Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

June 11, 2019

As unicorn hunting spreads,
Vice nails it.

Remember when polyamory was so obscure that anyone who'd heard of it was almost surely a kind, big-hearted utopian dreamer who got it the same way you did? Or so it seems through the rosy lenses of memory.

People entering the scene today have never known a time when you didn't need to be so cautious as you do now.

As ever, deep and honest communication from Day 1 about who you are, what you want, and what you don't is crucial. As ever, this means knowing yourself and standing up for yourself — and speaking with integrity. But nowadays a lot of clueless ordinaries and outright bullshitters are using the polyamory buzzword to suggest that they are something they are not.

Fortunately many media are educating about this, such as Vice yesterday. Excerpts:

Bisexual Women Explain Why They Hate Being 'Unicorn Hunted' for Threesomes

Ella Strickland de Souza

As nonmonogamous dating and polyamory have become more popular, the practice of couples using dating apps to deceive women into being their mythical 'third' is on the rise.

By Sophie Hemery

Chloe*, who is bisexual, had her dating app set to exclude men when she matched with Cat. Though Cat's profile mentioned being interested in "someone to join" her and her boyfriend, it also said she was up for dating solo. Chloe clarified that she wasn't interested in a threesome, and the two of them shared what she describes as "fast-track intimacy." Two dates and some sex later, Cat abruptly called things off over text.

"I did feel a bit let down because I’d allowed myself to be vulnerable," Chloe tells me. But it wasn’t until one more text came that she felt actual animosity. "It was something along the lines of: 'I hope this isn’t too much, but would you be up for meeting me and my boyfriend?' " Chloe was angry and hurt. "I feel like the connection we shared was actually just to manipulate me into a threesome. To reel me in." Upon reflection, she feels the experience was "toxic and actually kind of dehumanizing."

As nonmonogamous dating and polyamory have become more popular in recent years, sex educator Ruby Rare tells me that having a threesome with another woman has become something of a gateway drug for heterosexual couples.... "The reality is that there are lots of people getting involved in these conversations who might not have much education" around sexuality, gender, and feminism — which isn’t surprising, considering the state of sex-ed in schools.

..."Unicorn hunting refers to people looking for somebody to be the perfect fit for what they want sexually or romantically," says author and academic-activist Meg-John Barker. "Often the phrase is used in the context of man/woman couples who are searching for a 'hot bi babe' who will fancy them both equally and join them for a threesome. ...

"Some of the criticism of unicorn hunting is about it coming from a heteronormative standpoint, where the needs of the man/woman couple is prioritized and where there might be a sense that it's for the man's benefit — wanting to see his partner with another woman," Barker adds. "Where his partner's sexuality is assumed to be flexible in a way his is not. Perhaps even all about his desire, not hers, and not the other woman's."

...Even users of lesbian dating apps such as HER aren't safe, with many users reporting unicorn hunters commonly popping up in their potential matches.

In response to the proliferation of unicorn hunting on all kinds of dating apps, there is a Facebook community with over 9,000 members devoted to sharing experiences of being "hunted." Some women-who-date-women now feel compelled to open their app profiles with lines like "I am not your unicorn," "No, I don't want to meet/fuck your boyfriend," and, "No threesomes please." ...

Francesca — who had a threesome she feels was "very male gaze-y," after being unicorn hunted online — says she feels bisexual women are hunted most often in this way because they "are seen as greedy and promiscuous and always up for sex" according to societal stereotypes. "A lot of it feels really essentializing and potentially exploitative," she says. ...

"Hitting people up for threesomes isn’t a very consensual thing to do unless they have specifically said in their profile that they are open to this," says sex educator Justin Hancock. ...

Zoë... says her main problem with it is that couples are usually deceitful in their approach, and end up reinforcing oppressive structures such as patriarchy and heteronormativity.

"I find that typically guys use their girlfriends as bait," she says. ... Zoë has been "duped quite a few times in what is supposedly a queer space. ... I really have a problem with the duplicitous approach that couples have, to move under the radar in queer or progressive sexuality spaces."...

Holly experienced this dynamic after matching with Clara, who was in a nonmonogamous relationship with a man. Her and Clara became close, and it was only after two years of dating and friendship that she "suddenly realized that the plan the whole time… was just to get me to sleep with her boyfriend."

In Priya’s case, initially she was interested in having a threesome with the couple who sought her out online—but in the end she found their approach disrespectful. While she had been enjoying getting to know the woman over text, one day "the woman disappeared and suddenly the man took over." Priya said this felt "weird," like her connection with the woman was insignificant. ...

This kind of treatment has left much of the queer community with a sour taste surrounding unicorn hunting. "A couple looking for someone together isn’t inherently problematic," says Zoë, "but the idea that: 'This is my partner, and this is someone I’m just fucking who I don’t really give a shit about but is fulfilling my needs right now.' ...


Luna Matatas — who describes herself as "a card carrying unicorn"—started teaching workshops on pleasurable group sex after a "ton of terrible" experiences. "I'd say 95 percent of the time, I felt like I was being invited into a couples' space as an 'invited intruder' — sort of like, 'We want you here, but don't get too close, don't take up too much space with your desires…"

Luna can now spot red flags on app profiles — such as those asking for "no drama" and not detailing anything about their interests or positive traits

"When I teach, it's the exact same problems that come up all the time — the couples are usually very protective around their own needs and desires… and they forget that the other person is not just there to serve them." She urges couples to think about what they’re offering someone else. Her own best threesome felt positive from the outset.... And crucially, she says, the couple "recognized their couples' privilege." The couple put her comfort and pleasure at the center of the experience, and they were "treating me and them like three separate people."

...And if a couple would prefer someone to enact their fantasy? Maybe they should consider paying a sex worker rather than asking a bisexual woman to do it for free.

Follow Sophie Hemery on Twitter.

The whole article (June 10, 2019).

● Also, wise advice from Page Turner on her Poly.Land site: 10 Questions to Ask a Couple in Order to Vet Them for Dating (Feb. 7, 2019).

● Happy, healthy unicorning does happen, as I've said before. Some women (and bi guys) find that being a couple's secondary or friend-with-benefits fits into their life well. But they take care to maintain their independence and autonomy. They tend to be fearless about rooting out unexamined couply assumptions and spreading them on the table under a bright light for discussion. Such intentional unicorns, being on the good side of a supply/demand imbalance, can pick their couples as carefully as they like. And/or have as many as they want.

● Last year I posted a news-article roundup titled Unicorn Hunting as a Widely Recognized Thing. It became the 5th most read of my 1,536 Polyamory in the News posts since I started this thing in 2005.

● Of course Kimchi Cuddles has many comics on the topic (click back through "previous"). For instance...

Kimchi Cuddles, used by permission. Click to enlarge.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

How have you determined that happy unicorns are not savvy?

June 11, 2019 9:41 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

I think you read the opposite of what I said. Nevertheless I've rewitten that sentence a bit to avoid any ambiguity.

June 11, 2019 9:52 AM  

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