Relationships come in all shapes and sizes - as Carol Vorderman, who's admitted to dating five different men, proves. But she's by no means the only person to boast an unconventional love story: Former boxer David Haye has responded to rumours he's in a throuple with girlfriend Sian Osborne and Una Healy.
But while Haye implies it takes an "understanding" woman to hang out in a threesome, can this set-up ever really work in the real world?
Megan Ripley, 30, from Market Weighton, York, and Louise Jackson, 22, first struck up a friendship after meeting at work in a nursery last year.
But pretty soon Ripley realised her feelings towards Jackson were becoming more than just platonic.
“I didn’t even know it was possible to be in love with two people at once," she explains. “But when I met Louise it all changed, we instantly had a spark.
“However I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship as we had become best friends."
After a night out together, the mum-of-one introduced her new friend to her husband Sean, 33 and was pleased to see they hit it off too.
Eventually, after realising she could no longer fight her feelings, Ripley confessed to her husband that she was falling for her colleague.
To her surprise, he admitted to being attracted to Jackson too.
“We never thought we would introduce someone into our relationship," Ripley explains.
“I had never even heard of a throuple, but it just made sense with Louise so we were elated when she said she felt the same.”
One year on, the threesome are now happily living in a committed throuple and Jackson is helping to bring up three-year-old William, who refers to her as "mum".
“Our relationship has moved fast but we are also taking it slow," Ripley explains.
At the moment, their mutual girlfriend Jackson lives one week at the family's home and the next at her parents, but the trio are planning to move in together full-time.
They have also discussed the possibility of Jackson having a baby with Sean.
“At the start, I was against this idea but now I would be honoured if she wanted to extend our family with my husband,” Ripley says of their future plans.
When Jackson is living with the family, the trio share the super king bed and go on dates, either one-to-one or as a threesome, depending on how they are feeling.
“It’s great because Louise shares interests that I don’t have with Sean and vice versa," Ripley adds.
While they try to be respectful of each other's feelings, that doesn't mean jealousy doesn't sometimes creep in to their three-way relationship.
“We do get jealous sometimes but we are only human," Ripley explains.
“To try and prevent jealousy, we always make sure we tell each other if things are turning sexual.
“For example, if I am at work and Louise and Sean are at home, they will text me to let me know things are going that way.
“So then at least I know they are thinking about me.
“It doesn’t kill the moment, it makes it more special."
The trio have also learnt to open up about any feelings of jealousy, which helps ensure everyone feels secure.
While Ripley says they sometimes get the odd stare when they are out together in public and holding hands, their friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive about their unique relationship set-up.
“We have only received positive comments," she says.
“People are happy because we are happy."
What is a throuple?
The concept of non-monogamy isn't new, but recently there has been a rise in the use of the word 'throuple' to describe a certain kind of committed relationship set-up between more than two people.
The Urban Dictionary defines a throuple as a ‘threelationship’, otherwise known as a relationship with three partners.
Not to be confused with an open relationship (where people in a relationship have sex with people who are not their partner) or a threesome (sex between three people), a throuple is a balanced, consensual and committed relationship.
And it seems more of us are interested in exploring the concept of non-monogamous love. Research by sexual wellness brand, LELO revealed that 28% of Brits would consider entering a polyamorous relationship.
Thanks to the recent increase in visibility of people in relationships that fall outside the more traditional twosomes, throuples are gaining more recognition, as are other forms of polyamorous relationships.
Back in 2019, Willow Smith spoke out about her curiosity for having an unconventional romantic relationship involving multiple people.
Speaking on Facebook Watch series, 'Red Table Talk, the then 20-year-old daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, said she had researched polyamorous relationships after coming across a couple who followed this lifestyle on Instagram.
She said she would be happy to be in a “throuple” relationship with “one man and one woman”.
The same year, Bella Thorne also opened up about her experiences of being in a polyamorous throuple.
Some 4.2% of the UK’s young people (aged between 16 and 24 years old) identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. This is a higher proportion than any other age group.
Meanwhile, one study from healthcare company euroClinix found nearly a fifth of Brits would be open to polyamory.
Additional reporting Caters. This article was first published in March 2022 and has been updated.
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