My sweet threesome

Sex was emotionally loaded territory for me. Until I found freedom in the arms of a couple

Topics: relationships, Polyamory, Facebook, Life stories, Coupling, Love and Sex, Sex, Threesomes,

My sweet threesome (Credit: iStockphoto/michaeljung)

Meeting Jane and her boyfriend at this Liberty Village pub took bravery and open-mindedness I wasn’t even aware I possessed. I steadied myself in the entranceway, forcing myself to take slow, deep breaths. Adrenaline shakes aren’t a common occurrence for me before a first date. Then again, I’d never had a first date quite like this before.

I had come very close to sending Jane a Facebook message informing her that I could not, in actual fact, go through with this. I comforted myself with the thought that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do.

After all, what’s the harm of getting to know new people over a drink?

They were already seated when I arrived. Jane flagged me down with a sheepish wave. True to her Facebook photos, she was effortlessly beautiful. True to his photos, her boyfriend was boyishly cute. Vaguely preppy. Deeply non-threatening.

The couple looked as puppy-nervous as I felt. They had been together for years, they told me, and were head-over-heels in love.

“We just could not believe that a cute single girl like you would send us a message like that!” said Jane.

“It was the funniest moment of life,” agreed Boyishly Cute Non-Threatening Boyfriend over his seafood linguine.

I took another steadying gulp of white wine.

The pair spoke plainly about the polyamorous lifestyle they’d chosen. I found their candid discussion fascinating and told them as much.

Near the bottom of a second tumbler of wine, I knew exactly what I wanted.

I went to the washroom to freshen up. When I returned, Jane’s beautiful eyes locked with mine.

“We’d like to ask you to come home with us,” she said.

I grabbed my coat.

—-

I can distinctly recall the two times my mother talked to me directly about sex. The first time, I was 9 years old. My mother and I went for a stroll, gathering pine cones as she explained puberty and menstruation and procreation to me in the vaguest possible terms.

“Well, I already knew most of that stuff,” I said at the end of The Talk.

“You did?”

“Yeah. I watch ‘The Golden Girls.’”

We didn’t talk about sex again until I was in my late teens, virginal as Saint Joan. This time, she was more direct. This time, instead of some faraway and abstract concept, sex was almost a tangible reality. (My friends were having it, anyway.)

She was driving me somewhere. My parents always have their heaviest talks with me in cars. Captive audience.

“The thing I need you to know about sex,” she began. “The only thing that I ask is that you …”

“Wait until you’re married!” I said with a mocking tone, as though it were a thing she said often, or ever at all.

“Wait until you’re in love,” she replied.

That seemed perfectly reasonable.

And so I did.

But never did I connect my mother’s preparatory two-sentence sex speech to all of the subsequent lovers who would make up a long singlehood. At the time, I didn’t actually believe that there’d be more than one guy, because one of the many things that childhood fairy tales don’t teach you is that your first Prince Charming likely won’t be your last.

Love and virginity became mutually exclusive in my brain, intertwined as limbs. Love was a good idea for the first time. Love was practically a necessity for the first time. But what about the second time?  The third? The tenth?

I spent the better part of my 20s trying to sort out love from sex, measuring and separating them like baking ingredients. What if he likes me a pinch, but I love him a cup? How much sugar is too much for a first date? And what if he makes my mouth water, but insists that he is non-stick bake ware? Proceed? Preheat?

The little girl who gathered caterpillars and pine cones was extremely keen on being loved and kissed and accepted. The woman she grew into was no different.

Being extraordinarily affectionate and finding gleaming pieces of good in everyone are lovely virtues for a child, but a single woman with a trusting, wide-open heart spells disaster in our casual hookup culture.

My problem was this: I fell in love with all of them.

I fell in love with the ones who declared that they wanted to screw me senseless. I fell in love with the ones who declared that they loved someone else. I fell in love with the ones who lived thousands of miles away and fed me tequila shots in dank basement bars in strange European cities. I even fell in love with those I chose specifically because they were not appropriate to fall in love with.

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Subconsciously holding onto my childhood ideals of loving purely and being loved in return, I emotionally latched onto every man who shared my bed, however fleetingly. I could not help myself. I could not stop myself. My vagina suffered from Stockholm syndrome.

Inevitably, I would run into these former lovers on the subway, at parties, in record shops, in grocery stores, and my thumping, traitor heart would leap into my throat. If I could manage to hide in throngs of people or cross the street in order to avoid them, I would. But hiding or running away would do little to quell aftershocks of perspiration and nausea, the inconvenient corporeal byproducts of seeing somebody you once loved who didn’t love you back.

There had to be another way. There had to be some way for a perpetually, achingly single woman to derive sexual pleasure and skin-on-skin contact and affection without consistently breaking her own heart.

I decided that I had to try something new, because what I was doing – what I have always done – was not exactly working out.

—-

The woman on the other end of the Facebook friendship request was a knockout. Glossy hair. Full lips. Come-hither eyes.

A self-assessed 2 on the Kinsey Scale, I was not blind to the fact that this woman was a perfect 10.

Though Jane wasn’t her name, that’s what I’ll call her. She was a model. We shared a few mutual friends, although I didn’t have a clue who she was or where, if ever, we had met. Turns out she added me on Facebook after attending a burlesque-style event I’d hosted the previous week. While I generally reject Facebook friendship requests from strangers, this time I practically pounded accept.

A few days later, I poured myself a drink and carefully typed out a message I had been mentally composing for days:

I hope you don’t find this creepy or offensive, but I want to let you know that I have been looking for a couple to have a bit of sexy fun with. The thing is, I’m super picky about women.

I think you’re gorgeous and your boyfriend is cute as hell. If you ever want to introduce a third party sometime, I am volunteering very enthusiastically.

If not, please accept my compliments and have a lovely evening.

Instead of the radio silence or “No thanks, but we’re flattered!” message I was expecting to receive, Jane responded by informing me that she and her boyfriend had an open relationship. It felt, to me, like winning the sex lotto.

And I found a kind of freedom in the arms of this beautiful, earnest and unscary couple. Being with two people who were already in love with each other made it incredibly easy for me to detach emotionally. The sex was good. The sex was playful. The sex was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. But I didn’t want anything more than a night of it.

Unlike the exciting and unpredictable arms of men I had been with, these four arms around me were fail-safes. They carried me, keeping my head above dangerous waters.  I had no unspoken expectations. There were no expectations at all. It was deeply comforting.

For bonobo apes, sex is not simply a mechanical, instinctual act of procreation. Like human beings, sexual acts among bonobos act as a form of recreation. But above and beyond that, bonobos use their culture of sexuality as a way to create, maintain and strengthen social bonds.

When I do run into this couple on the subway, at a party, in a record shop, at the grocery store, my heart will not stray from my rib cage. I will open my arms to embrace my new friends. I will smile and say, “So good to see you both.” And I will actually mean it.

Like some unfortunate gangrenous limb that seeped poison, a part of myself that was no longer of any use, I had successfully severed sex from love.

For now.

Kristine Shaw is the pen name of a writer.

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