Three person relationship

What Is A Throuple? The Three-Way Relationship, Explained

The concept of non-monogamy has been around for ages. But lately, there’s been a rise in the use of the word “throuple” to describe a certain kind of committed relationship structure that calls for more than two people.

As you may have guessed, a throuple is a romantic relationship between three people. Not to be mistaken for an open relationship (where people in a relationship have sex with people who are not their partner) or a threesome (sex between three people), a throuple is a balanced, consensual, and committed relationship. And while the term might be new to you, Ann Rosen Spector, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Philadelphia, insists there’s nothing new or unusual about the concept.

Why? Because "it’s totally possible to be in love with more than one person at one time," she says.

Just a heads up: A “throuple” is usually referred to as a “triad” within the non-monogamy community, says Anna Dow, LMFT at Vast Love, a relationship counseling center for those who are non-monogamous. These relationships “are intentional partnerships of three people,” Dow explains.

“Pop culture depicts them as primarily female-female-male threesomes in an imbalanced way that often fetishizes the relationship structure,” she continues. “In reality, however, throuples are just typical relationships comprised of people of any genders. Like all relationships, each one has its own set of benefits and challenges.”

Thanks to the recent increase in visibility of the entire sexual spectrum, throuples are gaining more recognition but there's still some work to do. Ahead, discover everything you need to know about throuples, whether you just want a better understanding of the nontraditional relationship or are considering starting one yourself.

1. A throuple isn’t the same as an open relationship.

First things first, a little clarification on exactly what a throuple is and is not. ..

A throuple is:

  • A balanced, consensual, and committed relationship between three partners

A throuple is NOT:

  • An opportunity to be in a relationship and have sex with people who are not their partner
  • A threesome, or merely sex between three people

Thanks to the recent increase in visibility of the entire sexual spectrum (hooray!), the throuple ("three" + "couple") is gaining more and more recognition, as are other forms of polyamory, the umbrella term for relationships involving more than two people.

2. A throuple doesn't have any “formula,” aside from involving three people.

Throuples can be made up of people of any gender identity and any sexual orientation who choose to be together, Spector says. (Love is love, right?)

That said, Spector says that most of the throuples she's seen involve a married couple or long-term twosome who choose to add a third person—typically a man and woman who then bring in another woman. Some consider themselves straight; others call themselves bisexual.

Psst, sexuality is fluid in Hollywood too. See who's spoken up about their attractions:

She also sees throuples made up of people who don't conform to any gender, folks who consider themselves pansexual, and those who identify as homosexual. But labels aren't important, she notes. (Cosign.)

3. A throuple has legit advantages.

Sometimes a throuple begins as a purely sexual pursuit, to spice up a twosome, and then evolves into its own relationship with mutual feelings among the three parties.

But other times—and often times—people in a relationship who love each other but don’t want to be monogamous choose to add a third person to round out their bond.

Which has definite benefits, Spector says: When you have a third person involved, chances are you'll expose yourself and your original partner to qualities that both of you may want but can't offer each other.

Related Story
  • How To Tell If Polyamory Is Right For You

A third partner can also serve as a buffer or mediator when scuffles come up between the other two, Spector adds.

All that could make for a much more satisfying relationship. Because just like couples, throuples love each other, elevate each other, argue, have sex, live together, and—yep—may even have children.

4. Throuple-hood could make the relationship a little harder, though.

The dynamics within a throuple can differ drastically from a typical duo. First, there's the jealousy part (more on that in a bit), a potential side effect of a three-way relationship if one person feels like there's an uneven split of attention or commitment.

The best way to avoid this is to have everyone voice their needs and concerns at the start of the relationship—and be honest if and when those needs and concerns change, says Spector.

Second, when it comes to conflict, having a third person in a relationship leaves room for taking sides—an unhealthy tactic that can put the bond on shaky ground, Spector explains. (That can be avoided if each party can master the aforementioned mediator role.)

Related Story
  • 5 Relationship Fights That Are Totally Normal

Like in any relationship, a throuple requires tons of communication so that everyone feels heard and no one feels left out.

A few ways to make sure that happens, from Spector:

  • Be super specific about your needs.
    For example, say: “Since we’re all in a relationship together, while I’m comfortable with you and our partner kissing, I’d prefer if we only had sex as a threesome.”
  • Eliminate secrets.
    Open communication is even more important when there are three people involved. So always check in with both partners—and yourself.
  • Speak up if your feelings change.
    Try: “I know you’re happy in our throuple, but this isn’t something I wanted for the long term. I’d rather go back to our relationship being just the two of us. What do you think?”

5. A throuple can be a totally healthy and balanced relationship.

Entering throuple-hood can enrich your romantic life if everyone shares similar interests, values, and ideals, Spector says, but make sure you can handle coupledom before bringing in a third person.

Related Story
  • 14 Signs You're Totally Ready To Move In Together

If you feel like you're fully ready and wanting to add a third, Spector suggests letting your current partner know by gauging their interest.

Say something like: "I’d like to invite someone else into our relationship. How would you feel about having X join us and becoming a throuple?”

As long as they're on board—and all three of you are willing to put in the work—go ahead and get that party started.

6. It’s a good idea to figure out what you want in advance.

Again, being in a throuple doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll just date whomever you want, when you want. “Many different relationship structures fall under the umbrella of non-monogamy,” Dow says. “Fostering self-awareness around which structure one desires is an often undervalued non-monogamy skill that can greatly impact the success of people’s relationships.”

Meaning, if you want to have a partner but also be free to see other people, something like an open relationship is probably more that you’re after vs. being committed to two people at once. Still, Dow says, “there’s variation in structures.”

7. Knowing the boundaries of the throuple is important.
Related Story
  • Here's How To Set Boundaries In Your Relationship

Speaking of variation, it’s a good idea to have some understanding of what you’re all after here. “It really depends on the triad and how they would like to set up the rules,” says Jennifer Schneider, LICSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in LGBTQIA+ clients and those who identify as polyamorous or ethically nonmonogamous. “It may be that a throuple sits down with each other and actually spends a few hours hammering out what might be relationship agreements.”

Sometimes throuples will have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy where they don’t want to know what the other members do. “But what is often healthier is making relationship agreements on whether they’re polyfidelitous, meaning this triad is closed, or if the triad is open and there’s communication within all members of the triad.”

Talking it out is important, though, says Shawntres A. Parks, PhD, Women's Health advisory board member, licensed marriage and family therapist and co-founder of Parks & Powers Psychotherapy. “Attractive as it may appear to people who like some form of an open relationship, you want to talk about and discuss the ins and outs of possible scenarios that might come up,” she says. “With more parties is a greater capacity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.

8. Throuples, like couples, can develop organically.

Throuples can form a lot of different ways, but it usually takes a little time before people decide they want to commit to each other. “Similar to most dating relationships, there’s a vetting process,” Parks says. “Before you reach a point where you're making an explicit commitment, you’re talking about things like how emotional and physical needs are being met.”

9. Jealousy can still crop up.

Jealousy “is a very real thing” in both monogamous and ethically non-monogamous relationships, Schneider says.

"It’s a pretty natural human emotion,” she adds. “It absolutely comes up in polyamory all the time.”

She recommends throuples “observe, talk, and manage” the jealousy by being open about it and approaching it as a group. “That’s often what I see works best,” she says.

10. There may be a hierarchy.

Again, every throuple is different. But it’s possible that two people may be seen as having the primary relationship, while the third forms secondary relationships with them, Schneider says. Think: An already-established couple that invited someone in to form a throuple. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. “In a triad, they might all consider their relationships equal and others outside the triad unequal,” Schneider says.

Aryelle SiclaitEditor

Aryelle Siclait is the editor at Women's Health where she writes and edits articles about relationships, sexual health, pop culture, and fashion for verticals across and the print magazine. She's a Boston College graduate and lives in New York.

Korin Miller

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.

Throuples: How They Work, Rules & FAQs About 3-Way Relationships

What is a throuple?

A throuple, which is a mix of the words couple and three, is a romantic relationship between three people, in which every person is intimately linked with the other two. Although media representation usually focuses on two bisexual women and one straight man, throuples can consist of any kind of gender constellation. Throuples can be just as committed to one another as couples, despite lacking legal frameworks to recognize their relationships.

"Three individuals who are in a relationship with each other very often prefer to be called a 'triad' rather than 'throuple,'" adds Jennifer Schneider, MSW, LCSW, LICSW, a licensed therapist and social worker who has clinical experience working with non-monogamous people. (This article will use the terms interchangeably. )


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Throuple vs. polyamory vs. open relationship.

A throuple is not quite the same as polyamory or an open relationship, although there is some overlap between the terms. All three terms are subsets of ethical non-monogamy.

Polyamory refers to the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one person, with the informed consent of all people involved. Polyamorous people believe and honor the idea that it's perfectly normal, desirable, and possible to love, be attracted to, and be intimate with more than one person at a time.

An open relationship is a relationship in which a romantically bonded couple (or throuple!) decide to have sex with people outside of their relationship—usually without forming long-lasting emotional bonds or commitment. (Here's how to ask your partner for an open relationship if that's sparking some curiosity. )

A throuple is an example of polyamory, i.e., loving more than one person at a time, and throuples may or may not be in open relationships, depending on the preferences of those involved. Throuples may also be open to love outside of the threesome, and each person in the relationship may also have other partners, lovers, or dates.


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

What are the "rules" in a throuple relationship?

"There are no specific 'rules' that all triads follow," Schneider says. Most throuples have their own unique relationship agreements, so it's therefore not possible to give across-the-board examples of how they work. As a unit, the three people must decide what approach they want to take and what dynamics feel good to them in terms of who has sex with whom, where everyone sleeps, how date nights work, and the like.

There are various options that might be in play, Schneider says.

V relationships.

"A V relationship is one in which one individual is the 'hinge,' where they have two relationships, but their partners are not in a relationship with each other. A visual representation of it is simply the letter 'V,'" explains Schneider.

The way in which the people in a V relationship relate to one another differs from relationship to relationship. "I've seen many configurations of V dynamics in my work, and they all look different. There's a broad spectrum of how closely all parties involved in Vs relate. Sometimes the metamours (people with a shared partner) are dear friends, housemates, and/or co-parents. Sometimes they prefer not to know one another at all," says Dow.

While triads or throuples are usually three people who all share a romantic and sexual link with both of the other parties, sometimes people refer to V relationships as triads too.


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Sleeping with people outside the triad.

It might be perfectly fine for the throuple members to seek out love or sex outside of the triad. Or it might be counted as cheating for some throuples. It all depends on the mutually agreed-upon rules that govern a particular relationship.

Not all throuples are open relationships, Schneider explains: "Some triads are polyfidelitous, meaning that the triad might be considered 'closed,' in that members of it do not date outside of it." In other situations, they may be open to having relationships outside of the triad with certain agreements in place. "Triad members may wish to be consulted before a member dates someone outside of it, or not," she explains. "There may be one member of the triad that does not wish to date outside of it, whereas the other two do."

Sleeping arrangements.

"I've heard people say before that it's best for all three parties in a throuple to sleep together so nobody feels left out. To me any absolute of that nature in regards to how relationships 'should' function is ridiculous," says Anna Dow, LCSW, a therapist who specializes in non-monogamous relationships in her clinical work at Vast Love and who also practices consensual non-monogamy herself. "We humans are each one-of-a-kind creatures. Thus it makes much more sense to structure our relationships around the preferences of the people involved rather than defaulting to any preconceived 'shoulds.' One of my partners is especially sensitive to sensory input and prefers sleeping alone. If he and I were in a triad relationship, he would still prefer to sleep alone."

So while some triads share a bed every night, some rotate between partners so as to give each configuration of lovers quality time, and some sleep apart regardless. What's most important is that the arrangement takes into account each individual's needs. "Relationships with three people are similar to relationships with two in that the individuals involved have a lot of agency in how they're crafted, and each dynamic is unique," says Dow.  


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Date nights.

Just like sleeping arrangements, date nights and quality time for people in triads are usually a mix of activities involving all three members of the relationship and some with just two of them. There are no hard-and-fast rules.

"Rules are useful in dynamics with power differentials, like parenting. In adult relationships, in which people treat one another as equals, it's much healthier for people to instead all share openly about their thoughts, feelings, boundaries, and desires with the goal of coming to agreements that are considerate of all parties involved," explains Dow. 


What is a unicorn in a throuple?

No, not a mythical horse but rumored to be just as hard to find. "A unicorn is an individual, very frequently a heteroflexible or bisexual/pansexual woman, who a couple seeks out to form a triad," says Schneider. "The couples who most frequently go 'unicorn-hunting' are composed of a straight man and a bisexual woman."

Unicorn-hunting is frequently looked down upon in non-monogamous circles because it often results in an objectification of the unicorn, who ceases to be seen as her own person. Couples may treat the unicorn as existing solely for the benefit of the existing couple unit and disregard her feelings and need to feel seen, heard, and respected. Schneider notes that unicorn-hunting is often done by couples who are new to ethical non-monogamy: "Having separate polyamorous relationships feels too threatening."

Are throuples legal?

It's perfectly legal for three consenting adults to have a relationship, but when it comes to being recognized by the state, things get a little harder. It's currently not possible for three people to be married and enjoy the benefits that come along with that, such as filing taxes together. However, there are small signs of progress. For example, a court in Canada ruled that two men and one woman who were in a throuple could all be registered as the legal parents of their child, who was born in 2017.

What about jealousy?

A common misconception about polyamorous people is that they don't get jealous. In fact, jealousy is a feeling that pops up for just about everyone at some time or another. One person in a throuple might feel jealous of the other two and the bond they have or the time they spend together, or they may feel jealous of their relationships with other partners outside the triad.

When jealousy strikes in a non-monogamous context, it's usually seen as an opportunity to interrogate emotions and find space for dialogue to work through the difficult feelings. On the other hand, many people in triads are buoyed in their relationships by the experience of compersion, a feeling of unselfish joy that's felt when one's partner is fulfilled in their other relationships.

The unique challenges of being in a throuple.

While being in a triad offers an abundance of love and security, it also comes with some unique challenges. Depending on the origins of the throuple, there might be insecurities at play. "A newer member of the triad might feel, at times, very separate from the other two, in that those two's relationship might have originally been just the two of them," Schneider explains. Furthermore, "sometimes the original couple that then forms a triad might not have fully 'worked out' what polyamory means for them."

In these cases, a lack of communication and clarity can have calamitous results for the relationship. With three people's needs in competition with one another, "a triad might start to feel more like a scalene or obtuse triangle rather than the original goal of an equilateral one," warns Schneider.

The problems that throuples face aren't just internal but structural as well. Dow explains: "The main con that comes to mind for me [with triads] is that society is designed for two. People tend to get +1 invitations for weddings, it's expected to only bring one partner to work events, families often aren't welcoming of more than one partner at holidays, marriage is only legal for two, couples resorts cater to dyads, many roller coaster rides only have two seats, and this list could go on for days."

This society-sanctioned dismissal of triads can lead to personal friction. "Because dyadic partnerships are the norm, couples get a good bit of privilege in society. In triads this often leads to the person who entered the relationship last getting excluded in certain contexts like holidays, weddings, or work events," Dow says. "This is especially true if people in the relationship don't feel comfortable coming out as queer or non-monogamous. It can be very painful for people to be in a position of secrecy when their other partners are able to present as a couple to the public and reap the benefits that doing so provides." 

Lastly, the realities of how humans create and maintain connections with one another are brought into sharp focus through triads. "When more than two people form an intimate relationship system together, it's not a realistic expectation that all of the connections within the dynamic will evolve at the same speed or to the same depth. Inequities in that regard often bring up painful feelings for people that have to be processed and worked through on the individual and team levels," says Dow. 

How to know if a throuple is right for you.

Knowing that a triad is the right fit for you is a little complicated. After all, you never know until you try. Schneider's advice is to start by considering your feelings about ethical non-monogamy in general: "Are you someone who is interested in polyamory, as you have felt drawn to it and find yourself rejecting traditional monogamous values?"

If you've always felt that the status quo leaves you unsatisfied and you're invested in considering your own and others' feelings with a lot of care and deliberation, then a triad might be for you.

"You must also fully accept that traversing uncharted territories tends to be hard work that's full of surprises!" says Dow. Building a triad takes vulnerability and communication; it's not just an excuse to have a threesome. A triad is "one of the most complex poly relationships that exists," says Beth Bloomfield-Fox, LPC. "In a triad there are many relationships happening; person 1 with person 2, person 1 with person 3, person 2 with person 3, etc., and the relationship that exists between all three people together. Being in a relationship with this dynamic requires a significant amount of conversation, patience, and personal responsibility."

If you're curious about thinking deeper about throuples and other forms of polyamory, then Schneider recommends the following books:

  • The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston (Useful for everyone, not just girls! adds Schneider)
  • The Jealousy Workbook by Kathy Labriola
  • Polysecure by Jessica Fern (I just finished reading this last week, and it's a really solid book for beginners and more experienced non-monogamists alike. )

Another smart path to take before deciding if a triad is right for you is therapy. "Meeting with a therapist or relationship coach who is poly aware and accepting before introducing new parties and dynamics is a great first step," recommends Bloomfield-Fox. In order to find a therapist who has the competence needed to help navigate poly issues, you can use this useful directory.

What it's like being in a throuple.

Here, some people who are in, or have been in, throuples, talk about what it is or was like for them:

  • "We've been together for two years. We did not actively seek or choose being in a throuple; we stumbled across it, and the way of life chose us accordingly. If you ask us about the barriers we face—most of them are external. For example, because our way of life is still not considered 'normal,' we keep having to explain to people why and how we are the way we are and why there is one more person than usual. Also, sleeping/sitting arrangements outside are usually made for two people, so we have to adjust there. When it comes to our relationship itself on an internal/emotional level, making two relationships work at the same time (and dealing with two egos...!) is definitely more challenging. However, the flip side to this is beyond beautiful. Two people rarely fulfill each other on every level, and a third person can definitely complement the relationship. To give you an example, Martha and Karan are both highly extroverted and energetic, which their relationship thrives upon. Nevertheless, their relationship needs Inga's calmness and nurturance to remain stable. Additionally, since we are now three people unconditionally supporting each other and splitting daily tasks accordingly, we end up with more time to pursue our individual interests. And if one of us does something alone/away from the others, they know that the others are well taken care of because they are two people, and you're not leaving one person alone." —Inga (25), Karan (34), and Martha (23)
  • "I was in a throuple for six months with a couple I met on Tinder. At first it was kind of like a montage from a movie. I couldn't believe how fun it was. But over time, cracks started to show, and I realized that they really hadn't prepared for opening up their original relationship. I felt more and more pushed out and annoyed. It ended up blowing up pretty bad." —Amanda (29)
  • "I didn't exactly choose to end up in a 'V.' It just kind of happened. I made friends with a couple through my bar job, and me and the guy started sleeping together. I was new to non-monogamy and couldn't really believe that his girlfriend didn't mind and that she even wanted to be friends with me. We ended up spending like a year traveling together through Asia. In the end we all transitioned to just being friends, and we're inseparable. Nowadays I'm in a monogamous relationship, and I think it works better for me, but I am glad I tried something different." —Em (30)

What is polyamory: pros and cons, difference from polygamy

  • What is polyamory
  • What is the difference between polyamory and polygamy
  • Why people choose polyamory
  • For and against polyamory
  • Polyamory in Russia and in the world
  • Expert comments

What is polyamory

Polyamory, or ethical non-monogamy - the presence of several partners and intimate relationships. They can be both sexual and platonic, but always with the full consent of all parties, regardless of gender.

Advertising on RBC

One in five Americans have been in a non-monogamous relationship in the past, and about one in 20 admits to one today. Studies show that partners in such relationships are happy on a par with married monogamous people [1]. Polyamorous relationships require openness, trust, the consent of all participants, as well as good communication skills, clear boundaries and mutual respect. Polyamory is different from other forms of open relationships, such as swing, which are predominantly sexual relationships involving other people or couples without emotional attachment.

Polyamory is not legally recognized as a form of sexual orientation. But this question remains the subject of much controversy among sexologists and "practicing" polyamorists. Many people in non-monogamous consensual relationships believe that this is their orientation. They tried to find satisfaction in a monogamous relationship, but failed. The term "polyamorous relationship" is still positioned as a personal choice or lifestyle.

© Cottonbro/pexels

What is the difference between polyamory and polygamy

Polyamory is often confused with polygamy or marriage to more than one person at the same time, but they are different concepts. Polygamy involves marriage to more than one person of the opposite sex, most commonly a man with multiple wives. Polyamory, while including married partners, describes a wider range of relationships, both heterosexual and LGBTQ+.

Non-monogamy can be different. Sexual relationships range from polyamory to polygamy. Other arrangements may include polyverity, a closed relationship that involves sexual and emotional commitment to a group of more than two people, and relationship anarchy, a format in which there is no hierarchy and, accordingly, there is no division of partners into "main" and "additional".

Why people choose polyamory

As a rule, partners consciously choose polyamory because they see it as an opportunity to deepen their connection with each other. Many people think that polyamory is cheating. But this is a common misconception. Cheating is deceit and betrayal, for example, if you and your partner agree not to have sex with other people, but one of you breaks this promise. The difference between cheating and polyamory is that in the latter case, partners agree to be in relationships with other people.

Some polyamorous advocates see the value of the classic two-partner relationship as obsolete and rethink stereotypes about sex and romance.

“In my close circle, polyamory is the norm, and monogamy is the exception,” says Alexander, a fashion designer in a polyamorous relationship. - As a teenager, I fell in love with everyone, and the stereotype prevented me that you need to love someone alone. From the age of 18, I was in several parallel relationships at once, and this is not about one-time sex, but about an emotional connection as well. I have been married for 20 years and my wife is the best woman in the world. In the beginning, we considered ourselves monogamous. But the need for other people remained, and it was not clear how to talk about it. Later came to polyamory. We discussed issues of jealousy, betrayal, and it turned out that nothing prevents us from enjoying the company of other people. I think in terms of aesthetic experiences. It happens that a casual connection at a party develops into a wonderful spiritual contact that is not disturbed by distance. So, we meet with N in different countries, we do joint projects. For me, a relationship that lacks a sexual aspect is inferior, and a person with whom an intimate relationship is associated is easier to trust.

There is no standard test for polyamory tendencies. Relationships exist in order to be happy in them. Therefore, to the question “Is polyamory right for you?” the answer will be extremely simple. It is only important to decide how comfortable it is to let several people into your life and share partners with others.

© Rene Ranisch/Unsplash

Pros and cons of polyamory

Any relationship can be destroyed by jealousy and arguments about raising children, warns Alena Golzitskaya, systemic family psychotherapist, researcher at the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education. In polyamorous unions, these aspects are complicated by the number of participants. Polyamory can be kept secret from close friends and family. According to the non-profit organization Loving More, at least one in four polyamorous people have been discriminated against.

Among the arguments in favor are the following:

  1. A polyamorous relationship in which all participants know about each other, voluntarily accept this fact and try to take care of the interests of partners and their feelings, may seem to be the most humane option, where there is no place for betrayal and possible harm caused to the psyche of each of the participants.
  2. Among the positive aspects, one can highlight the potential for a deeper understanding and elaboration of relations as such, a careful attitude towards partners, more time spent on establishing and maintaining a quality connection. It is impossible to be in a long-term polyamorous relationship and not strive to better understand all the participants, their motivation.
  3. The most intriguing of the arguments for is the experience of living an emotional and intimate connection with several partners at once, without the burden of guilt and fear of being discovered, without clarifying the relationship and causing pain to those you love. If in polyamorous unions it is possible to build a balanced interaction in which everyone feels comfortable, then the bonuses from such communication can more than exceed the resources spent.

At the same time, the very theoretical model of polyamory — everyone accepts everyone, approves and enjoys loving everyone they like — in practice, it often encounters a harsh reality. Some people are accustomed to wanting the exclusivity of a relationship, especially when falling in love with a partner is great and completely captures. Then any applicant for his attention is perceived as a threat, which gives rise to anger, jealousy and leads to suffering. Thus, it can be difficult to achieve a balance in a relationship when the new person is perceived not as a potential breaker, but as someone who is important to the partner and deserves respect.

© Katerina Holmes/Pexels

Another challenge is making the decision to reformat the relationship. It happens that one in a couple is ready to go for this experiment, while the second is forced to agree, realizing that if he refuses, he will be left or deceived. Under such conditions, it is almost impossible to talk about the free choice of this form of relationship.

And you also need to understand that with the increase in the number of partners, the amount of attention and investment that is required to be done in order to satisfy their relationship needs inevitably increases. Thus, one must be prepared to master the skills of organizing interaction in which no one will be deprived, otherwise a collision with resentment, envy and anger of one of the partners is inevitable, which does not strengthen the union.

Polyamory in Russia and around the world

To collect statistics, sociologists conduct surveys among respondents from polyamorous websites and send out questionnaires. It should be borne in mind that among the participants there may be simply interested people and those who do not intend to move away from monogamy. In October 2015, 5043 people aged 13–55 were interviewed [2]. The status of the respondents was assessed using the question “Do you consider yourself polyamorous?”. Answer options were offered:

  • no, and I never would;
  • no, but was before;
  • no, but would like to;
  • yes.

The study showed that 59.8% of those surveyed consider themselves monogamous, 25.5% would like to try a polyamorous relationship, 7.6% indicated that they were in a relationship in the past, and 7.1% are polyamorous. The number of people from the latter group was higher than the researchers expected. They attribute the high rate to sample bias. It included social media users who take online personality tests. Often these are young, liberal, atheistic and non-heterosexual people.


In terms of gender, there are more polyamorous men among men, while women tend to be monogamous in the majority.


Age doesn't really change how you think about relationships with multiple partners. After the age of 33, theoretical interest in them decreases against the background of a larger number of both monogamous and polyamorous respondents.


In 2015, the poll was also conducted by the American Institute of Public Opinion Gallup [3]. According to the results of the research, it turned out that the number of people choosing polygamy has almost doubled compared to 2001.

Expert comments

Alena Golzitskaya, systemic family psychotherapist, researcher at the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education

So far, in Russia (as, I believe, in the entire Western world), polyamory is treated with caution. There are no official statistics for our country, and there won't be for a long time. Still, it takes time to introduce something new into such a highly regulated sphere of life as marriage or a romantic partnership.

Apparently, the choice of polyamory is due to the fact that the usual forms of organizing relationships are no longer satisfying. An increase in life expectancy, the emergence of the opportunity to have several relationships, and not just one, orientation to one's own interests and needs - all this leads to the fact that a person is trying to figure out how to arrange the intimate part of his life in a more acceptable way than just entering into secret relationships .

Polyamory may be an attempt to revise the rigid norms of public morality, dictating that only the relationship of two people can be considered as falling under the category of marital or love.

The question "How to come to terms with a partner's polyamory?" wrong. Only a union of several people formed on a voluntary basis can be polyamorous, but if one of the participants must accept such a fate, this is no longer a polyamorous union, but abuse. Not always in polyamorous unions, all participants have sexual relations with each other. So, for example, in the union of one woman and two men, the latter may not have any physical relationship with each other. And in general, this is what polyamory and a voluntary form of interaction are for, so that no one is forced to do something that he is not ready to do or does not want to do.

Arina Vintovkina, sexologist, psychologist, journalist, author of the @vintovkina_arina blogs and telegram channel “This is normal”, married, 12 years of marriage, in a polyamorous relationship for four years

I am for kindness and awareness, against hypocrisy, gender stereotypes, hetero- and monocentrism. Analyzing my relationships and polyunions of friends, I can say that the only common denominator for adequate polyamory is the absence of initially unsuccessful starting conditions. For example, when people think about polyamory when they find themselves in a crisis situation, and hope to “fix” the relationship in this way. Before going polyamorous, my husband and I were monogamish for several years. The difference between this term and classical monogamy is that we had more sexual freedom, but the relationship was not completely open. At the same time, sex-positive thinking and mutual trust were always present. When a person appeared in my life, to whom something inside me responded and flared, I immediately informed my husband about it. I wanted to share the joy with a loved one.

Our main principle in polyamorous relationships has been and remains unchanged: first we discuss the next step, then we take it.

Being openly polyamorous means often repulsing attacks and making excuses. I am calm about any private opinion, when it is expressed without obvious hostility. In recent years, I have been called both a narcissist and a person with a mental disorder, reproached for childhood trauma and problems with self-esteem. I can say one thing: by itself, the format of relationships, whatever it may be, does not say anything about human problems or pathologies of the psyche, it is a matter of motivation in each specific case. And it is impossible to determine it from the threshold if you are not a psychic. There is very little research on polyamory. But those that are, objectively show that there are no differences in personality tests, regardless of the number of partners. Polyamorous people are no more neurotic or immature.

For example, there was a 1986 comparative study on the inability to be in a long-term relationship with 80 couples. Some of them were monogamous, others preferred an open relationship. Five years later, both of them had approximately the same statistics on parting - about 20%.

Polyamory has not made me less jealous than I was, say, ten years ago. The only thing that has changed is that I have learned to live with jealousy. My husband also believes that marriage is not a purchase, but an agreement and the best relationship is possible only for love, without trying to protect a partner from what brings him joy. Under what conditions is a loved one allowed to do what he wants? On the condition that he be happy. And love is always about acceptance.

Tags: Relationships

Polygamous What is the difference between polyamory and polygamy and why there are more "open" couples? According to Mac, such connections have great prospects: they are becoming more and more popular. "" understands the intricacies of communication and studies the issue using examples from the life of fans of free love.

Polyamory as a system of views approves the love relationships of partners with other people and encourages not to pay attention to the gender of the partner, that is, it welcomes non-traditional relationships. At the same time, polyamory and polygamy are close, but not identical concepts: the first focuses on love, the second on the family format. Polyamory is more of an outlook on life than a way of life.

Supporters of polyamory believe that not everyone can maintain monogamy, that freedom in choosing a life partner or partners is necessary. Two important conditions for such communication are the voluntary consent of all parties and absolute honesty.

The desire to have several love partners is considered absolutely natural. At the same time, all relationships that support polygamous people should be based on trust and respect, excluding the emergence of conflicts on the basis of jealousy, lies or betrayal.

Almost polygamy

Precise definition of polyamory itself and its criteria is impossible - everyone interprets it in their own way.
As a polyamorous relationship develops and new members are included, the format of communication can change from free to serious and vice versa. All parties that are in contact with each other should be able to speak openly and honestly among themselves.

One for all

On March 16, 2016 published an article about Josh from South Carolina. The American attracted the attention of journalists with an unusual way of life: he has three girls at once, with whom he is in an open polyamorous relationship.

Sarah, Alyssia and Mary-Ashley say that this way of life suits them perfectly.


It all started when Josh and Sarah met Alyssia, a bisexual who moved in with them. After some time, Mary Ashley joined the three lovers, which, as it turned out, rallied the group even more.

Each of the lovers brings something new to the common life without losing their own individuality. According to the only man, he would have lived quietly without a relationship if each of them would not have been so "incredibly happy." "It's our choice," Josh concluded.

Fours claim that they never have problems because of jealousy. “Demanding everything from one person is just not fair,” added Josh, who believes that monogamous relationships put too much pressure on a person.

Family Modernization

OpenMinded. com creator Brandon Wade called polyamory a form of “moral infidelity”: “Society has come to the conclusion that modern marriages no longer meet the needs of people and need to be modified. The "male-female" format is no longer satisfactory. Members of an open relationship are unconcerned freaks. These are successful, self-confident people, young professionals who do not take monogamy as a standard.”

Photo: Fred Prouser / Reuters

What it is

In March 2016, a 34-year-old woman who took the pseudonym Lisa told her story of polyamorous relationships to Elle. The heroine of the material has four lovers, including her civil husband. The husband is also dating two of his wife's partners.

“I grew up in a large family, and I always lacked the attention of others. Perhaps this is my way of getting it. I want to give love, which is very much in my heart. Sometimes I just go crazy in love with someone. Polyamory allows me not to throw off all this endless tenderness on my husband, ”Lisa explained her addictions.

Everything changes

“After we got married, I couldn't believe I wouldn't have my first kiss again. It made me incredibly upset, ”recalls Lisa.

For the first time, the couple raised the issue of monogamy and their attitude towards it at the age of 18, when they had just moved in together. And both came to the conclusion that for them it is too much and even impossible. Since then, the couple periodically invited other people into their relationship, but this was not enough. After several years of living together, the couple completely abandoned the conventions and patterns by which they were originally going to build their marriage.

“Thanks to such relationships, it is possible to overcome the feeling of jealousy. You can talk openly about your feelings and freely make plans for the future, ”the woman explains.

Liza's husband also has a woman out of wedlock. Both women understand how they complement each other, and interact perfectly with each other.

Goes to the masses

The American Institute of Public Opinion Gallup conducted a study, the results of which showed that, compared with 2001, in 2015 the number of citizens accepting polygamous relationships more than doubled.

Photo: gaelx / Flickr

In 2009, Newsweek published statistics showing that more than 500,000 American families are in open polygamous relationships.

“Our system is completely focused on the nuclear family model with two biological parents. Many polyamorous families do not come out to neighbors or staff at their children's school. They are afraid that they will not be understood or judged,” Sandra Peace, a psychologist from California, comments on the situation to Mac. She has worked a lot with people who are part of the polyamorous community.

She also notes legal grounds for preventing polyamorous partners from being open about their relationships. According to Peace, this complicates divorce proceedings, establishing custody of common children, and creates other problems.

Voice of Reason

In 2000, one of the most high-profile court cases took place about the impact of a polyamorous family on a child. April Divibiss, a contestant on the MTV show, was deprived of custody of her own child due to the fact that she was in a polyamorous relationship.

The TV star's mother filed a lawsuit alleging that her granddaughter Alana was growing up in inappropriate conditions (April lived with two men). As a result of a two-year struggle, the girl was given to be raised by her grandmother, recognizing that she was able to create better conditions for her granddaughter.

What to be afraid of

“The possibility of child welfare services to remove them from polyamorous families is deeply embedded in the minds of any parent who shares our views. Vindictive exes, misunderstood relatives or neighbors - they can all pose a great danger and at one point destroy the family with some kind of harmful message, ”Pis explained the impact of the Divibiss case on the polyamorous community.

Learn more