Tips & Advice

Triad Relationships: 4 Problems and Solutions

Man with Two Girlfriends

Relationships are an evergreen source of problems, in addition to the joys and rewards. Many people stick to casual sex, or remain alone, in order to avoid drama.

Even the healthiest polyamory relationships have perils and pitfalls. After all, meshing individuals with unique needs, values, habits, weaknesses, and strengths together and trying to match those assorted qualities without conflict is challenging to say the least.

For polyamorous lovers in a triad relationship or throuple, all considerations are between three, not two, and there are even more variations and differences.

That said, the kinds of problems triad relationships experience are not all that different from problems that two people experience. There are more variables, and more compromises to be made, but the very human troubles and problems throuples experience will be familiar to anyone.

Triad Relationship Problem 1: You just don’t have time for me.

Solution: Sort out your priorities, and look at your personality types.

It’s a common conflict in relationships. “You are married to your job, not me!” is a routine accusation. “We never do anything together.” “You spend all your time with your friends.”

The variable in a throuple is sometimes that one partner feels left out, because the other two are pairing off, or are they just prioritizing time together when the other isn’t?

That’s what needs to be determined.

If you entered a relationship knowing your girlfriend is in medical school for the next ten years, the solution is to find acceptance of that and remember to support her and help her any way you can.

If someone is neglecting a partner, or not prioritizing the relationship, failed expectations can lead to disappointment and disillusion. Determine what the ideal amount of time looks like together, and what each lover’s capabilities are, realistically.

Don’t forget to consider an extroverted partner NEEDS her friends and phone calls. And an introverted partner may require long afternoons solo, and it has nothing to do with “not wanting to be with you.”

Read: Polyamory Time Management

Triad Problem 2: Money, money, money.

Solution: A realistic attitude and some honest budgeting and plans.

A polyamory throuple that lives together is in a very beneficial situation compared to some families and couples. So be sure to realistically assess the situation.

On the other hand, food for three, dinners out, vacations—all of these can take a toll. Maybe you aren’t all working.

Money management problems are never simple for lovers. You all need to put your cards on the table. What are your spending habits like. What are your weaknesses?

Expecting a student or someone on a pension to cough up cash for expensive splurges is also wrong.

Communication and communal resolve and accountability are your best bets.

Triad Problem 3: The in-laws are coming.

Solution: Respect everyone’s family, while each partner prioritizes the relationship.

Our partners’ families can be a source of joy and agony. Our own families can be a constant source of embarrassment because they reveal so much about where we are from and how we are made up.

Part of the conflict of in-laws and relatives is personal—how you interact and get along with their family’s cast of characters. Part of it is the effect longstanding issues have on your partners’ emotional makeup and health. Part of it is how conflicting values are added to the mix.

In a romantic relationship, partners with different values, philosophies, religions, and cultures have already ironed out, to some level, where they stand and how they see the world on these issues.

Obviously everyone in the triad relationship has made the decision to be part of a less traditional relationship and has some experience navigating that, as well as wanting to be in relationship with those partners whatever cultural background, gender roles, lifestyle, faith, or politics are reflected. But our families don’t necessarily reflect any of those things.

I personally believe that concessions to family are imperative. I cannot expect Aunt Mathilda to be as libertine as my lovers. That doesn’t mean I won’t speak my mind, lovingly, when appropriate, about any topics that come up.

I also think it is up to us, inside of the relationship, to stand up for each other. If my brother’s conservative views turn ugly and personal towards my lover, I have to intervene and tell him to stop being a douche. It’s really that simple.

Triad Problem 4: Lying, drinking, stealing.

Solution: Make rules you can live by in the first place. Accommodate normal human fallibility. Zero tolerance for toxic or dangerous habits.

Everyone makes mistakes, gets grumpy, drinks too much, makes poor decisions, or follows a stupid impulse now and again. I cut my lovers slack for all of these. Life is filled with ups and downs, and we are not tidy factory-made robots. Even big problems from small mistakes aren’t reason to bail, in my mind—after all, my next lover is guaranteed to also be human.

Now if someone is a routine or has six DUIs and doesn’t remember your name, or can’t stick to the poly rules they make themselves, those are different issues altogether.

We all have serious weaknesses and problems. One way I gauge where I stand on these issues is simply by assessing honestly what my partner is doing to tackle that. Some problems are not easy to solve because actions have consequences. I don’t expect easy answers or cleanups, but I do expect genuine effort. Someone may slip on sobriety, let’s say. But is he full of excuses and lies, or is he back on track right away?

How a person handles their flaws and negative actions is key. And all partners must have open communication, honest discourse, about the problems—no secrets, nothing to hide.

What problem have you had in your triad relationship? What solution did you find?

Tell us what you think!

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