What Does the Ideal Threesome Look Like?

Most of us—men and women alike—have been turned on by the thought of a threesome before. Indeed, study after study has found that this is one of the most common sexual activities people fantasize about.

Surprisingly, though, we don’t actually know all that much about what people want when it comes to a threesome. Why? Because the questions included on most sex surveys to date have been pretty generic, as in: “have you ever fantasized about having a threesome?”

Questions like this obviously leave out a lot of important details, such as who the other two people are. Are both of them of the same gender, or different genders? And do you know them personally, or are they strangers?

It turns out that who’s participating makes a big difference, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. This study also reveals that men and women don’t necessarily have the same preferences when it comes to their threesome partners.

Researchers discovered this by surveying 274 Canadian college students—proving, yet again, that Canadian sex researchers study more interesting things than the rest of us. All participants were heterosexual and reported having had sex before. In addition, most were White and currently in a romantic relationship.

The students were asked to rate how open they were to participating in two types of mixed gender threesomes: two females and one male (FFM) versus two males and one female (MMF).

In addition, they were asked to rate how important it was to know the other people involved when (1) they were inviting a third into their own relationship and (2) when they were the third party who was joining another couple. In other words, do people prefer to have group sex with friends or with strangers?

Surprisingly, interest in having a threesome was fairly low on average; however, there was a lot of variability in people’s attitudes. While some weren’t open to the idea at all, others were extremely enthusiastic about it.

What wasn’t surprising, though, was that men reported being far more interested in threesomes than women. Guys were really only more into the FFM scenarios, though, as you can see in the figure below.

Men and women didn’t differ when it came to their interest in MMF threesomes—both had relatively low levels of interest in this kind of threeway.

Also, in general, women appeared to be relatively uninterested in both FFM and MMF threesomes. This was surprising to the researchers, who thought that women would be more into the idea of being with two men at the same time compared to being with one man and another woman.

Men’s and Women’s Interest in Threesomes

(Note: 7 = very open to a threesome, 1 = not open to a threesome at all)

Why weren’t women more into MMF threesomes? Perhaps there are safety concerns with this scenario that dampen their enthusiasm. Or maybe it’s just that threesomes in general are seen as a more taboo activity for women regardless of who they’re with, perhaps leading women to underreport their interest in this activity across the board.

Beyond gender, how familiar people were with their threesome partners mattered, too. Specifically, men were more open to the idea of being in threesome when it included a friend or acquaintance as opposed to a stranger. This was true whether men were inviting a third into their own relationship or joining another couple as a third.

By contrast, women only preferred to know the other people when they were joining another couple. When women were inviting a third into their own relationship, it didn’t matter how well they knew the other person.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the participants in this study were young Canadian college students, and that most were White and in relationships. This means that there are probably other groups of people who are more open to the idea of a threesome and are less particular about who’s involved.

As always, more research would be useful. However, these results still tell us something important: not all threesomes are equal in the eyes of men and women.

To learn more about threesomes, including how many people have ever had them, check out this article.

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Image Source: iStockphoto.com

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