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What Is Unicorn Hunting? Here's Everything to Know About Finding a Third the Right Way.

Three-ways? Great. Making it all about you? Not great.

three people sitting on a bed together
Shutterstock / Twinsterphoto

On several occasions, I’ve embraced the role of a unicorn, a.k.a. the hard-to-find bisexual (or, in my case, pansexual) female DTF in the world of swingers and open relationships. In this mythical role, my tits, ass, hands, and mouth are highly sought-after by couples looking to spice up their love life with a third.

These couples are known as unicorn hunters in the world of ethical non-monogamy. Typically, the male is heterosexual, while the woman is queer or heteroflexible, but people of all sexualities can be interested in these arrangements. And it's not all about no-strings-attached sex—not that there's anything wrong with pleasure for the sake of pleasure. Sometimes these arrangements lead to closed FMF triads.

Some unicorn hunters can be problematic (more on that later), and the practice is definitely not for non-monogamy newbies. Sometimes, feelings of jealousy and insecurity surface. I mean, you’re basically juggling four different relationships. It’s inevitable. In my experience as a bi babe, some couples have made a legit investment in equality, while others have gotten caught up in playing tit-for-tat with my time and attention. Life as a unicorn isn’t all glitter and rainbows.

But when a group dynamic works? It’s goddamn magical. Here’s everything you need to know about ethical unicorn hunting.

Why did unicorn hunting get a bad reputation?

Too many couples go about looking for a third in a disrespectful way, according to Stella Harris, intimacy coach and author of Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships and The Ultimate Guide to Threesomes.

“Enough couples have behaved badly that the whole practice of an established couple looking for a third has gotten a bad reputation,” Harris says. “When couples objectify a potential third based on their looks, race, gender, sexuality, or any other trait, it’s dehumanizing and a huge turn-off. These behaviors often come from places of unexamined power and privilege, as well as some toxic relationship norms in our culture.”

Often, established couples come from a very hierarchical mindset, Harris says. Since a couple will usually put their wants and needs first, it’s unlikely things will ever be equal—which is totally fine if all parties agree to an asymmetrical setup. But when an established couple only thinks of their own needs and fantasies, Harris says this can lead to objectifying behaviors.

“This is where we get the trope of the unicorn as an attractive bisexual woman who will show up, exhibit equal interest in both members of the couple, and then go away,” she says. “This framework doesn’t allow any room for the individuality or humanity of the third person.”

friends enjoying drinks in bar
The Good BrigadeGetty Images

So, you’re a couple that wants to have a threesome. Here’s how to go about it.

For starters, Rachel Krantz, author of the new book Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy, suggests listening to this episode of Multiamory. It breaks down the question of whether seeking a third is ethical, and if you’re going to go for it, how not to make it weird. “Talk not just privately as a couple, but also to the third person beforehand, so that you are all on the same page about expectations and boundaries,” she adds. (By the way, avoid using the term "unicorn" unless the third uses it.)

Just because someone meets your desired criteria doesn't mean they're necessarily into couples, threesomes, or you, Harris adds. This may come as a shock, but not all bisexual women want to bone you and your S.O. (Unless you’re Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling, in which case, yes, I most definitely do.) Seriously though, stop sexualizing all bisexual women as potential unicorns.

“It’s important to remember that the person (the third) has feelings, and that unless it’s their kink, they don’t want to be objectified as a mere instrument of pleasure/sex object,” Krantz says.

The only way to find out what a third is into is to communicate. “Remember that your third is a human being with their own wants, needs, and desires,” Harris says. “Make room for their fantasies and their requests.” She adds that it’s important to be aware of couple privilege and how not to abuse it in any way that harms the new person.

“The best threesomes are the ones where everyone has done their homework first,” Harris says. “That means all the self-work required to be able to clearly communicate about sex and relationships, including being able to say no—even when it might disappoint someone.”

What’s the worst mistake unicorn hunters can make?

The worst mistake a couple can make is looking for a third before they’re actually ready, Harris says. “Too often, couples jump to looking for potential partners before they’ve really thought through the idea of a threesome.”

She asks: Have they already done their work to figure out how they’ll handle jealousy? Do they understand their boundaries and how to speak up about them? Are they ready to have a threesome that includes the needs of the third, rather than one that comes with a strict list of rules for the third to follow?

“It’s so tempting to rush into what you expect will be the ‘fun parts,’” Harris says. “But if you haven’t done your thinking, planning, and negotiating in advance, it’s not going to be any fun at all.”

Let’s hear it from people who like joining couples!

For me, being a unicorn is all about flexing sexual freedom, and hopefully, exploring with a GGG couple along the way. (GGG, which stands for "good, giving, and game," is a term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage to represent the qualities he thinks make a good sexual partner. Think “good in bed," “giving of equal time and equal pleasure,” and “game for anything—within reason.")

Being a third isn’t something I actively seek out. That said, when such a scenario does unfold and involves care and communication, it’s a welcome addition to my long list of sexual interests.

Because Krantz is bisexual and often enjoys receiving and being more submissive, joining a couple is a natural dynamic for her. “I love the novelty and attention, the feeling that I’m increasing pleasure twofold," she says. "Also, that I’m the ‘object’ of their excitement. (Although that same language of objectification is offensive to many, it’s one of my kinks.)”

She hasn't been actively seeking these experiences during the pandemic, "but I hope the opportunities will continue to present themselves in the future," Krantz adds. "If they don’t, I will probably look for them more proactively.”

Krantz also enjoys being on the other end of the dynamic, with a new person joining her and a primary partner.

Can a couple fulfill a threesome fantasy without actually having a threesome?

There are many ways to enjoy a threesome fantasy without ever adding a third person to the mix, Harris says. “[Threesomes] can be great fodder for dirty talk and role play, and sex toys can go a long way to simulating some of the thrills of a threesome,” Harris says.

Trying out virtual or distanced threesomes with phone sex operators or cam performers can also be good training wheels before you share physical space with a third person. (They're more Covid-safe, too!)

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