“Weird couple” seeking unicorn hits on single woman in restaurant


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

“Unicorn hunting” is becoming increasingly popular these days, as more and more people are drawn to the challenge and excitement of mixing things up in long-term relationships.

A good friend of mine, who happens to identify as polyamorous, recently had a strange encounter with a “weird couple” while dining alone at a restaurant. The couple introduced themselves and sat down at her table, even though it was evident that she was intentionally dining alone.

“We’re in the middle of a unicorn hunt,” the wife said. “Have you ever been in one?”

My friend was caught off guard and didn’t know how to respond, although this was not the first time she’d been approached by a couple seeking to add a third to their relationship. In the past, these encounters had been limited to online dating sites. But this was the first time a couple had propositioned her in a family-friendly diner.

Although my friend was flattered by the attention, she politely declined the couple’s offer. She is not interested in being a “unicorn” and prefers to keep her romantic relationships separate. But the couple persisted.

“We both think you’re gorgeous,” the husband said. “And we’re not in a rush. First, we’d like to get to know you as a friend.”

At this point, my friend was getting uncomfortable. She told the couple that she was not interested in being a part of their “hunt.” The wife became defensive and accused my friend of being close-minded. “I thought you were more open-minded than that,” she said.

The couple eventually got up and left, but not before giving my friend their business card. They told her to “think about it” and said they would “love to hear from her.”

My friend was creeped out by the whole encounter, and it got her thinking about the phenomenon of “unicorn hunting.” She did some research and discovered that there are couples who actively seek out single women to date or have relations with. These couples usually have specific criteria for their “unicorn,” such as age, physical appearance, and sexual experience.

Unicorn hunting is often done by couples in open relationships or who identify as polyamorous. The couple is looking for a woman willing to become a third in their existing relationship.

Unicorn hunting is frowned upon in many polyamorous communities.

A lot of poly people consider unicorn hunting to be exploitative. The man often initiates the idea of adding a female partner to the relationship. This can lead to the woman being treated like a trophy or a sex object rather than an equal partner.

“Couples who want to date as a unit have earned a terrible reputation in polyamorous communities as unicorn hunters who pollute poly scenes with heterocentrism and couple’s privilege.” — Elisabeth A. Sheff Ph.D., CSE

Some poly people also worry that unicorn hunters are more interested in the “idea” of having a threesome rather than wanting to form a genuine connection with another person. This can often lead to the couple breaking up soon after finding their “unicorn,” leaving her feeling used and alone.

Unicorn hunting can also be a pretty emotionally taxing experience for the person being hunted. It can be overwhelming to constantly be approached by couples and repeatedly explain that you’re not interested.

Dating as a couple can be complicated.

Unicorn hunters tend to be hetero-flexible couples who actively seek single bi-sexual women. But according to Dr. Elizabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorist Next Door, it rarely ends well. “These couples either blow up, or some of them return to monogamy,” she said.

“Monogamish relationships often emphasize the centrality of the couple and allow sexual and/or emotional connections only within negotiated boundaries that prioritize the couple over their outside partners. Emphasizing the couple is not always problematic, but it can easily become couple’s privilege when the established pair expects their secondary partner(s) to sacrifice their needs in order to support the couple’s relationship.” — Elisabeth A. Sheff Ph.D., CSE

One of the reasons that “unicorn triads” often fail is because they generally require that the woman exclusively date the couple. In other words, she would instantly become a secondary partner whose sole purpose is to be available to the couple. This can be a big ask for most people, especially considering that the couple already has a shared history. So their “couple privilege” has already been solidified.

Respect is not optional.

Whether you’re a single person or a non-monogamous couple, respect is not optional when approaching someone about dating.

Single people are people.

“Couples who put energy into thinking about things from their potential dates’ perspectives and what they might be getting out of the interaction are a lot more attractive to anyone who is interested in dating couples.” — Elisabeth A. Sheff Ph.D., CSE

Couples should also be respectful when seeking a third person to join their relationship. This means being honest about your relationship, communicating openly and honestly, and being willing to listen to feedback. It also means respecting boundaries and not pressuring someone into doing something they’re not comfortable with.

And above all else, no always means no. Full stop.

What do you think? Is unicorn hunting unethical? Or is it just another form of dating? Let us know in the comments.

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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