Loving More Nonprofit

Is the MFF Triad Poly-tically Incorrect?

by Mystic Life

I've been wondering if the best way to offend members of both the monogamous and polyamorous communities is to form (or be interested in forming) a MFF triad.

Photo From Loving More Issue 34 by Wilton Jones
Original Photo by Wilton Jones – Loving More Retreat 2004

Several years ago, my girlfriend at the time and I were looking to meet someone who we both could love.  I'm straight, and my girlfriend was bi, so we decided that a bi woman would be a good fit.  As part of our search process, we created a profile on Polymatchmaker.com, and also posted in their “Personal Ads” forum.  Several days later, a moderator from the forum wrote us to apologize for the aggressive responses to our post.  We hadn't been back to the forum to witness the frenzy, and were stunned that our seemingly gentle post could create such vitriol.

My partner and I had previously explored ourselves in various forms of polyamory, and had come to the conclusion that a polyfidelitous triad would suit us best.  Little did we know there was a subculture in the poly community that felt that what we were looking for wasn't true polyamory.  I personally feel that there is great danger in specifying what is (or is not) polyamory beyond the basic definition of “more than one love.”

It seems that ego always wants to make one's own choice “the best” to compensate for any insecurities, and to be “better than” others.  For example, a friend of mine who is a gay man recently shared that in the gay community there is a homophobic kind of “gay bashing” by some masculine males towards feminine males.  To me, this illustrates how a community can be weakened by division within.  To remain strong, I hope that the polyamorous community can avoid ego-motivated emphasis upon qualitative subdivisions, and stay open-hearted towards all of the variations we witness in the realms of non-monogamy.

When I first became interested in polyamory, I didn't want any limitations or compromises...I just wanted sexual freedom after years of failed monogamous relationships.  I initially held harsh judgments towards monogamous people, and would go on and on about how they were living in fear.  Over time, I came to realize that these judgments were coming from my ego, and I learned to truly appreciate the loving aspects of monogamy, polyfidelity, and poly-anything-goes.  Nearly every loving relationship has some form of agreements, and instead of conforming to another person's preferences, I think it's best that we all find for ourselves what we're truly ready for, and avoid playing an expected role simply to feel loved by a more “cutting edge” partner.

So what are the judgments of the MFF triad which some poly people seem to hold?  It seems to me that there is a belief that it is patriarchal in nature, and creates arbitrary limitations that are out of fear.  Also, some of the judgments from males may come from frustration that they can not have access to the female in a MF couple who is looking for a bi woman, thus motivating them to find an argument that would make her available.

Regarding patriarchy, I personally am not interested in having any kind of power or control in a MFF triad.  I was raised in a feminist environment, and have always believed in equality between genders.  If I were a bisexual male with a straight female partner, it would be more likely that my partner and I would be drawn to finding a bi male.  Although sexual attraction between all partners is certainly not a necessity for polyfidelity, it is a dynamic that I personally believe creates a strong bond that can help  partners endure challenges.  Attraction between all partners is not what I suggest others should require or desire...it is simply an idea that resonates for me.

IMG_5615I've never witnessed judgment by polys towards MM couples trying to find a female.  Nor do I see judgments against MF or FF couples looking for a male.  Judgment seems reserved for the MF couple trying to find a female.  Perhaps part of this comes from an unspoken sense of competition since there are so many MF couples trying to find a statistically rare “unicorn.”  It seems that most MF couples trying to create such a dynamic will be unable to find what they're looking for simply as a matter of supply and demand.  This can lead to those who've tried to find a single female becoming angry at others who are perceived as limiting their own potential expansion.  They could even find themselves thinking something such as, “I'm in a MFMF quad and we deserve a unicorn because I'm letting my female partners have sex with another man and am therefore more loving.”

Whatever the case, there is only one cure to potential divisions in the polyamorous community:  find out what works best for you, and release judgments against those with different desires.  Love and accept those on a monogamous journey, a polyfidelitous path, or a poly-no-limitations quest.  It's all beautiful at its core.

As for myself, I've noticed a recurring theme of the MFF dynamic throughout my life, which has led me to some of the following theories as to why it may hold such a psychological and emotional draw:

1.      After my parents divorced when I was 5, my dad was mostly absent, so I grew up with my mom and sister.  The three of us even had wooden letters hanging on the living room wall that said “Us 3”.  I was comfortable living with two females, but in our family there wasn't very much emotional closeness.  A MFF triad may be partly appealing because of my desire to be with two women who get along with each other and myself in an emotionally vulnerable, loving manner.

2.      I was adopted, and met my birth mom in my late twenties.  Around that same time I had an experience with my adoptive mom that felt very rejecting.  My birth mom turned out to be unreliable, and that relationship also ended in rejection.  Having painful experiences with both  of my mothers may have resulted in a longing for a “corrective emotional experience.”  Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want writes about how we crave a partner who has qualities similar to our parents, yet also the ability to give what was emotionally lacking when we were children.  Although he writes from a monogamous perspective, I can see how this is applicable in a poly dynamic as well, with multiple partners representing different parents.

3.      I've discovered over the years that I enjoy relatively “focused” energy, so I am not drawn to having many partners as I once was.  Although I have identified as polyamorous for most of the past 14 years, I have come to realize that it is very rare to find someone with whom I truly connect on an authentic level.  When I was in less intense, less heart-connected poly relationships, I felt I needed more partners to fill up my desire for love.  I realized during my last long-term relationship that I'm almost (but not quite) comfortable with many aspects of monogamy.  However, I still feel drawn to making sure that a partner and I would not be dependent upon each other for all of our needs.  Additionally, I feel sociobiologically drawn to some degree of sexual diversity, and two partners feels like it would be enough for me.  I have no idea if I'll always feel the same way...but for now, I don't want to spread myself too thin because I enjoy connecting with people very deeply, and feel that too many partners would dilute my connections beyond my comfort level.

These are some of the factors that have guided me towards being drawn to a MFF polyfidelitous triad (also, it's just kind of hot).  In retrospect, my whole life has been a series of rebellions against normative behavior, so it makes sense that I would be attracted to a dynamic that could be considered offensive to both the sexually conservative and the sexually liberal.  Nevertheless, I believe that if the core essence of polyamory is love, then true love embraces all paths.  It's all just life lessons anyhow...so let's allow ourselves and each other the freedom to pursue and receive the lessons to which we feel drawn.


  1. There are a suprising number of women who are still in-the-process of being emancipated. Some of them see Polyamory as part of that emancipation. They desire a culture of female dominance. Some men also have this desire. It appears to them that poly-fidelity in a FFM triad is patriarchal. Having experienced such a triad, I can assure you it is anything but patriarchal. But it does require 3 individuals that are not only past patriarchy, but also past recoiling and rebelling against it. Those of us who have moved beyond yin & yang tend to forget that many have not, even in the Poly community.

  2. Nick DMZ Wilton says:

    Thanks for this, Mystic Life.

    As a young man in my early 20s just starting my poly life out, I find it all too common to see people making assumptions as to my motivations.

    “Oh, you just wanna fuck anybody that comes by!” I’m tired of explaining the incorrectness of this statement.

    I’m personally looking for a MMF or a MFF triad, so hearing about the possible hurdles in this path is very important for me. If trends continue as they have been, though, people will only get more understanding of different poly styles and I believe eventually such hurdels will no longer exist.

    That’s the optimist in me.

  3. Thanks for this post, Mystic Life. I too have witnessed the bashing of MFF-seeking triads on polymatchmaker. As a straight man also in a relationship with a bi-woman, I can understand the interest and logic of an MFF triad. I admire your fortitude in standing up for what you believe is right for you, and suggesting others do the same.

  4. Hi Jan,

    Thanks for your feedback. Your comments resonate strongly. I find that being around two women whether or not it’s in an intimate context has a softening effect on me. I was also just reflecting about the show “Sister Wives” on TLC. Polygamy has patriarchal roots, but on that program I don’t sense much gender inequity at all. I think all 4 women have a strong sense of self…and everyone seems to have a say in the choices that are made.

  5. You’re welcome, Nick.

    Yes, I’m familiar with those kinds of judgments. In reality, most monogamous relationships I witness last 2 to 5 years…so it’s possible that a long term triad would actually result in less sexual diversity than most monogamous people experience 🙂

    I’ve been reading “Polyamory in the 21st Century” by Deborah Anapol which does a good job of pointing out that monogamy was originally intended to refer to one partner for your lifetime. This hardly applies to anyone.

    We all just have to listen to our inner guidance and follow it. Ignore the critics and trolls.

  6. My pleasure, Bob.

    Thanks for sharing that you’ve also witnessed prejudice against the MFF triad dynamic. We can’t buy into any external judgments. A lot of people who are critical are unconsciously re-enacting an unhealed family of origin dynamic in which others are not supported in their choices but passive-aggressively criticized.

    In my opinion, true polyamorists support any form of love that doesn’t hurt anyone & works well for those involved in it.

  7. We do have a disease in the world called competition. While competition has it’s place, there is a constant struggle in society to prove that one’s lifestyle choices, diet, features, etc.. are “better than” anyone else, or those who have made different choices. It is a prevalent and destructive force. It is insecurity in one’s choices that causes so many to bully or abuse their way through life, trying to control everyone else.

    I’ve experienced this in almost every aspect of my own life.

    Your choice of poly, ML, is not my own choice of poly. I respect your choice, and am surprised that there were detractors because I have seen that desire for a MFF triad expressed so often in so many poly forums and ads
    Regardless of one’s motivations for that, it is your choice, and so you should seek it.

    I’ve been baffled, though, at the quest (not just yours, but many others’) for a defined poly relationship with a specific number of people. In my mind, if we are loving to everyone we meet, and we treat everyone we meet with high respect and regard, then that IS love. For me, poly is not about sexual freedom, or having exactly 2 sex partners, 3 sex partners, or even unlimited sexual partners. I find it difficult to find poly partners because sex is often not only a requisite, but an immediate one. If I’m not going to have sex with the couple, or at least with the man, then I’m not a candidate for being loved. It’s just as contrived to me as it is with men pretending to be monogamous. I don’t let men buy me dinner or a drink because too often that purchase comes with the expection of repayment in sex. In the poly world, the same thing happens. Everyone will say, “oh yes, friends first.” But their definition of friends seems to be fulfilled after one day spent together.

    And so I move on, and on….and on…..to find those who can love without that condition.
    When that high regard and respect is missing, then there is no love. I see a failed marriage not as one that ended, but as one that continues without that regard and respect. I see poly the same way.

  8. Hi Kim,

    You’ve brought up several interesting topics.

    Regarding placing an ideal number upon a relational dynamic, I have found from past experience what feels like a balance for myself in terms of sexual-loving dynamics. My approach is to put out to the universe what I believe would be ideal, but also recognize that if I’m guided to be in another situation, I can change. Ultimately, I fall in love with people…not dynamics. I have my intuitive preference of a triad based upon patterns and inner guidance…but ultimately, love is a realm of great lessons…and I have no idea what I’ve yet to learn. I also don’t feel that a triad, should that manifest, would necessarily last forever. But there is something about it that holds a draw for me on emotional, mental, spiritual and sexual levels.

    I feel that loving everyone I come in contact with (even when it requires lovingly setting boundaries or letting go) is a process that is separate than creating sexually intimate bonds. Thus far in my experience, 1 partner feels limiting, and 3 or more leads to feeling too diffused. Ultimately, no matter what form I’m experiencing in the moment (be it aloneness, one partner, or two) my focus is trying to be at peace with what is, and not “putting off contentment” until some future dynamic manifests.

    I am impressed to hear that you are respecting yourself by not succumbing to the sexual preferences of others when you don’t feel drawn to such an experience. Indeed, sexual expectations and pressure exist in many mono and poly individuals. I agree that it’s certainly best to not enter sexual relationships prematurely. Many people are still “body identified” and so sex is the end-all be-all. For many it is the only way to experience temporary peace, to escape the constant chatter of their mind.

    When I started awakening spiritually and becoming more sensitive I met a psychic woman who told me, “Playtime is over” and she helped me understand (though I didn’t want to hear it at the time) that casual sex would no longer be a part of my life…that there would have to be a higher purpose to a relationship for it to become sexual. That was 13 years ago…and during that time I’ve become more interested in communication, compatability in goals, self-awareness, and other energetic qualities more than “getting off.” I believe that sensitivitiy to subtle energies will become increasingly important for people as we evolve, but in the interim there are still some who are primarily focused upon the physical realm…and they are not, in my opinion, a good match for sensitive beings.

  9. -the redhead- says:

    You both have determined what you wan. That’s great, and there’s no argument with that. You are, however, asking a great deal of a single person with your desire for a closed MFF triad. You want someone with no other romantic/relationship attachments to be only with both of you and your existing relationship. Or for them to give up any romantic relationships they may already have (as they are most likely already poly).

    What do you have to offer in return? How would you address the practicalities of the situation?

    -the redhead-

  10. As part of a MFF triad that started out as a MF couple that was initially free and open then went to being poly-fidelitous, I can only say a few things. 1. I totally understand you. 2. I have had to explain myself so many times it is not funny even to other poly people. 3. Unicorns do exist.

  11. I can not believe you would have people offended by a mff relationship. I would think they would have more of a problem with mmf. I think most of the world would agree a mff ‘IS HOT’ and the most accepted of all poly relationships. and the whole definition of a polyamorous relationship is more than two people who agree on a situational relationship. I wouldn’t bother with what people say or think anyway!

  12. Hi Sweet, Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad to hear you understand what I shared. I can understand why re-explaining yourself would get old fast. Fortunately we have no need to justify whatever form love works for us 🙂 Yes, I unicorns are more prevalent than the “nickname” would imply. I don’t typically use the word unicorn because I don’t want to put out a message to the universe that I’m looking for someone who doesn’t exist. There will probably be more bisexuals who desire both a male and a female in their life as cultural conditioning continues to dissipate.

  13. Aimee, I’ve observed that the general population is more accepting of the mff than the mmf due to homophobia towards gay men and the sexualization of female-female intimacy. In the poly realm, however, there is more of a tendency to judge the mff triad for the reasons I mentioned in the article.

    Yes, what people say or think doesn’t ultimately matter. Yet it’s a dynamic I feel is worth exploring for greater awareness within the poly community. It boils down to the fact there are some people who embrace diversity and some who want everyone to do things the way they do it. In the poly realm this has most often manifested as some people who want no limitations in their love-expression judging those who desire some form of polyfidelity.

  14. It has been most refreshing reading your various thoughts on the matter, and thanks to ML for sharing. I am a poly voyeur…married for ten years to a man I love deeply, but secretly always looking for a MMF triad. I have the deepest respect for those of you who can make it work, whatever your chosen configuration, and I can only encourage you to keep doing what feels right for you. Strength.

  15. Hi Plato. Thanks for your feedback. I agree that everyone should do what feels right for them. Hopefully you will be able to manifest your ideal dynamic so it doesn’t just remain a secret fantasy.

  16. Hi ML,

    You give some very good reasons for your desire for a Triad and I too have witnessed abuse from members of the PMM community towards people seeking triads and Poly-fi vees (FMF) as a person more interested in a Polyfi relationship and less interested in being in a relationship with two men long term (too much testosterone for me) being in a relationship with a MF couple seemed a natural course for me to take, unfortunately the behaviour of the PMM community (not towards myself but towards other people seeking similar) led me to leave the community permanently and find another cyber home.

    Funnily enough I did not find the Poly fi vee I expected, I fell in love with a woman and she with me and we formed a triad. It wasn’t planned or wasn’t hoped for and I think it is that lack of expectation which made it work.

    And here is the rub with me and your post, despite your spiritual ideals you still have expectations of a certain balance and harmony that you believe exists in a triadic relationship form (I can’t tell you how much you are fooling yourself with that one!!!). Expectations are the killers of Poly harmony, we will only have strong, long term committed relationships when we dispense with the ego centric “I want”.

    It is true that my personal ideals are that everyone has the kind of relationship forms they need with ‘who’ they want, rather than picking a pre-defined form and running with that, I feel that would be ultimately destructive but you have the freedom and choice to do as you please and good luck with that.

    My partners and I wrote a blog dealing with Poly issues, feel free to read and comment


  17. Hey Mystic,

    I’m sorry if people were cruel to you, obviously that’s never ok. I’ve never been to the PMM site, so I can’t speak to the culture there. I do spend a lot of time at polyamory.com, though, and I’ve seen the prejudice against “unicorn hunters”, typically MF couples looking for a woman to join them in forming a closed triad. I understand the prejudice, even though I myself could be classed as a “unicorn” and I totally sympathize with your desires and hopes.

    The problem is that, at polyamory.com at least, you read the posts of new-to-poly people seeking advice and you see over and over and OVER again two things — MF couples who are confused as to why things didn’t work out with their third and bi women who’ve been badly burned by couples.

    This chart is an extreme example of the behavior of unicorn hunters, of course, but a little too close to the mark in too many cases for comfort: http://tacit.livejournal.com/295369.html

    For a more serious look at common issues: http://www.xeromag.com/fvpolydatingcouple.html

    I hope this helps you understand why people may react poorly. Many of us believe that, sure, an FMF triad can work out fine in theory. But we’re also saddened and tired of reading so many painful stories. One recurring theme is that the existing couple wants the relationship with their unicorn to be equal. But they have an existing relationship, often of many years, whereas she is coming in fresh. It takes a long time to build rapport and intimacy. How then can things be “equal” right away?

    Another big problem is with the idea that the relationship must be closed. The existing couple gets to enjoy the deep, complex companionship of the settled, partnered, duo love they’ve built wih each other plus the rush of new love with their third, while insisting that the new partner only be with them and only experience love as the newcomer, the third, the most-disposable one (I hate to say it, but it’s true… in a major crisis, who would you prioritize, your partner of 10 years and the mother of your children or your new lover of 6 months?).

    What I’m trying to explain is how hard it is to be the third and how unrealistic the expectations of all involved can be in the sort of scenario you’re describing. More than any other thing, the biggest problem seems to be the expectation that the new person will love both members of the couple equally. Love usually develops in different ways, at different times, and at different rates. When that happens, the original couple often seems to freak out in a spasm of jealousy and this-isn’t-how-it-was-supposed-to-go-ness.

    So, sorry this rant became so long, I suppose I had a lot to say. Tl;dr version: rigid and unrealistic relationship requirements and visions set people off because they’ve seen it backfire too many times and it’s usually the new woman who gets dumped/burned in the end.

  18. I am so glad to have found this article as I truly can relate. I am blessed with a dynamic poly triad (MFF) relationship which has been a wonderful life experience for me.

  19. miss angel says:

    I being very new to poly feel that the mff is my ideal set up. I met a great guy only 4 months ago and he was very open to me about what he was looking for. At first I was like no way am I strong enough to handle sharing the man I was falling for. But we all learn to share as chilldren don’t we? We dated with out the title for about 3 months and had several conversations on poly. I was still not buying it… so when it came down to losing the man I care for id rather try and fail then not try st all. I was lucky enough to get the chance to try. When isay very new. I mean this is week one… with a mff set up. I’m nervousness but a chance st love is worth it and I wouldn’t let any one tell me different. The woman he introduced me to has Been a friend of his for several years and we have a lot in common. I think we found our unicorn … and if it falls apart ive gained a great female friend. Only time will tell. This artical was very helpful. Super glad I found it. Thanks for reading my comment. And good luck to all no matter the set up your looking for.

  20. miss angel says:

    Or correction maybe its a fmf either way there are two lady’s one male… see lop I’m very new to poly…

  21. I’m in love an in a triad realtionship with my husband and another man so I suppose it’s a mmf or mfm. I live full time with my husband and my other spends weekends with us and we share a bed. It’s a wonderful relationship for us and it helps that my husband isn’t jealous.

  22. Thanks for this post, as a married lesbian, just simply trying to explain that alone causes many problems. My husband and I want to have a loving relationship with another women, this brought us in our search to a MFF triad. Not that it will be in the near future or even far future but we would love to be able to marry our wife. We first must find her and have only had one person in our life that we thought was even possibly “the one”. We are having the same issues with not so nice responses in the poly community. We had to turn to the swinger life to meet people that were less Wicca and shaved and not so closed minded. I know there must be others like us out there, maybe one day I will create a website for like minded folks.

  23. This original blog post and all the comments resonate deeply for me. I’m a female with a husband and a wife. My husband has two wives. My wife has a wife and a husband. We are an interactive polyfidelitous triad, and have no need or desire to “rock the boat” with any changes or additions. We are happily in love with one other, and will remain together until we die and our organs are given for transplantation and our bodies are donated to science. We have had legal documents drawn up and we retained an attorney to act as our executor and estate administrator to make certain that our intentions are carried out exactly as we expressed. None of us have any fear. This is our life, and it is exactly what we want. May you ALL be as blessed/lucky! Namaste.

    (FYI – We will be in our 60s soon, and have grandchildren. This lifestyle is not “just” for the young LOL.)

  24. lil miss freak girl 69 says:

    im in a mff relation ship as the fiancee who is marring my man . it seeemto me we have arranged scheduals for sleeping and intimate encounters but i have seen that my hubby to be is being intemiate only once a week and more active with the other female partner more. he also communicates more then he dose with me and i have put my jelosy issues aside about her but it it normale to eel as if he is drifting awya from me when he makes excuses about why he not intimate as much yet he bends over back wards for her . i told him i see she is falling in love with him she admits it and she is not in love with me the same way but i see her as my wife and him my husband but i think he try to be equal and make her happy and me but some one always feels as if one of thm is not getting what they need i finally gave in yesterday i gave her my blessing to have him impregnate her cause im tired of felling its all my falt that shes not happ but when she happy and hes happy somthing happends to make me feel inadquite and over emotional like feeling im loosing the man im to marry. if any one has any suggestions how to not loose ones self in totoal sadness and feeling as if all is lost pleas e contact me please

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