Sunday, October 12, 2008


I spent a LONG time talking to an old friend online a day or so ago. We're talking multiple hours here. I've written about him before, but he doesn't have a nickname here. Perhaps he'll get one, although this post isn't so much about him as it is the conversation we had. And how it got me thinking. (Not that that's something unusual for our conversations.) He and I have discussed in the past our mutual tendency away from monogamy and our dislike of the automatically supposed imposition of the concept.

Through the course of our conversation, we started talking about three-way relationships. Not necessarily threesomes, sexually. (Although there was some sufficiently hot verbal visualization of such encounters, which will absolutely be fodder for the next time I get some me-time. God, I'm a sucker for well-written words.) Instead, the conversation focused on establishing a long-term, three-way relationship. We both agreed that the idea of having TWO people to give and recieve that love, affection, and attention from and for sounds like an genuinely appealing idea. Obviously, this can only work in very specific scenarios, and we differed a little on what kind of things we would each expect from such a relationship. I said I think I'd want two people who knew me as well as he or some of my other dear friends do, whereas he pointed out that some learning and exploration can be a good thing. I'm fascinated by the idea of really making such a relationship work.

I think it could remove the stress that I've felt in other open relationships, where, even with permission, there can still be a nagging feeling that I'm doing something dishonest. In my experience, more traditionally open relationships are generally on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis - in that neither partner wants to hear details of the other's extra-relational affairs, but needs to know that they're going on, and that everyone is being safe, etc., etc. But I think, were there three people involved in the relationship, mutually, that would, on the one front, satisfy the desire to have sex with more than one person (which, who are we kidding, is something I most definitely have to consider with myself), while still build the kind of connection that I think is increasingly difficult to establish outside of some kind of emotional relationship. Not everything would have to be done together - people could pair off for events, take nights off, basically do whatever they wanted, of course. I do think it gets a little sticky there, though, because that's the point I start worrying about jealousy. If boy and girl (he's straight, so we were discussing FMF scenarios, but I'm open to other combinations as well, of course. Granted, there seems to be a shortage of bisexual men in my life. Which makes me sad sometimes. Anyway, back on track...) want to go out to dinner, but I have other plans, well, then, no big deal. By the same token, if I'm really feeling that I need a woman's touch that night, well, then girl and I take some time to ourselves sans boy.

But, Sasha, how do you know they wouldn't establish a stronger connection and eventually push you out? I don't, of course. At the same time, I tend to not get particularly jealous once I know how someone feels about me. It's the time before I'm sure that I'm fiercely protective of my time with someone. Take the current obsession, for example - I'm not sure how he feels about me, but when he invites me out with him, and then some drunken trip-mate steals him for an hour to ramble at him and dance with him, my face flushes and my eyes get greener. (A sure sign I'm angry, upset, or, as those of you who've been with me know, turned on. In that case, it was the former, obviously.) At the same time, the idea (or reality) of non-boyfriend being with other girls, talking to other women, spending time on other people, didn't bother me. I knew he liked me, I knew he wanted to spend (at least some of his) time with me, and so it didn't matter what else he did.

Of course, all this was discussed with Friend. We talked about how people go about avoiding jealousy, and about what jealousy actually is. Here was his idea: "Jealousy is a result of a breach of contract, but in this case, there's no breach, and therefore, no jealousy." Yes, I realize it's never that simple, but it is a strikingly reasonable way to look at it. And I think there's some merit to it. Because, yes, I get most angry and hurt when someone doesn't do what they've promised me they would. When they go back on their word. But in this scenario, if their word involved loving me AND someone else, as it would for me and for the third person, well, then there really isn't much to be jealous of.

There was more exploring of the idea. (Literally, we spent an ENTIRE night discussing this.) Trying to figure out if this would be any harder, or easier than a "traditional" relationship. And came to this conclusion: Relationships are inherently hard. It doesn't matter who is involved, or how many people, or how queer or straight or kinky or vanilla any of the participants are, relationships of any kind, and certainly those of value, take work, maintenance and compromise. So I don't know that I'd believe that this kind of relationship would be any harder than any other. Granted, it might not be any easier, either, but Friend and I both acknowledged that it might be more honest to ourselves than trying to make our trangularness fit into the round hole, so to speak.

Basically, I don't think there is necessarily some natural human tendency towards pairings of two. I do believe that humans are social creatures, and that we desire love, affection, companionship. But I don't see why that precludes getting those things from more than one other person. It's a founding reason of my views on monogamy, and since I embraced that, I've had generally better relationships. I just hadn't thought to apply it in a broader sense until this conversation.

Of course, there's the public perception. Every once in a while, I've stumbled across stories about or from people in triads, and they've mentioned that society at large isn't used to seeing three people walk down the street holding hands, or snuggling together at a movie. I suppose that's true. At the same time, I've kind of stopped trying to live my life making other people happy. Nevertheless, I think people tend to get particularly nervous about group sex (which, I feel, is almost always considered more prominently than group relationships). Friend said it best. Upon asking him if he could teleport himself across the Atlantic to come hang out with me, this was his response:

Friend: suborbital rocket could get me there in 25 minutes, no new physics required
Sasha: oh! That'll work.
Sasha: so I'll see you in a half hour?
Friend: if only I had an ICBM lying around
Sasha: icbm?
Friend: intercontinental ballistic missile. the aforementioned rocket
Friend: sans nuclear warheads
Sasha: ah. yeah, probably a good plan to leave those in the garage.
Friend: they do make people nervous
Friend: like, again, group sex

But sometimes it's fun to make people nervous. Especially if it's by doing something that makes you happy. Or something that might be what you've been looking for.

By the end of the conversation (at 3am my time), we were both very seriously considering this as a viable relationship option. Of course, we were still stuck on how to go about bringing this up to potential partners. Hey, I like you, he likes you, and we're pretty sure you like us... whatcha think? just doesn't quite cut it for me. At the same time, I don't know that it would happen without some provocation... I said perhaps as the consequence of a goodthreesome (as opposed to a badthreesome where someone feels like an outside intruder on an existing relationship), but those seem equally rare. I even wracked my brain for hypothetical matches among those people I knew, and had a hard time finding two people who I'd want, who also might want each other, who might also want me. (Not that I'm about to run to any of you and propose this, I promise. Just trying to see how feasible finding something like this might be.) Obviously, there are other avenues to look for this if it's something I actually pursue. I don't know that I will, for sure.
But I do know, for now, that I'm very much enjoying the idea of having two people to love, and touch, and laugh with... two bodies to lay down with each night, that many more hands and fingers and lips and tongues...


Roland Hulme said...

What a fascinating post!

I wrote a story once called 'Polly' about a girl who had a Civil Partnership with a Lesbian, but then her ex husband (who she'd only married so he could get his green card) appeared on the scene and all three of them had to live together (except the lesbian and the husband hated each other.)

I think the idea of three people who LIKE each other sounds very interesting. I'm skeptical, though. I wonder if there would be moments when one partner would be excluded, or if two people had an argument, the third would be caught in the middle.

That being said, I once had a really close friendship with a couple - almost like the 'third member' of the relationship, except there wasn't any physical relationship. It was kind of cool and I remember it being very emotionally satisfying.

But these days I'm tapped out. If my wife ever left me, I don't think I'd ever remarry or have another relationship. It's much EASIER to be on your own.

The only people I could think of being with would be old flames and there's presumably a damn good reason why that didn't work out then - so why should it later?

Essin' said...


Something I'd be interested in trying at some point, certainly.

And as long as everyone is open, things work.

I'm not getting any sex now (it's been almost a month since I've been fucked), but I get very different things for L and F.

F makes me feel (usually...some stuff has happened recently) pretty and beautiful, and is safe, and nurturing, and is good for feelings and processing, and karaoke, and cuddling. L makes me feel smart and funny, and I can be 100% my silly self around her, and we do kooky things, and have tickle wars, and go on faux dates. Each fulfills a different set of my needs.

Sigh. Now if only I was having sex....

Amalthea said...

I never responded to this!! I thought about it quite a bit later though....

I would love if I could find this and it worked. I've never met anyone who has been open to open relationships. 3somes yes, but in the end I think they contributed to the blaze of hell that was the end of our relationship.

I would love to see this in action, but for me it's a fairy tale. :) Nothing wrong with dreaming though....