Unicorn relationships can feel like a wholesome and fulfilling bond, given that you know what you are in for. An oblivious unicorn in polyamory may feel like the third wheel every now and then, and chances are, it’s that feeling that landed you on this article.
If it feels like you’ve found yourself in a unicorn couple under the pretext of polyamory, what you’re experiencing might not match up with what you had dreamt up when you thought you’d found your throuple.
Though unicorn polyamory can be a wonderful experience, it’d be helpful to know if you’re the unicorn in a poly relationship or not. The longer you let ambiguity surround your labels, the harder it’s going to become to feel satisfied. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about such relationships and if you’ve unknowingly found yourself in one.
Unicorn Polyamory Explained
Before you can figure out if you’ve inadvertently found yourself being the unicorn in polyamory with your partners, we need to make sure that we’re on the same page about what a unicorn couple is.
A “unicorn relationship” is one where a third partner joins a relationship of two people, either for sexual or emotional reasons. The key indicator here is the fact that the third person joins in the relationship with the original couple, and not just with one of them.
In essence, it’s a polyamorous relationship. The third person may have joined for emotional fulfillment, sexual satisfaction, a long-term or short-term commitment, or whatever they’re hoping to find in this dynamic.
The nuances and the rules of unicorn polyamory totally depend on the people involved, given that there’s enough mutual respect in the dynamic to make sure that everyone feels heard and appreciated.
A “unicorn” in polyamory is a person who is looking to join a couple as the third member and may be looking for anything from a night of sexual pleasure to a long-term and loving commitment.
The reason why they’re called “unicorns” is that they’re so hard to find. According to estimates, only about 4–5% of the American population practices polyamory. To be able to establish if you’ve found yourself in a poly unicorn dynamic, you need to understand the stereotypical definition of it as well.
Related Reading: What Does It Mean When Someone Says They Are Looking For “Something Casual”?
Usually, the term “unicorn” in polyamory is used to refer to a bisexual woman who is looking to enter into a relationship for purely sexual reasons. It’s understood that the unicorn will not be treated on equal footing with the couple and that they’re not going to be too involved in the decision-making of where the relationship is going.
If you think you’re being considered a unicorn in what you thought was a poly dynamic, it has probably come with its fair share of sidelining. Let’s take a look at the signs you’re a unicorn in polyamory, so you can make an informed decision about what it is you want to do (since the people you’re with clearly won’t tell you).
Signs You Might Be A Unicorn In A Polyamorous Relationship
In the world of polyamory, the labels can often get confusing. Ethical non-monogamy, vee relationships, solo polyamory, the list goes on. However, when you find yourself being treated like “the third,” it’s not going to feel very thrilling.
Something similar happened to Geremy, who explains how he started to feel lonely in his relationship. “I Googled the signs you are polyamorous and I tick off all the boxes. I decided to start by getting involved with Jason, who was already in a relationship and his partner, Maya, assured me that she was polyamorous as well.
“I assumed I’d be in a primary relationship with Jason, and that I’d be open to other experiences on the side. I found myself extremely involved with Jason and his partner, Maya instead, to the point where we felt like a throuple.
Though I felt involved, I also felt like I was just tagging along for the ride, with no control over what turns this rollercoaster took. When it got too much, I ended things, and all I was left with was a very confused state of mind.”
Even though he never confronted the people he was with, Geremy may have found himself being a part of a unicorn open relationship. He was treated like the “third” person who joined the relationship, not someone who was an integral part of it.
If you think you’re facing something similar, let’s take a look at all the signs you might actually be the unicorn.
1. You joined an established couple
One of the biggest differentiating factors of a unicorn couple is the fact that a dyad looks to inculcate a third into their dynamic. If you’re wondering if you’re actually the unicorn in a poly relationship, ask yourself if the people you find yourself with already have a history together.
If they sought you out as a couple – especially for purely sexual reasons – there’s a good chance that they might just consider you the unicorn in a poly relationship.
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2. They’re just starting out with polyamory
If they’ve been a heterosexual, monogamous couple for the longest time who are now looking to spice things up, it could clearly indicate that they’re not going to give you the mutual respect they give each other.
There’s nothing wrong with just starting out with polyamory, but the fact remains that they could just be looking for a unicorn in polyamory to have a few sexual experiences with. If they established a couple of rules with problematic language like “adding someone to our relationship” instead of “looking for a relationship with a third”, it’s a sign you are a unicorn couple.
3. They only have conversations around sex with you
What’s more, they’re actively engaging in sexual relations with each other, but every time you’re involved, it always has to be a threesome. And when you’re not having it, it feels like all you three ever talk about is the sexual aspect of your relationship.
A unicorn open relationship, at least historically, has been one that is purely sexual. That’s also what happened with Trish, who shares her unicorn story with us. “When you talk of the signs you are polyamorous, you also include the capability of having a romantic emotional connection with more than one person.
“That’s what I had hoped would happen when I decided to join a couple after a drunken threesome kicked things off. What I expected would be an emotionally and physically fulfilling dynamic turned out to be purely sexual. I realized this when I began to notice that they only text me when they’re both together and looking to get sexual.”
4. They don’t open up to you
If it feels like there’s no emotional connection between you and your partners, they could be doing so in an attempt to “protect” their relationship. In cases where a unicorn in polyamory is not seen as someone they can be involved in a long-term relationship with, the couple is going to be closed off and will restrict themselves from opening up with you.
It’s almost as though they’re trying to limit the emotional intimacy they establish with you; you’ll see them back off for a while if they let themselves go. A unicorn couple can be many wonderful things, but if two out of the three look at it as a means to fulfill their sexual fantasies and nothing else, they’re not going to invest a lot of emotions into it.
5. They’re clingy with each other, and different with you
If you see them being overprotective of each other, and if they’re the kind of couple who just don’t let go of each other when they’re out in public, you’ve found yourself two people who will never treat you the way they do each other.
As we mentioned, a unicorn in polyamory (especially if s/he’s not aware they’re a unicorn) is going to be treated a bit differently than the two primary members treat each other. In other words, they’re going to act like a couple, and you may just feel like an outsider.
Related Reading: The 8 Rules Of Dating Multiple People At One Time
6. You feel like an accessory to their relationship
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re not sure if you’re the unicorn in a poly relationship or not, you’re not going to feel like you call the shots over where this relationship is headed. You’ll feel like an addition, an accessory to the existing relationship, but never an integral part of it.
Unicorn In A Poly Relationship: What’s Next?
If reading the signs we listed out for you has got you convinced that you’re the unicorn in this dynamic, it doesn’t have to mean that your relationship is over. Just because you found yourself in this situation doesn’t mean you’re in for a few months of lying and deceit, it could actually turn into a fruitful union.
For that to happen, however, you must ascertain if you’ll ever be treated with the respect you deserve. You shouldn’t feel like an accessory, you must feel like an integral part of the dynamic. You’re not tagging along for the ride in the back seat, you should get to call the shots as well.
Your boundaries, needs, and wants must be respected as well. Being a unicorn in polyamory doesn’t mean that you are only exploited for sexual gain. If it feels like you’re purely being used for sexual gratification while you’re looking for something else, communicate your displeasure. If you do not reach a solution, it’s best to leave.
Whatever it is you hope to do, communication will get you there. Have a clear conversation with your partners and figure out if what they want aligns with what you want, and if you trust them enough to stick to their word.
With the help of the signs you might be the unicorn that we listed out, we hope you’ve gained more clarity about what it is you’re a part of. Remember to put yourself first, and to not let the feelings of others gain precedence over yours.
According to a survey of 340 polyamorous individuals, the average length of a polyamorous relationship is about 8 years.
Poly relationships can be extremely healthy and fulfilling for everyone involved – provided everyone knows and gives their consent to the rules of polyamory.
If it feels like your partners don’t treat you the same way they treat each other or keep you around solely for sexual reasons, you may be the unicorn in a poly relationship. Other signs include: Feeling as though you’re an accessory to their relationship, feeling like they’re not emotionally attached to you.
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