Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Maybe you just got out of a stagnant relationship and you’re dying to try something new. Maybe you’re newly out as bi and you want to explore your options. Maybe you’re in an open relationship and want to test the waters on your own through a courtship with a cute couple.
You probably also know the stories. The aggressive unicorn hunters, the couples opening up their relationships for the wrong reasons, the gross boyfriend who just wants to have two women catering to his pleasure. You’re probably not in any way interested in getting caught in the crossfire of these types of threesomes situations. Neither am I—and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to.
The reality is that yes, there are a lot of bad actors among couples looking to invite a third into the bedroom, however, good experiences absolutely exist and, as long as you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, aren’t hard to come by. Trust me, I’ve had them!
To help me help you, I spoke with two other threesome connoisseurs and good friends, Instagram personality and actor James Rose and comedian and host of The Manwhore Podcast, Billy Procida, about their experiences being a third. Together, we came up with these tips.
Figure Out What You Want First
The first step in finagling your very first ménage à trois is to figure out exactly what kind of setup you’re looking to get into. “I always think it’s great to set up some expectations beforehand and make sure everyone knows what the hope is—if all goes well”, adds Procida. Are you in it simply for sexual intimacy? Or are you looking for emotional intimacy as well? Ideally, do you hope to find a couple with whom you can have an ongoing relationship or just a casual one-time experience? I’m a firm believer in being as upfront as possible about what you want (I’m a Sagittarius) especially when it comes to relationships, as it will save you time and energy.
This may change as you journey further into the experience, and that’s okay, but take your temperature now and see what you’re actually comfortable with and excited about.
Determine Your Boundaries And Practice Enforcing Them
Boundary-setting can be intimidating when you have to do it with just one person, so it may seem daunting to prepare for it with a couple, but it doesn’t have to be. Making sure you know exactly what your boundaries are—your hard limits and your soft limits from positions to where you’re comfortable meeting up—just as much as your desires will help you in your experience.
Once you know what they are, practice saying them out loud. Getting comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth can help infinitely when the time comes. You can also practice setting boundaries over text, a perfectly valid way to set your boundaries ahead of time!
If you’re going to hop on the apps, you can mention some of your hard limits in your bio to save yourself the trouble, however, you can’t trust 100 percent that your matches will read them, so you may want to reference your bio and ask if they’ve had a chance to read it. In some apps like Feeld, an app marketed to folks looking for threesomes and other non-monogamous situations, there are sections for desires and boundaries that you can fill out.
Look For Red Flags And Green Flags
Some of the couples you’ll want to avoid will be obvious if you know what to look for. There are also a few things that, in our experiences, constitute a good sign. We all agree that we feel more comfortable and have had better experiences with couples who are more established and have more experience. If you’re new to the experience, it’s best to avoid couples who are inexperienced and whose relationship in any way seems fragile. “Look out for the couples that passive-aggressively fight in front of you,” Procida recommends.
Another red flag that Rose points out is if they themselves from the start only feel attraction, sexual or romantic, for only one of the individuals in the couple, it would feel unethical for them to continue pursuing that relationship just for the relationship with the partner they’re attracted to.
Something else to look for if you’re on the apps is a couple with a shared or connected profile, and definitely one that has pictures of both partners.
Keep Communication Open With ALL Partners
Something to avoid is forming an unbalanced relationship with each of the partners in the couple. Unless previously discussed and negotiated, avoid developing a stronger emotional or sexual connection with just one of them. While their relationship issues are their problem, doing so could create feelings of imbalance in the threesome relationship. If you find that one of the partners is attempting to do this, that’s also a red flag. “Couples should find the addition of a third person something that can bring them closer together, not something that they use to work out their relationship issues”, says Rose.
Rose also advises that, if you end up catching feelings (especially stronger feelings for one of the partners) it’s best to be upfront about it with yourself and with the couple. “I will usually journal or talk it out with myself to establish what I’m feeling, what needs to be addressed, and how this will impact my relationship with the couple,” they say.
Feelings don’t have to be a dealbreaker to continue the ongoing relationship, but it does require ongoing communication, boundary-setting, and emotional awareness.
“The cool part about being a third for a couple is that they are welcoming you into an already (ideally!) healthy relationship, and you get to enjoy some of the most pleasurable aspects of it,” says Rose. Partners who have been doing this for a while are comfortable with communication and oftentimes you end up with a lot of their attention placed on you and your pleasure.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want in the moment. It’s not awkward, just remember how ridiculous sex is,” Procida reminds us.
Threesomes won’t—and shouldn’t—look like a porn set, so don’t feel pressured to perform in any particular way. Remember to go with the flow, be present, and remember to communicate what you want!
Images: Omar Lopez / Unsplash