February 17, 2011

Do you Metacommunicate?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 5:52 pm by Kathleen

Love in Abundance by Kathy Labriola introduced me to a new term for something that I already do. And you should too!

You always hear in poly relationships how important communication is, but the type of communication is just as important. If you say “I am uncomfortable with the amount of time you’re spending with your new girlfriend.” (factual) But you mean “I feel left out and I need some love and validation.” (emotional) and your guy hears “I don’t want you to date her anymore!” (problem solving), then the three of you have a big problem! It isn’t that you aren’t communicating, it is that you’re not being clear about what you want to get out of your communication.

Hence, metacommunication. If you start that conversation off instead with “I’m going to tell you something because I need some emotional support,” your guy isn’t going to jump into problem solving mode and think you want him to take a certain action. Other than giving you a hug, I mean.

Communicating about communicating might seem like overkill, but when you are clear about your intentions or needs or desires before the actual “meat” of the conversation, you can save yourself and your partner(s) a lot of pain and frustration as you talk circles around each other or misinterpret things. If your partner wants help solving a problem, and he says so, he’ll get what he needs rather than a hug and a “good luck”.

So, do you metacommunicate?



  1. Deb said,

    We didn’t – do now. You have to get to the stage of actually being aware of your underlying emotions. Initially uncomfortable feelings can be attributed wrongly in ignorance.

  2. Doc said,

    That is a good start to communicating well but I think there is more to metacommunication. For example, defining the words being used, whether in metacommunication or communication. My definition of the words ‘date’, ‘play’, or ‘relationship’ may be different that those of the person I’m communicating with. To often we assume the definition of key words during conversation. Later when a problem pops up everyone is confused because they thought they had a conversation about something and were on the same page. Often the result will be the feeling there is an integrity or honesty problem when in fact it was a misunderstanding over the basic definition of key words used in an important conversation.

    Good post! And a good reminder that communication is about more than just having a conversation. It is also about attaining mutual understanding and communication style.


    • Kathleen said,

      No kidding! I swear tis true, my husband and I had a very difficult fight because one of us misunderstood what the other meant by “sex”. We’ve since learned to be a lot clearer.

  3. Kasini said,

    I am learning to metacommunicate. What I mean by that is that I’m learning to communicate the “meta”. In the past I wouldn’t communicate at all. I’d feel the discomfort and then sit with myself and figure out the emotions and needs behind it, and then talk myself out of communicating those needs because they were just “my issue” and I’d deal with it on my own.

    The other side of this would be that if my partner tried to communicate I’d jump straight to problem solving (because why else would they be communicating unless they’d decided that it wasn’t “their issue” and thus wanted me to deal with it for them) and resentment.


    Now I’m learning that even things I own can be communicated, and that things communicated to me don’t always need to be fixed.

  4. Myrddwn said,

    We have always had excellent communication. I think that is why our relationship is so strong. If one of us has a problem, we talk about it BEFORE it becomes more than an irritation.
    And we have always put a qualifier such as ‘I’m having an emotional reaction’ or ‘I need you to fix this’. We never called it ‘meta’, we just called it ‘communication’. Anything that does not solve the problem, or at least begin the process of repair, does not seem like successful communication to me, so I just sort of lumped it all together.
    Hey there Kasini, fancy seeing you here! Are you following me?
    If anybody is interested, Kasini and I run our own little poly/kink blog at coffeehousetramps.wordpress.com

  5. Angel said,

    I don’t communicate. My partner is extremely good at it though any little thing and he has to get it out it’s good in a way but sometimes I wish he would internalize his long speeches. I’m very quiet and hate to let anyone know thoughts or feelings sometimes I’m forced to but I’m not good at talking and I find it really frustrating when no one gets what I’m saying. I’m very self critical and I analyze my emotions a lot I like to find route causes and work on them I don’t feel like I need to let anyone know. I don’t even write things down incase someone finds it. Been with current partners over 9 years an only now has my communication become an issue for them. I don’t know how to openup more or where to even start I just hope they don’t give up on me. Ps love your blog so far 🙂

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