Ménage à trois  

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A 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".


Historical instances

Some known examples are:

In popular culture

The ménage à trois is a recurring theme in fiction and has been the subject of a number of books, plays, films and songs. Some notable examples include:


  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon (1982): relates the relationship of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot as a ménage à trois.
  • The same theme is taken up in Guy Gavriel Kay's "The Fionavar Tapestry", where the Athurian characters are resurrected and have further adventures in the world of Fionavar, in the course of which they overcome the jealousies of their previous lives; when last appearing in this trilogy, Guinevere is depicted having one of her arms around each of the two men, the three of them bound to live happily ever after.
  • Michael Cunningham, A Home At The End Of The World (1990): centers for the most part on a ménage à trois.
  • Arnon Grunberg, The Asylum Seeker (2003): has a ménage à trois involving a disillusioned man, a terminally ill woman, and an asylum seeker.
  • Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden (written 1946–1961, published 1986): centers on an American expatriate couple who bring another woman into their marriage.
  • Jean Rhys, Quartet (originally titled Postures) (1928): a roman à clef in which Rhys fictionalised her affair with Ford Madox Ford.
  • Bob Shaw, The Two-Timers (1968): described a ménage à trois in which the husband and the lover are two versions of the same man, from two alternate time lines.
  • Adam Thirlwell, Politics (2003): a novel about a ménage à trois, which is referred to as "the socialist utopia of sex".
  • In the Lunar society depicted by Robert Heinlein in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a common form of family is a troika, composed of a wife, a senior husband and a junior husband.
  • Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood: a ménage à trois is seen in the form of Dai Bread, and his two wives: Mrs. Dai Bread 1 and Mrs. Dai Bread 2.
  • Simone de Beauvoir's, She Came to Stay tells the semi-fictional story about a woman named Françoise whose open relationship with Pierre becomes strained when they form a ménage à trois with her younger friend Xaviere.
  • John Updike, in Rabbit Redux when Rabbit who welcomes Jill in his house finally hosts Skeeter for a period before the arson of the house.
  • In The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies, the scholar Dunstan Ramsay and the stage magician Paul Dempster a.k.a. Magnus Eisengrim end up as the "permanent guests" and lovers of the eccentric Swiss millionaire Lieselotte Naegeli - the three of them occasionally sharing an especially large bed, though "most often in order to have a breakfast in bed or take an important decision" rather than for sex.
  • Science fiction writer Poul Anderson, in his novel Three Worlds to Conquer, depicts an alien species (on Jupiter) for whom a kind of "ménage à trois" is a fundamental biological imperative. A female of that species can only conceive by mating with two different males within a few hours of each other; thus, every individual has a mother and two fathers, and every family is composed of a female and two males.
  • In the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton between Asher, Anita Blake and Jean-Claude. Also mentioned as previously occurring and not described in detail in the series is the relationship between Jean-Claude, Asher, and Julianna.




  • The Brady Bunch, A Very Brady Sequel: Marcia and Jan are walking home from the last day of school reading each other's yearbook messages. Marcia reads one to Jan that says "ménage à trois". Marcia replies saying "I bet that means 'you're the most'". This joke becomes a recurring gag throughout the course of the film between Marcia, Jan, and her fictitious boyfriend, George Glass.
  • Three's Company
  • Friends (1994): Phoebe meets her biological mother and learns that her biological mother, her father, and the woman who raised her were extremely "close" and all had sexual relations together (#3.25).
  • Seinfeld:
    • "The Switch": Jerry Seinfeld attempts to end a relationship with one roommate, and start one with another, using a suggestion by George.
    • "The Label Maker": George Costanza, referring back to the ploy he hatched with Jerry in the earlier episode, attempts to terminate a relationship by suggesting a ménage à trois, only to have it blow up in his face.
  • Star Trek TNG also aired an episode entitled "Ménage à Troi". The title is a pun on the French phrase.
  • Will & Grace saw Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) remark, on several occasions, the "number of people in a ménage à trois," in the episode Back Up, Dancer (#7.02)


Artist Song Notes/Quote
The Pierces Boring
David Crosby Triad A song about a ménage à trois, also recorded by Jefferson Airplane
Interpol No I in Threesome (2007)
Type O Negative My Girlfriend's Girlfriend (1996)
Isaac Hayes Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage Á Trois) "Stars will never tell of the rendezvous of me and you and... you." (1977)
Notorious B.I.G. Hypnotize
A Tribe Called Quest What "What is ménage à trois? Or, that is." (1991)
Joan Jett The French Song (1983)
Katy Perry Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) "We went streaking in the park, skinny dipping in the dark, then had a ménage à trois."
Motley Crue Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Eminem Despicable "And you want a ménage à trois, you twat?"
Adam Lambert originally by Lady Gaga Fever
Kevin Rudolf ft. Lil' Wayne Let it Rock
Jane's Addiction Three Days
Britney Spears 3
D12 I'll be Damned
Usher Ft. Nicki Minaj Little Freak "If girls wanna ménage then it wetter than it rainin"<i> <i>"I'm bout to have a ménage a..."<i>
Kanye West ft. Jay Z Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross Monster <i>"I think me, you, and AM should menage Friday"<i>
Mac Miller Down The Rabbit Hole

Fly In Her Nikes

<i>"Two in ones, that's a menage a trois."<i>
Slum Village Climax
Jay-Z Heart of the City (Ain't No Love) <i>"Hopefully they'll ménage before I reach my garage."<i>
Shwayze Polaroid
Juicy J Smoke Dat Weed
Wolfgang Gartner Ménage à Trois
Timbaland Bounce
mc chris DQ Blizzard <i>"Siamese twins want ménage à trois"<i>

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ménage à trois" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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