Threesomes: A Navigational Guide

Thoughts on the popular ménage à trois sex fantasy

A few months ago, I received a letter from a woman inquiring about a three-way. She wrote: "My husband and I are curious about how to have the most explosive threesome possible. In reality, it is difficult to have a threesome without having someone feel left out. What is the key to making a threesome successful? Two girls and a guy? Two guys and a girl? Should the guy come early and focus his attention on the girls until he can get back in action? Should the girl be double-penetrated?"

I told her that many different elements go into making a threesome sexy, drama-free, and fun. First, all the players involved need to be enthusiastic about the idea and on the same page about expectations, needs, and boundaries. If you are part of a couple looking to play with a third person (rather than three single people), it is so important for you and your partner to work out in advance what you want and don't, what's OK, and what's off-limits. A guy once approached me at an event and told me that he and his girlfriend really wanted to play with me. He seemed nice enough, and I'd already eyed the hot redhead he was with. But when she joined the conversation, I could tell she wasn't into it. You shouldn't jump into bed with someone to please your partner or because you think it will fix a problem. It's a very big step for a couple, one that should be considered thoughtfully and carefully.

The emotional work here is far more difficult than the logistics. Rather than focusing on perfect choreography, it's more important for each person to stay connected and involved with the other two. That can take many different forms: You can have your mouth on one person and your hands on another, you can be giving one pleasure as you get it from another . . . The multitasking possibilities are endless! Rather than getting hung up on who comes when or whose erection needs some time to recover, concentrate on exploring each other's bodies. It's also OK for one person to take a break and sit back and watch the other two in action for a while. Opportunities for double penetration by two people don't come along every day, though, so a threesome can be a good time to explore this activity if it turns you on.

I thought it was interesting that the letter-writer brought up the gender breakdown—two girls and a guy? Two guys and a girl?—since most threesome images are geared heavily toward the former. This is partly because of the flawed notion that the presence of another woman strokes the male ego, whereas throwing another man into the mix challenges it. When two men are part of a threesome, they don't necessarily have to be sexual, but they do need to be comfortable enough with their sexuality that they can be naked and turned on near each other and OK if they (accidentally) brush body parts.

Another rationale is the homophobic stereotype that two women having sex is non-threatening—a performance for men or "not really sex"—whereas two men having sex is just gay. A threesome challenges the notion that sex should only happen between two people and illustrates that multiple desires can exist alongside one another. But it needs to get out from under its pop-culture and porn-created image of how it should play out and between whom.

On the heels of my response, a book arrived in my mailbox called The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide to Sleeping With Three, by Vicki Vantoch threesomehandbook.com. The back cover billed it as "a step-by-step guide to realizing the new American dream." While I am not sure three-way sex has eclipsed home ownership, wealth, children, and a happy life as the most sought-after goals of the masses, it is a fantasy of many, and this book tackles it from many different angles. Breezy, chatty, and funny, it's geared toward straight people, though there's a great chapter on "discovering your inner queer" which is a must-read for the bi-curious. Although Vantoch does her best to be open-minded, positive, and encouraging about man-on-man sex, she comes across as clearly more experienced and comfortable with bi women than bi men. Even her advice is more heavily weighted to the female-female-male grouping. Perhaps the most useful section of the book is a chapter with more than 20 drawings and descriptions of possible three-way sex positions, each with a clever name, a difficulty rating, and some bonus tips. For example, "The Nut Crusher," rated intermediate, includes the note: "The chick in the middle can finger the chick on top's ass or pussy."

I've had my share of threesomes, from the disappointing to the divine. My most recent was probably also one of the best. It was at sex camp, and my partner and I were playing in public, which we rarely have time to do. We were in the corner of a mountain of mattresses all pushed together to create a multilevel island. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a friend of ours watching us—she eventually crawled onto the mattress pile. I knew she had a crush on my boy, so I egged him on to fuck her. I remember he put on a much bigger dick than he had fucked me with, and she took it like a champ while I stroked her hair and kissed her. Sometimes three is the magic number.

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