Online dating and the thrill of being the third person

One of you asked me to write about my mildly exciting dating experiences, so I am annoying you with some thoughts on this today. Since I am new in Vienna*, I have completely overcome my critical stance on online dating. It’s not super important or exciting but looking at apps, checking messages or updating my profiles has become part of my daily routine.

In order to make it even more boring, I am going to tell you the moral of this dating story in advance: I am very critical of the presupposition that everyone has to lead a monogamous life, and somehow I am therefore often understood to be super excited about polyamory. This story is an anecdote that is supposed to clarify that I am critical of that, too.

Let’s get to the story. With regards to dating apps, I’m an OKCupid fan because it’s relatively queer-friendly and I am looking for that right now. This also means that it attracts many unconventional people. And this means that at the end of a long, super-interesting profile, you will often find something like “Please respect that I am in a loving ten year open relationship that is the centre of my life” or “Me and my boyfriend are looking for someone open to join our relationship to form a triad.” (This is ignoring the obligatory threesome profiles. )

All this is, in principle, totally fine. Everyone can put their offer out there and I know that I don’t have to take it.  Yet, it makes me sad. Let’s talk about the first one first. Poly people, I know you feel super progressive and in the big picture, you are. But if you are looking for another person to shake things up a bit after ten years because things got boring, you are using people. If you do not have anything more to offer us than being your sidekick or human sex toy, do you really find that so progressive? Isn’t that just a very, very weird version of monogamy, in which you use other people to bring excitement and thus stability into your monogamous relationship? (To be fair, there is a discussion about ethical polyamory where this is adressed. )

People who offer to actually welcome someone into their relationship are a bit fairer in that respect. However, I find the idea unrealistic. There is a relationship with rules, rituals, intimacy, and history that we’ve had no chance to build or influence. If you kindly offer to take a third person in, that sounds really patronizing – and, frankly, arrogant – to me.

These are just some thoughts and observations to illustrate that while I am absolutely pro choice when it comes to the kind of relationship that is best for everyone, and while I am absolutely pro questioning social norms regarding relationships, e.g. monogamy – I don’t believe that just doing the opposite of what is conventional does necessarily make anything better for anyone.




*well, actually, that one is getting old. I am not “new here” any more, but it sure does still feel like it sometimes.


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