Thursday, May 1, 2014

Metamour Allergies: I Can't Stand My Partner's Other Partner

Dear Viny,

I really, really, *really* don't like my partner's other partner. However, he is completely enamored with this person. I fear that he's too wrapped up in NRE to see what's going on. What should I do?

- Totally Irritated


Dear Irritated,

Unfortunately, the only known antidote to New Relationship Energy is time. Right now, your partner has those rose-colored wraparounds firmly affixed to his head with hormonal superglue, two balls of twine, a studded collar, and fifty yards of fuschia duct tape: there is nothing you can do or say that will make him see his lover through your eyes.

Unless you have serious concerns about your own or your partner's long-term health and/or immediate safety, the best course of action is probably to wait this one out. That can be tough when you're sneezing and wheezing and scratching at your metamour-induced hives, I realize. So here are a few suggestions for things you can do during the time it's going to take for your partner to come to his senses:

1) Check Your Own Lenses. Your partner may be too in love to see clearly, but what makes you so sure your own vision is any clearer? Are you looking at the world through the green-tinted glasses of jealousy or envy? If so, you have some work to do.
2) Gather More Information. Find out what you can about the person your partner thinks is so great. Approach this task in a spirit of curiosity and open inquiry, keeping in mind how easy it is to make snap judgments out of ignorance and/or fear. The point here is to understand the relationship dynamic better, not to add to your long list of dislikes.
3) Monitor Your Exposure. It's important to strike a balance between too much Metamour and too little. Are you spending too much time interacting with your partner's partner? Or do you go out of your way to avoid each other? Similarly, do you and your partner spend most of your time processing his other relationship and your negative feelings about it, or are you not communicating about it enough? Either extreme can be problematic.
4) Shift Your Focus. Obsessing about your irritations is a great way to make sure you feel irritated constantly. Try thinking about something else for a change. No, I'm not suggesting that you repress your negative feelings. Keeping the lid on seething resentments means that someone is bound to get scalded the next time you blow off some steam. Accept your feelings. Express them to your partner and/or your metamour, if necessary – as gently and thoughtfully as you can – and then move on.
5) Take Care of Yourself and Your Own Relationships. Your partner's relationship with his other partner is his business, not yours. Unless your partner is in real danger, it is not your responsibility to rescue him from this situation or protect him from the consequences of his bad decisions (if indeed engaging with this particular person turns out to have been a bad decision on his part). Recognize that your energy will be better spent attending to your own business.
6) Apply “Calamine” As Needed. When, despite your best efforts, you find yourself feeling super annoyed, treat yourself to whatever healthy (or even quasi-healthy!) distractions you most enjoy. Also, if you can think of something you, your partner, and your partner's partner would all enjoy doing together, something not likely to cause disagreements or bring up negative emotions for anyone – oven-mitt bowling, hopscotch, a stupid movie, whatever – try to make it happen.

You may never come to adore your partner's partner, but if you take my advice, chances are you'll be feeling meta-more better in six months to a year. At that point, you and your partner will both be seeing a bit more clearly, and you'll find that you are finally looking at the same person: a human being whom your partner fell in love with, and whom you really disliked, once upon a time. Either your partner will have realized that you were right all along, or you'll have realized that he was right all along – or, more likely, both of you will have realized that you both had somewhat valid, somewhat skewed perspectives initially. In any case, whether or not your partner's partner is still a part of your lives, all of you will probably have shifted into more comfortable positions.

Balsam and Butter,

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