On February 12th, an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters titled “Three’s Not a Crowd in Colorado Springs” followed a “throuple”—a romantic, polyamourous relationship comprised of three people—as they searched for their dream home in Colorado Springs. Brian, Lori, and Geli wanted a space that fit their unique relationship (as in, a home with a three-car garage, and a his, hers, and hers master-bathroom vanity), as well as the needs of their two children.
Because polyamorous relationships are rarely seen on television, House Hunters spent time breaking down Brian, Lori, and Geli’s relationship dynamics so that viewers unfamiliar with polyamory could better understand how it all works.
Brian and Lori married in 2002, and the children are biologically theirs. However, Geli has also taken on a parental role.
“I understood from day one, even when we were dating, that Lori was bisexual and interested in women and men, and so we evolved to a point where we were comfortable having another woman in our lives,” Brian said, according to Deadline. As for Geli, she said, “I didn’t plan on being in a relationship with a married couple, but it just happened very naturally, organically.”
Brian also explained that, though Geli isn’t legally part of their marriage, the three recently took part in a commitment ceremony to symbolically become a family. “This has nothing to do with church and state;” Brian said, per NBC. “It’s a commitment between the three of us. We are all equals in this relationship.”
The weight of House Hunters, now in its 18th season, casting a throuple was not lost on viewers.
Polyamorous relationships are not commonplace on mainstream television, and watching a real-life throuple partake in an activity as mundane and normal as hunting for their dream home was extremely refreshing.
Feminist and LGBTQ+ activist Roxane Gay tweeted, “Oh my god. A throuple on House Hunters,” later adding, “Great episode!!!! Educational.”
Others also shared kudos for HGTV on Twitter, as writer Hemal Jhaveri tweeted, “HGTV really might be the most progressive show on TV. About to watch a polyamory couple fight over a house!” Twitter user MacSprinkly wrote, “Wow, shocked that this House Hunters episode not only showed a poly relationship, but they called them a throuple the whole episode and outright said the women were bisexual.”
Normalization of poly relationships in media may enlighten some people to the fact that this type of relationship is an option.
Being in a two-person relationship is not an emotionally satisfying goal for everyone, and seeing successful throuples and poly relationships on television may inspire them to seek happiness with multiple partners.
“It's exciting that the world is opening its arms to the idea of polyamory, and displaying it in its entirety on mainstream television is a fantastic way to normalize it for those who are looking to try it out,” Carmel Jones, a sex coach and writer for The Big Fling, tells O.school.
Jones explains that polyamory is perfect for those people who are seeking multiple “deep romantic connections” that come from inward personal growth, because contrary to popular belief, polyamory is not necessarily all about sex.
“Most poly relationships involve clear boundaries, safer sex, and less jealousy than the average couple due to the fact that the relationship is predicated on strong communication and safe, open-minded spaces,” Jones says.
Furthermore, polyamory may be ideal for those who are sexually fluid, or open to exploring their sexuality.
Jones tells O.school that a polyamorous relationship with various genders can be both sexually and emotionally liberating. “Some people are often surprised to learn about their own sexual desires upon entering this relationship, and even more surprised about their own capabilities to engage in more than one emotional connection at a time,” Jones says.
When it comes down to the brass tacks, entering into a well-rounded and healthy polyamorous relationship will result in massive personal growth for each party, especially for two people like Brian and Lori who enter into a poly relationship as a couple. “Poly couples are forced into situations that challenge them to learn more about themselves, thus creating a relationship full of emotionally developed people,” Jones says. “This strengthens the individuals and strengthens the relationship.”
As long as communication and willingness to grow is at the center of the conversation in poly relationships, there’s really no wrong way to introduce a third, or fourth, romantic partner into your existing equation.
Bringing the idea of polyamory into the mainstream by way of TV and film extinguishes taboos, helps normalize existing poly relationships, and introduces interested people to the idea, thus encouraging them to pursue a lifestyle that will make them happiest.
And, hey, the more our culture understands polyamory, the more three-person vanities we’ll have in the world—and that’s definitely not a bad thing.