How to Do It

My Husband and I Talked Up a Threesome for Years. Now He’s Making It Happen—and I’m Losing It.

I want to be fun!

Man and woman kissing in bed with emojis of other bodies floating next to them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by diane39/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a middle-aged woman who has been happily married to a man for 25 years. My husband and I still have pretty good sex, given life’s demands. He didn’t have many sexual partners before we got married, but he’s a rock star in bed. Before we had kids we fooled around with another couple once. I was surprised by how much I loved the attention of two guys. I was way into it and happily had sex with my husband and the other guy. I was worried that my husband would be jealous, but no. He had a great time. After that, we talked a lot about playing with other couples, but then we had kids and life changed! Over the years, I assured him that we’d get back to being rock stars after the kids were gone.

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Last year, I had interactions with a young co-worker who was really into me. Our paths crossed a lot and he boldly propositioned me. It was a super hot cougar moment and I was wildly turned on but did nothing. I went home, told my husband about it, and we had the best sex we’d had in years.

I’ve asked my hubby if he’s bi-curious, and he says no (not that I’d care). He’s into me having fun and loves my sexual energy. He knows that a lot of my fantasies are about group sex and random men. He’d like to have a threesome, too, but most of our talk is about other men and me. Now, the kids are gone and he wants to expand our sexual horizons by including other people, as we discussed in years past. He feels that he missed out a bit on getting married early and not having a wilder youth. He doesn’t want to be an old guy with regrets.

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I consider myself very open-minded and sex-positive. My husband doesn’t want to go outside of our marriage. He wants us to “play” as a couple. However, now after a couple of kids and a few extra pounds, I’m self-conscious about getting naked with other people. I’m worried that something will go wrong or that we’ll have a bad experience with a creepy guy. My husband says that he would never put me in a bad situation and that I’d have veto power over any activities. He’s talked about the fun of planning it and looking on some websites for playmates—even if it didn’t amount to anything. His point is that our sex life is predictable and boring. He’s not wrong.

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I don’t know why this is freaking me out so much. I feel really prudish, even though that’s not how I think about myself. Our earlier experience was years ago before the internet. It happened very organically and is a sexy memory. But the whole internet thing scares me and has me out of my comfort zone. I’m worried that I could be outed, embarrassed, etc. We live in a very large city, so that’s not really likely, but I’m just freaked out by all the things that could go wrong. My husband feels that I’ve moved the goalposts—he’s kind of mad about my change of heart. How do I reframe this for myself and get out of my own way? I want to be fun!

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—Finding Fun

Dear Finding Fun,

Your last paragraph comes in as a bit of a twist, in my reading at least. You do sound fun. Additionally, you have a healthy perspective and seem to understand that recreational sex can be just that, nothing more or less, and certainly not a threat to your relationship. You don’t seem prudish, certainly not compared to a lot of heteronormative people. But there is a big difference between fantasy and actual play, and perhaps you just aren’t ready for the latter. If nothing else, talking about group sex with your husband, and even making strides toward realizing these fantasies, has the potential to reengage both of you in a sex life that has become rote. (Look at how good your sex was after that dude hit on you.)

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Like many things, group sex is going to be daunting before you actually partake. The scariest part of skydiving isn’t the skydiving but the ride up, or so I hear (I’ve never done it—too afraid!). It is true that many things can go wrong—even if your third isn’t creepy, it could still be a bad experience if it fails to satisfy you. You, of course, could be outed, but in a major metropolitan area, this isn’t as likely to have the impact that it would in, say, the Bible Belt. It’s not likely to happen at all, in fact, if you’re amongst like-minded people who are also vulnerable to being shamed for their sexuality. There are definitely people out there with too much time on their hands, but it’s fair to assume that the majority of people who are on cruising sites are on them to actually cruise and not collect data to humiliate people.

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You could probably ease into things by putting yourself in a sexual environment, like a swingers club or party, if you’re so inclined. Keep in mind that you wouldn’t be obligated to play, but there you could at least get a sense of what it looks like and how much fun people are having while doing so. I also want you to feel empowered to put the kibosh on this idea if you see fit. You’re allowed to change your mind and you absolutely should not be having sex out of a sense of duty or because you previously thought it might be a good idea. It’s a bit disconcerting that your husband is “kind of mad” at your cold feet—if he really wants to facilitate this, he has to be understanding and he’s going to have to move at your pace. I understand a sense of disappointment on his part, but holding your previously expressed interest over your head starts being coercive, quickly.

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My advice for you is to take your time and do this for you. If you’re exploring as a couple, that means adapting to the pace of the slowest party. That is how you stay together.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’ve been married for 11 years to a wonderful husband. We have a healthy sex life and he satisfies me. We got married pretty young and I feel like I never got to explore my sexuality. Recently, a friend of mine (female) has expressed her attraction to me, and to be honest, I’m attracted to her as well. We’ve expressed how great it would be if one night we did have fun but that would be infidelity (she’s married to a man, too). How do I express to my husband this desire to be with my friend without us both blowing up our marriages? We’ve agreed we would never do anything without our husbands’ consent but it’s definitely something I would like to try.

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—Is It Too Late to Explore?

Dear Too Late to Explore,

This really does not have to blow up your marriages. If you lead with love, reassuring your husband that you find your sex with him to be healthy and satisfying, and are prepared to take no for an answer, it really doesn’t have to leave any mark should your proposition be shot down. Would a foursome be possible? That could certainly help assuage any fears he may have about what will go on without him. Do you read erotica or watch porn together? If you haven’t ever so much as mentioned your attraction to women, porn could provide a good in (for example, you could remark to him how attractive you find women onscreen).

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Also, perhaps this will help embolden you: A lot of straight men find the prospect of two women together to be titillating and group sex is an extremely common fantasy. Unless you have concrete evidence to the contrary, there’s no reason to assume that your admission will be met with resistance. It may, in fact, excite him. Stay respectful, remind him that you are committed to him, and be prepared to engage in a philosophical conversation about commitment and desire. Do these things and you’re setting yourself up for success.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a gay man in my late 30s. I’ve long since been turned on by edging/cum control, where the sub is tied, blindfolded, and edged slowly over and over. I long to explore this kink: mostly as the edger (dom), but also as the edgee (sub), if it were with a partner I trusted. After many years I finally have my own place, and I can actually think about hosting sessions.

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As I’m sure is common with many people looking to get into a kink for the first time, I’m full of questions. I have no problem asserting myself in the bedroom during regular sex, but I’m not really sure how to take the lead in a dom-sub encounter. And I’m not sure what to expect, given that I’ve never hosted a kink session. For example, what are some common practices for hosts, especially those playing a dom role? What are some key things to keep in mind before you let a potential sub know where you live? Where do I even seek out guys interested in being edged? I’ll also admit to some nerves because the guys being edged in amateur videos are usually your classic gay ideal: some combination of thin and/or toned. (Like so many gay men I have my body image struggles.) And finally, as an IT professional, I’m obviously interested in doing everything I can to safeguard myself and my privacy to the greatest extent possible—which I realize is already something of a fool’s errand, but it never hurts to make a little effort.

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So, where do I start? If you know any edging whisperers with advice to share, I would be so grateful!

—Take Me to the Edge

Dear Edge,

An edger who’s 25, lives in New York, and goes by The Prince of Edging (NSFW) on Twitter (that’s Prince Edge to you) took some time out of his busy schedule of manhandling dicks to help answer your question. He told me during a phone conversation that not long ago he was like you: interested in edging but inexperienced. It was only in the past year that he started edging guys with any regularity, with the past five months showing a real uptick in his edging. He told me that the kink is a really good outlet for his sexual taste as he isn’t particularly interested in penetrative sex and gets off from pleasing his partner. But he also has a dominant streak. Edging is at the immediate intersection of those desires.

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He got his start via hook-up apps like Grindr, where he explicitly listed in his profile that he was interested in edging. This allowed him to filter to find interested parties. He said Twitter is also a good source, as is Reddit—the BigDicksOfNYC subreddit (also NSFW obviously) has been integral to his practice. There are location-specific subreddits for other cities where people show off and also advertise their services.

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Prince told me he’s edged around 50 guys at this point. He’s basically swimming in dick as a result of his social media presence, which depends on him filming his sessions (with his participants’ permission). This may not be the route for you, but he said that it’s created a real boom for him. That kind of media allows guys to understand his aptitude. If you have no footage of yourself edging, he reasoned, how will guys know if you’re any good?

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Even if you don’t go that route, there are a few things to keep in mind in completely private settings. Prince says he talks to the guys ahead of time about what feels good and what doesn’t (for example, there are uncut guys who don’t like having their heads touched). Some guys want their nipples played with when they’re edged, others, not so much. Opening that door of communication will hopefully make your sub feel comfortable to communicate as well, as riding the edge will depend on his ability to tell you when he’s close so that you can back off.

“Fundamentally, you need to communicate and kind of understand what your partner likes,” Prince said. “I really like it when people come back. I have a few I’ve seen multiple times. One of them the other day was like, ‘Every time you edge me, it feels even better. And it’s like, ‘Yeah, it makes sense because I can understand your body better. I know what makes you feel good.” Despite the sight deprivation and formality, edging is actually a rather connected sexual activity, at least to hear Prince Edge tell it.

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Regarding your other privacy concerns, online hookups are always a crap shoot. Will the total stranger you invite into your home respect it and you? Can’t say until he’s there. But given how popular hookup apps are, and how infrequently you hear reports of them being used to hurt people (though it certainly does happen), I think there is good reason to trust the process. I think the contemporary gay sexual ecology, in which complete strangers are invited into the homes of other complete strangers, is akin to Wikipedia: Given humanity’s worst tendencies, it probably shouldn’t work. And yet it does! If you’re really uptight about having people over, you can look into hotel rooms, though that will get pricey.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m a 21-year-old cis lesbian and a rising junior at a small college outside of a major East Coast city. I pretty much know what I’m into in a hypothetical capacity, both romantically and sexually, though I’ve never tried anything beyond a few casual dates that involved no sex and didn’t go anywhere. I enjoy masturbating when the urge strikes, but I don’t find it particularly fulfilling without the connective element, partly because I think my SSRI makes it a little less exciting than it otherwise would be. I also don’t have an incredibly high sex drive, so I don’t feel like I’m necessarily missing out on sex, but there are certain things I’d like to try given the opportunity. I would also really, really love to be in a serious romantic relationship.

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Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find anybody I’m particularly attracted to in my immediate pool. Beyond people I’ve encountered in person, I’ve tried Tinder and Hinge and rather disliked them. Part of the college issue, I think, is that I tend to be attracted to older people; the most intense infatuation I’ve ever had was with a professor. There are also other examples, but I won’t go into them. For this reason, I tried Feeld to seek out purely sexual relationships with older, dominant women, but this didn’t pan out because a) the pool was quite small, b) I got too nervous, and c) I lost any and all motivation halfway through, as I am wont to do (I have ADHD). From a romantic standpoint, I’m not sure how feasible it is to be in a serious relationship with someone well out of college.

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Beyond what I’ve tried, I do have one “lead”—a girl I went to high school with and remained friendly with recently graduated from a different small college outside of a major East Coast city. There are a lot of things I like about her, but our cities are not actually that close, and frankly, I don’t know her well enough that it seems worth starting something that’s long distance from the outset. But I kind of want to at least express my interest. We’ve been talking a lot more recently than we did in the past, so if I do express interest, I’m worried she’ll be insulted and think the attraction factor is the only reason I’m talking to her.

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So I guess my questions are these: Should I go for it with this friend? And if not, where are the people? Is it apps or nothing? Is this seriously dating older people thing really as unfeasible as I think it is? To put it dramatically, I’m tired of being alone.

—At a Loss

Dear Loss,

Your loneliness is understandable, legitimate, and very, very common. You’re fortunate enough to have the advantage of youth on your side (a very attractive quality in our culture). The gift of youth is, in your case, something of a curse as well, as it helps explain why you’ve yet to find someone. Love takes time! I’m getting heavy sapiosexual (that means sexually attracted to intelligence) and/or demisexual (sexually attracted to people with whom you have an emotional connection) vibes from what you describe. I don’t want to assign sexuality to you (that’s your job!), but if either/both potentially describe you, finding a partner is likely going to be a longer process for you than it is, say, someone who is more visually inclined and can tell within seconds of laying eyes on someone that they want to bone.

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Which is to say: Have some patience. And also listen to yourself. You’re interested in your friend from high school. You can sit around waiting for her to make a move and/or fretting about what will happen if you do, or you can actually do something and find out. I encourage you to actually do something. You never know how someone will take that kind of information, but it’s rare to find someone who is insulted when a person is into them. The subtext to a lot of interactions like the one you describe, in which two people talk at length with increasing frequency, is a romantic attraction. Acknowledging it can literally speak a relationship into existence.

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Speaking of just sitting around waiting for something to happen: don’t. If apps aren’t for you, you’re just going to have to put yourself in situations where you’re meeting other queer women. There are on-campus clubs, perhaps dances even. IRL, there are sports teams, LGBTQ+ centers, and various demographic-specific activities. I would look into those if I were you.

I’m not going to tell you outright that you should date much older people because of the horror stories we hear about such relationships. These horror stories are often told in retrospect, as people were too young to grasp the power dynamic or injustices at hand. That said, you like what you like, and if you are drawn to older women, perhaps that’s just who you are. Be careful and communicative and don’t proceed with anything if it feels even slightly off. Do not get involved with professors or other people who are formally higher on the totem pole than you in work/school environments, as the potential headache for all involved could very well make you wish that you never bothered.

—Rich

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