One Fish, Two Fish…Three Fish?

Written by Elizabeth Freilich


Guy meets girl. They’re mutually attracted, and become the new hot couple.

This is the standard we see played out in writing, on the big screen, and on stage again and again. However, relationships are far more complex and less predictable, and society is moving towards recognizing and accepting the different forms that relationships can take.

 Human sexuality is a messy, complicated thing. A person’s gender may not match their genitalia, while a person’s sexuality may not match the relationship they find themselves in. Someone who prefers to be alone is no longer thought of as “lonely.” Rather, they may prefer to take no sexual partners at all (identifying as asexual, or ‘ace’), or have a string of unattached sexual partners.

Relationships don’t always conform to perceived traditions. While partners may find their emotional fulfillment with each other, they may engage in sexual satisfaction with others. Further breaking the mold, relationships can involve anywhere from two to three or more individuals serving partner to both individuals in the couple, or as a secondary partner for one person.

Two sets of couples may trade sexual partners, engaging in a type of open relationship colloquially called “swinging”. In polygamy, individuals may partner with three or more individuals, but the three or more individuals do not partner with each other or outside individuals.

Gender, sexuality, and relationships are all different elements of sex, but you don’t have to identify as one thing or categorize yourself at all. That’s the beauty of it. Recognition of different partnering forms is essential to detangling the social issues that arise when people are forced to hide who they are.

Interracial dating was once fiercely taboo, often the subject of village lynching. Now they are open and are becoming more common.

Women were sexually controlled, but fought for sexual and bodily liberation, making massive progress in the twentieth century. Homosexuality was once poorly understood and subject to violent mistreatment, but the gay and lesbian movement for recognition and equal rights came forth, creating massive improvement in public perception and the safety of openly being themselves. Pushing for liberation in sexual choices and recognizing different relationship types is essential for continuing this work.

The most fundamental thing that all relationships must have is consent. If it is not consensual between all persons involved, then it is problematic. If it is consensual, then live and let live.