Goodbye, Metamour: The Second, Less Obvious Breakup

a black and white photo of a hand waving goodbye
Image by hobvias sudoneighm / CC BY

“How are you holding up?” I ask her.

“I’ll be honest with you,” she says. “It’s not good.”

I wait.

“It’s so strange. I don’t know why it’s affecting me so much. He’s the one that’s going through the breakup. But I feel like I am, too,” she says. “I’m going to miss her.”

“Your metamour?” I ask.

She nods. “We weren’t dating or anything, but we spent so much time together. She became my friend. One of my best friends. And now… I’m not sure what we’ll be. What she’ll be comfortable with. What he’ll be comfortable with.”

“Have you asked them?” I say.

“I’m planning on it,” she says. “It’s just a little soon right now. I did reach out to her and tell her that I’d be willing to talk to her if she wanted. I can see she read the message. No response yet. But maybe she needs time? Trying not to jump to conclusions there.”

“Does he know you wrote to her?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she says. “He didn’t seem terribly pleased about it. And he said something like ‘I wouldn’t expect a response.’ Not sure what to make of it.”

I nod.

“I’m trying to keep an open mind. Maybe time will help.”

“Not a bad way to look at it,” I say.

“But yeah. I never expected this to happen. It wasn’t easy when we opened up. I had to stretch a lot to really get comfortable and make a mental and emotional place for her in my life. It was a lot of work. But now that it’s ending… I miss her.”

Breaking Up With a Metamour

When I became polyamorous, I learned a lot about relationships. I expected that. What I didn’t expect? Was how much I would learn about breakups. People grow and change. And sometimes more love can mean more breakups.

And polyamory also means that there are often more people affected when people part ways. Losing a metamour when your partner breaks it off with their other partner can be its own form of loss. Sometimes the friendship survives; other times it doesn’t. And even if the friendship survives the breakup, it usually isn’t quite the same.

As Deborah Tannen writes:

As with a romantic partner, losing a friend means losing a language. No one else can understand the particular meanings of words that you shared, the references that made you laugh or nod in understanding. That loss is a testament to the power of conversation — of talk — to create a connection, a shared world.

If a friend who is part of your daily life moves away, a hole is left that is palpable every day.


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1 Comment

  1. I’m not in a poly relationship, I can totally understand the need to want to maintain a good relationship a good friendship. This would be one of the reasons I would probably find it hard to be in poly, however I’m still open minded about it and curious how others relate.

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