We arranged to meet at a speakeasy overlooking the city of Melbourne. We had connected on such a real level messaging online that when it was time to test our chemistry live and in person, it’s no surprise we fell for one another.

It involved what good first dates usually do: drinks, laughs, and talking for hours. We clicked immediately. Her, him, and I. I suspect everyone in the bar was both curious about and envious of our connection.

I met Dottie and Steve online, and we hit it off instantly. The two told me their intentions — that they were looking for a deeper connection with a third person who would join their BDSM relationship. They made clear the arrangement would only work if it was a good fit for everyone involved, which required mutual attraction and respect from all three of us.

Apparently, they found what they were after. Dottie and Steve asked me if I’d be open to joining their relationship before we even met, which made me a bit hesitant. Although I’ve had my fair share of threesomes, this would be more than just a physical encounter. It was a commitment to two people. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get in over my head.

When I got to the bar for that first meeting, Steve and Dottie had a gin and tonic waiting for me. I couldn’t get enough of Dottie from the first time I heard her infectious laugh, and Steve, who spoke with such purpose, was even more handsome in person. Steve is a true blue Aussie who is the perfect balance of fun, laid-back, and confident. Dottie is intelligent, creative, and absolutely stunning. Her smile catches the eye of everyone in the room. When I met them, they had already been together for a year.

I was their unicorn — a single, submissive, pansexual woman with an open mind, a strong sense of self, and unique interests and opinions about the world.

And me, well, I was their unicorn — a single, submissive, pansexual woman with an open mind, a strong sense of self, and unique interests and opinions about the world.

We had captivating conversations about society, love, and life. Their words held my attention, and the desire was undeniable. The connection between us felt real.

Their sexual dynamic was of Dom and Switch — Steve was dominant and Dottie started out as submissive, but later learned she enjoyed switching between the two roles. As a true submissive, I felt like I would fit well with them, because the power dynamic allowed me to both be fully myself and bond with Dottie on a submissive level. I was confident that embracing our authentic selves unashamedly would help create a dynamic trio.

Over the next three weeks, my confidence in Steve and Dottie grew, and I became comfortable with the idea of trying something new. Before we began Kinbaku, which translates to “the beauty of tight binding,” Steve talked me through the practice. He ensured that I felt safe the whole time. To my surprise, I found myself in a Zen-like state. Even though I was highly aware of my surroundings, I could let go of control and trust my partners. The experience was sensual, passionate, and phenomenal.

It embodied Steve and Dottie’s belief that communication is key to a successful relationship. I had to learn how to talk about everything, from my darkest relationship fears to my deepest fantasies to my greatest dreams in life. Being open and honest wasn’t new to me, but in the past, I was typically the one to initiate healthy, personal, and sometimes confrontational conversations. No more.

When it came to our dates, it was indulgence from start to finish. Once a month, we spoiled ourselves at a magnificent restaurant, ordering to our hearts’ content. We shared delectable dinners and discussions. I couldn’t decide what was more satisfying, the conversation or the cuisine. And we always booked a hotel room to continue our hedonist tendencies into the early morning.

Dottie, Steve, and I spent six months molding this lavish love affair into a heartfelt relationship. It wasn’t only the witty banter and a fulfilling sex life that kept us together. We also came to care deeply for one another and comforted each other during individual hardships. When my nonno (grandfather) passed away, they were there for me in a way I didn’t know I needed. They were gentle and kind, giving me the space I needed to grieve while also being available and supportive in those dark moments when I felt like I didn’t have anyone else.

It is not hyperbolic to say this was the relationship of my dreams. We had a shared calendar and tried to spend as much time together as we could, both as two and as three. Dottie and I often went shopping while Steve and I loved sipping a good martini on a rooftop bar. The staff memorized each of our orders at our favourite pho place because we went there so regularly.

Then, another dream of mine came true in the form of a job 11,000 miles away in Portugal. When I told Dottie and Steve about this opportunity and how important it was to me, they smiled through tears and congratulated me, although they knew exactly what my taking the job meant.

Once the time came, we planned a special night to send me off. And it was one to remember. We spent the morning after cuddling, looking into each other’s eyes, and savoring every moment left of this journey we had taken together.

Saying goodbye wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be, because I was — I still am — confident this would not be the end. Our love had evolved beyond social norms and defied my expectations. It was something so bewildering yet so simple — three people falling in love.