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All of Your Practical Questions About a Threesome, Answered

We give you the DL on all your FAQs about MFF, MFM, MMF, and FFM, and don’t forget to BYOV

Well, what have we here? Two people have agreed to have sex with you? At the same time, no less? An intriguing development! But outside of watching, frankly, far too much porn, the closest you’ve ever been to a threesome was the time your cat jumped into the bed while you were getting a blowjob.

Now, with a good ol’ fashioned ménage à trois looming, you probably have some questions about how it’s all supposed to go down — or is it up? We reached out to a bunch of experts to figure out the basic mechanics of making the beast with three backs.

Okay, first up, I really have watched a lot of porn. So what are the biggest lies porn has told me about threesomes?

“Porn is filled with misconceptions,” says sexuality educator Al Vernacchio, explaining that a big one is that, “Everyone seems to be engaged in the sex all the time, while in reality, maintaining focus on more than one person at a time during sex can be hard to do.” Porn also makes it seem like shifting positions is an automatic, almost telepathic thing, where in reality, “People involved have to be communicating with each other throughout to make sure everyone is feeling involved and is giving and receiving the kind of pleasure they want,” says Vernacchio.

Porn star Aaron Thompson, of Burning Angel Entertainment, remarks that comparing your threesome to porn is like, “Watching an MMA fight, then trying to fight your best friend in your backyard — it’s just not going to be the same.” So instead of having crazy high expectations, Thompson says, “Just focus on the three people having fun.”

We should probably lay out some ground rules before we start, right?

“Yes,” says sex therapist Jodi Erin. Obviously, what you do and do not consent to is super important and needs to be established up front. Erin explains that this is an opportunity to talk about comfort zones, desires and restrictions, and even things like everyone’s STI/STD status, and when they last got checked. If needed, this is also the time to establish your safe words.

Figuring out what kind of threesome this is going to be is also important. According to swinger couple Mr. and Mrs. Jones, hosts of the We Gotta Thing podcast, there are different meanings to MFM vs MMF, or MFF vs FMF. While this is likely to have been discussed beforehand, MFM implies that the two men will have sex with the woman, whereas MMF implies that the two men will also engage with each other. While it may seem like an innocuous placement of a letter, it will make a big difference to the experience, depending on what you’re expecting.

How does everyone stay safe in a threesome? Do I have to, like, use different condoms with each partner?

Sexual health doctor Joshua Gonzalez says that to be as safe as possible, yes, you’d want to switch condoms between going into each partner. And if two guys are involved, they both should be wearing condoms. The same thing goes for any sex toys you might be using: Gonzalez says that you’d want to “clean each time between switching partners,” so BYOV (bring your own vibrator).

Real talk: How do we keep things rolling when I’m awkwardly changing my condom? Even putting one on seems like it could derail the moment…

While this may seem uncomfortable, Mrs. Jones says that it’s not so bad when there are three people, as the other two can entertain each other. It may also provide a natural time to take a break.

Fine. How do I set the mood?

Porn star Whitney Wright says to keep it simple: “Offer water, offer wine, whatever is going to set the mood and make everyone happy.”

No need to serve a cheese fondue and selection of fine cognacs, got it. So once the rules are established and everyone’s relaxed, how do you, y’know… start?

Despite the fact that you’re about to engage in some rambunctious sex acts, things are pretty old fashioned in this regard. “In every one of the threesomes I’ve had in my off-camera life, no matter who is involved, the girl or girls will initiate it in some way,” says Thompson. For a couple adding a third, Mrs. Jones says, “The female of the couple would begin, regardless of whether or not it’s with a man or woman. Because it takes the pressure off the single person.”

What happens if the pressure gets to me and I end up with performance anxiety?

Mr. Jones says that it can happen, especially in a case where a guy is in his first sexual experience involving another guy. He says to just take a bit of a breather and allow the other two people to engage, then hop in when you’re ready.

How much kissing is there? Is that a no-no?

While everyone will have their own preference, Mrs. Jones says that there is, “A lot! Because that’s how I start to feel connected to someone and that’s how I start to desire them.” Ultimately though, if it’s a question of intimacy, that might be something you want to establish at the rules-setting stage.

This might sound stupid, but what do I do if the other guy is bigger than me?

“It really doesn’t matter,” says Thompson. “I’ve been in threesomes where the other guy is bigger than me and ones where the other guy is smaller than me, and I still always have a good time!” He adds that, for the girl in a threesome with two guys, eventually it’s just going to be a “sensory overload of dick,” so don’t sweat it.

While we’re in it, how do I make sure everyone is happy?

“Don’t forget that you’ve got hands, you’ve got a mouth, so you have other things you can use,” says Thompson. You shouldn’t worry too much about making sure everyone has equal time, but Thompson adds, “As long as you’re reading the room and not being too selfish, there’s no score card as to who is getting more attention.”

What if my wife and I are inviting someone else in? Shouldn’t I be sure that I don’t ignore her by getting too excited about the new person?

“If he ever wants to do it again, he will,” says Mr. Jones, succinctly.

Yikes. Okay. Are there any tips to help with this?

Thompson says that if it’s a couple’s first time with a third, the couple would almost “act as a unit, and they fuck the other person as a team.” See? Teamwork really does make the dream work!

In purely practical terms, is there any particular order in which you should do things?

To not get lost, it’s probably best not to stray too far from what you’d normally do with your partner. “It doesn’t really change from when there are two people, you just have more options as you progress,” says Mrs. Jones.

What do I do when the other two are doing stuff with each other? Do I provide encouraging commentary from the sidelines, or what?

Mr. Jones says that when he and Mrs. Jones invite someone else into their bedroom, part of the experience is just watching his wife with another man or woman — he finds this very hot, so he’ll lean back, take it in and enjoy the show. Watching is part of the fun, and when you want to join back in, just insert yourself (literally and/or figuratively).

What happens if someone crosses a boundary set in our pre-threesome discussion?

If someone gets carried away and tries to do something that violates a prior stated rule, Thompson says, “Politely try to make a joke of it, and without breaking the mood, get out of the situation that’s making you uncomfortable.” If they persist, though, you may have to call it a night: You can’t be trying to do something as intimate and complicated as a threesome with someone who isn’t going to respect the rules you laid out as a group at the beginning.

What about if I think of something I want to try in the moment that we didn’t discuss beforehand?

To ensure everyone is always consenting, Vernacchio says that things, “can be renegotiated during the encounter, but only if everyone is clear and on-board about what changes are being asked for and agreed to.”

…what about anal?

“Any kind of anal play is off the table unless it’s discussed ahead of time,” says Mrs. Jones.

Here’s a biggie: How long should the whole thing last?

Try not to worry about this one too much. Wright says that it “should be determined organically, as setting a time on how long it should last gives it a very uptight, rigid feel.” The Joneses even suggest that you can make an evening of it by taking breaks, having food and then getting back into it later (which means that even first-timers can, in fact, keep up with the Joneses).

Where do I finish? I can see myself getting confused about the etiquette and ending up ejaculating on a throw pillow…

Thompson says that he, “usually asks the girl or girls, then I just do what I’m told.” Mr. Jones adds that if you’re in a couple, your default should be the wife. Regardless of who you’re finishing with, though, you’re probably not going to finish in anyone per se because, according to Thompson, everyone kind of feels like they’re in a porno anyway when they’re in a threesome, so things tend to be less romantic and more dirty.

What do I do if it gets weird with my partner afterwards?

Having been through a lot of sexual experiences with other people in their sex life, the Joneses share, “If there are some kind of hurt feelings or some discomfort afterward, we do a check-in and make sure the other is okay, then we’ll go to sleep and wait until the morning to talk about it.” Mr. Jones adds, “We go into this knowing that it’s risky, and the person listening has to accept the other person’s feelings.”

Should I call the third person the next day?

You can follow-up, but make sure you don’t get weird or make things overly complicated. Thompson says that three single people can do whatever they like, but if there’s a couple inviting in another, don’t do anything to disrespect your marriage. “A good rule of thumb is, if you’re hiding it from your spouse, don’t do it,” says Thompson.

Anything else I need to know?

Mr. Jones says that, if you’re a husband and you’re lucky enough to have had your wife agree to a threesome, you should prepare to never win another argument for the rest of your life. “If we get into a fight, no matter what it’s about, she always wins because she’ll say, ‘Honey, I let you have sex with other women.’ So it’s the ultimate trump card.”

Worth it.

Then we wish you good luck — you may just need it.