Philippa, Jennie and Don’s story: part 3

In the last two posts I told you about Jennie and Philippa, who had managed to stay together (eventually) through Jennie’s affairs and Philippa’s transition from a male to a female body.

The year or more of upheaval and communication helped them to work through not just Philippa’s gender identity issues but also Jennie’s difficulties with monogamy. Jennie needed a man in her life, preferably a man who could be a dominant partner. Philippa had never wanted to play this role anyway, and she certainly didn’t want to play it now she had transitioned. Jennie didn’t want to deceive Philippa again, and Philippa didn’t feel threatened by Jennie’s interest in men.

So they hit on a potential solution: they would look for a man who could be partner and lover to them both. A tall order? Perhaps – but as luck would have it, their first venture to the UK Bisexual Conference (Bicon) with this aim in mind was successful. They met Don, a bisexual man who had been married twice before.

After the conference, it was Jennie who first got to know Don better while Philippa left them to it, and then Don and Philippa spent a weekend together and found that they too were very compatible. Less than a year after the three of them met, they decided over a shared ice cream in a cafe that they would commit to a three-way relationship, a triad. Don moved in with them and a while later they bought a big house together.

They have now lived there, with their two adult children staying for longer or shorter periods, for several years. Visiting them is like visiting any other family of their ages. There may be three of them, but they are as comfortable and ordinary together as any long-married couple. When I visited them they were bickering affectionately about what style of kitchen cupboards to buy. Jennie says:

There’s more people to share the bills, more people to share the worries, more people to share the work. If one is ill, there are two other people to rally round and take care of stuff. Remember, if you try to make a structure with two forms of support, it’s going to fall over, but a structure with three points of support is stable.


Triad relationships are very rare, much rarer than other kinds of Open Fidelity. Two people finding that they are compatible enough to share their lives for years or decades? This happens remarkably often, although many people spend years searching in vain for such a partner. One person finding two others who are both compatible with them? That can also happen, and if they are either honest about this and negotiate well, or (less ideally) they keep the two secret from each other, the parallel relationships can last. Those two others finding they are compatible with each other too? The chances of this happening are much lower.

All the triads I have encountered started with a committed couple getting to know a third person and finding that the liking and attraction flowed in all directions. If a triad does happen, it can be very stable, and there are a lot of advantages to this kind of relationship. As Jennie points out, buying a house with three salaries is easier than with two. Even when one partner wants to be alone or go out independently, the other two needn’t be lonely because they still have each other around. When two of a triad are in conflict, there is a third person with a vested interest in helping them to work it out but who can see the problem from the outside. And of course the possibilities for sex are enormous.

I know of only a few other triads that have lasted. Jennie, Philippa and Don are very lucky, or else (or perhaps also) very good at loving communication and negotiation. And they had an advantage in their involvement in Bicon, where there are always workshops on polyamory and on negotiation in relationships. Their example shows that it can be done.

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