So you’ve decided to have a three-way but are afraid of encountering jealousy, now what? The bad news is pretty much everyone gets jealous from time to time; the good news is that by taking a few simple steps, you can easily prevent the issue and learn how to deal with it if jealousy does occur.
What is the primary reason you and your partner are looking to have a three-way? Maybe you have different desires for what you hope to get out of the experience. In either case, it is important to communicate these details to your partner in order to ensure that you are both on the same page. Maybe you are looking to have a meaningful experience together, start exploring polyamorous relationships, cross something off your bucket list, or just have a night of fun! Deciding what you want out of the experience will make setting up a safe and comfortable environment for all parties easier. If you are looking to broaden your relationship by trying something new and exciting together but still are not huge on the idea of watching your partner have sex with someone else, a rule like ‘we must be touching at all times throughout’ can help ensure neither of you feels ignored or left out. This can be done through just holding their hand or stroking their body while your partner is the focus and then alternating. If you are looking for a night of sexual exploration and fun, perhaps there will be few restrictions during, but a predetermined plan for when things are coming to an end. Many, but not all couples decide that when it comes to orgasming, it should be primarily between the two of them, not your third. Figuring out what the main things you each want are will go a long way towards enabling communication and preventing a hurtful misunderstanding.
Prior to the actual event, be sure to set aside time to sit down by yourself and visualize any instances that could possibly come up which may bother you. There are endless possibilities here, so even though it may be uncomfortable to focus on those details, you will be more prepared and able to handle the emotions in the moment. It is important to find time for imagining these events before getting too far along in a discussion with your partner. Discussing boundaries as soon as possible will help avoid each of you developing a completely separate idea in your head of how you want things to play out. To prepare for fully communicating your needs and wants with your partner, try closing your eyes and letting the three-way play out in your head. Picture as many (realistic) scenarios as you can and take note of what bothers you. Imagine the experience as vividly as possible, from meeting up and when things initiate to the details of intimacy and what happens after. Think about moments when your partner and third are more engaged with one another than you. In these scenes, think about what you could be doing as an active or passive participant to make it more enjoyable for yourself. Maybe you can handle or even enjoy watching them have sex, but don’t like watching your partner make out with someone else. Perhaps there is a specific act or position you really enjoy which would feel tainted after being performed with another. When everything is done, maybe you want to leave together right away rather than spending the night. At any point during your visualization when you start to feel at all uncomfortable, mentally pause and try to determine as clearly as possible what exactly you are feeling. Likely it will be a mix of emotions, but trying to pinpoint the issue can help find the solution. Once you know exactly what it is you want from a three-way and what ideas still bother you about it, you’re ready to talk to your partner in detail!
Most fears that arise as a result of jealousy stem from something simple, such as a fear of inadequacy, abandonment, or the general concept that love and affection are finite and that by sharing you are receiving less love yourself. Before starting the discussion, you and your partner should remind one another that they are physically and mentally attracted to them and excited to share this experience together. From there, take turns addressing clearly what it is that you want to gain from the experience and what it is that still bothers you the most. It is likely that one or both of you will suffer from a fear of inadequacy and afraid that their partner will enjoy sex with another more. This is a common fear and should be addressed carefully. Make sure you express to one another how much you love them and how sexy you find one another. Remind yourself that you are in this together, it isn’t just one of you having sex with another person. In the end, sometimes two people are simply a better sexual match than others. This may be the case, so be prepared, but remind yourself that most people have a variety of desires. It is normal and natural for one person to look for multiple partners to fulfill their needs, and that does not take away from the place you have in their life. Come up with a safe word or phrase either of you can use to address discomfort during the experience and remind each other of your presence. Having a plan in place for when you start to feel ignored will help keep the negative emotions at bay and allow you to jump back in!
Throughout the experience, regularly ask yourself if you are doing okay and what could be better. This will help you be able to address negative feelings such as jealousy as soon as they occur. Focusing on trying to pinpoint the physical location and effects of jealousy can even help relieve the negative emotion. If you feel the jealousy rising at any point, first just take a few breaths deeply and slowly to center yourself. Avoid focusing your attention on the thing or idea that is bothering you, as it will likely continue to snowball in your head if you allow this to happen. Concentrate on an aspect of your partner or third that you are attracted by and try to bring yourself back to having a care-free fun time. Ease back in slowly if you need by offering a compliment or stroking one of your lovers. If you are feeling ignored, try using a neutral phrase such as “I’d like some of that” to bring attention back to you and allow an opportunity for you to rejoin. If you cannot calm yourself down enough to do this, that’s okay! If you are unsure that you can continue, it’s okay to ask your partner to take a break as well! Let your significant other know if you need a minute or would like them to stop as well. If you decide to just take a minute by yourself, step out of the room, go to the bathroom or get a drink, and then take as much time as you need to regain your emotions. When you’re ready, simply go back to the room and jump in! If you still find yourself unable to join them or feeling extreme discomfort, make sure to let the others, (or at least your partner), know that you are taking time to yourself. Even just send a text saying where you’ll be when they’re done. Afterward, discuss what it is that triggered you.
Now that you’ve had a three-way, it’s time to talk about it! Include your third if it feels appropriate, but be sure to set aside time later to just talk to your significant other. How would you rate the experience overall? What parts did you particularly like? If you felt large amounts of jealousy or discomfort, it is important to address these soon. Tell your partner what made you uncomfortable and look for a solution to implement the next time. This brings us to the next talking point; will there be a next time? Just because you did it once doesn’t mean three-ways need to become an integral part of your relationship, so there’s no harm in deciding it isn’t for you. Alternatively, if you both felt comfortable and enjoyed the experience, perhaps you’d like to further explore the idea of a more open form of monogamy.
Treat jealousy just as you would an injury or illness; the first thing you should do is take care of yourself. Take a few deep breathes and relax. If you have access to a phone or notebook at the time, try to journal in as much detail as you can about what it is that bothered you, how it made you feel, and how that manifested throughout your body. The more details you have, the easier it will be to figure out what it is exactly that bothers you, how to avoid it, and how to deal when the jealousy does arise. Once you have moved past the trigger, talk to your partner about it. Even if your thoughts feel silly, talking about them will help alleviate any fears and give your partner the chance to comfort and reassure you. Do not just let fears ruminate, as they will almost always get worse in your head over time. We all find ourselves falling into cognitive traps from time to time, creating problems in our heads. For example, you may assume your partner is staring at an attractive individual they are interested in when they are really just zoning out; assume that your partner no longer is interested in you because they chose to spend their time watching TV, or believing you know how the future will play out and that they will hurt you. Rather than expecting your partner to calm all your fears, you must also take responsibility for your thoughts. If you are really struggling with jealousy, you will likely need to work on changing the way you think to a more neutral position if you want a healthy relationship.
As anyone in a non-monogamous relationship will tell you, the jealousy never truly goes away, it’s just about learning to handle it. It is such an innate human emotion that it’s bound to come up within intimate relationships. It may be hard to accept at first, but the comforting truth is that if your partner didn’t want to be with you, they wouldn’t. You aren’t losing love or missing out on your partner’s affection by sharing with someone else; your feelings for one another are not dependent on anyone but each other.
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