This is the second half of an interview with my friend Elizabeth who happens to be dating a couple. Here’s the first half.
What are the challenges and benefits of dating these guys?
We date each other long-distance (3.5 hours) and because of busy schedules, that means about one weekend together a month—that’s it. But we’re very conscientious about communicating online and on the phone every day. I know a lot of people deal with long-distance relationships, but since I can only talk on the phone with one at a time, it requires a decent chunk of my day to keep up with both of them. But I feel very close to them, which is worth the time spent. It does add up, though!
Along these same lines, however—on days when one of them is having a tough time or there’s conflict (granted, they have a solid relationship and talk about everything—no one’s throwing vases or anything), I hear both two versions of what happened without being there to form my own impression, and have to try to get a sense for what went down. That gets tense…but fortunately, they don’t expect me to take sides or negotiate because I would feel super awkward in that position.
Dating two people may involve extra complications—three sets of feelings, more time and energy, more stuff to keep track of—but it also pays off double. I have two people telling me every day that they adore me, that I’m cute, that they’re grateful to have me in their lives. I have two sources of comfort and validation when I’m having a terrible day. They make me laugh twice as much, and I always know I’m being discussed affectionately by two people I’m crazy about.
Yay for women!
I don’t know if it’s because I’m dating a lesbian and the open-minded guy who worships her, but I will never be in a more pro-girl relationship in my life. I think women often feel pressure to downplay or defend their girly traits, like they’re silly or trivial. My gf and bf are each big fans of girlyness and are feminists like I am, which makes me feel more gratified about all my woman business than ever before!
How have people reacted when you told them about this?
I’ve told most of my good friends and my brother, and some have met my bf and gf—most everyone has been wildly supportive in a way characteristic of the wonderful people in my life. Here are a few responses/questions I seem to get a lot: “Soooooooo…pretty hot, huh?” Well, yeah, but not at all in a kinky 70s shag-carpeting, circular bed kinda way.
Men in particular (some, not all) seem to assume at first that this is primarily a sex thing. We have great chemistry, but there’s a huge emphasis on feelings. We are good friends before anything else. Also, my bf would be the first to say he’s a sensitive, non-macho type (I’m a big fan of this, as it turns out), so it’s absolutely not about serving some typical male fantasy of watching two chicks together, nor is it solely about my gf being able to express herself as a lesbian. Everything is mutual—as long as we’re always talking honestly, gender politics don’t seem to get in the way.
Alot of people can’t imagine sharing someone they love. How does this work for you guys?
Speaking of sharing —people seem curious as to how a woman could share her husband with another woman (again, it’s rare that anyone asks how a dude could share). All I can say is that it works for this couple because of her sexual orientation and his emotional makeup, to paraphrase the way they put it. Trust is vital—we’re very open. They’re both privy to anything I say or write to either of them, and nothing sexual happens unless everyone’s included. Sorry if that’s more information than you wanted, but it’s important!
What kind of future does this relationship have?
Fair question—if my significant others are married, where’s this going? Something I’ve noticed since I started dating this couple is the extent to which a traditional relationship is fraught with expectations—little markers signifying progress toward some sort of destination. It’s profound to be in a relationship where affection is given purely for its own sake; they’re not lonely or in need of a mate—they just like me! But the flipside of that is that I have a wonderful bf and gf but no prospect for partnership of my own, which is something I’ll want eventually. They understand this and tell me they’ll be happy for me when I decide to pursue that. For now, I’m content and enjoying myself.
What advice do you have for anyone else interested dating a couple?
Find the second-awesomest couple in the world and go from there? It’s such a unique scenario—but if you meet a couple with whom you want to spend your time, make sure they’re VERY caring, considerate, mature people who want to know you and not use you. Make sure it’s safe—otherwise, it won’t be fun. Be open about it with the people close to you—their perspective will be helpful, even if they can’t advise you from experience. Trust yourself, too—only you can say if it’s right for you. And never say never—believe me, no one who knows me would’ve figured I’d go for dating a couple. Happiness comes in unexpected forms sometimes, I guess!
I met Elizabeth* as a senior in college, sharing the editing software in UMM’s newspaper office. I immediately wanted to be her friend because a) we were hair twins b) I had heard an urban legend about her class project “Yeats: The Musical.” These days, she throws theme parties, works on her PhD and dates a couple.
You read that correctly. Girlfriend’s got a boyfriend. And a girlfriend. Elizabeth was kind enough to give us some insight into the workings of a healthy, loving relationship that just happens to involve three people.
Could you describe your current romantic status to us? For the past few months, I’ve been involved in a romantic relationship with two people–a man and a woman who are married to each other. My girlfriend identifies as a lesbian (always has) who just happens to have fallen in love with a man perfectly suited to her. They are very compatible and happy as a pair–their interest in dating another woman together is not about making up for any lack in their own relationship–they just have a lot of adoration to give, and love being able to share the experience of showering it on another woman. And while I’m sure a lot of people are capable of expressing feelings for more than one person, I think these two are uniquely suited to do so without hurting their marriage–I’ll go into more detail about their natures below.
How does one go about meeting a couple to date? Well, this is a characterization of events that I’d want to dispel–I initiated a discussion about us getting to know each other that lead to dating, but none of us were “looking” to get involved like this randomly–as my gf pointed out, it wasn’t in any way “desperate”. The idea of dating a couple had never occurred to me until I met them, and part of the appeal of dating them was that they were looking for something that made sense to me: a legitimate, caring relationship as opposed to some indiscriminate, raunchy swinger action.
I met them like this: my bf and I have both been active(ly NERDY!:) commenters on a very well-known, hipstery pop culture website. After months of poring over posts, you get to know people’s personalities a bit, so a handful of commenters have ended up becoming Facebook friends. He and I bonded over the rad late-80s monster adventure comedy “Monster Squad” (seriously–run, don’t walk) and sort of peripherally left each other FB comments, did some shameless meme-tagging, etc. I was curious about him, and also would read comments from his cute wife on his Wall which invariably gave me that “this person and I are meant to know each other” feeling.
One day, he left comments on our hipster website hangout about his non-traditional marriage that intrigued me to no end. The way he described their own relationship was gorgeous and moving–that they’re best friends and deeply committed partners (who, I hasten to clarify, have a super-hot sex life between the two of them) who like the idea of sharing a relationship (as opposed to a casual hookup) with a woman they can mutually adore. You guys, I was fascinated. I sent my FB friend a message letting him know that, to my surprise, I could not stop thinking about how lovely and hot this all sounded. It turned out that they were not involved with or seriously pursuing anyone else at that moment.
I started talking to both of them so we could get to know one another, first on FB and then on the phone and then after some time, we began to meet up and it turned out that…well, there’s no modest way to put it. We’re sort of perfect for each other. These are people with whom I would have become good friends anyway–we have heaps in common and our personalities are very well-suited–and the attraction was pretty incredible from the get-go. I don’t meet many people with whom I vibe in a romantic way–I really have to LIKE whomever it is as a friend–so to meet TWO hot people that I truly dug at once was really exciting…and mutual!:)
Has your couple dated like this before? Yes. It’s been challenging for them to find someone who’s on the same page about what kind of relationship they wanted to have. They have gone on a number of dates with women (mostly contacted through the Internet through personals sites, using a really careful, lengthy, detailed ad meant to weed out the sleazoids) whom they weren’t into or who ended up being unable to develop an attraction to both of them. Some simply became friends. Before me, there were a couple of short relationships (a few months each) that both went south for one reason or another, nothing that should also end up becoming a problem for me. They took those seriously, but neither one ended well, as so many relationships don’t. Honestly, they were about ready to throw in the towel on finding something functional when they started getting to know me. Yeah, I know, I’m a back-patter:).
Are you really equally into both people? I am! Thank goodness. I wondered about this, too, at the very beginning, especially because I’d never been involved with/kissed/seriously considered dating another woman. I mean, I’ve always been hardcore pro-GLBT and had lesbian friends and super-close female friends, but I never really thought I’d have an honest-to-goodness romantic response to a woman, or a sexual impulse I’d feel comfortable acting on. I had convinced myself that all of that “person-specific” rhetoric I’d heard in college was just the prattling justification of horny people who got all hot for anyone who found THEM attractive.
But it’s a real thing, guys—turns out I happen to like this woman a lot. And though some aspects of it have been new, it hasn’t been weird for a second–it’s been just like it should be, just like it was with my darling boyfriend as well–that thing where you meet someone and you just feel you’re going to get each other, that you long to be near that person as often as possible.Of course, my relationship with each of them has its own characteristics–I relate to each one in our own way, which is really fun because I get to share different sides of myself really intimately with two people at once.
But we all agree that one of the most crucial factors that makes us work so well is that I adore them as a couple. I was drawn to their rich, loving relationship and am constantly touched and rewarded to be included. They like that a lot–without it, a lot of jealousy could creep in from all sides, which, I probably don’t have to mention, would be a surefire way to screw everything up, including our relationship AND their marriage.
Tomorrow: Part 2, the benefits and challenges of dating a couple
True story: A few years ago, while living in Taiwan, I was sitting in a bar discussing travel with some friends of mine. They were detailing the ridiculously rutted and bumpy road that connects Cambodia and Vietnam.And instead of cooing consolation over their six hour bus ride from hell, my thought process was “Wait. What? Isn’t Vietnam an island? Isn’t, like, every country in Southeast Asia an island?”
This was the extent of my knowledge of Geography, whilst actually living in Southeast Asia.
Since this rather humiliating experience I’ve started making a more active effort to avoid brain rot. Now, I’m not saying we should give up on The Real Housewives of New Jersey or speak only in four syllable words, but a smart girl is a sexy girl, no?
Some of my favorite ways to stave off the stupid?
Salon, Slate and The Morning News – Well written feature pieces, current events, and headlines from around the world. In a much more friendly, consumable format than CNN.
Free Rice – Take quizzes on a variety of subjects. Each right answer earns a few grains of rice for the UN World Food Program. I’m a sucker for the vocabulary quizzes, but should really be dabbling in the pre-algebra area. Uggg.
The Daily Show – Eye candy and brain candy all rolled into one! My boyfriend Jon Stewart makes politics delicious and nutritious.
This American Life – I’m not sure exactly how listening to The Best Radio Show in The Land makes me smarter. Maybe it just makes me a more compassionate, involved human being. Or maybe I just love me some Ira Glass.
Reading Non-Fiction – Because truth is often so much more fascinating than fiction. If I really want to geek out, I read anthropological case studies (what?!)
What do you do to feed your head? And are you willing to share some of your most epic brain farts?
Last week, as I was doing my weekly Target walk-through, I discovered quite possibly The World’s Best Underwear. I immediately bought a pair to test drive and discovered that they were, in fact, truly fantastic. These underwear are particularly great because they somehow manage to bridge the gap between sexy and comfortable – and that is not an easy gap to bridge, friends!
Of course, a girl should have many a weapon in her panty arsenal, for every imaginable occasion. Like what sorts of occasions?
Comfy underwear for the steampunk in all of us. Probably best worn under that cute black petticoat you thrifted, while drinking absinthe and reading dirty Russian literature. Or on a trip to Ikea. Either or.
Best worn under sweats and with a wifebeater sheer with age. Good for overcast Sundays spent lounging around the house, indulging your sweet tooth and trying to beat your roommate at Resident Evil 5.
These beauts are just made for that vintage dress your grandma gave you – the one that fits like a second skin. Obviously, they need to be coupled with a filmy slip (a lady never goes without!), an oddly pointy bra and seamed stockings. Then you should probably make a dirty martini and drink it while smoking a veeeeerrrry long cigarette.
These lacy little numbers bring out the racy lady in all of us. You should probably wear them (and only with them) and a pair of feathered mules as you teeter around your apartment on your day off. After nibbling on some Ben and Jerry’s, make a list of everyone you’ve ever kissed and what you found attractive about them.
What kind of underwear do you rock? And have you found the perfect pair that we need to know about?
Back by popular demand! More Disney maidens in skinny jeans!
After her near death experience with that nasty apple and the glass coffin, Snow White becomes a lobbyist for organic farming. Convinced that her coma was brought on by a factory farm’s overuse of pesticide’s, S.W. (as she’s known to her friends) spends her days teetering around Washington D.C. in heels, batting her eyelashes at hardened politicians. After a long day of extolling the virtues of the family farm, S.W. rarely has the energy to clean up her tiny studio apartment. It is then that she calls on her animal friends to help clean. Except for the pigeons. Those guys are not to be trusted.
After a few months of life in the castle, Cindy quickly realizes that marrying someone based on three hours of dancing and the size of your feet is pretty stupid. Prince Charming spends most of his time playing Wii and leaving a trail of wet towels and Dorito bags all over the palace. Cindy dumps this messy man and sets out on her own, founding a cleaning business that quickly takes off. Who knew that all those years of compulsively scrubbing the fireplace grate would come in so handy? Within three years, Cindy sells the business to Merry Maids for a million dollars and buys her own damn pumpkin carriage.
Sleeping BeautyWith all that blond hair and the pert little nose, people are constantly underestimating Aurora. But she never tires of the look on their faces when she tells them that she’s one year away from her PhD in neuroscience. After her personal battle with narcolepsy, she’s bound and determined that no other girl goes through what she went through. What with the waking up in a castle all full of dragon and what not. (Thanks to Liz for this idea!)
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