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Exploring Variations in North American Adults’ Attitudes, Interest, Experience, and Outcomes Related to Mixed-Gender Threesomes: A Replication and Extension


Mixed-gender threesomes (MGTs) are a type of consensually nonmonogamous sexual encounter involving three people of more than one gender. Little research has been conducted on MGTs, and what little work does exist is limited to college students, who may actually be less experienced with MGTs than older adults. The present study investigated attitudes toward, interest in, experiences with, and outcomes of MGTs in two samples (college N = 231; online N = 1342), comprised of 907 heterosexual and 666 sexual minority participants in total. Results indicated that participants reported neutral-to-positive attitudes toward and moderate-to-high levels of interest in MGTs (81% indicated some degree of interest). MGTs involving familiar others were preferred to those involving strangers. Men, sexual minority individuals, and participants from the online sample reported more favorable attitudes toward and greater interest in MGTs as compared to women, heterosexual individuals, and participants from the student sample. In addition, 30% of participants indicated having experience with a MGT. Sexual minority individuals reported more experience with MGTs and more positive outcomes than did heterosexual individuals. In addition, on average, participants reported that their MGT experiences “met expectations.” Overall, these results indicate that MGTs are a common sexual behavior that often results in positive outcomes, especially among sexual minority individuals. Additional research on this understudied topic is needed, particularly as it relates to outcomes and the role of MGTs in consensually nonmonogamous relationships.

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  1. A secondary hierarchical binary logistic regression was conducted in which age was controlled for by entering it on the first block. Although age accounted for a significant amount of the variance associated with MGT experience (B = − .05, p < .001), sample was still significant (B = 0.87, p < .001), indicating that age can account for some of the sample differences, but not all.

  2. A chi-square test was performed to determine whether CNM participants (those who reported that they and their partner were not sexually exclusive) were more likely to have had a MGT as compared to participants who self-identified as monogamous. Results indicated that 65.1% of participants identifying as currently being in a CNM relationship had engaged in a MGT, whereas only 24% of monogamous participants had done so, χ2(1, N = 904) = 109.81, p < .001. According to the odds ratio, CNM participants were 5.84 times more likely than those in sexually exclusive relationships to have had a MGT.


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Correspondence to Ashley E. Thompson.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Thompson, A.E., Cipriano, A.E., Kirkeby, K.M. et al. Exploring Variations in North American Adults’ Attitudes, Interest, Experience, and Outcomes Related to Mixed-Gender Threesomes: A Replication and Extension. Arch Sex Behav 50, 1433–1448 (2021).

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  • Mixed-gender threesomes
  • Threesomes
  • Multi-person sex
  • Consensual nonmonogamy