I had a date with a couple recently and I couldn’t resist the irony; I wore my mirrored unicorn broach. For those who don’t know, a unicorn is the slang term for a single bisexual woman. There are a few different definitions floating around, but that’s the gist. And although I’m not single; I’m poly, so that’s close enough to fit the bill. (Get to know the poly life in Polyamory: More Than Enough Love to Go Around.)

I have been both the guest star and part of the primary couple in threesomes. I’ve even been part of spontaneous threesomes and foursomes with no primary couples involved. While every single one of these encounters was unique, they also have something in common: With multiple partners comes multiple desires and points of view.

According to "The Threesome Handbook," threesomes rank as America’s most popular fantasy. Add to that the already strong desire to please a partner, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Two girls making out in public to get male attention has become so common that it’s a cliche. There’s even an OKCupid question that asks for opinions on the practice.

And it never fails to make me sad. Although the men watching often can’t seem to tell the difference, the way women touch each other when they’re enjoying themselves and the way they touch each other for show is very different. This is why sex educators emphasize the difference between porn sex and real sex. Sex that looks good often doesn’t feel good, and vice versa.

Our sexuality is such an intensely personal thing that there’s always a cost when we do something solely for the pleasure of others. Ultimately, doing something just because you think it’s what your partner wants will breed resentment, and that’s not sustainable in any relationship.

When a Threesome Feels Wrong

I’m not a fan of drawing gender lines within sex and relationship issues. I find we’re far more complex than what’s between our legs. That said, the threesome issue does tend to play out one way more often than others: the male partner is (very) interested and the female partner ... well, isn’t so sure. (One man asked one of Kinkly's sexperts: Should my partner and I use a female or male partner to create a threesome?)

I was recently approached by a sexy, kinky doctor at a party. We had mutual friends and hit it off right away. Pervert solidarity in an otherwise vanilla crowd contributed to our sense of ease, and after just one cocktail we were swapping stories of dungeons and sex clubs. Turns out the kinky doctor had a more sexually conservative partner that he'd be introducing me to the next night. He claimed she just needed a girl to "grab her and kiss her."

This is where I became skeptical.

The next night I did meet her and she was adorable. He kept leaving us alone together and insisting we get up to some kind of trouble. As soon as he’d leave she’d say something to the effect that he was always making that kind of joke. And there I was in the middle of a communication breakdown. He wanted a threesome and other kinky sex but his approach was to joke and tease. Whether or not she’d actually have been game was a mystery because she didn’t even know he was serious.

As hot as they both were I high-tailed it out of there. I’ve seen enough drama caused by poor communication and I wasn’t about to play a part in any shenanigans that had not been clearly negotiated.

The Right Way to Have a Threesome (or Foursome, etc. ...)

But it’s not all gloom and doom. If you keep a few caveats and pitfalls in mind, multi-party sex or sexual play can be both fun and fulfilling.
  • Make Sure Everyone Is on the Same Page
    Communication is always vital in sex and relationships, and when multiple people are involved it’s even more important. Make sure everyone is participating for the right reasons and that everyone feels comfortable putting on the breaks at any time. It’s much better to stop and snuggle than to go through with something that you’ll feel awkward (or worse) about later.
  • Set Clear Rules and Expectations
    Not every encounter needs to include penetrative sex (or any sex at all) to be a lot of fun. Set boundaries between each person who'll be playing. If there’s an established couple involved, make sure the new person is comfortable watching sex acts they might not be included in before moving ahead. If you bring in someone with a voyeuristic streak, this can be fantastic - but if it’s not a good fit they might just feel left out.

  • Make Sure Everyone Feels Welcome
    Speaking of feeling left out ... If a new person is joining an established couple make sure they feel welcome and included without ignoring your other partner to do so. Two people focusing on the third together can be sexy and fun and is a great way to let everyone take turns being the center of attention.

  • Don’t Forget to Play Safe
    When you’re excited about something, it’s tempting to just barrel ahead for fear of ruining the mood. But what really sets a mood is safety. If everyone feels comfortable and safe they can let go and enjoy themselves. Have gloves, condoms and dental dams handy.

  • Take Care of Aftercare
    Aftercare is important, even for vanilla play. Snuggles right after sex and a check-in the next day to make sure everyone is feeling good about what happened is a great way to keep friendships solid - and to help ensure your partners will come back for seconds.
Interested in getting into a threesome but aren't sure where to start? Check out Your First Time In a Threesome.