What Men and Women Really Think About Threesomes

The odds of having a positive group sex experience depend on our demographics.

Posted Dec 04, 2018

When people have threesomes or other kinds of group sex, how does it usually go? And are some people likely to have better experiences than others?

I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book, Tell Me What You Want, and found that group sex — especially in the form of a threesome — was one of the most common things that turned people on. However, it turned out that people's experiences sharing and acting on this kind of fantasy differed a lot depending upon both their gender and sexual orientation

 stokkete/123RF
Source: stokkete/123RF

For participants who said that group sex was their favorite sexual fantasy of all time, I looked at their likelihood of sharing and acting on this fantasy, and what their experiences were like for four separate groups: (1) exclusively heterosexual women, (2) exclusively heterosexual men, (3) women who reported any degree of same-sex attraction (lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual), and (4) men who reported any degree of same-sex attraction (gay, bisexual, queer, pansexual). Here’s what I found:

  • Heterosexual women were the least likely to have shared their group sex fantasies compared to everyone else (just 52 percent had done so). Non-heterosexual women (65 percent) were about as likely as men to have shared these fantasies (63-66 percent of heterosexual and non-heterosexual men had done so).
  • Straight women were also the least likely to have acted on their group sex fantasies. Just 8 percent of them had done so, compared to 15 percent of heterosexual men, 16 percent of non-heterosexual women, and 25 percent of non-heterosexual men. These numbers suggest that men with same-sex attractions are about three times more likely to act on their group sex fantasies than straight women.
  • Women reported very positive experiences when they shared their group sex fantasies with a partner, regardless of their sexual orientation. On the other hand, non-heterosexual men reported more positive experiences sharing these fantasies than did straight men (it turned out that straight men were the least likely to encounter a positive response from a partner).
  • Among those who had acted out their group sex fantasies, men — regardless of sexual orientation — reported more positive experiences than women. Specifically, they were more likely to say that things met or exceeded expectations. Although women reported less positive experiences overall, straight women reported even less positive experiences than women with same-sex attractions. 

These results are intriguing, and they tell us a few important things. First, non-heterosexual men are the most likely to share and act on their group sex fantasies — and they’re also the most likely to report positive experiences with both. By contrast, straight women are the inverse — they’re the least likely to share and act on their group sex fantasies. And while they do tend to receive positive partner reactions when they share these fantasies, they have the least positive experiences when it comes to acting on them.

So what explains these results? The fact that non-heterosexual men were the most likely to have group sex makes sense when you consider that men, on average, are more likely to report group sex fantasies and to have these fantasies often. If men are just more into the idea of group sex, then it stands to reason that it’s probably easier to find willing partners if you’re just looking for men.  

As for why heterosexual women were the least likely to enjoy group sex experiences, I suspect part of it is due to the fact that, among heterosexual men and women, there are differences in the desired gender ratio when it comes to threesomes (the most popular form of group sex): I found that women were more open to MMF (two males and one female) scenarios than men, whereas men were more open to FFM (two females and one male) scenarios than women. Also, heterosexual men and women want to be the center of attention in a threesome.

What this tells us is that heterosexual men and women seem to have very different ideas in mind for how group sex should go — and because we live in a culture that, unfortunately, continues to prioritize male pleasure over female pleasure, I suspect that heterosexual women aren’t enjoying threesomes and group sex quite as much as straight men, because they aren’t as likely to be having the kinds of group encounters they really want.

Facebook image: goodluz/Shutterstock

References

Lehmiller, J. J. (2018). Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life. Da Capo Lifelong Books.