Still Thinking About That Challengers Scene? Here’s What You Should Know About Threesomes


If you’ve seen the recent release of Challengers starring the one-and-only Zendaya, you’re no stranger to the sexual tension flying back and forth across the tennis court. While the whole movie could be confused for foreplay in my opinion (hello, dripping sweat and tantalizing glances), the most talked about scene is the three-way kiss shared by the film’s trio of stars. This scene has sparked tons of social media discourse, and people are not just talking about threesomes—they’re admitting they are interested in having one.

If you’re intrigued by a three-way, you’re not alone. About 95 percent of men and 87 percent of women have considered it, and threesomes are one of Americans’ most commonly reported fantasies. The thought of a threesome can be fun (and so can the reality), but introducing that dynamic into any relationship takes a lot of trust, pre-planning, and honest communication. Before you jump into a conversation about the logistics of planning, it’s essential to get clear on what precisely this kind of experimentation is and what it isn’t. We’ve compiled a guide to threesomes: What you need to know, consider, and plan before getting down and dirty with a second plus one.

What is a threesome?

Simply put, a threesome (or a ménage à trois if you speak French) refers to when three people have sex with each other at the same time. This is not to be confused with group sex—or orgies—which typically refer to sexually explicit acts performed between four or more people at once. Threesomes can be a great way to get adventurous with your partner and build intimacy through shared experiences. It can also be an opportunity to explore different sexual dynamics and fantasies in a safe and well-communicated way, no matter your relationship status.

What are the risks of a threesome?

Can a little three-way action make you feel sexy? Absolutely. But it doesn’t come without its risks. Jumping into any kind of sex act without previous (and extensive) discussion and planning can end up costing more than a sleepless night.

Especially if you’re in a relationship that’s not in a good place, a threesome can do more harm than good. It may result in feelings of jealousy or insecurity if all parties have not discussed their boundaries clearly. Sex of any kind can also lead to emotional attachment, even if that isn’t the original plan, due to the release of oxytocin in the brain. Meaning, you need to be warned that some feelings of your own or your partner’s could spark for the third party and impact your relationship.

Similarly, if you’re not in a monogamous relationship and engaging in a threesome with someone you know for fun or experimentation purposes, know that your relationship could get… a little weird afterward. This is why it’s crucial to consider the emotional state of yourself, your partner, your current relationship, and the third person joining the dynamic—and, of course, the logistics surrounding safe sex practices. There is always the risk of sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs/STDs).

Healthy, responsible threesomes must come from a place of genuine desire, curiosity, security, and deep personal interest.

We tend to see threesomes depicted in the media as spur-of-the-moment decisions or the breaking point after a build-up of tension, but in reality, it tends to be a lot more complicated than that. When used as some kind of “last resort” to reinvigorate a relationship or bring back the spark, there’s a great possibility that it will do the opposite; if you’re not ready or seriously considering the consequences, risks are imminent. But how do you even know if you are ready for a threesome in the first place?

How to know if you’re ready for a threesome

Check-in with yourself

If you’re considering bringing up some three-way action with a partner (whether this person is your monogamous partner or a very friendly friend), take some time to check in with yourself first. Here are some questions to ask before you broach the topic: 

  • Why am I interested in a threesome?
  • What is it that I want from this experience?

Is a threesome something you’ve always fantasized about that you want to make real? Are you looking to explore your sexuality? Do you want to share a new, satisfying experience with your partner? Whatever the reason, make sure you’re clear on it. These questions can help determine if you’re entering into threesome territory for the right reasons. For example, if you’re feeling a little jealous over the attention your partner is giving to a new co-worker and think a threesome will get it out of their system, slow down. Healthy, responsible threesomes must come from a place of genuine desire, curiosity, security, and deep personal interest. Make sure you know why and what you want before jumping into bed.

Check-in with your partner

Once you’re clear on your “what and why,” talk to your partner. For a threesome to benefit all three partners, you must have a solid understanding of where your relationship currently stands—you must be unshakably solid and able to communicate. Being solid in your relationship does not necessarily mean monogamous, but it does mean that you have excellent and honest communication, trust, and mutual respect. Here’s what to ask the partner you’re looking to test the waters of threesome sea with:

  • Have you ever thought about having a threesome?
  • Would you ever consider having one with me?
  • What would an ideal threesome look like to you?

Every relationship is different; each person has boundaries, experiences, desires, and needs. Be open, honest, and aware of your feelings during this conversation. It might make both of you so turned on that you jump each other’s bones right then and there—or it might help you realize you’re not as ready as you thought. I recommend taking care of how you approach this conversation with your partner. In the same way that it can excite and arouse, talk of threesomes can also open deep wounds of insecurity or dust off concerns you usually keep hidden on that unreachable shelf of your mind.

Be sensitive to time, place, and circumstance when discussing the topic with your partner. If you talk it through and decide to keep the conversation going, it’s time to get kinky.

In the same way that it can excite and arouse, talk of threesomes can also open deep wounds of insecurity.

What to consider when planning a threesome

If you and your partner are on the same page about opening your relationship to a third, you need to ask a few more questions:

  • Are you looking for a one-time experience, or envision this turning into something more regular?
  • Do you want to have a threesome with someone you both already know or introduce someone entirely new?
  • Where would the threesome take place?
  • What kind of gender dynamic are you interested in? (FFF, FFM, FMM, MMM, etc.)
  • Do you plan to keep in touch with this third person after the threesome is over?

While these may seem like conversations that take the spontaneity out of the act, they are necessary to ensure each party’s consent, active participation, and comfort levels. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but they each have their pros and cons that need to be considered. For example, if you have a threesome with someone you already know, can you handle your relationship changing with this person outside of the bedroom? Real feelings could form or it could get really awkward. These are both common occurrences, so it’s a risk to consider when making these decisions. If having these conversations seems like too much of a chore or you’re already worried about dynamics changing, it’s time to table the threesome talk for another day or veto it altogether.

How to have a positive threesome experience

It’s no secret that having a positive sexual encounter means that consent, pleasure, and respect are at the forefront. To make sure those qualities are prevalent in your new threesome, do the following:

Set some boundaries

What are the “absolutely not” actions of the night? Maybe kissing on the lips is off-limits, or maybe all acts stop before penetration. Maybe it’s more of an emotional or vocal boundary—like using the word love or comparing partners in any way. Have a clear talk about boundaries with all parties involved, and ensure each person feels respected and heard.

Create a safe word

If you don’t already have a safe word determined with your partner, it’s good to do so (regardless of if you choose to partake in a threesome). Before you start having sex, agree on a safe word or phrase that is available to every person involved. If any singular person decides they are no longer comfortable continuing, the safe word/phrase is said, and all action stops until you talk about it and determine a path forward.

Threesomes can be a liberating and transcendent experience if all three members are excited and on the same page.

Have a plan for safe sex practices and contraception

Make sure you’re aware of each person’s sexually transmitted status ahead of time. That way, there are no unwanted surprises after the fact. Make a plan for what kind of contraception you’ll use—if that is relevant to your threesome dynamic—and who will provide them.

Relax and have fun

While they take a lot of planning and pre-work with your partner, threesomes can be a liberating and transcendent experience if all three members are excited and on the same page. If you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to set the mood, loosen up, and explore the possibilities of pleasure.

And remember—even if you decide that having a threesome is not for you, it doesn’t make you less kinky or sexy. Sexuality is such a personal thing, and what works for one person won’t always work for another. Most importantly, you and your partner are comfortable—no added spice can compensate for genuine desire!



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