fbpx Want a Threesome? Avoid Unicorn Hunting

Dating And Relationships - Alternative Partnership Styles | September 14, 2021, 11:40 CDT

Want a Threesome? Avoid Unicorn Hunting
Straight couples have a responsibility to treat their third wheels with respect.
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Written by

Rachel Crowe
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Illustration by Tré Carden

Within the LGBTQIA+ community, bisexual women face a two-sided coin of prejudice: hypersexualization and erasure. Despite initially appearing different, both hinge on the assumption that bisexuality is somehow performative (typically for the benefit of heterosexual men).

Neither feels good, but hypersexualization can especially reduce the idea of threesomes to a sad regurgitation of patriarchy window-dressed as kink. Martha Kauppi, a licensed marriage and family therapist, AASECT-certified sex therapist and author of "Polyamory: A Clinical Toolkit for Therapists (and Their Clients)," recontextualizes threesomes to be beneficial for all participants.

"To me, the perspective shift I would be looking for is: Are you thinking about this sexual adventure as a team sport? Or are you thinking about it as an individual or couple undertaking?" Kauppi said. "On a team, every member is equally important. Somebody doesn't fall behind and get left behind. Now, if someone was thinking of this as, 'Well, this is just an adventure with my partner, so we're just going to go find a third and have some fun,' I can understand why someone would want that."

Plan and communicate

Similar to how articulating your desires and preferences to a partner can be seen as a method of foreplay, planning and communication don't rob threesomes of their mystique—far from it. It's important to clarify with your partner(s) whether you are actually making plans you intend to enact or are simply expressing fantasy. These conversations can be sexy or emotionally difficult, but avoiding them and failing to plan as a team could bring unpleasant consequences.

"People who think, 'I don't have to think about this and I'll just jump in,' are like, 'What could go wrong?' It's just magical thinking for two people in a couple to think, 'I'll just get together with a new person and it'll be great,'" Kauppi continued. "For the average person having their first threesome, plan for it to go not how you think. Plan to take a break. Plan what you'll do when someone gets triggered. How will it feel if you're the one who gets triggered, but they keep having sex while you take a shower and go to bed? How are you going to work together?"

From fantasy to action

Okay, so you've decided you want this threesome to happen for real, and you've planned for all the outcomes, desirable or not. Now you've got to find your third.

Assuming you're part of a heterosexual couple, and you want to sleep with someone who's attracted to both of you, it makes sense you'll want to find a willing bisexual participant. Now, you run the strong risk of becoming unicorn hunters: Taking to dating apps to find your unicorn, a queer partner (usually a woman) to have sex with the two of you.

To be clear, it's not inherently a problem to be a unicorn. The only thing more flattering than someone being attracted to you is two people being attracted to you, especially two people who are attracted to one another. But the interest is a lot less flattering when you're treated as a prop rather than a person. The best way to respect someone's humanity is to reach out through conversation, and Kauppi has plenty of questions for delving into conversations around threesomes.

"Ask yourself these questions and then ask your partners these questions: What do you want? What are you hoping to get out of it? What are the stakes for you? How can we get what you want out of it? How are we going to pivot if things go sideways? How can we all set it up so everyone feels safe and secure and confident? And how flexible are you willing to be? What fears do you have about it? Do we even want the same things?" Kauppi said.

The interest is a lot less flattering when you're treated as a prop rather than a person.

Kauppi's questions are applicable in almost any situation, romantic or otherwise, but are especially adept for taking internal inventory of sexual fantasies. Untangling realistic goals and guidelines from the vague notion of a threesome is about better understanding what you and your partner want and valuing ethics. It's perfectly ethical to invite a unicorn into your bedroom, so long as they're treated with respect.

"How 'unicorn' got to be 'unicorn' is from this couple-centric, 'I'm not a team player, but I want you to be my sexual adventure.' No stakes for me, high stakes for you," Kauppi explained. "Nobody actually wants to be treated like [email protected]#t. To me, there's no such thing as a unicorn in this context. It's either a healthy relationship, in which case it's not a unicorn because it's easy to find, [or it's not]."

It's time to get to work

As a bisexual woman myself, the subtext to the term "unicorn hunting" isn't just unsettling by implying that it's an anomaly for a bisexual woman to be interested in multiple sexual partners. The really stomach-churning aspect to the phrase is that the unicorn is somehow being tricked or coerced into a threesome—they're literally being hunted. This positions the couple as opportunists and furthers the perception that women aren't allowed desire and gratification from the sexual acts they're involved in.

If the level of emotional intimacy outlined above is attractive and you're ready to do the work, everyone involved can have an amazing time. If not, it might be best to keep this particular fantasy just that—a fantasy.

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Written by

Rachel Crowe

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