How to Have a Happy Threesome

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Ah, the threesome. Is there anything that inspires so many fantasies? And is there anything as likely to cause complications in your relationship? Threesomes can be amazing fun, but only when you set them up right. Here are some useful tips to make sure that everyone is getting what they want. (This is written for couples looking for a third person -- there are some different things to think about when you’re solo and looking for a couple.)


Photo by Mark Sebastian.

First, are you both sure that you both want to do it? It’s pretty common for one partner to be more enthusiastic about it than the other. That can be okay as long as there’s some interest, but if one of you really isn’t into it, for any reason, don’t push it. Take some time to talk about whatever it is that makes it unappealing. Sometimes, it can be fixed and sometimes, it can’t. If it turns out that it simply isn’t going to work for one of you, there are still lots of other fun things to do!

OK, so you both want to make it happen. But what are you looking for? Do you want to find a man? A woman? Do you want to have two of you focus on the third? Do you all want to take turns being the center of attention? Are there specific kinds of sex you want to have? Does one person want to watch while the other two put on a show? The more you can be clear about what you want, the easier it is to get it. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, think about some of the fantasies that turn you on. Or write it as a sexy story to give your partner. Or read a book of erotic stories about threesomes for inspiration. (If you highlight the parts that you really like in one color and your partner does the same in another color, it’s easy to see where things line up.) The only way to be sure that you get what you want is to tell your partner what that is.

A lot of people say that planning it out gets in the way of enjoying it. And while it’s true that being so focused on a script that you lose spontaneity isn’t much fun for anyone, a little preparation goes a long way. Instead of getting stuck in the “spontaneous sex is always better” frame of mind, try thinking of it like a gourmet meal you want to create. The planning and the prep time simply add to the anticipation, which can make it even more fun. Make your pre-threesome conversations part of the foreplay, instead of a hoop you need to jump through. Talk about it during sex and discover what gets you or your partner excited. Be as explicit as you want, and think of what you come up with as guidelines rather than a checklist.

Finding someone for a threesome can sometimes be a bit tricky. After all, mutual attraction and overlapping interests can get complicated enough when it’s just two people getting together. When there’s three of you, there are a lot more options. Some people get stuck at this point because they have very different tastes -- I’ve spoken with a couple once where he liked women with piercings and tattoos and she wanted a cheerleader type. They worked it out by taking turns picking someone, but that won’t work for everyone.

Although you might find a compatible third at a party or a bar (and there’s no reason to not try), you can also look online. Lots of online personals sites have options for couples looking for someone and there are even some that focus exclusively on it. And if you’re in a big city, odds are there are social events or parties for like-minded people. Google terms like polyamorous or swingers or open relationships to find local groups. As with anything, getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Once you meet one or two folks in the know, they’ll probably be able to tell you about parties or communities you’ll want to know about. Do a little networking and see who you find! One suggestion, though -- if you want to invite someone you already know, it’s a good idea to talk with them in advance about how it might change your friendships with them. I’ve seen more than a few friends fall out after a threesome, simply because they had different expectations.

OK, so you’ve talked about what you want and you’ve found someone you’re both interested in. Now what? Ask them out on a date! Go for dinner somewhere so you can talk for a while. Make sure that they live up to their online profile, and find out what they’d like to make happen. They’ll have just as many choices as you do and it’s important to get everyone on the same page.

The two of you will also want to check that you’re both still interested. You might want to come up with some non-verbal cues to signal “let’s make this happen” or “let’s get out of here!” (Actually, a signal for “let’s get out of here” is useful for telling your sweetie when it’s time to leave a boring party, too. My partner & I use three discreet taps or squeezes on the shoulder or leg.) I’d also suggest that each of you finds a reason to give the other two a chance to talk for a few minutes -- go to the bathroom our outside for a cigarette. Some one-on-one connection can help make everything flow better.

So let’s say you’ve done all that. I’ve skipped over the “how do we get this person back to our place/hotel room” because I want to get to the important stuff -- how do three people actually have sex? This is where it’s good to have worked out what you want to do.

Getting the ball rolling can sometimes feel a bit awkward. I think the best thing to do is just dive into the deep end. Sex educator Reid Mihalko suggests saying "I have an idea!" and offering something sensual you'd like to do that includes all three of you. A kiss, a footrub, or even just “come over here and kiss my sweetie.” If you’ve gotten this far, it’s pretty safe to say that a direct approach is the way to start things out.

The two most common ways to enjoy your three-way fun are a V or a triangle. In a V, two people focus their attention on the person in the middle. It can take a little coordinating to figure out how everyone fits but some fun options include: taking turns kissing, a four-handed massage (especially fun with a blindfold), oral sex while being kissed, having the person in the middle both giving and receiving oral sex at the same time, taking turns giving them oral sex, intercourse with one person while kissing the other. And if anal sex is on the menu, that gives you even more choices! Of course, you have all of those possibilities if you’re in a triangle, but you can switch it up even more. When it comes to threesomes, you’re really only limited by your imagination and flexibility.

A lot of people who have been the third say that they really enjoy being the center of attention, at least for part of the time. After all, you and your partner have a lot of history together, so make sure to build some connection between each of you and your new playmate. Even if the third wants to be there to help you fulfill your fantasies, they also have their own desires and preferences. The more you make room for them, the more fun all three of you will have. Remember -- they’re not here to be your sex toy. (This last one came up a lot when I asked folks to tell me their pet peeves about having sex with couples.)

It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re looking for a hot bi babe to get it on with both of you, there’s a reason they’re often referred to as "unicorns." Lots of folks are looking for them, but it isn’t easy to find them. If she wants to focus on just one of you, remember that the V can be amazingly fun, or sit back and enjoy their pleasure for a while. And maybe you can change who the center of attention is next time.

Just because you’re having a great time doesn’t mean that you can neglect safer sex, especially with a casual partner. Lots of people have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) without any symptoms, especially men, so it’s a good idea to get tested. But even with that, safer sex is a great idea. In fact, even if you and your partner don’t use condoms, it’s still a good idea in a threesome, just in case. And using gloves make it easy to switch from using your fingers in one person to the other without washing up. I’ve spoken with women who transmitted a yeast infection by not using gloves, so play safe.

If you think that gloves aren’t sexy, just wait until you’ve had a couple of amazing experiences with them. The sound of a glove snapping onto a wrist quickly becomes associated with pleasure pretty quickly! (Here are a few excellent guides on making safer sex easy and fun.)

After your threesome is over, you might find that the two of you want some one-on-one time to connect and talk about your experiences, especially if one or both of you were nervous at the start. But hold off on that until you part ways with your new friend -- it’s pretty common for the third person to feel neglected if the couple focuses on themselves too quickly. And if you’ve traded contact info with them, drop them an email or call them to tell them that you enjoyed your time with them. Even if you never speak with them again, a little politeness goes a long way. Not to mention that if anyone had any tricky feelings come up, a follow-up conversation the next day can help a lot and make it a lot more likely they’ll want to join the two of you again.

If you want some more great info on how to have a super fun threesome, check out The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide to Sleeping With Three. It’s written for couples looking for a third or a solo person looking for a couple, and it’s packed with tips on three-way sex and relationships, dealing with jealousy, different positions to try, and a lot more.

Have fun!

Charlie Glickman has been a sex educator since 1989, when he became an HIV educator and counselor. He has a doctorate in Adult Sexuality Education and is certified as a sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. He is currently the education program manager at Good Vibrations, where he has worked since 1996.

Recent Posts by Charlie Glickman

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