In a world where jealousy seems “normal,” and where so many men talk about women who cheat, there’s another kind of man. He’s the one who fantasizes about his wife or girlfriend with another guy. He may even try to make it happen in real life.
Call them cuckolds or hot-wifers (as in, ‘hey guys, check out my hot wife’); these guys are generally not really swingers, because they aren’t usually after another sexual partner for themselves. There’s more of these guys out there than you may realize.
With some cuckolds, humiliation is part of the desired experience. The script may include demeaning hubby’s penis, his lovemaking, or his attractiveness. The other gentleman may be prompted to tease him cruelly as well. In some cases, the husband may be “forced” to suck the other guy’s penis, lick his semen, or submit in other ways.
Hot-wifers, on the other hand, like to feel proud rather than degraded. They like to show off wifey, sometimes in exhibitionistic games (such as deliberate wardrobe malfunctions or exposed body parts). Unsuspecting gas station attendants, room service delivery guys, even nearby drivers or freeway truckers may get a surprised eyeful. Glass hotel elevators were made for these couples.
So why do men do this? Why do they yearn to see their wives have pleasure (or intimate talking, or even consensually rough treatment) with someone else?
Freud would have a field day with these guys: repressed homosexuality, low self-esteem, fear of rejection or abandonment (and unconsciously arranging to feel in charge of it), performance anxiety (and out-sourcing responsibility to the other guy).
And in a minority of cases, maybe the guy actually doesn’t care for his wife.
On the other hand, it can be a gift to the woman, or a demonstration of trust. It can make the couple feel closer by sharing a taboo adventure (fantasy or real). It can be the ultimate treat for an actual voyeur—not just watching, but watching something meaningful, with no fear of getting caught. It can be a way of creating a safe environment for wifey to have flings with others, whether friends or strangers. There can be a sexy emotional bonding between the two men, not to mention tangible erotic possibilities.
As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until (unless) someone gets hurt. Wifey might become too enthusiastic about non-monogamy to suit her husband. Hubby might push wifey to do things she later regrets; she may feel his voyeuristic pleasure was more important to him than her comfort or safety. Some innocent bystanders might protest that they’re being used without their consent. And of course there’s always the chance that the extra guy turns out to be a little nutty.
Content people rarely go to therapy, so the couples discussing this in my office are generally in conflict. Frequently, it’s because he can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. That’s generally not about sex—when people can’t hear the word ‘no,’ it’s typically about power. And if the ‘no’ is about something you really, really want? There are ways to discuss it collaboratively rather than being a huge pain in the butt. And if two people can’t work something out, eventually someone has to let it go or leave the relationship. Or quarrel about it forever.
Another reason people come to therapy about this is because she wants to ‘understand’ his quirky thing. When he explains it, she may still not get it–and then imagine it’s because he doesn’t love her enough to be possessive. Or that he secretly wants the same privilege—one or more outside partners—for himself, and won’t say so directly.
Some guys don’t want any more men in their bedroom, but they love talking about the fantasy: what would it be like? What would you wear for the guy? What would you like him to do? Wouldn’t it be great if he had a huge erection, or a skillful tongue?
While some women enjoy playing the fantasy game, others find it intrusive and distracting. Or artificial and theatrical. Worse, they may assume it’s because they’re not sufficiently attractive on their own, and hubby needs to imagine and talk about crazy scenes to get excited. No one likes to think that’s true.
Some women would be fine about the fantasy game occasionally—they just don’t want it every time they have sex. That’s understandable, as so many people are trying to get away from routine in sex, rather than reinforcing it. And some women would be fine about the fantasy game if they felt confident it would stay on the fantasy level. But they’re suspicious that while they’re getting accustomed to the fantasy, hubby is plotting the next move in a longer project—ultimately acting out the fantasies they discuss.
Couples who come to see me about this subject often think they’re the only ones dealing with it. My first contribution is to be non-reactive, accept what they’re saying, and treat it like any other couples conflict. I help them talk, help them listen, help them express their fears that they won’t be able to work this out. I don’t tell them what to do, I don’t take sides, and I don’t say that these ideas are either ‘normal’ or ‘not normal.’
That’s never my job. People never need my help in arguing about who’s the normal one, who’s the kinky one, and who’s the selfish one. My job is to gently wean them off those unproductive conversations and onto more honest and productive ones.
That’s my fantasy.