Polyamory refers to multiple lovers or partners—poly, meaning multiple, and -amory, which comes from “amor”, which means love. The caveat, of course, is that there are several different types of poly relationships out there. Some include a primary partner and a secondary partner. Others include multiple primary partners or multiple secondary partners. And so on.
One of the most common arrangements is what is known as a “throuple”, or a relationship involving three partners, who may have varying positions and levels of hierarchy in the relationship. The “third” refers to when a couple takes on a third partner, either as a mutual interest or perhaps as the sole interest of one of the partners—as we mentioned, the rules are varied and will depend on what’s arranged between the people involved.
Of course, when you’re specifically the “third” in a poly, there’s a lot that you need to learn. Typically, you should start by having a sit-down discussion with the primary partners and determine your role, the rules of the relationship, how things will work, etc. If you happen across a couple who wants to dive right into dating without discussing the parameters, it’s probably a sign that they may not be on the healthy side of polyamory—inviting a third person into a relationship without a “ground rules” discussion is a recipe for disaster.
A lot of people want to know what the difference is between polyamory vs open relationship dating. The base premise is that open relationships could be defined in any manner. Polyamory refers to a lifestyle that people lead, which involves dating and falling in love with multiple partners, sometimes who also share relationships and sometimes who are separate and never encounter each other.
An open relationship just says that you have an agreement that you can see other people. A polyamorous relationship is based on the idea of multiple loves. Whether you will find a shared partner or separate partners, you are looking for more than just hookups, casual encounters, and so forth.
How Does the Third Fit In?
In a throuple situation, it’s important to understand your role. If you are the third, you need to respect the couple’s dynamic because it likely has a hierarchy to your existence in their relationship (In laymen’s terms, the couple comes first). Make sure that you have the discussion we mentioned so that you know where everyone stands and what everyone’s expected role in the relationship will be. A lack of communication often creates problems and allows the relationship to go off the rails in ways not discussed. [Read: Places to Meet for Affairs for the First Time]
For example, if you don’t communicate about equal time spent with the new partner, they could become closer to one of you and force one of the primary partners out of the relationship in the end. It doesn’t necessarily happen this way all the time and there are plenty of people who can make throuples work. You just have to be willing to do the work, be open and communicative, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Also known as the “non-primary” person, the third requires that you are aware of your rules, roles, and what you can gain from the relationship. Are you okay having secondary importance or do you want to find a relationship where all partners are equal? These are things that you’ll have to consider and discuss with your potential partners along the way.
What are the Rules?
Here’s the thing about relationships: you define the rules. Even in a throuple or polyamorous relationship, it’s up to you to decide exactly how things work. Make sure that you discuss all of this with your partner from the beginning, set ground rules, and know what you are in for. If you are someone who enjoys being the third in relationships, consider how you will protect yourself when seeking partners by setting boundaries and making agreements that keep everyone on the same page. [Read: Rules for Having an Affair with a Married Man]
There’s a lot of communication and planning that goes into polyamory and open relationships. After all, you have to make sure that everyone is in agreement and you need to know that people are aware of the exact parameters of this new venture in your relationship. Some people might have certain limits on what’s okay and what’s not, for example. Others might want to stick to detached hookups and NSA encounters to avoid emotional baggage.
The rules are whatever you want them to be. Make sure that you set them and are clear about them from the start. Even as the third, your secondary status is your primary concern and if you know where to look, you’ll find the couple that fits in no time at all.
Define What You Want First
The biggest piece of advice that we can offer is to know what you want going in. That way, you will be less likely to compromise when meeting people or making arrangements, and you won’t have to worry about whether you will find the “right” couple for your desires. These relationships can be a lot of fun, but they do take some work on everyone’s part. If you want to be the third, make sure that you know what that means to you, what type of couple you want to find, and how you want this relationship to fit into your life. [Read: When Affairs Turn to Love]
Then, you’ll be able to go out and find the best potential matches in the form of couples of all kinds. You’ll worry less about getting the right fit and have more confidence that your relationships will work out the way that you want because you started out by knowing what you want in the first place.
Finally, honesty and communication are key. The best way to succeed in any kind of open relationship or polyamorous situation is to be open and honest with everyone that is involved so that there are no mishaps, miscommunications, or hurt feelings along the way.