Meet Martin, Dan & James, a Birmingham-based throuple - that’s three people in a polyamorous relationship. Poly relations have been in the spotlight recently, and perhaps you're thinking about getting into one yourself (or maybe you're already in one). So we thought we’d chat to James, Dan and Martin to get some insight into how their relationship works.
So how did the throuple relationship come about?
Martin: James and I were together for about a year and were in an open relationship. We met up with Dan after chatting on one of the apps. We met up with him, got along, so met up again and again until he just wouldn’t go away!
James: Dan became more integrated into our lives. It was friendly and then became more than that.
So were you in your throuple relationship before you got married?
Martin: Yes, we’d been engaged for about two months when we first met Dan, and around 10 months when we got married.
What’s been the reaction from your family and friends?
Dan: My family have been quite accepting. I hadn’t been long ‘out’ before meeting these guys, so there was that realisation that I was both gay and in a throuple relationship. Friends’ reactions have been a bit mixed, some accepting it and others not so much, simply because they don’t understand open relationships.
James: I was apprehensive about telling my family and friends, but I’m glad that I did, as the response has been overwhelmingly positive. My family love both Dan and Martin, and they’re overwhelmingly happy for us. And that’s been pretty much the response from my friends as well.
Martin: I was a little worried about telling a couple of people, but my
family are quite liberal anyway. The general feeling has been that, as long as you’re all okay and happy, then brilliant.
Do a lot of people get confused between having a threesome and being in a throuple relationship?
Martin: For James and I, it’s been slightly easier because we’ve been out for a lot longer and have a lot more gay friends. It’s more accepted in the gay world to have different types of relationships. Dan has a lot more straight friends, and it’s all a lot newer to them.
Do you think you can all love each other equally?
Dan: I think love, yes, but the dynamic of each relationship is different. My relationship with James is different to my relationship with Martin, but I still love them both equally.
Martin: I agree. It’s difficult to talk about it as ‘one relationship’, as there are different dynamics, but they
certainly all work together.
Do you have any ground rules?
Martin: Sort of. There aren’t loads of rules; I guess it’s more about understanding what works best for all of us.
James: Communication is the most important thing. We regularly talk about whether there are any problems and then openly discuss them. Even before Dan came into our lives, Martin and I were very open with each other and talked honestly about everything. It’s important not to hide your feelings and start getting resentful.
Does jealousy sometimes rear its ugly head in the throuple?
Dan: I don’t really feel jealous as such. It was probably more difficult when James and Martin were getting married, but that’s all in the past now and we’re all equal. We have commitments that we’re all part of.
And what about your sleeping arrangements?
James: Mostly we all sleep in the same bed. We had to get a bigger bed, though! I quite often work on call and obviously don’t want to disturb the other two, so I’ll sleep on my own. Sometimes one of us might want to sleep on their own anyway, and there’s no problem with that.
Martin: It depends on your
preferences at the time. Dan also works on call sometimes, but he much prefers to sleep together, and I’m somewhere in the middle. I just do what I’m told!
Do you do everything together or do you have one-to-one time as well?
Dan: If one of us goes away to meet friends, the other two have
one-to-one time, but we also have dedicated throuple time where we have date nights all together.
Martin: James is into his video games so likes to have a few hours on his own, and then Dan and I have a bit of time together. And then I’m usually the last to arrive home, so that gives James and Dan time
Can you individually be more selfish in a throuple, doing what you want to do because the other two can go off and do something else?
Martin: It’s definitely an advantage. We might have something planned, but if I’m really tired - and I know this sounds really bad - there’s someone else to take up the slack. And you know you’re not letting someone down if you can’t do something for whatever reason.
If two of you got into a disagreement, what does the third one do?
Dan: It kind of depends who the third one is! I just don’t get involved if I’m the third one.
Martin: Yes, if either Dan or James are the third one, they tend to stay out of it, whereas I’m not good at
letting things go, so I tend to interfere - although I am getting better at not getting involved. Fortunately there aren’t that many arguments!
Is there an alpha male in this throuple relationship?
Dan: James and I are really bad at making decisions, so it’s usually easier if Martin makes the decision - and it saves time!
Martin: I’m probably a lot more opinionated than the other two. I definitely take into account what they’re thinking, so sometimes I just think ‘right, we’ll do this, then’. But in the gym, Dan’s the boss and takes the role of personal trainer. In the kitchen, I’m definitely the one in control, and James takes care of the money side of things. So we all have our own roles.
What are the biggest advantages of being in a throuple?
Dan: A comfortable life, I guess. The shared responsibility makes life pretty easy.
Martin: We couldn’t have got this new house if it was just the two of us, so it has some financial benefits for sure. But for me, everything you get in a relationship, you’ve got twice, which is really awesome.
If you were advising other people to go into a throuple, what would you say is the biggest negative?
Dan: It’s twice the fun but you get twice the number of problems too! And they can be harder to resolve when you’ve got three different points of view.
James: I wouldn’t actually advise anyone to go into a throuple. If people are open to the idea, then they should just see where things lead. But
communication is absolutely key - you must be open and honest about your feelings and why you want to have a throuple. If you’re doing it in order to save your relationship, it’s probably not a good idea.
Martin: I agree. James and I had talked about a throuple before Dan came along, and we’d both decided it wasn’t something we wanted to do. But then we just happened to meet somebody who we thought was
amazing and fell in love with, so it all happened very naturally. So I would recommend that people just open up a bit and see how things go.
Given the amount of affairs and encounters lots of people have behind their partner’s back, do you think a polyamorous relationship like your throuple has greater integrity and honesty?
Martin: Parts of it, yes. It’s certainly best for us, and I’m sure there are people who would be open to it but who won’t or can’t be honest about it. But then I also know couples who’ve been together for years and years and are perfectly happy, so it’s just about figuring out what works for you individually and being open and honest about it.
James: I think some people worry that if they tell their partner they’re open to being in a throuple or polyamorous relationship, their partner will think that they’re not happy in the relationship, and that definitely wasn’t true for us. If people have that fear about their partner’s reaction, they’re going to be less
inclined to have that dialogue because they won’t want to make their partner feel inadequate.
Dan: If there’s an original two, they need to be secure in the first place before introducing the possibility of a third person and the change in dynamics that that would bring, otherwise jealousy and insecurity will probably get in the way. Me joining these two has added to their relationship, and I can see how much Martin and James love each other every day. So if anything, me coming along has strengthened that.
What would be your tip for anyone thinking about going into a throuple?
Martin: As James has already said, communication is essential. If there are two of you already, you should openly discuss it and no one should feel forced into anything. And once you’re actually in a throuple, you all need a good level of openness and understanding.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about a throuple?
Martin: I think some people think we’re literally having sex all the time - that’s the message I seem to get. In reality, we still get tired and can’t be bothered, yet people think we’re at it every minute of the day.
Do you have other polyamorous relationships independently of each other?
Martin: No, not emotionally. We’re still in an open relationship, but it’s not something we do very often. And if we do, it’s only a physical thing. We’re not looking for any other boyfriends or anything like that,
either to make a four or individually. That’s not in our plans, ever.
What gave you the confidence to go public about your relationship on social media outlets like Facebook?
Dan: Probably how accepting our family and friends were gave us the encouragement not to hide or feel held back.
Martin: I feel it’s important to be open and honest. You’re always showing the good things in your life on social media, and we also wanted to show that Dan coming into mine and James’ life wasn’t some sort of passing fancy. And I guess everyone being so accepting of us as a throuple made it a lot easier.
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