Please send your questions for publication to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Questions may be edited.)
I’m a gay man in his 30s. Recently, my husband and I had our first threesome, and it was great.
However, I feel that, as a tree falling in the forest does not make a sound if no one is there to hear it, a threesome hasn’t really happened until you tell one of your friends about it. My closest friend, a fairly conservative married straight guy, has never been shy about disclosing his sexual adventures to me over the years—yet I’m reluctant to do the same with him for fear of making him uncomfortable.
Of course, I wouldn’t go into graphic detail, but isn’t it a basic duty of friendship to entertain your buddies’ innocent bragging? Is that out of line? All I’m asking for is a high-five over beers.
Thanks very much for your letter. Congratulations on having enjoyed your gentleman-on-gentlemen action.
Kissing and telling is the core subject here. When and where is it acceptable to share a narrative of one’s own erotic adventures? What are the outer limits of tact in describing the thrilling perversities of a special new friend to a dear old one? And may we please dispense with the pink herring embedded in the question?
The elementary etiquette of recounting one’s sexploits should be a fixed protocol. The rules should not vary according to the sexes of the participants or the sexual orientation of the person learning what that participation entailed. To believe otherwise would be to reject a principle of social equality—to reject it needlessly, and the rejection would be especially offensive in this context because definitions of heterosexuality have more than once gotten fluid in the course of exchanging bodily fluids during an evening of threesies. Was it was Alfred Kinsey, Alfonso Cuarón, or Andy Samberg who first declared that the area is gray in a one-, two-, three-way?
The letter writer believes that his hetero pal has no desire to hear a point-by-point recounting of his Canadian doubles match. He worries that it will squick his friend out to understand the nuts and bolts of what goes on with the nuts and bolts. I say, No problem! As a rule, it is coarse, vulgar, and unbecoming to paint the scene of one’s own erotic escapades with a Vermeerian attention to detailing the act. People guided by this rule can be confident of respecting the dignity of their partner(s) and the intelligence of their listener. Lean tongues tell lusty tales best: An imagination left to embellish laconic constructions and penumbrous seductions will fill a simple suggestive vessel all the way up. Besides, most of the narrative interest in a hookup story is in the exposition and rising action; the most significant elements of mood are matters of a mere charge in the silver air. But talking about the old in-out is generally as boring as plain, artless braggarty.
Now, then, what further guidelines can we elaborate for describing saucy assemblages, troilist encounters, and frequently called booties?
—There is no general expectation of total secrecy among casual sex partners, but consult the bylaws of your swingers’ club and remember always that it is good to be discreet. An exacting standard of discretion would demand that your gossip be exclusively oral (unlike the sexual activity itself, which should be whatever floats your boat). Sounds old-fashioned, I know—but how would you feel to know that a one-night-stand’s data trail traced back to your treasures? Had I the power, I would make it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to gossip about one’s own sex life in emails and text messages, and I would make it a felony to do so in New York Times Modern Love columns. Maybe IMs are OK, and letters sent from camp. But this kind of gossip is best delivered in person. This is why they invented brunch.
—If you are living under conditions where you and your confessor are likely to have casually hooked up with the same person—for example, enrolled in a liberal-arts college or shipwrecked on a desert island—resist any urge to compare notes.
—If I ask you once not to tell me the details of an encounter, and you nonetheless persist, I am within my rights to shout you down. I once had to do so to a friend to avoid hearing about the allegedly bizarre sexual habits of an editor with whom I was about to have a meeting. “Look, all I’m trying to do here is to go to lunch,” I cried. “Why would I want this in my head?”
—If you are inclined to unironically use the word conquest, consider keeping your tales of such to yourself.
—I leave you with a story received secondhand and involving two college classmates, a man and a woman enjoying a random drunken hookup. The guy made an observation about her palpable enthusiasm: “You’re so wet.” The lady replied with a hiss of seriousness: “Don’t tell anybody.” He of course told everyone, which is the most interesting thing about the story, which I have received secondhand a hundred times. The guy, with his explicit self-implication as a seduce-and-betray bro, was no gentleman, but his story is a minor kiss-and-tell classic. Talk about kinky! It’s like a found-art folk tale. The self-reflexive twist gives the moment a movement so that it loops like a dragon forever eating its tail, if you know what I mean.