Cuckolding: What Is It, Why People Love It & 5 Beginner Tips

mbg Contributor By Ashley Uzer, MBA
mbg Contributor
Ashley Uzer, MBA, is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer focused on sex and relationships. She has a degree in Design & Merchandising from Drexel University and a Master’s in Business Administration from American University. Her writing has been published in Vice, DC Magazine, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.
Expert review by Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST
Clinical Sexologist & Psychotherapist
Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST, is a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist with 12 years of clinical experience. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a certified sex therapist, certified addiction professional, and president of the Therapy Department, a private practice in Orange County that provides counseling services throughout the United States.
Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Cuckolding

Cuckolding is one of those things that, for many of us, only seems to exist in porn. But while some people might wonder why on earth our buddy would be into his girlfriend picking up a buff dude from the bar down the street for some Friday night fun, there's plenty of people who desperately wish their partner was down for a little cuck-play. This erotic scenario doesn't need to remain a fantasy. If you're curious, here's everything you need to know about cuckolding and how to try it with your partner.

What is cuckolding?

A cuckold is someone who takes pleasure in watching their partner have sex with someone else. Traditionally, it's a man whose wife or girlfriend is having sex with other people, and there's an element of the man being mocked for his wife's lack of sexual interest in him. But of course, cuckolding can be enjoyed by couples of any sexual orientation, genders, and roles, and there's a wide spectrum of ways that the couple views the affairs with the third party. In some instances, it's more like an open relationship where only one partner has other lovers. 

"For most couples who incorporate elements of cuckolding, it looks a bit more like swinging or polyamory, where the primary focus is all on the wife's sexual engagements," David Ley, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them, tells mbg. "While many cuckolding fantasies involve fairly extreme elements of infidelity, sexual behaviors, humiliation, and submission, these appear to mostly be fantasy in most couples."

In many cuckolding cases, the cuck desires to actually watch the sex take place between their partner and the outsider (often referred to as the "bull"), but sometimes the cuck may just want to hear the details afterward—or even help their partner pick out their outfit beforehand.

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Where the word cuckold comes from.

Believe it or not, the word cuckold is actually derived from the cuckoo bird. Female cuckoo birds are known for sneaking into other birds' nests to lay their eggs, therefore leaving another bird to take care of their eggs and ensure they hatch safely. Here’s where it gets kind of bleak (but it's the animal kingdom, so stick with me): The cuckoo hatchling grows faster than the other, non-cuckoo eggs. The unsuspecting, adoptive parents will be confused but will constantly feed it and eventually toss its smaller nest-mates to their death to make room for the largest egg.

The word cuckold rose in medieval times to describe men with unfaithful wives, specifically in reference to men raising kids that were clearly not biologically his own. Today, in some forms of cuckold fantasy, some men will even fantasize about his partner being impregnated by one of her lovers.

Why do people like it?

Like many kinks, often people find it bizarre that someone can be turned on by their partner sleeping with someone else, especially because we live in a mostly monogamous society. But there are tons of reasons people (generally men) are into cuckolding:

1. Compersion

Compersion is a word that means "to take joy from another person's joy." It's often used among consensually nonmonogamous people as a reason some folks enjoy "sharing" their partner, or something they learn to appreciate along the way to help them battle potential jealousy. To put it simply, some people enjoy cuckolding because they take pleasure in their partner being pleasured. 

2. The taboo element

One reason people are confused by this fetish is the same reason people are into it (and this goes for many fetishes and kinks). In our culture, you aren't "supposed to" want your partner sleeping with someone else and certainly not under your own roof or in front of your own eyes—which is what can make cuckolding even more arousing to some. 

3. Exploring sexual orientation

In some cases, cuckolding may be a safe space for a man to explore his potential interest in other men, Ley says. The man can "essentially use their wife as a 'proxy' for him having sex with the [other] man," he explains. 

4. Power dynamics

Many people enjoy the submissive aspect of cuckolding. They want to engage in power dynamics that involve serving their partner and helping them find and/or please the "alpha" partner (the bull). They may even enjoy the humiliation that comes from feeling like another person can please their partner better than they can, and they'll want their partner to play up this idea with dirty talk or reporting back the sexual acts that took place. In some extreme BDSM cuckolding porn, you can see the cuckold locked in a box while a woman and the bull engage in intercourse on top of the box. You can also find videos of the cuck cleaning up after the sexual acts or other degrading acts involved in helping the bull and the female partner enjoy themselves.  

5. Candaulism 

"The Candaulism fetish is involved in many [cuckolding] cases, where the husband gets a thrill and pride from having a wife that other men want and from showing her off/sharing her [with] those men," explains David Ley. If a man enjoys cuckolding for this reason primarily, there's a good chance he's more into hotwifing than cuckolding (more on this below). 

6. Porn

Many of us enjoy watching people have sex in the form of pornography, right? Some men feel that, through cuckolding, they're able to have their own private porn star performing for them at home. 

7. Competition

"Some research suggests that there are men who turn the charge of sexual jealousy over being cuckolded into a turbocharge of erotic excitement, as they 'reclaim' their wife," Ley explains. This biological urge is sometimes referred to as "sperm competition theory" and proposes that watching your partner with another man can lead to the cuck having a more intense orgasm, more sperm in their ejaculate, and physically being able to have sex sooner after having an orgasm (otherwise known as a shorter refractory period). 

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Cuckolding is actually quite common. 

Believe it or not, cuckolding fantasies are actually much more common than you'd think. One survey of 4,000 men conducted by the Kinsey Institute researcher and social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., found 58% of men had fantasies about sharing their partner with other men. "Many women have this fantasy, too, but there does seem to be a gender difference here," Lehmiller tells mbg.

Data from porn sites also show cuckolding as a popular fantasy. Research conducted by neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam in 2011 found that "cuckold" is the second most searched heterosexual porn category on the internet. A 2016 report from Pornhub found 1.75 million people searched for some variation of "cuckold" every month; it's one of the site's top 100 search terms.

Cuckolding versus hotwifing.

While cuckolding and hotwifing are often used interchangeably, they're not exactly the same. Hotwifing refers to someone who wants to show off their hot partner to other people. Called a "stag" instead of a "cuck," the person usually helps choose who their partner will have sex with and is much more in control of the situation. Cuckolding, on the other hand, is more about being "cheated on" and traditionally involves more submission and even humiliation for the person whose partner is having sex with other people. For example, some male cucks derive pleasure from their partner gloating to them about how their "bull" could please them in ways that he could not—specifically due to their size. 

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How to try cuckolding.

Like all sexual fantasies, cuckolding is easier said than done—especially because you have to find a willing third party that both you and your partner are comfortable with. Another thing about sexual fantasies that you always want to consider is if cuckolding is something that you will both enjoy in real life. Or is it hotter when you simply talk about it in bed, watch it in porn, etc.? Of course, you never know until you try—but bringing in a third partner can definitely bring in drama, so you want to make sure you know what you're getting yourselves into. 

How to talk to your partner.

"Like exploring any sexual fantasy, you want to choose your timing wisely," Stella Harris, sex educator and author of Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships, tells mbg. "Delicate conversations go best when there's no time constraint and everyone is in a good mood. It's also helpful to make sure your partner is game for having a conversation about sex." 

Stella suggests saying something along the lines of, "I'd love to talk about some fantasies together, are you up for that?" to initiate the conversation about cuckolding. She also suggests explaining what about cuckolding is intriguing to you (if you're not quite sure—refer to the above list and see if any of those stick out to you) to ensure that your partner doesn't make any assumptions about why you may be into cuckolding. (Here's our full guide to bringing up open relationships to your partner.)

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How to find a third party.

One of the men I spoke to about his experience cuckolding—let's call him Daniel—met a cuck and his wife at work. A couple came in to ask about installing Wi-Fi in their home, and when the husband noticed Daniel checking out his wife, he eventually explained that they were swingers and he'd love to watch Daniel have sex with his wife. However, this porn-like scenario isn't always feasible in real life, and you don't want to make an awkward scenario with someone you might run into at work months later.

There are many apps available for finding kinky friends and lovers—such as Feeld and #open—plus more old-school sites like FetLife. You can also use a "regular" dating app like Tinder, and simply explain in your profile exactly what you're looking for. If you prefer to meet people in real life first, I recommend checking out the local kink scene in your area and attending some workshops, events, or even play parties or sex parties to see if there is anyone that strikes you and your partner's fancy. 

Cuckolding do's and don'ts:

1. Do take it slow.

"Unfortunately, many people idealize their fantasy so much, they are surprised to have strong, unexpected reactions when they try to make a fantasy into reality," Ley says. "So, I suggest couples dip their toe into the water and find gentle, slow ways to ease into exploring these fantasies, with lots of room for check-ins and communication about feelings, reactions, and fears."

Some ways to try dipping your toes into the water could be watching your partner flirt with a stranger at a bar, watching porn together, having your partner webcam or have FaceTime sex with someone else while you watch, or even something as simple as talking to your partner about who they find attractive. Another simple gateway to nonmonogamy is a threesome—however, this is also a big step that you'll want to adequately prepare for.

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2. Don't try to convince your partner to do something they're not into.

You'll find self-proclaimed experts on the internet trying to teach you how to "trick" your wife into cuckolding you. Please, don't do this. Consent is important in all sexual acts, no matter how kinky. If they're not into your sexual fantasy, it's important to respect that.

3. Do discuss what you're both comfortable with beforehand.

"As with any fantasy, it's important to think things through carefully before acting," Lehmiller says. Does the cuck want to watch? Do they want you to tell them every little detail after? Do you both want to select the third partner together? Do you want to set limits as to what kind of people you want to involve in your cuckolding? Do you want your partner to humiliate you? There are a ton of questions to answer together even after you're both turned on by the same general fantasy. Make sure you're both on the same page beforehand so nobody's feelings are hurt later. 

"The bottom line is always communication—with all parties involved—to make sure everyone is fully aware of needs and boundaries," Harris says. "And it's always OK to take a break or change your mind at any time." 

4. Don't completely objectify the third party (unless they're into that).

Unfortunately, oftentimes the third partner that's invited to play with a couple ends up getting treated like a sex toy—with cuckolding and with threesomes. "With cuckolding, in particular, there are a lot of racial dynamics (and, frankly, outright racism) at play that are worth being well-informed about to make sure the way you go about exploring your fantasies doesn't do any harm," Harris says.

With certain kinky exceptions, most humans would like to be treated as humans—not like an accessory to your and your partner's sex lives. Make sure to extend the same communication and respect to your new third partner that you do to your primary partner. 

5. Do take safety precautions.

As always, make sure to both get tested and use protection before partaking in any sex with a new partner—even if you've both been monogamous for a significant amount of time. And of course, ensure that your new partner gets tested beforehand as well. 

The bottom line.

At the end of the day, it's awesome if cuckolding is something you want to explore with your partner, and it can absolutely be a fun way to spice up your sex life or experiment with nonmonogamy. However, if you and your partner decide that cuckolding is something that's too intense for a real-life scenario but totally fun as a fantasy only, that's totally cool too.

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