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?
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.