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The Psychology of Desiring a Threesome & Should You Have One?

Last updated November 30, 2018
Psychology of Desiring a Threesome and should you have one

Is it the magic number? Or is 3 really a crowd? When it comes to the bedroom, we asked you for your say. In our survey, 96% of you had fantasised about having a threesome, 66% of you have actually had one, and 78% would like to give it a go. Dr Ryan Scoats, who holds world’s first PhD in threesomes, says that there is a prominent rising trend:

“Threesomes aren’t anything new. There are references to group sex in Roman art and literature. But while threesomes may have happened in the past, they are definitely becoming more common in contemporary society.”

We wanted to find out what all the fuss is about – and whether you should make this fantasy a reality. Or whether, really, it is better left to the imagination. Here’s three questions worth considering:

What Type of Threesomes Do You Desire?
What is Behind the Desire For Having a Threesome?
Why Might a Threesome Not Be a Good Idea? 

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After figuring out why you might want a threesome and whether you should have one, read our 10 Tips on How To Have The “Perfect” Threesome.

What Type Of Threesomes Do You Desire?

We conducted our own MysteryVibe survey to find out. Within the traditional gender binary of male and female, there are technically four “types” of threesome you can have. However, broadening the conversation inclusively with gender fluidity, there are many more ways having a threesome can look. For the purpose of this piece, we will be referring to these five 5 types:

  1. All male (MMM)
  2. Two male, one female (MMF)
  3. One male, two female (MFF)
  4. All female (FFF)
  5. Gender-fluid threesome (GFT)

Having a Threesome - Types You Have HadHaving a Threesome - Desire to HaveThough MFF was the most popularly practiced (51.7%), a few more expressed a keen desire to try an MMF threesome (54.2%).

When it came to same-sex threesomes, over 15% of respondents desired MMM, but FFF was the least popularly desired, with only 8.5% responding that this was on their list. However, many of you were excited to try a GFT – with a 17% increase between those who expressed a desire compared to those who had already had one.

What is Behind the Desire For Having a Threesome?

To Ignite Desire

Something new & exciting. As fun as a twosome can be, trying new things helps us expand our sexual knowledge and repertoire. As we experience giving and receiving more pleasure, this can make us better lovers.

“[Threesomes] are exciting, exploring people’s bodies and reactions is fun, and there is so much pleasure you can get from adding another set of hands.” – anon

Even if it is a same-sex threesome, everyone’s bodies are different, and you may surprise yourself and learn something new. A new technique, a new position, maybe even a new way of kissing.

The rush of dopamine in the brain is highest when we are having sex with someone new. Dopamine is crucial for lust and libido. So whether you are in a couple and introducing someone else, or whether you are single and having sex with two new people – that dopamine hit is going to be flooding your neurotransmitters.

“There’s something indescribable about the appeal of it, the feeling of desiring or being desired by two people in that intimate setting is a real turn on.” – anon

Reigniting desire. Having a threesomes can make us feel admired by more than one person. Perhaps you’ve been with your partner for a long time and the spark isn’t as strong as it used to be. As the third top sexual fantasy for women, adding a third member to your sexual dynamic can be a great way to spice things up in the bedroom. If your current partner is watching, or joining in, this can make you see each other in a whole new light and reignite a passion you felt earlier in the relationship.

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To Explore Your Sexuality

Many people go through their whole life not experimenting with their sexuality. Whether this is due to being a serial monogamist, internalised homophobia or a fear of sexual curiosity, threesomes can be a gentle way to explore that. When asked “why do you like threesomes?” one of our respondents said…

“…because it’s freeing to not just think of sex in very traditional, monogamous (and, usually, heteronormative) parameters. You can learn a lot about yourself and other people’s sexualities from doing it with more than one person at a time.” – anon

Bisexuality. When in a monogamous relationship it can be a way for one or both of the partners to explore their bisexuality. The most popular threesomes include FFM and MMF points to a prevalence in bisexual – or at least bi-curious – tendencies.

Dr Ryan Scoats explains why threesomes are increasingly popular:

“As well as internet access, I think greater acceptance of homosexuality and LGBT groups is playing a part. As sex between people of the same-sex loses its stigma, a greater array of behaviours, including threesomes, become acceptable.” – anon

In Rupp and Wallen’s study on female sexuality, the arousal response was just as high when shown lesbian sexual images to straight.

Although most of the bisexuals who took our survey were cis men, due to social stigmas and concepts of traditional masculinity, there are many more openly bisexual women in society. Sex engineer, Colin Richards, explores this male “hidden” bisexuality.

In his own survey, he found that 60% of the men publicly presented as straight, 35% as gay, 3% bisexual and 1% bi-curious. Nevertheless, only 13% privately said they were straight, 49% gay, 20% said bisexual, and 16% said bi-curious.

Threesomes can be a fun gateway into exploring different aspects of our sexuality eased in with the familiar and with less stigmas attached. If you do have bisexual tendencies, you can experience the best of both worlds, simultaneously!

having a threesome bisexualHomosexuality. There have even been cases where people have even discovered their sexuality through threesomes.

“My first sexual experience was in a threesome with a heterosexual couple. Before that I was almost sure I was asexual. I quickly realised I was definitely gay when I only wanted to have sex with the girlfriend.” – anon

For same-sex threesomes (MMM & FFF) there seemed to be less desire among those interviewed. This might be because the respondents were mostly bisexual and heterosexual identifying. Or perhaps, as homosexuality needs to be questioned and explored from a young age in a heteronormative society, there is just a lack of desire to experiment with another person of the same-sex.

Queer triad. From our study, 20% of you said you would want a GFT which expands past the gender binary to include people who identify as gender-queer, non-binary and trans. People don’t always identify with their sex assigned at birth. A queer threesome that is open to this transcends binary categorisation and pushes heteronormative or homonormative boundaries.

Polyamory. It may not work for us all, but the rising trend in polyamorous relationships is challenging the idea that we are “naturally” monogamous beings. Threesomes can be a great way to open up a relationship to loving more than one person.

Compersion may be an alien concept to the majority of us. However, it is a term celebrated by the polyamorous community. It’s a feeling of pleasure and happiness, even arousal at knowing your partner is feeling good. Particularly in a threesome or throuple dynamic.

“Nothing better than watching my partner being ravished.” – anon

Throuple relationships may even be more unconventional, but these triad relationships can be totally loving and sexual for all people involved.

To Explore Your Fetish

Jealousy. Perhaps a strange reason to desire having a threesome. However, within the kink scene Zelophilia is a common fetish aroused by the jealousy of one’s own or of another’s.

A cuckold and cuckquean describe those who get turned on from watching their partner having sex with someone else. Having a threesome can be one of the ways to explore this fetish.

“It’s exciting. I love seeing my wife desired, pursued, satisfied. It makes me proud and jealous.”

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Exhibitionism & voyeurism. Watching and being watched can be incredibly arousing. Having a threesome means that you will be watching and being watched. This is much safer than running the risk of getting caught for illegal public indecency.

Domination. The desire to be dominated might be fulfilled by just one person. Though some want that doubled. The “devils threesome” is famously known for being made up of two dominant men and one submissive woman. This can come with a whole range of wants and needs such as the desire to be “filled” with two penises. (Look out for our tips on the best threesome positions).

Dr Ryan Scoats says that while much porn portrays MMF threesomes as degrading to women…

“one thing that our research suggested was that [these] women having MMF threesomes… exhibited a lot of sexual agency.”

For the Experience

Media. For women searching porn, Pornhub’s 2017 analytics found threesome comes in second after lesbian.

“It’s a lot of fun. Life is too short to not enjoy things.” – anon

Television, film tend to uphold threesomes as desirable. Woody Allen’s Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, glamorizes the love triangle – though this may not always be the case in real life (see below).

“It’s always presented as a great time!” – anon

Woody Allen explains that the chemistry of the characters in this movie was “just right” and they were able to handle that situation and make it work for them.

Popular music and celebrity culture also feeds into this. Britney Spears famous song 3. It became Britney’s 3rd number one single in the US. 3 clearly is her magic number.

Bucket list. Many people merely think it is something they have to do to feel fulfilled in life. Ticking off their checklist before they turn 30, before they get married, before they die.

“I feel it’s an experience everyone needs to have once in their lives.” – anon

For Social & Scientific Reasons

Masculinity. The male ego can come into play when having a threesome. If this is the desire behind having one, the participants must be cautious as it is usually for show, rather than pleasure.

The idea that men can “handle” more than one girl at a time paints them in an admirable light. Just as sharing their girlfriend or partner with another guy for the purpose of male bravado might leave them feeling used.

Procreation. Evolutionary biologists have tried to find an argument for the desire behind threesomes. One of these is the spreading the seed theory. If there is one guy and two women, this can impregnate multiple people in one sexual encounter.

Additionally, in developing sexual and romantic relationships within a throuple, this could mean more care for offspring.

Why Might a Threesome Not Be Such a Good Idea?

Having a Threesome - Threeway Hug

96% said they had fantasised about having a threesome, though 80% said they would seek one out in the future. What say of those 16%, and does that 80% really want to dive into this messy complicated triangle of sex and emotions? Or should it be kept as a fantasy?

Despite directing Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, Woody Allen says so himself how:

“It’s hard enough to get one person, two actually tends to make it more complicated than one. Most people could not survive that kind of situation in any serious way because it’s too complicated and has too many emotional ramifications that would be too difficult to surmount. With two people it becomes more geometrically fatal.”

Jealousy

It’s almost impossible to have three people in a sexual dynamic without some sort of emotions arising. Seeing someone you care about experiencing pleasure at the hands of another can arouse feelings of envy.

“I’m not the SHARING kind!” – anon

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Though in the moment everyone might be into it, the memory will remain and may bring up discomfort in the future. It is important to be wary of jealousy and how that may affect your relationships and friendships with the people involved.

Insecurities

Insecurities that are brought up through feelings of jealousy can give off a negative energy during sex. Performance anxiety can result in erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia – the inability to orgasm.

“I can only disappoint one woman at a time.” – anon

Like this poor guy, our insecurities can make it hard enough to have sex with one person, let alone two or more.

Homophobia

If you aren’t very comfortable with your own sexuality, threesomes can make you confront some internalised homophobia you may not even know you had.

Saturday Night Live did a sketch with Justin Timberlake, singing: “it’s not gay when it’s in a threeway”. This plays into the idea of traditional masculinity. It reinforces the idea that even though the optimum threesome is FFM, if it is MMF, it is still “classified” as heterosexual.

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In Dr Ryan Scoats’ research, he found that while many men were still interested in having MMF threesomes they wouldn’t necessarily want to touch each other in a sexual way. This also points to internalised homophobia, and patriarchal definitions of being a “man.”

Third Wheeling

Though a threesome should be an equal playing field, sometimes this is not the case, and you could be left feeling left out.

“Unfortunately in my threesome situation I didn’t feel my needs were covered and I felt like the third wheel at times as opposed to a wholesome intimate experience between three people.” – anon

“I walked in on the aftermath of a threesome at my airbnb in Barcelona. My naked hostess wrapped in the legs of another naked girl, and the hostess’s naked boyfriend in the hallway who had ran to grab a towel. I later discovered he got extremely upset as the two girls were having more fun without him. Apparently he just stood there not really knowing what to do with his penis.” – anon

Lack of Chemistry

If the desire is unequal, and perhaps not tripply mutual this can result in a mismatch of sexual chemistry. One or even two participants can be left feeling undesirable and can play awkwardly into the dynamic of a threesome.

Poor Organisation

Planning a threesome can be tricky. You all have to be free at the same time. You all have to be in the mood at the same time. Even if it is a spontaneous turn of events, perhaps on a night out, all three of you have to be simultaneously “good, giving and game” says Dan Savage.

via GIPHY

So, Should You Have a Threesome?

Weigh it up. What are your reasons behind the desire? Are you doing it for you, or your partner? Is it to explore your sexuality, or for the bucket list? How secure are you in yourself, or your friendships and relationships?

There are many determining factors as to whether this desire should remain a fantasy or be played out. Whatever you choose, enjoy yourself and always get consent!

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