Polyamory Toolbox: Wearing the Friend Hat

2 plastic toy people who appears to be friends. Both are wearing hats and scarves. They are positioned so that they seem to be in mid-conversation with one another.
Image by fdecomite / CC BY

Part of what can feel daunting when trying to navigate polyamorous relationships is how few cultural models we have for a lot of what happens.

How are we supposed to act when we’re sharing a romantic partner with others? And how should we interact with our metamours (i.e., our partner’s other partners)?

Popular depictions of love triangles are profoundly unhelpful. Adversarial. A great how-to of what not to do. And we unfortunately don’t have great examples of how we should act.

But as I said in a previous piece, we do have plenty of cultural models: They just aren’t romantic.

We share friends with others all the time. Even our best friends sometimes will have a second best friend.

So one really helpful tool I have in my polyamory toolbox is the Friend Hat.

Using the Friend Hat

The Friend Hat is a really simple technique with a lot of uses. That’s why it’s one of my favorites.

When you’re feeling a bit lost as to how to interact with a metamour, you can ask yourself:

What would I do if we weren’t sharing a lover but a best friend?

If you find yourself unhappy about your partner’s choice in other partners, the Friend Hat can be used as a self-check to differentiate between having practical concerns about a metamour and disliking them for other reasons:

Would I have concerns if a close friend were dating this person? 

You can also use the Friend Hat as a check to determine whether or not your partner is making reasonable requests.

Would what my partner is doing or asking for be appropriate if that same request came from a close friend?

And it comes in handy to make sure you are also doing the same.

Would what I’m asking from my partner be reasonable if I was asking this of a close friend?

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Now maybe that’ll help. And maybe it won’t. But wearing the Friend Hat means you at least have a starting point to launch your own assessments from.

Because sometimes it’s easier to rewrite something that you’re familiar with than to start completely from scratch.

 

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