Inside L.A.’s “Ethical Non-Monogamy” Dating Scene

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Jay and Cait’s love story began sweetly, if typically. They met in Philadelphia, fell in love, and moved in together. A few years later they packed their bags and headed west for new career opportunities, eventually making a home together in Long Beach, California. Seven years into their relationship, Jay, 31, and Cait, 27, are at the age when many couples start to consider marriage or children. But this duo decided their journey together would take them another way: they got a girlfriend, Sara, 26, whom Jay met at work. 

Going strong for the past year and a half, Cait, Jay, and Sara’s arrangement is known as a “throuple,” or a three-way relationship. Despite the obvious, they have a relatively normal day-to-day routine: They go out to dinner or hang at Jay and Cait’s place, have sex (in pairs or all together), and just like all relationships, deal with jealousy, disagreements, and work through their issues together. Sara, who identifies as bisexual, even brought Jay and Cait home for the holidays in December. It’s all standard for some millennials — there’s just an extra schedule to coordinate around. 
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Their lifestyle is based around something called polyamory — which is Greek for many (poly) loves (amory) — and can be practiced in a myriad of ways. For example, you can can be "solo poly," where you date many people with no intentions of a committed relationship; settle down with a “primary” or “nesting” partner where one or both people date others as well; opt for a throuple, or any other arrangement that you can dream up. 
The polyamorous folks we spoke to are just as varied: Longtime partnerships where one person is asexual and prefers their partner look outward for sex; longterm relationships opened after one person discovers they’re sexually curious; and individuals who’ve been unable to be faithful and finally decided to ditch monogamy.
The concept is far from new, but it’s recently received a trendy rebranding online as ‘ethical non-monogamy’, which points to the fact that it’s consensual (not to be confused with oft-problematic polygamy), so all parties are aware that anything goes except sexual and romantic exclusivity. 
While there are plenty of dating apps solely dedicated to polyamory, it’s also flooded mainstream ones in bios and as a way to identify in drop-down identifiers. It’s made headlines on celebrity news sites, and influenced legislation all over the world, from marriage to parental rights. Some even argue that ABC’s Bachelor shows are simply a sanitized version of the lifestyle.
Some claim it all makes perfect sense: Humans have been around for over 200,000 years, but we’ve only been monogamous for about 1,000, leading some experts to wonder if we’re really meant to partner off. The New York Times points out that 5% of Americans surveyed practice non-monogamy is some form today and 20% of people surveyed said they would consider trying polyamory. 
So what’s it like on the inside of Jay, Cait, and Sara’s throuple? How about a polyamorous primary partnership? Watch our latest episode of Truth Told to find out. 
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