What is Unicorn Hunting?
When a monogamous couple opens up their relationship only to an attractive, bisexual woman that they intend on ?sharing?, we call it Unicorn Hunting. (dramatic music)
When couples make a joint dating profile and invite bi girls to join their relationship, they are typically unicorn hunters.
- Seeking a ?third? to date or sleep with
- Asking for a woman to ?play with me and my husband?
- Saying straight up ?unicorns only!?
are seen often in polyamory forums online and mainstream dating apps. It?s creepy.
However, from the perspective of a couple that?s unicorn hunting, it seems harmless. So, if a couple of people actually only want to crack the door to nonmonogamy with a ?third?, why is that so wrong?
I?m so glad you asked.
Bisexual women are already a highly sexualized group. Bi-erasure has come in tandem with the flood of queer visibility leaving many bisexual and queer women to struggle with their place in the queer community and in relationships.
Unicorn hunting and hyper sexualization also leads to bisexual women being treated as threesome equipment rather than people. Even with pure intentions, the expectation that somebody will immediately want to sleep with them together simultaneously is not realistic and is insulting to bisexuals.
In reality, true polyamory takes many complex forms. Sexually and romantically, every configuration is available to us (with consent). Idealizing a triad of two women and a man is a toxic road that leads to more bi-erasure, more predatory couples, and less sexual and romantic freedom in the world.
2. And For Men
Bisexual women are fetishized for the very reason couples seek them out. It is culturally desirable to have threesomes with two women. It is not as desirable to have threesomes with two men because of our deeply ingrained cultural homophobia. It perpetuates erasure of bisexual men by embedding a preference for girl-on-girl sex into our perception of sexuality.
Bisexual men receive far more social barriers than even bisexual women. The patriarchal concepts of sexuality are imposed on them even in the most liberal of communities. When we idolize the female unicorn, we continue to perpetuate these gross concepts and inhibit realistic examples of love from being seen in the world.
These toxic realities are furthered when people bring old notions about sexuality and women into the practice of nonmonogamy: treating a bisexual woman as a ?third? is assigning them a rank in the relationship where the couple is at the top. Which brings us to:
3. Couples Privilege
Rules and boundaries are a part of keeping ethical nonmonogamy safe for everybody in the polycule. When there is a severe power dynamic in the relationship, things like harmless boundaries can turn into controlling rules. When couples that have opened up their relationship prioritize their needs and desires as a couple over the needs and desires of their shared partner, they are practicing couples privilege.
The habit of holding their own boundaries as more important than the desires of their shared partner is incredibly common in triads like this. It is an easy mistake to make for previously monogamous couples that have made exclusively mutual choices since they?ve been together.
This doesn?t entirely strip a ?third? of their agency to assert their needs but, because they probably care about both of their partners, it can be difficult for any of the people in the polycule to recognize these power dynamics in the first place. It can also be hard for somebody to feel safe and comfortable pointing those things out when there is a feeling of two against one.
4. Gender Imbalance
A huge hurdle to the widespread acceptance and representation that polyamory deserves is sexism and misogyny. From outside of polyamory, women are slut shamed for their choice to sleep with and date other partners. Inside of polyamory, though, there is still a huge mistreatment of women at the hands of the man?s ego.
Men are totally protected by unicorn hunting because they are not subject to the real emotional work that comes with true polyamory. Men in a unicorn setting are spared confronting genital stigma, romantic codependency, and blind spots in their empathy (among other things). This is not a privilege offered to the woman that they were previously monogamous with who now have to accept into their relationship a person.
The contrast between the emotional burden of women and men when opening up a relationship to JUST bisexual women is obvious.
5. Fix a Flat
Couples are also known to use the idea of a threesome to ?spice up? or save their marriage or committed relationship. The truth is, if things are bad or boring there is no person that can save it but you. Each individual in the couple has to take responsibility for their contribution to the turbulence and either accept the relationship as it is, make new choices, or end it.
Opening up a relationship is tricky because it might just be the thing that each partner in a couple needs, but using the people that they date afterward for emotional labor is not appropriate. This is especially true if the situation that couple seeks is a unicorn.
This puts a burden on the person entering into a triad to fix or heal wounds that the relationship already has. Any conflict or toxicity should be solved before opening up a relationship to other participants.
Even unintentionally, using a person to save a relationship in any context (including your relationship with yourself) is not okay.
6. Abusing Polyfidelity
Poly-fidelity is when a polycule is not open to any more partners, dating, or sex. Poly-fidelity is not a bad thing on it?s own. In fact, a lot of relationships that started as open polycules have closed off to other partners.
This concept can be unintentionally abused by couples that have remained mostly monogamous except for their new, shared partner. They often (not always, calm down) expect the new partner to exclusively date and sleep with only them. When that rule is not spoken, it sometimes implied that they want the most attention.
Poly-fidelity is a lot like ?going exclusive? but with more than one person. Expecting a partner that you?ve only just met to be open to that is unrealistic. This is even more true for people that identify as polyamorous. While there are plenty of polyam people willing to be exclusive with their polycule, it is certainly not the most common.
One thing that non-monogamy leads the charge in is inclusiveness. There is absolutely no room in the polyamorous community for transphobes. If you would be ?uncomfortable? dating a trans man or woman or constantly talk about your strong ?genital preference? (shiver) then you can see yourself out of polyamory and go back to your monogamous bed, safe from all of the realities of gender that you are so intentionally ignorant of.
Unicorn hunting has a built-in message that all women have vaginas and every man has a penis. The ?one penis policy? is a rule that some polycules implement to keep women from being penetrated by a penis and/or courted by another man. The amount of gender assumptions in that rule alone deserves it?s own blog post. For the purposes of unicorning, the ?one penis policy? is a rule that exists by design when combined with poly-fidelity.
Failing to recognize the full gender spectrum while seeking out relationships is not exclusively done by unicorn hunters but they are practically defined by that very behavior.
Any attempt at opening a relationship should be the most ethical that it can be. Non-monogamy is a wide spectrum of different preferences. Polyamory, however, is a subsection of non-monogamy that stands on ethics, honesty, and consent.
Unicorn hunting is unethical. It is not polyamory to me.
The above is an opinion derived from personal experience and the experiences of other bisexual women that were awesome enough to share their feelings with me. Your respect is appreciated