Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Ask About Threesomes

I get a regular stream of questions about threesomes. All of the posts I've written that mention threesomes get a significant amount of traffic. It's abundantly clear this is a popular topic. After skimming the 'Web, I was disappointed to find very few "frequently asked questions" articles covering threesomes, so here ya go! 

Not all questions will be applicable to all people in all situations, so just ignore those that have no bearing on your situation. The questions are not organized in any particular order. If you have a question that's not answered or a question is inadequately answered (I'm intentionally brief), feel free to post it as a comment and I'll answer as soon as possible.

Disclaimer - I'll make this point throughout the post, but it's important enough to explicitly spell out: I do not believe threesomes (or any variation of social sexuality) is right for all people in all situations. Social sexuality can get really messy really fast, and far too many people jump in the pool and drown. If you or your partner is uneasy about dabbling in social sexuality, proceed with extreme caution.

Are threesomes moral?

Some say yes; some say no. That's for you and your partner to decide. Me personally? I'm cool with pretty much anything as long as all parties are adults and have consented to said activities.

Fantasy versus reality... is it really worth it?

For many, the fantasy of threesomes is enough to inject excitement into a boring relationship. Fantasy is great because you have complete control over the situation. In a real threesome, introducing a third party always complicates matters. Always start with fantasies. Let them play out for a while. Eventually you'll know if you want to take the next step and make fantasy a reality.

How do I convince my significant other to try a threesome?

I actually wrote an entire piece on this (and it's my most popular post here.) 

What if my spouse wants a threesome?

If your spouse comes to you with a request to have a threesome, consider why they're asking. Assess the health of the relationship. If things are solid, it's usually okay to entertain the idea. If the relationship is on the rocks, this is sort of like a desperate hail Mary. It may save the relationship, but odds are good it'll be a final nail in the coffin.

What if one of us is into it but the other isn't?

This is what I like to refer to as the "initiator"/"compomiser conundrum." The initiator is the person that presents the idea. The compromiser is the person that reluctantly agrees. This sets up a situation that will likely turn out to be really, really bad. Most commonly, the initiator will have a blast while the compromiser silently suffers with feelings of jealousy, envy, insecurity, or inadequacy. Less likely, the compromiser has a blast and the initiator is left out to experience the negative emotions. either way, the relationship is destabilized. I would go as far as to say having both people totally into it is a fundamental prerequisite to having a threesome. 

What's the worst that could happen?

Worst-case scenario: Your partner could leave you for a more attractive, richer, more sexually-adventurous person and leave you to die alone crippled with a variety of sexually-transmitted diseases. 

Or, more likely, the threesome will cause problems that doom the relationship. Social sexuality is a risky activity that should be avoided by the faint-of-heart.

I don't know if we can handle this emotionally. Is there any sort of test we could do?

Take baby steps. Does talking about it elicit negative emotions? How about watching your partner flirt? Or dance with someone else? Get a blow-up sex doll; have your partner fuck it. How does that make you feel? 

All of these things can be used to get a feel for your emotional response. Having said that, social sexuality can and does evoke unexpected emotions. For some, those emotions are really, really positive. For others? Not so much. 

Take baby steps.

I'm interested in finding a couple for a threesome; what should I know?

If you're a single man or woman (or part of a couple and your partner either gives you  a "hall pass" or you're doing this behind their back), finding a couple is fairly straight-forward. I'd recommend the 'Web. There are a lot of great "social sexuality" websites and apps out there. If you're female, relatively attractive, and not insane, you'll find plenty of opportunities. If you're male, you have A LOT of competition. You need to be on top of your game.

Other than that, my best advice would be to find a compatible couple. You can find couples looking for what is essentially a living, breathing sex toy (they're going to use you) to couples that are looking for a long-term triad (polyamorous love triangle.) Figure out what you want, then search out the appropriate couple.

Should we choose a male or female?

This is a surprisingly complex question and probably has more to do with your relationship dynamics than anything else. Some things to consider: The same-sex member of the couple is likely going to experience the most jealousy and insecurity. For example, in a MMF threesome, the dude in the relationship will invariably compare himself to the third wheel. If he's more insecure, it would be better to go with a FFM threesome instead. 

Also consider the bisexuality angle. If you're choosing a female, will the girls play together? If it's a guy, will they be crossing swords? It's more common for girls in social sexuality to be "bi-comfortable", but there are still plenty of guys that aren't going to flip out in the presence of another dude's erection. 

Should we choose a friend or a stranger?

Both have pros and cons. Friends are known entities, may be more trustworthy, and can be available for repeat performances. However, if things don't go well, the friendship may end. Even if they do go well, it's hard to avoid some sort of drama afterward. Strangers eliminate that problem and help assure anonymity, but also might turn out to be really weird or crazy (assuming that's not what you're looking for.) If you and your partner are totally cool with completely random, physical sexual encounters with no strings attached, strangers are usually a safer bet.

If you DO decide to recruit a friend, I'd recommend making a list together. Make three headings: Would, Maybe, and Pass. Start going through the people you'd consider. Place them in one list. If they're in the "maybe" column, discuss why. Minimally, this activity will give you a very good idea of exactly what you're looking for in a third.

What if we have different tastes?

"I like women with huge tits and a plump ass; she likes women that are rail-thin supermodels. What do we do?"

Compromise. Either find someone that you both dig or take turns. 

Is it okay to use a "disposable" person?

This was a weirdly-phrased question that was essentially asking "Is it okay to treat the third wheel like a human sex toy?" My answer - assuming it's okay with the third person, sure! Ideas like respect and dignity are overused in the realm of sexuality. Some people really get off on knowing they're being used, and being used by a couple is even more arousing. The key is full disclosure - make sure the third knows exactly what you're expecting from the experience. Do no, under any circumstances, lure a third into a threesome under false pretenses. 

Which partner does the asking?

I highly recommend the same-sex partner always does the initial contacting. For example, if you're setting up a FFM threesome, have the woman do the planning. If it's a MMF threesome, leave it to the dude.

How do I know if my partner is really into this or is just doing it for me?

You can't fake real passion. You'll know. 

If it turns out they're just going along to appease you, do both of you a favor and stop. Half-assing threesomes is never enjoyable and always results in a shitty outcome eventually.

Should we choose someone in "The Lifestyle?"

"The lifestyle" refers to people that engage in social sexuality, usually swingers, polyamourous folks, or some variation between those two. There are both single males and single females that are involved in the lifestyle specifically for the threesome experience. Odds are good they know what they're doing and are a safer bet than a random stranger or a friend. It's not their first rodeo, and when it comes to threesomes, experience matters.  

Who is going to be the center of attention?

Remember that Friends episode when Carol sets up a threesome with Ross and Susan? The ladies go at it and more or less leave Ross out?

Avoid that by having a discussion beforehand. While a lot of the threesome experience awesomeness is serendipitous, having a ballpark idea of what you want to happen goes a long way. If one or both people are givers, make the third the focus. If one of you like being the center of attention, make that the focus of the threesome. If both of you like attention, either alternate during the threesome or shift focus between different threesomes. 

Sex has a lot of symbolic meaning for me. Should I go forward?

"Symbolism" of sexuality is, in my opinion, one of the biggest social sexuality red flags that exists. If you attach a lot of meaning to sex in general or specific sex acts in particular (like kissing, cumming on her face, etc.), threesomes probably will not be for you. Or at the very least you might want to consider more of the "poly" love triad idea than the casual sex threesome. 

What questions do I ask a potential third?

Determine what both of you want out of the experience, then devise questions that will determine if the third is a fit or not. This is a process that requires a little trial and error. In the beginning, it's perfectly okay to err on the side of asking too many questions.

What should I expect? expect enthusiasm

Threesomes are like fingerprints - each one is different and sometimes they get really dirty. There's usually a little more awkwardness than expected, so it helps to have a good sense of humor and the ability to keep things very light-hearted. Also, expect your partner to be far more into it than they are when you engage in your "we have three minutes before Game of Thrones" quickies. Sexual novelty is intensely arousing for both men and women, and we do all kinds of kinky, unexpected shit when we're really aroused. Expect your partner to bust out shit you may not have seen since you were first dating. Or ever. Don't take it personally, and understand you'll get a taste of that enthusiasm in the days and weeks afterward. 

Is the sex really all that good? Don't you need a deep emotional connection first?

The quality of any sexual experience increases and decreases as a function of the mood and disposition of the participants and the various elements of the situation. Some people can have incredible sex with complete strangers, Other people require a deep emotional connection first. Still others are adaptable and will enjoy themselves if the right variables are present. 

So... yes, threesome sex can be amazing. It can also be pretty shitty. Since it's entirely dependent on the people involved, experience is really the only way to learn what will make for a great experience. 

Where should we hold the threesome?

I always recommend neutral territory (a club or hotel) unless you know the third wheel pretty well and you're not especially sentimental. The familiarity of home can be comforting, but it can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder reactions to your own house if things go badly. 

Is it possible for a threesome to equally benefit all three parties?

Sure. In fact, this should be the goal. Everyone gets what they're looking for.

Who runs the show?

Egalitarianism is great everywhere except sex. One of the three participants will have the strongest assertive tendencies. Designate them as the director. If you're not comfortable, vetoing directions is perfectly fine.

How do we manage expectations?

Earlier, I mentioned the fantasy of threesomes is almost always better than the reality of threesomes. Odds are really good you'll have fun, but it probably won't be the hottest experience of your life... at least not the first time. Just be cool with whatever transpires. 

What about jealousy, envy, and compersion?

First, some operational definitions. Jealousy is the fear of someone taking what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has. Compersion is deriving joy from seeing your partner receive pleasure. All three factor into threesomes.

Jealousy happens when we think the third might be trying to poach our partner. Most people involved in social sexuality dismiss this emotion. I don't. I think it's actually useful. There ARE people that engage in threesomes as a means of looking for a good partner. The danger of someone trying to poach your partner, even though it's remote, is real. If you feel jealousy, don't just ignore it. Talk it over with your partner. If your partner experiences jealousy, listen to them. 

Envy is often confused with jealousy, but they're entirely different emotions. Envy would be something like "I can't believe my wife is letting that dude fuck her in the ass; she never lets me do that!" Unfortunately, the excitement of a novel partner often lowers inhibitions, which opens the door to a whole lotta envy. This usually isn't a problem if everyone understands why inhibitions are lowered.

Compersion is, in my opinion, the single best predictor on whether or not a couple can manage threesomes or not. If both partners genuinely enjoy seeing each other receive pleasure, the outcome is almost always going to be very good. 

Should I surprise my significant other?

For a first time threesome - no. After you know each of you can handle the emotions - sure.

What rules should we set?

"Rules" are basically designed to mitigate jealousy and envy by controlling what can and can not take place during a threesome. Generally speaking, the number of rules a couple establishes has a direct effect on the enjoyment of the experience. The more rules everyone has to follow, the less fun it is. However, rules can also help newbies ease into threesomes. 

Will nonmonogamy make our relationship less stable?

In almost every case- yes. For some couples, it will strengthen the relationship because it dramatically increases the need for communication. 

What if my partner is thinking of the third wheel afterward?

This is one of the most common threesome fears - my partner is going to think of/ fantasize/ fall in love with the third wheel. It's pretty much inevitable they're going to at least recall the experience. Odds are good they'll recall the experience while you're having sex. As far as falling in love? There's always a chance. But that can happen without having a threesome, too. 

It's important for both members of a couple to be secure enough and confident enough to know they're fucking awesome no third wheel can come close to providing what they bring to the table. If one or both partners do not have this mindset, threesomes are a really bad idea.

What if my partner wants to leave me for the third?

See previous answer. 

What about STD's?

STD fears are interesting because most people have zero idea how they're actually spread. Most people assume using condoms during vaginal intercourse is all that is needed without realizing any skin-to-skin contact or contact with any bodily fluid can transmit almost all STD's. Unless a total impermeable barrier is kept between all participants all the time, there is a risk of catching a disease. If a full-body condom isn't desirable, steps like testing and using condoms and dental dams can help lower the risk, but there's still a risk. Some people are okay with that. Some are not.

What do we talk about afterward?


Should we designate a "let's get the fuck out of here!" signal?

Yes. Always designate a signal that will immediately, no matter what's happening, shut everything down. If you're not feeling comfortable about something, it's always more prudent to stop and try again another day. If you need an excuse for stopping, blame it on the burrito you had for lunch. The threat of explosive diarrhea is a fairly universal mood killer.

Will this make me gay/ lesbian?

I always thought this was a weird concern, mostly because I assume people wild enough to have a threesome wouldn't be especially concerned about labels. But it comes up regularly. So... it depends on your definitions.

Threesomes pretty much always result in at least some same-sex physical contact. Hell, that's why a lot of people are interested in the first place. You know your own comfort level. Just stick to what's comfortable. 

When planning a threesome, some definitions might help. The term "bisexual" usually refers to someone that's aroused by males or females. "Bi-curious" usually refers to people that think they might be attracted to the same sex and want to experiment. "Bi-comfortable" usually refers to people that aren't aroused by the same sex, but are also comfortable with same sex physical contact. 

What happens when one of the people turns out to be weird?

As a weird person, this question makes me chuckle. This question is always in reference to the third wheel and is one of the dangers in seducing strangers. It may turn out they only get aroused by being beaten with raw bacon while listening to The Black Crows. If that's the case, roll with it. It'll make a great story some day.

What about kinks? 

Rule of thumb: No matter what you're into, you'll find other like-minded people. Literally. I already know I'll get at least three emails from people inviting me to their bacon-beating parties. If you have a specific kink, you'll be able to find someone out there. Search the 'Web. 

How do I avoid the crazies?

We're all a little bit crazy in some way or another, so this will be futile. It's probably more important to avoid stalkers. Setting expectations early helps. If this is going to be a one-time thing (I would recommend always framing it as such just in case it sucks), let them know. If they don't get the hint, I'm not above threatening them to back the fuck off. 

What about alcohol or other drugs?

If you need a lot of alcohol or drugs to actually follow through, you're probably not ready for a threesome. Having said that, I am in no way opposed to drunken and/or drug-fueled sexual adventures. Just don't drive. Or OD.

What if one (or both) of us like this too much?

If both of you REALLY like this, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I know a couple that engages in social sexual adventures on average about every three days. While that seems a little excessive to me, they're stupidly happy with the arrangement. 

Bigger problems arise when one person is really into it but the other isn't. That's an inherent risk of introducing threesomes... one person may realize they need it while the other can't stand it. That almost always dooms the relationship eventually.

What about hiring professionals?

"Professional" = prostitute. Legal issues aside, I'm all for it. Prostitutes are skilled, probably have some threesome experience, and are paid to leave afterward (i.e. - no drama.) Advice from a couple that occasionally ventures down this path - do your homework and understand price really does matter.


There you have it - around forty of the more common threesome questions I receive. As I stated in the beginning, many of the answers are short and to the point. Each one could be an entire post themselves. If you want to know more, post in the comments. I'd be happy to clarify or expand on anything.

Have fun!


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