Trends

Good News, Threesomes Are on the Rise

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The third Metropolitan Report was released on Monday. It gathered data from 18 to 39 year-olds living in cities around the globe with more than 5,000 interviews conducted in Hong Kong, London, Moscow, New York, and Sao Paulo. Among the findings was that 1 out of 5, or 20 percent, of men and women have had a threesome. That stat may seem mighty high, especially in the light of more conservative statistics from the past.

Almost a decade ago, in 2004’s ABC American Sex Survey, just 14 percent of women and men reported having a threesome. And in a 2010 survey conducted by Cosmopolitan and AskMen of more than 100,000 men and women, it was found that less than 10 percent of women confirmed they had a threesome.

Pick around the internet and you’ll find that threesome statistics are few and far between. “We just don’t have good data” on how many Americans have tried threesomes, Jennifer Bass of the Kinsey Institute in Indiana told New York magazine in 2009. If data has always run dry, what’s the cause for the sudden hike in threesome popularity in the studies we do have, especially for city dwellers?

According to the Kinsey Institute, women most often fantasize about being dominated, while men prefer to dream of group sex and dominating. Those rote fantasies haven’t changed in a while, so there must be a reason why women are increasingly ready to disrobe with, most often, another woman in tow. Perhaps the reason is just what the Kinsey Institute referred to as bad data: people will continue to grossly underreport a sexual encounter if they find it at all fetishistic or marginal. After all, group sex and ménage à trois still raise eyebrows and inspire pearl-clutching in polite social company, so women and men might hesitate to report a three-way in even more scientific environments.

The other culprit might be the great media muscle of magazines, self-help books, and TV shows advertising threesomes as the cure-all for the wandering eye and savior of monogamy. Publications like GQ, Cosmopolitan, and YourTango frequently offer guides to navigating threesomes, the possible emotional fall-out, and the renewal and excitement that group sex can bring to a relationship. If the media view used to be that threesomes were the gateway vice to cheating, then 2013’s refrain is that threesomes are the missing spice. With the proliferation of that glossy sidewalk advice comes acceptance, and yes, survey data.

Increased accessibility is also a huge factor, with online casual encounter depots, like Craigslist, serving as a sounding board for anyone looking for a third. In a week alone, New York City’s Craigslist can receive 1,493 threesome posts, with the most common request, a man seeking a hetero couple, getting 571 ads. These aren’t rare desires, and their feasibility and  pace  is only hastened with the ubiquity of couples and singles looking for three-ways on both mainstream and niche dating websites from Plenty of Fish to Polyamory Date. The Three Way Dating Club advertises itself as solely a threesome matchmaking site operated by beautiful women, dropping phrases like “discovery” and “exploration.”

Threesomes have been creeping their way into our cultural consciousness since Casanova’s 1742 three-way with two sisters. Only now, whether it’s on Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, or Watchmen, the references are becoming more abundant, graphic, trivial, and even boring. If this decade is seeing the rise of the threesome, either we’re becoming more indulgent to our fantasies or we’re just much more honest with ourselves.

Image via Flickr.

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