A three-way my way

Dr. Daley on Sex and Relationships
photo / Kate Bolin 

Dear Dr. Daley: I’m a 22-year-old girl. My boyfriend’s 24. We’re both straight, but we’re both curious about group sex. I agreed to have a threesome with another woman if we could later have a threesome with another guy. Well, it’s been a few weeks since we had one with another girl, and every time I’ve brought up the topic of going the other way, my boyfriend’s acted really uncomfortable and changed the subject. When I finally confronted him directly, he gave me some stuff about how he’s not sure if he wants to do a second threesome anymore. He’s using the whole “female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality” argument. I don’t know if I should buy that though. It’s not like I’m even asking him to have sex with another guy himself. (I did do stuff with the other girl, though.) We get along great otherwise, but one of the things I liked about him was his openness about sexuality. Now I feel used and like he doesn’t care about my needs at all. Should I lose him, or does his argument have any real weight?

Wow. And I was sure hardly anyone of your generation would have known what a Faustian bargain is. So sorry I have underestimated you! And a boyfriend who’s in love with the fantasy of having two girls at once! How original! Where, oh where did you ever find him? Oh, kids. This two-girl fantasy thing really ought to have run its course by now. Back in the ’70s, it was all about “Deep Throat,” that poor woman who by some odd quirk of nature had her clitoris located deep in her throat, so that only through very deep fellatio could she achieve any sexual arousal whatsoever. We all studied Cosmo like novices their prayer books, hoping to learn to overcome that pesky gag reflex so we too could become real women. What next? Lassie?

Be that as it may, show this part to him:

You know, there’s a theory that men are currently in love with the idea of two women at once (naturally the two women Do Things To Each Other) because it’s one way a guy can act out his own homoerotic fantasies without actually having to touch another guy’s penis. It’s all about same-sex sex, only he can’t admit his longings.

Or, men are in love with having two women at once because they can have multiple partners with no competition from another man. Whose penis would undoubtedly be vastly superior.

Okay, Dude, you can stop reading now.

Reader, your letter reminds us of a couple of land mines in the delightful minefield of love. One, acting out sexual fantasies. Apart from a nice little version of French Maid & Man of the House, or Strict School Teacher and Bad Boy Student, sexual fantasies are incredibly tricky to act out in real life. When it’s just the two of you, rules and boundaries can be established that will keep you both hot and safe. When another person is introduced into the mix, there is no guarantee of safety. Each participant runs the risk of emotional involvement or uninvolvement, and all that that implies. Sure, lots of people can do it. Lots of people can’t.

Two, what happens when it all turns unfair? Somebody comes more than somebody, or somebody’s eating somebody when the other somebody wants to be eaten. Or you wake up and he is fucking her. Ouch.

photo / Martin 

Three. You, dear reader, have run into an interesting glitch: Boyfriend got his, and now he doesn’t want you to get yours. He has made a deal with you and failed to live up to it – never a good sign in a relationship. We don’t know whether this is homophobia, penile competition, or just selfishness. Take your pick, I guess.

What, exactly, is your problem? Do you want a threesome with another man this much? Fantasies generally smell a whole lot better, and you don’t have to deal with the limpitude that often results when two “straight” guys almost let themselves become aroused within the same 30 square feet.

It sounds more like you resent his backing out of an agreement and being unable to tell the truth about why. If your darling could be a little more honest about his apprehensions, it would be helpful, even if the upshot is no more threesomes. However, if he keeps wanting to pin it on you and your “erotic plasticity” – although he gets half a letter grade for remembering that Western women’s erotic identities are indeed more flexible than men’s – he’s not being truthful enough.

We want our “erotic plasticity” to be a good thing: It means we are willing to explore more avenues of sexuality than men are, especially when we are engaged in a reasonably safe relationship. We’ll be the Madonna, the whore, the biker chick, the lacy underpants girl, the school child, the she-devil. We’ll fuck every day, or once every couple of months. We can need it desperately or let it go entirely. Even the drunken undergraduate women sticking their tongues down each other’s throats are more likely to be arousing their >boyfriends than they are each other.

To answer your question, finally, his argument about female sexuality does have weight. Whether that’s enough for you to forgive his silly treachery is for you to decide. I myself personally don’t think this has to be a deal-breaker. It sounds like the two of you have enjoyed a nice relationship; you get along; you have lots of hot sex and rich imaginations; you have trust in certain areas. You both may just have discovered something about your sexual boundaries. If he can be a little more truthful about his resistance, and you can let go of the two-boy dream, I think you can go on from here just fine. Savor your yummy fantasy life and just agree to keep it that way.

About the author Dr. Nancy Daley is a licensed psychologist and adjunct assistant professor who teaches Human Sexuality at The University of Texas at Austin. If you would like to submit questions for her to answer in this column, please send them to drdaley at thatotherpaper dot com.

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no one's picture

I’d say next time you’ll know to make the boy take his turn first! but aside from that I would say its difficult to move on in almost any relationship if a deal has been broken, especially a deal that has seen you do things (and him do things) with another partner. You now probably feel vulnerable and a little cheated. What’s to say he won’t back out of agreements based on discomfort in the future.

Integrating a new partner into a sexual relationship can be extremely tricky even for people who have done it before. Every time is a new dynamic and new risk.

I don’t know the research the couple did, but it might have been really helpful for them to read a book like the ethical slut, or to talk to folks at a sex shop, see if they could get basic advice.

Also really talking out the what ifs before hand (and I mean in detail, like let’s imagine another man looking at you, touching your chest, etc) to see where either partner starts to squick out would be helpful.

While I might be persuaded that women’s sexuality is more fluid, I’m guessing that is because our culture allows it to be so, and in fact capitalizes on it. If you view women’s sexuality as subordinate to men’s, then women are more likely to do what the dominant party asks for. Are women making out with their spring break friends on camera because they are more fluid (and actually enjoying it)? Or are they performing for the dominant party to impress. Why on earth would a hetero man do such tricks?

If she was sharing equal footing would she have to bargain? I’ll do this if you do that?

And I will say, bathhouses see more than their fair share of down low heteros acting mighty “fluid”. Its all about context and cultural permission.
In short, I’d have two conversations with boyfriend. One to clear up the broken deal and to talk about the ramifications of it, and the other to talk to him about what he is really and honestly willing to do (and if that satisfies her).

Anonymous's picture

is it okay to have a threesome with my boyfriend? i mean is he going to view me differently or not take me seriously. how do i approach him towards him opening up and telling me how he feels?

jon ahmad's picture

typical example of a selfish individual who has blatant insecurities. My partner and I have tried a threesome with another guy after being open and honest about our feelings. It only happened once, but our love for each other has grown even stronger. he was slightly better endowed than myself, but what the hell, we had a fantastic fantasy come(ahem) true.
The bottom line is if any sexual boundaries are to be explored, then both parties must agree all terms before any sort of commitment.