Navigating a lesbian triad
February 5, 2013 10:06 AM   Subscribe

About 4 months ago, my partner and I (together about 7 years) started dating another woman. We are starting to hit a few roadbumps in this process, and I'm having trouble finding analogous experiences or resources to help us navigate. Snowflakes, of course.

While we have been in a theoretically open relationship since we started dating, we haven't acted on that in the 6 years we've lived together. However, it did mean that the conversation has always been open, and when we met someone this past summer with whom we really clicked, we both decided that we wanted to pursue it and see what would happen. It has been a remarkably fun and interesting time for all three of us, with great chemistry and a real sense of all being on the same page of what we want (luckily our third is not super interested in a Relationship, as it were, so it's been kind of dating her, while maintaining our primary relationship).

Inevitably, though, we're starting to find some things that are harder to navigate, particularly as people's feelings for each other get stronger and it gets harder to keep everything feeling equal. I've done some initial googling, but have really not had much luck finding anything online about people in similar situations, which I do usually find helpful. I would love to hear about any resources, books, blogs, etc. of people in similar situations (or general recommendations for navigating this kind of non-monogamy). There seems to be a fair bit out there for FFM triads, or even MMM, but really not much at all for FFF.

I think we're all invested in making this work, but having some resources we could turn to would be really helpful.

Throwaway email is Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Opening Up. I personally found this book a lot more helpful and readable than Ethical Slut, but you'll probably wanna explore that one, too.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Keeping things equal might not be a realistic goal; emotional symmetry is not likely to persist once people start getting attached. I do not have FFF experience.

Might be time to either end things or come to terms with the fact that with three people, maintaining equal attraction, affection, and time is not going to be sustainable and perhaps a different model might be more realistic going forward.

And feel free to disregard, but I personally feel that triads are inherently more difficult than independent dating over the long term because there are many more ways to feel jealous or left out.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some experience in poly relationships here, but also a straight male, so mileage varies:

The thing worth seriously considering is that sooner or later, some situation will arise in which BOTH partners genuinely need you there for them, and you simply can't be in two places at once. It may be worth discussing that with your partner(s); there really isn't an easy answer to that, but it's reasonable and responsible to at least make sure everyone has considered this before such a situation actually arises. You don't need to come up with a plan or designate who has higher priority over whom, but again, knowing that it's just a practical concern is important.

I also agree with rope-rider in that emotional symmetry may not be a realistic expectation. I don't think that's a reason to hit the brakes on everything and not be "open" or in a triad or whatever, but it's just worth consideration.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not currently in a triad (I'm a hinge in an "N"), but I *am* a poly lesbian with lots of experience and am happy to answer questions by PM. Just ask.

There are a very few resources specifically for poly lesbians, although they are pretty dated:
The Lesbian Polyamory Reader
Lesbian Polyfidelity

Honestly, most of the resources out there for straight folks will also pretty (at least somewhat) relevant to you as well.

(And yes, I agree with the folks above--best not to even try for emotional symmetry. It can work just fine without that added pressure.)
posted by mkuhnell at 12:52 PM on February 5, 2013

Queer poly lady here,
unfortunately there just are not a lot of resources for FFF relationships. In part because a lot of poly info is based on a heterosexual couple with bisexual ladyfriend ideal. Also I believe that a lot of LGBTs interested in "alternative lifestyles" and "open relationships" just did so without creating a word like polyamory for what they are doing.

You don't mention where you live but most major cities in the US would have poly support groups you could attend for help and a few cities even have women or LGBT specific groups. Try and see if there's a group close to you.

Good luck!
posted by Misty_Knightmare at 2:19 PM on February 5, 2013

The Ethical Slut might have some ideas for you.

One of my closest girlfriends was in an FFF relationship for about 1.5yrs. The couple she became involved with were committed (they were married without paperwork) to each other for about 10 years, living together and so on. They all approached the beginning very well together but feelings towards each other became very imbalanced over time with one of the wives feeling constantly upset & left out eventually. It actually destroyed the marriage in the end and now my friend doesn't even speak to either of the girls.

I'm not saying this will happen to you, it just seemed to me that in their case, everyones emotions were not always acknowledged or actively managed on a day to day basis, when they really needed to be paid that level of attention. Thats about where the hurt happens, different allegiances started forming, things let slip and the resentment started to build.
posted by Under the Sea at 3:56 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sinclair of the Sugarbutch Chronicles has been doing a series of mini-interviews with people on their experiences with queer open relationships recently. They ask everyone
1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?
2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
and there's a lot of good stuff in the answers. Sinclair also writes a lot about their experiences with being in an open relationship, and is really honest about its ups and downs.
posted by oranger at 5:10 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely check out Opening Up. I'm reading it right now and it seems like it would help guide some discussions amongst the three of you and give you some food for thought on how to structure (or not structure) your triad.

In particular, one part that I read yesterday talked about how relationships seem to strive for equality in terms of symmetry, when that's not necessarily realistic in any relationship. Instead strive for balance. Work on identifying each persons needs and finding ways to meet those, even if things won't be strictly equal.
posted by Terriniski at 4:42 AM on February 8, 2013

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