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Lithium How to have the perfect threesome

Aug. 21, 2020
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Choosing the perfect threesome partner (or partners) can be difficult. If you're single, you might be overwhelmed by the idea of not knowing where to find the perfect candidates. But, if you're a couple there's a 50% chance this might absolutely wreck you—just kidding! Threeways are fun, or at least they seem like it. To be honest, I don't know. Well, I do? I think? 

When I was 21, I decided I was ready to engage in my first threesome. I wasn't in a serious relationship at the time, so finding the perfect couple to have sex with proved to be harder than I wanted it to be. My pickiness certainly didn't help, but to be fair, I was going to be intimate with not only one, but two people—and at the same time! I didn't want to sleep with close friends out of fear of making things awkward between us. I also didn't want to sleep with full-blown strangers for my safety. And, lastly, I didn't want to sleep with anyone I wasn't 100% into, to make the experience as pleasurable and as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately for me, I didn't end up following a part of my overly-specific criteria. 

Without getting too deep into it, my first ménage à trois was unpleasantly remarkable. Truth be told, it wasn't the worst sex I've ever had, but I know I definitely could've enjoyed it more. Making the abrupt decision to go home with a random couple after a night of drinking seems like an intriguing plot line in a rom-com about a woman who’s finding herself after a tough breakup. But, as someone who isn't a Hollywood A-lister in a Judd Apatow movie, I took nothing but "I could've thought about this more" out of this particular decision. 

So, am I completely turned off by the idea of a threeway? Not at all! My "first time" was less than ideal, but it didn't define the act in its entirety for me. There are plenty of threesome horror stories out there, mine included, but that doesn't mean your experience has to be added to the bunch. So, whether you're scouting on Tinder or hoping someone breaks the tension while hanging out with two of your friends, here are some tips I wish I could've been given before having my first threesome:

  1. Make sure you know you're actually ready to have a threesome.

Are threesomes intriguing? Absolutely, but I understand they're not for everyone. Monogamous sex can be nerve-wracking on its own, so imagine inviting a third person to the party. If you want to have one because you think it'll bring you and your partner together, it's worth talking about. But keep in mind that they might not feel the same way. Romantically committed or not, really ask yourself why you want to have one and try to figure out what you're hoping to get out of it. Remember, at the end of the day, you know yourself best!

2. Make sure you're looking for people in the right places.

We've all stumbled upon couples looking for a unicorn on dating apps—they're impossible to avoid. But believe it or not, Tinder isn't the only place where candidates linger. Before I even realized I wanted to have a threesome, I stumbled upon several couples looking for a third at dive bars and dance clubs. Sure, the majority of them won't spark a conversation with "do you want to have sex with us?" but they tend to give off a vibe. If you want to sleep with like-minded individuals (and you want to find them in open spaces), place yourself in settings where you feel comfortable. And, if you're too shy or afraid to do so, keep in mind that your trustworthy friends and/or on-and-off hookups might be into the idea—you just have to ask!

3. If you're not attracted to both parties, don't have one!

I made this mistake, and I promise that "taking one for the team" isn't worth it. The key to mind-blowing monogamous sex is chemistry, so why would it be any different for threesomes? Although it might seem unrealistic to be fully invested in both of your partners, I can assure you it's not. You just have to keep looking. I should also mention that lack of attraction can not only be seen but felt. Needless to say, it's unfair to everyone involved. 

4. Don't forget to open up about your boundaries and concerns.

This might seem like an obvious one, but speaking from experience, I know that these topics can be difficult to bring up with new sexual partners. Whether you're planning your threesome or end up having a spontaneous one, take some time to discuss any fears and/or limits you may have with both parties before getting physical. Talk about any kinks, triggers, rules, or sexual health concerns. It'll make the environment safer and more comfortable for everyone involved. And don't forget, you can always set new boundaries as you go.

5. Talk about your relationship outside of sex.

What's going to happen when it's over? Are you going to keep seeing each other? Is it going to become a frequent thing? How do you feel about that? What do they think? All sex aside, threesomes can be complicated, and if you're not careful, they can also be the root of feelings such as jealously, doubt, and mistrust. It's important to establish your threesome "do's and don'ts" early on, especially if you're in a committed relationship with one of your partners. Some couples have found that not forming any sort of friendship with the people they're sleeping with keeps them from acting on any undesirable feelings. Others are more than okay with that, as long as romance isn't present during sexual situations. These preferences vary from individual to individual, and it's important to build an environment where all parties are comfortable sharing their own—it makes the experience significantly more fun.

6. Establish a dynamic and stick to it!

Whether you're an expert or a novice, I recommend setting the scene either before or at the beginning of the act. Ask each other if anyone would like to be the focal point, if they want to split everything evenly, or if one of them would prefer to just watch. Switching things up every once in a while, even if you think you might not be into it, allows for everyone involved to explore their sexual interests healthily. Not to mention, a well-established dynamic prevents tension and discomfort. 

7. Have fun!

Being part of a threesome is the perfect way to unlock a new part of your sexuality. Even though my personal experience was far from how I wanted it to go, I'm still aware that if I were to choose to participate in another one, it wouldn't be anything close to what I went through in the past. So, if you've gotten the short end of the stick in this department, and you're still open to the idea, don't get discouraged! Reflect on what could've gone better, and aim for that on your next encounter—I'm sure more will come. 

Illustration by Emily Keegin for The New York Times