We keep looking for a sincere woman to be with us, but we only meet people who aren't serious about a relationship! Why?

Often, when you find yourself getting the same answer again and again from folks (or when you keep finding folks who say they want the same thing you do, but they don't follow through) it's helpful to think about what you're asking for from her perspective.

Think of this page as a translation guide: it translates what you say into what she hears.

We want someone to be with both of us equally

What she hears: "My feelings don't matter."

You probably want someone to love you both because you feel like you've got a lot of love to give and it would be awesome for everyone to all be in love, right?

Well, in all recorded human history, nobody has ever fallen in love with two different people at the same rate in the same way at the same time. It doesn't happen.

There are many triads out there. Almost all of them started when one member of a couple met someone, they started dating, and then later, that person started developing an attraction for the other member of the couple. When you insist that someone must love both of you equally, you are saying you think she can just wave a wand and magically control her heart. The heart doesn't work like that.

Worse, you're telling her if she doesn't feel the same for both of you--and she won't--she can't be honest about it.

We are a package deal; the relationship is with both of us

What she hears: "If you invest in a relationship with us, spend time and emotional energy with us, and then later down the road you decide you don't want to be with one of us, we will stomp all over your heart."

Coming as a package deal probably sounds like a great way to keep a third person from coming between you and damaging your relationship, right?


You're setting yourselves up to be coercive. Say you find your unicorn, everything's awesome, maybe she even moves in with you. Then, later on, something happens. Who knows what. Maybe the chemistry isn't there. Maybe that little annoying thing she thought she could overlook turned out to be not so little.

Anyway, she doesn't want to be with one of you any more, but she sincerely, truly, deeply loves the other one of you. Now what do you do? If you're like most unicorn hunters, you tell her "sorry, we are all or nothing."

Think about what that does to her. You're telling her "you have a choice: either be intimate with someone you don't want to be intimate with, or lose your relationship with someone you love" (and become homeless, if she moved in with you).

What a yucky, horrible thing to do to someone. People who have good self-esteem, healthy relationship skills, good communication, and a solid sense of self-confidence--in other words, the kind of people you want to dater going to take one look at that arrangement and head for the hills.

It's also a horrible, yucky thing to do to your other partner. Think about what you are saying. "Hey honey, if the person you love doesn't put out for me too, I'm going to order you to break up with her." That is going to create stress in your relationship for sure. Telling someone you love to break up with someone they love is not a good way to build relationship stability.

You will find people who are willing to be with both of you under these conditions as long as it's just sex. But anyone who thinks it through is not going to want to fall in love with you, because a problem with one of you means the other one will break her heart, and that's not cool.

She can't be with anyone else

What she hears: "We haven't worked out our insecurities yet, so we're going to control you instead."

If you're coming from monogamy and you don't have any poly experience, the idea of a partner who dates other people sounds scary. What about diseases? Does that mean she will date just anybody? What about commitment? How can you have a family that way?

Polyamory isn't like "monogamy plus more," and if you think about it that way, you'll get into trouble. Sexual exclusivity is something you're probably familiar with and it's probably how you define commitment, but in poly relationships, commitment and exclusivity aren't the same thing. If that sounds threatening to you, maybe the time to get comfortable with it is before you start new relationships.

Think about why people call themselves "polyamorous." They are poly because they reject restrictive sexuality--the idea that if you love this person over here, you're not allowed to love these other people over there. But that's exactly what you're offering. If exclusivity is that important to you, you might have more luck looking for partners who are monogamous, not looking for poly people to be with you.

And disease? Get educated about disclosure, testing, and risk management. You do more risky things than have a lover who has another lover all the time. Driving a car, for example.

She can only have sex with one of us if both of us are there

What she hears: "We haven't worked out our insecurities yet, so we're going to control you instead. Plus, we're super creepy."

Not every polyamorous person is an exhibitionist. Not everyone likes being watched. Not everyone likes group sex. When you tell a prospective third she has to have sex with both of you at the same time, you probably think that's a way to keep one of you from being jealous or left out.

There are a lot of problems. The first is it doesn't work. Even in the middle of a threesome, it's still possible to get jealous--if you feel the other person is digging on your partner more than you, for instance.

It also shows that you're not thinking about her needs. You're thinking of her like a sex doll, not a real human being with real feelings. Real human relationships need a certain amount of one-on-one time to grow and develop, even if you do like group sex.

Trying to control jealousy by controlling how and when sex happens is super creepy. You're saying your needs matter; hers don't. By this point, anyone who hasn't already run for the hills is making tracks in that direction.

What do you do?

Think about how you met your current partner. Did you go on a first date and then, in the middle of dinner, slap a contract down on the table specifying how, when, where, and under what circumstances your partner would be allowed to be with you, have sex with you, and what the relationship would look like? No. And if someone did that to you, you'd probably leave.

So don't do that to other people. Don't try to script the relationship. Don't try to short-circuit fear or jealousy by saying that someone has to date both of you and perform sexually for both of you. Be open to letting relationships take hair natural course--even if it means that someone is only into one of you.

Yep, it's scary. It can feel so scary that the idea of a closed triad with a bisexual woman can seem like a much more comfortable way to ease into polyamory.

But you can't ease in. Polyamory is going to change your relationship. If you do it right, if you're respectful and flexible and compassionate, it will make your relationship and your life awesome. But it means going outside your comfort zone.

You can't ease into skydiving by slowly crawling out onto the wing of the airplane, maybe inching your way back and hanging on to the tail for a while, until you get comfortable with trusting your parachute. If you don't trust your parachute, don't get in the plane. If you're insecure, nervous, or threatened and you're not sure how to protect your current relationship, build trust with your current partner before you put someone else's heart on the line. And always, always treat other people's hearts well. Even if they don't follow your script.