How to Know if a Threesome Will Ruin Your Relationship

It goes by many names. The Menage a Trois, the Manwich, the Jane Fonda. But most know it as the Threesome.

The popularity of online porn has definitely driven a spike in interest in threesome’s and group sex in general. Pornhub published several neat charts showing that the term “Threesome” grew by 40% and became the 4th most searched term among women.

Pornhub search statistics

Courtesy of: Pornhub Insights

And another recent study found that a large majority of adults in North America have fantasized about having a threesome, and more than expected have actually experienced it.

The study suggests that men are more likely to report positive outcomes from having a threesome, particularly those in which 2 woman and 1 man are involved.

What’s most interesting is that the study found that threesomes involving romantic partners resulted in more positive outcomes that those with casual sex partners.

While this study looked at the “success” of a threesome, it didn’t delve too deeply into the lasting effects a threesome could have on a relationship.

For that, I consulted Lisa Murdock, a certified sex therapist in New York (which also happens to be the threesome capital of the US!).

Do threesomes ruin relationships? “Not necessarily, but it entirely depends on the type of relationship you’re in, the amount of communication you have with your partners and your overall goals as a couple,” says Murdock.

“For some couples, threesomes can open a door to a rich and exciting new world of emotional connections and sexual experimentation, and for others, it can be a relentless source of jealousy and envy that no relationship can survive.”

Different Types of Couples

If you’re a single man or woman, having a threesome is a far easier decision to make vs being in a relationship.

But if you’re trying to determine whether a threesome is right for you and your partner, it might help to first look at your relationship and decide what type of couple you are. As you can guess, some relationships are far better to have threesomes in than others.

1. The Solid Partnership

The first type of couple is what Murdock calls the “solid partnership.” This is a relationship in which both partners are equally invested, communicative, and trusting. “For this couple, a threesome might be something they’ve talked about for a while and want to explore together,” she says.

Communication and trust are key for this couple. Murdock says that if the couple is able to talk about their threesome experience afterwards and share any concerns or jealousy openly, then a threesome can actually make their relationship stronger.

These types of couples have usually been together from a few to many years and have little to no issues.

Perhaps they’ve both realized that their sex lives have simply become boring and they’re ready to try something new together for the benefit of their relationship. “But that’s the key,” say Murdock, “both partners should want to have a threesome to strengthen their own relationship, not the carnal needs of a single partner.”

2. The New Relationship

The second type of couple is what Murdock calls the “new relationship.” This is a relationship in which one or both partners may be insecure, jealous, or possessive. “A threesome in this type of relationship can be a recipe for disaster,” she warns.

If you’re in a new relationship and considering having a threesome, Murdock recommends doing a “cost-benefit analysis” with your partner first. “Really ask yourselves if the risk is worth the reward, and be honest with each other about your feelings,” she says.

Generally, this is a young couple that hasn’t been together long.

They might be going out to parties and bars a lot. A lot of times these threesomes take place without planning with too much alcohol involved in the decision-making process.

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3. The Open Relationship

The third type of couple is what Murdock calls the “open relationship.” This is a relationship in which both partners have agreed to have sex with other people outside the relationship. “For this type of couple, a threesome can be a fun and exciting way to shake things up in the bedroom,” she says.

If you’re in an open relationship and considering having a threesome, Murdock recommends being “super clear” with your partner about your boundaries and expectations beforehand. “Both partners need to be on the same page about what is and isn’t allowed during the threesome,” she says.

Most would refer to this type of couple as “swingers”.

They may frequent swinger clubs or they may simply engage in the occasional threesome or orgy. But these couples have chosen this type of lifestyle and are typically quite comfortable with it.

Why Do You Want a Threesome

Determining why you want a threesome in the first place can help you determine if your relationship can handle it.

The desire to add a third person to the bedroom can stem from many desires. Are you bored with your sex life and want to spice things up? Do you want to explore your bisexuality or sexual fluidity? Do you want to fulfill a fantasy?

“A threesome can be an opportunity to bring something new into the bedroom and broaden your sexual repertoire,” Murdock says.

For others, the appeal may have less to do with the sex and more to do with the fact that having a threesome would simply be a really fun experience.

“I’ve worked with many couples who have had threesomes as part of their sexual repertoire and they report having a great time,” Murdock says. “For them, it’s about expanding their sexual horizons and enjoying each other in a new way.”

However, as mentioned in the previous section about “the New Relationship,” if your motivation for wanting a threesome is stemming from a place of insecurity or jealousy, it’s probably not going to end well.

“Couples who are interested in exploring threesomes because they feel like their relationship is lacking something or they want to fix something are often setting themselves up for disappointment,” Murdock says.

“A threesome is not going to ‘fix’ a relationship that is struggling. In fact, it can often make things worse.”

Tips On Having a Successful Threesome for Couples

Threesome in bed

So you’ve discussed it with your partner and you’re ready to give it a go! Congratulations! Here’s the top tips you’ll need to have the best experience possible.

Who’s the Third Person?

The important thing to remember is that a threesome is not about one person getting to have sex with two people.

It’s about three people coming together to explore their sexuality and create a mutually satisfying sexual experience.

With that being said, the third person should be someone who is comfortable with both partners and who is attracted to both partners. It’s important that all three people are on the same page about what they’re looking for in the threesome and that everyone is comfortable communicating their needs.

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While the most popular type of threesomes involves 2 men and 1 woman, Murdock says “it’s all about comfort and openness. Women are typically more open to sleeping with other women while a man sharing a bed with another man can be far more taboo.”

Look For Partners Online

These days, there are many tools online for finding sexual partners, including threesome partners. While I would stay away from the more vanilla dating sites like Match, sites like Ashley Madison and AdultFriendFinder are good options for finding willing participants.

These types of sites also have the added benefit of being relatively anonymous, so you can explore your sexual desires without fear of judgement.

You can also try posting a personal ad on Craigslist or a similar classified site. Just be sure to be clear about what you’re looking for, and be sure to meet any potential partners in a public place before taking things any further. We don’t generally recommend this method due to safety concerns though.

How Long Do They Stay

The afterglow of a threesome can be a magical time for couples. If you’ve just had an amazing experience with your partner and a third person, it’s totally normal to want to spend some time debriefing and basking in the post-sex glow.

But what if the third person wants to stick around and cuddle? This can be a tricky situation to navigate, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

“The most important thing is to communicate with your partner and figure out what they’re comfortable with. If they’re not into the idea of the third person spending the night, it’s probably best to respect their wishes and send them on their way,” says Murdock.

On the other hand, if your partner is open to the idea of the third person spending the night, Murdock says it’s important to set some clear boundaries about what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

For example, you might agree that the third person can stay for a drink and some light post-sex cuddling, but not spend the night in your bed.

Is This Going to Be Regular Thing

Murdock says that the most important thing to consider before having a threesome is what your motives are. “If you’re doing it just to check something off your bucket list or to appease your partner’s curiosity, that’s not a good enough reason.

You should only do it if you’re both genuinely interested in the experience and excited about the possibility of exploring your sexuality with another person.

Who’s In Charge

The bottom line is that before you even consider having a threesome, you and your partner need to be on the same page about why you want to do it, what your intentions are, and what your boundaries are.

You also need to be clear about who is in charge. “I recommend that couples establish a ‘primary’ and a ‘secondary’ relationship dynamic during a threesome,” Murdock explains.

The primary relationship is the one between you and your partner. The secondary relationship is the one between you and the third person.

This means that your partner is your main focus, and the third person is there to enhance your experience, not take away from it.

And typically, most successful threesomes have a “leader” or designated person in charge, Murdock adds. This doesn’t mean that the other two people are powerless or submissive, but someone needs to take charge so that things don’t get too one-sided.

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“I have found that couples that allow the woman to control the experience, instead of the man, tend to have a more enjoyable and satisfying threesomes,” Murdock says.

Stay Away from Friends

It’s a good idea to keep friends out of a threesome.

According to Murdock, “Couples who mix business with pleasure often find that the experience is not as pleasurable as they’d hoped.”

“The reason for this is that when you involve a friend in a threesome, you’re not just adding a third person to the mix, you’re also adding a whole new set of dynamics and emotions that can be difficult to navigate.”

If you’re dead-set on having a threesome with a friend, Murdock suggests choosing someone who is “emotionally stable, respectful of boundaries and someone who you know you can trust.”

Have a Safe Word

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s important to have a “safe word” with your threesome partners.

A safe word is a predetermined word or phrase that either party can use to stop the sexual activity.

This is important because threesomes can sometimes get out of hand, and you want to make sure that all parties are comfortable and consensual throughout the experience.

Murdock recommends using a “traffic light” system, where green means go, yellow means slow down and red means stop.

“This system can be helpful because it gives a way to nonverbally communicate when one person is uncomfortable or wants to change what’s happening,” she says.

Communication is Key

So, what’s the key to having a successful threesome without ruining your relationship? “The key is communication, communication, communication,” says Murdock.

No matter what type of relationship you’re in, Murdock says communication is key. “Threesomes can be a great way to spice up your sex life, but only if you’re honest with each other about your expectations, boundaries, and feelings,” she says.

“If you’re not comfortable communicating with your partner about sex, then a threesome is probably not right for you.”

You need to answer several important questions before engaging in a threesome like:

  1. What are your hard limits?
  2. Will there be penetration or kissing only?
  3. What are your boundaries?
  4. What are your expectations?
  5. What are your fears?

Jealousy is Normal

It’s also important to keep in mind that jealousy is normal, no matter how strong your relationship is. “Jealousy is a natural emotion, and even if you trust your partner implicitly, it can still be triggered by seeing them with someone else,” says Murdock.

The best way to deal with jealousy is to communicate about it openly and honestly with your partner (or partners).

If you can’t do that, then a threesome is probably not going to be a good idea for you.

Final Thoughts

So, can having a threesome ruin a relationship? It really depends on the couple and their communication skills. If you’re considering a threesome, it’s important to sit down with your partner and really talk about your expectations, needs and desires.

And if you’re in a relationship and your partner brings up the topic of a threesome, listen to what they’re saying. It might just be a fantasy, but it could also be a sign that they’re feeling disconnected from you sexually or there is something lacking in the relationship.

Either way, communication is key to a successful relationship, threesome or no threesome.

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