Quad relationships are one of the many kinds of polyamory dating configurations.
Quad dating and quad relationships have unique benefits and challenges, just as any other kind of polyamorous (or monogamous) dating and relationship style.
You don’t hear as much about quad relationships as you hear about the terms triad, throuple, or polycule, but in fact quad relationships are quite common and often evolve naturally as couples exploring polyamory connect with other like-minded couples.
What Is a Quad Relationship?
A quad relationship is any polyamorous relationship that involves four people.
There are different kinds of quad relationships, ways of meeting, hierarchies, and sexual expressions within a quad, but most often the term refers to two couples coming together. Those couples may connect romantically or sexually in different ways.
Polyamorous quad relationships may include two classical male and female partnerships who connect. But polyamory includes all genders and all orientations. And couples or individuals may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and more. They may be transgender, non-binary, male or female.
The makeup of sexualities and genders in a quad relationship depends on who the couples are or the identities of the four individuals, and how they identify and relate.
Read: 23 Types of Sexuality: Glossary of Terms
Quad vs Full Quad Relationship
In a quad relationship, two couples are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship, but it is common that only some people out of the four are lovers.
A quad is any combination of connections out of the four, and a full quad means every person in the quad is involved with each other person.
There are many kinds of quads—for example, Angela may be married to Barrie and sleeping with Caroline and Daanesh. Caroline and Daanesh may be married, and Caroline is also sleeping with Barrie. Very commonly is a poly quad where Caroline and Angela are sleeping together or in a relationship.
A full quad means everyone—A, B, C, and D are involved romantically or sexually in some way with everyone else.
Read: How to Have a Wild Bi Couples Foursome
7 Challenges in Quad Relationships
While polyamory often means “the more the merrier” as we open our minds and hearts and sexualities, of course there can be lots of challenges in polyamorous relationships, including quad relationships.
Quad relationships share the same kind of challenges any relationship entails, and some that are more common to polycules. Juggling the needs, desires, and personalities of four people is a challenge in itself, even as there is more variety and support.
1. Financial Issues
Finances are a serious problem for many couples. Priorities, budgets, goals, and different satisfaction levels or expectations can be compounded in a quad relationship.
If one person is a doctor but another is a school crossing guard or works at the coffee shop, or if one person wants extravagant art purchases and another wants to donate to their place of faith, this can create a lot of tension.
Read: How to Handle Conflicts in Your Polycule
2. Scheduling Conflicts
Juggling four families and four schedules is not easy. While there may be more flexibility for some issues such as childcare, transportation, and so on, it may be more difficult to arrange occasions where everyone can get together.
Holidays, different traditions, and other celebratory occasions can create difficulty because there are only so many hours in the day.
Read: How to Make More Time with Your Partners
3. Relationship Identity
Not everyone in a quad relationship may want to identify as such. Some may want to lie low for family relationship or professional stigma reasons. Some may be more private than others. People in a quad relationship may disagree on revelation practices.
In any relationship, including polyamorous quad relationships, jealousy can make an appearance. It can be consistent or surprising.
Read: The Causes of Jealousy in Relationships
5. Hierarchy Issues
Hierarchy issues are always challenging, even in egalitarian relationships or in non-hierarchical polyamory, because hierarchy can be biologically natural and socially constructed and ingrained. Many individuals are also more naturally dominant or submissive.
Further complications can arise if a person is kinky or sexually submissive or dominant and existing in a relationship style that is counter to their sexual style.
Read: Hierarchical Polyamory vs Non-Hierarchical Polyamory
6. Libido Differences
While there is lots to go around, tensions may arise if sexual arrangements are not satisfying to everyone, or if some are more interested than others, or if reciprocation isn’t always on target.
Read: How to Cope with a Lagging Libido
7. Intimacy and Attraction Issues
Couples in a quad relationship may have unique challenges in how they relate to each other. For example, a common challenge is when both wives enjoy a sexual relationship with each other and with both males, but the two males do not feel sexually attracted to each other. If the expectation or ideal of the quad is that everyone be involved, this can create tension.
Other issues of attraction naturally arise. Angela may be more attracted to Daanesh than Barrie is to Caroline, or any other combination. Angela and Caroline may be more interested in each other sexually than in their husbands, for example.
It is unrealistic for everyone to be exactly as attracted to each person in the quad relationship as to everyone else.
Tips for Making a Quad Relationship Work
A quad relationship requires an open mind, open heart, flexibility, and accepting attitude from every person. Strive to accept each person as they are, where they are at, and respect them wholly, in order to resolve the conflicts that arise and shrug off circumstantial tensions that don’t mean anything.
Communication, honesty, and organization can go a long way between managing a quad relationship. Using time management and organizational skills along with open communication are the best strategies to navigating the concerns of everyone.
Quad relationships may have more to manage, but they also have more in the way of support. Just as an office team or sports team can arrange schedules compatibly, and accommodate different needs, goals, desires, and contributions, so can a quad relationship.
It is a misconception that quad relationships or other polycule arrangements have to be chaotic. The old adage “teamwork is dreamwork” goes nicely—working together with many contributors is also an incredible asset.
Read: Poly Quad Date Ideas
Are you in a quad or full quad relationship? How do you make it work?
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