We’re a heterosexual couple in search of a “unicorn” (an attractive bisexual woman) to join us for a few date nights a week. We’ve had some one-off threesomes but can’t find a partner to join us more long-term. Apps, dating sites, friends, acquaintances—nothing has worked. What are we doing wrong?
Unicorn hunters have a bad reputation. Perhaps it’s the polyamorous community’s endless lingo: ambigusweetie, new relationship energy (NRE), friends-first swinging (FFS) and other terms that reek of corporate buzzwords. One has to wonder if all polyamorous people are middle managers. Of the threesome-seeking couples on Tinder, inevitably she is bi but without much experience, and of course he loves to watch. Tina, a former unicorn, has been on her share of “throuple” dates. “These couples are called unicorn hunters because they’re often predatory,” she says. Couples end up treating her like a fantasy rather than a partner; these pairs are simply looking for someone to fill a preimagined role. Yet the high of an ongoing threesome is real. Tina recounts the slumber-party vibe of enjoying two lovers, kissing in public, having sex in a myriad of positions, running out in the middle of the night for bad Chinese food, drawing attention as a triple date at a wedding. But fights are intensified when they involve three people. Tina tells of feeling uncomfortable during a couple’s spats, pressured to take a side. “You won’t solve existing relationship problems by bringing in a third person,” she says.
Laurel Steinberg agrees. A New York–based psychotherapist and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she has counseled many couples as they navigate polyamory. Instead of asking what you’re doing wrong, Steinberg suggests you ask what you’re trying to achieve, what your goals are. “Couples need to ask themselves: Are we going into and coming out of this as a team? Will we be able to put this endeavor behind us if we choose not to do it again? And will we both feel comfortable speaking transparently about our experiences and feelings afterward?” One common pitfall for couples, says Steinberg, is the hope that bringing in a second woman will cure their boredom. However, this can cause new problems if the woman in the couple feels in any way inferior when compared with the new female partner. “It’s also important to discuss veto power—whether one member of the couple will control whom the other engages with sexually in the future,” she says.
To answer your question: You may not be doing anything wrong. Dating itself consists of endless trial and error, as well as numerous bar tabs that never pay off. In ancient Greece the unicorn was believed to be a real beast. In medieval times the lack of proof of the animal’s existence helped move it into the realm of myth. And as you’re discovering, the fantasy of a third person, one who enters and exits a relationship with ghostly ease, is just as unattainable.
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