Unicorn Hunting in the Poly Community
What is the difference between unicorn triad and a poly-fi triad?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re talking the same “poly language”. In the polyamory community, a unicorn is considered by many as a negative term. Though it is usually used to describe a woman, the HBB (the hot, bi babe), there are male versions of the unicorn who can face the same challenges. For the sake of this article, we will focus on the female version of the unicorn. Such a woman would love both the man and woman in a pre-existing dyad equally and would be sexual with both of them. She would not want any other partners except them and would be willing to change her life in order to be with them. It’s understood that if things don’t work out that she will willingly leave with no issues. There are others points to it, but this covers major aspects.
In the poly community, unicorn hunters are considered to be couples (dyads) that are looking for the HBB. They tend to be new poly couples (not always but usually). Such dyads may have specific rules that allow them toend the poly relationship, send the unicorn away, and stay together.
A “unicorn triad” is a triad consisting of a dyad and a third partner (the unicorn). The unicorn will be the girlfriend to the couple. The couple is usually considered a primary relationship, while the girlfriend will be a secondary partner to both. If the girlfriend has any other partners, she would be expected to end those relationships in favor of the unicorn triad. She isn’t allowed to do anything with one member of the triad, always with both. The dyad, on the other hand, are allowed to date each other without the girlfriend. If the U-Triad doesn’t work, then the dyad will stay together, and the girlfriend will leave. Though the dyad may choose to incorporate elements of the girlfriend’s life into the triad, it is not uncommon for the girlfriend to incorporate more of the dyad’s life into her own. A unicorn triad is considered unequal and unfair to the girlfriend in the poly community and looked upon very negatively.
A poly-fi triad is a closed triad relationship. They consider each other equal partners in an egalitariantriad relationship and will not have any other partners but each other. The partners will all be sexual together, as a group or in any pairing, and no pair has more power or control in the relationship than the other partner. All are equal. A poly-fi triad may decide to add other partners later.
Why is unicorn hunting frowned upon in the poly community? One reason is that some people choose to ignore basic poly etiquette. Different communities have their own vocabularies that are specific to that community. Some words have a positive connotation, while others have negative ones. Unicorn and unicorn hunting are considered negative. When a couple comes in and starts stating they are unicorn hunting, they are stating (in poly vocabulary), that they want to find a woman that is disposable. Some people insist that they can redefine the word anyway they want, and it doesn’t have to mean what it does. While this may be true, until the new “definition” is generally accepted by the poly community, people should not be surprised when they upset people by using the word. No matter how much you insist it means something else, it takes time and majority acceptance to redefine the word. Unfortunately, the poly community can be harsh in its correction of such word usage, and this would only cause people to continue to be antagonistic on both sides.
Another reason unicorn hunting is frowned upon is because of the inequality of the relationship created. A unicorn triad creates a dynamic where a couple can come in with a set of expectations and “couple privilege,” and place the new partner in an unequal relationship. Louisa Leontiades shares a great article about this topic by Natja (the original is located here). The girlfriend can be discarded if the dyad decides she’s not “the one”. The dyad has all the power, and their girlfriend has none. She is at their mercy. She has to accept their rules and has no say.
“She knew what she was getting into.”
“She agreed to it.”
“They’re our rules. If she can’t accept them, she can just leave.”
These statements and other similar ones are all ones we’ve heard unicorn hunters use as excuses for the unequal relationship dynamic. No matter how you look at it, these statements show an unequal balance of power. This is a key reason why poly people do not like unicornhunting.
When a woman enters into a pre-existing relationship, she creates a new relationship dynamic. It is not fair to her or the relationship to be forced into the couples pre-defined relationship mold. The people involved should sit down and communicate. This communication is important. It allows the partners in the new “triad” to start together on equal footing. It is NOT another chance for the couple to say, “These are our rules and you must accept them.” Instead, it is where the partners come together and create an equal relationship. The old dynamic that the dyad or the single woman had cannot continue because the relationship status is no longer a dyad or a single woman.
Some people in the “unicorn hunt” treat the search for a woman like shopping. They meet an available poly woman and immediately she is the “one.” They may barely know her. When it doesn’t work out, they meet another woman, and she is now the “one”. In some cases, marriage is proposed before they ever meet. The women are treated as replaceable. They are not.
Please remember, some people spend their whole lives trying to find one person to love. If you are part of a dyad, you already found that person. Now, you want to find another person who not only loves you but your partner as well. In addition, if you are seeking a unicorn triad, you are asking them to give up a lot of personal autonomy and submit to the will and dictates of you. I wonder why it takes so long to find a woman willing to do that? People want to be treated as equals. A unicorn triad is not the way to go. An egalitarian poly-fi triad is what you should seek.
There are women who want to be part of a triad. Don’t antagonize them by treating them as objects. Triads are normal in polyamory. Let it happen naturally. Meet people, make friends. Fall in love. Let it happen naturally. It may take a year. It may take 5 years. Rush it, force it, and it may never happen.
A unicorn triad and a poly-fi triad are not the same thing. If you are new to poly and want a egalitarian poly-fi triad, “seeking a unicorn” is not what you should be doing. Seeking an equal partner and friend is what you should be doing.