I was talking with a friend recently about triads I had been a part of in the past. She asked me if it was something I was looking for. My off-the-cuff answer was that I was open to it, but I wasn’t actively looking for it. Since then, the topic has been bouncing around in the back of my head, so I’m writing about it to try to bring some order to the random thoughts.

There are things about being in a triad that I deeply miss. I miss the energy of having three people in a household. Something about that just makes the household more festive, more like a party. Someone was always doing something, cooking or working on a project or bouncing about listening to music. Even if everyone was feeling low key and wanted to stay in and nest, we still seemed to end up at the table together, getting stoned, playing cards, playing a board game, watching videos together. Somehow, three people felt like a family more so than a couple living “alone”.

On the flip side, being part of a triad was often fraught with challenges. All of my past triads (four of them) were vees, with me as the hinge in the middle. I had a bad habit of assuming it was my job to try to make everyone happy, finding the ideal compromise that satisfied both partners. In hindsight, it felt like such solutions only made each partner half-happy. Worse yet, I tended to push my needs or desires to the side in the interest of making everyone else happy. Ugh. If I were to do a triad again, this is something I would really be on guard about. I think I am a much more self-possessed person now than I was then, but old habits have a way of pulling me back into repeating past mistakes. If the opportunity presented itself in the future, I would be more enthusiastic about balanced triad (rather than a vee), or even a vee with my partner as the hinge instead of myself.

That said, the prospect of finding a third partner with which to build a triad feels daunting to the point of deeply unlikely. Satyridae and I are crazy close, in a way that I think any third partner would find incredibly daunting. We have a long history together, and communicate very deeply and very honestly about issues as they arise. We also both have extraordinarily high libidos, which has been a challenge in past threesomes (short-term play, as opposed to a triad); after an hour one partner is ready to be done for the night while S and I are just getting warmed up and ready to shift into high gear. We either stop when the first person wants to (leaving me and S less than satisfied), or S and I continue which leaves the other person feeling sad and excluded. Additionally, my relationship with S is fairly kinky and has a considerable amount of (consensual, negotiated) power exchange. In past triads and threesomes, this has been extraordinarily uncomfortable for some past partners to be around. So, either S and I curtail certain activities in front of those people (sad), or we “let our freak flag fly” and again risk leaving the third person feeling sad, excluded, and perhaps squicked.

So sure, I would be enthusiastic about a triad in the future. If we could find a partner who was strong enough to enter an existing, very close partnership. If we could find a partner who was enthusiastic about a real, balanced triad. If we could find a partner with an enormous libido. If we could find a partner who was comfortable (even enthusiastic) about kink and power exchange.

Annnnnd -that’s- why they are called unicorns.

Summer 1983

During the Summer session at my town’s art college, my highschool girlfriend’s mother taught art classes on the campus to local elementary school students. Occasionally, Paula and I would go to the classes with her, ostensibly to help, for a very loose definition of the word. Paula and I had just started having sex a couple of months prior, and were going at it like we had invented it.

On one such occasion, we snuck away to a bathroom near the classroom, locked the door behind us, and had a frantic, urgent quickie. We fucked with the kind of brevity only teenagers can manage, then composed ourselves, and snuck back into the bustling classroom with what we imagined was smooth subtlety. And not even a half hour later, we repeated the trick. And again. And… Before the day was over, I’m sure we visited that bathroom over ten times. Hey, we were teenagers! At the time, we thought we were being terribly discreet, but in hindsight I cannot imagine it was not blatantly obvious to her mother. I can only imagine what she must have thought. Later that same day, Paula and I wandered off to stroll through a nearby art museum, where I seem to recall finding a quiet nook and enthusiastically fingering her. I am truly fortunate that my first serious girlfriend was easily as sex-crazed as I was. Those were some good times.

Fall 2017

Though I left town over 30 years ago, my family still lives in the same area and I return occasionally to see them. On the latest visit, I brought my current partner with me. Melody is an amateur artist, so one morning when we had no other plans, I took her to that same art museum to spend a couple of hours looking at paintings and sculptures. As luck would have it, the museum was very lightly attended that morning, and when a suitable opportunity presented itself, I slipped my hand under Melody’s dress, pushed her panties to the side, and stroked her clit attentively for several minutes while she pushed back against my hand and stifled her moans. After a furtive but enthusiastic orgasm, she composed herself and we resumed our art appreciation. We left the museum with some time to spare, and so… I led her to the nearby college of art. As we headed that way, I told her the story of my teenage adventures with Paula at that site. We spent some time admiring an exhibit of student art in the atrium, then wandered upstairs and found a bathroom much like the one Paula and I used (perhaps the exact one). We entered, locked the door behind us, and I fucked her from behind with all due enthusiasm. The facility was as tiny and grotty as I remembered it, though it had been updated with automatic sensors for flushing the toilet and dispensing paper towels. We managed to accidentally trigger a release of paper towels at a climactic moment, to some laughter.

Again, I am truly fortunate to have a girlfriend who is easily as sex-crazed as I am. These are some very good times.

M was not gone from my life very long when I took up a relationship with S. She was a long-time friend and confidant, a member of my logical family for some years. We had even had sex a handful of times, quite enjoyably, but neither of us were in a place to pursue that more frequently or more intentionally, until M left.

Three things came together in a quite unexpected fashion when S and I embarked on a more serious relationship.

First, we started incorporating BDSM into our sex play from the outset. I had long known S was a self-described sensation junkie, with a very high pain threshold. She also had some challenges reaching climax during the early renewal of our relationship, so rougher play and BDSM were a way of reaching some of those intensely transcendent moments during sex without orgasm.

The second major factor was that I took the occasion of deepening our relationship to ask S for some details regarding her past and childhood. Most specifically, I wanted to hear the full story of several years of childhood sexual abuse she endured. This was a fraught process. S had spent a great deal of her adult life trying not to think about that part of her past, had internalized a significant amount of shame and blame about the event, and had never before shared the entire story with anyone. Thankfully, she felt like she could trust me, and we spent long hours over several different meetings going through all of the horrific details.

So there we were. Meeting once a month at the start, very soon moving to once every two weeks, and shortly after that to weekly. Talking very intensely about her childhood sexual abuse. Engaging in some fairly rough sex play and BDSM. Quite unintentionally, the two began to overlap in some unexpected ways. After rough sessions of flogging and spanking, we would take time for aftercare, soothing her skin with oil, reassuring her that she was in a safe space with someone who loved her and cared for her deeply. During those times, she would often flash back to our conversations of her abuse. On some occasions, she flashed back to specific events and details with graphic clarity. Other times she would break down sobbing over the guilt she felt over “letting” the abuse happen. I categorically reject the assertion that a seven-year-old has any agency in sexual abuse inflicted upon them and I started making that case with increasing vigor and firmness. As incredible as it seems to me, this was the first time S had gotten validation that her childhood abuse wasn’t her fault. It took a lot of time, reassurance, and discussion for that idea to begin to take root within her.

The third major factor (remember, up above, I said there were three parts?) was that all of this elevated BDSM activity motivated me to get much more serious about the practice. I spent some considerable time thinking about my own internal ethics and the moral implications of striking a woman, repeatedly and quite hard. Growing up as a good Southern boy with lessons of “you don’t ever hit a woman, ever, for any reason” left its imprint on me and I had to really think deeply about how these new sexual behaviors integrated into that. There are some past posts in this blog where I wrote about that issue at some length. I also did a bunch of research and reading in the neurological science behind pain play and why that “works” so dramatically for some people. The BDSM sessions I planned and executed for S started to follow more specific and intentional patterns, based on that research. Over the course of ten minutes I would gradually escalate a pattern of stimulation, building within S a reservoir of endorphins, ending in a climactic rush of stimulation/pain to dump those into her bloodstream. Then the next ten-minute session would immediately begin and the cycle would be repeated. We would get three or four of those cycles completed before S was effectively “tripping balls” on her own internally-produced endorphin rush.

There was one particularly note-worthy moment that brought all three of these factors together. We were in the midst of an intense BDSM scene. S was standing, arms restrained by padded wrist cuffs. I was behind her with an array of floggers and leather straps, escalating the activity towards another endorphin release. She was at a particularly vulnerable moment, the flogging was really getting to her, there were tears flowing. To this day, I don’t know quite what prompted me to do this, but as I was flogging her, I started asking her, roughly, angrily, “Whose fault was it?”

The first couple of times, she was silent and didn’t answer.

“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
Eventually, she responded, breaking down sobbing in the process.
“It was my fault!”, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It was my fault,” she answered, more tentatively this time.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“His fault?”, this came nervously, tentatively, like she was trying it on for size in her head.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault.”, this came more firmly, like she was finding sure footing.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!” This came out stronger still. She also stood a little taller, and did not shrink from flogger blows.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!” This came out as an angry shout, defiant, solid. She flared her back and shoulders, daring me to do my worst. I put my back into it and swung hard.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!”
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!”
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!

When I released her, the aftercare was especially long, and there was a great deal of crying. However, these weren’t the hot tears of shame and violation, but the cleansing tears of release. For the first time, S was really coming to terms with releasing the responsibility she had been trying to carry.

This experience shaped much of our subsequent BDSM play. Over much time and discussion we would identify issues where she was “stuck” mentally or emotionally and look for ways to bring them to the surface during an intense scene. In the process, her confidence grew and emotional weight she had been carrying for virtually her entire life began to fall off her. She was reframing her memory of the experience, from something that defined her, into something that “merely” happened to her.

This memory came back to me with a sudden clarity this afternoon, and I wanted to write it dow for keeping.

In high school, in Memphis, in the 1980s.

I’d brought Paula home after a date that neither of us wanted to end. She peeked in her house and determined that her parents were sufficiently asleep, and so decided we could risk lying out on a blanket in her backyard. If her parents awoke, at least she was really home by curfew, even if she wasn’t exactly inside and tucked into bed.

Lying side by side on the blanket, staring up at the sky and the clouds sliding past. Holding hands turned to snuggling, turned to cuddling, turned to petting, turned to fucking.

Paula had mastered riding me with a slow pelvic rock that ground her clit against my pubic bone, slowly, leisurely, quietly.


When a warm, Summer rain started, Paula spread her arms, arched her back, and lifted her face to the dark, wet skies. She held herself in that ecstatic pose while I pushed and surged under her until I came hard and hot inside her, panting, dripping.

Years later Paula found out her sister (2 years younger) had been watching the entire time, most avidly, masturbating furiously the entire time.