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Dear Dr. Robert,

I am a 39 year old married women who just for the first time in my life had three way sex. I am so confused about my feelings. It just didn't turn out the way that I thought it would.

I brought my very best married friend home with me on Saturday night after the three of us had drunk all night at her house. Her husband has NO idea that this happened and would probably kill all of us if he knew. ( I should say I know he would!)

I thought it was going to be more about experiencing more with her but it ended up more about her and my husband. She knows that I am upset and wants to know what is wrong. I now kind of feel like it was a mission just for her to have sex with my husband. She has been with her husband since she was 15 and I know she is missing a lot from her sex life.

I am the one who allowed this to happen so why do I feel so betrayed? My husband and I have talked several times and he has assured me that is was just a fantasy and has no feelings like that for her. But he also agrees that understands why I am feeling like this. He tried very hard to make it more about me and her but I couldn't get into it after she was all over him first.

It is just that it now feels like I was played, instead of this being a great fun fantasy for all of us. Would love to hear how you could help me.

Mary - PA

ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Hello, Mary--

Although many people try to make sexual behavior be about "love," it really is not; sexual behavior is the expression a deeply programmed instinctual drive which is common, in one form or another, not only to the higher animals such as dogs, gorillas, and humans, but to all but the very simplest plants and animals. If you understand this, then you should be able to understand that your husband, when he had sex with your friend, was just acting on this instinctual programming, which in the male--not just in men, but in the male members of many species--takes this form: "have sex with as many fertile females as possible."

The males of many species have ended up with this kind of programming as a result of eons of evolution during which those males who had genes for polygamy spread more of their seed, and spread it more widely, than those who tended to be more monogamous. Therefore, more individuals in each subsequent generation had the genes which favored polygamy. As this was repeated, and repeated, and repeated, a kind of filtering or sifting took place, slowly eliminating the male genes for monogamy, and slowly promoting the male genes for interest in any available female.

The situation for females is very different--almost opposite in fact. Since she can bear only one child at a time, a woman has, unlike the man, no genetic interest in having multiple lovers. In fact, her genetic interest is better served by getting one man who can not only impregnate her, but also stay by her side to provide for and protect her and her baby, thus helping to ensure survival of her genetic material into subsequent generations. And so, just as the genes for monogamy were slowly sifted out of the male population, the genes for polygamy were slowly sifted out of the female population. This is the most basic difference between males and females, and must be understood by anyone who wants to get a feel for human sexuality and its complications.

Please understand that in sketching out these basic male-female sexual differences so broadly, some of the finer points are obscured. I have not even begun to address homosexuality, for example, or to discuss those men and women who are not particularly interested in sex. But the general schema cannot be denied.

Ordinarily, marriage includes a promise of monogamy, and apparently your husband had been respecting that commitment. Now maintaining monogamy requires the male partner to a marriage to work against his instinctual attraction to women in general, and against his natural desires to experience sex with a variety of them. That kind of self-discipline is part of what a man is promising when he says, "I do." But you gave your husband permission to break that promise when you invited your friend to bed with you. Once your permission had been given, it is entirely understandable, entirely expected, and entirely natural that your husband would let himself go with your friend. That's what sex is, after all, a letting oneself go into instinctual mode, and just--forgive the word, but it is apt--fucking.

The same can be said for your friend. You gave her permission to have sex with your husband when you invited her into your bed. Apparently, and most naively, you imagined that the three-way sex would be more about sex between you and your friend. I suspect that sex with your friend is really what you were after all along--your letter says as much--however, that is another can of worms. But your husband is heterosexual, and so is your friend, so it seems natural, obvious, and predictable that she would focus her attentions on him, and that he would respond in kind.

As I see it, you certainly were not betrayed, or, if you were, it is you who betrayed yourself, and so, since you have asked me to help you, I suggest you apologize first to your husband for involving him in this mess, and then to your friend whom you have been blaming for something which was no fault of hers at all. After all, this three-way sex was your idea; you made it happen.

You say that you imagined this would be a "great fun fantasy," but a fantasy is something which, by definition, is not acted out, so this was not a fantasy at all, but a concrete and foolish violation of your marriage covenant. I suggest that you wake up from your "fantasy," stop blaming the others, and accept responsibility for your mistake and for your feelings.

Be well.

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