Would the stress of unicorn hunting be alleviated by having both members of the couple date the person separately?

Hey I've been doing some research (I'm new and still questioning) and I had an idea that I think would be more sensible than trying to add a third person straight into a couple and would like your opinion (please). My idea would be to have one person of the couple date the potential third person for a while and then the third person could start dating the other member of the original couple too before the triad is formed. I thought this might help reduce the stress on all involved but idk.

This kind of arrangement doesn’t really work, because it puts all sorts of prescriptions, demands, and expectations on the “third person” to date the other partner if they like one partner.

Think about how hard it is to find someone you ‘click’ with - someone you enjoy dating and want to be in a relationship with. Now imagine that you’re dating someone, and they go “also, as part of a PACKAGE DEAL, when you date me, you also date this other person! Who you didn’t get to choose, they’re just also here!”

It puts a lot of pressure on the “third” to like this other person. Even if you say you want to “take things slow” or “let things be organic,” there’s a major expectation there that “once you’re ready, you’ll start dating this person too!” What if they’re never ready? Most people I meet are not people I end up wanting to date. Simply being a partner of one of my partners doesn’t automatically make someone a perfectly eligible candidate for me. 

Almost no one likes being told who to date; there’s a reason arranged marriage is no longer in vogue for the most part. So this isn’t a very realistic plan, I’m afraid, since it requires someone essentially assigning a partner to someone else.

Ultimately, relationships are healthiest when they form organically, not out plans, arrangements, timelines, or prescriptions. If three people want to all date each other, let that happen. If it’s ultimately healthier and more sensible for a V-shape to form, well, it might be better to make that work than to try and force human relationships into an arrangement they’re not well suited for.

Check out this post, where I addressed a similar situation. Person A asking Person B and Person C to date is almost never sustainable or sensible.

Heya… I kind of have a little problem (im new to the poly world so forgive me) but a boy and a girl who already are in a relationship and asked me to join them, the only problem i have is that i dont like the guy in /that/ way. The guy is my best friend and all but i don’t want a romanic relationship with him. They both admitted to me that they liked me. But i don’t wanna break either heart… Do you have some advice?

You are absolutely not obligated to date someone you don’t want to date just because they really want you to. You say you don’t want to “break anyone’s heart,” but declining to date someone you’re not interested in dating isn’t exactly a heartbreaking move. It is okay to not give people everything they want from you. It is okay to say no. 

If you don’t want to date this boy, don’t date him. If you want to date only the girl, but they are only interested in a triad, then you can’t date this girl. It’s frustrating that all your desires don’t line up perfectly, but that happens sometimes with relationships. And with life. No one gets everything they want, all the time. You want to date her but not him; he wants to date you - so it just might not work out. That is okay!

Be gentle and positive when letting them know how you feel, and let your relationships with these people fall into a space that works for everyone. If that turns out to be non-romantic, that’s okay! Just like every monogamous person doesn’t have to date every individual who likes them, not entering a poly relationship that doesn’t fit what you want doesn’t make you any less poly.

Hey there! My long term boyfriend and I have recently decided to open our relationship up and include a third person. I was wondering if you knew of any online communities or dating sites where we could find said person? Thank you!

3ndr is an app for finding threesome partners, and OKCupid is a dating site that lets you be pretty open about who you are and what you’re looking for.

But remember that other people aren’t toys you can pull off a shelf when you find one that suits your desires - there’s no online warehouse of single people waiting for a couple to come along and invite them into their relationship. In fact, it can be very difficult for couples to find thirds, even in the poly community. Make sure you and your boyfriend are in a healthy place as a couple and are prepared to enter a new relationship with open hearts. Take no one for granted, be generous and gracious, and be patient.

So me and my wife have been together for twelve years and have two kids and about two years ago we invited my friend of about nineteen years into our relationship. At first is was all about the sexual aspect and nothing more. Then over time my wife developed emotional intimacy with him and at first it didn’t bother me but recently I am feeling jealousy and inadequate and it’s causing problems. I don’t want to lose my family but she says she wants both of us and needs both of us. Is this normal?

Lots of people write to me asking whether feelings or situations or choices are normal. I want someone to make me a staff that says ARBITER OF NORMALNESS. But seriously - humans are weird and messy and silly and frustrating and fascinating. I am metaphorically burning my hypothetical staff.

Sure it’s normal. Plenty of people have feelings of emotional intimacy for more than one person. You love, want, and need both of your kids, right? If your wife wants and needs you both, then you’re not in danger of losing your family - he isn’t a threat to you, just like neither of your kids are a threat to the other when it comes to your love.

My advice to you is, figure out where these feelings of jealousy and inadequacy are coming from. Are they coming from specific things she’s doing or saying lately? Know that there is a thing called “new relationship energy” in polyamory where shiny exciting new partners might get more attention, making more established partners feel left out. Talk to your wife about these feelings - spending more time with him, sharing experiences with him and not you, etc. - and be open about how you’re feeling and how the two of you can work them out together. 

They may also be coming from your ingrained ideas about relationships and masculinity. Ask yourself whether it might be time to let go of some of those ideas. You have a wife of over a decade and a trusted friend of almost two, and it sounds like there’s a lot of love to go around, if you allow it. Check out some books on polyamory - The Ethical Slut and More than Two are my favorites - and give yourself some time and space to enter this new reality.

My boyfriend and I were looking for a 3 some partner and now we’re all really enamored with each other and started a poly relationship. Any advice for us newbies?

First off, you three deserve kudos for being able to make that transition. It’s tough to give advice without knowing more about your specific situation, but here’s what comes to mind:

1.) Communication! Develop clear and healthy communication strategies. Things might feel easy and simple at the start, since you three were so lucky to fall for each other the way you did, but that can actually be dangerous as you may find yourselves in a conflict before you’ve built up ways of coping with it, and that’s like fixing the car in the toughest part of the race. Check in with each other often and practice good communication from the start.

2.) Do what’s right and healthy for you. There are as many ways to be poly as there are poly people. You know what’s best for you, as individuals and as a poly triad. Don’t get too hung up in what other people project onto you, or what other poly people are doing and saying. Forge your own path, checking in often about whether what you’re doing is working.

3.) Be prepared for society to be unprepared for you. Many people think polyamory is a sexual behavior rather than a way of being in relationships, and associate it with what they see as “sexual deviancy.” Especially since you three met as threesome partners, that stigma may be especially tough to shake. Hold your heads high, and support each other through the difficulties that accompany coming out as poly.

Good luck! 

Some Follow-Up for the Triad

Earlier today I advised a triad who was worried about legal marriage and health insurance. I also want to point out that nothing turns apathy into advocacy better than knowing someone affected by an issue. If you do decide to have a marriage ceremony between any two members of your triad, or if you decide to have a non-legally-binding ceremony, you might want to include a little section in your program that explains your situation. It could be cutesy, or educational, or quick and to the point - but explain why you chose to go the route that you did, and perhaps ask your wedding guests to consider donating to the various organizations that helped you out, or any political candidates whose views on healthcare coverage show promise for plural families.

For example, you could have a page called “Why No One’s Getting Married at This Wedding,” explain the situation in a little story, and then finish with “To ensure that in the future, people like us get to say ‘I Do,’ please consider supporting the following organizations and candidates…” Or, if you and your fiance go ahead and get married after finding another way to provide for your girlfriend’s health care, maybe have her say her own vows as part of the ceremony, explaining how much she loves you two, how true love matters more than legal contracts, and the sacrifices you three have had to make. That would do the double-duty of helping your guests understand your unique situation and helping pave the way for future poly families.

Congratulations on your happy, healthy relationship, and good luck navigating all of this.

do you know any good sites for two girls who are starting the process of finding a third person for the first time ever?

I am not an expert in online dating since I have never done it, but I know lots of poly folk have had good luck on OKCupid. You could also try the subreddit r/polyamory and poly forums, like the Poly Forums and Polyamory Online. I don’t belong to any of these forums, though, so I don’t know their community policy on things like personal ads, nor can I actually recommend them.

You should also consider using the internet to find local poly meetups - the best directory for that is here.

Faithful readers, help me help these girls! Where have you had luck meeting other poly folk online?