Attack of the Unicorn Hunters


So I’ve been reading a few threads recently on a forum I frequent, around the topic of unicorn hunting.

At BiCon this year, I kept being teased for being a ‘Unicorn.’

Huh? I’m not a mythical, white horse-like creature with a horn. So what is a unicorn, in this context? There are various different definitions, but the general consensus is that a ‘unicorn’ is a young, attractive, bisexual, polyamorous female, who is willing to join an established couple. (Some definitions include criteria like being a BDSM submissive or being willing to be exclusive to said couple, while always coming second to the needs to the ‘primary relationship.’)

Nowadays I probably wouldn’t start newly dating a couple (at least they’d have to be really special for me to consider it, and even then I doubt I would,) but I have been seeing S and A since 2009. So the joke was that I’m their unicorn.

(All of this led to this wonderful quote during a drinking game:

Friend: Never have I ever had unicorn sex!

Me: … you want to rephrase that?):-)

Now this was all in good fun, of course, and I didn’t mind at all!

Reading these threads recently, and the usual plethora of messages inviting me to be someone’s ‘third’ have got me thinking about the prevalence of ‘unicorn hunting’ within polyamorous community and the issues surrounding it. To clarify, I have absolutely no issue with MFF triads in and of themselves. If that’s your dynamic, then great! Specifically it’s this ‘established couple trying to find a hot bi babe to join them’ thing which I dislike.

Now I, personally, run a mile when I get even a whiff of unicorn hunting. The frequency with which I get messages on various sites saying something to the effect of ‘we [established couple, usually heterosexual male and bisexual female] are seeking a third to complete our family… is that you?’ is, frankly, unbelievable. Do these people actually believe anyone will go for this??

Sexual and emotional exclusivity to one couple, both of whom we must love absolutely equally? Only being allowed to take part in threesomes, while the ‘initial’ couple can still have sex with just each other? Hell. No.

I have many issues with this ideal. My biggest problem with it is that it’s blatantly objectifying. This kind of attitude is all about trying to put another person (almost always a woman) into a box you’ve created for her. It’s not about the person as an individual. It’s all about using somebody as fulfilment for your fantasy. I don’t feel special or wanted when a couple has clearly spammed their generic message out to every cute bisexual woman within a three-hundred-mile radius. When I know they’ve just seen the picture and possibly read as far as “female/21/bisexual/same continent.”

It’s not just online, either. It’s more common online simply because of the accessibility of the internet and the ease of messaging someone….. but these kind of approaches are not exactly unheard of at ‘real world’ events, either.

Unicorn hunters are easily the second-biggest offenders when it comes to objectifying, obnoxious approaches (just behind male self-identified Dominants.)

So often I hear/read of people wanting advice on how to find their ‘third.’ “We’ve been searching for so long, to no avail! What are we doing wrong?” So some advice on ‘unicorn hunting,’ straight from the mouth of a unicorn? Don’t. Please, just, don’t. Most of us young, bi, poly female type people collectively roll our eyes when we hear that phrase ‘my wife/girlfriend/partner and I are looking for a bisexual woman to complete our family!’

The whole ideal is also seriously unrealistic. Demanding that whoever you find love and be attracted to you both absolutely equally? I’m sorry, but human attraction cannot be legislated for like that. Personally, I’m very rarely attracted enough to a man to get involved with them on more than a friend level, and though I find it easier to be physically attracted to women, even more rarely do I meet a woman I click with on a deep enough level to pursue a relationship. The chances of these two people being the two halves of one pre-existing couple, are about….. one in a million. At most.

So that’s my rant comment on the phenomenon of unicorn hunting. As always, I’d love to share your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree or some combination of the two!

This will probably be the last proper post before Christmas. Something a little more lighthearted coming up shortly which will hopefully make you guys smile!

24 thoughts on “Attack of the Unicorn Hunters

  1. Naith says:

    You’re totally right with the whole ‘objectifying’ thing. It’s totally not right to go after someone just because you want to fulfill this ideal fantasy you’ve got going on in your head.

    Besides, I’ve always found it weird when people go hunting for relationships and regular sexual partners (casual sex is a different matter). I find the best relationships, especially poly ones, are the ones you fall into naturally rather than go looking for.

    • missamaranth says:

      Yes – absolutely! I want to be liked as a person, not as a convenient fulfilment of someone’s very specific fantasy world!

      And I completely agree. I don’t go looking for relationships. It never works. The people I click with always come along when I’m not looking:-)

  2. If I had to make a list of all the common errors in the Poly community (and the circle of Poly followers and hangers-on) , Unicorn-Hunting would cime near the top…

    …Probably just below “You’re female and poly, that means you’re available”.

    Maybe there’s a common set of errors and personality problems in all of them – Wish Fulfilment, Selfishness, Poor Communication, and Just Being A Dick. But the first of these appears to be a ‘spectrum’ disorder, running from fantasy to wish-fulfilment to objectification.

    But the unwelcome truth appears to be that *just* enough ‘unicorns’ exist to keep the fantasy alive. I hope they’re happy – it’s not for any of us to denigrate any relationship or relationship structure – but I suspect that most are not; and they make life far more difficult than it needs to be for younger poly women.

    Maybe we should carry a supply of plastic unicorn horns, with a tear-off strip at the base exposing superglue, to stick onto unicorn hunters. Something tasteful, in nylon plastic, with a rotatng safety light and an ‘Awooga!’ klaxon that can be set off by remote control.

    • missamaranth says:

      Heh, you’re so right. I think unicorn hunting is an offshoot of ‘you’re female and poly, that means you’re available.’ These people seem to think that just because we’re poly means they can automatically try to shove us into this narrow box they’ve created of ‘the perfect situation.’

      I don’t actually know of a single woman who would go for this kind of thing. Joining an existing couple if you click with them and like each other as people is one thing (which I’ve done and has been wonderful,) but happily agreeing to be the ‘third’ in an existing situation? Maybe you’re right. Maybe there are just enough unicorns out there to keep the fantasy alive. But I’ve never once heard of unicorn hunters succeeding.

      Hahahaha. I so want a plastic unicorn horn to put on whenever these people send me their stale copy-paste approaches! *giggling at the idea*:)

  3. Christine says:

    can Christine have a unicorn poster plaes and thank u.

  4. drtalon says:

    […] There are many, many posts and articles about how Unicorn Hunters fuck it up and ought to do better.  The argument can be made that they fuck it up for the rest of us, too, (req.’s reg.) by driving away women who might otherwise be open to some forms of non-monogamy but for the unwanted attention of unicorn hunters. […]

  5. […] There are many, many posts and articles about how Unicorn Hunters fuck it up and ought to do better.  The argument can be made that they fuck it up for the rest of us, too, (req.’s reg.) by driving away women who might otherwise be open to some forms of non-monogamy but for the unwanted attention of unicorn hunters. […]

  6. […] or non-monogamous set-ups. These include, but are not limited to, the One Penis Policy[1], the ideal of the hot bi babe, and typically male-centric views of female/female attraction/sex/relationships (any other […]

  7. Antonio Lopes says:

    Love the post. Tks😀
    It seems that there people out there who mistake poly for some kind of monogamy + 1.
    Or a sort of upgrade (?) to polygamy.

  8. […] a great post on Love is Infinite about how unicorn hunters fuck it up, from the eyes of Miss Amaranth a poly […]

  9. Daniel says:

    I know this is a month late but I must say that unicorns are not the only ones at the mercy of unicorn hunters. My situation is that I keep running into unicorn hunters just looking for friends and dates. I don’t live in an area with easily accessible poly group activities near me, so I rely on the net to make poly friends and sometimes even dates.

    The problem is almost every other add (if not 2/3s of them) that say looking for friend’s/relationships end up being unicorn hunters… it’s terribly frustrating because I have a lot to give and I want meaningful relationships but unicorn hunters are never interested in getting to know a guy or a girl for just who they are, they just keep their dreamy eyed fantasy and to hell with how anyone else feels…

    I feel sorry for you unicorns and I hope that you can find what you’re looking for in whoever you’re looking for. I hope I find it too…

  10. Dan says:

    So I can easily call myself guilty of almost every single unicorn-hunter criticism that I have observed in the numerous blog posts on the topic, as far as the unicorn characteristics are concerned. However, I/we are not aggressively looking (better to wait patiently, IMO), and we are also open to couples, and other arrangements. Let’s not overlook the fact that this is the same dating paradox that has existed for an incredibly long time: two parties becoming mutally frustrated because neither is what each other is looking for. Sounds pretty heteronormative, doesn’t it? I do think some of the resentment is unfounded, so I thought I would ask for opinions.

    We do actually try to be as accommodating as possible for different life situations. I am mainly referring whether someone is committal or non-committal, and we definitely try to prevent them from feeling objectified. The issue we have by far the most trouble with is actually monogamously-oriented people wanting to only be around one of us.

    There are a couple problems I have with the so much of the distaste for approaching someone as a couple. The most significant constraint involved is time, as any poly person is probably painfully aware. Free time is limited, vacation time is limited, transparency is helpful; why wouldn’t it make sense to find someone/people interested in both of us? The lack of time together as a group has a direct impact on the amount of one-on-one time available for any of the pairs.

    Further, if someone wants to be valued and feel that they are in a healthy relationship, rather than simply being a sex toy, I fail to see how trying to share the whole of our lives rather than a portion could be viewed so negatively.

    I don’t want this to get too long-winded since it is only a reply, rather than an original post, but if anyone is still reading this post please feel free to weigh in.

  11. Lisa says:

    I might want to link this (in a sympathetic context) in an article I’m writing. Specifically the “I have many issues with this ideal” paragraph. Would that be ok?

  12. […] women through the pornotype, they’re interchangable, as Jess (a bisexual woman) writes in Attack of the Unicorn Hunters, a post about the common experience of young bisexual cissexual women in being invited to join an […]

  13. Vagrant Dreamer says:

    Ever had that “nanda” feeling where you walk into a conversation and people are talking about hunting unicorns?

    I came to this site on a hunt of my own; and you guys seem to know the story behind this “polyamory” thing; so just a question really; How likely is it that a guy (me) could find him self in the center of a relationship with say ideally 10 but would settle for say 9 girls? stay with me now; I’ve always been extremely optimistic and it seems to have served me well; but don’t go raising my hopes if you feel bad constructive criticism is always welcome ^_^

    • missamaranth says:

      Yeah, good luck with that. I’m going to keep my hopes up that you’re being tongue in cheek here.

      Just in case you’re serious: can I just ask how, exactly, you think you’d ever be able to meet the time, energy or emotional requirements of nine or ten separate relationships? Maybe if you literally didn’t do ANYTHING else in your life, including, like, having a job or sleeping more than an hour a night.

      Sounds to me like you want a harem, in which case you’re in the wrong place. We’re not interested in that kind of backward misogynystic thinking here.

  14. JD says:

    Across the web, there seems to be a very broad application for the term “unicorn hunter,” and from reading this discussion I think it’s a matter of semantics that boils down to one thing: attitude. From the sounds of things, what we’re mostly driving at here are people who are looking for a one-shot success to a longterm relationship in a MFF dynamic. This not only is–as most have stated–fantastical, it would also be safe to go with Antonio’s comment and probably separate such examples from the typical (if there is such a thing) polyamory community.

    I don’t feel all those that go a-hunting should be cast in the same boat though. As a former “hunter” of mythical creatures myself, I have seen clear differences in the way people approach the issue. Honestly the majority of hunters on the web seems to be couples looking for a casual encounter–that may never occur or reoccur. And I’ve also seen unicorn hunters in the vein of your example. However, we–at least–always took a slightly different tack. I never did–nor do I now–find anything wrong with keeping the idea of forming a longterm threeway in the back of one’s mind a problem. Nor do I see anything wrong with pursuing the idea actively, in the appropriate context. Casual encounters in a threesome context leading to repeated encounters that might lead to something more seems both legit and desirable.

    That doesn’t mean you don’t learn about and appreciate a person for who they are– sex and fantasy (while fun) shouldn’t be the SOLE basis for a relationship. And while I assume you did in fact run into people that set such a designation, the idea that only the previously formed couple could have one-on-one sex outside of the threesome sounds absurd to me. I wouldn’t even call that a real relationship. I find one-on-one comfort, compatibility, and communication (in and OUT of bed) between all members to be requisite for a longterm MFF dynamic [or any multipartner situation that’s more than sex for that matter].

    What it comes down to for me is approach. I’d argue that emulating a very socially active single person as a couple is an ethical route if you want to pursue your unicorns. Keep that nice “down the road” idea if you like. Stay fun, enjoy your experiences, and when the right person runs through your ménage à trois; try dating–and one-on-one interaction if you haven’t already. More than likely all three of you will know if it’s all fitting together.

    I’m at the end of a much longer post than I wanted to write, not even sure if I’m actually disagreeing with anything. :p I’m practically an outsider on this issue now, it would seem. Thoughts OP?

  15. dandelion says:

    Thanks for this. I wonder why, if these couples are so enlightened, they aren’t looking for hbb of either gender? My partner and I are interested in anyone who is willing to interact and grow her or himself in company with us. Is that so odd? Yes, it is.

  16. ondkine says:

    I am slightly confused. As my master and I are looking for a varient of the relationship that you are defaming. I have been that unicorn in the past, one that was involved in a relationship with a couple. This particular relationship didn’t work for us. It was rigid and not what each individual needed or desired.

    But when I say that me being homoflexible, genderqueer and submissive ignore part of myself so people who I may not know may be offended by me by putting myself out there, I feel deeply hurt and offended. If I were to engage in a poly relationship with a woman, with or without my masters involvement it would be solely on the womans compatability with me. I would expect my master to be free in his relationship as well depending on if that was what he and she desired.

    Perhaps I do fall into what you like to cookie cutter and idenitfy as a bad thing. But my desire for a strong connection with a woman should not depend upon the fact that I am owned by someone else. We are all poly for a reason. Because we are able to love more than one.

    No I don’t expect every woman to fall at O/our feet. In fact I expect the opposite. People are people, they have different tastes, what someone finds exciting and exhilarating may not be your cup of tea. But I will not sacrifice my honesty, the wholeness and happiness I feel in my lifestyle and my sexuality. If unicorns out there do not like me it is their right to. But know in this that I through acting with transparency and wanting that emotional-romantic connection with another woman that is based in BDSM (a lifestyle that I am proud of and has taught me so much about myself) with or without my master is being true to myself.

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