What's A Unicorn In The Dating World & Is It For You?

If you think Shakespeare is hard to read, try the love language of the modern dating scene. In order to find love in the age of AI without losing your mind, you won't have to master the skill of interpreting characterization through sounds or literary allusions to Greek mythology. Instead, you have to keep abreast of the latest dating trends and make sense of the vocabulary that comes with them.  

For instance, it might be hard for a boomer to make sense of "I've just been 'cloaked' by a guy who had been 'breadcrumbing' me for two years" or "The 'cuffing season' is here, and I feel like a 'third wheel' whenever I go shopping with you and your new boyfriend" without the help of Google.

If these sentences make you doubt your reading comprehension, take your time. There's always a new word being coined and a new trend waiting to be ridden — like "unicorn." Unicorn is not a new dating phenomenon, but it is a happening label that has been added to the glossary of modern dating recently. Unicorns, as depicted in fairy tales or mythology, are beautiful horses with a shimmering spiral horn and magical power. So, what kind of metaphor does a magical horse play in a romantic relationship? Here's what we know so far.

What's a unicorn

Like a mythical creature, a unicorn is super hard to find IRL. A unicorn is someone who is invited into a polyamory and open relationships as a third partner. And according to  Verywell Mind, This person is usually a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to both men and women. They might join the relationship just to fulfill a couple's sexual fantasy, or even share a meaningful connection with the other partners.

So, why is a unicorn rare? For a start, it's not easy to persuade someone to join a pre-existing couple — commonly referred to as "unicorn hunters." That person must be romantically and sexually drawn to both partners, understand the threesome dynamics, and feel comfortable about becoming a fixture in other people's love life. A unicorn is like a romantic au pair. They must assume a less significant role in the relationship, giving up their independence of amorous tendencies and going along with the rules and whims dictated by the couple. 

Another thing that makes finding a unicorn a huge challenge is that unicorns are not supposed to form a separate attachment or engage in sexual activity with half the couple, but the whole of them, according to Unicorns Rule. Meanwhile, the couple is free to maintain their intimate connection in a private fashion. In other words, a unicorn is there to lend more flavors to an established relationship in some way, but they're by no means a primary partner in the triad.   

Is it for you?

Typically, a couple wants a unicorn's help to temporarily jazz up their sex life, while a unicorn seeks to broaden their sexual experience with a couple they're aroused by. Every unicorn differs in their motives. The unicorn and the couple may have an exclusive relationship, or the unicorn may date other couples as well. It's up to each triad to decide what their relationship dynamic looks like. 

Per the dating app OkCupid, there is typically an agreement that enables the couple — the primary partners of the triad — to end their relationship with the unicorn — the secondary partner. It's always the unicorn who has to exit the triad, and the couple can carry on as exclusive partners if they so want. To keep this dynamic in place, the unicorn must know how to manage their emotions. 

On the other hand, the onus is not entirely on the unicorn to keep a throuple thriving. In theory, there's an understanding between the primary couple that they would not let a unicorn come between them. But the heart wants what it wants. If the couple is not secure about their relationship or one of them develops strong feelings for their unicorn, it's only a matter of time before the throuple crumbles. "Communication is a huge deal," shares Nicole Everett about her experiences being a unicorn (via VICE). "I don't think you can move forward unless you discuss things, because the moment you hold things in, it bogs down deeper and deeper."