What I Learned From Dinner With My Husband's Girlfriend

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She was terrifying. A tall, blonde, vegan who was seven years younger than me — and she never wore a bra. She was my husband’s girlfriend.

My husband Per and I were exploring Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM), which is an umbrella term for non-monogamy that includes open communication, mutual care, and consent. The learning process was uncomfortable. We had dabbled in friends-with-benefits relationships while Per and I were in a long-distance relationship. But neither of us had ever sought a relationship in the way Per was now dating his girlfriend. And this new shift was uncomfortable.

They met on a dating app and their first date was a long walk on the beach. They exchanged Bernie memes, while my friends and I spent our weekends campaigning for Elizabeth Warren. Per came home giddy and I hated it. I resented the way he smiled when his phone buzzed. She was everything I’m not: a great cook, a carefree spirit with free time and excess energy — and she was even a better gardener than me.

After they were dating for a few weeks, all three of us met for a drink at a run-down bar on the harbor. I wore a flowing yellow dress that showed off at least four inches of cleavage. I put on new lipstick and clenched my jaw. She arrived wearing a colorful flowing dress as well. She wasn’t wearing a bra, of course. She was certainly tall, blonde, and beautiful. I felt she was different from me in every way. She was also just a woman.

We talked about politics and books and the shades of pink in the sunset over the ocean that night. We shared stories about our pets and teased Per for his bad puns. He had his hand in mine most of the night. He’d also reach out and touch her knee under the table. He kissed her lightly when we said goodbye.

“She was certainly tall, blonde, and beautiful. I felt she was different from me in every way. She was also just a woman.”

Over popcorn and wine, I remembered she was just a person, not a threat. Later, she’d become a friend. Now, dinner with my metamours — the polyam term for the partner of my partner — is an enriching part of my life. In polyamory communities, metamours can have a range of different relationships. They can know about each other and never meet. They can be friendly but not friends. Each person gets to decide how they want to engage with metamours. The term reminds us we are connected, and therefore, there is a relationship between metamours, even if it’s distant. When we first explored polyamory, I preferred distance.

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