Above: Photo by Tom Bianchi

So, you know me but some privacy is much appreciated <3.

I love reading you so I hope to hear back one day.

I am in an amazing relationship right now with the most wonderful guy I’ve had the chance to be with and you know him. We are 25 years apart but it feels like none most of the time. I write you here because for a couple of months I’ve wondered and would like to try out James* and I having a boyfriend. There are so many aspects of that and the topic is so complex I don’t even know where to start and what seems to be appropriate and whatnot. I talk to James about it and he is not avoiding it but he is afraid we would lose what we both have because we are really happy. He’s also contemplated the idea and he’d like very much to try it out too. I don’t know what the future holds but there are these two guys I know we both like but nothing has happened yet sexually or emotionally. I am excited waiting for it. I’d like to know your opinion, thoughts, dos and don’ts. And again thank you for your amazing writing. It makes me feel understood and not alone.

*Name has been changed.

That so kind. Thanks for trusting me with the intimacies of your relationship. Discretion is an automatic courtesy on this blog.

For readers: this is from a friend. I know him and his boyfriend (who is not named James). They’re cute, piggy, beefy, and very sweet, at least in the few times we’ve interacted. The fact that you two have the honesty and communication skills to talk about this means you’re already in a good spot. 

Having this conversation would be threatening and uncomfortable for many couples. As comfortable as you or I may be with the idea of polyamory, many find it scary. Most of us were raised by two monogamous (or seemingly monogamous) parents. Most of us were taught by Disney and Jesus that you pick one person for life — having two at the same time is impossible.

But triads (what some call “throuples”, which makes me cringe) are very possible, and I’ve seen some happen beautifully, both straight and gay. 

You’re asking for dos and don’ts. Since I normally write in numbered lists for my column, I’ll present a list here: Beastly’s Dating Rule Of Thirds (the name is borrowed from art school — the “rule of thirds” is used in photography in regards to subject placement in a frame). You’re a gay couple, so I’m writing this for you, but these pointers apply to any couple composed of any genders (or no genders) considering asking someone out. 

1. Do expect your relationship with your current boyfriend to change. 

Change is scary. Most of us are indoctrinated into relationships believing “starvation economy” myths, most of us get jealous, and most of us feel insecure about some things. Dating a third guy may reveal some of these jealousies and insecurities. It may change your dynamic.

It may also reveal beautiful things about your partner, character traits you never saw before, and make you love him even more. It may be the next level of your relationship, something that strengthens and fortifies your bond. 

Change is frightening to people in love. When we find that “golden ratio,” that collection of circumstances that place us in something finally working, we get scared. We fear something will come break it apart. 

But change is nature, and change is inevitable, and the healthiest LTRs happen between people who see the evolution of their partners as beautiful stories to witness. Some of their changes may make you nervous. You might not like them after some changes; they might not like you.

Sometimes that evolution leads those we love away from us. That’s painful, but we need to love them enough to let them be who they need to be, wherever that takes them. 

Here’s what I’m saying: change isn’t something to fear. Embracing change will make you stronger as a couple (and, if things work out, as a triad). His fears are legitimate, but if you avoid all steps you might take for fear that they’ll change what you have, you’re going to get stuck in love and in life. 

2. Don’t expect two identical relationships.

The relationship with your current BF will not be the same relationship you have with a third. You and your BF have history. You will be closer in many respects than you will be with this new guy, at least in the beginning.

He, in turn, won’t have identical relationships with both of you. He’ll approach you one way and approach your partner another. He’ll move at different speeds with you. He may connect to one of you first, and the other one will follow. You can’t expect him to enjoy the same things or interact the same way with your partner as he does with you — you’re different people.

3. Do start casual. 

It’s a tall order to say “hey, we’re going to have a three-way relationship.” Triads (“throuples”) are daunting. I’ll jump into anything weird and kinky, but triads give me pause. 

My best advice? Don’t force it. Keep it casual. Many gay couples have a casual sexual playmate they take home. That playmate becomes a fuck friend, then a good fuck friend, then a come-over-and-cuddle-with-us friend. Doing this makes the transition to the question “Should we all just date?” easier and natural. 

4. Do feel like you can tell your partner anything without repercussion. 

If you feel confident you can tell your partner anything and talk through most issues, there’s not much you can’t do. That’s how you get through anything in a relationship.

Your communication skills seem solid if you’re having these talks, but your ability to talk about uncomfortable feelings and fears will be put the test. Get accustomed to “checking in” regularly to make sure you both like where this is going. 

5. Do keep in mind that kinky people are good at this, so seek them out.

I’ve seen more successful triads form in kinky d/s (dominant/submissive) relationships. The kink and BDSM communities are great about triad/poly/pack relationships. These setups have always existed among leather folk, perhaps because we’re so comfortable challenging paradigms in sex that it’s a natural extension to challenge them in love. 

I’ve seen many kinky gay couples collar a pup who becomes an important LTR in their lives. Many couples have a daddy or sir who, in the end, becomes a love to both of them.

Here’s an example: you’re in a relationship with your boyfriend and you love him and you have great sex, but you’ve always wanted to get trained as a BDSM submissive. Your boyfriend is cool with that, but he isn’t turned on at the idea of tying you up, using you, etc. So you seek a sir who does.

You find someone you really click with and have regular sessions with him for a few months. Kink is deep intimacy — it’s common to get close to those we play hard with. At some point he meets your BF. 

To your delight, they hit it off. Sure, your BF may not be into submission, but he discovers that he likes to watch. He finds other ways to click with your sir — even sexual ones — and suddenly you are slipping into something new and exciting. Because your sir is potentially training a handful of boys/slaves/subs, there’s less focus on ownership or possession, which allows you enjoy each other and take it slow. Things get more serious, and suddenly you’re in a d/s triad. 

This is a common story in the world of whips and paddles. I don’t know how kinky you guys are, but if the above scenario sounds like something you could play out, consider exploring your kinks with a skilled third. If you’re not that kinky, seek kinky triads for advice.

6. Don’t try a triad just to have a triad. 

You have a tried because you connect with a third guy — not because you think triads are sexy. He’s not going to fix any relationship issues you guys have. He’s not going to be a sex cure or a referee. Triads are different, and generally we think something that’s different and “out there” is hot, but they’re also a lot of work and a lot of emotions that have to be managed with empathy and understanding (the same can be said about any relationship).

Those are the six basic dos and don’ts I have. Three is not a crowd, so long as you let each other be honest without repercussion, and stay honest yourself.

Talk about your feelings. When something feels uncomfortable, say so. Try not to let fear wreck it before it happens, but if you get scared, tell the men you care about what’s going on. 

If you’re interested in these guys, plan a playdate. See if there’s sexual chemistry, then see if there’s chemistry. Good luck. 

Tout mon amour, 

— Beastly

Writer, blogger, illustrator, kinkster.

One Comment on “The Dating Rule Of Thirds

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