine and there is no need to micromanage that stuff. It is a matter of personal preference, but meeting people’s preferences can be the difference between a lovely and relaxed meeting and someone/s feeling abandoned, jealous or rejected.
- Logistics: when, where and for how long?
This might seem simply a matter of scheduling, but it is also about what is comfortable. Some people prefer a short meeting; this makes sense because if everyone knows that it will be brief in advance, it isn’t awkward for someone to want to leave 15 minutes in. Others like to decide on the day because they feel perfectly comfortable leaving if they feel like it, or they have set it up as part of a wider event.
Making sure that venues meet everyone’s needs is critical. I sometimes use a mobility device, and if a meetup is scheduled for somewhere that I can’t get into with my scooter, that signals to me that my partner or metamour hasn’t considered those needs. People can have sensitivities to light, sound, temperature, crowds, etc. Making sure that a meetup is in a place that doesn’t cause significant discomfort is a good starting point.
Timing is important, too. It is usually best to pick a time when you won’t feel rushed, and ideally on a day when you haven’t already had to deal with lots of other stuff that has the potential to be emotionally draining.
- If you find social situations awkward or difficult, working out potential conversation topics might help.
If you’re someone that likes to be prepared, one option is to work out the kinds of topics that you will most likely both have an interest in discussing. The hinge partner knows and likes both of you, so they may well have ideas about the kinds of things that you are both interested in. Thinking about topics that you like to talk about in advance might help you to feel calmer and more relaxed about meeting. After all, it is a lot easier to get into conversation about stuff that genuinely interests us, even with someone we don’t really know.
Feel free to add your own suggestions or tips – the experience of meeting a metamour is as unique as your relationships with your shared partner. There really is no ‘one size fits all’. Like all good relationships, it is mostly about working out what works for you.