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HomeLifestyleRelationships & DatingParamour vs. Metamour: What's the Difference?

Paramour vs. Metamour: What’s the Difference?

A polyamory relationship is having sexual relations with different partners at a time.

It is commonly referred to as a non-monogamous relationship, as it goes beyond the confines of exclusive commitment to a single partner.

However, what many might not realize is that the realm of polyamory encompasses various relationship dynamics and structures, each with its unique characteristics and terminologies.

Today, we will delve into two specific terms within the vast landscape of polyamory: “paramour” and “metamour.”

In some regions, these two terms have been used interchangeably, giving a sense that they mean the same thing. But do they?

Read on to find out…

Who Is A Paramour?

In modern times, the term “paramour” is commonly used to refer to a secret or illicit lover, particularly when the person they are involved with is already married.

However, this usage might actually be a misinterpretation of the term’s original meaning.

To understand why, let’s take a brief historical detour back to its origins.

The noun ‘Paramour’ has its roots in an old French phrase, ‘par amour,’ which can be translated to mean ‘by love’ or ‘through love.’

The relationship implied by the term was, therefore, intended to be founded entirely on love.

This suggests that the individuals involved in the romantic relationship could either be two people who are not married to each other or an individual (or individuals) in a relationship based on love with a married person.

The word ‘paramour’ has a fascinating history dating back to the 13th century, where it originally meant “with strong desire/love, passionately.”

During this time, Christian men commonly used the term to express devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, while women used it to convey their adoration for Jesus Christ himself.

The meaning changed with time, and by the mid-14th century, the term was being translated to mean terms of endearment such as ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’.

At the time, it could also be used when referring to a husband or a wife.

Towards the end of the 14th century, paramour’s meaning changed to ‘mistress’, ‘concubine’, and ‘clandestine lover’.

During that time, a more elaborate definition was required when using the term, as it could describe both acceptable and illicit relationships.

However, going down to the 17th century, its definition shifted to only describe illicit relationships.

Since then, a paramour is defined as a secret lover (be it male or female) of a married person.

Who Is A Metamour?

A metamour is your partner’s other partner. Simply put, it refers to your boyfriend’s girlfriend or your girlfriend’s boyfriend.

To arrive at a more definitive understanding of the term “metamour,” we can break it down into two constituent parts: ‘meta’ and ‘amour’.

The prefix ‘meta’ translates to ‘after’ or ‘between’, while ‘amour’ means ‘love’.

Unlike a paramour, a metamour is not kept a secret. It is known to all the parties involved that their relationship is non-monogamous. In other words, they take part in an open relationship.

The term metamour came into use in the millennial era. It was introduced to help distinguish between an illicit affair and a consensus open relationship.

In a metamour connection, not all parties have a romantic relationship with each other. In most cases, only one person co-joins the other parties.

However, metamours can be in contact with each other, either as acquaintances, best friends, or colleagues.

In any case, whether they are strangers or not, they are aware of each other’s existence.

The bottom line is: a metamour relationship requires basic principles that strike a balance and spare the involved persons from emotional hurt.

In recent years, a day known as “Metamour Day” (28th February) has been created to recognize and acknowledge one’s partner’s partner, in response to the well-known Valentine’s Day celebrated on 14th February.

The table below gives a summary of the main differences between a paramour and a metamour.

PARAMOURMETAMOUR
The term originated in the 13th century.The term was introduced in the millennial era.
A paramour is kept secret.Metamours are aware of the other person’s existence, and can even be close friends.
A paramour is one who has a romantic relationship with a married person and hence the relationship is regarded as an affair.Whether the partner is married or not, a metamour is involved in a non-monogamous relationship and therefore not regarded an affair.

The Evolving Meanings of Paramour and Metamour

If history is any indication, the meanings of certain terms are bound to evolve to suit the preferences and norms of people living during a specific period.

For example, a poet or someone interested in 13th-century literature might use the term ‘paramour’ to describe a socially acceptable romantic relationship from that era.

It is, therefore, important to understand the context in which the term is being used to comprehend its intended meaning accurately.

On the other hand, the term ‘metamour’ could mean a non-monogamous relationship today and something different in years to come.

For instance, in some cases, lovers of Meta platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have been humorously referred to as Metamours.

Wrap Up

As discussed in this post, there exists a substantial distinction between metamours and paramours.

The main difference lies in the level of secrecy and openness within their respective relationships.

A paramour is typically kept secret because they are involved in an illicit relationship with a married person.

 In contrast, a metamour is a partner who participates in an open relationship and is generally aware of the existence of other romantic partners.

You may also want to check: Being a Primary in a Poly Relationship: Here Is How to Navigate and Integrate Successfully

Chrisa Sayi

Dr. Chrisa Sayi is a distinguished clinical psychologist, renowned author, and gobally recognized relationship expert. With a decade of experience, she has guided numerous couples toward healthier, more fulfilling connections. Dr. Sayi has shared his invaluable insights at over 30 conferences and penned over 100 professional articles and books. Her expertise has been featured in many reputable publications, including Glamour, Medium, Daily Nation, Awakening Africa, Reader's Digest, Bustle, UpJourney, Fatherly, The Zoe Report, Cosmopolitan, and many more. For further engagement, you can connect with Dr. Chrisa Sayi on Twitter via @DrChrisaSayi1.

Chrisa Sayi
Chrisa Sayihttp://kenyalogue.com
Dr. Chrisa Sayi is a distinguished clinical psychologist, renowned author, and gobally recognized relationship expert. With a decade of experience, she has guided numerous couples toward healthier, more fulfilling connections. Dr. Sayi has shared his invaluable insights at over 30 conferences and penned over 100 professional articles and books. Her expertise has been featured in many reputable publications, including Glamour, Medium, Daily Nation, Awakening Africa, Reader's Digest, Bustle, UpJourney, Fatherly, The Zoe Report, Cosmopolitan, and many more. For further engagement, you can connect with Dr. Chrisa Sayi on Twitter via @DrChrisaSayi1.
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