A new term has sprung to prominence recently, spurred on by a meme that’s going around. Petamours. The exact meaning of the term isn’t clear. It’s already being used a variety of ways. But from what I can tell, “petamour” is a term for a pet that is in your life because of your polyamorous social connections.
It’s a play on words that springs off an already commonly used term in polyamorous communities — metamour. A metamour is the name for anyone else who is dating your romantic partner.
A petamour could be your metamour’s pet. Or a petamour could also refer to the pet of a romantic partner that you don’t exactly co-own.
In the past when I was dating CC, he lived with a very surly extroverted white cat who was fittingly named after a professional wrestler. I always looked forward to seeing Wrestler Cat, even when things weren’t going well with CC. And I found myself pretty sad after we broke up that I probably would never see Wrestler Cat again.
Look, that cat was a character. I sometimes wonder how he’s doing — especially when I see another cat who looks like him.
When a Pet or Petamour Leaves Your Life
It’s far too easy to bond with pets that aren’t yours. And it’s tough to say goodbye to ones that were your pets or petamours, if circumstances change.
Maybe it’s not cool to admit it, but I can think of multiple relationships where things weren’t going so well with the owner but I still was going strong with their furry companion.
And to be brutally honest, I missed my former cat more than I missed my ex-husband after I granted him custody of our cat in the divorce. Whenever my ex and I talk, he’ll send me pictures, and we’ll discuss how the cat is doing. (Thankfully, very well — he’s a wonderfully charming cat. Used to be a bit quirky because we raised him alone but has finally figured out how to peacefully co-exist with other cats and last I heard is having the time of his feline life.)
Dealing with Difficult Petamours
I am unapologetically a cat person. Dogs are sweet, and I see the appeal of having them since they’re unconditional love machines and beam adoration at their owners from their eyes.
But I’ve found them to be rather intense. More than a person lacking natural maternal instincts (me) can comfortably manage without feeling like an abject failure. (Seriously, I managed to kill a cactus one time.) Especially since I’m a bit afraid of dogs (one attacked me when I was a little girl).
At times in my polyamorous past, I’ve briefly dated dog owners, and it’s definitely been a challenge when I inevitably was thrown into pet care. You know, the impromptu kind. The “can you watch the dog while I’m in the bathroom for 3 minutes?” variety. (The majority of the childcare I’ve done has been this way as well, although I did babysit for one metamour from time to time in the past.)
Or the times I’ve been sitting and relaxing with a partner, metamour, or friend, and their dog jumps up and starts showing me extreme affection that may or may not simultaneously be testing my place in the social hierarchy. “Will this human let me get my way?” “Is this human authorized to boss me around? ”
Jumping on me. Sniffing all over. Licking my face. Whatever.
I’m reminded in those moments that one person’s difficult petamour is another’s ideal petamour.