‘Sexual Healing’ is a monthly column written by Lauren Fleishman. Focusing on often overlooked and, at times, taboo sex topics, Lauren takes an explorative approach to the art of getting it on.
It’s Friday night. Aimee and Stephen live in NYC and have been married for 4 years, dating for 8. Aimee is very New York – thin, intellectual and sexy in an understated way. Stephen is that enviable type of male who went to college on the east coast. His hair is full and shiny and is shaped in the kind of form that only privilege could procure. His multiple bank accounts are expansive and his body is fit. Aimee and Stephen each have respectable jobs, Aimee in fashion and Stephen in finance. On the weekends they go to Equinox, Farmer’s Markets, they volunteer, and behind closed doors, they cuckold.
By definition, a cuckold is “the husband of an adulteress.”
A form of psychological sadomasochism dubbed the ‘intellectual’s fetish,’ cucks get aroused by a kaleidoscope of emotions associated with their partner sleeping with someone else. Oftentimes they want to participate or be there to watch, but sometimes just hearing about it in vivid detail is enough. Typically the cuckold is the man with the fetish and the woman of his desire gets to choose the ‘bull’ or the other man. The more a cuck feels emotionally attached to his female partner, the higher the sexual charge is. “It’s the way we face and deal with our fears. We take a fear like cheating or abandonment and eroticize that fear,” says Stephen.
Fear, excitement, curiosity and pleasure are powerful human emotions felt in the body. When the emotions are expressed and released, if powerful enough, they leave reverberations and an imprint that neither the body nor the mind forget. For example, scary childhood or even adult moments including traumas such as sexual, mental and physical abuse or abandonment accompany feelings that stay with us, both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes we sexualize and eroticize those feelings associated with the original scary moments. By eroticizing, it’s a way to take ownership, an attempt to take the power back in order to bolster our own emotional defenses. We don’t want to feel small and helpless without our consent.
Speaking of consent…
I asked Aimee about her thoughts on her role in Stephen’s fetish and how cuckolding affects her. “I love it. I’ve always had a sexual appetite but didn’t feel connected to it until we began cuckolding. I don’t feel owned. I feel respected, free and in complete control of my own sexuality. I am able to participate in consensual sex with whomever I please. I don’t have to ask permission and it doesn’t happen often, maybe a few times a month. Sometimes there’s dry periods and I just want to be with Stephen or with no one at all. There is no shame because I know that I am not doing anything wrong. Emotionally I am 100% invested in Stephen. It strengthens our relationship because there is less pressure on Stephen to fulfill my needs. I feel sexy more often than not and that confidence bleeds into my day to day life in every aspect.”
Is cuckolding feminist?
Helen Fisher, PhD, author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray has a potential answer. “It is about choice. Women now are more aware of the alternatives to monogamy and more inclined to demand to have all their needs met. That’s because happiness is such an important part of marriage. Fewer women are marrying out of need; instead, they’re marrying to please themselves. But that also means when they’re dissatisfied with something they feel justified to go elsewhere.”
Cuckolding is political, in a sense. It’s alternative. It clashes with mainstream norms and betrays limited roles that have been associated with marriage and monogamy, structures that have been in existence since the Neolithic Revolution. These structures are so ‘normal,’ we don’t even question them. In JJ Robert’s book Sex 3.0: A Sexual Revolution Manual, she discusses the history and evolution of human sexual relationships. “For 200,000 years we lived as hunter gatherers in tribes, a nomadic existence without permanent settlements.” Roberts explains the relationship between our tribal existence and sexuality. Our sexuality was more in harmony with nature, not defined by society. There wasn’t marriage, which stemmed from the invention of property. The idea of property did not exist because everyone shared resources and sexual partners. “Not sharing and hoarding food was considered shameful behavior and shameful behavior could get you kicked out of the tribe. Fending for yourself would mean significantly reducing your chances of survival.” It’s the modern day equivalent of attempting to dine at a top restaurant in Los Angeles without either fame or a reservation. Without prior approval or a connected tribe of friends, you’re on your own and chances of survival are slim.
Are cucks some sort of evolved non-conformist man?
Are they so emotionally and mentally advanced that they are in a sense somehow more intellectual? Do they respect women’s sexuality in a way that is difficult for most people to fathom? Or are they like us, muddling through life, trying to make sense of ourselves with a mix of self delusion and truth in an attempt to heal our own damage? It may be the latter, according to Stephen. “I guess if I were to go really deep, I have insecurity and abandonment issues. My mom left my dad when I was young and it broke him. So it’s a big fear that Aimee would leave me. It might be hard for some people to understand, but experiencing humiliation through adultery can be so rewarding and after the fact, oftentimes provides a deeper pleasure than the act of sex itself – which at times I find mundane.”
By being the cuckold, Stephen willingly assumes the position of the sexual ‘submissive.’
He is submissive to his wife, and he is now lowered in rank in respect to the other man having sex with his wife. Assuming the bull enters the fetish aware and happy of his limited cameo, it seems to be an Alice In Wonderland type of reality where everyone wins.
But what happens if you see this bull out in the public sphere? Does it embarrass you to know he has been with your wife? “No. I know at the end of the day she chooses and comes home to me.”
To be a cuck is to experience extreme sexual pleasure through mental anguish.
A cerebral rollercoaster whereby the man feels a kaleidoscope of feelings such as jealousy, misery, gratitude, shame, sublimation, inadequacy – and finally – lust and satisfaction. It’s called an intellectual’s fetish because it is a mental version of sensation play in which the lower emotions are alchemized into higher emotions like comfort and pleasure. A highly powerful and arguably intelligent individual wants this experience for two reasons: to feel alive, and to feel diminished from the rare feeling of a loss of control. But why would you want to feel diminished?! In the book Masochism and the Self, author Roy Baumeister explains, “Cuckolding is a form of escapism. Cucks are relieving themselves of the stress and burden of their social role and escaping into a simpler, less expansive role.”
Another reason for cuckolding is that it gives some men the chance to vicariously explore their repressed bisexual urges. While it is arousing to watch their wife with someone else, for some it is just as exciting to watch or hear about a naked man having sex.
Stephen explains, “Often times the strong desire and mystery we felt at the beginning of our relationships naturally subside. We stop being the hunter. The world of cuckoldry re-activates our hunter mentality, causing us to want our partners again and again with all the intensified feelings associated with risk and possible denial but with the comfort of knowing the chances of that are minimal.” Sounds fun… and exhausting.
Calling cuckolding fetish the “Intellectual’s Fetish” seems intriguing but perhaps misleading. Most fetishes are blanketed in shame and kept undercover, so there simply isn’t enough data to quantify this type of thing. However it is to be noted that cuckolding men are not to be categorized as pushovers, beta males or weak. They are simply men who have found a sexual fetish that appeals to them and makes them happy. And the women associated with their cucks are not ‘whores’ or ‘adulteresses.’ In the case of Aimee, it’s a sense of sexual empowerment. Sex counselor Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D. said that just as people have different tastes for food, they also have varying sexual fantasies. Bon appétit.