Throuple Relationship: Meaning, Rules, And Tips To Make It Work

Love and Romance | | , Culture & Relationships Writer
Updated On: February 8, 2024
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If you are active on social media, you’ve probably heard of a throuple relationship at least once. Polyamorous relationships are not uncommon, but a throuple is a very specific category. Often misunderstood to mean threesomes, throuples are slowly gaining more recognition in the mainstream following the popularity of shows like You Me Her.

However, if you and your partner are thinking of becoming a throuple but are new to three-person relationships or even to polygamy, read on before you hop on the poly throuple bandwagon. People often assume throuples meaning as an opportunity to have a threesome or to swing or have sex outside their committed relationships without compromising on faithfulness. But being in a throuple is like being in a relationship, and like any other relationship, it demands work.

Once you get the basics right and choose them for the right reasons, you can not only build successful three-way relationships but may also find them more fulfilling. Because three people in a relationship are not a crowd anymore; it’s a party.

What Is A Throuple Relationship? 

The term polyamorous throuple comes from an amalgamation of the words three and couple. It’s a type of romantic relationship between three people. The emphasis here is on romance, which means that in this relationship style, all of the partners enjoy the same equity. It’s important to highlight this core aspect of the polyamorous throuple meaning because people often reduce a throuple relationship to the hyper-sexualized fantasies of the “two men, one woman” porn category.

How Different Or Same Is It To Open Or Polyamorous Relationships?

A throuple or triad is a kind of polyamorous relationship where three people are involved romantically with each other. Sometimes, two partners may not even be sexually involved. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not always an open relationship. Here are a few points that will clarify this for you.

  • A throuple is not a threesome. A threesome is a sexual act where three people have sex with each other. Throuples may or may not engage in threesomes. Moreover, while a threesome is purely sexual and the people engaging in it may not see each other again, throuples are committed in their relationship and live or even sleep together on the same bed
  • There are various forms of throuples, depending upon the sexual activity. The partners may decide if they want to keep the triad open (where all or some partners will be in an open relationship), or close (where all partners will be exclusive to one another only)
  • Among the different types of triads is a V relationship because two partners appear to be “hinged” to one partner. These partners may not be sexually or romantically involved with each other but coexist in the relationship because of the hinge partner
  • Do throuples work like polygamous relationships? A throuple is different from the traditional setup of co-wives in some cultures. Throuples offer an equilateral relationship structure to all the throuple partners who consent to enter the relationship. While traditional polygamy is often a political or social construct where some partners rarely have the agency to choose or consent

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  • Arrangements like ménage à trois have been popular in history where a married couple inhabited with another individual; a popular one being, Mary Godwin, writer of Frankenstein, P. B. Shelley, her poet husband, and Claire Clairemont, her stepsister
  • It is not limited to any gender identity or sexual orientation. Any person may enter a throuple relationship as long as they are consenting and they have the same rights as other throuple partners
  • Throuples may form organically when three people decide to get together like the famous menage relationships of Joe Exotic from Tiger King, or when a pre-existing couple decides to bring another woman into marriage, as depicted in You Me Her
  • Sometimes, a married couple invites a bisexual woman to spice up their sex lives, but this is a unicorn relationship style and shouldn’t be confused with throuples who are emotionally and, sometimes, sexually involved with each other
  • Triads are also formed when a couple finds that they can’t fulfill each other spiritually, and so they actively seek a third person to fulfill their unfulfilled needs
  • Throuples can be more satisfying than monogamous relationships as responsibilities are shared by three partners instead of two. Additionally, people in throuples also occasionally enjoy the benefits a dyad offers. For example, when two partners decide to spend time with each other doing things on date nights that the third partner may not enjoy

11 Rules For A Successful Throuple Relationship

Being in a throuple sounds exciting as you get to express yourself to more than one person, the sex is amazing, and you don’t feel alone if one partner is away. But do three-way relationships work? Well, throuples can be difficult to maintain. You’d think it’s easy finding a third for a throuple on Feeld, and that’s all that’s needed. But throuples require extra effort, and not everyone can handle it. So, what throuple rules can you follow to build a wholesome, secure bond? Let’s find out:

1. All throuple partners must be consenting

All the partners must consent to being in a polyamorous relationship. If your partner is unsure about introducing another person into your relationship, let them decide on their own instead of forcing or coercing them.

  • Ask your partner if they are okay with the idea. And nothing less than, “I want to be in a throuple” should be an acceptable answer. Polyamory can be a new and even alarming idea for some people. So explain why you want to get into polyamory. Tell them that they don’t have to feel rejected or insecure. It’s possible that they may not agree to it, and respect their consent in that case. If needed, you can take the help of a relationship counselor to talk through this
  • Ensure that all potential partners are aware of their role in the relationship. You could talk it out if you want a certain hierarchy but successful throuples usually have a balanced power arrangement
  • It’s a good idea to get financial agreements drawn up if you’re deciding to acquire any property or assets jointly. Since throuples are not recognized as legal relationships, it is entirely up to the court to distribute things if the situation gets ugly. If you’re in a long-term throuple relationship (more than two years), it may give other partners a de facto spouse status, which means they can claim your property in the event of a breakup or death, even if you were not sexually involved or were in a V relationship with the same person

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2. Ensure balance among all partners

What distinguishes a triad from a unicorn relationship is the agency all partners have. Ensuring an equal distribution of power in the relationship structure is one of the unique challenges throuples face.

  • Throuple relationship rules often highlight the need for balance. Sometimes a hierarchy is formed, where only one person may take care of financial responsibilities, while the others take care of the household. This is commonly seen when a couple seeks a third partner. Thus, primary and secondary partners are established. The primary partner, usually the spouse, is the partner you feel most close to, while the secondary partner is usually the new person in the relationship
  • Not all of you have to take care of the same tasks, but you can talk and make sure that the arrangement is convenient for everyone
  • This may often happen with couples who adopt a third person, who may begin to feel either left out or like a third wheel. It’s important to resolve any such feelings before they lead to resentment

3. Best long-term throuple relationship advice: Communicate

Throuples require more effort than a monogamous relationship. This is due to the reasons that either one partner may feel ignored in the relationship or that the couple may feel insecure about the new member

  • Before you get into the relationship, make it a rule to resolve any conflicts on the same day
  • Encourage communication so all of you can be on the same page. If you feel one of you may be holding on to something, give them a safe environment so they can speak up. Have weekly throuple date nights where you can talk to each other. Check in periodically with all the partners. It may be awkward or even difficult at first but it will start coming to you naturally over time
  • Try to be empathetic in the relationship. This is important in any relationship, but more so in throuples

4. Learn to adapt to the new relationship

If it’s your first time trying out non-monogamous relationships, then it may not be as similar to your previous relationships, so you’ll have to learn and unlearn some things.

  • Talk to your partners about the sleeping arrangement. Do all of you want to sleep together? Do you want your own beds or different rooms? If you’re unsure, maybe you could try sleeping in the same bed for some time and then decide if it works for you
  • If your partners have severe allergies that can get triggered easily through air or food, take extra care to avoid those things on your person or meals
  • Some things about this new relationship arrangement may bother you at first. Give it time. However, if despite giving it a chance, you can’t make peace with some aspects of being in a relationship throuple, do talk it out with your partners

5. Be open to new experiences

Being in a relationship with two people at the same time gives you the opportunity to try out new things, and not just sexually. It may give you a chance to explore yourself. You may find yourself asking, “Am I bisexual?

  • Converse with your partners and ask them what they’re willing to experiment in bed. Since you’re making your own guidelines here, you get to decide what you can and cannot do. But be aware of not pushing your partners’ boundaries
  • Your partners may try to introduce you to the things they like. Even if you’re not into it, it’ll mean a lot to them if you could take an active interest. However, be vocal if you’re not comfortable
  • You may have conflicts with your partners’ beliefs. Adopt a agree to disagree policy on certain religious or political beliefs

6. Be sure before getting into it

Do throuple relationships work? It depends on what kind of relationship it is and how well it aligns with your needs. You may have an arrangement where you look for casual partners on Feeld, but to sustain it over a long period, you need to have clarity.

  • Since this is not a traditional relationship, you may be conditioned to not take it seriously or lean toward one partner to get an illusion of being a couple. This sort of thinking can harm the relationship dynamic
  • If you think that one of you is not completely sure of the arrangement or is feeling jealous or insecure, then better talk it out before getting into it
  • A major reason why Cristina leaves her triad relationship with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena in Vicky Cristina Barcelona was because she was unsure of being the third person in a relationship. The couple were already struggling with the relationship. So, when she left, their marriage disintegrated as well. Remember getting into a throuple is not going to solve your existing relationship problems. Plus, it’s unfair to force such responsibility on another person
  • Most people assume throuple dates are orgies where a couple share a woman. If your reasons to get into a throuple are similar, then be honest with your potential partners. It’s possible that they may be looking for a long-term relationship and it will not be ideal to give them the wrong idea

Related Reading: Dealing With Jealousy In Polyamorous Relationships

7. Be aware of your boundaries

It is important to be aware of your boundaries and exert them in any relationship, but it’s also important to respect the boundaries of other partners. 

  • Communicate to understand what every partner feels and expects from the arrangement. Talk about what bothers them or is a relationship deal breaker
  • If one of the partners wants to have an open relationship, learn what other partners feel about it. Talk and come to an agreement that works best for everyone involved. Do all the people involved still want to live together? Do they want to jointly own assets? Are other partners comfortable with it? Do they want regular STI screenings? Be as specific as you want
  • A great thing about boundaries is that they aren’t set in stone. If you feel you’re gradually getting upset by something that you previously enjoyed, you can talk about it

8. Do throuple relationships work without sex?

People in throuple relationships don’t always have threesomes. Sex is just a part of it. Celebrities like Bella Thorne, Tana Mongeau, and Mod Sun have been in a throuple where Bella was the hinge partner, as Tana said in a YouTube video. Tana talks about how Bella improved her as a person, her platonic relationship with Mod, and how the relationship felt so “normal” to them.

“It’s just some lame teen boy fantasy to see two bisexual women giving a blow job to a man. Not saying we don’t do it. But our sexual feelings are our business. I want to be in a throuple not just for the sex but to do normal jobs, cook for my family, and clean our yards. We are happy not just because we sleep together, but because we work for it”, said Cindy, a chef from Washington.

Tilda Swinton in an interview talked about living with the father of her children and her new partner. The situation was queerplatonic in many ways but she called it a “happy situation”. Books like Women on the Edge of Time have explored the themes of three-way parenthood beautifully and suggest how parents in a triad can give their children a loving home environment.

9. Respect each other

The foundation of every intimate relationship is respect. A relationship can’t function if the people in it don’t respect each other.

  • Validate the feelings of your partners. Emotional invalidation in relationships can make one feel devalued and leave them traumatized
  • Even if all the members of the triad have different financial and functional responsibilities, establishing a hierarchy based on gender roles or who earns the money may not be a good idea
  • Giving more attention or showing reverence toward one partner can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction
  • You also need to be respectful of the need of your partner(s) to spend time by themselves or with each other

Related Reading: 11 Signs Of A Happy, Healthy Marriage

10. Let go of labels

People might say that having a committed relationship with more than one person is a new concept. However, history begs to differ. Many cultures have had relationships with multiple partners. But you don’t have to treat it like a The Handmaid’s Tale situation, where every party is defined either as a husband, wife, or, heavens forbid, the handmaid.

  • Do throuples work like normal marriages? To that, I’ll say let go of gender roles. It may be easy to call your partners “wife” or “husband”, but traditional gender roles often have an implication. Let the love be free of labels
  • You can have kids if you want and raise them in a household where the child can have three parents instead of two. This will require some work as social conditioning will affect the child’s understanding of families. But some people, like Ian, Alan, and Jeremy, a male throuple, have taken up this battle. This poly throuple had their son two years ago and fought a long battle to be recognized as legal fathers for their child

11. Make your own throuple rules

A healthy relationship, be it a polygamous or monogamous relationship, is meant to provide you with fulfillment in life. It doesn’t have to be like a checklist where you must go through a number of rules to fit a certain mold. While some throuple relationship rules, such as commitment, love, and respect, can’t be compromised, other things can be flexible. Suggest new things, make rules as you go

  • Read as much as you can on throuples dating. But you don’t have to go through all sorts of literature on polyamory to get into a throuple relationship. Figure it out gradually. At Bonobology, we offer an excellent panel of professional and dating coaches to help you find throuple relationship advice 
  • You don’t have to be a triad all the time. Any two partners may also decide to spend time as a dyad
  • Most of all, enjoy! The joy of having more than one partner is that you get more people to share your joys and sorrows with. Communicate and watch yourself become not just a better lover, but a better person

7 Potential Pitfall Of A Throuple Relationship

Though the idea of getting into successful three-way relationships sounds intriguing, it’s not for everyone. Those getting into throuple relationships have to be cautious of a few things that may make navigating such relationships difficult for them:

1. Heightened jealousy or insecurity

Research suggests that a major challenge that throuples face is jealousy in polyamorous relationships. Or the new partner may feel left out because the couple in the committed relationship has been together for a very long time.

  • If you or another partner is feeling jealous, try to get to the root of it. Often a person with low self-esteem may feel less insecure in a relationship, so try to uncover the reasons behind their issues
  • At the same time, give every partner the same preference or attention in the relationship. If things get bad, getting relationship counseling is not a bad idea.

Kelly, a homemaker from L.A. told us, “My husband and I entered our relationship monogamous. Two years later, we met Cleo. I felt such a strange connection with her. I loved Dan and worried that he would fall apart with jealousy. Yet I found it very difficult to resist her. We had an explosive fight one day over something stupid and I told him I liked her. It took a marriage counselor to calm things between us. We eventually broke the idea to Cleo who was up for it.

“Dan hated her in the beginning and lashed out about not being enough for me. It was extremely difficult for him, but now it’s been 18 months since we’ve been together. Dan and Cleo don’t have a romantic relationship but they get by. The neighbors look at us weird, but we’re happy.”

2. Disbalanced relationship

This may happen when there is an uneven split of commitment or power or if there is hyper-dependence on one partner, which may make them feel dissatisfied. Sometimes a power hierarchy forms organically, but if it begins to impact the mental peace of any of the partners, it’s time to rethink the relationship structure

  • Voice out when you feel you’re not heard or validated enough. However, try not to become hyper-dependent on your relationship. Your self-esteem must not be derived from your relationships
  • Always and actively seek consent from all the partners before making any major decisions. Sometimes a partner may consent to something just before the other two agreed. But such a situation will only create more conflicts. Keep the communication channel open and try to maintain a healthy relationship dynamic
  • Everyone in the triad will have to compromise at some point. Try to not abuse the flexibility of any one partner

3. More scope for misunderstanding

Three is not a crowd, but it definitely gives more room for Chinese whispers. Because throuples dating may mean that you get to know some things secondhand, there is a possibility of misunderstanding in a relationship throuple.

  • A good piece of throuple advice is to get rid of secrets. Even if you can’t share all your secrets with your partners, at the very least make sure they know exactly the same thing
  • If you hear sarcastic comments or observe passive-aggressive behavior, try to clear things right away to break the cycle of misunderstanding
  • Since a triad may require more care than a monogamous relationship, I can’t stress enough the role of communication in making sure the relationship stays strong

Related Reading: The 7 Types Of Cheaters – And Why They Cheat

4. Not all partners may not want to be out about it

It may be upsetting to some partners in the triad if other partners do not want to share their relationship status with the world. There could be several reasons for it, the most obvious being fear of judgment.

  • Tell your partners if you don’t want to make your throuple relationship known. Your partners may experience feelings of inadequacy after this, which is why it is very important to explain to them that you’re not ashamed of them. Explain why it feels difficult for you and that this is not a pocketing relationship
  • Work out who gets to know and why. If you’re working in a job that requires its employees to have conservative families, like a government department, it may not be a good idea to out it to your bosses
  • When you choose to hide your relationship status from some people, you need to exert boundaries with them. This is important so your partners don’t have to put up a charade and you can live peacefully without lying constantly

5. Societal conditioning doesn’t favor polyamory

It’s not a secret that the world is designed for couples or monogamous relationships. You see this everywhere. Most cultures recognize only monogamous marriages. Rent agreements, insurance dependents, wedding invitations, hotel bookings, and reservations for Valentine’s Day date nights — most of these are designed with a couple in mind.

Eva, a designer from New Orleans, told us, “The best place you can go as a throuple is Disneyland, as everything there is designed for trios instead of couples. Of course, what they have in mind is a family – parents and the kid. But we ain’t complaining.” Research suggests that unlearning traditional dating scripts is also a major challenge for people while becoming a throuple.

  • You may have to ask about bringing two partners to a wedding since most RSVPs don’t allow more than one person per guest
  • You may have to talk to a lawyer regarding getting agreements that recognize the third person as a joint owner of property, assets, etc
On Polyamory and more

6. Judgment from society

Remember how everyone gets scandalized when Lizzie confesses that she’s had intimate relationships with both Josiah and Keziah Beardsley in Outlander? The throuple had to flee once Lizzie’s pregnancy was discovered. It’s not the eighteenth century anymore, but you may find people with archaic thoughts

  • You may get strange looks from your neighbors once they discover your situation or your children may have to deal with school bullies whose parents have traditional ideologies
  • It’s good throuple advice to keep it as quiet as you can unless you’re close with other people or have the privilege of not being affected by the bias. Keep your relationship on a need-to-know basis for everyone, including close families of the people involved, unless you’re sure they’d support your choices
  • It may also be fetishized unnecessarily, and that may give some people very wrong ideas, especially if those people do not understand the difference between different types of polyamory. You may get strange requests from swingers or people who just want to fulfill fantasies from books about Sheiks sharing virgin brides (eye roll!)

7. The complexities of parenting as a throuple

Throuples can have children where any two partners may or may not be biological parents, but they can divide parenting rights and responsibilities among them. It takes extra effort to raise children in such a setting, especially when the world outside your household will begin to think of your relationship as an anomaly.

  • Thankfully conditions are changing. More throuples are coming out and sharing how they raise children. Maria Carolina ‘Carol’ Rizola, Douglas Queiroz and Klayse ‘Kah’ Marques, a sailing straight throuple from Brazil have shared on Instagram that they plan to have Kah to be registered as a “non-birth mother” of Henrique, the first child in their 1 man, 2 woman relationship, and plan to have Carol registered as the “non-birth mother” of Kah’s yet to be born first child
  • Though it gets easier to take care of children with an extra pair of hands, it can be confusing for the children if the relationship runs into rocks and the triad falls apart
  • Most governments do not recognize polyamorous relationships as legal relationships. Hence it may get difficult for a non-birth parent to be recognized as a legal guardian or to get joint custody of the child, in case the biological parents are not available or dead

Key Pointers

  • A throuple or a triad is a three-way relationship where three people, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation, are involved with each other, either platonically or sexually
  • Successful throuples know that communication and understanding are extremely important for this kind of relationship to function
  • Throuples are likely to find more legal resistance than monogamous couples as well as lesser support from society
  • However, with growing awareness and acceptance, throuples are not taboo relationships anymore

If finding a third for a throuple is something you’re thinking about, you should do some research to find out what your options are and determine if you truly want it. It’s crucial to understand not just the literal polyamorous throuple meanings but the complexities of being in a three-person relationship. If you’re still unsure, you may experiment a bit first. It may not be what you’ve grown up seeing, but you are definitely going to see more of it in the future.


1. Are throuples legal?

Legality is one of the unique challenges of being in a throuple. Throuples are not illegal. You can be part of a throuple without landing yourself in jail. However, trinogamy or polygamy is illegal, which means you can marry only one person out of your partners. Still, many people choose to live in throuples and fight against the system to get the same rights as heteronormative couples.

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