A Unicorn's Survival Guide

How to survive as a single in the Swinger’s Scene

A ‘Unicorn’ is so called because they are mythical creatures: the single female (or male) who appears to fulfil a couple’s erotic fantasy, and then disappears, never to be seen or heard from again.

Couples seek out Unicorns for many reasons, most commonly for threesomes, but also to venture into the polyamorous scene or as a step towards opening their relationship. Ideally the Unicorn will be bisexual, not looking for romantic attachment, and available at the couple’s discretion. The important thing for the couple is that the Unicorn poses no threat to the relationship.

I spent the better part of a year playing Unicorn for several couples. I wasn’t seeking a relationship, but wanted to explore my sexuality. Thrilling and unpredictable, I learned there are some very sound reasons why Unicorns are difficult to come by, but that it is possible to get your needs met, provided you set your boundaries and keep your expectations in check. The following are just a few of the things I wish I’d known before I donned my horn.

1. Sexuality

Having been in a heterosexual relationship for most of my adult life, when it came to women, I was a virtual virgin. Meeting with couples gave me an opportunity to explore my bisexuality without having to date or take the sexual lead. However not all couples seeking a Unicorn are bisexual. I once found myself being ‘gifted’ to a man by his straight wife. I have to say it felt pretty hollow knowing her interactions with me were an act for the benefit of her partner. Make sure you ask in advance about each person’s sexual preference if this is important to your satisfaction.

2. Voyeurism

The bedroom is one of life’s most intimate settings. By entering someone else’s, you will see what usually remains hidden, from the perfume bottle on a bedroom dresser, to the secret words whispered between the sheets. Like real-life pornography, you can watch how each partner gives the other pleasure, only what you witness isn’t staged. Being a voyeur means also being exposed to the couples’ metaphorical unwashed socks and bathroom grime: the niggling insecurities, tensions and resentments. There were times I felt like an intruder in someone else’s life and home, not sure what a couple wanted me to see. Be respectful of the couple’s privacy. You may need to pretend not to see what has been inadvertently exposed.

3. Cut those strings!

What better way to experience a threesome than when you’re not the one risking a relationship? Being a Unicorn is a great way to get some hot kinky sex without emotional entanglement. You need not fear your couple wanting more than you are prepared to give — in most instances they will want you gone before the sun rises, and if things don’t work out, a simple, ‘Sorry, my situation has changed,’ will do, because the Unicorn’s presence in a relationship is expected to be temporary. The downside: you could easily find yourself leaving them to snuggle up in their shared bed, whispering sweet nothings, while you stumble to your empty apartment wearing last night’s dress, stilettos in hand, wondering where you left your underwear. Be sure of your boundaries and the limitations of your interactions. Unless the couple is polyamorous and looking for a new partner, treat the encounter as a one-night stand, and have your cats on emergency affection standby.

4. The relationship in crisis

Sometimes couples look to a Unicorn to patch up a rocky relationship. Perhaps there has been an infidelity, or the couple is hoping to shake up their tired sexual repertoire. Your presence in the bedroom can stir up underlying jealousies and resentments. A couple who has played on the scene for a while is more likely to have ironed out their insecurities and learned to identify and communicate their boundaries. There is also a better chance they will be experienced enough to let you establish and communicate yours. No one wants to feel like a marital aid or the suddenly unwelcome interloper, so ask why your couple is seeking a Unicorn, and what experiences they’ve had already.

5. The unwelcome Unicorn

Breaking into the scene can be a challenge. On paper, Unicorns are in demand, but try turning up to a Swingers’ party as a single female and you might quickly find yourself relegated to the position of Wall Flower instead of the Butterfly you had hoped. The Swingers’ scene is essentially a matriarchy. Partnered women are in control and you can’t approach them, you have to be invited in. Attractive single females can be seen to pose a threat to existing relationships, and tend to be ignored, while single males are rarely allowed through the door. Try grabbing a Unicorn of the opposite sex to pose as your partner, perhaps an existing play-partner. That way you are less likely to be met with hostility by other women, and if you don’t find a match, you can always head home with your date. Once you’ve broken into the scene and proven that your motives are benign, you are more likely to be welcomed back, and even shared among couples in the scene.

6. Their threesome

The Unicorn is expected to appear when the couple calls, and disappear when they don’t. Approaching them can result in a swift revocation of your sexual access. Unless you negotiate your terms, this situation can leave you feeling like a used tissue. This can be as simple as a conversation setting out your availability and expectations from the encounter, and asking if they have any rules you should follow. Establish in advance what activities are in or out. Don’t expect more than they can offer, sexually or emotionally. Similarly, make sure your needs will be met and your boundaries respected. If not, walk away. The encounter should be mutually beneficial: it isn’t only their threesome.

Ultimately, being a Unicorn wasn’t sustainable for me. After a year of playing on the scene I was ready for another relationship, and the difficulties began to outweigh the thrills. Still, I don’t regret a minute. I learned so much from putting myself out there, and perhaps I’ll hunt my own Unicorn soon. Most importantly I learned to keep my heart close while I enjoyed the ride, and can now relish the memories of my adventures.

–RP, retired Unicorn.

A version of this piece first appeared in Rhonda Perky’s Bits on Aug 18, 2012

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