Introductions are fairly universal. You bring person A over to Person B and you say “Person B, I’d like to introduce Person A” or some variation on that theme. In a social situation, it can be good to add something about the person. “Person A is a big Star Trek fan.” Try to make this something that will give the two something to talk about.
When introducing someone it is “proper” to give both their full name and their title or relationship with you. So a “proper” introduction between your mother and your poly partner might be:
Mom, this is my poly partner, Francene Brook. Fran, this is my mother, Wanda Stiles.
Keep in mind, however, that poly etiquette is based not on propriety, but on honesty and respect. Not everyone likes their given name, not everyone wants their family name to be known, and many people have chosen names they prefer to use. Part of respect is introducing people by the names they want to be known by. So a poly introduction between your mother and your poly partner might be:
Mom, this is my poly partner, Fran. Fran, this is my mother, Mrs. S.
In formal situations, for instance at a work event, you are better off giving everyone’s full name. Having your boss think you are being disrespectful generally goes under the category of a Bad Thing. However, you can still respect people’s name preference by saying something like:
Mr. Jones, this is my partner Francene Brook. She goes by Fran.
It’s usually a good idea to include relationships in you introductions so people know what kind of social situation you are in. Your mother’s interactions with your boss are going to be very different from your mother’s interactions with your poly partners. For one thing, your mother probably won’t be tempted to show your baby pictures to someone from work. (Or you can hope anyway.)
Not giving people an idea of the relationships involved can lead to awkward social situations. It is slightly more respectful to include those relationships to help people avoid that awkwardness. However, you should not feel like you need to give a relationship with everyone you introduce. There is nothing wrong with saying:
Mom, this is Fran. Fran, this is Mrs. S.
If you do describe your relationships, try to use terms that the people you are introducing identify as. Your mother is probably comfortable being introduced as your mother. But Fran may prefer to identify as your girlfriend, you SO, you fiance, or your friend.
Similarly, Steve, who is dating Fran, may prefer to be introduced as your metamour, Fran’s OSO, Fran’s boyfriend, a friend, or something else.
Order of Introductions
If you are introducing several people from your polycule the formal approach would be to introduce them in order of entwinement:
Mom, this is my girlfriend Fran. She’s another stitch witch. And this is Fran’s boyfriend Steve. He’s the one to talk to if you want to know about film production. Fran, Steve, this is my mother Mrs. S.
If everyone is equally entwined or in informal situations, just go from left to right (or right to left, depending on which direction your language reads in.)
Mom, this is my girlfriend Fran. Next to Fran is her boyfriend, Steve. And on the other side of Steve is my partner Nick.
This post is part of the Polyamory Etiquette blog series.