A Geek's Guide To Successful Group Sex


It's been my experience that geeks often want to have group sex, of one kind or another. It's also been my experience that we (geeks) have particular habits of mind and of interpersonal relations that make failure and arranging or having group sex far more likely. Certainly, it's been my experience that "Hey, let's the N of us go have sex" fails more often than it succeeds. A fair bit more often.

I've done this often enough, and had enough successes, that while I'm not a Grand Master Black Belt Swinger or something, I feel like I have some wisdom to share, so here it is.

This is definitely aimed at a geek audience, but it may also be helpful to others. It also has a fairly heavy North American/US culture slant; I have no idea if people in other countries have the same hangups. I'd love to know if it helped you (or not!), if you have any more advice to add, and so on; please send me feedback at mailto:rlpowell@digitalkingdom.org.

My Background

I'm a sensitive, caring male geek. I've had way less group sex than I imagined I would when I was in my late teens/early twenties, but quite a bit more than most people I know.

I've done sex parties quite a few times; oddly these have often been less successful for me than the other kind of group sex I've had, which is me and some other people at a regular party or science fiction convention or whatever all deciding it would be hot and finding a room.

I've had successful group sex on a few occasions, unsuccessful on a number more. Maybe 10 instances total. I think I've identified some of the differences between fail and not-fail.

Before We Get Started

The primary goal of this essay is not to convince you how great group sex is when it works (although it can be pretty fun), but there are some reasons that people have for not even trying that seem erroneous to me, so I'll touch on them a bit here.

But Something Horrible Might Happen!

I refer to group sex encounters as either failing or not, but I should really clarify what I mean by "failure", because some people seem to have fears about how bad things can get that are either nebulous, or extremely unlikely, or both.

The Standard Failure(tm) for sex encounters (sex parties and the like in particular) is that someone feels left out and upset. In other words, "Everybody got to have fun but meeeeeeee!". This sucks, but it's hardly the end of the world. Also, in reality, it's usually not just you. Look around and count the number of people at the event that also didn't do anything interesting.

Other than that, the worst failures I've ever had have been that some people involved (in one case, everybody) feel all weird and vaguely icky afterwards. All this means is that you decided intellectually to do something that your lust wasn't actually all that in to. Again, it's not going to end the world.

These are really the only two group sex failures I've ever had. Outside of a BDSM context, I've never even heard of anything worse. So if you're worried about the horrible things that might happen and they're not on this list, the odds are really quite low.

(BDSM is different, because if you're dumb enough to let someone new to you tie you up without at least one other person in the room, yeah, bad shit can happen. Don't do that.)

But Doing This Makes Me A Bad Person!

I can't actually directly relate to this one, but it seems fairly common, so it seemed worth mentioning. I guess all I can say is: do you really, in your heart of hearts, think that fun, exciting, caring intimacy between consenting adults is wrong? If so, perhaps sex in general isn't for you.

The Startup Problem

Geeks tend to initiate group sex differently then others, or so I'm told, in that we tend to actually talk about it.

This isn't actually a good thing; it's really the source of most of the problems.

I know, sounds odd. It's part of the nature of being a geek that avoiding emotional/interpersonal confusion by talking things out seems like the Obviously Right Thing(tm).

Here's why that doesn't work, from the point of view of the instigator (i.e. one of the less timid/unsure people in the group; for the timid people, all of this is even worse).

You meet some people who you find attractive. You get to chatting with them. They seem to be into you. You're all geeks. You say, "Hey, you guys are a lot of fun, and I'm feeling some sparks here. Wanna go off somewhere and have sex?".

Realistically, most people aren't going to be able to say that. Our culture trains us really strongly against talking about what we really want sexually. Also, it opens you up to fear of rejection, ad so on. But let's say you manage to do that. Everybody goes back to somebody's room, and ...

And then what?

Generally, not much. Mostly people sit around looking vaguely uncomfortable, no-one makes the first move, and everyone leaves unhappy.

There's a few reasons for this. The most profound is the role of the first kiss.

The First Kiss

We don't stop to think much about our social rituals, let alone our social rituals surrounding sex. We talk about sex so little that it sometimes seems like it's this black box: who knows what other people do in a sexual encounter?

The beginning of a sexual encounter, though, is very heavily scripted, it's just not always immediately obvious.

The way it goes is like this: People get to talking, they make doe eyes at each other, and then one of them kisses the other.

This is actually a really strict script. Seriously. Try to think of even one example from recent fiction, or probably even your own life, that doesn't follow this basic script.

This does not mesh well with the geek group sex startup scenario above. Since you've been all verbal about arranging the encounter, the instinct is to keep being verbal, and say what you want to do next.

If you can name a major piece of fiction in which the first kiss is initiated verbally, by someone asking permission to kiss in particular, I'll be extremely surprised. That's not how the script goes. Even geeks instinctively know that. Try to make yourself ask someone verbally for a first kiss sometime; it's really hard.

Even worse, if you succeed at asking for the first kiss, you've probably destroyed the encounter. It's so far out of the script that even if you can ignore the script and do it anyways, chances are the other people can't.

I've actually done this, and had women say no, and then tell me later that they would have been happy to kiss me if I just ''had not asked verbally''. (As an aside, I'm not particularly OK with that behaviour, but being rational is about getting what you want, not about complaining that other people don't work the way you think they should, so, moving on.) They couldn't really tell me why, just that the verbal request weirded them out; it made them feel like there was something wrong with me. "Sex starts with a kiss, and that kiss is born of lust and rides on the winds of passion" is a pretty hard-core script; you violate it at your own peril, especially since to most people talking about things is anti-passionate.

There's another wrinkle that makes things even worse: to some people, group sex is a non-emotionally-intimate activity; it's about sex only, not about love and intimacy and so on (I'm not one of those people, but that's a topic for another essay). This means that for some people, kissing in a group sex context is Not OK. This means the script is kind of hamstrung from the very beginning.

Try Cuddling Instead

I've discovered that the times that I've gotten past the startup problem things have worked one of two ways: they've either followed the usual script (I was sitting close enough to people to make doe eyes at them and get all touchy and eventually start kissing) or they started with cuddling instead of kissing.

Cuddling, you see, isn't in the script. It isn't even sex, in any real sense. It's non-threatening, but once you've (verbally or otherwise) gotten down to cuddling, it's really easy to get with making the doe eyes and maybe kissing (or not!; try nibbling the person's neck instead; it has about the same effect in terms of lustfulness, but less intimacy).

Maybe Don't Even Try For Sex

An extension here is to not even suggest sex verbally; suggest cuddling. Perhaps my best group sex encounter ever started with us all being really tired but kinda maybe interested in something happening, so we just went to sleep together in the same bed. No-one felt threatened, and the cuddling progressed to other things in the morning, and it just worked really, really well.

That's sort of my key suggestion here: instead of trying for sex, just ask people if you can cuddle with them. Go find a couch if necessary or whatever. Or sleep with them. It seems to work well.

Having A Leader As The Solution

I've noticed that group sex in a BDSM context doesn't have the startup problem at all, because again there's a well defined script: once everyone has agreed to play and laid out ground rules and so on, the master takes over.

I suspect, but do not know, that even with a pure BDSM context this could be used: simply designate someone as In Charge. Ideally, whoever The Timid One (see below) came with. The leader encourages people to kiss or cuddle or take each other's clothes off or whatever. I'd like to know how this works out if people try it.

Alcohol As The Solution

I'm told that alcohol solves this problem all by itself. It's been my experience that geeks mostly don't mix drink and sex (I'm a teatotaller myself), but I'm told that when you're a bit liquored up making that first move without having to verbalize it is a lot easier. You just sort of grab the person and see what happens. Given the standard geek fear of rejection, that's a lot harder when sober.

Other Sources Of Problems

The startup problem is, in my experience, the core of the geek group sex problem, but there certainly are other issues that come up.

General Personality Conflicts

The thing to bear in mind about any sexual situation is that, no matter how short the tryst is, every pair of people in the group has a relationship with each other. This means there are 3 relationships in a threesome, 6 with four people, 10 with five people, and so on.

The odds of a serious personality conflict increase linearly with the number of two-person relationships, which is worse than linear in the number of people in the group.

In plain English: the more people, the more likely one of them is going to drive someone else nuts.

There's really not much you can do about this except acknowledge it and just stop. I do strongly suggest just stopping at this point; the people for whom it was working out can get back together later, and it'll save a lot of grief.

Trying To Be "Fair"

A lot of people go into this sort of situation with the mental picture that everything needs to be fair, meaning that they need to pay equal attention to everybody.

This isn't a very good idea.

For one thing, even if you try to do that, you'll probably fail.

For another thing, we're all here to have fun, and having to keep score isn't.

Yet another issue is that human sexual response is very unbalanced; different people want different amounts of attention at different times. Trying to force them to align just doesn't work.

Most importantly, though, doing that usually kill the natural flow of the event. It's a meta-golden-rule thing; the golden rule is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It's crap. The meta-golden-rule is "do unto others as they would have you do unto them". In other words, doing what you think other people want helps no-one; do what they actually want. Sometimes, several people want to pay attention to one person. Shut up and enjoy it.

Uneven Attractions

Directly related to the above issue, sometimes (most of the time, actually) not everyone in a group sex situation is equally attracted to everyone else.

That's fine.

If A and B both have the hots for C, C should lie back and enjoy it. There's no problem here.

Where things get weird is the standard love triangle: if A like B but not C, B likes C but not A, and C likes A but not B. Obviously more complicated for larger numbers, but you get the idea.

Remember, it's all about the relationships as two-person pairs; humans can't really effectively pay attention to more than one person at a time. If there aren't enough pairs of people who are decently hot for each other to keep everyone occupied, just stop. The people for whom things were working can get back together later, and it'll save the left out one(s) from feeling awful. Been there, done that; being left out really sucks.

The Timid One

It is usually the case that one or more people will be substantially more timid or scared of group sex then everyone else. This is quite normal. You can usually spot this person by removing all the people with penises and finding the person with the lowest body mass of those remaining, but not always.

Coddle the timid one. Spend a lot of time on the timid one, but be careful not to freak them out or go too fast. Everyone's having a good time depends on it.

The timid one will almost always have someone else with them that they are in a relationship with; the timid one's significant other (SO).

The timid one's SO should be checking in with the timid one a lot, unless it's obvious that the timid one is completely lost in lust for someone else; then that person should be checking in with them a lot.

If the timid one's SO isn't doing this, pull them aside and try to talk them into it if possible. It matters.

Also, a non-obvious thing: the timid one should not be forced out of physical contact with their SO or someone they trust or whatever. Don't put the timid one on one side of the bed and their SO on the far side if you can help it. Physical contact with a known safe person makes a world of difference.


In conclusion, you all are really hot; let's go back my place. :-)

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