How To Have A Threesome With A Friend Without It Getting Weird

mbg Contributor By Morgan Mandriota
mbg Contributor
Morgan Mandriota is a freelance writer based in New York. Her articles on sex, relationships, health, and travel have been published at Cosmopolitan, SHAPE, Tinder, SheKnows, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. She has a degree in English with minors in Psychology and Speech Communications from St. Joseph's College.
Expert review by Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST
Clinical Sexologist & Psychotherapist
Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST, is a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist with 12 years of clinical experience. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a certified sex therapist, certified addiction professional, and president of the Therapy Department, a private practice in Orange County that provides counseling services throughout the United States.
How To Have A Threesome With A Friend Without It Getting Weird

Having a threesome with a friend could be really fun, but keep in mind that there are several risk factors involved that might make it weird. Here's how to bring this idea to life in the smartest way possible without hurting anyone's feelings, starting trouble, or damaging any relationships in the process.

Ground rules for having a threesome with friends:

1. Find out why you want to have the threesome.

First off, it's important to understand where this desire is coming from. "Dig beyond the obvious (it would be hot; it's my fantasy) to the specifics of what you want to feel," says resident sexologist at Astroglide Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D. She recommends asking yourself the following questions to help you do so:

  • Why do you want to have a threesome with a friend?
  • What specifically are you hoping to experience? Do you want to feel overwhelmed? Irresistible? Desired? Overtaken by pleasure? Hedonistic? Powerful? Submissive? Do you want to experience the thrill of breaking taboos?
  • How do you think (and hope) the other parties involved will feel? 
  • Do you have feelings for your friend?
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2. Discuss personal boundaries and expectations.

Setting boundaries is important in all relationships, including with your sexual partners. Having these conversations isn't the sexiest or most exciting, but they're critical if your friendship is worth preserving in the future, says AASECT-certified sex therapist Emily Jamea, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT. "Each person involved has to think about what they are and aren't comfortable with, and then you have to compare notes," she adds. For example, one boundary may be that everyone gets tested for STIs beforehand. Another may be that no kissing is involved. No matter the boundary or expectation, everyone must play by the rules.

3. Check in throughout the experience.

O'Reilly emphasizes the importance of ongoing communication throughout, which means discussing safer sex and your bodies prior to sexual engagement and also checking in to make sure the experience is going well during. Steady communication helps to ensure that consent is granted and maintained before and during the threesome. Aftercare may also be necessary after the threesome.

"A quick check-in can make all the difference in a sexual experience," says certified sex therapist Kristen Lilla, LCSW, CST-S, CSE-S. She recommends asking questions like Are you OK? Does this feel good? Can I keep going? Want me to stop? "Make sure everyone has consented and feels they have control. Friendships are likely to end if someone feels coerced," she adds, noting that limiting alcohol is also key in terms of consent.

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4. Consider worst-case scenarios.

"Dishonest communication, latent feelings of insecurity, and partner pressure are just a few of the likely existing relationship issues that can surface after a threesome. On the flip side, some folks feel more connected, playful, and intimate after. All emotional responses are valid, so be honest about how you feel," says O'Reilly. "Don't just be honest with yourself, but go over the best- and worst-case scenarios and consider how you might handle a range of reactions—from the positive to the neutral to the negative."

Sexologist and certified sex coach Gigi Engle never recommends threesomes with friends: "I don't recommend to clients or readers to ever have a threesome with a friend for the exact reason that it can get weird and has the potential to compromise a friendship. I don't think it's ever worth the risk when there are so many apps and resources available to find a willing third (or to be one) for a threesome."

How to bring up the idea of a threesome to your friend: 

1. Do it in person at a neutral location.

Asking a friend to have sex with you and your partner (or them and their partner) in person may be more awkward, vulnerable, and difficult than simply sending a text, but it's also the most honest, real, and raw approach. "Vulnerable conversations are difficult enough, so it's important to set up an environment where both people feel comfortable," says Lilla, who recommends finding a neutral location to accomplish this instead of doing it in an intimate territory, like one of your bedrooms. 

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2. Feel them out first (not literally).

Take the pressure off yourselves and the friend by bringing up the topic in casual conversation. Ask them, "Have you ever considered having a threesome with someone?" If their immediate answer is "Hell no!" then don't push it. If they seem interested, Jamea suggests saying "[partner's name] and I have been talking about experimenting with that in our relationship. You're a trusted friend, and I was wondering if you'd be open to talking about joining us sometime."

If you're looking to hook up with a friend and their partner, be careful how you approach the situation: "I find couples prefer a stranger because there are fewer emotional consequences. People often want the experience but don't want the drama or baggage that would come with engaging with a friend," says Lilla. Prepare for the possibility that they're not interested in involving you in their sex life. 

3. Gauge their body language. 

Once you mention the threesome with a friend, look out for a sense of their immediate reaction to the idea. "Great sex is about paying attention to the nonverbal as well as the verbal cues," says Jamea. "Do their eyes light up? Do they sit up straighter? You'll be able to tell if they tense up, start squirming, or if they get excited," which will clue you into how they may really feel about the opportunity (despite what they may verbally reply).

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Special considerations:

If it's you, your partner, and your friend.

Beware of couples' privilege! "Most 'unicorns' don't want to be treated as a prop in a couples' fantasy. Include all parties in discussions, and consider the needs and feelings of all three people involved," says O'Reilly. "Oftentimes, couples have an idea of what they want and how they want to proceed but don't think about the fact that this is now a three-way street." Lilla also warns to be sure to discuss logistics before engaging, such as STI testing, where the threesome will occur, and how you feel about alcohol consumption to make sure you're all on the same page.

If it's you, your friend, and your friend's partner.

"Ask questions about their [relationship] dynamic," says O'Reilly. "It's not your job to manage their relationship, but having insights into how they communicate and connect sexually can be helpful." Some couples use threesomes as a first dip into the world of open relationships; for others, threesomes are just a special one-time thing. She notes it's also important to speak up and let them know what you want—physically, practically, and emotionally. Do you want to spend time together first? Do you want to snuggle after? What are your limits, fantasies, and desires? Make your wants and needs known so the experience can be as satisfying as possible for everyone involved.

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If it's you, your friend, and someone neither of you are dating.

In this case, you and your friend should be clear on your intent, boundaries, and how you'll find a third. Will you use an app? Will you find a man, woman, or gender-nonconforming person? "There's no right or wrong way to have a threesome as far as who you choose to do it with," Lilla says. "Obviously, there are other consequences to consider with a stranger, such as a lack of rapport, which can make the experience awkward; lack of discussion about boundaries and expectations; and increased risk of STIs."

The bottom line: Proceed with caution. 

There are always going to be risks involved in bringing a third party into the bedroom. Although you can't necessarily remove them all, you can weigh the potential pros versus cons to determine if it's a smart idea or not.

If you're drawn to the possibility of trying a threesome with a friend, O'Reilly's ultimate advice is to explore this desire gradually and proceed slowly. That way, you'll be mentally and emotionally prepared for whatever happens before, during, and after the experience.

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