Polyamorous Couple Vs. Throuple: What's The Difference, And Which Could Work For You?

It has been said that you don't choose who you love. And in some cases, you don't choose how many people you love simultaneously. A situation of this nature is loosely described as polyamorous, but if the relationship consists of three people committed to each other in the same way that a monogamous couple is, it's called a "throuple."

A three-person couple, or throuple, is a polyamorous relationship involving three people of any gender in any combination. What sets them apart from other polyamorous relationships is that all three are in committed relationships with each other. Anna Dow, licensed marriage and family counselor at relationship counseling center Vast Love, which is aimed at non-monogamous people, tells Women's Health that these relationships are called "triads" because they "are intentional partnerships of three people."

However, even throuples can have a variety of sexual and romantic arrangements while remaining committed to each other. They are distinct from polyamorous relationships, as the latter can happen with any number of people without attaching a tag of exclusivity. Polyamorous relationships are open. The people involved have mutually decided to date other people. Some polyamorous relationships may even become throuples over time.

Which of the two could work for you?

Those who practice polyamory do not strictly define their relationships. They dabble in multiple romantic or sexual attachments while being honest about this with all their partners. Commitment to each of the two significant others is not part of the equation, though polyamorous people may be emotionally committed to one person even as they experiment with others.

On the other hand, throuples are different, and it isn't very difficult to engage in a successful one. As a throuple, you are in a situation where you have consented to be in a committed relationship with two other partners, with both partners returning the same level of commitment. They are not people looking for casual threesomes or those stuck in traditional love triangles where one person may be in love with two people, but the other two don't love each other.

Most often, throuples arise when a new person enters a relationship shared by a pre-existing couple. Joe Kort, Ph.D., LMSW, certified sex therapist and director of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, explains to the team at Men's Health, "Sometimes, a long-term couple wants to bring new and fresh energy into the relationship. Other times, a couple doesn't want to rely on only one person for their emotional and sexual needs, so having a third allows for that."

Depending on your personality and emotional needs, you should decide whether being part of a committed throuple works for you.

How to be part of a successful three-person relationship

Whether you choose polyamory or throupledom, there are some ground rules you should follow when dating multiple people at once. Communication is the key to the success of any relationship, especially unconventional ones. Openly speaking to your partners and being honest about your positive and negative feelings is extremely important as you navigate situations you may never have encountered.

Every three-way relationship must be allowed to grow at its own pace. It cannot be forced. You may find yourself incredibly attracted (both physically and emotionally) to two people who do not feel the same way about each other. However, this doesn't mean they may never feel that way about each other. It is vital to give the relationship time and space to define itself.

In some cases, there may be hierarchies where two people are more committed to each other than to the third partner. This situation can work If everyone is on the same page and open about their feelings. You must also be willing to set certain boundaries while remaining flexible so that every person in the relationship feels heard and respected.