7 Signs That You & Your Partner Are Ready For A Threesome

Threesomes, like so many sexual fantasies, tend to be pretty different IRL than they are on TV and in the movies. While silver screen threesomes often come off as spontaneous super-hot sex fests where everyone just sheds their clothing without even one foot getting stuck in the leg of one pair of jeans, the reality tends to be a bit… Messier. And one huge element of threesomes that you almost never see represented in popular culture is the steps that couples to take to make sure that they’re ready for a threesome, way before inviting another person into their beds.

Sure, random threesomes where you meet a cool person in a bar that you both like and you spontaneously decide to go to bed together and everyone has a fantastic time do happen — but that’s super rare. (And after writing about sex for years and being a part of different sex-positive communities around the world, I can tell you that I’ve never actually heard a story where that idealized threesome situation happened.) More often, couples decide together that this is something they want to do, talk about boundaries, game it out through fantasy, and then take the step of trying to find someone to join them.

But one of the very first steps for couples thinking about having a threesome is determining whether or not they’re ready. I spoke with Charlie Glickman, PhD, sex and relationship coach, and Polly Superstar, the founder of the sex-positive community Mission Control and author of the book Sex Culture Revolutionary, as well as a couple of other sexperts to find out how couples can know if they’re ready for a threesome. Here are the top seven things they told me.

1. You Both Truly Want It

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“It needs to be something they both want,” Glickman tells Bustle. “I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of couples get into situations where one person wants it a lot more than the other. If you go into a threesome because you want to go along with your partner's desires or if you feel pressured, it's not likely to be a success. Compliance is not the way to go.”

2. You’ve Explicitly Outlined What Can — And Can’t — Happen During The Act

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Vanessa Marin, licensed sex psychotherapist, recommends that couples establish clear boundaries both with each other and the third before jumping into bed together.

“Talk about what’s on and off the table. Is your special guest going to play with just you, or does your boyfriend get to get in on the action too?” Marin writes in Bustle. “Are you rounding the bases, or just sticking with foreplay? Is kissing OK? Would you feel comfortable letting her stay the night, or do you want her to leave right after the fun?”

Marin goes on to suggest that couples make sure they keep up communication throughout the actual threesome and maybe even set a safe or code word that signals “time out, I need a second to check in” and also one for “this needs to stop right now.”

3. You’re Comfortable Talking About Safer Sex

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“You also need to be able to have a safer sex conversation without embarrassment,” Glickman says. “I really recommend this format from Reid Milhalko. Practice it with each other or with a friend before you try it with a potential threesome partner.”

4. Your Relationship Is In A Good Place

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“If you are happy and stable and have a great sex life already, and you're looking to try new experiences together, then a threesome is a great idea,” Polly Superstar tells Bustle. “A threesome will not solve your problems or fix a broken relationship.”

5. You’ve Established A Plan For Aftercare

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Aftercare — or the ways you’re going to take care of each other after the event — is almost as important as pre-planning when it comes to threesomes. One sign that you and your partner are ready for a threesome is that you’ve already talked about and set up a clear aftercare plan, both for immediately after the event and the weeks following, which is when a lot of feelings can come up.

Aftercare is a term borrowed from the BDSM community, where people often need both physical and emotional care after intense scenes. When it comes to (relatively) vanilla sex like threesomes, however, you’re probably focusing on emotional aftercare. Set up a time to talk to your partner about how they’re feeling and keep checking in.

6. You Can Do It Without Using Substances As A Crutch

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“While I have no problem with folks including alcohol or other substances as part of their play, if you're using them too much, that's a sign that you aren't ready yet, and you're forcing yourself to do something you don't really want to do,” Glickman says. “If you have to be wasted to do it, then don't do it. There are too many ways to cause hurt to yourself or someone else.”

7. You’ve Talked About How To Make Sure Everyone Feels Included

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“My rule for successful threesomes is that anyone can join in anytime,” Glickman says “If you want to sit back and watch, that's awesome. But if you're feeling left out or ignored, that's no fun. So set a rule that anyone can join in at any time to make sure that nobody feels neglected.”

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)