Sure, I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with it,” as Seinfeld might say. But for now I’m addressing non-sexual friendships mostly involving three women, the complexities of that combination, and the juggling act necessary to keep everyone happy. Not that different from what today’s sexual threesome requires in order for success, but certainly a lot less risky. However, that’s just my guess.
Flat out, I will say: I don’t do well in threesomes; I never have and probably never will. Maybe this failure of mine has something to do with the fact that I was the oldest child of three children, with two younger brothers─ boys that had a great deal in common and barely knew I was alive. Though I was not interested in their rough-house games and silly antics, I often craved their easy unity and connection. Yet, I learned early on to distance myself, to separate rather than chase after their attention.
This separateness may have laid the foundation for how I’d feel in any triangular mode of friendship, which if you picture the triangle’s two sides, they slope toward one another and rest on the base. Me? I was that base, and the base is always on the bottom.
I’m theorizing here, and it might have more to do with the reality that I was nearly a whole year younger than all my friends from childhood to my college graduation. Deep feelings of insecurity stemmed from my own puny physicality, which defined how I saw myself in relation to others. In the awkward threesomes of my youth, I gave in easily, missed most nuances, and was always playing a game of catch-up. Though there were also surprise benefits: the allure of occasionally allowing myself to be mothered, a time when I felt the safest, or so I thought.
Most times, I was easy to manipulate, and in a relationship of three, someone is always waiting their turn. Their turn to speak or give an opinion or share what might be on their mind. But I think the hardest feelings to swallow are when you feel the ”two against one” syndrome haunting you from your past. It takes a strong sense of self to be able to brush off bad feelings among trusted friends…so much depends on that complicated past and how big a role friends had played in your life.
In those difficult threesomes of my childhood, I was usually terrified of stepping out, fearful that any show of strength or opinion might be met with scorn leading to further rejection. It wasn’t until I left home to attend college that I was able to shed this cloak of dependency and the frozen state of being me. Once away, I learned more about the give and take of friendships, and that everyone deserves a turn. I drew upon my own past experiences, which had already heightened my sensitivities. Early on I knew how to spot a friend, but especially a foe. I knew instantly when someone wanted to be my friend in order to get closer to a good friend of mine. That has happened to me more than I care to remember.
There exists an extremely tricky balance, a requirement in most friendships, yet especially one made of three women. What’s required is an inordinate amount of trust and a huge awareness and acute sensitivity. Because we come to these relationships from so many backgrounds and varied experiences, our needs are specifically unique. Each of us is part of a much larger pie, which is the friendship, and yet often the pie is not sliced evenly.
Isn’t everyone entitled to their piece of the pie?