Early on in my polyamory adventures, my boyfriend and I wanted to experience a threesome. Since he’s about the straightest person I’ve ever met—and because I’m bisexual—we were looking for another woman to join a ménage à trois. We ended up having a three-way first date and it was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had.
What we were doing is called “unicorn hunting.”
Unicorn hunting is when a couple looks for a single woman with whom they hope to share equal attraction and connection. While three-way relationships aren’t that uncommon, setting one up intentionally is, and unicorn hunting is pretty frowned upon in polyamorous circles. Nevertheless, we were determined and naïve and so hunting we went.
We were totally winging it.
We didn’t know anyone else in an open relationship at the time and had very limited experience ourselves. We really didn’t know how to navigate the whole experience, so we started where most millennials looking to get laid start—Tinder. My boyfriend started chatting with a woman and there was enough interest from everyone for us to set up a date.
The odds were against us.
The chances of just two people meeting and having a genuine physical attraction, compatible personalities, and sexual chemistry is low, but obviously likely enough that it happens pretty often. The chance of three people all sharing those things with each other is nigh on impossible. We had high hopes that were not at all backed by statistics.
There’s no playbook for this.
There are probably thousands of books on dating and relationship advice catering to heterosexual couples. When it comes to what we were attempting, we were on our own. The best we could do was take our existing dating experience and try to apply it to this new situation which, as it turns out, doesn’t really work.
It was unbelievably awkward.
You could have cut the tension with a knife. Nobody really knew what to say, how to act, or where to look. It was a trainwreck. A date is usually quite an intimate thing, with two people getting to know each other without distractions. When it’s three people, two of which are in a relationship and the third of which is a stranger, there are way too many social dynamics flying around to make for a comfortable experience.
All social prowess went out the window.
My boyfriend was already a very shy, socially awkward person and this experience just seemed to be too much for him. He turned into a giggly, childish mess, unable to hold an adult conversation. The other woman was even worse—she was hardly able to look either of us in the eye and if she said anything at all, it came out in a quiet squeak before she dissolved into giggles. I was mortified and tried to hold the group together. My mission was not successful.
It was clear this wasn’t what I was looking for.
I knew as soon as I walked into the bar that I wouldn’t be sleeping with this woman. She wasn’t really my type and I didn’t find myself attracted to her at all. The point was driven home once we started talking and I gave up any idea of this date leading anywhere for me.
I ended up playing matchmaker.
My boyfriend and I had agreed that if one of us felt a connection with her and the other didn’t, it would be OK for just two of the three of us to develop something more. I could tell that even though I had no desire to continue anything, the two of them seemed to be into each other. Their awkwardness precluded either of them making the first move so I ended up physically taking my boyfriend’s arm and putting it around her waist. I spent the rest of the night chatting with the barmaid while they giggled and made out in the corner.
I’d still do it again.
If I was judging the interaction by the eventuality of a threesome or by the comfort level of the evening, I’d label it a complete failure. Luckily, I had a different set of criteria for what a successful three-way date might look like. I love to experience new things and this one was up there with the best of them. I was also really proud of myself for encouraging my boyfriend and the other woman to connect even though I wasn’t into it myself. It was a great stepping stone on the path of free love and I learned a lot about compersion (the opposite of jealousy) through that encounter. All’s well that ends well!
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