The Science of Cuckoldry
By sex therapist & relationships counselor Susan Gower
After studying human sexuality for many years it has become inarguable to me that a cuckold relationship (in which the wife engages in sexual activity with a variety of men while her husband remains faithful) is most compatible with basic human evolutionary make up. It is straying from this evolutionarily grounded human bonding relationship that has produced such misunderstandings and conflict between the sexes.
At the very base of this principle is the understanding of a woman’s psychological need for a variety of sex partner’s. Psychologically, women are hardwired differently than men. A woman has a dual sex drive. The first is centered on finding a mate for life to help support her and her offspring. This is why (and when) love is such an important part of a women’s sexual desire. The second is a desire to obtain a variety of the best genetic material to produce the best children. This second desire begins to grow once a woman has found her life mate and grows stronger as time with him progresses. Eventually, this later and more powerful drive overpowers her sexual desire for her life mate. This is why a woman’s sexual desire for her husband diminishes over time. At the same time her sexual desire for other men is increasing. Often this desire for other men becomes so strong she cannot deny it. This does not make her immoral or mean that she no longer loves her husband. It is simply part of her genetic code.
Physiological sexual differences between men and women also support the cuckold relationship as the ideal for marriage. It is well known that women don’t reach her sexual peak until they are in their thirties, while men peak by the time they are twenty. In a typical marriage, a wife is generally younger than her husband or the same age. As a result, a woman’s increasing sexual appetite, do to her biologically age based sex drive, gives her greater sexual needs than her husband. She needs more sexual encounters, longer sexual encounters and more orgasms than her spouse. Her older or same age husband, on the other hand, wants sex far less than his wife, oftentimes lasts only a few minutes before he reaches orgasm and then, no longer interested in sex, leaves his wife unsatisfied and frustrated. As a marriage continues this discrepancy in sexual needs increases dramatically, usually to the breaking point of a wife secretly finding a lover or lovers outside the marriage.
Compounding this is that nature has not only given women a two prong and exponentially stronger sex drive than men, it has also given women the ability to experience a far greater quantity, intensity, and variety of sexual pleasure and orgasm than men. This is nature’s way of motivating a woman to seek out sexual activity considering the risk she bears in doing so. (Even though today’s contraceptives greatly reduce these risks, they do nothing to diminish the internal triggers that drive a woman’s need for a variety of sex and sex partners. If anything, this reduction of risk intensifies her drive to seek pleasure.)
As a result, women can experience a wide range and intensity of sexual pleasure and diversity of orgasm. Besides the pleasure and orgasms derived from manual, oral and coital stimulation of a woman’s clitoris, all three of which feel distinctly different, a woman can reach a completely different sensation of pleasure and a completely different orgasm from the stimulation of her g-spot by a well endowed man. A woman can even reach orgasm by proper stimulation of her nipples if she has been brought to a state of intense clitoral arousal. Stimulation of her nipples and clitoris at the same time will give her a yet another unique intense orgasm. Her ultimate height of pleasure is found in oral or manual titillation of her clitoris while simultaneously having her g-spot stimulated. It is interesting that this is best accomplished by the use of multiple sexual partners, suggesting nature’s preference for male, female, male couplings. Finally, the crowning pinnacle of a woman’s sexual superiority is her ability to have a multiple orgasm and full body orgasmic experiences.
Men, on the other hand, are far simpler sexually. Stimulate their glans (the little patch of skin at the front of the penis just below it’s head) and they ejaculate. Furthermore, men can get nearly the same level of satisfaction from masturbating as the do completing a sex act with a woman. For women, masturbation will give them only temporary relief. Women need to have sex with a partner to be fully satisfied, especially psychologically.
The male also has a much simpler sex drive than a woman. He simply wants to mate with any female he finds desirable. The longer he is denied sex, the stronger his desire grows and the criterion by which he finds a woman desirable lowers. Since it is the woman who decides if he will be allowed to have sex with her or not, his desire for her sexually is also linked to the desire for her approval. As he becomes more interested in her the desire to please her as a way to get sex can become overwhelming for him. That is why you will often see men acting foolishly in front of females they desire, even though they have no chance to have sex with them. That is also why, once married, a man will begin to take his wife for granted; now that he has easy availability of sex from her, she becomes less desirable to him.
One might think that this is a good argument for having an open marriage in which both a wife and her husband find sexual partners outside their marriage. Interviews with couples in open marriages have shown that these marriages almost always lead to a competition between the two spouses regarding who is having more sex with more partners. A wife will always win this competition because it is much easier for a woman to find sexual partners than it is for a man. The competition, however, can become nasty, ugly and often cruel. A wife will sometimes be drawn into the competition so deeply she will have sex with far more men than she wishes too, and her husband will have growing feelings of inadequacy, as he cannot keep up with his wife. This kind of competition almost always destroys a marriage.
Furthermore, the idea of open marriage assumes the erroneous notion that men need a variety of sex partners. While all evidence indicates that a married woman both physiologically and psychologically does need a variety of sexual partners, a married man does not. The genetic code that drives a man is the thrill of pursuit, not the need for variety. Husbands in clinical studies who’s desire for their wives have waned and who’s interest have turned to other women have been completely turned around when their wives begin using arousal and denial techniques on them. These techniques instill uncertainty in the husband as to whether he will be allowed to complete a sex act with her or not. Time after time, in study after study, these husband’s desires have been focused back to their wives exclusively, losing all interest in other women. The wives in these studies were even able to vary their husband’s level of interest through increasing or decreasing their application of arousal and denial techniques. It was further found that when these same wives reverted back to traditional sexual practices with their husbands, their husbands began to loose interest again and began to again look at other women as possible sex partners.
Interestingly, it was during the sexually repressive Victorian Era that an unusual mix of cuckoldry and the sexual arousal and denial of males was employed. It was believed at that time that many ills were caused by excessive male ejaculations. They believed that loss of sperm contributed to a whole host of maladies, from asthma to mental illness. As a result, chastity devices were often prescribed for men. This practice was so prevalent that over two hundred patents for male chastity devices were applied for during this era.
Conversely, at this same time, it was believed that women suffered hysteria from lack of sexual release. Orgasmic therapy was prescribed for the treatment and prevention of female hysteria. Women would visit their doctor, or the doctor would come to a woman’s home to manually, or in secret, by more intimate means, deliver her orgasms. Most often it was married women who requested this therapy, often as much as three times a week. Some doctor’s journals noted that the demand became so great that they had to delegate these visits to their interns.
A structured practice of female sexual satisfaction and male denial grew quickly. Women had a lot of leisure time and spread the word of the benefits of orgasmic therapy and spousal chastity through the popular women’s societies prevalent at the time. Since men could not be trusted to have self-discipline, their wives were usually given the keys to their chastity devices. A kind of secret society developed in which these wives called themselves Key Holders. Key holding wives would deny their husbands sex while they enjoyed the services of their physicians and their physician’s interns or secretly engaged in sex with other men. Within these women’s clubs women introduced other wives who were unsatisfied with their husbands, to recommend chastity for their husbands and treatment for hysteria for themselves. Doctor’s finding a man’s wife desirable would also prescribe the same in order to gain access to her.
Some woman’s journals discovered from this time period tell of their exploits with doctors, interns and other available men. The jest of the mailman and milkman delivering more than mail and milk are very well rooted in fact. It is interesting that a whole society developed around wives having sex with other men while denying their husbands who had to remain faithful to them. It is not uncommon to find entries in a wife’s journal such as “I had a wondrous day today. After a most satisfying visit, for both myself and Doctor Elbridge’s young intern, I spent a delightfully entertaining evening raising my poor husband’s lustiness near to its pinnacle during this time that he must abstain from loosing semen. His antics were most amusing and raised my own lust. As always, he proved his devotion to me by pleasuring me in a most deliciously French way.( Mine will be the most scrumptiously naughty story of any lady tomorrow at tea)
Another journal tells how excited one wife was that she had her husband doing housework, an unheard of practice at a time when male and female roles were so rigid, illustrating again how arousal and denial of sex can totally alter a man’s behavior. Other journal entries tell of the rise in attention from their husbands and the thrill of sneaking around behind their husband’s back and having sex while their husband was “locked in his cage.”
While diagnosing the damage done to women by denying them the fulfillment of their sexual needs may have been falsely labeled hysteria, the doctors of Victorian times were startlingly near the mark. Victorian doctors had insightfully identified the need women had for sex with a variety of men.
Unsurprisingly, since human societal structures were originally matriarchal, societies that still live today in ways closer to our original female and male roles do not suffer from the damages of psychological and physiological stress. These more basic societies, far from the modern world, are nearly always matriarchal. It is the women in these societies who control property, family affairs and sexual activity. These women will usually have multiple husbands and lovers. One or two of these men provide them with food, shelter and security, while the others provide them with sex. Male, female, male couplings are not only accepted, but quite normal. In some societies, certain “stud” males will exclusively service a wife, in others, wives will share, exchange and even trade stud males. Men in these societies are happy in their subordinate roles to women. While there are some incidents of jealousy, there is no violence, crime, or sexual perversion. Men are focused on pleasing their wives instead of impressing other women in the group or competing with other men, except in the area of being good sex providers. Wives will keep this competition light and fun and ongoing. Men focused on this kind of competition do not compete with each other in other ways either, leading to much stronger male/male friendships and cooperation.
An unlikely place further confirmation of the appropriateness of cuckolding in human bonding relationships was discovered in the findings of primate studies. In one study, researchers found two anatomical influencers of fidelity in primates. One was the physical size difference between the sexes. The other was the male’s ratio of penis size to body mass.
It was found that in those species of primates where the female was considerably larger than the male, the female would have many sexual partners and bond with none. As female/male size became closer, the female would bond with one male. This male would remain faithful to her, but she would continue to have sex with non-bonded males. It was found that this was not reversed until the male became extremely larger than the female.
The second influencer the researchers discovered was the ratio of penis size to body mass. In species where the difference in physical size between the sexes was slight, (as it is in humans) the penis to body size ratio increased female dominated sexual behavior. The smaller the penis to body size, the more bonded males were restricted to activity with only their mate while females would engage in sexual activity with a variety of non-bonded males. Within these groups, females would generally bond with males with smaller penises and engage in sexual activity with better-endowed, non-bonded males. The most common activity between females and their mates was grooming and eating, with the far greater amount of sexual activity occurring between mated females and males other than their mates. Neither mated nor non-mated females would engage in sexual activity with bonded males who were not their own mates. The most frequent sexual activity of bonded males was masturbation.
This study particularly intrigued me because it’s findings correlated so closely with my own experiences. I have assisted many couples in beginning and maintaining cuckold relationships. Among my patients, husbands with smaller penises were not only more agreeable to being cuckolded, but would even sometimes suggest it. These very enlightened, lesser-endowed, husbands were keenly aware of their inability to satisfy their wives sexually. By accepting their wives engaging in sex with other men they were relieved of the pressure to perform.
It makes sense that this behavior would be present in humans since humans are primates whose difference in size between the sexes is slight and men’s penises are very small when compared to their body mass. Also interesting is that women, like other primate females, will rarely engage in sex with married men. A husband’s wedding band makes for a fairly efficient chastity device.. A wife’s wedding band, however, does little and sometimes even encourages pursuit by men. This further illustrates that the innate human proclivity for cuckold relationships goes genetically even deeper.
Our modern morals and the female/male roles imposed on us by society are not only aberrant behavior given our genetic make up, but psychologically unhealthy and morally unethical. It is unfair that a woman is forced to repress the powerful sex drives that are so genetically imbedded in her psyche. Most married woman simply can’t do it. It is uncountable today how many wives are having sex with other men behind their husband’s back because our society cannot accept a woman’s natural needs.
At what point did we move from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society that perverted our male and female sexual roles? We have so inverted out ideas of human sexuality that we have come to believe that women have a lower sex drive than men when the reverse is true. We think that men should be free to have sex unbridled, when it is women who should be freed and men bridled. We have created a society in which women struggle with guilt and frustration over their natural sexual needs while men are obsessed with perverted sexual deviations from far too great an access to far to great a variety of sexual stimuli and freedom.
Just as our modern lives preventing us from responding to our need to express our flight or fight response leads to stress, and our turning from whole foods to processed foods give us all sorts of physical ailments, our denial of our natural sexual programming leads to untold emotional and behavioral problems. It would startle the average person to learn how many divorces are caused by the inequity of a woman’s unfulfilled sexual needs. In an effort to protect the man from humiliation it is rarely mentioned in polite society that the reason for a couple’s divorce was because the wife was finding sexual satisfaction outside their marriage. If we could be open and honest about a women’s needs, and that it is not the fault of their husbands that they need to fulfill those needs outside their marriages, then maybe we could begin to embrace cuckoldry as a healthy societal norm and save far more marriages..
I have saved many marriages in my practice by gently introducing the idea and practice of cuckoldry to struggling couples. I have seen in my own female patients that once they start to engage in sex outside their marriage with the acceptance of their husbands and the security that their husbands will remain faithful, they become more centered, calm and confident. Similarly, once their husbands get past their jealous feelings and fear of inadequacy they become calmer and more mature, no longer engaging in childish behavior like nights out with the boys or an obsession with sports. They even loose their interest in pornography as their wives recounting of their extramarital exploits, or their participation in those exploits, becomes much more titillating to them than the artificial titillation of pornography.
When my female clients add the uncertainty principle of arousal and denial to their cuckold marriage a woman can bring her husband back to the days when they were first dating. Husbands become more focused on their wives and no longer suffer the frustrating feelings caused by a desire for unattainable women
Cuckold marriages can evolve into a great variety of preferences. In my own practice I have seen cuckold marriages that range from those in which cuckolding wives enjoy subjecting their husband’s to humiliation and punishment, to those in which wives will have sex with other men in front of her husband as a form of entertaining them, to just about everything in between. Most couples in my practice, however, have very loving marriages with playful arousal and denial that seem conventional in every way except that the wife dates while her husband remains faithfully hers.
It is regretful that the cuckold relationships of Victorian times could not have evolved into an open way of life accepted by modern society. It is my hope that one day it will.