Most people have heard the terms threesome and polyamory, but there’s a whole vocabulary to learn for anyone new to having multiple partners. One common polyamorous term you might’ve heard is unicorn polyamory — also known as unicorn poly.
What Is Unicorn Polyamory?
Unicorn polyamory is a term used to describe a polyamorous relationship between two people in a relationship and a third person who joins them. It’s called “unicorn” poly because, like the mythical unicorn, it’s not easy to find someone (in this case, a bisexual woman) who wants to join an existing couple in a relationship.
It is often considered by couples to be ideal because it allows both members of the couple to experience the benefits of having more than one partner—and all without having to deal with jealousy issues that can come up with other forms of polyamory.
In layperson’s terms, unicorn polyamory happens when a straight male/female couple enters into an open relationship with another woman who is bisexual and doesn’t want another partner. This can also include non-binary individuals.
A unicorn is also expected to identify as bisexual, pansexual, or sexually fluid—not just experimenting or curious about what it’s like to be with another gender.
What Is a Unicorn In a Relationship?
In the world of polyamory, a unicorn is usually considered a bisexual person (generally though not always female) who is willing to join an existing couple, often with the presumption that this person will date and become sexually involved with both members of that couple, and not demand anything or do anything which might cause problems or inconvenience to that couple.
What Is Unicorn Polyamory Hunting?
Unicorn hunting is the most common term for couples looking to find a bisexual woman to join their relationship. Unicorn hunters are usually heterosexual couples who have decided they want to invite another woman into their relationship permanently. They usually have sex with the couple and date both partners, so they’re considered “equal” in the relationship.
Some people uncomfortable with “unicorn hunting” use the term “pursuing a triad.” A triad is generally considered a long-term polyamorous relationship between three people.
The problem is that many couples who go unicorn hunting want the unicorn to be “no strings attached.” They want the woman to hook up with them for a night or two and then leave; if she’s lucky, she can come back for occasional hookups. But many unicorns look for more than just sex; they look for love and companionship.
Related Read: What’s the difference between bigamy and polygamy?
What Is the Difference Between Unicorn Polyamory and Triad Relationship?
As discussed above, unicorn polyamory describes a polyamorous relationship involving three people. One person acts as the hinge in this relationship and dates two other people. While the term sounds cute, it’s hard to maintain a unicorn polyamorous relationship in the long term.
Triads and throuples are different than unicorns. A polyamorous triad is an arrangement where three people are all in a relationship. They are not dating each other, but they are dating one another. Depending on the people involved, these relationships can be either closed or open.
Throuple relationships involve three people who are romantically involved with each other. Much like triads, throuples can be either open or closed depending on what the couple decides to do. Throuples are long-term relationships that involve three people instead of two.
Related Read: What does polyfidelity look like?
Being a unicorn can be frustrating and stressful, as the unicorn is expected to date and become sexually involved with both members of that couple equally. This can be satisfying for some unicorns but exhausting for others.
Problems Associated With Being a Unicorn
Unicorn polyamory relationships are a relatively new phenomenon. If you’re part of one, you might wonder how to make it work. Problems with unicorn polyamory relationships include:
Unicorns tend to get a lot of attention from the couple and feel like they have to be “on.” It’s essential to set clear expectations about what time will be devoted to everyone and spend time alone with each partner or on your own. You’re not a machine!
Feeling left out.
You may sometimes feel that the couple doesn’t pay enough attention to you, especially when spending time together. You and the couple need to know how much couple time is OK with you.
Do you sometimes feel jealous when your partners kiss each other? Or do you worry they won’t want you around anymore if they find someone else? These feelings of insecurity are normal, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored—instead, talk openly with your partners about them so they can help reassure you and give you what you need.
Unicorn polyamory relationships are complex.
While they may seem like the perfect solution to a couple seeking a third partner to spice up their love life, it’s often difficult to find willing partners who aren’t looking for something more exclusive and who are ready to end the relationship at any moment if they believe that things are getting too serious.
Plus, ensuring that everyone is equally satisfied in the relationship can be challenging. There’s always a chance that one or two of you will start feeling jealous or neglected and want to pull back from the relationship. So, know the ins and out before becoming a unicorn or getting into a unicorn poly relationship.
What to Do When You Face Problems In a Unicorn Polyamory Relationship?
Every relationship faces struggles. When you add a unicorn to the mix, it can be tough to deal with some problems. If you’re in a polyamorous relationship with a unicorn and you’re facing challenges, here are five things to keep in mind when things get tricky:
- Take a step back when your emotions are running high
- You don’t have to figure everything out all at once
- Allow yourself to feel your feelings and admit that things are difficult
- Talk with your partner(s) and find ways to work through the challenges together
- Check your expectations against the reality
- If you need help, reach out
It’s essential to be upfront with friends, family, or lovers. Once everyone knows the expectations and arrangements, everyone can work towards those shared goals. Some things may not conform to how society structures relationships — but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
However, there are a variety of polyamorous relationship structures, all with their own variant rules and guidelines that ensure the safety, consent, and well-being of all parties involved. All individuals deserve to feel loved and connected.
- Balzarini RN, Dharma C, Kohut T, Campbell L, Lehmiller JJ, Harman JJ, Holmes BM. Comparing Relationship Quality Across Different Types of Romantic Partners in Polyamorous and Monogamous Relationships. Arch Sex Behav. 2019 Aug;48(6):1749-1767. doi: 10.1007/s10508-019-1416-7. Epub 2019 May 8. PMID: 31069571.