If you have begun to explore the world of polyamory or ethical non-monogamy (ENM) you may have heard people talk about unicorn hunting. Usually, when you hear people talk about unicorn hunters, it is with a negative tone.
But what is unicorn hunting? Why is it usually a bad thing? And is there any way that it can be ethical?
Anyone who is interested in polyamory or ENM should do their due diligence in learning as much as they can about the lifestyle. Learning and understanding the terms often used in the community will help you to communicate better with others in the community.
Unicorn hunting is one term you should understand.
What Is Unicorn Hunting?
Unicorn hunting is when a couple who are married or living together looks for a third to become part of their relationship. They are usually looking for a woman, but they may also be looking for a man.
They expect this third person to merge his or her life with theirs. They may expect him or her to move in with them at some point. In fact, they usually have a lot of expectations of this third person.
The fact that they are even called a “third” is insulting to many people. The third person never comes first and they usually don’t come second in the relationship. They are the last person who will be considered when problems arise.
Of course, most people who are unicorn hunters don’t plan to be inconsiderate or demeaning. It’s just the nature of many married couples who are newer to polyamory or ENM and don’t realize the impacts of what they are asking of another person.
How To Know If You Are Unicorn Hunters
You and your partner might immediately say, “Oh, no! We would never treat another person like that! We just want more love in our lives!”
That might be the intention, but it is very hard to manage finding another person to become an equal part of your current relationship. The two of you already have history, bonds, and commitment to each other.
Here are some things you should consider if you want to avoid being unicorn hunters:
- Have you already established the rules for this potential relationship?
- Have you established rules for this new person you want to join your relationship?
- Is your current relationship more important than anything else?
- Do you have expectations for time? For example, how much time each of you gets to spend with this new person, or how much time should pass before the new person moves in – or even the assumption that the new person will move in?
- Do you expect that the new person will date and fall in love with both of you?
- Do you expect that the new person will have sexual feelings toward both of you?
- Have you already decided what kind of sexual relationship you will have with the new person? For example, will the three of you always sleep together? Or will you all “take turns”?
Is Protecting Your Current Relationship Your First Priority?
If you are looking for a new person to join your current relationship but you and your partner have already agreed that the relationship between the two of you will always come first, you’re already unicorn hunting. In a triad, you have a new relationship and you need to let the old one be part of the past.
Relationships are always changing anyway, whether you are monogamous or ENM. This is especially true of ENM relationships though. Once you and your partner have decided you want to be polyamorous, have a triad, or whatever you have decided, your current relationship will never be the same.
Your main priority should be making sure your relationships – all of them – are healthy. Keeping one relationship healthy helps the others stay strong, too.
If you’re thinking, “It’s ok, we have rules to avoid problems!” just stop. First, rules are created to minimize, constrain, and prevent other people from doing things YOU don’t like. That can be you as an individual or you as a couple.
Rules are not equality. And if you’re relationships are not equal, it’s only a matter of time before there are problems. Rules get broken.
How To Not Be Unicorn Hunters
You can have the dream of having a committed and fair relationship with three people all living and loving together without being a unicorn hunter. It’s possible and many people have this kind of relationship and are successful with it.
The important thing to remember is that the majority of successful throuples come about organically. When they first began, they probably were not a throuple and didn’t even try to be one!
If you want to have a loving and equal triad and don’t want to be called unicorn hunters here are a few things to remember.
Yes. Each of you can date outside your relationship on your own. This gives you each the chance to build relationships with other people.
This is important because as much as you think a triad is onlyl one relationship, it is not.
Imagine that Maddie and Brett have been living together for years. They have a relationship. They meet Chastity and they both like her and she moves in. Now, Brett and Chastity have a relationship. That’s two relationships. Chastity and Maddie have a relationship, too; so that’s three. And then there is the relationship between Chastity and Maddie and Brett so there are four relationships.
Each relationship has its own dynamic and each needs to be nurtured.
Create Boundaries, Not Rules
If you recognize that each person is an individual, it will make sense that they should be able to create their own boundaries. Maddie’s boundary might be that she doesn’t want to hear about what happens with Chastity and Brent when they have sex. That is her boundary and it is up to her to maintain it.
If Brent and Maddie create a rule that Chastity can not talk to anyone else about what happens in the bedroom, that is making a rule for her. It doesn’t give her a choice. That means that there is inequality.
Let Relationships Develop Organically
Instead of trying to minimize what kinds of relationships each person can have, give each other freedom to make their own decisions.
If you do meet someone who both of you want to date and they want to date both of you, keep your dates separate for the time being. Develop the relationship between two people first. If both relationships are going well, then the three of
you can talk about a potential triad and work it out – together.