Photo by Lauryn McDowell/CC BY
Part #1 of the Poly Debriefing series is available here.
Part #2 of the Poly Debriefing series is available here.
Part #3 of the Poly Debriefing series is available here.
One thing that is plainly obvious is that there are certain people who date more than others. Their dance card is fully booked. They meet a new cluster of friends and are suddenly dating two-thirds of them.
There’s a good chance this person has a hinge personality.
A “hinge” in the strictest sense among polyamorous folk is a term used to denote someone who is involved with 2 people who are not involved with each other. Say Sally is dating both Mark and Steve, but Mark and Steve are not involved with one another romantically (some words to describe Mark and Steve’s relationship with one another would be “metamour” or “other’s significant other,” though other terms exist). Sally is the “hinge” between them.
I started to notice patterns as I dated and became friends with more poly people. Certain people were much more likely to be hinges than others. And I was one of those people. For whatever reason, I was a born hinge.
It sounds like a pretty good deal, in theory! All those lovers, all that fun! After all, the “harem” fantasy is built on just such an arrangement, taken to extreme numbers. And I’ll admit it had its moments with fabulous group sex in which I was the common link or back-to-back excellent dates. A metamour and sometimes lover would complain bitterly of envy for my situation, the amount of attention and love that I seemed to garner effortlessly.
But it wasn’t all wine and roses. Being a hinge has its challenges. For example, I supported and processed with both parties during their breakup while still being romantically involved with both of them. If you think that was complicated, you are right. Being involved with 4 or 5 people at a time meant someone was always having some kind of crisis, drama, or at the very least a bad day and needed support. It took a great deal of my time and mental energy to communicate with my partners, offer emotional support, commit to memory all that they had told me, and not confuse conversations I’d had with one person with another as the idea of being inauthentic or treating them generically or interchangeably bothered me on a deep level. As one would expect, I wasn’t perfect. Many people have trouble with these behaviors when conducting a romantic relationship with 1 individual, let alone several.
If you’re involved with a hinge personality, it’s tempting to be envious of them. It’s tempting to be harsh when complaining that they’re busy, that they make mistakes. While I’m sure your frustrations are real, if you want to continue to have a long lived, healthy relationship with this individual, it would behoove you to rethink this course of action. There are ways to express concerns in a way that is supporting and loving and relatively devoid of personal blame. It’s also important to make sure you’re supporting them as well, that not every conversation is devoted to what they’re doing wrong but also a celebration of what you have together with them.
Unless of course you find that the situation is simply not working for you, you don’t feel like they are capable of giving you what you want or need from them, and then the best bet in my opinion is a civil breakup.
If you are a hinge personality, make sure you take time to yourself and guard it. It’s easy when in the throes of multiple relationships to forget that your primary responsibility is to yourself. Not only that, but cutting corners in your self-care will inevitably translate to your not being able to give your best to your partners.
Hinges get a lot of action, but they’re also under a tremendous amount of stress.
And they might not always squeak before they break.