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Let’s Break It Down
We all know that relationships take on a myriad of different forms. A triad polyamory relationship is one option couples and individuals may consider when looking into nontraditional or non-monogamous relationships.
Polyamory has become more common in mainstream media. Still, for those who aren’t familiar, the term “polyamory” loosely translates to “many loves” and refers to a relationship where participants have multiple partners.
What Is a Triad Polyamory Relationship?
A triad polyamory relationship is an arrangement between three individuals. Not all three need to be in a sexual relationship inside this triad, and a triad polyamory relationship can take several different structures.
A triad relationship is very different from having an affair. This type of nontraditional relationship can involve multiple romantic partners, a married couple, or even an open relationship where each partner is free to have relationships with other people.
Not every polyamorous relationship involves marriage, but it does occur. A married couple may enter the triad with multiple partners and still choose monogamy outside of the polyamorous triad. This type of intimate relationship requires some base rules, trust, and communication between partners about their consensual non-monogamous boundaries.
A triad or other type of polyamorous relationship may also have a primary partner or primary relationship and a secondary partner or secondary relationship. This type of structure almost always involves sexual intercourse, but it’s also possible to have a healthy relationship between asexual individuals.
The Different Types of Triad Polyamory Relationships
A broad spectrum of triad relationship types exist, and a polyamorous relationship can change structure over time or as different individuals become involved. A triad relationship can involve two women and one man or one woman and two men, or any other combination of genders that suits the partners involved in this nontraditional relationship.
A closed triad is where the poly relationship involves the poly triad and no outside partners. These three individuals form an intimate relationship where they are committed to each other and don’t seek external partners. These relationships are often sexual and romantic in nature and include any combination of genders. There are many different possible arrangements.
These three individuals choose to remain in a romantic relationship, spend time together, and are attracted to each other. Many married couples prefer this type of triad. Still, it’s just as likely that these individuals aren’t married and simply want a committed three-person relationship or a form of ethical non-monogamy.
Fully Open Triad
A fully open triad can take on many forms. However, the simple definition is that this relationship involves three people who engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with each other. When the triad is fully open, each of these partners can have relationships freely with other people. Not everyone in the triad will know the partners they have outside of their three-way relationship.
Fully open triads often occur when three close friends decide to date each other or when a couple with an open relationship decides to take on a third person romantically and sexually. Open triads can also form for any length of time. Some may occur at a swingers party and others as a long-term arrangement.
An open triad also forms when the two metamours in a Vee triad choose to date each other, turning the Vee relationship into a triad that is either open or closed.
A “Vee Relationship”
When you have a Vee relationship, one person acts as the pivot point or hinge, dating two other people. There is still a bit of variation in the partners’ relationships both in and outside the triad.
The other two individuals in this triad don’t have a relationship with each other, but they do have relationships outside of the triad that take on many forms. The term for these two people is “metamours,” and their relationship with each other can vary from not knowing each other at all to being terrific friends.
Closed Duo/Dyad with an Open Partner
There is some debate about whether this relationship counts as a polyamorous triad, but a closed relationship such as a marriage can have a third added.
This third individual can have relationships with whoever they choose. Or they may decide to only form a sexual relationship with the married couple.
Either way, there needs to be some discussion about what each participant wants in this arrangement. An example of this is when a partner in a closed triad intends to form relationships with other people, which would then change the structure to a closed dyad or duo with them as the open partner.
While all of the arrangements we’ve discussed require ample communication between everyone involved, this arrangement can stem from a different type of triad and requires individuals to handle the situation carefully and in a respectful manner.
When you change a closed triad to a triad with an open partner, it’s also possible that not all members will feel the same about the change that one member wants to make. It’s also possible that while the other two partners initially want to have a closed relationship with each other, they may also decide to see other people, and the triad would become open.
It’s important to note that not all triads require sexual relationships, even polyamorous ones. Not all asexual people are looking for romantic relationships; however, asexual triads aren’t uncommon.
It’s always possible to have an asexual triad polyamory relationship since polyamory is fluid and doesn’t take on a singular defined structure. It’s also worth noting that polyamory and asexuality aren’t mutually exclusive. People can find these types of relationships fulfilling even without the presence of sexual desire.
While these asexual triads are definitely rarer than other triad forms, many partners find ways to overlap asexual relationships with sexual relationships to form triad arrangements that suit them. Likewise, an asexual triad can always become more or less sexual over time based on the feelings of those involved. Of course, this makes open communication essential.
Can People in a Triad Polyamory Relationship Get Counseling?
Absolutely! Navigating a triad polyamory relationship is tricky, even in the best situation. For many individuals who are new to this arrangement, there are common snags that might happen along the way.
It’s also possible for a married couple to want counseling to discuss the possibility of a polyamorous relationship and whether that’s right for them. Many individuals might also have questions or issues they want to discuss related to a possible polyamorous relationship or a current relationship they maintain.
In fact, counseling is beneficial for anyone looking to gain insight and clarity on issues that matter to them. In polyamorous relationships, this can include topics such as:
- Effective communication
- Boundaries and rules
- The kind of relationship partners desire
- STD testing, birth control, and safe sex
- Intimacy, connection, loyalty, and fidelity
Some partners want to know all of the details about their partner’s relationship, while others don’t want to know anything at all. There is a spectrum of agreements partners have with their significant others, and those rules and boundaries change over time.
When it comes to a successful triad, it’s usually necessary to meet certain requirements such as alone time for specific partners, managing jealousy, and the unique level of openness in your relationship. Seeking counseling can help you navigate some of the finer details of this kind of relationship and avoid common pitfalls that negatively impact the triad.
If you have children, you may also want to discuss how open you will be with others about your polyamorous relationship. You will also need to discuss if and how you will tell your family or children.
As a partner in a triad polyamorous relationship, you’ll also find that it takes more time and energy to have multiple partners. Counseling helps develop tactics for recognizing these needs and healthily attending to them.
Dynamics of a Triad Polyamory Relationship
When we talk about the dynamics of a polyamorous relationship, we’re referring to the behavior patterns between people as they bond, interact, communicate, and relate to each other.
In a polyamorous relationship, these dynamics can include jealous behaviors, arguments, and hurt feelings when clear communication, expectations, and boundaries aren’t set in advance. These behaviors aren’t always part of polyamory, but some individuals struggle more than others with that type of relationship structure, even if it’s an arrangement they desire.
There are many ways to structure a triad polyamorous relationship, and it’s essential to use clear communication, set boundaries, and discuss expectations with each consenting partner to ensure success.
While this type of relationship is less common than a traditional two-person relationship, it’s still possible for married couples, individuals, asexual individuals, and people with many other identities to participate.
Having more than one partner does take more of your time and energy. Still, many individuals find this relationship structure fulfilling, easier to maintain, sustainable, and ultimately more enjoyable than other relationship types.