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I am a bi, white, married man—35 years old and living in a big Midwestern city. I’d like to know what’s going on in my psyche—from a sex-research perspective. I’ve been hung up on cuckold fantasies with my female partner for years now. I’m a creative person and I’m especially fond of creative fantasizing in bed, and my partner enjoys this as well. But nine times out of 10, I’m spinning a yarn about her fucking other men, whether it’s a threesome, cuckolding with me watching, or her going out on dates and coming home a delicious mess. These fantasies took an unexpected turn when I asked her to share stories about people she fucked in the past. She obliged—and holy shit, was I turned on. The only unfortunate thing is that she did not have many great sexual experiences in the past, so she feels like there is not a lot to share. Anyway, we have an amazing sex life, obviously, and I feel no shame whatsoever about these fantasies or how turned on her memories make us. I’m just curious as to why it turns me on so much. I know others have similar kinks, but it seems so antithetical to the heteronormative expectations of what I should be turned on by. Any ideas? —Fantasies Reliably Enhance Every Dalliance
“‘Why am I like this?’ questions are always rabbit holes,” said Dr. David Ley, a clinical psychologist, author, and sex researcher. “We create rich, satisfying stories that are really just a form of mental masturbation—no bust on masturbation—when the truth is, at least at this point, we really have no clear idea why people have any of the unique sexual fantasies they do.” (Dr. Ley literally wrote the book on cuckolding: Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them.)
One popular explanation for why being cuckolded might turn a man on—why knowing his wife or girlfriend had fucked someone else (or was fucking someone else in front of him) might turn a guy on—was the “sperm competition” theory. To quickly summarize: A man who suspects his female partner recently had sex with another male—and whose reptile brain believes the other man’s semen might be “present” inside her—will have a more powerful and voluminous orgasm when he next mates with his female partner in an effort to “flood out” his competitor’s semen. For a time, many sex researchers theorized that male swingers and cuckolds were subconsciously inducing “sperm competition” reactions—i.e., they were in it for the more powerful orgasms.
“Unfortunately, much of the research into sperm competition is now suspect, due to a failure to replicate many of these findings,” said Dr. Ley. “So to a degree, we’re now saying, ‘You know, it’s complicated, everyone is different, and there are no simple answers.’”
And now that we’ve said that, FREED, Dr. Ley, who has worked with many cuckold couples, has noticed patterns and he’s willing to put out some alternative theories of his own.
“Many cuckolds have a desire to engage bisexually with other men, using their wife’s body as a sort of proxy,” said Dr. Ley. “Given that FREED is a bi male in a heterosexual relationship, these cuckold fantasies might be a way for him to express his bisexuality while including his wife. Additionally, vicarious erotic fulfillment is often a central component in many cuckold fantasies. This goes beyond simple voyeurism—and FREED’s comment about his wife’s regret at not having enough sexual experiences to share offers us a clue in this direction. Many cuckolds celebrate their partners being sexually unrestrained. FREED might just be turned on by the idea of his wife cutting loose and sharing that supercharged erotic energy with other partners—past, present, and future.”
Finally, FREED, I wanted to add a “ding, ding, ding” to something you mentioned at the end of your letter. The erotic power of doing something that seems antithetical to the heteronormative and/or vanilla-normative expectations heaped on us by culture, religion, family, etc. should never be underestimated. While not everyone is turned on by the thought of transgressing against sexual or social norms, a significant percentage is. So long as our normative-busting transgressive turn-ons can be realized with other consenting adults, we should worry less about the “why” and more about the “when,” “where,” and “how.” (Now, in private, and safely!)
Follow Dr. Ley on Twitter @DrDavidLey. —Dan Savage
I’m a 35-year-old married man with two beautiful small children. I knew I was a cuckold before I met my wife. As soon as things got somewhat serious, I made this very clear, as I had learned repeatedly that my desire for a cuckold relationship almost certainly spelled doom. While we were dating, she cuckolded me multiple times and seemed very accepting of the idea. I was in heaven, as I finally felt accepted for me. I remember very clearly on the day of our elopement discussing that this was more than a kink for me—it was central to my sexuality and I needed her buy-in before committing for life. We played a time or two after we got married, but my wife’s interest in the lifestyle greatly decreased. After we had children (first child four years ago), her interest in cuckolding evaporated. It’s entirely gone. I accepted this for some time due to having young children. When I broached the subject recently, she expressed legitimate concerns around STIs, pregnancy, and being “found out” by friends/family. But this is something I need, as I made clear before we married. It’s not just a “kink” for me. I love my wife and I don’t want to pressure her into having sex with others, but I’m hurt and frustrated. I can’t help but feel like I had a bait and switch pulled on me. What do I do? Be thankful for the things I do have? Ask to go to a sex-positive therapist? Ask for a divorce? I’m lost, hurt, confused, and angry. —Cuckold Has Understandable Regrets Now
Cuckolding may be something you need, CHURN, but it’s something you’re asking the wife to do. And the doing presents more risks for her—the risks of STIs and pregnancy fall entirely on her, as she pointed out. And if people were to find out (or suspect) she was sleeping around, the “shame” and potential social ostracism would fall entirely on her, too. Even if you were to tell anyone who found out that it was consensual and/or that you were a cuckold, it’s not like she wouldn’t still be shamed or ostracized. Judgmental family and friends would just heap equal portions of shame on you, too.
To your credit, CHURN, you acknowledged the legitimacy of your wife’s concerns. And I’m going to acknowledge the legitimacy of your frustrations: You told her before you eloped that you needed this to be happy, and she didn’t just agree to it, she was (or seemed) enthused about it. I might be inclined to see this as a bait and switch myself if you didn’t have children. Even the most adventurous people—sexual or otherwise—tend to become risk-averse when their children are young, and I imagine your wife is currently some combo of highly risk-averse and completely overwhelmed. (Hey, are you doing your fair share of the housework and childcare?) Instead of threatening to divorce her (which would amount to pressuring her), I would encourage you to find a sex-positive counselor who can help you two talk about what your sex life can look like once your children are a little older.
If she can express it without being expected to act on it tomorrow, my hunch is your wife can see cuckolding you again once your kids are older. Since finding women who are into this isn’t easy, as you already know, it would be in your own self-interest to take the long view and be patient. In the meantime, CHURN, content yourself with hot memories of all the times the wife cuckolded you in the past and hot dirty talk about all the times she’s going cuckold you in the future. —DS
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