Why You're Turned On By The Idea Of Your Partner Having Sex With Someone Else

However you feel about your partner having sex with someone else — whether you're terrified or turned on (or somewhere in between) — there are many people out there who get off on the thought of their S.O. getting it on with a third party.
There's even a kink devoted to that idea: cuckolding. Generally, this refers to when a straight man watches his wife or girlfriend having sex with another man. Maybe you've heard the word "cuck" recently? It's been co-opted by the so-called "alt-right" to describe a weak man. This is because the kink and that term can have a humiliation aspect (though the "alt-right" use is a derogatory take that the kink community doesn't support). "Indeed, much of cuckolding porn is focused on submissive themes, where the husband has a tiny penis compared to the hung guy that fucks his wife," says Michael Aaron, PhD, a kink-friendly therapist in New York City and author of Modern Sexuality: The Truth about Sex and Relationships.
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But you don't have to be a straight man, or even a full-blown kinkster, to be into this. People of all genders and sexual orientations can be turned on by the idea of their partner having sex with someone else. I've experienced it. While I don't want my male partner to cheat on me (since that would involve deception), the idea of him with another woman — especially if I'm there to watch — turns me on in a very primal way. And this is not an unusual fantasy, according to Madeleine Castellanos, MD, an NYC-based sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive.
The important thing to remember is: If you find yourself into the idea of your partner having sex with or pleasuring someone that's not you, don't be confused — it's totally normal. Ahead, why this fantasy can be appealing, and what you can do if you want to act on it.
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It reminds you of when you first met your partner.

When people first meet their partners, it's like cracking open a new book: A fresh adventure awaits, and what the pages contain is unknown. In early courtship, we often view our partner as an opportunity for the sex we need and desire. "When you first meet a person and are attracted to them, you don’t have anything attached to them," Dr. Castellanos says. "You could just project onto them all of your erotic fantasies."

As time passes, especially if you move in together, you begin to see the mundane sides of your partner. You may wash their dirty underwear, watch them bring their laptop into the bathroom to play video games while taking shits, or realize they have no idea how to do the dishes. "Your mind starts to associate your partner with these neutral or the opposite of erotic [aspects of life]," Dr. Castellanos says.

When we watch or imagine our partner having sex with someone else, we're taken back to that initial erotic vision we had of them when we first met. This helps us see them as sexual beings, distinct from our increasingly domestic viewpoint, Dr. Castellanos says.
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It's hot to know your partner is desired.

In my experience, a little jealousy can be a turn on. If you choose to act out your fantasy IRL, watching your partner pleasure someone else can be hot AF. But that doesn't mean you have to tap into potentially unpleasant emotions to get something out of this fantasy. A concept the poly community has long touted is experiencing joy from someone else's joy, or pleasure from someone else's pleasure — a concept known as compersion. If you find yourself turned on by your partner experiencing pleasure from a sexual experience with someone else, go with it. Lean into those warm, happy feelings.

"Women enjoying watching their partner [with someone else] is often based on dynamics of voyeuristic admiration, shared experience and pleasure, and sexual freedom within defined parameters," Dr. Aaron says.

And it's important to remember those "defined parameters" — these are the boundaries that you and your partner agree on before you involve a third party, as well as the boundaries you discuss with your third before the act.
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There's power in fantasy.

When it comes to sex, our imaginations can be very powerful, and Dr. Castellanos says that we can completely idealize sexual fantasies when they're just that — fantasies. For instance, let's say you have a male partner and it turns you on to imagine him going down on a beautiful dark-haired woman with large breasts as she moans in pleasure. If you keep your fantasy within the realm of imagination, role-playing, or dirty talk, it can be exactly what you want it to be.

With this type of fantasy in particular, many people might not be ready for the reality of trying it out IRL, since involving a third person in a monogamous relationship can be awkward or spark jealousy, no matter how prepared you think you are. This is why fantasizing about this can be so hot — you get all of the joy and avoid any potential pitfalls.

"This is something I've often heard talked about in the fantasy realm, and wanting to keep it in the fantasy realm," Dr. Renye says. "That being said, some people do open their relationships to more embodied experiences of this. There's no wrong outlook, as long as there's consent and agreements on parameters."
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You just like it — end of story.

Denise Renye, PsyD, licensed psychologist and sexologist warns against stressing too much about why certain things, like the idea (or reality) of your partner with someone else, turn you on. "I find that getting into the 'whys' tends towards people pathologizing themselves," she says. "Unless there's some reason that would be to the greater service of someone's raising of consciousness, I tend not to ask the why."

Sometimes, something makes you horny and you have no clue why, and that's okay.
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Photographed By Lula Hyers.
Interested in acting on this fantasy? Here's what you should know.

Like I said, taking this kink out of the fantasy realm and into real life can come with unexpected complications — which is why every expert I consulted advises caution, consent, and a hell of a lot of communication before turning this fantasy into reality. And even if you do all of that, problems can arise. First and foremost, you'll need to discuss safer sex practices to avoid STI transmission (that could mean anything from condom use to STI testing to going on PreP).

And while a touch of jealousy can make things hot, too much of it is certainly not a good thing. "If your partner is actually having sex with someone else, your jealousy could kick in, and you could develop jealousy or resentment, even if it’s something you’ve agreed upon," Dr. Castellanos says. This is why communication before, during, and after is incredibly important.

Also, keep in mind that even when arrangements are made solely based on sex, the heart isn't always easily contained — saying that it's okay for your partner to have sex with someone else doesn't necessarily mean that they won't develop feelings for the other person. Plus, when you're bringing in a third person, you have their feelings to consider, too. They're not your sex toy, and you need to treat them with respect and remember that they could catch feelings of their own. "When people pull off this fantasy, it can be very successful," Dr. Castellanos says. "Of course, it’s wrought with danger."

Unfortunately, in my experience, that danger factor is part of the appeal. That said, there are ways to tiptoe into fulfilling this fantasy. People experience this kink to different degrees — so you certainly don't have to take another person home and lock yourself in a cage while they enter the bone zone with your partner.

To start, you could simply fantasize about your partner with another person while you masturbate, or you could integrate the fantasy into your dirty talk during partnered sex. If you want to put these desires into action, you could begin by going to a bar with your partner and giving them permission to flirt with another person, and see how that makes you feel. How far you go with this fantasy is up to you, and you should never do something you're not 100% comfortable with. For those who want to go beyond flirting, you could engage in group sex or attend a sex party together. (But again, make sure you're emotionally and physically ready for those things, too.)

If, after all of those steps, you and your partner are excited and on the same page, that's a good indicator that you might be ready to enjoy a front row seat to a hot sex session between your partner and another person.
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