Get ready for it, folks: this is the cutest article of the year. I’m a little in love with healthy love, so if there’s one thing I find better than writing about sex, it’s digging into all things PG, Disney-style lovin’...with a heavy dose of queer polyamory thrown into the mix.
Wholesome love comes in all shapes and sizes: self love, monogamous couples, couples who date others separately, one person dating a couple, four people dating each other, or some other configuration altogether. The opportunities to enjoy intimacy and love are endless. There’s no limit in how to express your love, but knowing how to nail a date with your first triad can feel a bit tricky. While threesomes abound in TV and movies these days, we seemed to have collectively skipped over the notion of three people sharing romance at all.
But in my experience, that’s really the best part of a triad. Candlelight, a shared plate of spaghetti, a singing moon: the whole kit and caboodle is right there at your table set for three. But since we don’t have a romcom about a triad starring Rebel Wilson, Henry Golding, and Paul Rudd just yet (I’ll wait), it can feel like you’re heading into some uncharted waters, and you may just not know how to start.
The truth is surprising – and a relief: a triad is just as blissfully normal as any couple. A three-way relationship is an incredible opportunity for growth that offers everything a monogamous couple does, and then some. Translation: if you’re new to that triad life, don’t sweat it. Your dates may end up looking pretty similar to ones you’re used to in the past.
But if you’re nervous about making sure everyone has a wonderful time, there are a few guidelines you can keep up your sleeve to make sure your attention stays evenly divided and that everyone will come back for date number two.
Give conversation the front seat
This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but a good first date means having good conversations. The whole point of going out with someone is to get to know the people you’re with. Giving plenty of time to talk means you’ll know whether a second date is in order by the time the first one ends.
Space to talk is especially important if two of the people in the triad are already in an established relationship and know each other well. A date with too little talking can leave the newest partner feeling awkward, overwhelmed, or even unwelcome. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you should sit in a circle around a coffee table with intense and evenly divided eye contact, care should be taken that everyone is on as level of a playing field as possible all date long.
Choose a spot that keeps the conversations going
All of us know it can be intimidating to go on a date with one person, let alone two. The terror of running out of something to talk about just ten minutes into your coffee can be enough to keep you from going out at all.
That’s why dates with activities built into them can be a real boon, even if all you get out of the activity you’re doing is fodder for jokes. Sometimes, talking about yourself across a dinner table can feel a bit like an interview, and having a painting night, building a terrarium together, or playing giant jenga over a beer can help you all stop sweating about what to say next.
That’s why, while movies are wonderful in general, they can be an awkward first date choice. There’s too long of a stretch of silence in the beginning, and afterward, you have to mull over hose plot twists without any rapport being built beforehand. Same goes for trivia. While I love me some pub quizzes, they aren’t really a good choice for getting to know two honeys in the early days. The conversation is less chatter, more just answering questions, and if someone in the party takes it seriously (guilty as charged), you may not get much talking in edgewise.
So put the focus where it belongs: on getting to know the people you’re dating, with activities to help prop you up when the convo reaches an inevitable lull.
Get everyone’s input on where to go
Sometimes it may seem easiest to have one person take charge and pick a place, but hold on a second. When you’re on a date with three people, you have three different opinions to consider before you head on out. Save your partners some grief by asking where to go in a group chat first. This will help you steer clear of any dietary restrictions, ability needs, or total disinterest before you pencil something in. It helps if you each throw a few options into the pot, then choose the one you all agree on most.
Remember, it doesn’t help if you’re too agreeable and then miserable the whole time. Be open to surprising suggestions and branch out of your comfort zone.
Don’t expect food or booze to carry the date
If all you have up your sleeve is dinner, you’re in for a slow start. Barring some amazing, blockbuster-worthy chemistry, eating food or grabbing drinks for a first date can be a little underwhelming. A conversation flows when you have something to do, and waiting for dinner is just not enough. The dance between reading the menu, keeping the conversation flowing, and making sure no cilantro is caught in your teeth can feel more stressful than romantic.
The same thing goes for drinks, too. While a bar may offer up a good space for conversation in theory, they’re not always a wise choice for everyone involved. When a couple dates another person, there’s an inherent power imbalance. In the early stages of a potentially lopsided relationship, it isn’t smart to put anyone in a situation that could impair their judgment, no matter how angelic everyone’s intentions may be. Once you all trust each other and have a real sense of security, drinks may be what the doctor ordered, but until then, it’s safest to shelve those for later.
It’s always fun to go to dinner after you’ve done something else fun together first. It’s also perfect for well-established triads – when you’ve been together long enough, y’all can just ask each other if seaweed salad is caught between your teeth.
You met those cuties at a party last weekend and you’re already planning the names of your future kittens. I get it. You want more than just pointers for a good date; you want some concrete ideas. While no date is one-size-fits-all, there are a few gems that just might help any fledgling triad loosen up and see how bright their flame is burning.
This classic date idea is so disarming, it works. Unlike some games or date spots that only make room for two, putt putt accommodates as many players as you’d care to invite, perfect for the triad looking to play. And unless one of your partners is a pro golfer, the odds are in your favor that you’ll all three be equally as terrible.
Terrarium making, songwriting, pottery, painting. Anything that involves three of you learning or sharpening your creative teeth is a great first date. This refreshing take on a night out puts you all on a level playing field and is a great way to learn about each other. You can peep your partners’ artistic leanings, how they handle stress, and the ways they dole out advice right out the gate.
On a budget? Scour Groupon for some deals in your area. Usually, you can score discounts on things like sip and paint events, pottery nights, a guitar workshop, or an intro to improv class.
One of my favorite dates to end all dates, the amusement park or carnival never fails to disappoint. There’s enough stimulation where you’ll never run out of things to talk about or see. Cotton candy, carnival games, scramblers, and ferris wheels always leave you nostalgic, and there’s so much to look at that the silence is companionable, not awkward.
Waiting in line for rides or a beer also means a good dose of downtime, giving you plenty of chances to hear about your dates’ misadventures in homebrewing when y’all aren’t busy screaming your guts out on the Gravitron.
The only problem? Often, rides will only fit two people per car on the roller coaster. If you and your partners encounter that, take turns sitting with one another. If you’re a couple dating another person, you two should alternate sitting with the new person. Early on in the relationship as a triad, you should never have the newest member of the love puddle be alone on a ride. Once you’ve all been together for awhile, you all deserve equal time with each other, so feel free to rotate.
For a casual weekend hang, there’s no cuter date than the farmers’ market. Think of it as a carnival for the food obsessed. There’s just as much external stimulation, and you can graze the samples, stock up on veggies, and grab a drink to sip on while you stroll. If you all get hungry, grab a tasty treat from one of the food carts and have an impromptu picnic in the grass.
This middle school birthday party hotspot turns out to be a stellar place to get to know the cuties on your right and left. What’s so great about bowling for a triad? One person is always heading up front to take their turn, giving each person a chance to chat one-on-one. These intimate little moments are short, sweet, and punctuated with some good-hearted competition.
When you take a break between rounds, you can order a beer, split some fries three ways, and play footsie with those bowling shoes. To get brownie points for a good time, go during a cosmic bowling night.
Maybe dates are just more fun when they’re a throwback to something you used to love – and a barcade doesn’t disappoint. An adult twist on a childhood classic, the barcade is a wonderful place to have some fun in a low pressure environment. Instead of a bar where your only activity is sitting and talking, barcades offer variety. You can hang back and chat at the bar, only to duke it out at the Pac-Man table twenty minutes later. While some games are two-player only, you can always take turns battling each other. Barcades sometimes also offer pool, meaning you can get vicious with each other over a round of cutthroat.
If a barcade isn’t quite your pace, you can always opt for a spot that offers tabletop games instead. These lowkey bars let you borrow a board game and play together over a round of beers. Be kind and go for a co-op game, or try and push each other to the bottom over a round of Munchkin. The choice is yours.
While it may seem dry at first glance, the museum is a prime place to get to know someone new. Whether you’re exploring art, history, or natural science, museums are bursting with opportunities to explore one another’s boundaries and learn about your lovers’ pasts.
While a museum is generally more hushed than the other date ideas, you’re still welcome to chat with each other, and the new experiences and tidbits of information make prime convo material afterward. Thankfully, many museums have a cafe, so you can pick apart your thoughts alongside a croissant together.
On a budget and want to avoid the hefty museum prices? Bring your dates to a monthly art walk in your city. At these free events where artist studios open up for the night, you can see the latest from local artists, enjoy free wine and snacks, and listen to some live music. Art walks never disappoint, and unlike a museum, people are talkative and rowdy, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your voices at a whisper.
Feeling extra spicy? Head into a sex shop and see where the fun begins. While this is usually not the right choice for a first date, it may be a great way to spend time with the people you’ve slept with once or twice. With so many options on display, you can see what your partners naturally gravitate to, what toys they avoid, and which ones they might pick up and ask your opinion on.
By getting to know what satisfies your partners sexually, you can head back into the bedroom with them as a better lover. You don’t have to buy a toy, although that’s certainly nice if you have the funds. Even just catching a glimpse of your lovers’ desires can revolutionize your bedroom game together.
It may surprise people on the outside (or folks new to the triad game) to learn that those of us in triads can get as blissfully humdrum as any monogamous couple once we’ve been loving each other long enough. Just like any set of lovers, we pass the honeymoon phase and suddenly find ourselves in sweaters and socks, drinking coffee and reading on the couch on a Friday night.
While that kind of casual comfort really is bliss, you still should still honor your love by going on a bona fide date sometimes. If you’re not a brand new triad, you’re probably looking for ideas to keep that zing alive. If you’re all in, here are four experiences to go on together that run the range from classic to titillating.
I’m not talking about the sip and paint you did in the early days of your relationship. Instead, consider signing up for something that takes a few weeks of commitment. Having a weekly time together where you’re flexing your creative chops is a great way to keep things fun and fresh. Try improv, cooking, fitness, oil painting, or anything else that’s invigorating new territory for the three of you.
By learning something new together, you’re letting yourselves take your relationship further out into the world and discover new things that make your partners’ hearts sing.
Triads deserve a little road trip love too. No matter your budget, you can have a getaway to remember. Keep things simple and camp right outside of town,drive to the coast and rent a beach house, or plan a trip to a country none of you have visited before.
When you’re all pulled out of your regular routine, you’re launching yourselves into a whole new facet of your relationship. A long hike to a secluded camping spot in the mountains, an Airbnb in the heart of New York City, or a lengthy tour of a whole other country are all great ways to build memories together that will last a lifetime.
When you’ve been together long enough, you may enjoy a simple night out on the town every once and awhile. Dancing is a fun way to get dressed up for the lovers that may otherwise mostly see you in a bathrobe with your hair standing on end. When you go out, look for music you all like: a throwback night can be fun, or you may feel extra wild and find a glow party. The best thing about dancing is that it’s low stakes and easy enough to be spontaneous. If you and your partners have no plans tonight, test the waters and see how they feel about painting the town red.
If you’re feeling bold, a play party may be just what you and your partners have been missing. Play parties and sex clubs are the ultimate ride in unlocking your fantasies. You may be surprised by what your partners have been yearning for that you might be able to provide.
When you go, have conversations beforehand about what to expect, what your boundaries are, and what you hope to get out of your night.
This is a major step up from browsing an adult store together, because these parties let you watch your partners in the throes of pleasure as it happens. Hopefully, it will spur new talks about your fantasies and fetishes. Going to a sex party with your triad may just give you the chance to finally fill them in on your used panty kink.
Alright, alright, you caught me. Here’s the thing: besides the head count, a triad is really no different from a couple. The key to any good relationship is in honoring its progression, listening to each other, and being willing to grow.
Just like in a monogamous duo, all those ideas for early dates stress getting to know each other, talking about your interests, and finding out if you feel nervous when their knees brush against yours.
There are some differences, though – three people means double the connections you have to make as an individual. If you’re a solo person on a first date with a couple, get to know them as individuals. One doesn’t speak for the other. If you’re part of a couple on a date with a new person, take care to know the person you’re going out with...without it seeming like some kind of cringe-worthy interview. This date may even bring out a new side of your long-term partner. Listen to them as well, and be open for the ways they surprise you.
No matter if you’ve been together a week or a year, these date ideas offer your triad a healthy balance of conversation, intimacy, and fun. When done right, a triad can be a revolution all its own. Just save the declarations of love for after the Gravitron.