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When a total stranger kissed me above Sacramento grounds one summer on a rafting trip, I felt elevated — and not just by the water. This would all sound like a prelude to a typical love story if I didn’t have a boyfriend and the stranger weren’t a girl.

Neither the kiss itself nor the lesbian experimentation was the exciting element. I’ve always wanted to see my significant other make love to another girl, so when a girl showed interest in me, I was swathed in glory and had enough trust to allow her into my intimate moments. As soon as I stepped on land, I got a hold of my phone and texted my boyfriend about the possibilities of a threesome. I wasn’t always comfortable with the idea and was proud of myself that I was finally confident enough to have my vagina be compared to that of another girl’s.

The first time I scoured the sex subreddit, I scrolled through pages and pages of people seeking validation that their kinks and fetishes were acceptable so that, I, myself could receive confirmation that my amygdala was working fine. What I came across was a thread with more than 100 comments that dealt with a woman claiming to have an obsession with having her boyfriend have sex with other women. I was having a reoccurring dream, and it had become apparent that it stemmed not so much from fear as it did from desire. The specifics of my dreams were embarrassingly cliche: I was watching my then-boyfriend have sex with another girl. But the clincher? I enjoyed it.

Previously, whenever I had thoughts that drifted toward the unthinkable, I chalked it up to mere horniness that could be quenched with monogamous sex. Yet, sometimes during monogamous intercourse, I had to imagine my partner having sex with someone else to achieve that one final orgasm. There’s of course nothing wrong with fantasizing, but turning those fantasies into reality had proven to be quite the challenge. Just like the woman who posted the Reddit thread, I was adamant on seeing my partner have sex with someone else. During that rafting trip, I finally had the opportunity to pursue my wildest dreams.

Kinks and fetishes are extremely personal, and finding someone you trust enough to share them with is difficult. Sex is already uncomfortable to discuss, so when your turn-ons deviate from the usual stockings and handcuffs, it becomes even harder to admit. Prior to me blasting my fetish on social media, I’ve only gotten comfortable discussing this with a few sexual partners recently and never actually felt comfortable vocalizing my thoughts. My needs have been confined for so long that I ended up pursuing it in the wrong way and hired an escort.

After finally admitting my fetish, I searched for months for that rush of jealousy. Whether it was attempting to convince couples that would rather have sex with just me to have sex with both me and my boyfriend, or sarcastically bringing it up to potential suitors in the hopes for serious takers, I’ve tried it all. With no luck, I resorted to the age-old solution that desperate, horny men use when they ultimately hit rock bottom: surfing the backpage for escorts.

Yet, in both the cases of the compelling stranger on the rafting trip and the escort, I was unable to go through with the opportunity. I wanted to live my sex life according to strict intellectual principles. According to these principles, me taking action on my fetish was paramount, because they stress self-exploration and freedom of experimentation, egging me to try out my fetish. It was critical that I was OK with seeing my partner have sex with women, but as much as I tried to obey the tenants, trust wasn’t implemented in my relationship for my plans to pan out. The hasty decisions, made as a result of long-term suppression, couldn’t be followed. So the stranger ended up in a sexless threesome, and the woman from the backpages was sent home with $20 for gas and her troubles. In the end, the thrill of jealousy was not worth compromising my sanity. This definitely doesn’t mean that the territory will remain unexplored, but perhaps with a different partner, at a different time.

I wouldn’t be the first to say that “50 Shades of Grey,” which implied that only those who are emotionally scarred have weird sexual preferences, got it all wrong. It is perfectly healthy to have kinks and fetishes. Some people like being submissive, disrespected and physically harmed during sex, and I’m certainly not the only person to be turned on by jealousy. Ideally, we wouldn’t be afraid to explore our dirty desires or get put into a box for having them, but unfortunately, it’s never as simplistic as it seems. Self-dubbed shrinks around us whose knowledge on psychology knowledge doesn’t go far beyond Freud or “50 Shades of Grey” always seems to want to psychoanalyze those with kinks and fetishes. I still haven’t seen my partner have sex with someone right in front of my face, and you probably still haven’t admitted your exhibitionist thoughts. We have fear, shame and wallets empty of cash to invest in handcuffs, all of which seem to affect our abilities to be kinky.

Some people deride Valentine’s Day as a pseudo-holiday that commercializes love, but you don’t have to follow the precedents and buy an overpriced teddy bear. Instead, you could use this as an opportunity to open up to your significant other, and start enjoying your sex life more than you already do.

Contact Catherine Straus at [email protected].