What is 'unicorn dating'? The mythical-sounding term might not be what you expect

'Unicorn dating' is seeing a spike in curiosity thanks to social media and a very memorable reality TV moment

unicorns on a pink and purple background meant to symbolize unicorn dating
(Image credit: Future)

"Unicorn dating" has entered the chat, but there's a bit of confusion surrounding the term. What is this trend, exactly, and why is it a topic of conversation? We could attribute people's curiosity, at least partly, to Raquel Leviss

In the midst of #Scandoval and that salacious three-part Vanderpump Rules reunion, Raquel thought that she'd possibly be able to ease the blow of sleeping with Tom Sandoval, her best friend Ariana Madix's partner of nine years, by "joining as an addition."

Enter "unicorn dating." Here's everything you need to know. 

What is 'unicorn dating'?

"Unicorn dating" is described as a third party of any sexual orientation joining a couple as a new addition for intimacy reasons, compatibility, or a combination of the two. The reason why the fantastical animal has been chosen to describe the phenomenon is that it is rare to find such a creature out in the dating world.


♬ original sound - Shuga😻💀

Is 'unicorn dating' on the rise?

Unicorn dating is certainly not a new term, but the reason for its sudden spike could be thanks to Raquel's very memorable suggestion, growing interest on social media—#unicornhunters has gathered over eight billion views on TikTok—and even dating possibilities ahead of the warm weather months.

Engagement ring specialists Angelic Diamonds and Amber Brooks, editor-in-chief at DatingAdvice.com, researched the top dating trends of the summer, and though unicorn dating was not among the contenders, it's clear that behaviors are all over the map. This year, we're expecting singles to "untype" (date outside their comfort zones) during the summer season and, unfortunately, resort to ghosting's older cousin, "mosting". "Monogamish" is another big term predicted to take shape in 2023, and it allows the occasional third party to enter a relationship for intimacy reasons, after coming to an agreement between partners. 

When speaking on the rise of untyping, Pippa Murphy, sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk. told us: "Whilst the rise of online dating apps and websites has led to a larger pool of potential partners, this has led to a paradox of choice for people, leaving them feeling overwhelmed by the number of options."

It seems the number of people we date isn't the only factor in question, it's the way in which we date, too. Perhaps this is why singles are curious about methods like unicorn dating.

condoms.uk logo
Pippa Murphy

Pippa Murphy is a sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk, a site that sells condoms, lubricants and accessories from your most-trusted brands and keeps you informed on sexual wellness topics on its blog.

What are tips for those considering 'unicorn dating'?

Unicorn dating, again, known for its rarity, is definitely not something everyone will feel comfortable approaching. But if this is something that has piqued your curiosity, there are a few things to note. 

To start, you'll need to be honest with yourself and your potential partners about what you're looking for in terms of a relationship and intimacy. You'll need to be confident with what you're pursuing, and like any dating scenario, you'll want to seek others who have like-minded values.

"You should never date someone who has different values to you, as they are fundamental to a relationship," Murphy previously told us. "Compromising too much on these standards can lead to a relationship that is unfulfilling or even harmful."

When discussing untyping, Murphy gave a few red flags to note, and they are also relevant for those who are in search of their unicorn, or perhaps looking to become one themselves:

  • You disregard what feels off because the person—or people—is making you happy
  • You're excusing behavior that you'd normally not tolerate
  • You cannot be yourself around this person or people

Whatever dating looks like for you this summer (and beyond), be honest, stay safe, and stay positive during the search.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.