Types of 2+1 relationships
Poly can work in many ways. One common way that polyamorous relationships develop is for one or both members of a "preexisting" couple to get involved with a new person (by preexisting, I mean that their relationship predates the relationship(s) with the newer partner). We can call these 2+1 relationships. In another thread, I attempted to outline a few major types of these relationships. What do you think of these categories... do they make sense, and reflect what you've seen? Are there any you'd add, change, or subdivide further?
- The unicorn hunters. The preexisting couple both start dating the new partner, and may expect that person to not date anyone else, move in with them, be into them both equally, etc. Nothing about this ever seems to go well, as it's just too emotionally volatile (not only are new relationships forming, which may not be given all the space they need, but the preexisting relationship is changing, which can be very threatening to the preexisting couple) and unbalanced in terms of power (notably, the new partner being burdened with impossible expectations).
- The serendipitous triad. Much rarer, this looks like the unicorn hunters model except that its development is not an expectation that anyone has going in, rather it's a dynamic that begins to naturally take shape, and it usually develops much more slowly. If things are lopsided (ex. the new partner forms a much stronger bond with one partner than the other) that's ok, and all members generally maintain their right to date outside the triad (although a poly-fidelitous or closed version of this type of relationship is not strictly impossible).
- The heirarchical vee. A vee is a relationship in which one person (the "hinge") has two partners (the "wings") who do not have a relationship with each other (though they may be friends). In the heirarchical vee, the preexisting couple's relationship is given priority in terms of time and investment. This may simply be a function of necessity, due to commitments such as children, it may be a natural expression of where each relationship is at (the older relationship being more serious, the newer relationship being more casual), or it may be a conscious choice to position one partner as "primary" and another partner as "secondary". This model may have accompanying rules, whether implicit or explicit, that govern the functioning of the newer relationship. Broadly speaking, these rules can work when they are about practical things like time management, and/or when they exist for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the preexisting relationship (ex. Only one overnight with the newer partner per week, because the hinge is needed at home for emotional support, help with the house, etc.), and tend to fail when they are about impossible to control things like feelings, and/or when they exist for the purpose of stunting the development of.the newer relationship (ex. Don't say "I love you" to the newer partner, or have penetrative intercourse, or introduce them to your mom, because that would make that relationship too real).
- The egalitarian vee. Similar to the heirarchical vee, expect that the two hinge-wing relationships are given equal time, priority, and investment. The newer partner may move in to a home shared by the preexisting couple in this model. The heirarchical vee may in some cases develop into the egalitarian vee over time, if allowed the space to do so, or it can be chosen at the outset of the newer relationship's formation. If an egalitarian vee is chosen as a relationship model without the full consent and acceptance of the preexisting wing, or when the relationship between the hinge and the newer wing is tumultuous, it can be destabilizing for the relationship between the hinge and the preexisting wing. Works best when the two wings get along very well.
The major players. Me, under-30 bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 3+ years. Clay, new boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/"it's complicated."
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy, Clay's partner.