Some weeks ago, I went to a holiday party at the house of some people my family knows. The hosts are a husband and wife who got married pretty recently (for the purpose of this post I will call them R and E). Before that, my family had attended some game nights hosted by him, out of some circumstances with which I knew that he was then polyamorous. (But did not know, going to the party, if that was still the case).
He greeted us at the door; when we came into the living room (we were pretty much the first people there) we saw a woman who I then assumed was E. However, pretty soon after that another woman came into the room and it turned out that in fact she was E, and the first woman was thus clearly not (I will call her J). I asked J if she lived there too; she said she did not. I subsequently (including while watching E and J interact) started wondering if they were metamours. This turned out to indeed be the case.
Later at the party, I overheard a different person telling a story about how she and her girlfriend went on a roadtrip and got repeatedly taken for sisters, despite the fact that they don’t look alike. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that kind of story.
Together, this made me think about reading relationships working out as this combination of getting impressions on some level, and then interpreting them with what you have in your mind.
On some level I got impressions about J not feeling like another guest, and my brain went to other options I might have associated with what I was getting. Since I did have polyamory and etc in my head to work with, I could think of that one. If I hadn’t, I can see myself having wondered if they were, say, sisters-in-law, or other extended family.
Similarly, some of the people the other couple encountered might have been on some level getting the impression of ‘something other than friends’ – and then again, going to other options they have available in mind as associated.*
*To be clear, the reason what-people-have-in-minds works this way is heteronormativity etc and this is bad. This is me having thoughts about its existence, not saying it’s ok.