9 Facts Put the Biggest Myths About Threesomes to Bed

9 Facts Put the Biggest Myths About Threesomes to Bed

Vicky and Cristina did it in Barcelona. Britney Spears wants to have one. Hemingway even wrote about them. 

Threesomes: The formerly taboo, fantastical sexual act that is now mainstream, still remains largely misunderstood. 

Here are nine facts about threesomes to set the record straight:

1. That red-hot threesome will take planning. 

Here's what's not going to happen: You sidle up to a random at a bar, give him or her a wink and ask them want to be your third. 

"It occurs to me that planning this threesome has become another one of the things I do, like organizing playdates and supervising the renovation of our kitchen," Pamela Druckerman wrote in Marie Claire about trying to find another woman to join her and her husband in the bedroom. 

Druckerman detailed the whole un-sexy experience in a 2011 essay, realizing that planning her husband's fantasy was quite a chore. When it finally comes down to the moment, Druckerman wrote she nearly forgot how very sexual the whole experience was going to be: "I'd focused so much on the logistics and the catering that I had forgotten we were all going to be naked." And in an essay about what it's really like to be a "unicorn" or third, one Dan Savage reader said navigation is always a part of the experience: "Threeways are complicated and even ones that are hot rarely go perfectly."

2. Setting boundaries is crucial. 

As Druckerman found out when planning her own threesome, people need to talk about their comforts and insecurities long before going to bed. People may have things they're fine with doing and other things that are totally off the table. "The ménage may not happen on the first go round," TaMara Griffin wrote for Madame Noir. "Ease in to the situation. Don't give or feel pressured by anyone to participate. You want everyone involved to be comfortable and confident with the decision to play." A big part of the entire experience is the build-up and the wooing of another partner.

3. Not all bisexuals want to have sex with a straight couple. 

Being into both genders doesn't mean you want a threesome. Nor does it mean you need a man and a woman to satisfy your sexual needs. "The culturally pervasive hetero dude fantasy of the threesome-as-Holy-Grail has turned a delightful, occasional sexytime [sic] experience into an annoying bombardment of cold-call propositions, usually from strangers or drunks," Anna Pulley writes at AlterNet

"There was a time last year when every week, I would get a threesome proposition online from (often) the dude-half of a straight couple asking if I would like to bone them." Pulley doesn't dismiss threesomes, but she wants to convey that assuming she is into them just because she's bi is not cool. 

4. "Straight" people are definitely into threesomes. 

According to a 1995 study from the Kinsey Institute, one of the top three sexual fantasies of straight men is having sex with multiple partners. Often times, people who identify as heterosexual find a lot of pleasure and fulfillment from multiple partnered sex.

A lot of people who try a threesome actually may never have had a same-sex experience prior or may ask that same-sex interactions be limited during their own threesomes. When Druckerman meets a woman online interested in partnering up for a threesome, she immediately assumes the woman will be a polyamorous bisexual. However, when they got to chatting, Druckerman realizes "N" is actually "a straight, divorced, disease-free mom in her 40s."

5. It's not always about two women and one man. 

Groupings can be all men, all women or between men and one woman. It's just that mainstream porn, which is geared toward straight men, really pushes the two-girls-one-dude fantasy. And we all already know, porn isn't a good representation of real-life sex.

"I had a conversation recently with a friend in which we observed that the term 'unicorn' doesn't even accurately apply to bi women anymore — single, hot, up-for-threesomes bi women — because they seem so common these days," one threesome regular told the Stranger. "The new unicorn is the bi-male."

6. Women want them too! 

And sometimes men aren't even invited (see above). 

A 2013 survey conducted by the Metropolitan Report interviewed 5,000 men and women ages 18 to 29 and found that 20% reported having a threesome at least once in their lives. These numbers are way up from 2004's ABC American Sex Survey, which found that about 14% of men and women had participated in a threesome. Surges in participation are happening across the board, regardless of gender.

7. Bored married couples are not the only ones who want threesomes.

Age, orientation and marital status don't indicate whether or not someone will be into a threesome — it's an individual decision.

Data from a 2009 New York Magazine survey of Craigslist "Casual Encounters" found that the forum sees over 1,493 threesome wanted ads in one week, with the most common types of posters being men seeking a hetero couple followed by a hetero couple seeking an extra woman. It's not just a fix for married couples anymore. In fact, special interest dating sites like Threeway Dating Club and Polyamory Date look to cater to the many different groups looking to add a third.

8. A sexually adventurous person is not necessarily into threesomes. 

Having a threesome has somehow become a litmus test of a person's sexual curiosity, but it shouldn't. Some people simply like their twosomes, but remain open to trying new things (see GIRLS and Broad City). Just because you're not fantasizing about reliving the hottest threesome you saw in a NC-17 movie, doesn't mean you're totally vanilla in the bedroom.

9. A ménage à trois is not a threesome. 

A ménage à trois literally translates to a "house of three," and is a form of polyamory. The terms are used interchangeably in pop culture, but they're starkly different. Whereas a ménage à trois is typically a domestic and sexual relationship between three consenting adults, threesomes are more explicitly sexual and often one off. No relationship is necessarily required.

As long as people are engaging in a healthy, communicative and consensual relationship — whether it's monogamous or polyamorous — one thing is for sure: We really shouldn't be trying to define what they do in private. And we should definitely not be defining it based on outdated myths.