We’ve been talking a lot about threesomes lately, and I mentioned that I recently played sister-wife for six weeks with a married couple in an open marriage. The first question people always ask is, “How did this even happen?”
Well, about once a year, usually sometime in September, I go crazy and scream to the heavens, “I HATE THIS GODFORSAKEN CITY!!!” and “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?” I then jump in my car and drove from Los Angeles to Northern California or Oregon for about three months. I settle down on a farm somewhere off the grid and reconnect with the land, learn the newest conspiracy theories and make some money picking apples or milking goats. This past harvest season was no different—only this year I wound up on a farm with the hottest couple in the world.
I realized I was literally fucked the minute I laid eyes on them.
He was the definition of the alpha male and quite possibly the most amazing male specimen on the entire planet. We’ll call him Jack. He’s handsome, charming and irritatingly good at everything he puts his hand to, whether it’s farming, raising kids, archery, martial arts or writing lyrics. “Want to hear a poem I wrote while I was throwing knives?” was not an unusual thing to hear out of his mouth. I’ve met a lot of men in my time, but none were quite like Jack. I couldn’t focus around him. In fact, Jack was the inspiration for much of the feeling behind my essay about why women date assholes.
His wife, we’ll call her Jill, is the Yin to his Yang. Jill was the quintessential Cali hippie mom: soothing, doting and calm. Humble. Beautiful. She radiated tenderness and warmth yet was self-reliant and strong. For all of his extroversion, she was introverted and shy. Her gentleness smoothed his rough edges. She was always gardening, baking bread or attending to one of their kids. Her penetrating gaze was deeply unnerving. She has the uncanny ability to see right through you without giving a single tell as to what she is thinking. I found myself constantly wanting to touch her petite frame.
He was the Sun. She was the Moon. They were the perfect archetypes of man and woman. King and Queen. Anima and animus. Hunter and gatherer. I was enamored.
When one of my coworkers casually mentioned, “They’re in an open marriage ya’ know,” a seed of hope was planted.
“Don’t even tell me that,” I said.
Jack’s sexual energy boiled over in abundance, testosterone filling every nook and crevice of the space he inhabits, pheromones activating the most basic elements of my evolutionary DNA. The stories he told us in the hot tub under the clear, NorCal sky were tales of adventure peppered with near-death experiences, his low baritone tickling my libido. My heart fluttered. Butterflies performed aerial stunts in my stomach.
From the outside it might not have appeared that anything spectacular was taking place, but the wetness that dripped down my inner thigh every time I was in Jack’s presence belied the intense chemical reaction I had to him. I’m not the only one. Every woman who encounters this man, married, single or gay, seems compelled by him. His alpha comes effortlessly. He’s not over-compensating. He’s not even trying. He’s just being himself. This is what’s so attractive. Men cower in his presence, naturally defer to him and idolize him.
My first conversation with Jill was in her garden. She mentioned one of their previous girlfriends who had lived with them on their property. I couldn’t tell if she was warning me or inviting me. Or both? Open relationships are weird. I don’t know where the boundaries are. They exist, but obviously they aren’t as clear-cut as they are in a traditional monogamous dynamic.
Jack seemed to vacillate between wanting me and having no interest in me. Jill gave off the same vibe. When I tucked Jill into bed one night, I went in for the kiss, but she turned her head, so it was just an awkward peck on the neck. Never have I found myself in a situation that was so hard to read. Or so fucking fascinating. One night in the hot tub I was rubbing Jill’s feet thinking. “Are they interviewing me? Am I interviewing them? Is this real life?”
Right before Jill went into their room, she said, ‘Ya know you can sleep in our bed with us if you want.’
There was something intoxicating about the environment, too. Maybe it was the fact that on the compound you have complete privacy. Or maybe it was the piano. The hot tub. The stars. The silence. The simplicity. The authenticity. The serenity.
You’re totally disconnected from the outside world. Outside of the reach of the status quo, the lines between what is “appropriate” and “inappropriate” start to get real blurry, real fast. Things that I might have judged in the past suddenly seemed perfectly normal.
After three weeks of flirting and weird hint-dropping, one night I was down on their couch watching movies, and they both went to bed. Right before Jill went into their room, she said, “Ya know you can sleep in our bed with us if you want.”
I must have sat on that couch for an hour contemplating my options. It’s weird being sober at moments like these. Most threesomes happen with a lot of booze and few inhibitions; going into the situation consciously and clear-headed felt like a blessing and curse. I knew nothing would be the same once I opened that door. It was like taking the red pill; there was no going back.
At first the sex was just OK. I couldn’t really tell how into it she was, and it didn’t seem like he was allowed to fuck me. But over the weeks the sexual relationship unfolded, as we all got more comfortable, it just got better and better. First of all, I was able to communicate with Jill about her feelings. That really helped. Secondly, we got to know what one other liked and didn’t like, which always improves things in the bedroom. Finally, one night after a long day of doing 17 loads of laundry I said, “If I’m gonna be the maid, I better get fucked like the maid.” It was game on after that.
Some of the images of the three of us are burned into my spank bank eternally: Me eating her out while he bangs me from behind. Him fucking her while I watch and masturbate. The two of us in sexy lingerie, sucking his dick together. Getting fucked on top of the hot tub, looking up at the stars and the redwoods thinking, “MY LIFE IS FUCKING EPIC.”
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE PRIMAL
But my feelings about it overall are, as usual, mixed. On the one hand, being the third in a triad felt so primal. So ancient. Lying in bed with him at night, every night, one of us on either side, felt so natural that it was unnerving because after years of being told monogamy is the only way, polygamy felt much more intuitive. That one man would have multiple women and that the women would bond together and help each other out with all the responsibilities of taking care of a house and kids…it felt so…tribal.
David Barash, author of the new book Out of Eden, which was the subject of this Playboy.com Q-and-A, told me that humans have been predominately a polygamous species for, “Probably all of our evolutionary history until very recently. That is, a few hundred thousand years.” My gut feeling that something primal was being activated wasn’t totally baseless.
The environment was conducive to this type of dynamic flourishing. Jill and I worked in the fields together all day. We gardened. We did laundry and cooked together. I helped with the kids. I cleaned. There was a deep sisterhood there, so at night it felt completely natural to cuddle up and share some of the most intimate parts of the human experience. I can’t imagine this dynamic even existing in a city.
Another unexpected byproduct of this experience was a deep longing for a baby. Some of my longing was sentimental, triggered by the feelings of sisterhood I experienced with Jill and helping to run a household. Jack and Jill are high school sweethearts, and Jill was my age with kids who are already almost grown. In many ways I was forced to confront the path not taken. But most of the longing was biological, triggered by the alpha-ness of Jack. The sense of “I WANT THOSE GENES” was overpowering. I’ve never experienced anything so animalistic before in my life. I could actually feel my ovaries aching for his seed. It had nothing to do with romance, affection or even love. It was strictly, “This man is an incredible provider who makes me feel safe.” I didn’t want his babies. I wanted his DNA.
I should mention: Jack wasn’t perfect. Far from it. His alpha often crossed dangerously over the line into tyranny. I recognized many of my alpha female character defects being reflected clearly back at me. A lack of empathy. A disdain for weakness. An unpredictable temper. An intolerance for moping of any kind. Passive-aggressive communication skills. An inability to show affection. Addictive tendencies. Bullying.
He didn’t need a second wife. She did.
I saw how all this affected everyone who crossed his path. I started noticing the family walking on eggshells around him. He was so self-reliant he expected the same of everyone else, but this often manifested as selfishness or bad manners, like eating before everyone had their food, getting himself something to drink but not offering to get it for anyone else. Jill seemed exhausted all the time. I worried about her, and I could see why she would be OK having another woman around. He didn’t need a second wife. She did.
Being inside someone else’s marriage and life can obviously be SUPER WEIRD. You have insight, yet it’s not your place to say anything, and at times I felt really fucking lonely. More lonely than when I was alone. I had my own space I could retreat to, so we weren’t all on top of each other all the time, but sometimes it felt like they didn’t want me there at all, and they just didn’t know how to say it. Especially Jack. He was used to being the unchallenged king in his kingdom. No one questioned his authority—no one other than me, of course, because I could leave whenever I wanted and had nothing to lose. I found myself sticking up for Jill when they would fight; the dynamic of him being dominant and her submissive is so deeply ingrained, she never stands a chance. He would then feel ganged up on and take it out on me in passive-aggressive ways.
For example: One of the kids had been working on a haunted house, and we had talked about going together for weeks. The day came, and I was all set to go, when Jill told me Jack just wanted the family to go to dinner (he often had her do his dirty work) and that if I wanted to see the haunted house I could come on my own and meet after they ate. Jill claimed it was because they needed family time, which I was always understanding of, but I think it was Jack’s way of showing me who was in charge. He and I had been butting heads that day, mostly because I was tirelessly pointing out that he lives in a world where no one challenges him, ever.
Something broke in me that night, sitting on that couch alone. I realized polygamy has the same complicated dynamics of any relationship, only when you’re the third wheel, you have very little say in the structure.
I also realized I had fallen in love, this time with a couple, and that love wasn’t being reciprocated. And who needs that? It’s bad enough when it’s just a man rejecting my affection, let alone a couple. I do miss the sex, though. I don’t know where to go from there. I guess my options now are BDSM…or (gasp!) monogamy.