After a divorce and a relationship with a guy who suddenly left me, I knew I had to change my actions to find love and for a time in there, I had three men at once. Yep, you read that right. Why should guys have all the fun?

It all started some years ago when I found myself without a cheating husband and with a miserable love life. I was really sad but I refused to give up. Instead, I forced myself to try to look at love in a different manner. I identified all the areas I would like to share with a partner. I thought I would get a list of 3-5 points and then I could just decide to live without them. But pretty soon, my list contained 26 points. What I needed, I decided, was to find men to fulfill three important needs: conversation, sex, and work around the house.

In the past, it was in these three areas that things had gone wrong and it was time for a change. Wait! What if I could find different men to fulfill each of these needs instead of finding one to fulfill them all?

One Woman Three Men: My Journey to Find LoveI put the word out there, asking men which role they could fill. A number of men were not able to do so immediately but asked for time to think. That surprised me. I would have thought they would all jump for the fun and varied sex life. As it turned out, some did choose that option but not the majority. However, they all expected sex to be part of the relationship in the long run. But for some men, I decided that there was no long run. Others decided that they did not want to continue to be my handyman or my conversation date if it wasn’t leading to sex.

Soon, I had three men to date and by doing so, I found out a lot about how men tick. As you might expect, I found that sex is the key parameter in a relationship for men, whereas sex is really only one of the key parameters in a relationship for women.

What else did I learn by dating three men?

Most men liked that I was so direct and concrete in expressing my needs. They enjoyed being able to decide if they wanted to fulfill my needs or not, knowing that if they did, I would be happy. Men really want to make their woman happy.

My model was designed for having sex with just one of the guys, but since sex was a priority for them all, there were periods when I had sex with more than one. Since most men who contacted me were monogamous, they didn’t want to share me with others. But I felt that I had only promised them one of the roles so they weren’t entitled to information of my whereabouts. Some polyamorous men also contacted me to be my sex partner, too, which allowed me to try that alternate lifestyle.

Through the process, I also discovered that jealousy is closely linked to a proprietary emotion. If you can let go of what your partner might be doing when you are not with him and focus on enjoying what happens when you are together, jealousy decreases. Easier said than done but practicing helps. The fewer emotions you have invested in a guy and your relationship, the easier it is.

I lived with this model for a year and half, and over this period, the men I dated changed. Sometimes I had three men, sometimes only two. I had a lot of fun while feeling myself becoming wiser about how to play the love game. Then the handyman and I fell in love and the three-men model was put on hold while we explored a 2-year relationship. When we broke up, I started up with three again, and then it was time to sit down and evaluate my experiences.

Before the three men model, I had a history of too easily becoming enthusiastic when I met a guy. I jumped into knight in shining armour mode. In the end, I was constantly disappointed when the reality of the relationship finally set in.

My three-men model cured me of that romantic addiction. I simply had to stay on my own turf and be quite conscious of what I felt and what I wanted from my three men in order to make it work. There wasn’t any space for illusions.

It was quite an intense time of life where I had to stay constantly aware of my own and their emotions. I used this alertness to fine tune what I wanted from men. It was a challenge to ask for what I wanted. I wasn’t used to being so direct and to hold my ground if I met resistance. I appeased myself that as long as my requests were within the role they had chosen, it was fine to be asking. I also felt selfish expressing my needs—until it became the norm.

I also learned I should never compromise on the elements in a relationship that are most important to me. This surprised me, as I had always learned that a relationship is about compromise. But if you cave on the important things, you will wither and lose contact with your own inner compass. Then it is only a matter of time before things fall apart.

It was empowering to go from a position where I was trying to live up to one man’s expectations to a position were three men were trying to live up to mine. Challenging yourself to “date consciously” using this three-man model for a while can lead to a quantum leap in love. It did for me. When I started dating in the real world again, I was ready to meet one man and to develop a deep emotional bond between us.

One Woman Three Men: My Journey to Find LoveAnd that’s what happened.

Over a period of five months, I had some fantastic dates, and met some guys as boring as a plank of wood. One of them was different. We met in a heated discussion on Facebook and a week later for lunch, and the chemistry was magnetic. Four months later, we moved in together and a year later we married.

So if your love life is in ruins, why not challenge yourself to think differently about love? You can use the model directly and date more than one man, or you can use it as a tool to become clearer about what is important for you in love and then focus your search. Doing so taught me about what it really takes to love and be loved in return.

Pouline Middleton has been a Modern Love coach since 2010. She is the author of the new novel One Woman Three Men, a spicy, romantic alternative to one-dimensional books about relationships.

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