Navigating the Relationship Dynamics of a Quad

Four people in a quad relationship hanging out on a bench in front of a beautiful lake.

Perhaps one of the best things about polyamory is the fact that it can exist in so many different forms. You can be in a relationship with one person and you swing together. Or maybe you date one person and your primary partner dates another. Or you can be in a triad, with two partners, all dating each other.

When we think about polyamory, one of the more common terms that comes up is a triad, or a thruple. But let’s go one step further. A quad is another form of polyamory and it’s just as fluid as any other form.

What a Quad Is
When we say a quad, we mean four people in a romantic relationship together in some capacity. Say you have a primary partner and you start dating another person. That person has a partner and your partner starts dating that person’s partner. This is the basic form of a quad, but there can be more interconnected within a quad.

Maybe your two partners start having a romantic or sexual relationship. Or maybe you start one with your partner’s partner. Or all four of you are dating each other, which would be a full quad. It can be all of the above or not. It’s about what feels right and happy for the four of you.

What a Quad Isn’t
A quad is not the same as swinging. Unfortunately they are often confused with each other. When we imagine two couples together, we often equate them with swinging because it looks like two separate couples who are making the choice to be in a romantic situation with each other. And then when the situation is over, they go their separate ways until they decide to be together again. But that’s not what a quad is like.

When a quad happens, it’s two couples making the decision to no longer be quite two separate couples. They might still have primary partners but they are engaging each other in a way that swingers don’t. They date each other and are sexual with each other, but they consider themselves partners with each other.

And there may be nuances within the relationship, like one person has three partners but another person only really has two partners and considers the final person a metamour. But the point is that, to some degree, they are all committed to each other. Swingers don’t have the same sense of commitment.

What to Know About Entering a Quad
Whether you’re all committed to each other or not, you’ll need to understand each other. Like all relationships, you need open communication. But the difference is that you need to be open with three people instead of one.

Even if two are your partners and one is a metamour, you need to treat them all with the same sense of honesty because they’re going to take an important place in your life. Start early and start often when it comes to being emotionally vulnerable with them. All relationships need a strong foundation but quads perhaps need one that’s even stronger from the start.

Jacqueline Gualtieri

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Gualtieri is a writer and blogger whose best friend once told her to quit her job and become a couples and sex therapist. Since she’d miss writing too much, she figured writing for The Date Mix would be the next best thing.

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