Unicorn hunters get a bum rap in polyamory, despite being very common, especially among poly newbies. A “unicorn” is a polyamorous, bisexual woman who will date both members of a couple. The couple that opens up a previously closed relationship and is looking for this unicorn to form a 3-person relationship, they’re the unicorn hunters. This sounds all fine and good, right?
And it should be.
Except it can be a difficult (even scary) thing to come in as a new person to an already established relationship. For starters, you are literally outnumbered. It’s 2 on 1. Not to mention that there’s a power imbalance from shared history in this pre-existing relationship. The couple may also have ties from living together, legal protections like marriage, kids, etc.
And it certainly doesn’t help that many couples place additional restrictions on the unicorn they’re dating. This woman may be barred from having other partners of her own.
The setup can become especially troubling if the unicorn is hidden from the couple’s extended family but expected to live with them. Whenever anyone the couple isn’t out as poly to (family, coworkers, etc) is over, even when the holidays come around, she may be expected to hide or act as a maid or babysitter.
Some couples may even stipulate that the unicorn is required to love both parts of the couple equally — which is arguably not even a thing that’s possible to control.
This kind of controlling imbalanced behavior is common enough that if you’re a single poly woman who dates enough couples, you’re bound to run into these kinds of unicorn hunters every once in a while.
I have been on both sides of this equation, as a unicorn dating couples and as a member of a couple dating unicorns together.
Don’t Be Unicorn Hunters, Be Unicorn Ranchers
What I had to learn was that couples really shouldn’t be hunting unicorns.
Instead, couples should be unicorn ranchers. If we want unicorns to come and visit us, we should create a safe place for them.
If you want a unicorn, you must first create a unicorn sanctuary. Grow grass, plant flowers. Tend it. Leave the gate open. But don’t set any traps.
Make sure your relationship is in order. “Relationship broken, add more people” never works. A unicorn isn’t going to be your big fluffy life raft. They are a person with wants and needs of their own, ones that don’t revolve around your preexisting relationship.
Don’t hunt them down. Don’t conquer them. And when they show up, of their own accord, in this magical refuge you have created, whatever you do, don’t fence them in. Feed your unicorn.
If they like you, if they trust you, they’ll stay.
As I wrote before:
Being a unicorn is fantastic, yet terrifying. You’re universally pursued, but you never know whether it’s because someone wants to cut off your horn, kill you and mount your head on the wall, or keep you at their ranch and spoil you.
If you’re looking for a unicorn, as many are, don’t be the hunting kind. Be the spoiling kind. Be unicorn ranchers.
A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching: Advice for Couples Seeking Another Partner, Page Turner (blog post on why the book was written)
“The Care and Feeding of Unicorns,” Polyamorous Misanthrope (guest post by cinema babe)
“To Unicorn Hunters, From an Ex-Unicorn,” Chelsey Dagger