Is it bad to only want a closed polycule?

Concerning Unicorn Hunters, their behavior is gross. But, what if I (I’m currently single) want to be in a triad, maybe joining a couple, maybe finding two people who then get together. I have abandonment anxiety and am greyromantic asexual. I would want a closed polycule - be it triad, Vee, quad or whatever. Does that make me bad?

It is absolutely not bad to want a closed or polyfidelitous relationship. Wanting this is not bad; it’s how certain people go about seeking it that is bad. Just like wanting sex is morally fine, while sleazy pickup artist nonsense is not.

You’ll need to be clear and open about what you’re looking for and spend time in social and dating spheres where people are also looking for that. It may take some time to find, and you may encounter some obnoxious unicorn hunting couples, but literally no one has an easy time finding their ideal relationship!

I would caution you about one thing: you say that you have “abandonment anxiety.” That is not a relationship orientation, it’s a mental health problem, and it’s something worth working on rather than just indulging. Setting up your relationship terms out of fear, or because you think a specific type of relationship will keep you safe from painful feelings, is a recipe for disaster. It’s good to know your limits and boundaries, but it’s not good to just surrender to anxiety and let it define your relationships. Please talk to a therapist who specializes in abandonment and attachment and work on this issue - you may never be totally free of it, but it should not be a key determinant of your relationships.

My partner and I want different types of polyamorous arrangements

My partner and I both identify as being polyamorous. But he would like for all his multiple partners to love and be with one another; I am seeking 2-3 separate relationships. How do we reconcile this? Can we?

It depends on whether, for each of you, these are preferences or needs. If your partner would feel unsafe and uncomfortable and unfulfilled in a more V-type arrangement, or if you would feel suffocated and boxed in and frustrated by a polyfidelitous arrangement, then it's irreconcilable.

But there might be room for compromise. Perhaps your partner would be okay if everyone you're dating and he's dating get along and are friendly, even if they're not all romantically intimate. I know people with polyamorous terms of the relationship that dictate that new partners need to 'gel' with their existing community.

Or, perhaps he'd be happy being in a quad or triad with you, while you also have unconnected relationships as well. Maybe what he's wanting will be provided by a triad or quad and is less about not wanting you to have partners that aren't also his partners and his partners' partners.

So, the next step is to just start talking, and keep talking. Describe your best case and worst case scenarios to each other. Daydream instead of planning. Think through different things that would make you happy. Identify what makes you feel threatened and why. I can't identify the sweet spot that will reconcile this, but you two probably can!

Is regular STI testing equally important in a closed polyfidelitous relationship?

If you're only having sex with your partners and your partners are only having sex with you and each other, is it still important for you and your partners to get tested regularly?

If the group is entirely closed - if Anna only has sex with Ben and Carter and Dana, and Ben only has sex with Anna and Carter and Dana, and Carter only has sex with Anna and Ben and Dana, and Dana only has sex with Ben and Anna and Carter - then no, regular testing is less critical.

Everyone should be tested yearly as part of an annual checkup (or talk to their sexual healthcare provider about what’s best for them), and everyone should have up-to-date test results at the beginning of the relationship. As long as everyone is on the same page with regards to safety, boundaries, and the nature of the relationship, it functions STI-risk-wise the same as a monogamous relationship between two people.

But if things change in any way - if Carter has sex with Samantha - then everyone needs to be tested regularly.

Have you ever heard of a person forming a polyfidelitous relationship with their childhood/long-time friends?

Try asking yourself: why does it matter whether I’ve heard of this situation? I’m just one person! Lots of things happen in the world every day that I’m not present to. 

Deep love between lifelong friends is very common and well documented. I can’t point you to a specific memoir or anecdote from my life that covers this this exact situation, but again, it really doesn’t matter whether my experience encompasses something.

If this is a situation you’re exploring and you are looking for advice or mentorship from people who’ve walked this road before, try checking out other polyamorous resources and communities. I’m pretty sure most of the advice out there about polyamory applies to this situation. If you have a specific situation you want advice about that’s unique to a polyfidelitous relationship formed by childhood or long-time friends, send that specific question in! If you just want validation that it’s a thing that has happened and can happened, don’t worry about it.

Hi um I’m 13 and I’ve just started thinking that I might be poly, but I feel like I would only be okay if it was, say, a group of 3 people all dating each other, not like dating two people separately? Idk how this works really but I’ve seen it being a thing where the partners are completely separate? But I don’t think I’d like that? Also I think I would be okay in a mono relationship as well? Like if I loved the person I was with and they weren’t comfortable with it? Is all of this okay?

Dating multiple people who are all dating each other is called polyfidelity, and specific arrangements are called a a triad (3 people) or quad (four people), and so forth. It is okay to identify as polyamorous and only want polyfidelity! It’s a good thing to know what you want and be able to speak that.

It is also okay to identify as polyamorous and also be okay in a monogamous relationship! Being able to be happy, healthy and fulfilled in a polyamorous or a monogamous relationship is very possible, and very much okay. All of this is okay - you are you, and you are okay. 

Know that, at thirteen, a lot of your self is still developing and being discovered. It is very okay to identify one way, then realize something else is more accurate later. It is very okay to try out different relationships and identities and let go of the ones that don’t work for you. Let yourself grow and learn! Take pride in who you are now, but don’t become so entrenched in who you are at thirteen that you aren’t able to learn and try new things!

Some people figure out who they are at thirteen and it doesn’t change much, and other people see their identities grow and shift as they get older and have new experiences. Both are very normal, and very okay. At every stage in your life and relationships, check in with yourself: are you happy and healthy? are you safe and secure in your relationships? If so, you’re fine. Take care of yourself, let you be you, and the words for who and what you are will come.

Im 23 years old, Im genderqueer and pan. I was just invited into a relationship with one girl, a nonbinary person, and two guys. (They all live together.) I’ve been crushing and going on random dates with the girl for a while now and she just introduced her other partners. I told them I needed a day or two to think about it and I’m seriously considering it. Do you have any advice before I go into this relationship or things I should know?

You don’t have to date three other people just because you like this girl! If this isn’t something you feel uncomfortable about, you don’t need to do it. You deserve the time and space to develop your own relationship with these other people - don’t just jump into a polyfidelitous relationship with four people because you’re into one of them.

If this sounds like a fun adventure to you, if there are no red flags, then for sure, go for it! Just take it slow and be gentle with yourself. Don’t let yourself be rushed or pressured. Maybe you won’t hit it off sexually or romantically with one of the people - don’t force it. Let those relationships be happy and healthy in their own unique ways. It’s unreasonable of the people in this quad to believe that nothing will change when you enter their dynamic, or that you will meet all of their expectations perfectly. They should make space for you!

So, there’s my advice: know and advocate for your own needs; take it slow; be gentle and patient with yourself and expect the same from them.

Do you think there have been situations in which polyamory happened naturally? Like, three people meeting each other and all being interested in one another and eventually deciding to form a relationship? Instead of like, a couple seeking out a third person??

Absolutely I think that has happened! In fact, I know that it has happened - I have seen it happen in my own life (not to me, but to other people) and I have gotten plenty of letters here about that.

Please note that “three people all being interested in each other” is not a synonym for polyamory - that is called a triad, or polyfidelity, and is only one way of being poly. But yes, people have definitely found themselves in situations like that organically.

it’s possible to have a polyamorous relationship that isn’t open, right? as in, there are 3+ people in a committed relationship with each other and only each other? because i think i’m polyamorous but i’m so worried because i would love that but i’m not sure i would want an open relationship? if that makes sense? thank you!!

Yep! That is called polyfidelity

I see so many stories under the poly tag of married poly couples dating different partners than their partners. But what about a married couple that wants to date other women together i.e. date the same woman as a couple. That is really what we want long term and I know it won’t be easy..but is it possible to have a triad that just involves the triad?

There are two ways I want to answer this.

One is perhaps less helpful to you, but I think worth saying: There as as many ways to be poly as there are poly people. Who cares if what you want isn’t well represented in the poly tag? Do your thing, find what’s healthy for you, develop practices to make it work, and don’t worry about whether there’s already an established name for it or whatever. Don’t ask me or the internet whether something is possible - you’re ultimately in control of that.

Two: Yes, there is an established practice for what you’re describing. On one end of the spectrum, there’s polyfidelity, where three people all date each other, with the “triad” serving essentially the same function as a “couple” in monogamy. Three people, one relationship. On the other end is “unicorn polyamory,” where a couple seeks partners together, but the relationship is between the couple (as a unit) and the third person.

There are pros and cons to both. And of course there’s an infinite grey area between those two options - like I said above, define what you want and figure out how to go about getting and practicing it in a healthy way. That matters way more than what you call it or what other people are doing and calling it.

i really want a triad but i dont want to wait to date and im scared of being mono… I know I’m not looking at this the right way. help?

Single people can tell you - it’s hard enough to find one person you click with, so if your preferred form of a relationship is larger than a couple, the difficulty seems to increase exponentially. Fortunately, we live in the future, where there are plenty of dating sites for people looking for other configurations, from the gimmicky 3nder app to OkCupid, where you can be as clear as you want in your profile about what you’re looking for.

I’m a little confused about your issue that you don’t want to “wait to date” and that you’re “scared of being mono.” Dating, whether you’re looking to be a monogamous couple, a polyfidelitous triad, or anything else, has to happen organically. It takes patience and effort. Sometimes you spend a while as a single-who’s-looking. Sometimes you spend a while as a couple-who’s-looking - that doesn’t mean you’ll accidentally end up as a mono couple, it just means you need to wait and look for the third who completes you. Sometimes you meet two other people and you click first as friends, then as romantic partners. As long as you’re sensitive to your needs and others’ needs and intentional about your practices, it’ll fall into place.