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Three gay men living together in a three-way relationship explain how it works

Three gay men living together in a three-way relationship explain how it works

L-R: Louis, Sam and David talk about their three-way relationship

Triad; Threesome; Polyamorous relationship: Whatever you wish to call it, real-life examples of three men living and sleeping with one another in committed relationships remain pretty rare.

Although many people may have dabbled with sex with more than one person at the same time, actually committing one’s self to two others is considered far from the norm.

However, it’s that concept of ‘the norm’ that soon gets turned on its head when you meet Louis, David and Sam.

The three men (who have asked GSN not use their surnames) have been in a committed three-way relationship for the past year.

I ring the buzzer of their apartment in North London with some apprehension. I’ve interviewed many gay couples in the past but this is my first ‘thruple’ (as Sam refers to them). I wanted to ask some pretty personal questions: Would they be shy? Would they get offended?

I needn’t have worried. Sat side-by-side on a sofa – relaxed, jovial and talkative – they immediately put me at ease. They also laugh. A lot. Transcribing my interview afterwards was a challenge in picking out the words through the guffaws and gentle ribbing of each other.

Louis and David met Same (center) at a London club night in 2015
Louis and David met Same (center) at a London club night in 2015

‘When people think of threesomes,’ said Sam, playing with Brusky, their Chocolate Labrador, ‘they immediately think raunchiness and sex. Then they meet us and spend time with us and quickly say, “This all seems really normal”.’

It’s true. I very quickly regard them as one unit, in the same way I might view a couple as their own, distinct entity: Individuals, yet bonded.

David, 54, and Louis, 47, have been together for seven years. Louis heralds from Hong Kong but had been living in the UK. He’d been due to return to Asia, but those plans changed when he met David – originally from Israel.

They quickly moved in with one another and threw themselves into building a life together in London.

Around a year ago, they mutually decided that they would look around for a third person.

‘We came to a bit of a hold in our relationship,’ says David. They were still committed to one another and were planning on marrying, but they decided to entertain the idea of allowing someone else to join them. Whether this was a semi-regular ‘friend with benefits’ or something more was undecided.

‘We’d been monogamous. And then we started looking for other encounters,’ says Louis.

They experimented with threesomes, but, says David, ‘something was missing. It wasn’t really working for me.’

‘I wasn’t looking for a couple. It was the last thing I wanted.’

Then they met Sam, aged 28. It was at London bears night, Brut. They gave Sam a ride home that night and arranged to meet up again a week later. It was Sam’s first experience of a threesome – and they all immediately hit it off.

They very quickly fell into hanging out with one another.

‘It was very much like dating,’ says Sam, reflecting on those early days. ‘I wasn’t looking for a couple. It was the last thing I wanted. I wanted a monogamous relationship. That’s all I ever wanted, really.’

David and Louis say that finding Sam was a surprise. Not only was he younger than they were planning (‘We thought we’d find a guy in his 40s – but you don’t choose who you get along with,’ says David), he was also not shy of staking his own space in an established relationship.

‘I made it clear very soon, it was all or nothing,’ says Sam, signaling he wasn’t willing to take a ‘junior’ role and was not looking to be just ‘fuck buddies’.

‘I gave them that choice and they chose,’ says Sam.

Fortunately, they all wanted the same thing; to be together; Sam duly moved in within four weeks.

The first few weeks were marked by uncertainties and insecurities

Despite a shared aim, the early months were far from plain sailing.

‘It was very messy,’ emphasizes Louis. ‘There’s a lot of jealousy and a lot of having to adjust. Everyone’s looking out to see if they’re missing out on attention or affection. There were a lot of arguments in the early days.

‘It was,’ he chuckles, ‘a bit of a mind-fuck!’

This is where it sounds a little different from a more conventional relationship – which can begin with a honeymoon period and evolve into rows and bickering. The three of them say that the first few weeks were marked by uncertainties and insecurities, often leading to outbursts of emotion.

‘We had to quickly adapt a whole new, very different dynamic,’ says Louis of his relationship with David.

‘And then we both had to work out our relationships with Sam,’ adds David. ‘Testing each others boundaries, working out someone’s limits, it’s all part of being in a new relationship with someone, but it’s more intense and complicated when there are three of you.’

The three men live together in North London
The three men live together in North London

The men decided to initially pledge themselves to staying together for three months; not bail out, whatever arguments arose. This gave them the space to be open and honest with one another, reasonably safe in the knowledge that nothing anyone said would lead to someone else throwing in the towel.

After the first three months, they committed to six months. After six months, they say things became much easier. It may have helped that they also moved into a new apartment, which they redesigned around their new relationship: One very big bed for them all to sleep in, three large wardrobes and a big shower unit with enough space for them all.

Louis works in IT, Sam is a video producer and David works in education and is training to be a counselor.

They say their relationship is helped by the fact they have shared interests. They all love photography and filmmaking, and have turned one room into a studio and creative workspace. They’re also, as you might guess, regular gym buddies.

‘And we do have a lot of sex,’ laughs Sam – but only with each other. They all agreed early on that they would be ‘monogamous’ to the relationship. At first, they decided to only have sex as a threesome. Now, they tend to have sex together, but also sometimes pair off.

‘My daughter, who is 30, was unsure at first when she found out’

They’re not ashamed or embarrassed about their chosen relationship. In fact, they’re refreshingly matter-of-fact. They even have a joint Instagram profile. Work colleagues and friends are aware, although breaking the news to wider family has not been easy.

‘Some family members know. My daughter, who is 30, was unsure at first when she found out,’ says David. ‘She was thinking ahead as to how she might explain it to her children.’

‘But she’s come around now,’ says Sam. ‘She invited us all to her wedding in January, and we all went and it was all fine – it was really nice.’

Sam is from the UK, but of Middle Eastern descent. Being openly gay is not easy, but he’s long since decided that the closet was not an option for him. Telling his mother about his two new boyfriends was – as you may imagine – more difficult.

‘She didn’t take it well,’ he admits. ‘I think at first she was horrified at me taking up with these two older guys. She thought they were just going to use and abuse me and take advantage. However, she came around. She met them and realized they are nice guys.

‘We spent Christmas with her and it was all fine. I can actually leave these two with her and go out and not have to worry – she likes them.’

‘Your mother completely surprised us,’ says Louis. ‘She’s been OK and has made a really great effort and she is lovely.’

Louis says that his brother and sister know about the arrangement and are OK about it, but that it’s not something he feels inclined to raise with other family members in Hong Kong, who would be unlikely to react with the same acceptance.

What of the future? Threesomes, when they exist, don’t have a good reputation for lasting. Is that a concern?

‘Any relationship faces challenges and couples often split up. Who knows what will happen,’ shrugs David.

‘Yes, Sam is younger, and I was very, very worried that our relationship might stop him from enjoying life or he would feel restricted so we promised him, any time he wants to go, any time he feels he’s missing out, he can go. In ten years time I’ll be 64, and he’ll only be 38….’ he trails off.

‘I hear this all the time!’ laughs Sam, rolling his eyes, and indicating it’s a discussion that has come up previously. ‘I don’t feel that I need anything more. Even though I’m quite young, I’m definitely relationship-oriented. This is good. I don’t need a thousand different experiences of sleeping with other people. This works.’

At the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? For now, for these three men, it works, so who is anyone else to judge?

‘Before we were a couple. Now it feels like this is my family,’ says David, looking over with affection and pride at Sam and Louis.

David, Sam and Louis
David (left): ‘Before we were a couple. Now it feels like this is my family.’

‘There are certain rules of behavior that should be agreed between all three parties’

And would they have any advice for anyone else thinking of opening up their relationship or exploring the same sort of three-way arrangement?

‘Talk about everything,’ says David. ‘If something is on your mind, bring it up.’

‘You need to set rules,’ adds Louis. We made rules and then re-made them. Keep talking about things. There are certain rules of behavior and conduct that should be agreed between all three parties. And they should be maintained.

‘Also, if someone else is going to join the relationship, they really have to be worth it and they must be pretty easy-going,’ he adds.

‘It’s definitely not for everyone,’ adds David.

‘But it’s never boring!’ laughs Sam.