Can You Land A Threesome With A Dating App?

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet
I met my now-fiancé, Ryan, in April of 2013, when Tinder was in its infancy. I was aware of the controversial app, but I hadn’t felt the need to download it.

But once Ryan and I opened our relationship, I started playing around with Tinder, OkCupid, and even Bumble vicariously through him — helping him write his profiles, swiping through women with him, and even coaching him through a conversation with a woman. Which is to say that I’ve dabbled, but I saw no reason to get into it myself.

That is, until a friend told us about Thrinder, an app for couples and the singles who want to be involved with them. Then, OkCupid came out with a new function that lets you say you’re in a non-monogamous relationship and link your account to someone else’s. This made me curious: What is it like to meet women as a couple on dating apps? I decided to give it a try.

I downloaded Thrinder and created a couple's account for us, and downloaded OkCupid and created my own account, which I linked to Ryan’s. I stocked both accounts with flattering pictures of us at the beach, dancing together at summer parties, and looking in love. I was aiming for a classy vibe that said, “We’re attractive, fun, but fairly normal people who love each other!” Thrinder makes you keep it short, but I spent a long time with our OkCupid profile, writing about how we’re still friends with all the women we’ve been with, that we ascribe to affirmative consent, that she should contact us if she believes that threesomes can be respectful and healthy, and that we have a cozy one-bedroom with a cat. I wanted women who read our profile to feel safe — emotionally and physically — contacting us. I didn’t want to seem like creeps. (Yes, I’ve read the comments from readers who call couples who want to have a threesome creepy and terrible. Thanks for getting in my head.)

Then, I started swiping.

I found a weird world. Many women on Thrinder hid their faces, which I understand. But you can’t see much of their personalities on the app, either, so that left us with nothing to go on. Some women put unicorn emoji in their profiles, indicating they were interested in something a little more long-term. Others said they were straight, which confused me. Some couples were like us, posting cute pictures. Others were aggressively sexual, with close-ups of her butt in lacy lingerie and his abs above boxers, or a headless shot of their almost-naked bodies intertwined on a bed. I swiped right on some of the cute couples, and on a lot of women. But first I always took the time to read their profiles to see if they were looking for fmf. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.

After playing this game for a few days, we only matched with couples. We didn’t follow up, and neither did they. I ran out of “beautiful humans,” as Thrinder calls them, to swipe. That’s when I realized that only two or three new people join each day, so if you check back in occasionally, you will see every woman in your city who might be interested in a threesome. There are just far too many couples trying to have a threesome, and not enough willing or curious ladies.

I wondered if this is what it feels like to be a dude on a traditional dating app.

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OkCupid was a whole other story. As soon as I created an account that clearly stated I was in an open relationship with Ryan and looking for a female for a respectful and fun encounter, I was bombarded within four minutes with 10 messages — from men. Ryan noticed a deluge of men visiting his profile, perhaps curious about what we had going. I switched my profile so that only non-straight people could look at my profile, then set my matches to bi women. I realize now I should have set it to only show me single women, because again, I was matched with a bunch of couples. Or, I would match with a woman, only to see that she explicitly said in her profile for creepy couples to leave her alone, which I respected. I did match with two or three women, but our messages fell off.

I wondered if this is what it feels like to be a dude on a traditional dating app. You put a lot of work in, but find that little comes to fruition because women are being bombarded by messages from creeps. I continued to refine our profile to try to communicate that Ryan and I treat women well, and decided to let matched women initiate the conversation.

In the midst of this, a woman who Ryan had been going on dates with for two years came home with us. When she left, she said, “It’s amazing. You make me feel so comfortable.” A few days later, she gushed through text messages to us about our night and set up our next date — the ultimate compliment. Could there be a way to communicate our IRL good vibes in an app? That even though we weren’t looking for anything serious, we wouldn’t make a women feel dirty or used? That we ask for permission before doing anything for a woman, and that we never bring anyone into our relationship if we’re fighting with one another?

After reading more OkCupid profiles that were critical of couples (“Men, stop making your girlfriends troll for women”), I uploaded an artistic, black-and-white nude of me snuggled against the torso of our ex, Kara, to communicate that I am experienced with women. I added to our profile to say that I actually am bisexual, that I wasn’t just doing this for Ryan.

After a couple of weeks of dead ends, we got a message from a cute girl on OkCupid, saying she really liked our profile. We met up for dinner on a Thursday at our favorite tapas restaurant near our apartment. She was smart, kind, and open-minded — a real catch.

Could there be a way to communicate our IRL good vibes in an app?

And yet, the spark wasn’t there. We set up our next date, but as I thought about it more, I decided I didn’t want to go through with it. Sure, if Ryan and I were brand new at this, we would have been excited about the prospect of having a threesome with such a sweet, smart woman. But at this point we had several women that we were enamored with who wanted to hang out with us. We’re fortunate enough to roll with an open-minded crowd that all know we’re in an open relationship, and since that lackluster date, two different women have approached us in person at parties and said they want to go home with us.

OkCupid, meanwhile, was making me depressed. All that swiping through faces felt hollow and caustic. How to know if we would get truly excited about a woman until we could meet her and see her vibe in person? It’s a delicate situation, finding someone who you both like, and who likes both of you. Our most nourishing connections came from meeting people in person and feeling something build in a lively conversation accented by body language.

I told Ryan my feelings, and he agreed. So I texted our date and told her that we were working through some things in our relationship and didn’t want to bring her in the middle. She responded that she understood.

I know it’s probably possible to find a great threesome or foursome on a dating app. And for couples who don’t feel comfortable with being public about their arrangement, it might be the best choice. But if I can infer anything from our experience, it’s that it might be best to let these things develop organically. Let you or your partner go on a few dates with someone cool who may eventually get really curious about having a threesome; this happened to us twice. Or maybe go to a good dance party and see who follows you around the dance floor, which has also happened to us. If you love each other, respect each other and women, and put positive energy out there, something is sure to come your way, IRL.
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