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Old 05-19-2012, 03:13 PM
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Default 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.
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The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:49 AM
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I don't think of myself as coming from 2 + 1, but perhaps it technically was. I dated FirstBoyfriend, we were both friends with CurrentBoyfriend. I broke up with FBF, and a few months later, started dating CBF. Threw CBF out of the house, said we were breaking up (took two months from conversation to out). Then we slept together. Then we went on vacation together. Then FBF confessed his desire. I sought consent from CBF, but I wouldn't exactly say permission. I'm not sure we could do this if I was living with CBF again. (not that I want to).

So, I was a two with each of them first. Now we are a three.
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and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who lives in the apartment building next door)
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Old 05-21-2012, 04:06 AM
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How about a hierarchical vee in which the pre-existing couple's relationship isn't given priority, but in fact the newer one is, possibly due to distance or the children from the newer relationship or any number of things?

I'm still with the man who was my "secondary" in a hierarchical vee two years ago, but he has no desire to be my "primary," (i.e. doesn't want to be "facebook official", heh) and wouldn't mind it one bit if I found someone else to call my primary as long as he could remain secondary.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:57 PM
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I wonder if this kind of describing is doomed to be either too simple/narrow to fit all actual 2+1 relationships, or broad enough to make things seem more confusing than clear. As the descriptions stand, I find them a bit restrictive.

For example, there could be a non-hierarchical V, where both dyad relationships have the same priority but different amounts of time spent together due to other time constraints or different preferences of different individuals.

Or, a couple might not be living together when they meet somebody new. And even if they are, co-habitation could happen just as well by all moving together into a common apartment (or to the apartment of the newest person, though that might be less common due to space issues).

I quite cringe at the idea that a poly relationship is automatically hierarchical if some aspects, that are pre-defined as most important, are not equal/similar. I've had to question this kind of thinking a lot to reject it (e.g. I don't need to spend excactly the same amount of time with each partner, or live with both, etc., in order for the relationships to be equal). I think it comes from a cultural mindset which cannot understand non-monogamy without looking it as a competition.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:25 PM
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The one time I was in a triad, it wasn't 2+1, but a simultaneous joining of 1+1+1. So I'm not sure what other types there are.

But I have wondered about a scenario where I saw someone dating a couple, as if that couple was One Person. Never went out with just one of them at a time....it was kinda odd. I have NO idea what you call that! I just simply joked that the person had a partner who's a set of Siamese Twins, because that's what it seemed to me.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:29 AM
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Hm ... (two in one) + 1 ? Or (1+1) +1 ?
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:21 AM
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I know it's silly, trying to categorize the uncategorizable (that is to say life, and especially love!), but it can be engaging to give it a go when you see the same patterns many times over, which I definitely feel like I have, mainly on the Poly Relationships Corner board. My aim in posting this was to see if any others had seen the same patterns, or other patterns.

As with much of what anyone writes, in addition to, or perhaps even more than, describing others, I find that this list is a mirror for myself. When I first got involved with my gf and her husband, I expected a unicorn arrangement. Then I sort of dreamed we could become a serendipitous triad. I let that idea go the way of all unrequited sentiments and have found a fulfilling groove in our heirarchical vee. I wonder if there could ever be space in our lives for an egalitarian vee -- I doubt it, at this point, and I don't need that to ever happen to feel like the relationship is fruitful and worthwhile... but for whatever reason, the possibility of it is important to me, I wouldn't be entirely happy in a situation where I thought that was an impossibility.

I think it would be possible to relate many scenarios back to these rough stabs at categories (ex. "We're sort of an 'inverted' heirarchical vee, in that the partner I started seeing later is the one with whom I have a primary relationship" or "We sort of look like a heirarchical vee on the outside but we function like an egalitarian vee"), but that doesn't mean there's any reason to, and of course there are many 3-person configurations which fall completely outside of these versions of archetypal 2+1 arrangements that I've outlined. And this goes without saying but I'll say it regardless, there are many poly configurations that go beyond three people.
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The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:21 AM
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I think that your point in posting this is valid, there is a certain structure to most poly relationships involving three people. But the egalitarian vee or the serendipitous triad at least don't quite fit the description of 2 +1 as there is no unit standing opposed to a single person, which the way of describing it as 2 +1 kind of suggests. Maybe it would make more sense to call this three person poly relationship structures or something like that. But your general description of the structures does portrait the basic reality of most relationships we seem to come across here.
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Old 05-22-2012, 01:17 PM
RedSalamander RedSalamander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rory View Post
I quite cringe at the idea that a poly relationship is automatically hierarchical if some aspects, that are pre-defined as most important, are not equal/similar. I've had to question this kind of thinking a lot to reject it (e.g. I don't need to spend excactly the same amount of time with each partner, or live with both, etc., in order for the relationships to be equal). I think it comes from a cultural mindset which cannot understand non-monogamy without looking it as a competition.

This is a really interesting point and I'm glad I glanced at this tread because this got me thinking. Thanks!


One further note - if OP is going to classify the "unicorn" relationship because it is a stereotype, then it also seems fair to mention that it is stereotypically a m/f couple seeking a bisexual female. That detail seems too important to overlook.
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Old 05-22-2012, 03:10 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phy View Post
I think that your point in posting this is valid, there is a certain structure to most poly relationships involving three people. But the egalitarian vee or the serendipitous triad at least don't quite fit the description of 2 +1 as there is no unit standing opposed to a single person, which the way of describing it as 2 +1 kind of suggests. Maybe it would make more sense to call this three person poly relationship structures or something like that. But your general description of the structures does portrait the basic reality of most relationships we seem to come across here.
To clarify, the thread in the Poly Relationships section of the boards that got me thinking about this topic, and where I originally posted this list, was about an established couple who were getting involved with a new person, and the OP on that thread was asking what the "terms" of different relationships of that type might be. I explained that there were no standard sets of rules/terms that I knew of, but that there were some common configurations.

So, by 2+1, I'm thinking about the origin of the relationship. Two people in a relationship, then a new person comes along. From there it can become something that might be better called 1+1+1, but does that make more sense?
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The major players. Me, 30ish bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 4+ years. Clay, boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/friend/"it's complicated." Eddie, roommate & fwb.
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. Liam, Eddie's husband.
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