9 Things To Know About Threesome Etiquette, According To Experts

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Threesomes are one of the most common sexual fantasies. According to a 2015 study of 2,000 U.S. adults, aged 18+, one in seven Americans has had a threesome at some point in their life. The same study also found that one in five people are interested in having a threesome, and more men than women have had them.

But when it comes to talking about threesomes, an important part of the equation is often overlooked: threesome etiquette. Depending on who’s involved, the dynamics of it, or if two of the people are in a relationship, there are definitely some dos and don’ts when it comes to threesome etiquette.

Melissa, 25, of Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations, learned this the hard way when her ex of two years contacted her through Telegram, an internet-based instant messaging app, to propose the threesome with his new girlfriend, completely ignoring the fact he had caused her trauma. Vitale declined, because as far as threesome etiquette goes, that’s a hard no.

Here are some other do and don'ts to adhere to the next time you have threesome on the brain.

1Consent Is First And Foremost

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Not only should everyone involved give their consent, but you want them to be excited and not feel like they've been pressured into the threesome.

"When approaching the subject of a threesome, I advise my clients to be absolutely sure of their intention," NYC-based sex expert and relationship coach, Lia Holmgren, tells Bustle. "When a couple who is adding a third intimate partner, one individual shouldn’t feel pressured or like they’re only doing this for their partner. Both partners in a couple should be excited for a threesome. If one partner is uncomfortable or only wants to participate to please their partner, the couple shouldn’t proceed."

2Have Confidence In Your Relationship

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If you're thinking about having a threesome with your partner, bringing it up is the very first place where etiquette is everything. In no way do you want your partner to feel bad. So not only is it important to approach it delicately, but it's crucial to have confidence in your relationship, too.

"You know your relationship better than anyone else," Daniel Saynt, founder of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW), a sex-positive members-only club that hosts sexual education workshops in club-like settings, tells Bustle. "If you and your partner are dealing with issues of jealousy it’s probably not a good idea to discuss bringing someone else in, until you can work through the issues and identify what sparks these feelings... Having open honest conversations about your relationship is key to navigating the tricky territory of threesomes."

3Discuss, Beforehand, What's OK & What Isn't

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Whether you're having a threesome with your partner and someone else, two friends, or you've found you're the unicorn to someone else's partnership, it's important that boundaries are discussed and respected.

"Communication is key if you have a partner, but also important if you’re single and looking to mingle," Saynt says. "Discuss expectations and set some boundaries if you want a little more control of the situation. If you’re inviting someone into a shared bedroom, be sure to all take a second to talk about where you want the evening to go. It’s OK to share things that will make you uncomfortable beforehand so that you can go into the experience with a clear path to sexual satisfaction... Get everyone on the same page and your experience will be so much better."

4Have The Safe Sex Talk

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A major part of threesome etiquette is making sure everyone feels safe, which means you need to talk about what type of protection you'll be using. From condoms, to dental dams, to female condoms — no matter what you choose, make sure everyone is in agreement on what's going to make them feel safe.

“You also need to be able to have a safer sex conversation without embarrassment,” Charlie Glickman, PhD, sex and relationship coach, tells Bustle. “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.”

5Create An Environment Where Everyone Feels Included

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One of the trickiest parts about threesomes is trying to make everyone feel equally involved. What can also be tricky is creating an environment where people can speak up, if they don't feel equally involved.

“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.”

6Don't Make It All About You

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Not only should everyone feel part of the threesome, but if this is your fantasy being fulfilled, don't make it all about you.

"Don't ignore your partner," Saynt says. "Don’t make it all about you. Make it a shared experience. Don't forget to thank your unicorn. Don’t make the other person feel disposable or like they are just part of a fantasy."

A threesome involves three people. Whether that threesome is you, your partner, and a unicorn, or you and two friends, or any other combination of people, this is supposed to be fun and pleasurable for everyone involved — not just you.

"If you’re looking to just have sex and want someone who will just leave and never communicate with you or your partner afterwards, hire a sex worker," Saynt says. "Don’t treat anyone as if they are disposable."

7Accept Or Decline With Grace

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"We teach people the importance of knowing how to take rejection and knowing how to decline someone," Saynt says. "If you’re turned down, don’t feel embarrassed or upset. Move on. If you’re using an app keep swiping. It’s important to not give up. Your unicorn is out there."

Some people have zero desire to ever have a threesome and that's totally fine. If you propose the idea to someone and they decline the offer, accept it. If someone proposes the idea to you and you're not interested, politely decline. Even if it's not your scene, don't be rude or judgmental.

"I recommend using 'not right now,' because it’s definitive but also not as harsh," Holmgren says. "Something like, 'thank you so much for your interest. I’m not feeling it right now,' is a cordial yet firm way to reject advances."

8Be Sensitive As To Who You Ask For A Threesome

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As is the case with most things in life, there's a time and place for everything. So be wary of where you go looking for a third or, if you're solo, looking for two partners.

"Asking a former partner for a threesome can be appropriate in some cases," Holmgren says. "If you have maintained a relationship with them, you have recovered from the pain and healed after the breakup, and still see them casually, or even intimately, a former partner may be an excellent source for a threesome. If, however the relationship ended badly and afterward they didn’t establish any sort of relationship after the breakup, this individual is not the best person to ask for a threesome and doing so can be hurtful or even humiliating to the individual."

In Vitale's case, where she didn't have an amicable breakup, her ex asking her for a threesome was inappropriate. "If your ex-partner has blocked you already on a number of communication channels, don’t find the one that they haven’t to ask for a threesome," Holmgren says.

9Don't Forget Aftercare

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When it comes to threesomes, aftercare is a must. "Don’t treat your unicorn like a used tissue," Holmgren says. "Once you’re done, give them a little bit of love before rushing them out of the house once you’re done having sex."

If you choose to keep in touch with the unicorn, be open about it with your partner. "Afterwards, don’t be sneaky," Saynt says. "Make sure to share with your partner the messages you’re sending to your threesome mate."

Not only should the unicorn in the scenario not feel disposable, but your partner should feel that, despite this experience, your relationship is still in a good place, if not a better place because of what you explored together.

With the right people in the right setting, threesomes can be a great experience and definitely something worth crossing off your sexual bucket list. But it's also important to be polite and sensitive to everyone involved. Manners matter when it comes to threesomes.