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How Do We Define Cuckold?

Ever wondered what the cuckoldry definition really is? The answer might surprise you so let’s take a closer look at how we might define cuckold.

A cuckold is a married (or attached) man that derives intense sexual gratification from either watching or knowing that his wife is having sex with other men. She does this with his full knowledge and consent.

In fact, it’s almost always the husband’s idea because it turns him on so much.

The husband is rarely sexually active outside of his relationship, preferring to live vicariously through his wife’s sexual experiences.

Thus, we can begin to define cuckold by reference to its primary component – sexual arousal via the wife’s infidelity.

A cuckold enjoys watching his wife screw other men, although this guy looks pathetic 🙁

The Prevalence of Cuckoldry

Now you might be thinking that such a fantasy has to be confined to a small number of people. I mean, after all, how many guys really get turned on by the thought of their wives having sex with someone else? You can read more about the popularity of the cuckold fetish here.

According to Dr. David Ley, Ph.D, author of Insatiable Wives, up to 20% of men in the USA fantasize about “cheating wives.” Just to put it into perspective, that equates to 24 million men in the US alone who potentially get turned on by the mere thought of wife-sharing.

According to Ogi Ogas, in his book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, porn generated more than 5 billion dollars in revenues in the US alone. Now consider this. Over a third of all internet traffic is porn-related and the second most searched for term in all of porndom is cuckold porn.

That means there are a HUGE number of people turned on by the concept of cheating wives.

So when we’re considering how to define cuckold we should include the fact that it is, at present, one of the two most common sexual fantasies among all men, the other one being youth.

The Nature of the Turn-On

A man with a cuckold fetish derives his pleasure from a combination of things:

  1. The forbidden nature of the fantasy (asking your wife to have sex with someone else is very taboo)
  2. A near-constant state of hyper-arousal (the cuck is really turned on almost all the time)
  3. A form of psychological masochism (cuckolds get pleasure from things others find painful)

The cuckold is immensely aroused by the thought of his wife being lusted after and consumed by other men. When you think about how to define cuckold, this voyeuristic arousal is a central component.

Cuckolds capture memories to relive over and over again

Every time he sees or hears about his wife with other men, he adds to his growing private mental porn collection which can often be more satisfying than sex with his partner.

Let us consider how a cuckold couple plays out this fantasy, which will be critical to how we define cuckold.

The cuckold and his partner often ‘complete’ this fantasy in one of a couple different ways.

1. He watches and masturbates as his wife has sex with someone else.

2. His wife relays every little detail of her encounter after-the-fact as they make love

3. The wife denies the cuckold release for a certain period of time, which adds to the power dynamic

Let’s take a brief look at how to define cuckold by examining the components of the turn-on itself.

Psychological Masochism

The term masochism was coined in 1886 by the Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902) in his book Psychopathia Sexualis:. Kraft-Ebing derived the term from the author Sacher-Masoch’s name.

Sacher-Masoch was an Austrian journalist who became known for writing stories and poem around a central theme – finding painful stimuli pleasurable. It was later discovered that he was also a masochist himself.

Most cuckolds follow in SacherMasoch’s footsteps, but with a slight twist – the pain they transform is mental rather than physical. For example, most people would find the idea of their spouse with another person to be very painful, but cuckolds find this extremely pleasurable.

The cuck feels a kaleidoscope of mixed feelings such as jealousy, misery, gratitude, shame, arousal, inadequacy, and lust. This roller coaster of emotions results in a mental version of masochism in which the feelings of jealousy, misery, and even shame become the transformed into the source of the cuckold’s pleasure.

Masochists find extreme sensation pleasurable (mental or physical)

This component of mental masochism will be another defining factor in our cuckoldry definition.

The Physiological Response

When looking at the definition of cuckoldry, the unique physiologic response to the cuckold fantasy is a key part of the answer

I like to think of a cuckold’s turn on as a sexual adrenaline rush.

Adrenaline is released into the body during the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. This happens whenever your mind perceives perceive a moderate amount of danger or anxiety present.

The danger in cuckolding is that she could prefer him, she could leave you, she could stay but lose respect for you, etc.  Most cuckolds experience this danger as a combination of anxiety and shame, which triggers a near-constant low-level response of the body.

Think of it as drip-feeding adrenaline into the body, which produces a state of hyper-arousal (the cuckold is turned on all the time).

Think about roller coasters or skydiving for a moment.  Roller coasters are fun because they scare us, but in a controlled manner. The sensation is constantly changing, but we’re slightly on edge the whole time and we even pay to have that feeling produced in us.

The emotions of the cuckold resemble a roller coaster

It’s the same reason that adrenaline junkies are into extreme sports – they need something edgy and slightly dangerous to get that rush.

If sex were a sport, cuckoldry would be the extreme sports version of it.

In fact, there is some some support for this theory from the Kinsey Institute – one of the preeminent places in the world to study sexuality.  That support comes in the form of the “Dual Control Model” developed by John Bancroft.

In this model, we all have sexual accelerators and sexual brakes. Each of these can be insensitive, normal, or very sensitive.

I believe that many cuckolds have either an insensitive accelerator (they need more intense stimulation to get turned on), a sensitive brake (they have to overcome a lot of obstacles to get turned on), or both.

In other words, cuckolds might require more intense levels of stimulation in order to become sexual. Cuckolding provides that extra stimulation because it’s dangerous and edgy. It opens up Pandora’s Box – you never know what will happen when your wife opens her body to another man.

The Taboo Nature of the Fantasy

Doing something we aren’t supposed to do is exciting and it’s exciting because we’re breaking the rules. In other words, being a rebel is a natural aphrodisiac.

That’s why characters like Han Solo or Wolverine have such appeal. They don’t give a damn about the rules – they’re constantly challenging them.

Part of the appeal of the cuckold fantasy is that it is very taboo – it goes against the socially sanctioned norms of monogamy and fidelity. This taboo, or counter-cultural nature, is another defining characteristic in our cuckoldry definition.

Advertising Hotwives

Some hotwives choose to wear an anklet on their right leg to signify their availability to those in the know. Others simply wear them because they like the way it looks, making it difficult to distinguish them.

Certain tattoos, however, allow you to more easily identify them.  Just below you can see a few examples, such as the Queen of Spades, which refers to a woman who has a strong preference for black men.

On the far right, there is a tattoo of the threesome symbol.

The Hotwife Anklet

The Cuckoldry Spectrum

I often get asked if all cuckolds are the same?  In other words, does how we define cuckold really capture all the natural human variation?

We have to be careful not to stereotype everyone and dump them into the same bucket, as it were.

There are many different types of cuckolds because cuckoldry is not static – it reflects the natural differences inherent in each individual person.

the cuckoldry-spectrum-helps-define-cuckold
The Cuckoldry Spectrum illustrates the many variations of cuckoldry.

Cuckoldry exists on a spectrum between two extreme endpoints. On one end is the alpha cuckold and the other end is the masochistic cuckold.

The major difference between them is that the masochistic cuckold enjoys humiliation, demeaning activities, and extreme submission in addition to his wife’s sexual activities.

The alpha cuckold is the opposite and usually avoids humiliation, demeaning activities, or extreme submission. He simply likes to watch his wife have sex with other men, but without any of the components that the masochistic cuckold enjoys.

Some people, such as Dan Savage, have a slightly different conception. In this view, a cuckold = masochistic cuckold and a hotwife husband = alpha cuckold.

Both frameworks serve to differentiate the extreme ends of the spectrum.

How do we define cuckold with so much variation?

We do it by looking at the commonalities and accepting the natural differences.

Terms Used in Cuckolding

The man who enjoys the fact that his wife is having sex with other men is known as a cuckold, a stag, or a hotwife husband.

Again, some people feel that a cuckold enjoys some additional humiliation or submission, while a stag or a hotwife husband just enjoy the voyeuristic component.

Historically, the term “cuckold” referred to a man who had no knowledge of his wife’s infidelity and it was a very emasculating and derogatory term, which is another reason some men avoid it.

As you may have guessed, the women in these relationship are known as hotwives.

The person that the hotwife sleeps with is known as the bull.  This is a reference to the mating habits of stags where the defeated male surrenders his mate to the more dominant male

A Different Type of Non-Monogamy

Cuckoldry is different than swinging, although they share the common characteristics of voyeurism and exhibitionism.

First, swinging often involves both the the husband and the wife having sex with other people.  Most commonly, this occurs with two couples where each switches partners.

Swinging may also involve going to sex clubs, private parties, and other events that bring couples and people together for the express purpose of sexual variety.

Thus, in swinger relationships, both partners usually have the ability to have sex with others, although this is  not always the case. The main difference is that, in swinging, a man doesn’t derive sexual pleasure from his wife’s activities at his own expense.

Cuckoldry is different than polyamory as well.  Polyamory stresses relationships and emotional attachments, which are often absent from cuckolding.

Some couples choose to incorporate intimate relationships in their lifestyle, but the majority do not.


Let us conclude by returning to our quest: how to define cuckold.

A cuckold is a man in a long-term relationship who experiences sexual gratification by allowing his wife to have sex with other men. His fantasy is rooted in mental masochism and voyeurism, providing extreme pleasure by virtue of the transformation of negative emotions (shame, jealousy, inadequacy, etc.) into sexual energy (lust, arousal, intense focus, etc).

To explore this topic further, please check out our articles on the reasons that men have the cuckold fantasy and the psychology of cuckoldry.

Ben Steel Founder of Cuckold Relationship

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