I remember being new to polyamory and meeting my partner’s partner for the first time. I was so nervous! I couldn’t help but wonder… would there be awkward silence? Would we feel jealous of one another? How would we handle being together in the same room? Even though I had opened myself up to the notion of abundance when it comes to love and sex, a small part of me wondered if I would be entering onto the set of Cheaters.
Over time I’ve learned that it’s totally normal to have these fears and that by following a few simple guidelines you can make the experience much more comfortable for everyone.
Meet in a neutral place. A restaurant or a coffee shop is definitely a better choice than your partner’s living room or (god forbid) your parent’s basement. It’s important that everyone feel at ease and capable of small talk, especially at first. Commenting on the menu or the barista’s tattoos is a far easier topic of casual conversation than that weird stain on your couch cushion.
Expect some awkwardness and find the humor in it. Laugher is an excellent way to overcome those initial feelings of uncertainty. Make jokes to fill the silences that are sure to punctuate your conversation, but beware: You might be tempted to make fun of your partner’s quirks in an attempt to forge a bond with the new partner you’re meeting. We all know that nervousness can make us do some crazy things, but it’s important to keep the humor light and impartial so as not to embarrass anyone. The idea is to make everyone feel safe and comfortable enough to open up.
Be sensitive to everyone’s needs. Try to put yourself in your partner’s place. What must it feel like to be faced with the task of dividing attention and affection equally between two people? How does the other partner feel? Probably a lot like you do! Speak to your partner beforehand about ways to make the new partner feel included. Plan to leave the table at a certain point to give your partner a chance to check in with everyone privately. It can ease the tension a bit and help everyone feel included and respected.
Talk about your expectations openly and honestly. If you’re a new partner entering into an existing relationship, do you desire a secondary or a primary role? How much time do you want or need to spend with your partner in order to feel loved and connected? Can the three of you envision a schedule that works for everyone? It’s a good idea to talk about these things early on, but it’s okay if your initial meeting only covers the small talk. Part of being honest is respecting the boundaries of what you are all comfortable with discussing at the time.
Make a plan to communicate directly with one another: Be sure to exchange contact info with your partner’s partner. This will give you both an opportunity to address any concerns as they arise, without subjecting your partner to the task of go-between. It will also help in achieving the kind of transparency necessary for your poly relationship to work.
So don’t be scared! If you approach the meeting of partners with humor, sensitivity, honesty and communication, you will find it can be a wonderful experience.
What was your experience of meeting a new partner like? Please share in the comments!