I feel I have arrived! Everyone’s definition of personal success is individual to them and I imagine not many people would define it as getting paid to coach someone in how to negotiate a threesome!

That is what happened tonight. A regular online coaching client got in touch to ask if I could have a conversation with him about his idea to have a threesome with his wife and his female best friend. I was a good choice to talk to because of the combination of having plenty to say on this topic, plus understanding his sexual history well. We have worked together on his body image, self-consciousness, fear of being naked with his partner, anxiety-induced erection issues and early ejaculation. The fact that he is now considering this threesome scenario is testament to how far he has come since we first met. And I have only ever met him online, and we are not even in the same country!

He described the situation to me. His best friend since childhood flirts with his wife and they have sexual banter on messaging. Both women express that they wish they could have had sexual experiences with women but because of their strict religious family backgrounds this is pretty unsafe for them. Recently, my client saw his best friend naked for the first time, and this had a big impact on him. He started feeling sexual towards her and having fantasies, which he shared with his wife. His wife is keen to have an experience with them both, and they have talked briefly about the possibility, and how it is important to her that she knows and has a connection with the ‘3rd woman’ in the threesome. Culturally, it is very taboo and there is a feeling of safety from all of them understanding the importance of privacy.

These are the broad areas we talked about, and some areas to consider if you are thinking of arranging a threesome (particularly if this is with an existing romantic/sexual partner).

The ‘Unicorn’ Myth and the pitfalls

threesomesMy client had heard about ‘Unicorn hunting’ (link to a definition) and they did in fact fit the stereotypical situation for this label (Heterosexual couple looking for the elusive hot bi babe who is attracted to them both). We talked about the pitfalls of this and how it can go wrong and be offensive for women who are approached in this way or who become unhappy with being treated as a sex object or plaything rather than an equal human being with feelings and needs of their own. This can occur because of ‘couple privilege’ which means that the needs and desires of the pair in a traditional relationship become prioritised and they end up exerting more power and control.

My client was obviously wary of his best friend feeling like this.

How am I feeling in my body about this, and what do I want?

My client was excited and aroused by the fantasy of this scenario unfolding, but was also wary and needed help working out what was it he wanted, what was it his wife wanted and what was it his friend wanted from the idea.

I suggested that they could make lists of ‘Hopes and Fears’ about the encounter and discuss these with each other. Another exercise we had previously done together was ‘I want…’ where you free-write for 5 minutes about anything that comes into your head and then use the information to find out your core needs. Even if he did these exercises by himself or with me, it would help him to become clearer about what his desires and hopes are.

During the call, I asked him a few times ‘what did you feel in your body when I mentioned that?’ and ‘what are you noticing now?’ and ‘how do you want to feel?’

How will this work with your existing emotional relationships?

It is tempting to think that you can have one night of fun and return to exactly the same relationship you had before, with no impact on emotions or relationship dynamics. It is worth doing a bit of a ‘risk assessment’ about this. Considering in a sober (non aroused) state the ‘What Ifs’ in this situation could save a lot of heartache down the line. This scenario involves two central relationships in his life so if things get tricky after they get sticky this is potentially damaging for all of them.

Jealousy and insecurity are natural so it’s a good idea to plan for them popping up, as this could be a triggering situation. If you are a couple planning a threesome, it is a good idea to work on your relationship security and if jealousy or comparison to others is a big issue, or your relationship is in crisis, agree that this might not be the time for this particular adventure. It is not going to solve your issues!

The scenario the client describes will create a ‘secret’ between him, his wife and his friend, which will always be there into the future, for example, at family events, at the friend’s future wedding (which is likely). I encouraged him to think about what holding that secret might be like, compared to he and his wife having a more anonymous encounter. It might be fun, or it might feel heavy to carry.

Consent

threesomesWe talked about how to ensure true, enthusiastic and embodied consent from all three people and what consent safeguards to build into the experience. It is important to be aware of the reasons people ‘go along’ with things, through peer pressure, fear of consequences. Who has more social power can have an influence, so being extra aware that women are socialised to please men and go along with what they want is important. Consent communication, safe words and permission to say no can all be created in the planning process. I suggested doing some embodied consent exercises together or a time where each person asks for what they would like to receive from the others.

In this case, none of the people drink alcohol but this would be an important consideration – one or drinks can take the edge off nerves but for nearly all other reasons (from erections to consent to being a good lover) it doesn’t have much to offer!

Safer sex/pregnancy prevention

This is important to talk about beforehand, and for all to be comfortable with the arrangements. Condoms might be an important consideration for some couples as a barrier-less sex represents a particular intimacy they only share with each other (fluid bonding).

Negotiation and planning

Movies and TV don’t show much of the pre threesome negotiation, but it can be a hot and sexy if slightly awkward part of planning group fun. I suggested meeting socially to discuss it, out of the bedroom or hotel.

One question to put on the table is ‘Is this a one off or an ongoing arrangement?’

Our responsibility to each other doesn’t end immediately after the sex ends, unless you all agree this happily. In terms of aftercare, what will each person need after the encounter?

We talked about where this threesome is happening? Will it be in neutral territory such as a hotel? If you are a couple new to threesomes, you might decide that a hotel is a better option so that the encounter occurs there and you get to leave it behind, and also the person who joins you does not need to know your address.

The question of who sleeps where afterwards is a big one. Once people are post arousal and post orgasm, perhaps they may feel different about waking up and finding their spouse with their arms wrapped around another woman. Even many polyamorous people would not feel comfortable with this. It is important to consider this beforehand and be clear about needs and expectations for the sleeping bit.

Rules and agreements

We talked about how you may want to make agreements about future meeting, whether it’s OK for either of the couple to make contact with the other, or to have sex without the presence of the partner.

It is completely appropriate to have boundaries and limits for your threesome. Everyone should express some limits or things they are ‘amber’ (link to traffic light system) about and need more information. It does not make you any less sexy, liberated, fun or adventurous to express limits. All parties should respect the others limits.

Ways to start including slow and warm

threesomesYou don’t have to launch into hot, fast passionate sex. You could start with a triad cuddle session, or a goal free body massage (4 handed massages, Mmmmm). I suggested that taking mini communication breaks, or sometimes where someone sits back and watches the other pair, and even a tea break half way through. You do not have to make your threesome like a porn film. It can be like a leisurely Sunday in bed if you want, and let it build up in it’s own time.

In this case, starting slow and constructing gentler expectations reduced the pressure for my client, who suffers from that social pressure that as a man and penis owner he must always be erect and ready to ‘perform’. I suggest that rather than focussing on ‘what do I want to DO?’, it is useful to consider ‘How do I want to FEEL?’

Making sure everyone is included

If you have an existing relationship, it could be tempting to focus on the partner you know well because you know where you are with them, or you might get quite excited at a new body and person under your hands. It is important that everyone feels included and wanted, to set this intention.

Other options to consider instead

We discussed the option of sex clubs/parties, swingers clubs as an alternative to this particular triad. This way the couple could ease themselves into situations where they are sexual around others and sharing encounters in a lighter way for short periods of time, without making a particular commitment to a full on sexual experience. I also suggested escorts, many of whom will work with a couple. It is suggested that if you are a couple who want a woman to join you for one sexual encounter and then to leave and make no further contact with either of you, an escort is probably the best and most uncomplicated solution. The same applies to a couple of any sexuality.

By the end of the discussion the client said ‘You have given me loads to think about’. There was no way any decision could be made yet and he closed down Zoom with lots to process. It is possible that although this opportunity has presented itself, that in this case a fantasy would not translate too well into reality, or it would be great in the moment, but cause some unwanted effects in their wider lives. I felt good about our conversation, that came after months of other work with this client and indicated a new level of confidence for him. In this case, my client was in a pretty traditional situation and did not have access to a Sex Positive/Kink/conscious sexuality community where these things are often discussed and workshopped.

I was working in the environment of desire, fantasy and a longing for an experience that really captured the client’s erotic imagination, and also under the spell of ‘what man would turn this down?’ kind of dominant narrative. This sensitive and emotionally intelligent man was already thinking about everyone’s wellbeing and seeking out a conversation about this decision to help him find a direction. It was rewarding to create a space where he could unpick and untangle fantasy from reality, emotions from sexual longings, consider carefully how to make safety and consent and also to consider all the options of making this very common fantasy a reality in an ethical and connected way.

I have the joy of reconnecting with him again in a month and hearing how this unfolded. I am confident that whatever the outcome, this scenario he brought to me enabled a whole load of feeling, learning and self development.

Yes, it’s official. Threesomes (even hypothetical ones) are educational. 😊

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