Thinking About Having A Threesome? Read This First

Thinking About Having A Threesome? Read This First Hero Image

Threesome. Ménage a trois. Orgy. Whatever you call it, the mystique and allure of the concept has shrouded from the majority of the population the practical, less-than-sexy pitfalls of coordinating and executing this kind of experience. Engaging in group sex has a unique appeal to and distinct difficulties for every person involved.

Whether it’s multiple single people, multiple couples, or a combination thereof in any variety of genders, the implications are endless and have to be addressed if there's to be any hope of a successful outcome. So, let's call this your beginners' guide to group sex. After reading this, you might actually be ready to think about doing it.

The Classic Threesome

If you are a single female, a threesome will likely be incredibly easy to organize. Log on to any dating site and declare your desires. You call the shots, girl — be ready for an avalanche of emails from couples (and singles) seeking you.

If you’re part of a couple, approaching group sex (and a threesome in particular) can be more complex. Are you seeking an exciting onetime adventure? Occasional romps with a third person? A long-term triad? Couples seeking the participation of a third party have to spend a not-insignificant amount of time and effort clarifying and agreeing on boundaries and fully communicating both fears and desires.

Threesome Do's And Don'ts:

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1. Do make and stick to boundaries in advance.

Don't hesitate to take anything that makes you uncomfortable out of the equation entirely — penetration, sleepovers. Sometimes making out is enough. Regardless, it’s wise to always plan to have a safe word or phrase. In the heat of the moment, something could make you feel discomfort that you didn’t anticipate.

2. Don't engage in casual sex with someone in your inner circle.

Once those crucial boundaries have been set, and both parties feel comfortable, it’s time to start looking for the right kind of person. This is its own kind of struggle. Let’s say you want to have a one-night stand or an occasional sexual encounter without any emotional dynamic. You may both have always had a crush on your sexy next-door neighbor, but I would caution against involving someone who is already a part of your daily life in this kind of dynamic. If anything goes badly, you still have to see that person. All. The. Time.

3. Do be up front about what you want with a potential partner.

It can be safer to look toward the outer rings of your social circle. Perhaps there’s a peripheral friend who you might like to draw in. It can be awkward to bring up the subject. Try saying something simple and straightforward, like “We both find you very attractive — could we all play together some afternoon when you are free?” He or she will be flattered — even if the offer is declined.

4. Don't jump into anything until you're incredibly comfortable with all parties involved.

If you don’t feel comfortable propositioning someone you know at all, searching for a playmate through online dating sites is a good alternative. Be sure to pre-screen with a phone call and follow up with a face-to-face meeting in a public location.

5. Do consider attending sex parties in order to meet like-minded individuals in a safe setting.

If dating sites feel too contrived for you, there are parties organized for exactly this purpose. At a sex party, you can explore the room with your partner over a drink, not have to deal with the uncertainties of meeting someone you liked online in real life, and there’s the bonus of knowing that anyone at a sex party won’t be surprised by an offer to participate in a ménage a trois. If you don’t know how to find a party like this in your area, look for sex-positive sex-toy stores. They can be great resources.

The Long-Term Triad

Now, if you’re more interested in adding a third person to your marriage and turning your relationship into a long-term triad, the requirements and conversations should be different. It's crucial to be clear about each person’s ideal situation and your specific boundaries and priorities before you engage a third person.

Do's and Don'ts of Starting a Triad:

1. Do familiarize yourself with the concept of "couple privilege" and learn how to avoid it.

In the excitement of adding a third to your relationship, a well-meaning couple can be oblivious to the privileges of that relationship, and end up ignoring the wants and needs of its newest member. Creating rules for a triad relationship without the third person is an example of engaging in couple privilege. It doesn't acknowledge the equality or autonomy of the third party. If you begin trying to build a relationship that puts one person at a disadvantage, even subconsciously, it's in trouble from the start. And on that note...

2. Don't try to find a unicorn.

If a couple seeks a partner to co-create a triad while stuck in the mindset of couple privilege, they may unknowingly start looking for a unicorn: someone who provides exactly what the couple wants without requiring anything in return. Treatment like this creates an implication that the third party is one-dimensional, and not a human with equal rights and needs that deserve to be acknowledged. This is highly frowned upon in the polyamorous community.

In her book The Polyamorists Next Door, Elisabeth Sheff describes this dynamic perfectly:

“The unicorn is an unattached bisexual woman who wants to date or simply have a quick ménage a trois with an existing female-male couple. She is so rare as to be virtually mythical. In her most exaggerated form, she is a young, single woman, eager to move to the couple’s dilapidated farm in North Dakota to care for their children, work on their farm, clean their house, be their sex toy, and disappear whenever it would be inconvenient to explain her presence to the couple's family or friends.”

3. Do always act with the feelings of others in mind.

As in all areas of life, consideration of others is key. Sometimes when people start imagining their most potent fantasies, they forget basic tenets of etiquette. Emily Post said, “Good manners is simply treating people kindly.” Especially in the polyamorous community, kindness is a fundamental principle.

4. Do include your third in discussions about the ideal relationship dynamic.

In her book, Eight Things I Wished I’d Known About Polyamory, Cunning Minx suggests inviting the third person to an equal conversation defining boundaries and discussing preferences rather than presenting the “rules of the couple” to your new paramour. In my memoir, Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms, I reveal some moments when my husband and I unknowingly engaged in couple privilege and our subsequent efforts to be more fair in the future.

5. Do consider playing with another couple if you're concerned about inequity within the threesome dynamic.

For this reason, my husband and I now prefer to aim for an equal playing field. Two couples meeting can often avoid the uneven power dynamic that frequently arises when a couple meets a single person. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to “swing.” It’s just about becoming friends with a couple who is a little more adventurous sexually, and being open to what happens organically.

The bottom line is that you should only ever do what feels right for all parties involved. Let me repeat that: Don’t do anything that does not feel right to you, or encourage anything that feels wrong to someone else. Don’t take any action just to please somebody. If you aren’t entirely sure this is something you want to do, keep sorting out your feelings with your partner until you reach a mutual place of comfort. Now, go and enjoy yourself. Your next adventure is waiting.

You can email Gracie X at GracieX.com. Her new book, Wide Open, is available wherever books are sold.

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