Prior to their wedding, a man releases his fiancée to explore her sexual identity in a threesome.
When I met my husband—let’s call him Jack—I was nineteen years old and completely confused about my sexuality. I was straight, lesbian, bi—at times I wondered if I might be asexual. Binging on a literary diet of Anais Nin’s journals, I dreamed of a life where I didn’t have to choose. Didn’t have to conform. I thought I’d float through my days and years from lover to lover. Male, female. It didn’t matter.
I knew I wanted to have children, that I was going to be a mother, but even that didn’t deter me from the lifestyle I thought I wanted. Like many-a-naive child-free young woman, I figured children would simply fold into my chosen story. I’d worry about that part later.
Not long after Jack and I had met, I’d grown infatuated with a girl from one of my tutorials at uni. It was the first time I’d ever really entertained the idea of pursuing a relationship with another woman. I recognised, early on, that I was attracted to girls. I admired their beauty, fragility and strength. There had been stolen kisses and crushes but not much else.
The object of my affection had a boyfriend, though, and I found myself confiding my envy in Jack, the strange envy of another man, possessing a woman I thought I wanted. My infatuation passed, as infatuations tend to do, and Jack and I eventually embarked on a casual sexual relationship.
Jack was safe. Completely non-threatening. He’d just come out of a seven year relationship which left him stifled and stale. He too craved freedom. He’d listen to my rants about not wanting to be tied down. Wanting the ability to choose when and where and whom I loved. He’d smile with the wisdom of someone a little older, a little more world-weary and a little more versed in the language of relationships. He listened. He respected my views.
And we fell madly and stupidly in love.
That bit, I didn’t see coming: crashing, all consuming, dizzying love—cruelly, I felt, my first love. I had no frame of reference. Was this THE love that everyone talks of? Was he, in fact, The One? Were my ideas of living and loving completely wrong? Casual encounters became not so casual, and soon we were living together, sharing an apartment, cat and life. I waited to feel trapped and suffocated, as if I were missing something, or someone.
And yet I didn’t. What did this mean?
Jack prided himself on being the man who ‘“tamed” me. The man who “turned” me. And as irritating as I found it, in a sense he was right. He made me reassess, revaluate the life I had thought I wanted. Suddenly, I wanted to grow old with one person. I didn’t just want children. I wanted a family. A proper family. And Marriage. And a Mortgage. And stability.
What had he done?
About a year into our relationship, Jack and I began to map out our future together. I knew I wanted to marry him—by then, it was a given. And Jack felt the same way.
But he was nervous. He knew the old me too well. The free-spirited, sexually adventurous, idealistic old me who never really had the chance to act on the life she had imagined. “What if you decide to leave me for another woman when you’re 40,” he said. “How can you be sure that I’m what you want?”
I’d often wondered what it would have been like if I’d met Jack a few years later, with a few more experiences imprinted on my heart and skin. We talked. We laughed. We cried. We discussed going on a “break” for a few months so that I could go out and be with other people. And yet the idea of this, of messing with something that worked so well already, made both of us recoil.
Jack wanted me to experience sex outside of love. Grown up sex—not the awkward, self-conscious, teenage fumbling I’d known before him. And he wanted me to be with another woman, to make sure I knew who I was. What I was. And what I was agreeing to.
For him, marriage was serious. A lifetime commitment. There was no room for error. So we came up with a plan. And some rules. While Jack was happy to allow me the freedom to explore a different and potentially undeveloped side of me, he felt more comfortable sending me off to play with a couple rather than with a single man or a single woman. For him it was less threatening. And safer. Although not particularly jealous by nature, Jack confided that sharing me with a couple already attached to one another and confident in their relationship was his preference. It would be a one off. Emotion free. .
I was in.
And so we flirted with the world of online sex and sexual couplings. Together, we trawled through profiles, exchanged “kisses” and “winks” and eventually photos. It took about three months of searching but I found them: a seemingly “normal” couple. Attractive. Intelligent. Sexy.
A date was set. A dress was picked. High heels were donned. I met the couple at a pub in the city where we drank and talked and laughed. They were amazed at my courage and I was fascinated by their stories, their tales of “the scene.” Unlike me, they’d done stranger sex many times with varying degrees of success. It was exhilarating. Terrifying. A window into a whole new world.
That night, back at their small inner city apartment, I discovered that I was definitely bi- sexual. I enjoyed being with a woman. Sex with a man whom I didn’t love was different. Clumsier. But fun. Unpredictable. And I realised that the man I was to marry, the man I had chosen, had given me an experience I would never forget. I felt my self consolidated. The carefully gathered answers about my sexuality, my identity, buoyed me with a new confidence. A new sexiness.
And so, we married. And we had a baby. It wasn’t the story I’d ever imagined for myself and yet I suspect we will never follow the dominant story either. While we firmly believe in “until death do us part,” our marriage and our little family unit is new and still evolving. We’re still coming up with our own rules. We’re realistic about the nature of love, of commitment and of the ebb and flow of sexual attraction in long term relationships. We’re crafting our own story as we go, keeping an open mind to the possibilities and our own version of monogamously ever after.
This essay originally appeared, in slightly different format, at perKs magazine.
Photo by Ed Bierman/Flicker.