#MenAskLikely: She Wants To Introduce A Third Person; What Do I Do?

“My girlfriend of 2 years recently asked me what I thought about us ‘bringing in’ a third person into our relationship. What does this mean for us?” – Martin

 

There is no one true way of expressing your love for someone. Everyone expresses love differently (heck, there are 5 love languages) and no one relationship is the same. But one thing rings true, the dynamics of a relationship can change after a couple has been together for a while. How every couple deals with this is different but in the case of a partner that wants to turn your duet into a trio – there are a few things to consider:

 

  • What kind of relationship you want to have with this third person
  • How open you want to be with your relationship

 

Recently, the question of whether or not it is okay to have a polyamorous relationship – aka a relationship with more than one person – has been a hot topic. But the relationship dynamics between a couple and other possible partners have changed over the years. It is important to establish what kind of relationship you want to have with this third/fourth/fifth person. And while most people have heard of the term “open relationship”, not many have heard of “polyamory” and often confuse the two.

 

An open relationship is…

Partners who are in an established relationship with each other and openly agree to see other people. In other words, Open relationships are between a couple that is committed to each other but remains not sexually exclusive.

 

 

Polyamory is…

Polyamory means having multiple romantic relationships at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. 

 

And then there are “throuples”: three people who form a couple.

 

Here’s what it means to be in a “throuple”: 

 

 

Polyamory is not new. If anything, it’s come up in the media relatively often in recent years and more people are realising that being in a “throuple” isn’t as rare or taboo as it seems. Joe Exotic from Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ was in a throuple, after he established a relationship with his two partners at the time, John Finlay and Travis Maldonado. Jada Pickett Smith has said that she and Will are in a throuple with his ex-wife, Sheree Zampino. However, more often than now, throuples are depicted as “scandalous” and “sordid” when in reality, it’s not so bad, loving more than one person – which is essentially what throuples are: romantic and emotional interest in another person. Other facts about throuples are that…

 

1. It is not the same as an open relationship.

A throuple is a three-person relationship, where each party has equal terms. It is a relationship that has balance and is consensual. It is not always only about sex as all three in the relationship are dating one another. It also comes in many forms –

  • closed throuples (they don’t date outside the triangle)
  • open throuples (varying allowances to relationships outside the triangle)
  • polyamorous throuples (they one another and introduce each other as partners but also have other partners outside the throuple)

 

2. It is not limited to “one formula”

Genders and identities don’t matter with throuples – love is love. A lot of throuples start with couples who want to add a third person (sometimes known as ‘unicorns’) and whether or not they bring in a man or a woman does not allude to their sexuality.

 

Culturally, we are made to believe that you are only able to love one person. The reality is that society only allows you to love one person. If it were true that we can only love one person, what say you about the way a parent has the ability to love two, three, twelve different children? The love may be different for each child but it is still love.

 

The difference between a “throuple” and a “threesome”:

 

The only similarity that throuples and threesomes have in common is the fact that it involves three people.

Threesomes are purely sexual encounters between three individuals. Often, it’s between two people in a committed relationship and a third person or simply three people who want to have fun. But at its core, threesomes are merely sexual in nature.  However, with throuples, their relationship goes beyond what happens in bed. Yes, they may still sleep together but, on top of that, they care about each other, are devoted to each other and have a bond that extends beyond the bedroom.

 

 

To put it simply,

 A threesome is focused on making love; a throuple is focused on being in love.

 

 

Should you bring a third person into the relationship?

Again, there is no one size fits all. If bringing in a third person is not your thing, be honest and let your partner know your stance. Be firm and work it out from there. Seeming like you are on the fence will only drag the uncertainty out longer and if you don’t have an answer right away, you might not be as against the idea of polyamory as you think you are. People who have made the decision to evolve towards polyamory have a few common experiences.

 

Communication improves

You will find that with three people, it’s easier to discuss your thoughts and get input on your plans and feelings. Moreover, you will experience a different level of honesty and clarity within yourself and your relationship as you learn what it’s like to interact so intimately with more than one person at a time.

 

More of your needs are fulfilled

Many argue that the reason why relationships don’t always work out is because your partner was not fulfilling all, if not enough, of your needs. With polyamorous relationships, you will find that more of your physical, social and emotional needs are fulfilled with the addition of the third person. What one partner lacks, the other can make up for and vice versa.

 

It can seem like a lot of work

Being with one person can already seem like a struggle – juggling their needs and wants along with your own. Adding a third person into the mix may seem like you’re adding onto the burden of carrying an additional person’s needs and wants. However, you are also splitting the load three ways.

 

 

But, at the end of the day, communication is what will make or break your relationship. If you’re struggling to handle being a couple, trying to bring in a third person may just throw the whole relationship out of balance. Without discussing every aspect of the idea within your own relationship, you will not be able to fully appreciate the connection throuples, or even threesomes, have. If you are open to the idea, set boundaries. What would count as cheating? What wouldn’t? If you’re not on board with the idea, what can you do from there? A relationship (no matter how many people are involved) is based on mutual trust and respect, so do what is best for yourself as an individual and within the capacity of your relationship with your partner.

 

 

 

 

*Cover image credit: Jonny Kennaugh on Unsplash
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