Who are we to judge other people’s relationships? (We typed that with a straight face!) But this self-described “throuple” — a three-way long-term relationship — is either the most functional grouping of three very different personalities, or the most dysfunctional grouping of three men just looking for love.
There’s Justin (center, the alpha male furniture salesman), Mickey (right, Justin’s original boyfriend, who works in Spanish television), and Max (left, unemployed and the third member of this relationship). When you’ve got two people in a relationship, it’s easier to understand the power structure: One partner may steer or dominate the relationship, while another acts more passive (but that doesn’t mean he relinquishes power, as anyone with a master’s in passive aggressive behavior can attest).
When it comes to a throuple, however, normal roles disappear. Or maybe they’re just duplicated. It’s clear Justin is the leader of the pack. He sets the rules (who can have sex with who, who’s allowed to talk to other guys), in a way that leads some to question the health of this relationships. No, this throuple doesn’t practice monogamy. Or at least one-third of it doesn’t. And Mickey and Max seem to just accept it, though whether it’s with a laugh of despair is your call.
It’s almost cathartic to watch this interview (from aspiring filmmaker Cayle Ryan Pietras, taped in August in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen), with the three lovers rubbing each other’s chests, biceps, and cheeks. The way they casually open up about a relationship structure that some will immediately deem grotesque or bizarre. How frankly they reveal the guidelines of the relationship — all led by Justin’s near monologue. (To know Justin, simply read this one line: “I have stopped having sex with other people [outside the relationships], for the most part. … It was probably about five a week.”)
Most of us can probably relate, or identify with, one of these three men. Which is what makes any exploration of someone else’s relationship so enthralling. So we won’t pass judgment on whether we think this set up works — we know at least one throuple ourselves, and they’ve been together more than a dozen years — or if it’s right for everybody.
But if three men who genuinely care about each other can find happiness in a throuple, even if one partner seems to decide how the relationship works, well then we wish them all the best.