So My Wife Wants to Have a Threesome...

How to prepare for a ménage à trois

By The Editors

So My Wife Wants to Have a Threesome ...
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10 February 2015

Because every man wants to have better sex, even if that means actually being a better man, we're proud to present Ask Esther Perel, a monthly series in which critically acclaimed sex therapist Esther Perel answers your questions about sex and relationships and helps you and your partner have a more fulfilling life, together. Have a question? Just ask Esther Perel.


My wife and I have been talking about having a threesome for years, but we don't know how to find someone willing to have sex with us. We would not want to involve any of our existing friends. Also, would this endanger our marriage long-term in any way? We are both adventurous when it comes to our sex life. – Daniel, 40

So the first thing about experimenting is that it always has to be done in an atmosphere of openness and trust where both people are intrigued, and where there is flexibility on how it’s going. Do we like it? Should we do it again? It should be done in a spirit of adventure. No coercion; no blackmails. 

And then it depends on where you live. There are cities where there are plenty of sex-positive communities established around strict rules and you can meet a woman who is interested in having a threesome. You want to have some conversations in advance: Do we want to do this again? See that person again? Can I be alone when I see this person again? Can you?

You’ll want to read The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino. These are the two big books about non-monogamy and the opening up of boundaries. Threesomes are consensual adultery because we do it together

Basically, consensual non-monogamy is a great addition — not a great compensation. You don’t have a threesome as a therapeutic method. It’s really an exploration of fantasy, of reality. And you want a real open conversation about it so it brings you closer, so you have new experiences with each other. If you go on the sites of poly communities you will see they have very established rules. So you’re operating within a culture that has some agreed-upon norms. Once you enter that world, just watch: you'll get an invitation every two days.

So go on the poly websites. You need people who share those values with you. For whom sexual experimentation in a relationship is part of a norm. And where there are values around safety and consensus.

You want certain things established. You want to know what to think about and that’s why these two books are valuable. Can you bring that person home? Do you have contact afterwards? Those types of things.

My girlfriend and I have been together for four years now. She has always struggled with her weight and recently she has let herself go. My attraction has waned and sex sometimes feels like an obligation. I feel the temptation to find the enjoyment of sex elsewhere but haven't acted on it. What can I do to explain my feelings to her and make sex enjoyable again? – Brian, 27

Your question is "What can I do to explain my feelings?", and I appreciate that. You don’t just passively incur the lessening of attraction.

Is she engaged less sexually because of how she feels about herself? Or, is she coming to you and you’re the one who’s resistant? The look isn’t the whole story. What turns a man on is a woman who’s interested in him.

Is it the fact that she’s heavier? Or that she doesn’t like herself? And how is your upkeep? I see men who don’t particularly take care of themselves but they want their woman to be a bombshell.

In all relationships, men and women will often feel sad, deceived and disappointed by the fact that their partner, in the beginning, was all in, paying attention to all kinds of things. But then they neglected those things as time passed. And it does often have to do with familiarization of the relationship. "I don’t have to do this,” you say, "you love me anyway. I can fart in front of you." Well no, no you can’t.

I think this is true on both sides. The coziness of the relationship makes people slack in terms of their upkeep. The boundaries. The look. The hygiene. That’s often how you know someone is having an affair — they start paying attention to themselves again. In order to maintain interest over the years, you have to do more, not less.

What men sometimes don’t understand is that when women let themselves go, sometimes it’s because they don’t have time to focus on themselves. So I would say if sometimes a woman neglects herself, take a day and help her reclaim her sense of autonomy and freedom.

I hear just the same in reverse: "He eats his two burgers and drinks his three beers." It’s a really familiar litany on both sides. It’s amazing, by the way, how these women lose 20 pounds when they find out their husband is having an affair.

So what can you say? You can say, "I love to look at you and it makes a big difference when I know that you love yourself." Everybody is attracted to a person who feels radiant. Nobody likes a person who says, “Ugh, I’m stuffed.” Who wants to touch that person afterward? Nobody.

There’s another exercise I do with questions like this. I do this thing where I have people say, “I turn myself off when _____ and I turn myself on when ______.” They say things like "when I eat too much” or "when I don’t go to the gym” or "when I neglect myself."

What turns people on and off has very little to do with the actual sex, per se. It has to do with feeling alive and vibrant, and it’s there that sex emerges: "I turn myself on when I feel good about myself."


Esther Perel is the best-selling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, a practicing psychotherapist, celebrated speaker and organizational consultant to Fortune 500 companies. The New York Times, in a cover story, named her the most important game-changer on sexuality and relationships since Dr. Ruth. Have a question? Ask Esther Perel.

Photo credit: The New York Times

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