Love, Lindsay

'I Love My Husband, But Still Think About Opening Up Our Marriage'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

 Dear Lindsay,

I'm a 49-year-old married woman. I have a very good, healthy, and happy marriage both in an out of the bedroom, but I've fantasized about having a threesome with my husband and another woman for a while now. I told my husband about this, and he said he would be interested, but that it has to be something that I initiate because he loves me and would never want me to feel like he wants or needs to be with another woman. 

I've lived in a fairly small town most of my life, and I know and/or am known by just about everyone here, so I don't want anyone to find out and become the target of local gossip. My husband and I do have weekends away, usually at a casino in the next state over, so I was thinking that maybe this could be the place to meet a woman interested in having sex with us? But that is most likely never happening because I am not sure I would be able to be so bold. So even though I really want this to happen, I don't know how to go about it. Can you help me? 

Sincerely, Judy

Dear Judy, 

If you and your husband are into safe, consensual sexual exploration, then I'm all for it. Being comfortable enough with each other to share your intimate desires is a testament to the strength of your relationship. That's the first step in making your threesome fantasy a reality, but the next step is having a conversation about your boundaries, according to Dr. Heath Schechinger, a licensed counseling psychologist specializing in consensual non-monogamy. "Be honest and specific about what you do and don't want at this time," he explains. "These boundaries can be revisited later on."

Once you know what you're both looking for, the next time you have a weekend away, make a joint dating app profile that states just that. You can opt for one of the classic dating apps like Tinder and OKCupid, or you can try out Feeld, an app for "open-mind couples and singles." (You can always download the app at the beginning of the weekend and delete your profile before heading home.) When writing your profile, you don't have to go too heavy into specifics, but you should write something straightforward like: "We're a married couple looking for a woman to have a threesome with us." A joint dating profile is a great way to find a third sexual partner because you immediately know the other person is interested if/when they match with you, but it's not the only way to do so.

While I understand your worry that you might lose your nerve in a face-to-face conversation, if you happen to see a woman you and your husband both find attractive, you can begin a conversation by complimenting something she's wearing, the way any woman would compliment another. Then, depending on her response, you can engage her in further conversation and, eventually, suggest going up to your hotel room for another drink. If she says yes, you and your husband still need to point-blank ask her if she'd like to participate in a threesome before getting physical in any way. After all, there's nothing sexier than consent

To that point, Schechinger says, "Have a conversation about desires and boundaries with everyone involved before you engage. Each person in the threesome should negotiate their own needs and desires independently, as opposed to having one person in the couple speak for the couple as a unit." This is a key step in the sexual exploration process because it establishes the lines that can't be crossed, but it doesn't have to be clinical. Instead, try to view this conversation as a kind of socially-conscious dirty talk because "the more clarity, the more room for pleasure," according to Schechinger. (That said, a full-fledged conversation may not be realistic for more spontaneous threesomes, but you can still check in with each other before doing certain acts because enthusiastic and ongoing consent is nonetheless necessary for everyone to have a good time.) 

After you all agree on your individual limits, Schechinger advises against re-negotiating boundaries in the heat of the moment. "It can be tempting to request or permit extended boundaries during sex, but it's risky," he explains. "Consent is ideally requested/given when in a grounded state of mind. Trust that there will be other opportunities to experiment with expanded boundaries." 

To make sure all participants are getting what they want out of the threesome, check in with each other regularly. Schechinger recommends doing this by making intentional eye contact, smiling, or asking "Is this feeling OK?" A good rule of thumb is to apply the ways you and your husband already check in with each other during a one-on-one sexual encounter to your interaction with this new person. 

Because you and your husband are a couple, Schechinger encourages you to "create space for unanticipated dynamics and feelings" after the threesome ends. If any unexpected emotions, such as jealousy, come up, allow yourself to feel them. "Anticipate that you (or he) may be surprised by what you feel and set aside time to non-judgmentally process the experience after," he suggests. After fantasizing about a certain sexual experience, it's completely understandable that the reality might not measure up to your expectations. (It's also OK for any person at any time — before or during the experience — to change their mind about participating, or press pause to establish some boundary. Anyone can exit the situation or take a step back to communicate that they want something different than what they originally thought might be comfortable for them.) 

Or the threesome could totally exceed your expectations. The point is that you should go into this experience aware of both outcomes and remember that this is just one sexual experience in a lifelong sexual exploration. If it goes well, then you and your husband may want to consider continuing to open up your relationship. But even if it doesn't, now you know and can try other ways to spice up your sex life. As long as you and your husband are both having fun, you can't go wrong. 

Love, 

Lindsay 

(For those interested in learning more about consensual non-monogamy, Dr. Schechinger recommends reading More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, Opening Up by Tristan Taormino, and Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. )

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid.

*Original submission has been edited for length and clarity. 

Cover image via  Victoria 1 Shutterstock 

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