Somehow, I ended up here. I found myself anxiously texting my best friend just before I went over to my partners’ house asking for advice on how to initiate intimacy. Unfortunately, my friend, like most people, has never been in a triad relationship and had no idea how to navigate its complexities.
My two partners, we’ll call them John and Tessa, had been together for years. I had only joined their relationship 2 months prior after a little luck on Tinder. We had spent upwards of 24 hours a week with each since we first met at the beginning of the summer, but we had not been intimate in any way. Tessa is demisexual so I knew entering the relationship that it would be a slow simmer as opposed to a rapid boil. Yet, this was unknown terrain to me.
Every relationship is different. Not every triad relationship involves any physical intimacy at all. In my case, I knew that this was eventually the goal for all three of us. Traditionally, when a couple first engage in an intimate act the man initiates it. This is mostly because of gender roles and the expectation that the man is sexually dominant in the relationship. Of course, this varies hugely, and relationships do not always involve a man at all.
Sexual dominance plays a big role in who makes the first move. In some relationships, there may be little to no inequality in power dynamics. For the sake of discussion, I will assume that there is a non-equal distribution of sexual power.
In a triad, sexual dominance can be distributed in a variety of ways. Suddenly power dynamics become incredibly complicated! The original couple may dominate the unicorn (a term often used to describe the third addition to an existing relationship), or the man might dominate the 2 women. A woman might dominate 2 men. A man might dominate the unicorn while the unicorn dominates another woman. The possibilities are endless.
Generally speaking, I am most comfortable if the most sexually dominant individual in the group initiates intimacy. That may mean that the existing couple have an immediate advantage since they are already familiar with each other’s boundaries and preferences. On the flip side, a couple may have brought in a unicorn because they want to play with a dominant figure who brings more fire into the bedroom.
In my relationship, I found that it made the most sense for John to initiate physical intimacy. Tessa is a very submissive person and would never be a top during sex. John is exclusively dominant, and I am a switch. Essentially, this means that I would feel less comfortable initiating intimacy with John than I would with initiating intimacy with Tessa.
Of course this is all theoretical. You need to have conversations with your partner/s in order to determine what makes everyone involved feel safe and comfortable. My experience is most likely different from yours, or another person’s.
Now go have fun!