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How to have a threesome

Matty Silver

Everyone has a favourite sexual fantasy, but the most popular one among some of my clients is having a threesome ­– they think it could be fun to spice up their sex lives. A threesome is any group of three people in sexual activity: a man and two women, a woman with two men or three people of the same sex. But, in real life, few will actually try out the fantasy, as often the thought of it is more exciting than the deed.

Do threesomes really work?
Do threesomes really work? Photo: iStock

However, over the past few decades, the idea of threesomes has been coming up more often and many committed couples find them a fun diversion; another option of making their sex lives more interesting. And it's not just for couples, of course, but for single women and men who are interested in experiencing sex with more than one other person.

Cultural attitudes to sex, relationships and sexual identity have also changed. Threesomes are becoming more mainstream in popular culture. Several TV shows now have storylines that would have been considered porn years ago. For example, in the House of Cards, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright (playing Francis and Claire Underwood), together seduced the handsome young bodyguard. And who can forget Woody Allen's beautiful movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona?

Having a threesome can be a relationship rejuvenator if you have a strong bond and want to explore together. It can be really positive experience, but – a word of warning – it should never be used as a tool to fix relationship problems.

For people who are used to being monogamous, the experience can result in jealousy, anger and feelings of resentment or inadequacy. For some couples, having a threesome is a way to have sex outside their relationship without actually "cheating" on each other.

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One of the biggest mistakes couples make is to not communicate properly. It's extremely important that they first talk about their fears and expectations, and what boundaries will be set with everyone involved. Threesomes rarely work out well when one partner cares more about his or her sexual needs than the emotional needs of the other. Two people dealing with each other's needs can be difficult enough, but when there is a third person there will be added emotions, concerns and potential problems.

The most important part is setting clear boundaries about what will happen, what will be OK and what will not. Will the third partner be male or female? Will you meet them beforehand, and how and where will you find them? Will it be just a one-off to prevent anyone from getting too close or becoming too attached?

It's important for a couple to protect their relationship and have a secret code word or sign if the encounter is becoming uncomfortable or unsafe. The third partner also needs to consider his or her safety and wellbeing. Consent must be clear and having safe sex is important. – all this should be discussed in advance.

No one should enter a threesome without being attracted to both parties but falling in love is a no-no and, if that happens, it's best to stop straightaway.

One of my clients is bisexual and she had just started a new business and didn't have time for a relationship. It was so much easier to have the occasional exciting night with a sexy couple she befriended through a dating site; they were married so she felt safe. What she didn't realise was that the husband had become infatuated with her. His wife became extremely jealous and it all ended very unpleasantly.

Another client took part in some threesomes to please her new boyfriend, who had kept asking her until she felt she might as well give it a try. It was a disaster; she felt left out, jealous and insecure and he eventually broke up with her. A lesbian couple came to see me to discuss their relationship problems, but it turned out the biggest issue was the desire of one of them to try out a threesome. 

Of course, I mainly talk to people who have had a bad experience and I'm sure there are many couples who have a great time, as watching your partner having sex with another woman or man can be sexy and arousing.

Not surprisingly, there are no statistics available on how many people in Australia actually are participating. For those who want to, my advice is that the best way to enter into a threesome is with an open mind. It may not be at all what you expect; you may be pleasantly surprised or disappointed. It can look so exciting on the porn movie you watched or in the stories you read. 

But do keep in mind that you are under no obligation to live out every fantasy that comes along. Sexual adventures should be playful celebrations of eroticism and if you are not ready to partake in that spirit, you are probably better off not going there.

Matty Silver is a relationship counsellor and sex therapist

mattysilver.com.au