The Care and Feeding of Unicorns

Mama Java is off visiting, so Cinema Babe has generously consented to fill in with this column.

It All Begins With A Personal Ad

Hi, we’re Dot and Jim, a friendly, stable, professional couple who would like to meet a vivacious, unattached bi woman. Dot is 36 and bi, Jim is 43 and straight and we want to develop the kind of loving, committed relationship that only three people can share. We’re not interested in a fling but in growing a deeply emotional, closed triad with the right single bi woman.  She should be attractive, open minded and flexible”

“Our pictures here are recent; we are attractive and have a youthful outlook on life. (Having two toddler will do that for you, lol!) While we’re not obsessive, we do exercise regularly and generally try to take care of ourselves. You should take care of yourself too. Our family and friends are very vanilla so discretion is important to us.”

“Please respond with recent pics. We’re really looking forward to meeting you! Please, absolutely no email from men or couples; we will not respond to them.”

Dot and Jim seem like sincere, nice people but there are some things that they should know and discuss before embarking on the adventure of adding a bi woman to their relationship.

The configuration of a het male/bi female couple looking for a bi woman is a very common scenario. Some poly folks refer to it as Unicorn Hunting because, some people joke, a bisexual woman who would be interested in dating a couple is a mythical creature (a unicorn.) In fact those women are out there but, for some couples, they can be difficult to find.

Food for Thought

The way Dot and Jim worded their ad gives the impression that they want an attractive, youthful woman who will fall in love with both of them at about the same time and remain in love with both of them equally. Readers might even infer from the wording that the woman they are looking for might have to forgo having romantic interests (including a mate separate from their triadic relationship) or a family of her own from their seeking a single woman and not being open to couples.

A lot of people are leery about these kinds of ads because they can become situations where an established couple meets a young woman and end up using her as an experiment in poly, a sexual toy to enhance their bedroom activities and/or unpaid domestic help with little or no consideration for her emotional needs. Some couples are looking for a woman to fit into an ideal as opposed to meeting someone and being open to the possibilities.  In some cases, if the woman doesn’t fit into that ideal, the couple will terminate both relationships.

(Sometimes it is the bi woman who comes into these situations with unrealistic expectations or less than sterling intentions. For the sake of our conversation today, I’m focusing on couples.)

Some Questions to Consider

There are some things Dot and Jim will want to consider when they sit down to craft their profile; some serious questions to consider.

Think about how long it takes for most of us, to find someone(s) who we feel mated to. At 36 and 43, it’s a safe bet that Dot and Jim had their share of broken hearts and connections that fizzled in a couple of months. Most of us have a fistful of starts that end in a dead end instead of in a long term partnership. It can be hard enough to meet one person and make a mutual love match, imagine finding someone who develops that kind of chemistry with both of you at the same time. It can and does happen but it is not necessarily an easy thing to find.

When you have a triad, remember, there are now four relationship involved: Dot and Jim, Dot and the GF, Jim and the GF and Dot, Jim and the GF. All four of require attention and care and all four will wax and wane in the feelings and level of commitment over time.

Before they add that special bi woman to their heart (and possibly home), a couple needs to ask themselves the following:

  1. Do the two of you come as a package deal or are you willing to date and develop relationships independently of each other?  If you are attached to only dating as a couple, why?
  2. What happens if you meet a woman both of you are interested in but a romantic attachment develops between her and only one of you?
  3. Let’s say you find your elusive bi female and the three of you easily fall into the triad of your (collective) dreams. If your mutual girlfriend falls in love with someone else who *is not* interested in a relationship with one or both of you what will happen? What if that new person is open to exploring a relationship with one or both of you?
  4. What happens if the person your unicorn falls in love with is another man? She is now part of a couple. Does that mean that your relationship(s) with her is over?
  5. What happens if, after some time together, one of your relationship ends but the other relationship remains strong? Does that mean that both of you have to break up with her even though one of your relationships is in good shape?
  6. Why no couples?  Would you be open to being involved with a woman who is already part of a couple? If no, why not?   Why no men? If the female of your couple is bi, even if she identifies as primarily lesbian, she fell in love with a man once, why can’t it happen again?

Identifying what you want and jumping in with both feet to get it can be an admirable thing. When hearts are at stake, it’s important to jump with care and understanding. I wish the Dot and Jims out there much luck and hope that some of what I discussed will be fodder for thought and discussion on your way to poly nirvana.

The Care and Feeding of Unicorns © 2009 Cinema Babe
Used by permission
All Rights Reserved

CinemaBabe is a 40something single poly woman who lives in a The Garden State and loves it. A full time professional and part time grad student, she’s looking for her own unicorn. Any 30somethingish geeky bi boys should feel free to check her out on OK Cupid. Just sayin’.

And yes, she’s forgotten more about movies that the average movie goer ever knew. And she has almost 300 items on her NetFlix list.

21 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of Unicorns

  1. S.

    Ah. If the unicorn meets a *woman* oustide the triad and falls in love, she would also be part of a couple.

    You also don’t discuss AT ALL the question of children in this scenario. Dot and Jim are already parents, but they don’t give any thought to how bringing another person into their relationship would affect their parenting. There’s no sense that the unicorn’s interest in children matters, but of course it does. There are actually a whole lot more relationships at stake than the four you mention.

  2. Tom

    There are always other questions to consider. But this time, she was just writing a short column, not a book. Space rules! Still, it would be nice to see a book on this topic, at some point.

  3. Mad Pirate Bippy

    Having been a unicorn (single, relatively attractive, no kids, early 20s, bi) I can tell you that most unicorn hunting couples have very little clue what the relationship would be like. While they might have kids, you aren’t allowed to have any. They are also usually only-in-theory poly people, and have no clue how to handle things like jealousy (and the guy never, ever thought about what it would be like to have his wife and girlfriend cycle together).

    I think there’s a tendency to want SOMEONE to be a housewife- but now most people think it takes two incomes to support a family. It’s a lot cheaper/easier to get a unicorn in there to be unpaid domestic help/sex toy than to a) work on your relationship and b) hire a maid.

  4. Giggles

    Would be interesting to hear stories from people who’ve gone unicorn hunting and how it all turned out. :) My husband and I had vague fantasies along those lines once, but after we talked it over, realised that what we *really* wanted was an attractive buddy to share the house, hang out with, and chauffeur for us, not a full-on triad relationship.

  5. Jennifer

    “What happens if the person your unicorn falls in love with is another man? She is now part of a couple.”

    See, I have a problem with this kind of statement. It pretty much carries the assumption that any bi woman is primarily het, with a sexual interest in women.

    “If the female of your couple is bi, even if she identifies as primarily lesbian, she fell in love with a man once, why can’t it happen again?”

    Yeah, here it is again. If your unicorn is involved with someone else, SHE IS IN A COUPLE. Regardless of whether the someone else is female or male.

    (Fwiw, I’m in a poly lesbian relationship, and I’m currently seeing a poly gay man. I’m stating this explicitely to avoid any knee-jerk reactions that I must be anti-male because I made this comment.)

    Cinemababe, I see that you have good things to say. But when I run across a giant blind spot like that, it makes me want to dismiss anything else you might have to say. I struggle against it, but I’m aware of that temptation.

    Javamama, can you please ask your guest columnists to be more aware of this kind of assumption?

  6. Goddess of Java Post author

    Javamama, can you please ask your guest columnists to be more aware of this kind of assumption?

    I’m happy with my editorial policy as it is, thanks.

    You’re free to submit a column, if you want. If it hooks me/causes me to laugh/amazes me with a clever point, I’ll run it.

  7. Edward Martin III

    Jennifer writes “It pretty much carries the assumption that any bi woman is primarily het, with a sexual interest in women.”

    Well, that’s kinda the subject of the article — the hunt for het chickiebabes.

    I’m more amused by any ad looking for someone who does not already have a partner, and insisting (indirectly) that they not GET a partner. There had best be some solid-gold genitalia in the offering if one’s trying to put a lockdown on someone else’s pussy, is all I’m sayin’.

  8. Todd

    Because of culture or evpsych or what have you, there’s the whole perception that girl on girl is “cute” or “harmless” while another guy entering the mix is actual competition. So yes, “what if she meets another guy” is a worthwhile something for these people to ask themselves.

    What gets me most about these people, though, is their false advertising. There are certainly girls out there who enjoy placing the interests of other people above their own. (Nowhere near close to the demand for such girls, but they do exist.) Submissives. And the relationship fantasies a lot of these couples have sound very much like D/s to me. There’s nothing wrong with D/s, but there’s something very wrong about trying to sell it as some sort of hippie love-in.

    Maybe-I’m-too-hopeful bonus? The more these couples realize how much they have to compete with other couples for a limited resource, the more incentive they have to take good care of both themselves and their subs.

  9. James "DexX" Dominguez

    *waves to Edward* Hey mate, nice to see you around the place!

    I honestly don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with unicorn hunting, as long as everyone involved is fully informed – such as by reading a lot of articles just like this one – and has realistic expectations. A big, healthy dose of self-awareness is always helpful, too; but then, I advocate that all people in all situations should be working hard on figuring out their own minds.

    An acquaintance of mine once got rather annoyed because all the poly people he knew kept telling him and his partner that their search for a hot bi babe that would be into both of them was very likely to end in disappointment.

    One reason you need to work out your own desires and motivations is that you need to know the consequences for failing in your quest. I’ve met some couples for whom the quest for a hot bi babe was driven by deeper problems – filling the void of the child they never had, trying to inject energy back into a dying relationship, and so on.

    So, to all the unicorn hunters out there, I suggest that you: 1) ask yourself why you and your partner are looking for that hot bi babe, and 2) once you know why, ask yourself if said hot bi babe will be the solution you are really looking for.

    If your answers are essentially that a hot bi babe would be a fun and awesome addition to your already awesome and stable relationship, then pop some fresh batteries into your unicorn detector and go have fun. :)

  10. Lucius Scribbens

    I think Cinema Babe did a great job on this article. I’m sorry so many have decided to dissect it because in this short space she didn’t cover every possible 1,000,000+ possible combinations of polyamorous relationships, especially the one’s who got their panties/BVD’s in a wad because Cinema Babe didn’t cover the commenter’s personal situation.

    Great job, and I’ll be following this blog with enthusiasm.

  11. Morgana

    I would run from this ad like the plague. Never mind the awful specter of ending up as the babysitter or the maid… if I’m good enough to be fucked, I’m good enough to be seen in public and treated respectfully as an equal partner. If you can’t do that with your “unicorn,” perhaps consider that you are not ready for one, or do not deserve one.

  12. JenK

    I thought this song (which is meant to be a joke) also makes some points on the unicorn hunt:

    I will wait a lifetime if it takes that long
    I know she’s out there for I have heard her song
    In dreams she sings to me
    Her angel’s voice a symphony
    Is she in a garden or a meadow fair
    Does the dappled sunlight shine ribbons in her hair?
    Does she sit patiently smiling as she waits for me?

    She’s my millionaire girlfriend and she’s my life
    Once I finally find her I’ll get permission from the wife
    We will all live in our castle high
    My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I

    She’s a stolen secret from a pirate’s chest
    I will wear an ascot and a suit that has a vest
    And I will put it on as I watch gardener mow the lawn
    She’s a fairy princess from a song of old
    I will have a toothbrush that is made of solid gold
    And I will watch TV as my manservant flosses me

    She’s my millionaire girlfriend and she’s my life
    Once I finally find her I’ll get permission from the wife
    We will all live in our castle high
    My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I

    It does not matter to me if she’s pretty
    All that counts is what she’s got at Citibank
    Chase Manhattan or even Washington Mutual

    When my search is ended I will cherish her
    She will sign some papers, give me power of attorney
    And what’s hers will be mine in perpetuity

    She’s my millionaire girlfriend and she’s my life
    Once I finally find her I’ll get permission from the wife
    We will all live in our castle high
    My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I
    My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I
    My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I


    Disclaimer: I don’t know if the songwriter really knows anything about polyamory. I just realized that this hits on a lot of how unicorn ads tend to come off — all about the writer of the ad and how the unicorn will improve the couple’s life.

  13. Laura

    The funniest thing about this for me, is that Dot and Jim were my grandparents names. . .funny to imagine them in a triad!



  14. Cado

    Well, the lovey and I have recently decided to go unicorn hunting and I’m glad to see it appears that we’re doing it right. I think the most inane thing that some people do is demand exclusivity too soon. Yes, we’re after polyfidelity, but most of the time these things don’t just happen. We clicked really well when we met and we were in a relationship within a week and we’re stronger than ever after two years, but that’s not typical. If we’d had more romantic prospects and we felt that we needed more time to feel each other out then I think asking for exclusivity out of the gate would have been insane when it was just the two of us. Asking for that from a bi woman just screams, “you don’t really matter to us.”

    We’re going into this with the thought that more women than not will fail to meet our criteria. When the romantic aspect of those relationships needs to be cut off we want as many of them as possible to end on amicable terms. Getting our unicorn isn’t the only desirable outcome; making new friends and having new experiences makes experimentation worthwhile unto itself. That’s what attracted us to this, and I hope we find people with a similar mindset.

  15. Marai

    i would get my unicorn pregnant if she wanted or i would only date her for a few times or a small period of time like 1 month with my wife and look for a new one.

  16. PolyAmazing

    We dated a Unicorn for a period of about 18 months before things went south. We learned the hard way that the third person in the relationship needs to be part of decisions regarding the relationship. It was an awesome experience, and when it was good it was very very good. When it was bad it was… sucktastic.

  17. Joel

    So basically what I got from this article, “you’re immature, naive, scum if you are a male and female couple looking for a bi-sexual female to share love with regardless of the capacity for people other than the person that wrote this article to understand challenges that may arise with polyamory.” People and their concepts and definitions and ought to be this way or that way, who needs them?

  18. Grace

    This has nothing at all to do with the article but I clicked on Cinema Babe’s OK Cupid Profile out of curiosity and I am stunned. Stunned! I have never in my life seen someone list my favorite authors as their favorite authors, let alone so many of them in a grouping. Thomas Hardy? Thomas fucking Hardy? Nobody I’ve ever met or even talked to online has even heard of him. Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, the Brontes (for me it’s mostly Emily), and Chuch Palahniuk (the clear outlier in this group of cannon lit, but I love him too) are all listed together in the same place as another person’s favorite authors? The only way I could possibly be more surprised is if you had mentioned Dostoyevsky.

    So, I just had to type that somewhere because I don’t have and don’t want a profile on OK Cupid.


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