Polyamorous Hinge Problems: Shifting Gears Quickly

The gearshift and radio of a car. The entire console is glow in the dark, casting a nice eerie red glow.
Image by Michael Hicks / CC BY

People make a lot of assumptions about how polyamory would be a different way to live. Typically they assume it’s something having to do with being more jealous. And I never found that to be the case (and neither has research, which shows that folks in monogamous relationships tend to experience more jealousy than those in consensually non-monogamous ones). But make no mistake: Polyamory is very different. Just not in ways that people expect it to be.

And one big difference? Sometimes you have to shift gears really fast. Especially if you’re a hinge.

Shifting Gears

I’ve experienced this many times.

I got asked on a first date with a girl I’d been admiring for ages about 5 minutes after having my heart broken by someone else. When she called, it was all I could do to keep the teary sound out of my voice.

Another time I emerged from my first night with a new lover, a wonderful experience, to find my husband and our girlfriend were breaking up with one another. And suddenly, still reeling from the newness from the night before with someone else, I was thrust into a mediation role. Keeping a calm and neutral face, listening carefully to both of their needs and concerns.

Carrying that many layers of emotions is a striking experience and one that society has largely not prepared us for.

No one ever told us what to do when we come home from a wonderful date to find that our anchor partner needs consoling about something else. How to be present for them, the person we’re with in that moment, while still nursing a quiet glow from where we’ve just been. Without rubbing it in or inadvertently snuffing out that flame. Keeping it stoked just right in the background, where it warms you but won’t burn anyone else.

No. No one prepares you for any of that. As a polyamorous hinge, I experience it particularly often.

I have 99 problems, and jealousy ain’t one (not right now anyway). A couple of them though? Usually involve shifting gears quickly.

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Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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2 Comments

  1. Can relate to this scenario but experience it as a great potential not a problem – more support options can be empowering and ease the pressures on each person’s capacity to be available.

    Also don’t see this as a poly thing but rather as a life thing… how many mono relationships suffer from one partner having had an awesome day at work coming home to a partner who’s had an awful day, or vice versa (as an example)? It feels like a necessary evolution of emotional capacity and sense-of-self to be able to hold both the joy and the anguish, not having to give up on either, remaining in a place of love, compassion and acceptance.

  2. “don’t see this as a poly thing but rather as a life thing”

    Very true! It’s what Skyspook (my anchor partner) said when he heard about this post.

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