Created By: SomeGuy on May 3, 2010
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Three Way Sex

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Normal sex (for those of us who aren't aliens) involves two people. Supposedly it feels pretty good. So what's the most obvious way to this steamy dynamic and ramp it Up to Eleven? Add another person. Preferably a sexy one.

The third person in this scenario is usually a woman, and the important in-focus character is usually a man, for the simple reasons of Male Gaze. This trope is most commonly used as a form of basic Fanservice, so who these women are or why they're willing to get into a threesome is rarely considered important information. Oftentimes, both women won't even have Nominal Importance, and will exist entirely to show off how manly the guy is for having a threesome. This aspect of the trope is shown in one recurring aspect of the sex act- it will sometimes start out with the two women making out for an extended period of time before eventually "inviting" the man to join in, conveniently shortly before we Fade to Black.

In terms of narrative, most dramatic tension is built in the lead-up to the act, with characters discussing how or why the want to do it. It can also be used to develop sexual tension during the act by having the male character do it with his girlfriend and a third party, only to discover he kind of likes the third party more. Some audience members will be annoyed that his getting too much sex is supposed to count as a "problem".

An easy way of raising the stakes in an Everybody Has Lots of Sex setting. The supertrope to (and actual enactment of) Twin Threesome Fantasy. Contrast Mile-High Club in terms of sexual rubicons that all men are supposed to aspire to. (Do we have this index?)


Examples:
  • As per its Everybody Has Lots of Sex notoriety, Nip/Tuck seems to engage in this trope with a fair amount of regularity. Most of the time it's just Christian doing it because, you know, he's Christian, but a couple of plot-focused examples stand out-
    • Matt agrees to engage in these with his ex-girlfriend lesbian cheerleader and her also-a-cheerleader lover, who feels that her new girlfriend is getting turned off the relationship because she's "not getting enough cock". Better Than It Sounds, really.
    • Sean and Christian engage in one with a high-class call-girl. Notable for sounding like a subversion of the "one guy two girls" dynamic while actually being completely unlike most examples of the trope. It's not really a "threesome" so much as it is "they take turns mounting her".
  • One of these happens in Entourage, when Eric's girlfriend's best friend suggests they all do it. Here, her motivations are treated as suspect, and are the first thing Eric brings up with his (male) friends. They conclude that what she really wants is to have sex with Eric's girlfriend, and Eric being around is just a plausible excuse for her to suggest it. Though not considering this in itself to be a dealbreaker, Eric ultimately decides against the proposal. But when he offhandedly mentions to his girlfriend that he "didn't think you'd be into it", she insists that they do do it, apparently interpreting Eric's statement as some sort of remark on her not being adventurous enough.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • May 3, 2010
    Lullabee
    • Captain Jack Harkness mentioned, in Doctor Who, waking up with his erstwhile executioners the morning after they were supposed to well, execute him, and says they're a nice couple and they've stayed in touch. In Torchwood, he mentions having once been involved with a pair of twin acrobats.

    I don't think he gave the gender of the executioners, but he might have said that the acrobats were both guys... somebody help? My brain is fuzzy goo.
  • May 3, 2010
    TheBigSock
    • Played for laughs in the Friends episode when Ross finds out his wife is a lesbian.
    • Baltar is implied to have done it with a three and a six in Battlestar Galactica.
  • May 3, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Seinfeld: George realizes the only way to make a switch from dating one roommate to another - normally an impossible situation - by suggesting to the current girlfriend a Manage-et-tois (French for "threeway"). The old girlfriend will be Squicked, refuse, and tell the other. The roommate will be flatterend that she's been offered. The girlfriend will dump the boy, and the other roommate will contact him to go out. Problem: when Jerry tries it, his girlfriend and her roommate both react positively, thus Squicking Jerry out of the relationship.
  • May 3, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Ooh now, here's a related thing: do we have a trope for "woman suggests threesome to boyfriend, boyfriend accepts grinning, turns out women meant 2boys1girl"?

    (And, er, by related I apparently mean "unrelated". Feel free to make it a seperate YKTTW if we don't already have it.)
  • May 3, 2010
    Polar Bear
    • One of the main theme in the movie Threesome, which is basically Will They Wont They applied to two boys and one girl.
    • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman avoids all the problems by hiring prostitutes to have a threesome. Of course he spends most of it looking at himself...

  • May 3, 2010
    the grene kni3t
    In Chasing Amy, Holden feels insecure that he has less sexual experience than his girlfriend Alyssa, and things are awkward with his best friend Banky because of Banky's repressed homosexual feelings for Holden. To solve both problems at once, Holden proposes that the three of them all have sex together. Banky tentatively accepts, but Alyssa is insulted, and both relationships end.
  • May 3, 2010
    foxley
    Another Friends example. Chandler and Joey once thought they might end up having sex with the same woman. When Joey asked who would go where, Chandler suggested flipping a coin:
    Joey: Wait a minute, what's heads and what's tails?
    Chandler: If you don't know that I'm not sure I want to play this with you!"
  • May 3, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Comes up in a few episodes of Sex And The City.
    • In one, Charlotte's boyfriend expresses interest in a threesome and she goes for it, even though Samantha advises her that the only way a threesome is good if you're the third party they bring in for it. It ends badly; her boyfriend is more interested in the other woman than with her.
    • In another, Samantha has been dating a guy for some time, and he asks for a threesome as a birthday present. Samantha is quite jealous, but he kicks the other girl out of bed when she calls him "Daddy" mid-sex.
    • In yet a third, Samantha has been listening to her neighbours having sex Right Through The Wall and starts to join in from afar. They invite her to join in in person, but they're too unattractive for her.
    • And in a fourth, Samantha (I'm noticing a trend...) is propositioned by two Gay Best Friends of hers since they want to find out what it's like to be with a woman. It doesn't end well, because they can't bring themselves to do anything.
  • May 3, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Also @The Big Sock, that wasn't the episode where Ross finds out Carol is a lesbian, which happens before the show begins / in a flashback episode. That was the What If episode 'The One That Could Have Been'.
  • May 3, 2010
    Duckay
    The two guys one girl/two girls one guy threesome misunderstanding happens in Coupling... Patrick proposes a threesome to his girlfriend, and she's very eager, but he doesn't realise until he's already waiting naked for her that the third party she invited was, in fact, Jeff.
  • May 3, 2010
    Lullabee
    • Rayne, the protagonist of Least I Could Do, ends up sleeping with another guy in addition to the girl he tried to pick up. He's not too happy about the dude, but they're a "package deal" and he's apparently just heteroflexible enough to handle it.
  • May 3, 2010
    TheBigSock
    @Unknown Troper, Are you sure? I remember a joke about the two girls making out while Ross makes a sandwich as a sort of "Oh my god it's true" moment for Ross. I could be wrong though, never been a big Friends fan.

    Also:
    • This is a major plot point in Chasing Amy - First when Banky finds out about the "Fingertrap" thing and later when Amy suggests doing it with Banky and Holden.
  • May 3, 2010
    Duckay
    @The Big Sock No, the Unknown Troper is definitely right. Ross's What If for that episode is "What if Carol had never realised she was a lesbian?". The joke being of course that Carol would still be a lesbian, it just took until five years later (in the alternate continuity) and for Ross to propose a threesome for everyone involved to realise it. And yes, he does go make a sandwich.

    In the real continuity they never have a threesome, but it's revealed in season 9 that Ross had "floated the idea" to try to patch things up with Carol.
  • May 4, 2010
    Chabal2
    "(insert theoretical situation here) is like a threesome; it sounds fun on paper, but it's messy and embarassing in reality"
  • May 4, 2010
    foxley
    There are many threesomes (and even larger combinations) depicted in XXXenophile.
  • May 4, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Plenty in Elf Quest.
  • May 4, 2010
    Dinsdale
    A major goal for Barney in How I Met Your Mother. In one episode, he quotes the Bro Code's guidance on the matter: "Thou shalt not look another man in the eye during a Devil's Threeway." (A Devil's Threeway being two men and one woman, implied to have happened between George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.)
  • May 4, 2010
    highcastle
  • May 4, 2010
    macroscopic
    The pervy guy from Scrubs, when pressed, admits he's had a threesome. Normally he would flaunt information like this, but it wasn't the "cool kind."

    That one may fit better on the two boys and a girl subversion UT 86.180.144.3 suggested.
  • May 4, 2010
    Idler2.0
    Speaking of How I Met Your Mother, the end of one episode leaves it ambiguous whether Ted had a threesome with two women or not.
  • May 4, 2010
    LeeM
    "Plenty in Elf Quest."

    • Also at least one aversion (literally). When Rayek is about to leave Sorrow's End because Cutter has Recognized his "intended" Leetah, Savah suggests that all three of them could get together. Rayek calls that unthinkable, presumably because he can't stand the idea of being "married" to Cutter.
  • May 4, 2010
    Solle
    Rayek's decision wasn't about Three Way Sex, it was about Polyamory. He didn't want to share his lifemate with Cutter. Different trope altogether. (Several elves in Elf Quest do have two lifemates, often forming very harmonious threeway pairings, but they don't tend to appear in sex scenes.)

    ETA: the trope WAS a theme in the Elf Quest story "The Heart's Way", in which one of Skywise's lovemates (Vurdah) tries to decide whether or not she wants to continue sharing him with their other partners. The ending is left open to interpretation: we never see whether or not she went back inside the bedroom, but she's happy with her decision either way.
  • May 4, 2010
    ChevalierMalfait
    The subject of the Britney Spears hit, "3."
  • May 7, 2010
    SomeGuy
    YKTTW Bump. Last call for examples before launch.
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