What Is a Cuckold Relationship?

Cuckold relationship

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

Cuckolding describes a dynamic in which one partner derives pleasure from their partner being intimate with another person. This fetish or kink is commonly believed to be enjoyed by only heterosexual men and their wives, but anybody can enjoy cuckolding.

Gay men have enjoyed practicing it in relationships, as have women and people of all orientations.In fact, the term "cuckquean" is used for women who enjoy seeing their partner be intimate with others.

The term ‘cuckold’ has its origins in the cuckoo bird and its behavior during nesting season. This bird is known to abandon its eggs in the safety of another bird’s nest. This leaves other parents to care for these eggs until they hatch. 

The word 'cuckold' is traditionally used as a noun, referencing someone whose partner is exploring intimate/sexual activity with someone else. 'Cuckolding' as a verb references the act of non-monogamy in which a partner is exploring intimate/sexual activity with someone else.

Historically, the word 'cuckold' was used to describe a man who raised children fathered by another man, supposedly because he could not sexually satisfy his partner—resulting in her straying to be satisfied elsewhere.

There are many feelings as to what interest in cuckolding might indicate. We’ll be examining why this practice is so satisfying for partners and married couples from all over. We’ll also discuss other similar practices, and how they compare to a cuckold setting. 

For anyone who might be curious about trying this with a partner, read ahead for ways to introduce cuckolding to a person you’re intimate with. Lastly, learn about what you might want to consider before introducing cuckolding to your relationship.

Who Might Be Interested in a Cuckold Relationship?

It's possible that those who enjoy consensual non-monogamy might consider a cuckold relationship. Consensual non-monogamy describes any relationship in which participants clearly and explicitly agree to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships at the same time.

A cuckold relationship may sometimes involve one partner being present while sex happens. Other times, they might simply help their partner get ready for a date with another person, or listen as the event is relayed.

In other cases, a person may derive happiness from knowing their partner is experiencing sexual pleasure with another. They may enjoy the humiliation of another person pleasing their partner, and they may be aroused hearing insults about not being to adequately satisfy their partner.

Why You Might Enjoy a Cuckold Relationship

A person might enjoy knowing that their partner gets intimate with others for many reasons. This third party is widely tagged as ‘the bull’, and maybe introduced while pursuing the following:

You Find Pleasure in Someone Else Receiving Pleasure

If you nurse thoughts of your partner reaching joyous sexual fulfillment with another person, you may be chasing what is known as "compersion" or the opposite of jealousy. Compersion refers to feelings of pleasure knowing that your girlfriend, husband, life partner, or fling, etc. is thoroughly enjoying themselves, even with someone else.

So, a person that enjoys compersion might find a cuckolding to be an attractive relationship dynamic.

You Want to Engage in Something That Feels "Taboo"

Because we live in a society that normalizes monogamous relationships, romantic partners that include added parties to their mix are often judged for deviating from the so-called norm.

The thought of doing something society judges as ‘taboo’, can add a sense of excitement to a person’s usual sexual routine.

It’s important to note that while cuckolding may be viewed with disapproval, this behavior may be a sexual fantasy or preference simply on display.

You Just Want to Try Something New

Sex with an exclusive partner can be exciting and satisfying for most people. However, for a change from normal sexual scenarios, another person involved during intimate moments can add an extra spark to your sexual relationship.

You Want to Foster More Open Communication in Your Relationship

When partners can openly discuss and engage in behavior that is not considered mainstream—this can signal a level of honesty that may apply to other areas of the relationship.

Engaging in cuckold relationships can be a sign that no-holds-barred communication exists between you and your partner. 

Other Relationship Dynamics That Are Similar to Cuckolding

Like cuckolding, other ways exist for people to experience pleasure from the external attention their romantic partners receive. This can be seen in the following situations:

Hotwifing

Reserved for men, a husband might enjoy "hotwifing" if he derives pride and pleasure from having a desirable wife. This man will encourage sexual adventures with other men, almost in confirmation of her desirability. He may even watch while his wife is in the act.

Hotwifing centers on pride, as opposed to genial happiness, or sometimes humiliation associated with cuckolding. Cuckolding and hotwifing are, however, used interchangeably by many.

Candaulism

In this practice, a person reveals their partner’s intimate images for other people to lust after. In some cases, this partner may be directly exposed to others for their sexual satisfaction. 

Candaulism leans more towards a voyeuristic interest, as opposed to cucking where actual physical contact takes place.

How to Try Cuckolding

There are many reasons to consider cuckolding in a relationship. For anyone looking to explore this dynamic with a partner, it can be an uncertain subject to bring up. However, there are ways to ethically introduce the possibility of this practice with your partner.

Here are a few steps to follow:

Begin With Honesty

When bringing the subject of cuckolding up with a partner, it’s important to do so with honesty. 

The conversation has to be broached gently, with a focus on helping to clarify the reason why you want to try this.

Different reactions may follow when a person becomes aware that their partner has these desires. While you can certainly hope for the best, your partner might not be as enthusiastic as you. They might even feel insulted. So, a rejection of your proposal is also a real possibility. But, it's also that your partner may be very interested or may show some curiosity too.

Just remember to be honest and be prepared to answer any questions or respond to any worries or fears that your partner might have.

Dip Into Things Slowly

If a partner agrees to explore this aspect of your sexual relationship, it might not be the best idea to immediately find a third party to join you.

Maybe you start by talking about cuckolding during foreplay or while being intimate with each other. For instance, the cuckold may describe how much it would turn them on to see their partner being pleasured by another person.

Maybe you progress by seeing how your partner feels if you flirt with another person in front of them. You might also try seeing how you feel about virtual or phone sex with a third party.

Doing these smaller steps can help you both ease into things before your first cuckolding session.

Keep Communication Lines Open

At all times during a cuckolding relationship, it’s necessary for partners and others involved to give regular feedback on their feelings and comfort levels.

Everyone should be able to share what they no longer want to occur during sessions, what they’d like to see more of, or if they would like to pause further interactions.

Things to Consider With a Cuckold Relationship

A cuckold relationship can involve complex emotions and exposure to factors that can affect well-being. When looking to set up this relationship with a partner, there are important things that should be gone over:

Safety Risks

Introducing a setup that allows for multiple sexual partners can increase the chances of transmitting STDs. It is always advisable to practice safe sex and openness about sexual history.

Changed Feelings

Anger, jealousy, and sadness are common emotions that may spring up in a multi-partner setting. Room should be given to accommodate these feelings, as well as the chance that one or more people might become uninterested in a cuckolding arrangement, despite showing earlier excitement.

Was this page helpful?
4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lehmiller JJ, Ley D, Savage D. The Psychology of Gay Men's Cuckolding Fantasies. Arch Sex Behav. 2018;47(4):999-1013. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-1096-0

  2. Di Mauro M, Russo GI, Polloni G, et al. Sexual Behaviour and Fantasies in a Group of Young Italian Cohort. J Clin Med. 2021;10(19):4327. Published 2021 Sep 23. doi:10.3390/jcm10194327

  3. Brunning L. Compersion: An Alternative to Jealousy?Journal of the American Philosophical Association. 2020;6(2):225-245. doi:10.1017/apa.2019.35

  4. Lehmiller J. Fantasies About Consensual Nonmonogamy Among Persons in Monogamous Romantic Relationships. Arch Sex Behav. 2020;49(8):2799-2812. doi:10.1007/s10508-020-01788-7