Ménage à trois
A ménage à trois (French: [menaʒ a tʁwa]) is a domestic arrangement with three people sharing romantic or sexual relations with one another, and typically dwelling together. The phrase is a loan from French meaning "household of three". A form of polyamory, contemporary arrangements are sometimes identified as a throuple, thruple, or triad.
History has a number of examples of ménages à trois relationships.
Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna, regent of Russia from 1740 to 1741, was involved simultaneously in affairs with the Saxon ambassador Count Moritz zu Lynar and her lady-in-waiting Mengden. The regent's relationship with Mengden caused much disgust in Russia, and many believed her preoccupation with her relationships with Lynar and Mengden at the expense of governing made her a danger to the state. She was later overthrown in a coup.
In his youth, thirteen years her junior, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a protégé of the French noblewoman Françoise-Louise de Warens, who would become his first lover. He lived with her at her estate on and off since his teenage years, and in 1732, after he reached the age of 20, she initiated a sexual relationship with him while also being open about her sexual involvement with the steward of her house.
Sir William Hamilton (British ambassador to Naples), his wife Emma Hamilton, and her lover, the naval hero Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, were in a ménage à trois from 1799 until Nelson's death in 1805.
At the age of 16, in 1813, the future author of Frankenstein, Mary Godwin, eloped with her to-be husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and engaged in a ménage with Claire Clairmont, future lover of Lord Byron, with whom the Shelleys would later have an extensive relationship.
The Belgian artist/illustrator Félicien Rops (1833-1898) maintained a remarkable ménage à trois with two sisters, Aurélie and Léontine Dulac, who ran a successful fashion house in Paris "Maison Dulac" They each bore a child with him (one died at an early age) and they lived together for over 25 years, until his death.
In 1913, psychoanalyst Carl Jung began a relationship with a young patient, Toni Wolff, which lasted for some decades. Deirdre Bair, in her biography of Carl Jung, describes his wife Emma Jung as bearing up nobly as her husband insisted that Toni Wolff become part of their household, saying that Wolff was "his other wife".
As recounted by Arthur Koestler in The Invisible Writing, a conspicuous fixture of the intellectual life of 1930s Budapest was a threesome—a husband, his wife and the wife's lover—who were writers and literary critics and had the habit of every day spending many hours, the three of them together, at one of the Hungarian capital's well known cafes. As noted by Koestler, their relationship was so open and had lasted so many years that it was no longer the subject of gossip.
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In 1918, when Mayakovsky and the Briks became inseparable, he simply moved in with them. Throughout the rest of his life, he made his home at a succession of flats that the Briks occupied.
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Aldous was shy and impractical, not the sort of man who could manage adultery without help from his wife. The correspondence with Mary Hutchinson makes clear that Maria was not merely complicit but actively 'omnifutuent', to borrow her husband's splendid word for bisexuality.
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- The dictionary definition of ménage à trois at Wiktionary
- How this Brit wooed two gorgeous women into his ‘throuple’ New York Daily News April 2015
- David meets: the cutest throuple Bear World Magazine July 2016