Caroline Rose Giuliani, who has described herself as "multiverses apart, politically and otherwise" from her father Rudy (the bumbling former personal lawyer of Donald Trump) is making news with a personal memoir just out in
(online March 4). But the story is full of arrestingly intelligent insights from a thoughtful and fearless person. Excerpts:
Intimacy between two people is like ping-pong, but with three people,
it’s like volleying a ball with no net, and no blueprint. That openness
has changed my life.
...I now understand that my curiosity, open-mindedness, and sense of adventure are three nonnegotiable, defining elements of my identity. But it wasn’t until I started sleeping with couples that I shed my shame about those qualities, let alone embraced them in all areas of my life. Finding the strength to explore these more complicated, passionate aspects of my personality became the key to harnessing my voice and creative spark, which in turn helped me better cope with depression, anxiety, and the lingering cognitive effects of adolescent anorexia.
...When people think about three-ways, intimacy may not be the first thing to come to mind.... But when a couple invites me into their bed, I not only get welcomed into the midst of their preexisting connection, but also get to forge a new one with them based on their trust that I will respect the boundaries of their relationship. This is a vulnerable position all around: for the couple in opening their connection to a newcomer, and for the unicorn in entering a power dynamic where they are the only one without an established teammate.
...Once I was single, I immediately began to make up for lost time. I took soul-nourishing psychedelic trips into the desert with friends. I broke my stainless steel bed frame with tons of great (and safe) sex. Of all of the variants of ecstasy I experienced during that period, the ecstasy of unbridled self-discovery was the most metamorphic. I had gone through various experimentation phases throughout high school and college, but those bold (sometimes unwise) choices were inextricably intertwined with adolescent angst and rebellion. Finding my wildness as an adult was much more peaceful—it was not reacting or crying out but intentionally searching.
You know how unicorns and the couples hunting them are regarded in the polyamory world? Well,
...I knew the fearful charge around dating couples meant there was something to learn. So, as one does with all of life’s burning questions, I googled and discovered Feeld.... As I scrolled and chatted, I felt a common vibe unifying many of the profiles, but the range of gender identities, sexual orientations, and diverse interests made it difficult to articulate what that commonality was. Then it dawned on me that this common thread was... the commitment to embracing one’s own nonconformity, the celebration of individualism and sexuality without shame. Most people I talked to on the app would probably take being labeled “weird” as a compliment; I always had, but many of my exes had not. It was refreshing to be on a platform where radical open-mindedness was the baseline, and it cemented how important that value is to me...
As with any online forum, I had to weed out the occasional creep, but in general, the people I connected with were clear communicators and more transparent about difficult subjects like STD status than I had ever encountered before.
...I was pleased to discover that, having been a submissive myself, finding the language to turn Isabella on came naturally to me. I was, in turn, very turned on by turning her on. By the time I was waiting for Isabella and Oliver at the bar with those first-date jitters, I wasn’t sure if our sexual preamble would make things awkward. I soon learned that traditionally awkward moments tend not to stay awkward between open and direct people.
From the moment I greeted the couple—and realized I needed to decide whom to acknowledge first—it became clear how different this experience was going to be from any previous date. On a two-person date (and certainly on a heteronormative one), there tends to be an unconscious blueprint of the basic order of operations: you sit across from each other at the table, ask each other questions, maybe argue over the check. ... The fluidity of the situation made autopilot impossible, which made me realize how often I do go on autopilot, in dating and otherwise. I thought more consciously about what I wanted to do or say in each moment. At whom did I want to bat my new eyelash extensions? Did I want to ask questions about him, her, or their relationship? Even small details like the seating arrangement required more active attention. (I later learned that Isabella and Oliver specifically chose a venue with circular tables so that I didn’t feel like they were interviewing me.)
A truism among some people in the polyam world is that you can't date a relationship, only individual people. Well,
I’m not sure if Aristotle was a unicorn, but the whole is definitely greater than the sum of a couple’s parts. A unicorn not only dates the individuals, but also dates the relationship. This third force to flirt with is undoubtedly the most interesting one. My mind became a lens through which Isabella and Oliver got to know each other better. I got an unexpected rush from asking Isabella a question about her childhood that Oliver had never thought to ask her in their years of dating....
...For the rest of the night, as well as on future dates with other couples, I found myself seducing the connection between the partners more than either of them individually. Feeling my perspective stoke their attraction to one another was like taking a visceral tour of the inner workings of their mutual magnetism, which was simultaneously arousing and fascinating.
...Many aspects of the encounter were pleasurable and fun, but the most engrossing sensation was feeling Oliver’s palpable love for Isabella flow through me. There was no doubt that his desire to fulfill her was the deeper motivation for filling me. Texting with Isabella a few weeks after our threesome, I told her about feeling Oliver’s passion for her permeate me. Sharing this unique perspective on their relationship was among our most intimate moments. ... Being someone who people like Oliver and Isabella entrust with their most cherished relationship ... reminds me of the specific beauty inherent in my open way of being—a way that has gotten me slut-shamed for most of my life (and still does).
I know now that I am empathetic, radically open-minded, profoundly adventurous, and fiercely committed to telling stories that reduce the stigma surrounding sexuality and mental health—including this one, right now. Before I started living the unicorn life, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to list those qualities or even feel certain that they are positive traits. Even now, I feel the urge to disclaim that I’m also excessively aware of my many flaws. But if you cannot identify and be proud of your strengths, it’s impossible to nurture them in the face of self-doubt.
In these sexually-limiting pandemic times, reliving my spicy threesome memories has been a much-needed, COVID-free crutch for a single gal and her vibrators. More notably, though, it has made me take stock of how many emotionally intelligent friends I’ve made ... probably because of their willingness to navigate complicated interpersonal issues. Regardless of sexual activity, I’m still friendly with every single couple I’ve met through ethical non-monogamy. This sex-positive community has emphasized for me that one size does not fit all, which means I am also not trying to disparage anyone who prefers complete monogamy. In fact, I hope to eventually find a “monogamish” relationship, like many of the couples I’ve dated have. I want a bond strong and trusting enough to experience threesomes from the couple’s perspective, but like unicorns, such relationships are rare.
...One of the most frustrating misconceptions about sexually adventurous people is that we are somehow less responsible. But the opposite may be true. Shining a communal light on sexuality makes it harder for darkness, like assault and trauma, to fester. ...