FAQ: How does a couple find a third?

I get lots of questions from couples looking to “add” or “bring in” another person to their relationship. This is generally referred to as “unicorn hunting,” as the third person is a “unicorn.”

I cover most of this in my other posts, but here is a breakdown of what I’m likely to tell you if you send me a question about finding a third:

One: Be patient. There are approximately one berzillion books, songs, movies, comics, and whathaveyou about how hard it is for monogamous people to find partners. It takes time and effort. And it’s much harder to find someone who is attracted to two other people and is attractive to those two other people. The math is not on your side. Don’t assume that you’ll visit a few poly meetups and make a couple’s profile on OKC and suddenly be awash in options. That’s not how dating works, for anyone, of any relationship style.

Two: People are not sex toys. Most messages I get are phrased as people “looking for a third to add to their relationship.” That’s a pretty objectifying way to frame it. Would you be into someone if they said “hey, I’ve been looking for a boyfriend to add to my life, I am hereby inviting you to be included in what I want to do”? People are people - you gotta treat them like it.

Three: Why are you doing this? Ask yourself why it’s critical to you that you and your partner find someone to date together, as a unit. Is it to offset jealousy on one side? Because what you really want is a threesome? To try and explore non-monogamy without threatening your existing relationship? All of those require more self-work and honesty on your part. Try to work out those issues together - adding a third will not magically solve existing problems. Consider whether it’s possible to try V-shaped non-monogamy, even if that takes more time and emotional work on your part.

Four: What do you have to offer? Most requests for a third look just like that - requests. “We want a bisexual woman who wants to be exclusive with us.” That’s nice. But people don’t come special-order like American Girl dolls you can build online with the exact specs you want. Again, would you be interested in someone whose dating profile read “I’m looking for a woman, preferably blonde or redhead, into hiking or swimming, with left-leaning politics and a passion for oral sex”? You want to be a couple that other people are drawn to organically, not a couple on the prowl.

Here are some of my posts on the topic:

And here are resources elsewhere: