Dear Madame Sordid,

I am a queer woman who has been monogamously married to a man for 11 years. We got together when we were 19 years old, so we’ve grown up together. Lately we’ve been considering having a threesome, because I have some queer girl friends that would be into it. However, I am nervous. I haven’t been with a woman in decades, and I feel awkward about doing that in front of my husband. Also, I am scared about threesomes – what if someone feels left out? Finally, my husband has had some sexual hang-ups, as a result of being abused as a child. He has worked through them as of now, but I’m scared that the threesome could re-ignite them somehow.

I am excited by the prospect of a threesome because I would get to express and revel in my queerness, and my husband and I could take some risks together and do something we’ve both always fantasized about. But I wonder, is it worth it? What things do I need to talk to him about or have in place with the third person before we do this? Where is the threesome handbook?

Quivering Queer

Dear Quivering Queer,

I must start with my thanks. How delightful it is to be addressed so grandly and dramatically as Madame Sordid; perhaps I shall adopt her for my alter ego when I give advice. So, here are Madame Sordid’s rules for a good threesome.

The first rule of threesome club is that everybody is going to feel left out on occasion; that can be a feature, not a bug. When you’re having a threesome, sometimes some of the hottest moments are when you’re laying back watching your partner getting off with a lovely visitor. There are many ways to make sure that someone isn’t ignored – one way is to have a conversation about everyone’s hopes for the play, and what each person’s limits, both sexual and emotional, are. A three way should be a fun experience for all three of you, but it doesn’t need to involve no-holds barred action for everyone with everyone. Especially for your first time, focus on just a few activities, and leave others off the table; stick to your negotiated plans, and don’t change them in the heat of the moment. Make sure you are practicing safer sex, and consider hiring a hotel room so your initial encounter takes place on neutral ground.

The second rule of threesome club is that people should get their shit together before joining threesome club. This is not to say that nobody with the slightest hangup or occasional trigger should have a threesome, but if your husband has some unexploded land-mines related to childhood sexual abuse, it might be a good idea to book a session or two with a sex positive therapist in order to help disarm them, or at least map out where they are. Make sure the three of you have the emotional maturity to understand that mistakes get made, particularly when people are trying something new – and mistakes don’t mean the end of the world, or that the mistake-maker is A Bad Person.

The third rule of threesome club is that threesome club is completely optional. Our culture is good at suggesting a threesome as a default straight-cis-guy fantasy, but having a threesome is not the only way for you to express your queerness while honouring the unique relationship that is your marriage. This is particularly true when you’re a little bit awkward about playing in front of your husband. Besides the standard threesome, there are lots of other options. You could, say, go off and have hot queer sex with your friend on your own, if your husband (and your friend) are up for that; after a few play-dates, you might feel more comfortable about adding your husband into the mix. If you and your husband want or need him to be involved in your exploration, you could have him watch – or, you could even just share the dirty details about your encounter when you come home to him.