UNB study: straight students uninterested in threesomes

Even as portrayals and conversations about all kinds of sexuality have become more common and open, research shows that young people are decreasingly interested in having sex. 

There are significant differences in how much - and how - straight male and female students want to experience threesomes.

The study's findings suggest that while college students open to the idea of others having threesomes, their interest may still be tempered by fears of being stigmatized for same-sex activity, for men, or for sexual experimentation, for women. 

College-aged adults in a Canadian study expressed openness to having threesomes, but most weren't interested enough to actively seek them out. Men, however, were twice as interested in having threesomes with two women as women were in any combination of partners. 

The University of New Brunswick study, conducted by psychologists Dr Ashley Thompson and Dr E Sandra Byers, surveyed 300 straight Canadian undergraduate students, asking if they had been in, or were interested in being in, a threesome.

'We have greater access to porn than ever before, so we see more sexual acts and behaviors, which increases interest. I speculate the same is true for threesomes and multiples,' Dr Thompson says. 

This normalization was in part the inspiration for the study, Dr. Thompson said. 

'I was motivated just from hearing friends and students talking colloquially about threesomes and about situations where they were more or less appealing, and with whom,' she says.  

The survey also asked the students if they would prefer for to have a threesome with two people of their opposite sex, or one person each of their same and opposite sex.

Dr Thompson, now of University of Minnesota, Duluth, says that she was unsurprised that the male students were more interested in threesomes.

‘You see that in sex research in general,’ she says, ‘men report more interest, regardless of the type of behavior; oral, anal, casual, committed.’

But they weren’t interested in just any threesomes. Male students said, on average that they were twice as interested in threesomes involving two other women than they were in a threesome involving themselves, another man and another woman.

‘It’s telling of the way our society views same sex behavior,’ says Dr Thompson.

Threesomes and group sex are more commonly portrayed in mainstream TV and films, like A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (cast pictured), starring Jason Sudekis

‘There are scripts or messages in media and society as a whole that it’s cool or hot for two women to hook up, but it’s not for two men. It’s almost frowned upon.’ 

Male students had the same average interest in threesomes involving another man as female students had in threesomes in general.

Both young men and women expressed a preference to experience threesomes with people they knew, though that preference was much stronger among women. Dr Thompson says that this is unsurprising, given that women generally face greater danger of sexual assault or coercion.

The study also found that men were even more interested in experiencing a threesome with a partner, while women were less inclined to add a third person to sexual experiences with their intimate partners.

Dr Thompson says that this gives some insight into what the potential categories of motives might be. When considering a threesome with a partner: ‘Is it because I’m not satisfied, and a threesome could be an avenue to promote a better sex life? Or is it just [ that I am or am with] someone who likes to experiment,’ she wonders.

She says that other motives for participating - or not - in a threesome include degree of insecurity, level of sex drive, and how open-minded a person is.

‘I’d be very interested to see how motives vary for a third person, opposed to someone with a partner,’ going into a threesome, she says. She says their desires may well be categorized as ‘interpersonal,’ for the couple, versus ‘individualistic,’ for the third person.

There is little historical data on threesomes, and, even among the contemporary group that Dr Thompson’s study surveyed, only 13 percent of the students had ever been involved in a threesome.

'We are seeing a rise of other behaviors, like rates of anal sex, oral sex, and people claim it's likely a result of how we're being socialized,' says Dr Thompson. 

Dr Thompson says movies like A Good Old Fashioned Orgy make group sex seem more approachable, and less taboo.

But that doesn't mean that less conventional types of sexuality and sexual activity have entirely shed their stigmas. 

Dr Thompson says that she's working on a follow-up study that will look at how men's and women's involvements in activities like threesomes are judged. 

So far, 'there's slight evidence of a double standard,' she says. 

'Women in particular may experience more negative repercussions than men. The impact may be related to stigma and turn into feelings of guilt and shame,' she posits. 

However, she still thinks that many people have positive threesome experiences, and says that most people are interested in having threesomes 'with someone they're familiar with, especially a partner. Then those feelings of shame and guilt are perhaps more protected.'  

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October 12, 2017

Sources:` Daily Mail

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