My Metamour, Chesh, and I had an interesting chat a couple weeks back. It related to polyamory – so, of course, I have to write a blog post about it! The basic premise we were discussing was, which typically-accepted “rules” of dating in mono-culture also apply to polyamory, and to what extent can they be extrapolated out when one is part of not just a couple, but a tribe, family or extended network?
An easy example: in mono-world, it is generally considered a bad idea to sleep with your colleagues. Plenty of people do it anyway, but it is widely accepted as unwise. In polyamory, I’d say this rule still applies – but can also be extended to suggest that sleeping with your partner’s or metamour’s workmates isn’t really appropriate, either. (This is kind of a shame, as someone in my immediate poly family has a colleague who is really cute and exactly my type, but such is life.)
This could easily make things really, really difficult for multiple people involved. What if you break up? You might never have to see the person again, but your partner or metamour might have to see them at the office every single day. What if someone isn’t “out?” Suddenly the potential for accidental “outing” has probably increased threefold. Isn’t mixing dating and work – even if indirectly – a Really Bad Idea?
Let’s look at another example: close friends. Don’t people generally advise against starting a romantic and/or sexual relationship with your best friend, because the potential for drama and the loss of a friendship is just too significant? I don’t personally think this is always something to be avoided, but certainly something to be careful of.
I don’t think this is quite so clear-cut when it comes to polyamory – I wouldn’t absolutely rule out dating someone just because they were a partner’s friend (pre-existing the relationship, that is – of course I want my partners to be friends with each other!) but I’d be… wary. Likewise, I don’t like to say that I would veto a relationship between a partner of mine and a close friend of mine…. but I’d be concerned, and this does come with caveats. My closest friends are like siblings to me. And I’d be seriously freaked if my partner slept with my (biological) sibling. It would follow, then, that it’d pretty massively freak me out if my partner got involved with a friend with whom I have that level of connection. Yes, I know it’s not exactly the same, but the emotional squick is remarkably similar.
So this one is… tricky. Like all things, it probably has to be navigated according to everyone’s individual comfort levels, the strength of the friendship, the seriousness of the relationship, and any myriad of other factors.
Personally I’d suggest when in doubt, steer clear.
And finally, we come to arguably the thorniest issue of all: exs. It seems to be (correct me if I’m wrong, it’s been a while since I lived full-time in Mono World) considered a Bad Bad Thing to date your friend’s ex – especially among women. Often, between two friends, one becoming involved with the other’s ex is the worst betrayal imaginable.
In polyamory, this can be a tricky one because there are a lot of complicated and multi-layered networks, and the community (and thus the pool of ‘available’ people to date) is significantly smaller.
With this one, I think a lot of it depends on the ex. I’d be incredibly angry, hurt and betrayed if a partner or metamour (or, for that matter, a good friend) slept with the ex who abused me for years, or the man who tried to rape me on our first date. But if they were to want to get involved with someone who didn’t really hurt me, someone with whom things just hadn’t worked out for whatever reason…. it might feel a little weird at first, but I’d probably ultimately be okay with it.
The other way around, I’d use similar judgement. I would never even vaguely consider any involvement with someone who broke my partner’s (or metamour’s or friend’s) heart, or someone who abused them or treated them very badly. Someone they’d had an amicable breakup with, a long time ago? Eh…. I’d check their comfort levels and respect them, of course, but much more likely to be okay.
What do you think, lovely readers? Is it inappropriate to get involved with your partner or metamour’s colleague? Best friend? Ex? I’m still working out my thoughts on this, and I’ll probably do a follow-up post at some point. Let’s hear some opinions on this!