I'm a writer looking for insight into polyamory

I'm a writer trying to portray a polyamorous triad between my three main characters. Is there any advice you could give about how these feelings develop?

As far as I can say, romantic and sexual feelings develop for triads about the same way they develop for pairs. It's unique to every individual, but there will be those butterflies, flirting, trying to suss out mutual interest, etc. that you typically see in a budding romance. Then, forming the triad will take some communication and intentionality, but there's no special secret ingredient that goes into polyamorous attraction. 

I've answered a similar question here, and I recommend checking out my FAQ page on polyamorous representation in fiction, as well as my general resources on polyamory here.

Some other writers have put together guides on writing polyamorous characters - remember that people can only speak for their own individual experiences, so be informed and intentional and never rely on one single source!

FAQ: Poly representation in fiction & nonfiction media

I get a lot of questions asking about where to read or watch stories about polyamorous relationships, and I always end up having to crowdsource because these days my reading is 90% nonfiction for my work. Here’s a centralized list of recommendations and resources I’ve been able to find.

PLEASE NOTE that I cannot personally endorse or vouch for any of the media linked or listed here. Some may be negative or unhealthy representations of polyamory; some may be triggering; some may just be bad. Know your triggers and your limits and feel free to quit watching or reading something if you’re not enjoying it. Many of the works listed here may contain explicit sexual content.




Goodreads lists

IMDB lists

Reddit threads

I’ve recently been writing a book which surrounds an LGBT+ group going through what is essentially a magical combat school, so I wanted to have some poly characters there as well! But I’m not poly myself, so I’m worried I’m going to get it all wrong. I was going to have three characters that were all together (a triad?), two boys and a girl. Do you have any advice I should keep in mind while writing them? Should I be doing this at all? Thank you!!

That sounds like such a fun book! I definitely think it is okay, even awesome, for people to write about characters who are different from themselves - as long as it’s done sensitively and realistically! I think “please don’t write about XYZ type of people in a stereotyped, offensive, or damaging way” is a far cry from “please don’t write about XYZ type of people unless you are one.” 

One thing to keep in mind is that polyamorous people are just like other people - we react to things pretty much the same way as anyone else, so for the majority of situations that might come up during school or magical combat, there won’t be much of a difference. All the same rules of writing well-rounded, interesting characters still apply. Go ahead and let each of these characters be their unique selves, with identities, interests, and inner lives that aren’t solely defined by their polyamory.

You can always poke around the resources here to get a sense for what’s out there in the realm of polyamorous experience and identity.

When it comes to your fictional triad, think through their specific arrangement: are they all dating each other, or is it three separate inter-linked couples? How do they settle tension or conflict? How do they present their relationship to other people? What do they like to do together? Are they polyfidelitous or do any of the individuals involved date or sleep with other people? How does each individual identify in terms of sexuality and gender expression? Are they pretty insular or relatively independent?

Since your book isn’t a romance that revolves around the formation and maintenance of this triad, you can probably rely on doing situation-specific research for anything that comes up in the natural progression of your story that you have questions about. First, try relying on your own imagination and sense for these characters; then, if you’re struggling to conceptualize how a polyamorous triad might respond to something specific, feel free to kick that question to a polyamory-focused forum or back to this blog!

And when you finish, let me know! If my inbox is any indication, people are hungry for polyamorous and polyamory-positive fiction and media.