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Poly Hinges: A Field Guide

·801 words·4 mins

One thing that is plainly obvious in Poly.Land 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. We call these folks poly hinges.

Technically speaking, a “hinge” is 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 (Mark and Steve’s relationship with one another would be “metamours”). Sally is the “hinge” between them.

I started to notice patterns as I dated and became friends with more polyamorous people. Certain people were much more likely to be poly hinges, and in general to date more, a lot more, than others. There’s a good chance this person has a hinge personality.

I’ve been fascinated by poly hinges for years and have noticed 4 basic types.

The Caretaker

Photo by Tony Alter

Caretakers have excellent relationship skills. They’re great at providing emotional support and exercising self-control. They anticipate the needs of others and will climb mountains to improve the lives of those they love.

Pros: When dating other caretaker types, the mutual support system is unshakable, solid, and wonderful. Helping people is generally gratifying and feels good.

Cons: At risk of being abused by unscrupulous or selfish partners. May not take enough time or do enough for themselves.

Challenges: Asking for support from others when they need it. Making sure that they don’t run themselves down helping others. Recognizing when they’re being mistreated. Accepting support that they need.

Suggested Reading: The Curse of Poly Competence, How to Know If You’re a Scapegoat, The Crumple Zone, Polyamory and Boundaries


The Collector

The Collector

~ Photo by richardsummers


Collectors seek as many connections as possible. Love is limitless, horizons infinite. They know there are always more fish in the sea, so they cast a lot of lines and catch a lot of fish.

Pros: Very charming. Good at attracting partners. They know everyone. Knowing a wide variety of people can definitely enrich their life and improve their people skills.

Cons: People are not Pokémon.  It’s a very bad idea to try to fuck one’s way to better self-esteem, to collect admirers and hangers-on in a never-ending quest for attention.

Challenges: Keeping partners happy. Not mixing up conversations or experiences they had with one partner with another. Keeping track of their various agreements with people and not violating rules unintentionally.

Suggested Reading: Always Seeking, Never Finding: An Ent Among the Active Daters Dear Strangers Who Want to Masturbate on Cam for Me, Don’t Treat People as Things (from the Polyamorous Misanthrope)


The Beauty Queen

Photo by Jonathan Stonehouse

Beauty Queens are fucking hot. They come in all genders. They might not even fit society’s standard definition of beauty (although many do), but they are physically attractive and know how to use what they have.

Pros: Similar to Collectors, they attract partners well. They have a ton of options when it comes to partner selection. They get invited to all the cool parties. It’s never a problem getting plenty of attention.

Cons: Can end up in really incompatible relationships. Everyone is after them, and it can be tough to discern between people who are actually appreciative of important personality qualities and who just wants to objectify them in un-fun nonconsensual ways.

Challenges: Figuring out who really cares about them as a person and not just the pretty face. Dealing with people who are jealous of their beauty. Harassment and cat-calling.

Suggested Reading: In the Land of Beautiful Women, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places


The Celebrity

The Celebrity

Photo by carbonnyc

Celebrities have notoriety and can easily leverage that preexisting popularity into having more partners. This renown can be in a number of fields — the arts, tech, social media, etc. Celebrities come in all sizes, from being a top poster on an internet forum that a couple people go to, all the way up to being a household name.

Pros: Have access to unusual VIP experiences. Art types have plenty of muses.

Cons: Can be hard to keep a low profile. High risk of being outed. Like Beauty Queens, it can be tough to know if people actually like them for their personalities or if they’re surrounded by fame whores.

Challenges: Being discreet. Balancing their career and their relationships. Figuring out whose interest is genuine and who just wants to be close to fame or be a muse.

Suggested Reading: What’s So Bad About an Open Marriage?, List of polyamorists



Some poly hinges are hybrids and fall into more than one category — but hey this is poly, not Highlander. Since when did we limit ourselves to one?


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