My boyfriend wants a threesome, but I don’t

I didn’t mind indulging my boyfriend’s fantasies at first because they were not extreme and they were something we kept between the two of us

My boyfriend wants a threesome, but I don’t

Now, he has asked if we can have a threesome with another woman. I don’t want to do it but I don’t want him to think I am a prude. I am also worried that if I refuse, he will do it without me.

No offence, but you really are going out with a dope. Threesomes are an extremely intimidating concept and the idea needs to be broached with the utmost sensitivity and consideration. You have indulged all your boyfriend’s fantasies to date and he should be deeply grateful.

Instead, you think he will accuse you of prudishness if you don’t engage in an experience that violates your sexual boundaries, and you worry that he will set up a threesome without you.

While both people in a sexual relationship have some obligation to fulfil their partner’s sexual needs, when one person pushes another to engage in unwanted sexual activity, it can be upsetting.

You do not have to take part in a threesome but rather than becoming emotional or defensive, talk him through the pros and cons of what he is proposing to illustrate the complexities of fulfilling this fantasy.

First, you need to establish why he wants a threesome and he needs to understand why you fear the idea. If that doesn’t kill the idea, you need to discuss the logistics. Does he have a third person in mind and, if so, what does that imply? If he suggests a stranger, would either of you want them coming into your home?

How would you find that third person? Would certain acts be off-limits? What about safe sex? You also need to ask him to consider what the real as opposed to the fantasy experience will be like?

In his imagination it will, almost certainly, be a glamorous, universally satisfying sexual interaction. In reality he would be sharing you with a volunteer who may be more interested in you than in him.

It is also worth asking your boyfriend how he would feel if the third person was a male. Heterosexual men are less enthusiastic about this scenario, largely because they have been primed by pornographic magazines and movies to believe that all women are latently bisexual.

While there is some research that appears to show that female sexuality is more fluid, it is based on how women respond to visual imagery, not how they behave during personal interactions. Meredith Chivers, associate professor of psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, found that women are aroused by naked images of men or women having sex, whereas heterosexual men are turned on only by images of women having sex — with each other or with men.

Although Chivers’s research has caused a media buzz, there is a gap the size of the Grand Canyon between a woman’s ability to get turned on by an image and her desire to translate that into real-world behaviour.

Essentially, human beings are programmed to commit to one person at a time, so group sex can feel counterintuitive. The most obvious problem with threesomes is the potential for jealousy. Sex is the way in which we express our attraction to the person we consider to be our “other half”.

Add a third party and suddenly those feelings are not exclusive to you as a couple. There are, of course, upsides. For some couples, threesomes can provide a new perspective on the relationship. We all have a tendency to take long-term partners for granted and watching someone that we love engage sexually with another person can jolt us out of that complacency.

That was the premise for Robin Rinaldi’s Wild Oats Project, a book out last month, detailing the author’s sexual odyssey. She and her husband allowed each other to have sex with anyone they wanted for a year. It was a misguided attempt to solve serious relational and sexual difficulties — and ended in divorce.

* Send your queries to suziegodson@mac.com

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