How To Have A Threesome When You're Afraid You'll Freak Out In The Middle

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now on to this week's question: how to have a threesome when you're afraid you'll freak out in the middle.

Q: "I’m lesbian and in a relationship with a bi woman. We have both said that we’re in this for the long haul (marriage, kids, the whole deal). Her one hesitation is that she does occasionally miss being with men. She brought up the idea of a threesome a while ago, and I’ve slowly been coming around to the idea. I’m pretty much on board at this point, but I’m worried about what losing it and freaking out in the moment once I see her being intimate with a dude. I’ve mentioned that fear to her, but she says I’m being paranoid. Am I?"

A: Thanks for the question! Threesomes are a very common fantasy, but they can be pretty tricky to pull off in real life. I don’t think you’re being paranoid at all. Seeing the person you love with another partner — male or female — is intense. Even the most seasoned threesome vets will tell you that. It’s important for both of you to be on the same page in order to minimize the chances of things going awry. Here are six ways to prevent a threesome meltdown.

1. Prepare Beforehand

I think it’s great that you’re already thinking through this potential experience and trying to get a sense of what it will be like for you. I’ve mentioned before that I think this mental rehearsal is an important part of acting out any sort of sexual adventure. Of course you can’t know exactly what it will be like until you’re actually there in the moment, but I think you’re asking yourself the right questions. Anyone considering a threesome should consider the following questions:

I think it’s also important for your girlfriend to be more open to having conversations about this potential threesome. It sounds like she’s shooting you down when you try to talk about your fears, which isn’t OK. She might be afraid that talking about your concerns might lead to you change your mind about the threesome. But it has been my experience that the opposite is true — talking about your fears is the best way to help you both go into it feeling more comfortable. Tell her, “I know this is something that you’re really excited about, but I want to feel like we can talk about it openly. I want you to be able to acknowledge my fears, without criticism.”

2. Get Clear On Boundaries

The best threesome-related advice I can give you is to make sure you’re both very clear about what your boundaries are before anyone starts taking their clothes off. Since your threesome has the added twist of watching your girlfriend with someone of a gender you're not attracted to, I would spend some time thinking about what activities you’d feel comfortable with. You might want to consider the following options:

  • Touching different parts of the body
  • Kissing
  • Talking dirty
  • Hand jobs
  • Oral sex
  • Intercourse
  • Using sex toys
  • Acting out fantasies
  • Anal play
  • Anal sex

Of course, consider your own boundaries with the guy. Is your body strictly off-limits, or would you be interested in exploring with him too? Don’t forget to communicate those boundaries to anyone you bring into your bedroom!

3. Take Baby Steps

If you’re feeling nervous about seeing your lady have sex with a guy, ease your way into this experience. Try going out and watch her flirt with guys. Or have her put up an online dating profile and see what it’s like for you to watch her exchange messages with potential threesome-buddies. Look at profiles together and talk through what you think each guy would be like.

Once you’ve found someone that you both approve of, keep in mind that you don’t have to jump straight into intercourse! A lot of people seem to forget that a threesome can involve any type of sexual activity. You may want to consider having her just make out with him, or just engage in some heavy petting. This will help you test the waters before getting more intense.

4. Consider A Twosome Instead

As I read your question, I found myself wondering about your reasons for wanting to be a part of this threesome. Are you interested in exploring with a guy? Will you get any sexual enjoyment out of the experience? Or are you viewing your role more as a supervisor, ensuring that things don’t get out of hand? If this is mostly about your girlfriend getting to experience sex with a man, I would consider whether you actually want to be there.

The fact that you’re worried about seeing your girlfriend with a guy seems to be another reason why you might want to sit this one out. Some people get turned on by jealousy, so they enjoy getting fired up watching their partners, but it doesn't sound like this is the case for you. If you don’t think you’re going to enjoy it, and it’s only going to stress you out, why put yourself in that situation? How do you feel when you imagine her alone with him instead? It’s obviously a personal choice, and no doubt a complex one, but I think it’s worth considering.

5. Come Up With A Safeword Plan

If you do decide to go through with the threesome, the best thing you can do is to come up with a safeword plan beforehand. As a quick refresher, a safeword is a word that you and your partner(s) choose beforehand. It’s a word that you wouldn’t normally say during sex, so “no” is not a good choice. Think more along the lines of “zebra” or “lavender”. Whenever the safeword is uttered, everyone stops what they’re doing.

I would recommend coming up with two safewords; one that means “I need to pause and take a break for a few minutes,” and one that means “we’re done for the night.” That gives you a couple of options for handling any potential freak-out that may come up. Safewords are great because they give you a fast way to hit the breaks. Knowing that you have a safeword or two in your back pocket will help you enter the threesome feeling more at ease.

6. Pay Attention To Your Feelings

Despite your best efforts, there’s no way to 100 percent guarantee that you’re not going to react poorly to seeing your partner with someone else. It’s important to stay in tune with yourself during your threesome, and acknowledge any feelings that come up. Try checking in with yourself and having a conversation with yourself throughout the threesome. Remind yourself to take slow, deep breaths. Ask yourself, “what am I feeling right now?” then, “what do I need right now?” The second question will help you decide if you need to take action or if simply acknowledging your feelings was enough in the moment. (This can come up a lot with jealousy.)

Staying in touch with yourself in this way will help you catch your feelings before they explode into a full-on freak-out. Don’t ignore your feelings, and don’t force yourself to keep going if you feel uncomfortable at any point. It's also a good idea to schedule a check-in with your partner for a day or two after the threesome, to give yourselves the opportunity to talk about the experience.

Good luck!

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