While I am typically a monogamous person, I’ve enjoyed dating and having casual encounters with (opposite-sex) couples in the past. Doing so was how I first explored my same-sex attractions. But after years of group experiences, I have stopped actively searching for couples. I remember having a strong physical connection with some of them, but I also remember feeling objectificatied and facing power dynamics that made me uncomfortable. Those things aren’t intrinsic to group sex but thanks to cisheteropatriarchy, it’s hard to escape them.

In my experience, couples weren’t often looking to create a mutually beneficial experience. They were searching for a “unicorn” to spice up their relationship rather than a fully realized human being with boundaries, desires, and feelings. Male partners seemed most interested in the social validation that comes with sleeping with two women at the same time, but they never talked about pleasing those women or making us feel comfortable.

I became particularly sensitive to the language women used when considering me as a third. They often described me as a “present” they were taking home for their boyfriends. Their compliments rarely referred to things they personally liked about me but rather characteristics that they knew their partners would appreciate. Statements like, “You’re skinny. My boyfriend loves thin women!” aren’t remotely flirtatious; they’re just observations. And they showed me that those women didn’t have a genuine interest in sleeping with me. They wanted to bring their partner’s fantasy to life, to perform sex with me for the male gaze, and maybe to prove how compromising and down-to-earth they were. But I still don’t know if they actually liked me.

One woman spent our entire time together instructing me how to pose and move, explaining that it was what her boyfriend liked. She didn’t mention her own likes or dislikes, and she certainly didn’t ask about mine. She also kept affirming how great she was for finding me. She’d make direct eye contact with her partner and say, “I found a good girl for you, right?” to which he’d nod and reply, “Yes, she’s such a good girl.”

That scenario was wholly unbalanced because they were exploring a roleplay without my input. It was one woman demonstrating that she’s not a regular girlfriend, she’s a Cool Girlfriend™ and being validated for it. It was her using me as a vehicle to increase her value in her relationship while catering to her partner’s desires. But I had very little to gain from the situation. At minimum, it would’ve been nice to sleep with a woman who had an actual interest in me. More so, it would’ve been nice to have two partners who considered my pleasure as well as their own.

I also encountered situations where men practically dragged their girlfriends on dates with me. Those dates were the worst. One guy tried to bounce ideas for how to loosen his girlfriend up off of me in a way that seemed to directly violate the rules of consent. “Maybe after a few more drinks she’ll be down?” he suggested, as if plying her with alcohol to weaken her resolve was an ethical way to treat his partner. Consent is supposed to be enthusiastic. If someone doesn’t want to have a threesome, their partner should respect that. And I sure as hell am not going to help someone coerce their partner into sex.

That’s not to say that every threesome features an unwilling female partner — there are many couples made up of two people who both actually want to have a threesome. But in the case that someone can’t respect their partner’s — the person they claim to love’s — boundaries, it tells me that they absolutely won’t respect mine. It’s a huge red flag. When a woman finally agrees to a threesome after weeks of her boyfriend’s pleading, she isn’t sleeping with me because she is attracted to me. She’s participating in group sex because she doesn’t want to lose her pushy boyfriend. She’s tired of resisting. That kind of consent isn’t enthusiastic, and it also isn’t flattering or fun. I don’t want women who want me because their boyfriends do.

We bisexual women deserve sex that makes us feel good. We don’t exist in service of a couple’s or a man’s needs, especially in a relationship that isn’t even ours. It’s important that we address the ways in which women are pressured to perform and participate in group sex. But it is also important that women in opposite-sex relationships stop engaging in threesomes if their primary goal is their boyfriend’s satisfaction. Either all three of us matter equally or I’m going home.