metamour (noun) – a partner’s other partner
“When are you meeting up with your lady friend?” I ask my partner Justin.
Lady friend. I don’t know what else to call her. Since I don’t yet know her first name. That’ll come later. All I know at this point is that they both swiped the same way on Tinder and are planning to meet up to… have coffee? I think. Have a drink? No, I don’t think that’s it. But I’m not sure.
I can’t remember which they settled on. All I know is it was supposed to be one and now it’s the other. Because the schedule changed between the time the initial plans were made and now.
He tells me the time they’re meeting up. And that they’re getting coffee. Grabbing a drink was their previous plan.
“Okay,” I say. “If you run a bit late, it probably won’t matter since Ikea is open until –”
He interrupts me. “I won’t be late,” he says.
“Well, it’s okay if you are. I’ll understand.” Because we have plans for later in the day, but I’m willing to be flexible since there’s someone new involved. And new people can be unpredictable.
“I won’t be late,” he repeats.
Lower Case Dating Versus Upper Case Dating
His first date goes well. As promised, he is on time, comes home right when he said he would. His first date turns into another. Which turns into another.
I learn her first name, this new person. See a picture of her.
I’m talking with friends about something else and mention her by name, in the context of discussing Justin’s schedule.
“Wait, who’s that?” one of them asks me.
I think for a second, before replying, “That’s Justin’s new lady friend,” I say. I explain that they met online, and I don’t know what exactly is going on there. That I’m trying not to be a Buttinski. That all I really know is that they seem to enjoy one another’s company and keep hanging out.
“Like, I think they’re lower case dating but not upper case Dating,” I say. “I don’t want to call her his girlfriend because I don’t think they’ve had that talk. I don’t think they’re there yet. But I don’t really know know.”
None of us are all that big on labels anyway. Justin’s going with the flow, letting it be what it is.
I Think You’re Awesome, But Are You My Metamour?
“You’d like her,” Justin says. “I think you two would be really good friends.” He tells me he’s talked to her about meeting me. Asked her if she’d be comfortable with my reaching out to her via text. And she said yes. He says he’s going to give her my number. And he gives me hers.
I text his lady friend. It’s an easy conversation. We make plans to meet up for Indian food, which we both love. And we hit it off.
I’m floating a little after it happens. Because I had so much fun talking with her. I’ve made a new friend. And a cool one.
I love my current friends, but my social circle hasn’t changed in quite a while. It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve met someone new.
She seems like an amazing metamour, I think. But I stop myself right there. Metamour? Is she my partner’s other partner? Justin’s my partner, but is she his?
Again, I don’t know. I can look at both of them and get a sense of how they feel for one another.
But labels? Right. I don’t have the first clue how she sees it, exactly. Whether she’d be flattered, offended, or neutral to be thought of as my metamour.
I could ask. But I don’t want to make things weird, or rush either of them into having conversations they’re not ready for (Justin and she are both introverts), so I just chill.
Lady Friends and Gentleman Callers
I’m talking to my girlfriend Ro about it later. “It’s funny… official versus unofficial can be such a sticky thing when it’s your OWN relationships, let alone when it’s your partner’s. And yet… people always ask. They wanna know. ‘Who is that? What’s the deal there? What’s going on with them?’ they ask. And honestly, you don’t really know, other than basic description of events. Justin met her on Tinder. They’ve been on X number of dates. I’ve hung out with her X number of times. Here’s what I know about her.”
Ro nods in agreement. “You’re right. It can be incredibly ambiguous, especially at the beginning. And something awkward that nobody really talks about, the lack of that language, especially when labels are fuzzy or not being talked about.”
“That’s why I call her his ‘lady friend,'” I tell her. “That’s what I’ve decided to call this sort of situation. Where my partner has met someone on an app, and they’re going out on dates. But it implies absolutely nothing else.”
“I love it!” Ro says.
We brainstorm together for a male equivalent, before settling on “gentleman caller.”
It’s a bit later after my time with Ro is over and I’m hanging with Justin again that I realize I’ve omitted an important label. “Crap,” I say. “What’s the gender-neutral equivalent of lady friend and gentleman caller?”
“Oooo,” Justin says. “Good question.”
“I can’t think of any,” I say, feeling defeated.
I sulk, until a few minutes later he offers a suggestion: “Frequent visitor.”
“Ah!” I say. “I love it. Lady friend, gentleman caller, frequent visitor. All handy ways to refer to a metamour or a potential metamour when it’s not a capital-R Relationship.”
My new book is out!
Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).