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The Orgy that Saved My Marriage

"It felt like you could have your cake and eat it too, like, is this too good to be true?"

ByCathy Keenas told toSirin Kale

Illustration by Niallycat

My First Time is a column and podcast series exploring sexuality, gender, and kink with the wide-eyed curiosity of a virgin. We all know your "first time" is about a lot more than just popping your cherry. From experimenting with kink to just trying something new and wild, everyone experiences thousands of first times in the bedroom—that's how sex stays fun, right?

This week we're talking to Cathy Keen from threesomes app Feeld about her first time having group sex with her husband. You can catch My First Time on Acast, Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

I was raised in a traditional Christian family: I went to church every Sunday, that kind of thing. My parents—outwardly—seemed to demonstrate the most perfectly monogamous relationship, although as I got older I realised that not everything was as perfect as it seemed.

I thought, there must be another way. But as a young 20-something (I'm 38 now), there wasn't the language to ask those things back then without being judged quite heavily. In more recent years, I've discovered that there are other people like me, and opportunities, and events where people can meet and discuss these things and develop intimate relationships.

I'd been with my husband for seven years, and I'd only had two serious relationships before then, both of around four years. I never cheated on my boyfriends, but I used to struggle and feel compromised by monogamy. I'd get close to people and I'd have these feelings of wanting to take it a bit further, but I couldn't and I'd end up feeling really frustrated. When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, it was because I knew those feelings of wanting to do things with other people were overwhelming.

When I met my husband Thomas, he was just so much more liberated in terms of his sexuality than anyone else I'd met. He refused to be put in a box about anything; he was always open to trying new things. He made me feel safe, so I started telling him about the thoughts and feelings I'd had in other relationships. We spoke quite openly about opening up our relationship, and then about two years later we actually did it.

We'd heard about play parties, where people go to consensually have sex with each other. You swap partners or find partners for the evening. The one we chose was called Killing Kittens, and to this day it's been the best party we've been to.

It was being held in this basement club called the Sauna Club in Soho, and you have to dress up and wear masks. When you arrive, you put your stuff in the changing rooms and then stand around chatting and drinking prosecco.

I remember that when my husband walked into the bar—he's a very tall, attractive man—this group of women literally stood up like meercats and started following him. Normally, in a bar that wouldn't happen—when you clock someone else's partner, you'd back off. But they just stared at him and then they stared at me, and I really felt like a rabbit in headlights, because I'd never been confronted with such aggressive desire from other people.

Normally, in the group sex scene the women are very attractive, but the men are less good-looking, so there was a lot of interest in Thomas. These two girls—they were quite young, they were students—came up to us and started talking to us. After a while, one of the girls jumped on Thomas and started kissing him, and the other started kissing me. Then we progressed into getting into the jacuzzi, all of us kissing, and out of the corner of my eye I notice this really beautiful Asian girl who's jumping up and down and waving her arms. We make eye contact and she's like, "Can I join?" And Thomas and I are like, "Sure!"

It felt really nice—quite slow and sensual. I wasn't really focussed upon sex at that point, I was just enjoying what was quite a female experience. We decided to go into one of the booths, and we actually ended up picking one that had a peep hole on the outside—we didn't know that at the time. So there was quite a crowd of people outside, watching us.

When we got inside the booth we swapped girls, and the Asian girl went and joined in with Thomas as well, and then it all became more sexual. I think we were all nude, at this point. It felt really relaxed: I didn't feel pushed, or uncomfortable. The girls and I performed oral sex on each other, and Thomas had sex with them. After a while, they left and then a couple—a man and a woman—knocked on the door, and asked if they could come in.

Thomas leaned over and asked, "are you comfortable having sex with the guy?" And I agreed to it, and the guy was safe, we used a condom—but I realised something about myself: I need to have some kind of social interaction with someone before I can enjoy having a sexual experience with them.

I started having sex with the guy, but about two minutes in I just felt totally detached from the experience. Normally I'd prefer sex with guys to sex with girls, but I'd enjoyed the sex with the girls more because we'd taken that time to get to know each other. Whereas with the guy, it turned into sex straight away. I remember he was having sex with me from behind and I just thought, mm, no. I said, "this isn't what I want to do," and he was completely fine with it and just stopped straight away. I left Thomas there having oral sex with the other woman and went to the shower block with the girls and we had a laugh together until Thomas came out.

We had an awkward experience towards the end of the party. There was this couple who had come together, both quite attractive—but it became clear to us that she wasn't that engaged with the concept. You know when someone makes it really clear from their body language that they don't want to pass a certain point? Well I was kissing her, and she was doing that, and her partner had started to play with himself in anticipation of something happening. But it was clear that this woman was not interested at all. At one point I tried to kiss her and she was like, flinching. It made me feel terrible. So we just made our excuses and left. We went and got breakfast—I had a full English. I was hungry! It's a lot of work: we'd been there for four hours, and I'd had sex with at least six people.

It sounds so egocentric, but I wasn't really that focussed on what Thomas was doing at the party—I only cared about my experience. It was weird. Since that party, when I've seen Thomas with other girls I've actually really enjoyed it, which I wasn't expecting. It's arousing. I've shared him with other women, and felt aroused by that. It feels like a generous situation, like everyone's giving to each other. Even when we went into polyamory proper, and Thomas loved other people—he's had two girlfriends—that gave me a warm feeling, which shocked me.

Leaving the party, we felt so liberated. It was so much better than our expectations. We'd expected so many things and none of them happened. It was so much better than our expectations. My fantasy was to be with more than one guy, but as it turned out, I was really interested in the girls. There's so much more you can do with women—laying your hands on each other, running your hand's down someone's back, through their hair. It all kinds of flows with women, whereas with guys it's like, now we're going to put on a condom and fuck and get on with it.

Thomas and I, we felt so much closer for the experience, like it was a shared thing that neither of us had ever done with anyone else. I'd say that after we opened our relationship, that first six months felt amazing. We'd just had a baby and I was married to someone who could love me and give me that structure and solidarity I wanted at home, but still allow me to pursue intimate relationships with other people. It felt like you could have your cake and eat it too, like, is this too good to be true? Having group sex deepened my relationship with my husband massively.

After that, we went to two other play parties, but they weren't as good as that first one. We decided we wanted something a bit more meaningful from our sexual interactions, so we decided to open up our marriage and build relationships with other people as well. We moved into what people basically term polyamory.

The period between first discussing opening up our relationship, and actually going to that party, was around two years. I think it would have taken me that length of time to build a baseline relationship where doing this—opening up our relationship—wouldn't affect our home, our family life.

With Thomas, because I feel so incredibly safe with him, I've never felt threatened. There have been a few sticky patches, though, where other people have become attached to us. With my boyfriend of a year, who I love very much, I have felt jealous. He started to date other people, because he wanted to have his own marriage and settle down, and I knew I'd eventually lose him—I've never felt so much jealousy in my life.

When you're looking to open up your relationship to new experiences, the entry point is the most difficult: going from monogamy to polygamy is tough.To break those rules and move into a whole new space is difficult, and it's not something that happens easily.

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If you want to experiment with group sex, I'd say meet people on whatever platform you're using, and do social things together. Sooner or later, connections will start to form organically, and then when sex does happen it doesn't feel weird or rushed—it's not like a cold, clinical exchange. Organize your own parties, or get a hotel if you have a budget between you as friends. An advantage of organizing your own party is that you can curate the guestlist, although be sure to have the safe sex thing covered—in sex clubs, they normally provide you with condoms.

I wouldn't judge anyone who's monogamous, but I'd find it quite difficult to think that I could only have sex with one person, my whole life. Not being able to get close to other people would make me so sad, because I evolve and change with people so much. The only reason that I do this with Thomas is that he makes me feel safe. Thomas never deviates away from being loyal to me. He always reassures me. Our family unit is very solid. I know he will always honor that.