Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just another Threeway?

Menage. It's not someone a business owner hires to coordinate other workers. You will not find the position of a Menager (manager). Nope. Wouldn't that be an eye-opener? "The position of Menager is now available with full benefits." Heh.

Because I'm the least likely of this crowd (okay, maybe James too) to approach this subject with any kind of authority, I decided to check out Wikipedia. I can't be the only one who reads this blog with only the barest understanding of what a menage a trois is. This is what Wikipedia says:

Ménage à trois is the French term describing a relationship or domestic arrangement in which three people, often a married couple and another lover, share a sexual relationship, although the relationship might or might not involve all three persons having sexual relations with each other. The French phrase literally translates as "household of three".

The official definition went on to describe how it is often termed a threesome. However upon looking up the definition of threesome, there is a noted misunderstanding between the two terms. A threesome can have any three people for the purposes of sex or furthering the sexual experience. That means the third person could be someone who watches the other two or someone who participates in fondling but not the sex act. Yes, it can mean participating in sex with the other two but the third party is often an invited outsider who is not a part of the couple's relationship. It's called "soft-swinging".

On the other hand Menage carries with it all the specifics of any three people having sex, specifically, and by requirement, are in a relationship together. This definition was most enlightening:

A threesome generally involves a couple that seeks out a third person for sex without the emotional entanglements that are normally seen in an open relationship. On the other hand, the term ménage à trois implies a special form of a threesome which involves an emotional bond among all three people and in many ways resembles more of an open relationship than a threesome.

How ignorant I was! I had no idea that a menage required a special bond between three people. I thought the bond I had seen in pieces from other authors (example: Anny Cook's Kama Sutra Lovers, Ellora's Cave-July 18th) was due to the author's preference in making a meaningful connection between her three characters. -See yesterday's Grip post- As Anny is someone who requires a deeper emotional connection between her characters to make the threeway believable.

Apparently though, there is a huge difference between a threeway and a menage. And apparently you can have a book with both! I suppose a fourway is a menage with a fourth person watching or peripherally participating... the options are endless now.

The definitions do open it up, don't they? That means if you are an exhibitionist in your sexual life, you are participating in a threeway, you soft-swinger you. I bet you had no idea.

What I find thoroughly intriguing is that the definition for Menage REQUIRES a bond between all three. We are not talking about being lose and free with a third you asked to come over. We are talking about a committed relationship of three people. Three people who are emotionally tied to one another, love one another, cannot imagine not being together and then taking those three people and joining them in the highest form of intimate contact. Changes the perspective doesn't it? Makes it less of a whispered word and more of a beautiful union.

And the difference is commitment. In the end, isn't it always about commitment? And isn't that the romance writer's code to the reader?



  1. Yes, I write erotica but I'm not a fan of STRANGER SEX. Yeah, I'm a puritan that way. Like Anny, I like the sense of commitment and if not love, then at least friendship, to be involved in the deal.

  2. Cooooool. Heh, I was onto something and didn't even know it! So it's threesome sex that I don't write. Well, then.

    Thank you for the post!

  3. I know! I had no idea until I started er, poking around (scuze the pun) that there was a difference and how very definite that line is drawn. I got a bit excited (no not in that way) to see that it was about commitment.

  4. great research, Kell. And yeah, it does make you think, doesn't it?

  5. Not that I have any experience in this...harumph...but I think that quality of caring, even if it's just a close friendship, would be necessary to make the readers stick to the story...it's porn otherwise, isn't it? Not that there's anything wrong with porn..it's got it's place (at least, that's what I've heard), but a story that keeps me turning the pages in a sustained story and not skimming to the "naughty bits" involves caring and conflict. It involves wanting to know what happens to these characters. Sorry, I'm a bit of a menage virgin here, but I'm willing to learn. I'm starting my very first erotic next week...I bow to the goddesses. ~I'm not worthy~ Minnette :)

  6. Hi Minnette! Soooo...you're crossing over to the DARK SIDE??? bwah hah hah...wickedly evil grin. Have fun with it. I always do. LOL

  7. Great post, Kelly. I like the clarification the definitions bring. But now I must pose a scenario.

    Woman has deep meaningful relationship both mental and physical with man. She also has a strong non-physical relationship with a woman. The man knows the other woman, but doesn't really have a relationship with her. The woman who has feelings for both suggests they get together for a night long party. Would that still qualify as just a threesome? If a relationship ensues between the man and the other woman as well because of this and they get together frequently (and most likely feverently) does it make a transition to menage or was it a menage from the beginning because of the relationship to each with the woman who intiated the whole thing?

  8. Regina - ~LOL~ Yes, I am passing into the dark side, but it is a short trip for me...I have been in the "dark" closet for quite some time now. To make matters worse, it is not only an erotic, but a paranormal and a comedy...I really need help, professional help...soon...M:)

  9. Ooooo. Good question James! Lessee. Based on the above definitions... the female of the couple is in a menage, but the other two are in a threeway. The threeway could theoretically transition into a menage for the other two once a deep bond has been formed (non sexual). But since a bond/relationship is required for a menage to be a menage, unless that bond develops the spouse and friend are still in a take-it-or-leave-it three way.

    I think.

    Minnette. Open mind, insert menage. heh

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  11. Great topic choice. One of my Winning Virgin titles includes a m�nage relationship.

    While writing the book, I quickly discovered there wasn�t a believable way to continue the story without showing the growth of the relationship between all three parties. When I first wrote Winning Virgin Lust, I didn�t want to focus on a bond between all three characters. However, as the story unfolded, I couldn�t imagine writing a m�nage without building on the relationship. After all, the story more or less wrote itself after the three characters connected.

    Great blog post!

    Destiny :))

  12. I guess a menage, by definition would define the complexities of human nature. I have witnessed relationships such as this in my life...


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