Maya Binyam and Maggie Millner at The Paris Review:
Three is a more interesting number than two. There’s a romance to the love triangle. There’s an inherent asymmetry, a more volatile set of relationships. Our desires are most manifest when we’re being pulled in two directions, when there are disparate, orthogonal, or even oppositional forces inside us. Those are the moments when complex self-knowledge happens. The times when you have to prioritize multiple, competing selves lead to personal transformation, I think.
I was thinking of Aristophanes’ idea about the source of romantic love: that people were originally conjoined and then split in half, so we’re doomed to wander the earth until we find our missing counterpart, at which point we become complete. His myth actually makes a provision for gay couples, but it unfolds only within a strictly binary gender system, and only within the premise that there’s a single lasting partner for each of us. If you depart from the idea that the couple is the default, preordained arrangement, suddenly the constructed dimensions of relational structures start to open up.