A polyamorous couple has revealed how they fell in love with another woman and became a triad, but they admit critics have told them they are disrespecting the Lord' and 'going to hell' because of their three-way relationship.
Insurance supervisor, Shayla Oliphant, 26, from Phoenix, Arizona, met senior driver, James Bolden, 28, from Memphis, Tennessee, in high school. The two dated for a while before drifting apart but then resumed the relationship in 2015.
After four years of dating, the couple decided to switch things up and spoke about extending the relationship. The two met manager trainee, Shantay Nelson, 30, also from Phoenix, and the group began their life as a triad in 2019.
Throuple: Shayla Oliphant (right) and James Bolden (center) went from being a couple to a triad in 2019 after meeting their new love Shantay Nelson (left)
Special bond: The former twosome felt watching each other fall in love with Shantay helped extend their own relationship after years of dating
Story: Shayla, 26, from Phoenix, Arizona, met James, 28, from Memphis, Tennessee, in high school. They dated for a while before drifting apart but then resumed the relationship in 2015
'Everything changed when Shantay joined us. Me and James were able to watch each other fall in love with her, which extended our own relationship with each other. From the beginning, we all just clicked. We'd been actively searching for someone to join us for a few years,' Shayla said.
'Polyamory is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood. It's about communication, commitment, and love. We don't choose and stick with one single thing in any other area of our lives. Why should we with love?
'Once after posting a picture of us all on Instagram, someone commented telling us how we were "disrespecting the Lord," and would "go to hell" for what we were doing, but we have the opportunity to both nurture our relationship as a whole and the relationships within it. It's a level of commitment that allows us to be open and real with each other.'
The triad has never been happier, yet navigating a polyamorous relationship isn't without its struggles. While James receives pats on the back and comments like, 'Your life must be awesome,' Shayla and Shantay are constantly quizzed on how they deal with jealousy.
Plus one: After four years of dating, the couple decided to switch things up. Shayla and James met Shantay, 30, also from Phoenix, and the group began their life as a triad
Talking it out: The triad deals with jealousy through open communication
Try it: 'Polyamory is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood. It's about communication, commitment, and love,' Shayla said
Opening up: Shayla admitted that she once got jealous that James and Shantay were going to have sex without her, but they talked through it later
It's something the trio has learned to navigate through good communication - holding each other in equal regard and regularly checking in on each other's feelings.
'Jealousy is a natural human emotion, but what's important is how we react to it. That means communicating the concern to my partners if I feel the need to. No one is above the other,' Shayla said.
'When we first became a triad, I was on my period and couldn't fully join in during sex. I got jealous and stopped the whole thing. I felt so bad because I already knew that sex would happen without me.
'We talked it through later and I made clear that it was my fault and not theirs. We became more understanding of each other and simply moved on.'
Making it work: The threesome has gotten their families' approval, though they were hesitant about the relationship at first
Online trolls: The throuple has gotten backlash, however, with some critics telling them they are 'going to hell' and 'disrespecting the Lord'
Look of love: The triad insists that they have never been happier
Spreading the word: Thousands of people listen to their podcast, 3lationship Goals, in which they discuss their three-way relationship
The triad's families were unsure at first about the idea of the relationship, but soon after, they saw how happy the throuple was.
A similar sentiment is felt on the triad's social media pages where people have been inspired by the group to experiment in their own relationships.
'Everyone has been more than accepting to all of us. Shantay's sister was hesitant at first but she realized how truly happy Shantay was. Likewise, my mother was confused but has warmed to the idea since then,' Shayla said.
'Thousands of people listen to our podcast, 3lationship Goals, and send messages of love and support - whether they are polyamorous or not.
'People use our experience to bring up the idea with their own partners. Our platform has also allowed people to educate themselves on what it means to be poly.'