The dynamics within a throuple can differ drastically from a typical duo. First, there’s the jealousy part (more on that in a bit), a potential side effect of a three-way relationship if one person feels like there’s an uneven split of attention or commitment.
The best way to avoid this is to have everyone voice their needs and concerns at the start of the relationship-and be honest if and when those needs and concerns change, says Spector.
Second, when it comes to conflict, having a third person in a relationship leaves room for taking sides-an unhealthy tactic that can put the bond on shaky ground, Spector explains. (That can be avoided if each party can master the aforementioned mediator role.)
Like in any relationship, a throuple requires tons of communication so that everyone feels heard and no one feels left out.
- Be super specific about your needs.For example, say: Since we’re all in a relationship together, while I’m comfortable with you and our partner kissing, I’d prefer if we only had sex as a threesome.
- Eliminate secrets.Open communication is even more important when there are three people involved. So always check in with both partners-and yourself.
- Speak up if your feelings change.Try: I know you’re happy in our throuple, but this isn’t something I wanted for the long term. I’d rather go back to our relationship being just the two of us. What do you think?
Entering throuple-hood can enrich your romantic life if everyone shares similar interests, values, and ideals, Spector says, but make sure you can handle coupledom before bringing in a third person.
If you feel like you’re fully ready and wanting to add a third, Spector suggests letting your current partner know by gauging their interest.
Say something like: “I’d like to invite someone else into our relationship. How would you feel about having X join us and becoming a throuple?
As long as they’re on board-and all three of you are willing to put in the work-go ahead and get that party started.
6. It’s a good idea to figure out what you want in advance.
Again, being in a throuple doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll just date whomever you want, when you want. Many different relationship structures fall under the umbrella of non-monogamy, Dow says. Fostering self-awareness around which structure one desires is an often undervalued non-monogamy skill that can greatly impact the success of people’s relationships.
Meaning, if you want to have a partner but also be free to see other people, something like an open relationship is probably more that you’re after vs. being committed to two people at once. Still, Dow says, there’s variation in structures.
7. Knowing the boundaries of the throuple is important.
Speaking of variation, it’s a good idea to have some understanding of what you’re all after here. It really depends on the triad and how they would like to set up the rules, says Jennifer Schneider, LICSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in LGBTQIA+ clients and those who identify as polyamorous or ethically nonmonogamous. It may be that a throuple sits down with each other and actually spends a few hours hammering out what might be relationship agreements.
Sometimes throuples will have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy where they don’t want to know what the other members do. But what is often healthier is making relationship agreements on whether they’re polyfidelitous, meaning this triad is closed, or if the triad is open and there’s communication within all members of the triad.
Talking it out is important, though, says Shawntres A. Parks, PhD, Women’s Health advisory board member, licensed ily therapist and co-founder of Parks & Powers Psychotherapy. Attractive as it may appear to people who like some form of an open relationship, you want to talk about and discuss the ins and outs of possible scenarios that might come up, she says. With more parties is a greater capacity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.