Bitter Blush

is a platform that strives to create an open community to discuss topics that traditionally make us **blushhh. Our mission is to shed light on issues that are kept in the dark, as a way to harness a safer and more trusting environment.

Free To Be Three

Free To Be Three

As a late bloomer who has always felt shame and anxiety about sex, I would say I’m just about the last person anyone might expect to participate in a threesome. Yet this summer, one part whim, one part exploring my sexual identity, and one part fulfilling a longtime fantasy, I met “Charlie” and “Lynn”, a couple looking for a third on Bumble. I had joined the Bumble scene as a straight-ish cis-woman after moving to a new city for a summer internship. Slightly lonely and equally as curious, I wanted to meet other people besides my roommate and coworkers. I immediately swiped right on Charlie and Lynn: two attractive, recently-married twenty-somethings who share my passion for dogs, the outdoors, self-reflection, left-wing politics, and book recommendations.

Charlie, Lynn, and I matched, chatted, met for drinks, and really hit it off. Over the next few weeks, we cooked dinners and engaged in lively conversations and card games and eventually sexual play and experimentation. I left at the end of the summer filled with gratitude for learning about myself, pride for getting out of my comfort zone, and joy at having made two friends I know I will have for life.

As a millennial fumbling my way through the 2018 dating scene, romance and sex are challenging for me to navigate since they entangle in confusing ways. Often I find it overwhelming to deal with both simultaneously, yet next-to-impossible to pursue one without the other. Being a third with Charlie and Lynn made this more manageable to me. Since none of us planned to engage in a long-term polyamorous relationship, I could completely remove romance from the equation and focus on sex alone. I didn’t ask myself questions like: “Does it seem like I’m too interested if I text again?”, “Is (s)he over his/her ex,” or even “Will our last names hyphenate well someday?”, worries in part facetious but emblematic of my anxieties about dating. This avenue of concerns disappeared during the time I spent with Charlie and Lynn.

However, sex without romance in a threesome lacked the clinical detachment that for me has often accompanied sex without romance in a traditional pair. Because Charlie and Lynn had an established relationship, there existed a higher baseline level of respect, love, and trust than I had previously experienced in any sex-driven relationship. They expressed to me why they were interested in trying a threesome, not because they wanted to keep the spark alive or save a failing relationship, but because they are curious people who wanted to experience something new together. I saw that Charlie and Lynn had nurtured a confident, affectionate, and enduring love, alleviating concerns I had about intruding into their lives and interfering with their relationship. Being privy to such a healthy relationship and being so warmly welcomed made me feel comfortable. We could discuss family matters as comfortably as favorite books, and novel sex positions as easily as how our days went.

This comfort, coupled with logistical necessity, allowed and facilitated communication at a high level. Since there are so many ~moving parts~ in a threesome (so. many. hands.), I had to be open and upfront about communication in a way that doesn’t come naturally to me. We all talked before any sexual activity about boundaries, STIs, and previous sexual experiences both positive and negative. I felt comfortable and supported in saying what felt good and what didn’t, what I wanted to try and what I didn’t, and in hearing the same from Charlie and Lynn. From this, as someone who thrives in an open and honest environment but somehow still struggles to communicate openly, I learned and grew.

Laughter opened many doors to communication, both in breaking the ice and enjoying the absurdity of it all. I learned to feel unashamed in awkward situations, like when we first broached the subject of sexual experimentation but I thought Charlie was referring to drug experimentation. I learned to react with joy and flexibility to the unexpected: when my neck wasn’t long enough, Charlie’s shoulder didn’t angle the right way, or Lynn’s nose ring got in the way. As a type-A planner and worrier, this is my ultimate goal for myself: not only to adapt and improvise when things don’t go exactly as planned, but also to find the joy and laughter in these deviations from the plan. Check in with me the next time I’m at the airport and we’ll see how this goes, but I feel optimistic.

All this openness and trust led to a freer focus on pleasure than I could have anticipated. After all, wasn’t this the whole point? Three people having fun and enjoying themselves and exploring something new? Since we had already “crossed a line” by venturing into the sexual taboo of threesome, what did any of us have to lose by asking to change position or rhythm or pressure? The comfort of communicating exactly what I wanted compounded with the innovation of three bodies to result in just plain fun.

Where does the stigma originate? Why is something I found so rewarding and enjoyable considered vulgar and wrong?  I myself held this stigma. I initially felt shame about desiring a threesome because I believed it was degrading to be a woman in a female-female-male trio.  I had previously thought of FFM threesomes only as the ultimate male fantasy and conquest, with two women focused on the male’s pleasure and any sexual interaction between the women for the male gaze alone. Being with Charlie and Lynn didn’t feel like this. We all participated because we all wanted to, with power split evenly between us three. Recognizing and working to dismantle how the male gaze (mis)informed and (mis)directed my own gaze felt like a lofty academic accomplishment (which of course is always how one hopes to describe one’s sexual encounters). I recognize that my empowering experience in a threesome may have resulted less from the institution of “threesome” and more from the remarkable Charlie and Lynn, which is likely true of any romantic or sexual interaction. To me though, certain aspects of empowerment directly resulted from the unique experience of being a third in a threesome.I imagine that without Bumble or another dating app, I wouldn’t have found Charlie and Lynn or looked into having a threesome. I still struggle to be frank about hopes and expectations, so I valued that instantaneous clear communication that Bumble can enable. Folks braver and more intuitive than I may find threesome partners in the non-electronic dating scene, and I applaud them. For anyone on the shyer side, I can’t emphasize enough how much Bumble helped me. Any other advice besides “use Bumble!” I might offer? Obviously the basics: meet in a well-lit public place, listen to your gut, and use protection. I gained insight and purpose by reflecting on what I hoped to get out of the experience. Charlie, Lynn, and I discussed it together, I wrote about it in my journal, and I talked it out with my best friend.

I haven’t had sex with anyone since being with Charlie and Lynn. Will this experience fundamentally change how I experience sex? To be honest, I don’t know. I hope I radiate confidence and communication. I hope I will worry less, have fun more, and express exactly what I want, not only in regards to sex but also to my overall life. Even though I haven’t cemented these traits, I know I will continue working towards them. I feel grateful to Charlie and Lynn for pushing me to be a better version of myself by helping me get out of my comfort zone. To anyone who hasn’t previously considered a threesome, I hope my thoughts and reflections encourage you to take risks and pursue your own curiosities and fantasies. To anyone who has considered or is considering a threesome, I hope you find your Charlie and Lynn.



Interview: Cecille Soberano

Interview: Cecille Soberano

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