Explorations of a Third Wheel

Bisexual / Female / 24–27 / North America / Single /


Of all the things I anticipated from my first threesome, it definitely didn’t include psychoanalyzing the universe of polyamory mid-strip. Or that I would be thinking about gender roles mid-cunnilingus. As any lifelong over-thinker will tell you, even multiple orgasms won’t always calm down the brain, and what started for me as a purely sexual experience became a great opportunity to learn about myself.

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I had just ended a long-term relationship with a man in order to work on my long-term relationship with myself. I’ve always considered myself open-minded sexually, and I’ve always been attracted to both men and women–though I’ve only been in serious relationships with men. I’d had a few “experiences” before that constituted more of a stumbling-into-inebriated-threesome scenario. I never had felt in the right state of mind to do much more than just watch and tentatively touch, and I’d never been the one initiating the threesome.

During the course of my relationship with my last partner, I had come into my own and become much more comfortable voicing my desires. I had thought that I wanted to bring a third into the bedroom with the two of us, but I never put much effort into making it happen. I brought it up for discussion on multiple occasions, and he was open-minded and interested in the idea. I did feel as though his excitement at the thought didn’t match the level of mine. We even talked logistics a few times, and there were two instances where I met women I was interested in, and the thought crossed my mind to invite each to join us. But I couldn’t bring myself to ask.

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Once I was single, I realized that deep down I actually wanted that experience for myself first, before sharing it with a partner. Solo. Calling the shots. Probably related to an inability to be vulnerable emotionally with said partner, to really let loose. There was something that felt too difficult about navigating the potential aftermath with my partner, and also something appealing about a purely physical experience, not involving someone I love.

A threesome with two strangers sounded taboo and erotic to me. Debriefing a threesome the next morning over coffee with my partner did not. I wanted to be the unicorn. Coming into the scene to get what I want, and then leaving, all on my own terms. No further contact or discussion required, unless I wanted to initiate it again.

There was also an element of being able to practice for me here–I wasn’t particularly experienced sexually until the end of my college years and early 20s. It seemed less embarrassing to be able to figure out my first threesome without someone else there that knew about all of my fears and hangups. It felt like the ultimate role play to get to be the sexy girl, without the other people involved knowing that that might not be my everyday attitude.

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I should probably give you the context that I come from a conservative upbringing where sex was incredibly taboo. Abstinence-only education, y’all. The fact that women could experience sexual pleasure outside of simply wanting to please a man was not a common concept. In fact, I don’t remember ever discussing female pleasure with friends until college. Having sex before marriage made you “loose,” something to be talked about by all the mothers in town.

“You shouldn’t be seen hanging out with her, she’s bad news,” I heard a friends’ mom caution about one of our classmates.

“Even her mom is crazy and always flirting behind her husband’s back,” said of the same girl. Even though I was part of the party crowd in high school, plenty of my female friends–who would binge-drink you under the table–graduated as virgins.

I also come with a generous dose of perfectionism, so I internalized a lot of these narratives of what a “good girl” doesn’t do. It took me a few years of feeling shame about my sexuality to evolve to a point where I felt anger instead of fear. Anger at a lifetime of being told not to be “too much” of anything. A tightrope of being sexy, but not too sexy. Having men desire you, but not too many men. Knowing what to do in the bedroom, but not knowing it from too many partners.

Although I’m working to cast aside these beliefs I was fed, it’s left me with a complex about people knowing my business. Until recent years, there have always been people around that felt like they were judging me, whether to my face or behind my back, which has definitely affected me sexually. I’ve since distanced myself from those types of people and have worked on feeling comfortable with my own desires. However, for all the talk I talk about being a sexually liberated female, there is the underlying shame that can derail my pleasure. It rears its head irrationally and when I don’t expect it.

For example, I can be mid-sex with someone for the first time, and they’ll talk dirty to me. I know that I usually enjoy that, but something in me starts to not like it because it’s not coming from a committed partner. It starts to bring up feelings of it being “wrong.” Of me not “respecting myself enough,” even if it’s me who has initiated. It’s like it has crossed some imaginary dirty-threshold and then I’m stuck in my head feeling all sorts of confused feelings. It kills the mood for me. It takes me out of going-with-the-flow and into the land of old-fashioned rules in my head.

Given all of this, I had been craving the freedom to explore free from all outside influences. Free even from my loving, supportive, nonjudgmental partner.

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Entering my newfound singleness, I finally had the chance. Threesome-seeking had become much easier over the years that I was monogamous. Guess what: there is an app for that. Thrinder (now called Feeld as of a few weeks ago) seemed like the right choice, so I set up a profile as a single woman seeking male-female or female-female couples. The app was great because I could screen people easily based on my criteria.

I must be attracted to both parties.

The woman must initiate.

The woman must be enthusiastic about having sex with me.

Again, the woman must initiate.

I’m usually attracted to men who are not considered hyper-masculine. Although I never watched the OC in my younger years, I know that I lean towards Seth Cohen types. With women, I am attracted to both the very androgynous and the ultra feminine. I tend to like stylish women that are incredibly confident and aggressive.

I’ve since realized that I am often overly concerned for the feelings of women in open relationships, and less so for the man. Some protector instinct comes out in me. Maybe it’s because I know intimately what it feels like to be a woman and not feel appreciated sexually, or to feel jealous of one’s partner, or to feel coerced into a sexual experience I wasn’t sure I wanted.

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Maybe it’s because I’ve known women that were drawn into open relationships before they were emotionally ready under the guise that it was the “progressive and open-minded thing to do.”

I’ve often projected the above fears onto these women, although I know there are countless women out there that enter into open relationships eagerly.

I found quite a few couples that met my criteria, with women that took the reins. It almost seemed too easy–and the communication was refreshing. What are you looking for? What are your boundaries? Where are you hanging out this weekend? Want to get a drink with us? After texting with a few people, I quickly found my perfect first couple.

We’d exchanged messages back and forth throughout the week, and realized we would both be seeing the same DJ that Friday. We made plans to look for one another to meet up. I liked the serendipitous nature of being in the same place at the same time. It felt more sexy than techie, because it could almost pass like we met the old-fashioned way.

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Josie and Nico, my Thrinder couple, were both early 30’s Germans, and had lived in the area for a year. They’d been married for a while. He worked for a startup, she was an artist. He was good-looking, slightly nerdy, thin but fit. She was short, fairly curvy, and definitely gave off a feminine earth-goddess type of vibe. They were exactly what I was in the mood for. New to the area = more anonymity, together for awhile = less likely to explode their relationship with me at the center, and visually = just my type. Separately, I would have hooked up with either of them.

We danced and things heated up as they touched me. I started making out with Josie. We stood in the middle of a packed dancefloor with hundreds of people jammed into the room. The sweaty closeness of the crowd made me feel hidden, but I had run into some former coworkers at the show and was hesitant for a split second about being seen with a guy grabbing my tits while his wife made out with me. Only 3 people in the room likely knew me, but the thought of them watching this was more uncomfortable than it was exhilarating. After 15 minutes of dancing, Nico suggested we go back to their place for a drink, and I eagerly agreed.

We grabbed a Lyft and I sat in the middle of the backseat while the three of us held hands and cuddled. We made small talk about our lives, and they kept interjecting with compliments of how beautiful I was. I would love to know what the driver was thinking…

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We ended up at an apartment with a panoramic view of the city. Suddenly feeling a moment of shyness, I stood by the window and admired the view as they poured me champagne. Every so often, they would say something to each other in German. It seemed useful to have a secret language with a partner to communicate in times like these. At the time, I assumed they were checking in with each other to make sure both were comfortable with the situation. I liked that idea. But maybe they were just talking dirty in German, who knows.

I sat on the couch and they moved to join me. The three of us sipped champagne. I left for the restroom, and returned only in my bra and underwear. Josie started making out with me again, and all my attention was on her. Nico watched from the other end of the couch.

I realize now that I had been much less eager to reciprocate his touches throughout the night, and had almost entirely focused on touching her. It felt like we were the stars and he was the supporting actor. I was into him, but being with her seemed much more fun, more sensual, more soft. I wasn’t too aroused by the idea of giving a man pleasure. Sex for me can feel so much more mechanical and aggressive with men. With her, it felt like a slow unfolding of exploring each other.

Nico could definitely tell that I was more eager to touch her. We moved into the bedroom and she and I finished undressing each other. He touched us and watched while she and I took turns slowing touching each other, from arms, to shoulders, to breasts.

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After a while, we invited him to get involved, and he went down on her as she went down on me, then I moved to go down on her while she went down on him. Soon he and I were both touching her all over. It was like he and I were there to worship her, and I loved the dynamic. I still felt a resistance to touching him, mostly from wanting to make sure that she knew I wasn’t there to steal her husband, or that she’d think I wanted him more than her.

I’m curious about why I was reluctant to give him pleasure. Maybe this was me feeling that men have an easier time asking and receiving. That they aren’t ashamed to go after what they want in the bedroom. That as women, it’s not as easy to demand all the attention on ourselves. Had I been less in my head (story of my life), I would have been freer to experience my own pleasure, and less concerned with analyzing all of the dynamics right then and there.

I also recognized that she was a grown woman who had very deliberately made the decision to enter into that situation. Rationally, I knew it wasn’t my responsibility to be there, worrying about her emotional state, and trying to guard them against imaginary relationship drama.

Through close to an hour of taking turns with each other, Josie came twice and I came once. I was actually trying to slow down the urge to come again, as I’ve never been able to make it past three orgasms before I become so sensitive that it’s painful to be touched. I don’t know how long threesomes usually last, but this one felt like it could go on forever and I was having fun so I wasn’t eager for it to end.

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At that point, I warmed up enough to get out of my head. I moved past focusing on Josie and started touching Nico.

Nico and I started to make out more aggressively, and took turns going down on each other. I let myself come for a second time and hoped I was in the mood for one more. That definitely doesn’t end up being an issue. He then climbed on top of Josie to enter her, while I knelt above so they could play with me.

He then asked if he could have sex with me, which is something we had already agreed was in-boundary from our first texting conversation. I asked Josie if it was okay just to make sure she’s still feeling good. I could tell that she was excited by it, so I rolled over and she and I made out, me kneeling on top of her, while he puts on a condom. He and I had sex while I fingered her. Very quickly he and I both came.

We all rolled over. I was suddenly aware of how sweaty we were. I noticed how uncomfortable it felt to have three people in that bed.

Post-coital they wanted me to stay and cuddle. “Why would you leave? Sleep here!” Josie purrs. Mmmm, not for me. I wanted nothing to do with the more intimate side of things at that moment.

“I had a great time,” I said. I was already out of the bed and getting dressed. “Talk to you soon.” I found my phone on the counter and called a car. It was 5:00am.

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“Let’s do it again sometime,” Josie said as I left.

They both kissed me goodbye as I went out the door.

As I face-planted into my own bed, I wondered about threesome etiquette. Is it normal to sleep over? Sounds hot and cramped. I’m happier in my own bed, where I can starfish as much as I please.

I had kicked off my foray into threesomes as a scenario that turned me on, but as I reflected on it after the fact, I realized that the novelty is not the best part. The true, no-strings-attached nature is incredible, and was exactly what I needed at that time.

I’ve never had much success with 1:1, friends-with-benefits (FWB) sex. It is so much more enjoyable for me to have sex with an open, communicative couple, without needing to second guess if I am hurting someone’s feelings, or being an asshole.

And then there is this question: “Why do I assume a protector-role for the women in the couples I hook up with?” I talked to a friend the other day who has also been experimenting with being a third, and she admitted to similar emotions.

“Yeah,” she told me, “I wanted to make sure the woman had a great time, and that she knew I wasn’t there to just be with her husband. I never wanted her to feel left out.”

In both cases, my friend and I received a lot of pleasure from the man, but were less hyper-focused on him reaching orgasm. There’s eroticism about the threesome in getting to subvert a lifetime of prioritizing male pleasure over female. How sexy to have a man there to attend to two women. It brings such amazing female energy to the room.

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My final, personal, piece of threesome wisdom came through illuminating the types of relationships I want for my future. Being a third helped me to truly understand what it feels like to have a purely sexual connection. Understanding it from this side, that I wasn’t there to steal a husband, or break up their relationship, but was interested in a brief and only sexual connection with them, was enlightening.

This knowledge will help me to further let go of jealousy in the future, as I envision an emotionally committed relationship, occasionally opening our relationship up to sex with others. I’ve never done that in a serious relationship before, so I can only speculate at how I would feel, but that arrangement makes the most sense for me.

These experiences have helped me value more straightforward communication about sex, and to be able to see it as a beautiful physical act that doesn’t need to be linked to emotions. I’m excited to see how this impacts future committed relationships for me. But for now, I plan to stick to couples and purely physical connections. We’ll see where that leads.

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