Navigating Three: The Unexpected Triad


Iris was unexpected. Over our first year in an open relationship, Flick and I had found a groove. We’d each figured out the kinds and styles of relationships we were looking for and met some amazing partners. As so often happens when you think you’ve got everything figured out, everything changes.

We have a girlfriend.

I never expected for us to have a girlfriend. We are absolutely not that couple who opened up in order to find their perfect unicorn and live happily ever after as three. I have my lovers locally and some wonderful long distance partners scattered across the continent, a couple of whom I’d give the label boyfriend if we lived close enough to date, and there are several female friends I’m extremely fond of and enjoy doing the dirty sex with, but I definitely did not expect to have a girlfriend and especially not to have a girlfriend with Flick.

Meeting Iris and finding this thing between the three of us has been really awesome. And strange, confusing, electric, devastating, euphoric, terrifying, and ‘how is this my life’ holy-fucking-hell hot.

It works surprisingly well, though I wouldn’t have expected it to. The three of us have a great dynamic as a trio, yet the twosomes also click beautifully. We’re all such different people that each dynamic is very different, and I don’t live in a fantasy world where I expect things to be even or equal. That’s simply impossible. At present, though, it seems like we’re all getting what we need and it’s pretty damn great.

I have definitely come across some challenges when, as the most introverted of the three, I’m not always up for getting together. I feel guilty that I’m ‘keeping them apart’ when I turn down invites, but always try to make it clear to Flick that it is okay for him to go on his own to spend the evening with Iris if he wants. A few times I’ve forced myself to go be social against my gut need for solitude and, as almost always happens when you ‘take one for the team’, there’s been some emotional fireworks we’ve had to work through.

Both Flick and Iris are more openly affectionate than I am naturally. On our first date we had a three-way make out in one of our local pubs, despite the fact we’re not out to many people, and many of our friends live in that neighbourhood. My inner ‘This is not appropriate behaviour’ alarm was clanging loud in my head but the beautiful woman kissing me dulled it to a faint buzz. If friends had seen us, at least they’d have known we weren’t cheating since both of us were involved.

One unexpected thing I’ve found tricky in the trio dynamic is that I often get overwhelmed by the cuddle pile after sex, especially if I’m in the middle. I’m a pretty cuddly and tactile person but it can feel oppressive to be hemmed in on both sides by bodies. Neither of them has the same need for personal space, so I either make sure I’m on the outside of the snuggle sandwich, or break free after about five minutes and lie across the end of the bed with a hand on each of them, but in my own personal space, while they wrap around one another. Perfection!

It has been challenging at times to see how lost the two of them get in each other, but knowing how into me she is takes a lot of that sting away. She and I have solo dates where we wander around downtown holding hands all giddy and giggling, then return to one of our places for scorching sex. And it is truly lovely to see Flick so smitten and go a little glazed when they’re together, or even just when he’s talking to her over text.

The two of them are spending a weekend together while I go off to Portland to spend a sexy weekend with one of my favourite people. I’m so excited for them to deepen their connection, though I have to confess to having some insecure feels about it. I get little pangs feeling like I might get ‘left behind’ as they progress in their relationship, but I just have to remind myself that each of our relationships is different and is going to progress at different speeds and in different ways.

Thankfully, we’re all fairly good communicators and there’s an ease and feel of safety in expressing our fears, concerns, and needs in what can be a very tricky dynamic. As long as we keep using our words I’m confident we can navigate whatever unexpected curves are thrown our way.


Kat (she/they) is a sex-positive, geeky, Canadian, pansexual, deviant, slutty, feminist pervert who came to ethical non-monogamy 21-years into her relationship with her husband. After a quick toe-dip to test the waters (and hours of obsessive reading and podcast consumption), they dove in and they almost can't imagine they ever lived any other way. Labels never give a totally clear picture, but they consider themselves non-monogamous and polyamorous, though they occasionally swing. She's also a podcaster - On The Wet Coast Podast - and audiobook narrator for Cooper S Beckett's novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching the Swingularity. @WetcoastKat on Twitter. Their first book - Yelling In Pasties: The Wet Coast Confessions of an Anxious Slut - is available on,, Inkterra, and Kobo.

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