Is Three a Crowd?

Tessa* and Mike* created profiles on Tinder in the search of like-minded people interested in threesomes

I nervously tap my fingers on the surface of an unoccupied table in the courtyard of That Place, a popular cafe located at the heart of Cape Town. After matching with Tessa* on Tinder a few days prior, I arrange to meet Tessa and her boyfriend Mike* for lunch. Tessa’s Tinder profile boasts several flattering images of herself. The final photo is an snapshot of the couple standing together at the beach. “Looking for a third,” her Tinder bio states.

“Meet interesting people nearby” is the lone phrase placed tactfully on the homepage of Tinder’s website. After the app’s initial launch in 2012, Tinder continues to remain a heated topic of discussion in the media. DMR estimates that as of February 2016, Tinder has created 10 billion total matches between all users. While there is no end to the monogamous tales of Tinder meet-ups, the instances in which couples jointly utilize the app are rarely mentioned.

Tessa and Mike are one such couple utilizing Tinder for the sole purpose of finding like-minded users interested in threesomes. After firm reassurance their identities would remain private, I convinced the pair to share their thoughts on what many consider a taboo topic in today’s society.

My methodic tapping ceases at the sound of voices approaching the outdoor seating area nestled in the back of the cafe.

“Oh!” Tessa exclaims laughing as I stand up to greet them, “You’re really short.” I’m taken aback by her immediate friendliness as she extends an arm out to hug me. Mike trails close behind her, offering a polite nod.

Tessa and Mike place themselves at the bench directly across from myself, sitting shoulder to shoulder. Tessa is a bubbly female in her mid 20’s, she talks so quickly I find myself struggling to keep up with the tornado of words swirling from her mouth. Mike is the same age as Tessa but remains reserved throughout the interview. His genuine disposition does not fail to show, regardless to his quiet nature. We reach an unspoken understanding that he enjoys simply observing the conversation, compared to jutting in at every possible instance.

A study conducted by University of Buffalo written in TheSpectrum, yields that over 10% of students have partaken in a threesome during their lifetime. Individuals in their 20’s are noted to be the age group most willing to participate in a sexual experience with two partners at once.

As I begin to delve into my pre-determined questions, I find it incredibly difficult to maintain an air of professionalism while discussing a topic society has deemed to be the farthest thing away from professional.

My first question is why they agreed to meet me if my interests were strictly platonic.

Mike however, doesn’t sense my initial awkwardness and casually shrugs, “I’m not sure, we were just curious what sort of questions you would ask us.”

I come to learn that Mike and Tessa have been dating for a little over a year. They met by matching on Tinder, although they do not often admit this to people. The couple has had two previous threesomes together.

In June of 2015, Tessa made initial contact with a girl through Tinder and after a few weeks of chatting the three arranged to meet up. The first experience went reasonably well, although Tessa would have appreciated calming her nerves with a few drinks beforehand. The girl joining the couple explained she didn’t drink alcohol for personal reasons. Tessa and Mike felt they had to respect this preference in order for everyone to be fully comfortable with the experience.

The second experience began in January when Mike and Tessa realized they had both matched with the same girl on Tinder at different times. They began to talk to her separately until Mike proposed the idea of a threesome and the girl agreed.

“Maybe too much alcohol this time. One person was given more attention than the other and that basically ruined the mood. It was unintentional but not fun in the moment.”

There is an unspoken awkwardness between the couple at the mention of this subject and Tessa doesn’t delve much further. As she speaks Mike picks at a loose string on his T-shirt, looking somewhat uncomfortable. After the second experience the couple agreed to take a break from Tinder, and it wasn’t until March they decided re-downloaded the app.

Originally the pair created separate Tinder accounts. The couple would search for people without directly highlighting their intentions in the bio. Tessa admitted that although this tactic resulted in a higher quantity of matches, it felt deceitful. Oftentimes the girls openly voiced their annoyance once they realized what Tessa was actually asking for.

“It’s actually pretty funny, you’ll see some girls bio’s explicitly state “No Threesomes,” Tessa chuckles.

Even if the Tinder conversation seemed to be going well, many times the girls were ultimately more interested in one individual over the other, or changed their minds before the couple could meet them.

“No one wants to feel like the third person,” Mike explains.

Tessa identifies as Bisexual while Mike identifies as Straight. They currently keep their preferences only on women, never attempting to match with other men. I ask Mike if he would consider a threesome with another man but he quickly shakes his head.

“I have no problem with the idea of it but it’s just not something I’m personally interested in.”

If Mike’s disinterest bothers Tessa, she makes no sign of it, and nods in agreement as Mike speaks.

A study posted in Psychology Today, asked a pool of individuals how arousing they found the fantasy of a threesome with two opposite sex couples. Based on a 1-6 scale, on average women scored 1.62 while men scored 4.48. Men are almost 3 times as likely to be aroused by the thought of a threesome than women.

My final question is what advice the pair would give to anyone thinking about attempting a threesome.

“I’d say however you think you’re going to feel is completely different than how you’ll feel in the actual moment. It’s a little bit of trial and error, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I don’t think I’d even be into the idea if I wasn’t attracted to girls.” Tessa states.

Mike’s response is short, “It’s not like the movies.”

Neither Tessa nor Mike are familiar with 3nder, an app launched in 2015. Unlike Tinder, 3nder’s exclusive purpose is to help individuals find others interested in threesomes. The couple seems mildly intrigued at the idea, claiming they would look into it if the app had a large population of users.

After an hour of questions, I wave goodbye to Tessa and Mike and watch them stroll out of the cafe. The couple does not exit arm in arm, transcending into the sunset in a cinematic fashion, nor do they immediately start bickering about the conversation that occurred moments ago. Tessa casually scrolls through her phone while Mike absentmindedly peers through the surrounding shop windows. I can’t pinpoint exactly what my fixed expectations were for the pair, but it almost startles me how “normal” they appear.

While some individuals shake their heads indignantly to the thought of a threesome, the couple views threesomes as just another characteristic defining their relationship. From Tessa and Mike’s perspective there’s no need to call three a crowd if all parties consent to finding a large enough bed.

Tessa* and Mike* are alternative names used to keep the privacy of the two individuals interviewed


Tinder Website:

Tinder Statistics:

3nder website:

Threesome Statistics:


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