I’ve always had the attitude that life is too short for puritanical abstinence. We’re responsible for our own fate, and the clock is ticking for us to experience all the riches there are out there. It’s not hedonism, really, because it’s not only about sex, drugs and travel: I think that love and responsibility, parenthood and charity are all experiences that should be soaked up in all their glory, too. More is more and everything is worth trying once.
Except, for some reason, when it comes to group sex.
I have had an absolute horror of group sex. It seems so sordid and filthy to me, like a debased slap in the face of all that is human and meaningful. Britney is welcome to it, but it was not something I wanted on my to-do list. Saying yes to life does not mean saying yes twice.
The problem with this theory of sordidness, of course, is that it was a theory. And life is far too messy to tolerate neat theories and boxes and categories. People fall in love with the wrong people all the time; they strike up friendships with those they never thought they would. And they end up in jobs that are entirely unrelated to the plans they were making.
Threesomes aren’t things that happen ‘in theory’. You don’t sign up for them on a list and then find the participants, or make a note to try one on a sampling board at Woolies. They don’t exist outside of the people who make them up. And that was the crucial detail that toppled me from my moral high ground.
I recently fell into one, with a friend of mine and his boyfriend. I had fooled around with him before, when they had been broken up for a while. And I had also, bizarrely, had to say no to the advances of his (then ex) boyfriend during this time because, despite his sex appeal, doing anything with him would have qualified me for the Worst Friend in the World Award, right there next to those who allow their friends to wear Crocs.
“The sex was wild, raw and intense; some of the best sex I’ve ever had. And not once did it feel sordid…”
But we couldn’t shake the idea of each other, even when the two of them got back together. The sexual tension was so obvious that mutual friends of ours would comment on it. Facebook walls were awash with innuendo. Eyes were held for longer than is polite. And a threesome started getting bandied about as the only way to relieve it, in that carefully constructed tone that can be read as a joke if the response is shocked, or serious, if the audience is receptive.
One night I decided to cook the two of them dinner. Though I love cooking and do it for my friends all the time, somehow, we all knew that something was going to happen that night (Something even more magical than my risotto, if such a thing exists).
The three of us were nervous, giddy with the excitement of unchartered waters, and necessarily tipsy on red wine to push back the constraints of normal social conduct. The sex was wild, raw and intense; some of the best sex I’ve ever had. And not once did it feel sordid. Because we were friends and not 5am club-dredged strangers, it was surprisingly natural and beautiful.
There was no awkward fumbling, and none of us felt spare or peripheral. The logistics fell into place intuitively. I felt as comfortable being naked around them as I normally do only after months in a relationship. It seemed I had somehow discovered something I didn’t know existed: the “wholesome threesome” – the kind of threesome you would pick up at an organic market.
It happened again in the morning. Twice the following weekend. And then a few times every week for a couple of weeks.
We developed an unbelievable closeness and mutual attraction, despite scandalised outcries from friends who repeatedly threatened me with interventions. It’s not sustainable, the argument went, and we were going to hurt one another. But are those not both risks that any new relationship faces?
The experience opened my eyes to my own parochial fear of the unknown, and the ingrained assumptions of society – from double-ticket invites to events, to seating at parties and the simple fact that a date involving three people seems ridiculous enough to make people laugh.
Perhaps even those of us who do not live life abstaining and judging, who say yes to most things and challenge our views on the world, are socialised into the most conservative of all assumptions: that we can only love one person at a time, and that possessiveness and jealousy are the marks of a healthy relationship.
Who knows if these things can end well or not? I am sure there are very many regretted threesomes out there. But so too are there regretted marriages. Having crossed a line I never thought I would, I’m beginning to think life isn’t really about how we structure our relationships. Our relationships and experiences are as enjoyable and rewarding as the people we choose to have in them.