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Threesomes are a common fantasy, but turning them into reality can be complex, tricky, and sometimes even awkward. Here, we go through everything you need to know to have a good threesome: from choosing the right partner, to making sure you have enough condoms, to not being that creepy couple on the dating app.

Talk about it out of the bedroom

Threesomes can be wildly sexy to talk about with your partner in the heat of the moment, but if you’re planning on making your fantasy a reality then you need to discuss it outside of the bedroom as well. As many of us who’ve lived out a sexual fantasy will attest, sometimes the things we think about to get off aren’t always the things we want to happen in real life. Have a good, sensible, post-climax chat with your partner about how a threesome would work for you both: is there anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing? How will you handle jealousy? Will the third person stay the night, or will you politely call them a taxi at the evening’s end? It might be hot to fool around with your partner while talking about their sexy mate from the gym, but actually having that person in your bed can be an entirely different kettle of fish.

Be clear about your expectations

Whether you’re approaching the threesome as one member of a couple or as the person who’ll be joining the couple, it’s important to think about what you want from the experience and communicate it to the people you’ll be with. If you’d like it to be a once-off and you’d prefer not to see the third person socially again, that’s fine—but be open about that from the beginning so the third has the chance to opt-out if that’s not what they want. Likewise, talk with the other people about your comfort levels and your hopes for the experience. If you’d really like to watch your partner have sex with the other person but you’d rather them not kiss, say so. Respect the expectations and boundaries of the people you’re with, and be clear about your own boundaries so they can respect them too.

Choose your threesome partner wisely

It goes without saying that you and your partner should decide together on who you’re going to invite into the bedroom. You might ask a friend, a stranger, or a professional sex worker to join you—it doesn’t matter who they are, just as long as you’ve both given them the a-okay. Be sensitive (and sensible) about approaching the person: don’t assume they’ll automatically say yes, give them time to think about it, and respect their answer if they say no. If the person is someone you know, make sure there’s at least a bit of social chemistry present in your relationship before you ask: your co-worker is probably a poor choice no matter how hot they might be, but that cute bartender at the local pub who occasionally gives you a wink might be a better option.

Don’t be that creepy couple on the dating app

Dating apps can be a great place to find someone for a threesome, but don’t be creeps about it. Putting “fun and kink-friendly couple seeking a third” in your profile is fine, but messaging “hey, u down for a threeway?” to every match you receive is unappealing and quite frankly, it’s pretty rude. Don’t send sexual messages or pictures to anyone unless they’ve given you their consent, and don’t be dishonest about your intentions either. A sadly common tactic of some couples on dating apps is to create a profile for one partner and use it to build connections with other people—and then mention, way too late, that you’re actually a couple looking for a threesome and not one person looking for a date. This seems to happen a lot with heterosexual couples and bisexual or lesbian women, but it can happen across all genders and sexualities. 

Set the mood

You wouldn’t invite friends over for a dinner party and expect them to eat off dirty plates, so don’t invite someone over for a threesome without washing your sheets and cleaning your room. Remember that while you and your partner might be totally cool with having a bedtime snack and leaving your takeaway container out on the bedside table overnight, someone else might not be—so go through your room and do a bit of cleaning and tidying up before the big event. (We’ve written a full guide on How to Set the Mood that would be perfect for this occasion!) Alternatively, you can meet your third person in a neutral location like a bar, restaurant, or cafe beforehand so you have the chance to get to know each other in a more casual setting.

Make sure you have enough supplies

Write a shopping list, if you have to! Are your vibrators charged? Do they have new batteries? Do you have a few towels on hand, and some baby wipes if you need to freshen up? Do you have some extra condoms, lube, and dental dams? What about a spare phone charger? Is there mineral water in the fridge, and did you want to buy some of that fancy brie for a snack afterwards? Is there petrol in your car so you can offer your threesome partner a lift home? This is definitely a situation in which it’s always good to be prepared.

Stay sober

Having a glass of wine or a beer beforehand is fine, but don’t get sloppy. Alcohol and other substances can lower your body’s responsiveness to arousal, impact your coordination, and affect your decision-making abilities. None of this is ideal for someone about to have a threesome, so keep the drinks and drugs to an absolute minimum. If you feel like you absolutely couldn’t approach the idea of a threesome without alcohol or something to settle your nerves, perhaps this is a good sign that you should wait and become more comfortable with the idea before trying it again.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

So you’ve had a good talk with everyone involved and you understand each other’s boundaries, wants, and needs—but now you need to keep talking and make sure everyone stays comfortable. Check in with each other as the night continues: you don’t have to stop everything and debrief every half hour, but a simple, “Are you enjoying this?” or, “Still feeling comfortable?” can go a long way to reassure your lovers. Listen out for the responses to those questions, too. If someone isn’t feeling comfortable or needs a break, respect that and do your best to make them feel comfortable even if it means bringing the night to an end.

Look out for the green-eyed monster

Sometimes, with threesomes, it’s not a case of if you’ll get jealous but when. As much as we might want to be that super-cool partner who’s down with everything in the bedroom, it’s totally normal and fine to feel a little bit envious when you see your partner being intimate with someone other than you for the first time. You and your partner can develop a plan for how you’ll deal with these feelings beforehand: maybe you can request some extra physical affection from them in the moment, maybe you can talk about it afterwards, or maybe you’d prefer to keep some acts (like kissing) for each other and not the third. Whatever it is, have a plan in place so that when feelings of jealousy surface, you’ll be prepared to face them.

Debrief with everyone afterwards

Threesomes can bring up some unexpected feelings: not just envy, but positive and negative feelings you might have about your relationship, sex, your body, communication with your partner, or the person (or people) you had the threesome with. It’s really worth talking to your partner about the experience, how you both felt about it, discussing any of those feelings that arose. You might want to develop a plan to work through them, but sometimes just saying them out loud can be enough! Likewise, it’s kind to check in with the person who joined you for the threesome, even if you don’t plan on pursuing a romantic or social relationship going forward. A sex worker may appreciate a positive review on their personal website, while a casual fling might like a text the next morning—just a simple, “Hey, thank you again for coming over last night, we loved spending time with you and hope you enjoyed being with us” is enough to let them know you’re thinking of them and appreciate the experience you all shared.