In our sexually liberated times we are exposed to a wide array of sexual information, imagery, stories and relationships that would have been censored or kept quiet in the past. These days, we think we’re very sophisticated when it comes to sex but I think most people still find the concept of a threesome relationship both a bit difficult and off-putting. It might be our society’s emphasis on monogamy and related single-couple relationships. Or, it may be the perceived difficulty of maintaining intimacy within such a relationship. And, many of us were brought up to think of such things as sinful and depraved. Regardless, people have been exploring threesomes for quite a while. Some think of a threesome as a love triangle but today it is associated more with casual sex relationships among three people. Of course, it could also be found in a true domestic relationship like polygamy or – as the French say – a ménage a trios’

When I was younger, I remember becoming aware of one kind of threesome from seeing a great French art film called Jules et Jim, a story about a tortured threesome relationship that spans multiple decades and countries. I remember thinking that the relationship was very conceivable as a short-lived thing but would be difficult to maintain. Of course, in that movie the woman at the center of the relationship, played by Jeanne Moreau, kills herself and one of her lovers in a car crash. Perhaps it was the tragic ending one might expect in times where such a relationship was frowned upon.

In the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, one would read about “swingers” living a very “open” lifestyle where they might have group sex and, often, a threesome would be part of that scene. Since then we’ve learned a lot about sex and relationships. Regarding group sex, a recent book, Plays Well in Groups by Kate Frank, chronicles groups sex through the ages – from ancient Rome to Burning Man. The book helps the reader understand that group sex has been around for a long time and been expressed in many ways.

Today, we have more sexual research that has broadened our sense of what is normal and acceptable. Recent books point out that humans may not be as monogamous by nature as thought (Sex at Dawn by Chris Ryan.) On our SmartSex app and elsewhere we have pointed out recent research on the questions of whether women are (historically and naturally) perhaps more open to casual sex with strangers and multiple partners than originally thought. And, of course, we now know the fuller spectrum of sexual behavior – some of which has been kept underground but now is visible to see.

This does leave us with a few questions. Who is interested in threesomes? And, how does the interest in threesomes break down by gender? Well, recent research published in the Journal of Bisexuality by Health Armstrong and Elke Reissing provides a few partial answers. The research admittedly only looked at heterosexual adults 18-60 and their attitudes toward dating and hooking up with partners from the opposite sex. It looked at their interest in threesomes in different scenarios including casual sex; dating; and a committed relationship.

The research showed that very few women were interested in a threesome with two men. Using a scale of 6 with 6 the highest level, women barely surpassed 1 when considering casual sex – probably the most likely situation for a positive answer. On the other hand, men were much more interested in a threesome defined as one man and two women for all three scenarios. They reached between a level of around 5, even for dating and a committed relationship. Some other findings noted that women found the idea of a threesome only slightly arousing at 1.62 while men found the fantasy of a threesome much more attractive at 4.48.

To put it in context of experience, the research asked who had actually participated in a threesome. Only 2 percent of the women had – and most had only one experience. 10 percent of men, on the other hand, had had a threesome of a F-M-F threesome, with about 50 percent having had more than one experience.

This research is very limited but it does provide some initial impressions of threesome behavior. Given that men may be more sexually adventurous, these findings were not surprising but the research only focuses on one type of threesome. Women might feel much safer considering a F-M-F threesome. And lest we forget, men consider a F-M-F threesome to be the ideal combination – the ultimate conquest that presents so many erotic possibilities with no competition. Men might well shy away from a M-F-M threesome due to sexual orientation issues. So, this research may have used threesome options that favor male approval and discourage female approval. Let’s wait to see what new research comes up with to – shall we say – flesh out the picture.

I would be fascinated to find out how women would react to a potential F-M-F threesome and men to a M-F-M threesome. Who knows, the results could actually be reversed for the genders from what the original findings show.

The decision to have a threesome for either a fling or a longer-term relationship is, of course, each person’s choice. Some may choose to explore this area of relationships to expand their sexual horizons, or, in response to a partner’s interest or a partner’s inability to fulfill the others’ needs. Sometimes couples engage in threesomes to spice up the marriage. Others, of course, may see threesomes as an exotic approach to sex that is out of bounds except for, perhaps, a fantasy. In any case, threesomes definitely force us all to re-examine our views of couple relationships and their meaning in our lives.

It probably is fair to say that men are more interested in some form of group sex than women – at least the fantasy of group sex and threesomes. But, it will be interesting to see how this may change over time as we, as a society, move towards becoming more accepting of nontraditional sexual expression.

With all the dating apps now out there, it was just a matter of time before we were introduced to a threesome app. Someone is now developing an app for people seeking to engage in a threesome. It’s tentatively called 3nder and is in crowd funding stage. So, it may – or may not – develop into a mobile source for threesomes.
Look to SmartSex for information about the big world of sexuality and the many was it is expressed. Free download at iTunes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threesome

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/is-a-threesome-ever-a-good-idea-in-a-relationship-10241969.html

http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/21/15-things-no-one-tells-you-about-having-a-threesome-4795297/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111418/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/strictly-casual/201403/would-you-have-threesome-two-opposite-sex-partners

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