10 Things to Understand Before You Have a Threesome

Are you ready for multi-partner sex?

Posted Dec 16, 2020 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

You and your partner have decided to expand your sexual relationship by adding another person into the mix. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, according to Justin Lehmiller’s monumental book on sexual fantasies, Tell Me What You Want (2018), the most common sexual fantasy is having a threesome.

In a 2017 sexuality diversity survey of 2021 adults (1,046 women and 975 men), Herbenick, Bowling, Fu, Dodge, Guerra-Reyes, and Sanders reported 10 percent of women and 18 percent of men divulged having had a threesome. There is a disparity between fantasizing about having a threesome and actually engaging in the activity. Lehmiller (2018) notes that of the 4,175 participants in the fantasy study, only 5 percent of men and 13 percent of women claimed to have never had a fantasy about multi-partner sex.

So, far more people desire multi-partner sex than actually have the sexual experience, but you and your partner have decided to pursue it and you have found a willing and eager participant. Everything is good to go, right? Not quite. There are several things you need to understand before you go forward because taking these things into consideration will help you better understand your current relationship, help protect your relationship, and enhance your sexual well-being.

Cottonbro/Pexels
Source: Cottonbro/Pexels

1. Threesomes will not fix problems in your relationship. In fact, if there are deeply ignored problems in your relationship, a threesome may only serve to complicate those issues. The threesome becomes a tool of avoidance. You may expand your sexual repertoire, but the problems still exist. It is best to recognize the problems in your relationship and work on them prior to further sexual exploration.

2. Communication must be ongoing. It’s not enough to decide to pursue multi-partner sex; you have to continue the discussion before, during, and after the encounter. Make sure that everyone is still in agreement and safe. Check to ensure that everyone is getting what they want out of the experience. Communication is the most important aspect of the equation.

3. Know that you or others may feel alienated at some point. This is a big consideration that especially applies to multi-partner interactions that continue beyond a single sexual encounter. You may not always be the focus of attention. There may be periods of time when you feel out of the picture entirely. Attention will not always be spread out equally in a multi-partner relationship. It’s nothing personal; it’s a reality in the dynamics of interaction.

It’s important for you to not feel like you should be the center of attention always. If you feel ignored, then let the others know how you are feeling. It’s also important to be cognizant of how others in the relationship may be feeling. It’s ok to ask—they may be feeling ignored and afraid to say anything, too.

4. Emotional involvement is possible. Sex has a funny way of producing emotion where emotion was not previously present. This can easily happen in a threesome. You or your partner may develop an emotional attachment to the added member of your triad. Even if the sexual encounter is held to a single event, you or your partner may want to reach out to the third party for emotional satisfaction. Perhaps more than anything else, this can damage an otherwise healthy relationship, certainly if infidelity occurs. Also, there is the possibility of jealousy to consider.

Until you actually engage in a threesome, you don’t really know how you will respond to your partner being with another person. What would you do in the event that jealousy rears its ugly head? The potential for emotional involvement needs to be discussed before a threesome can take place. It also needs to be addressed following the experience. Again, it’s all about communication.

5. Consent applies throughout! Agreeing to a threesome prior to having a threesome is not a binding contract. Consent can be negotiated and withdrawn at any time. Just because your partner wanted to have a threesome, doesn’t mean that they cannot decide otherwise—even during the sexual encounter. It doesn’t matter why. It can be because they suddenly feel uncomfortable. It can be because it wasn’t what they expected. They may just become disinterested or are not in the mood any longer. It doesn’t matter. Consent must be given at all times, not just in the beginning. This applies to you too. It also applies to the third member of your party—everyone.

6. Everyone is involved. In a threesome, there are three people involved. Remember that. No one is an object for the other two to use. No one is a sexual pawn.

7. You don’t have to keep having threesomes just because you did it once. This goes back to consent. Just because you agreed to a threesome once, does not mean it has to be an ongoing sexual activity with your partner. This applies to any sexual behavior.

8. It’s OK to feel awkward. How you feel is simply how you feel. Don’t be concerned if you feel awkward or embarrassed at first. It’s common. It’s equally fine to feel uninhibited or playful. One does not make you sexually inadequate and the other does not make you a sexual pervert. How you feel is how you feel—accept it and accept the others for how they feel. It’s acceptable to voice how you feel. And, if it’s not working for you, it’s OK to stop.

9. The threesome doesn’t have to be the end goal of the fantasy. Just having the threesome doesn’t have to end the extent of the fantasy. You can combine as many fantasies within the threesome as you wish and the others are willing to accept. Have fun living out this and other fantasies all at the same time.

10. The threesome WILL change your relationship. This is perhaps the most important thing to know when considering having a threesome for the first time. Your relationship will be different afterward. It can affect your relationship positively or negatively; maybe even a combination of both. If you want your relationship to remain as it is, and you are not willing to roll the dice, you may want to reconsider your decision to go ahead with acting upon your fantasy. But, again, talk it out with your partner before having a threesome.

Threesomes can be a wonderful and sexually rewarding experience for both you and your partner (not to mention the third). You do need to consider as much as possible before engaging in this sexual behavior, however. Consideration must begin with knowledge, which includes an awareness of what a threesome fully consists of, a good deal of negotiation, and a robust understanding of the relationship you and your partner share.

References

Herbenick Debby, Jessamyn Bowling, Tsung-Chieh (Jane) Fu, Brian Dodge, Lucia Guerra- Reyes, and Stephanie Sanders. 2017. “Sexual Diversity in the United States: Results From a Nationally Representative Probability Sample of Adult Women and Men”. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181198. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0181198

Lehmiller, Justin. 2018. Tell Me What You Want. New York, NY: Da Capo Press.